Immigration is Turning

Well we last had a housing boom in 2003-2007.  And in my view this was largely caused by immigration.  In 2003 for instance, we had a net 50,000 people come into the country.  That’s a 1% population increase in one year.  Madness.

There are of course many other factors driving house price inflation, such as council costs, councils strangling land supply, low interest rates, 2 in a house bringing in an income etc.

Now immigration is turning positive again. And I reckon we’re likely to see strong house price growth over the next few years.

To back up me ‘feeling’ that house prices and immigration go together very strongly, look at the graph below, sourced from treasury.

That looks like pretty strong correlation to me.  But of course correlation and causation are 2 different things!

Check out the peak in 1973! Bigger than any since. But of course 2007 came close.  It’s interesting to note how immigration dropped away in 2009 but house prices stayed pretty level… and now we’re getting more people into the country…

 

 

Bioinformatics

For some time now I’ve been doing some of the problems over at the Rosalind site.

It’s a site that a bunch of guys have developed to get people interested in doing bioinformatics.  I find these problems to be a lot of fun actually. I’ve solved around 34 of them so far.

And now the same guys who set that site up have set up a bioinformatics course which is hosted on Coursera and Stepic.

Coursera is a site that offers all sorts of MOOCs, massively open online courses.  Quite amazing really, this is  a big movement in education just now.  Everyone is doing all sorts of courses online.

I’d imagine the universities must be a bit worried about it.  After all, why go to a lecture theatre, to see some dude (or dudess) write some stuff up on a board (which they usually make available online) when you can just read it online?  Often the lecturers just stand there and speak at you, you only rarely get the chance to ask questions etc. so, it’s not really much benefit going.

Anyway I’m really enjoying this course.  It’s quite hard, I’m just hanging on by my fingernails – intellectually that is.

Bioinformatics is all about applying computers to biology, especially to do with sequencing genomes and the like.  So there are all sorts of combinatorially complex problems to solve, the kinds of problems that just spiral out of control and so you have to use all sorts of clever methods to get the programs to run in sensible times.

For example, I had one assignment the other day, where if you just try and naively compute the answer, it’d take days and days of computation.  But if you use a cool algorithm, it takes seconds.  To return the same answer…

Today I just finished an assignment where I could only just understand what they wanted, but I managed (with lots of re-reading all the chapters of the online book) to get it, and man I was soooo pleased.  I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.

But I fear it’s going to get harder and harder!  I hope I can hang on!

A Good Day

Well too often here I write about issues I’m having collecting money from people, negative news events and so on.

But the idea of this blog was to write about good things.  Life’s little accomplishments, mine or others.

Well so today was a cool day.  We got the boys to ‘wag’ off school and kindy and we took them to SnowPlanet.  It’s only $32 for the whole family to do snow play.  This means they give you boots and taboggans and you go and play!

You can use the ‘magic carpet’ lift thingy to take you a small way up the slope and then you toboggan down.  The boys loved it.  There’s also a small area over to the left where there is a very little slope, some toys to slide down on etc.  They spent heaps of time doing this.

Made me want to hire some skis!

Anyway, after that we went to Orewa beach for the boys to play in the park and then we got an ice cream and came home.

Then I got stuck into some gardening.  This involves pulling weeds out (obviously), but also pulling out little native trees that have sprung up and planting them in pots.  And then putting mulch around the remaining plants/trees.  It’s very time consuming but feels like a good thing to do.

The native trees (did about 70 today) will get grown until next winter and then planted out on my parents farm.  They have a coastal property on the Awhitu Peninsula and there’s a few fenced off areas like along the seafront and around a pond where I can plant trees.

Which is freakin’ hard yakka I can tell you!  Especially when you have to dig through 2 feet of kikuyu grass to start digging a hole!

And now I’ve finished my chores and am going to do some programming… I’ll blog about this another time.

Fortlock Security Systems

Be very careful in dealing with this company.

I have had them looking after an access control system on my building at Papakura, Auckland for the last couple of years.  This system controls the unlocking/locking of doors when people pass a swipe tag over a sensor.  You know a credit card or swipe tag thing.  It’s like a small computer which just waits for these signals, opens doors etc.

And it turns out, they’ve done a really poor job.  Which has cost me quite a lot of time, money and hassle.

This system was installed by a dodgy operator called Reuben Roberts from Edge Security Professionals Limited.  I’ve blogged about him here, he’s basically a crook who didn’t know what he was doing.  So the system was almost certainly poorly installed.

Over the last 2-3 years this system has randomly gone down which has meant that all the doors lock, which allows tenants to get out of the building, but not back in.

Some time ago they replaced the main board in this system at a cost of $1200 or so.  And away it went for some months afterwards.  6 months in fact.  And then crapped out again…  in fact it started doing exactly the same things it was doing before.

The symptoms were that the system would crash but if you just touched (with the back of a pen) or moved the main board slightly it would all come alive again and work perfectly fine… until the next time, which could be a year, or it could be a day.

And this carried on for some months before I decided to get someone else in.  And you know what? The new guy found the fault that had been causing the problems all along – in 10 minutes!

Basically the whole power supply was wired up incorrectly.  The Lan devices (which I take to be the magnetic locks at the top of the doors holding them closed) were being powered form a battery charging circuit.  Which meant all sorts of bad things would be happening like the batteries continually having to be charged, the doors suddenly dragging a whole bunch of power (as they do when they lock and unlock) from a circuit they’re not supposed to and so on.

Precisely the sort of thing that would cause a system to crash at random intervals.  And it was an easy fault to find.  The new guy simply turned the power off at the wall and the whole system powered off – it’s not supposed to –  the batteries should kick in and keep it going.  But he did this a number of times and sometimes it would stay powered up and sometimes it wouldn’t, so clearly issues…

One thing Fortlock Security Systems have said is that they replaced the power supply (towards the end of my time in dealing with them) and that this was a subsequent fault to the main board.  But this was just absolute bollocks.  They didn’t replace the power supply at all.  All the power supply bits look original (dusty, grubby etc.) and as I’ve described above it was wired incorrectly, they didn’t invoice me for it (and I can ensure you guys, these people invoice for EVERYTHING) and weren’t able to produce an invoice for the parts from their supplier.  Also, one of the batteries was at the end of its life, you’d think if you were replacing a power supply you’d notice that!

So anyway I have told Patrick Shields, a representative of the company that I’m unhappy with the service, that parts have been needlessly replaced and that service calls have been unnecessarily incurred and that I want a refund.  The total is $2006.58. He has been quite intransigent and so I said via email I was lodging a claim at the Disputes Tribunal.

And so Patrick and someone else from the company came to my house today for a sit down meeting.  And tried to convince me that I didn’t know what I was talking about, that because I had authorised the parts to be changed, that it was therefore on my head and so on.

No idea why he requested the meeting because he wasn’t prepared to shift his position at all.  So, we’re off to the Disputes Tribunal.  And I’ll update here with how I get on.

Update: Court date is set down for 9th December, 9:15am.  Will update back here with the results.

Council Incentives to Build!

Well knock me down and call me Susan!  The Hutt City Council are actually wanting people to build!

Yep, that wasn’t a typo, THEY WANT PEOPLE TO BUILD!  Industrial properties this is, to you know, do things like encourage job creation.  Something everyone talks about but no one actually does – until now!

Auckland Council, the biggest bunch of gouging pricks in the world should take a leaf out of Hutt City Council’s books:

Property Article

This is a yoink from the latest Total Property magazine by Bayleys.  You can read it here.

This is in fact what we should have been doing for the last 10 years.  Actually encouraging businesses to start new operations and/or expand.  Over the years I’ve heard so much talk about this, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen it in New Zealand.

So well done Hutt City Council!