Praise, yes praise, for Telecom

This really is a stunning piece of work – even made this cynic think twice. Well done Telecom.

It’s important because it shows that Telecom increasingly gets it – they are getting that it is about delivering the right service to New Zealanders (fiber to the home rated a mention), they get that it is about the people that work there, and they get that Youtube (and twitter) are great mediums for spreading the news.They manage to say this while taking little digs at themselves and being very human.

It was uploaded yesterday Youtube time, and  had just 392 views when I saw it. It will be interesting to observe how far and fast the views go.

The cast list was telling – the boss is the eighth listed, which means he was the eighth person to appear in the piece. That’s leadership.

It’s so nice to be able to write something good about Telecom. Roll on the days when we can write a whole lot more.

Posted in Broadband, media, telecom | 3 Comments

Global warming and you

Here’s  excellent graphic from FiveThirtyEight via Treehugger and via New Zealand’s The visible hand showing data from a report from the the Yale Forestry and Environmental Studies School Climate Change project. It needs no explanation.

The project’s survey: “Climate Change on the the American Mind” is a lengthy and ponderous read, and is so queued in my reading list. It contained this graphic, which has the same (and a bit more) information as the inverted triangle above – It’s a chart that any consultant would love, and it is difficult to read and, well, boring.

The learning here is that each chart should deliver one message, and to focus the chart on that message alone. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in presenting everything sometimes, when taking out the key facts has much higher impact.

This chart is has great information  – however it really could have been drawn better. It says that 69% of Americans believe in Global Warming now, but more importantly that only 10% deny (to one extent or another) that it is happening and only 3% are extremely sure it is not happening.

(*Incidentally the FES school was until pretty recently called just the Forestry school. Also I did one course there so anything I say about them will clearly be biased. )

Posted in Global Macro Trends, media | 2 Comments

Wear your safety equipment – black Gloves are cool

Following on from an earlier post on dorky safety Glasses – the next easiest piece of safety protection to wear is a decent pair of gloves.

They can even make your live easier when working. Indeed it is this that has led me to wear gloves a lot recently, and while the gloves can make fiddly things a bit tougher the benefits outweigh those costs:

  • Better grip: The right work gloves grip well – so you can apply more force where it is needed. The gloves’ extra grip mean that your will hands slip less often, reducing the amount of times your hands get hit.
  • Protection: When you do hit your hands then the gloves dull the hit and importantly they will save you from getting cut.
  • Cleanliness: When you are done your hands are clean – it’s a remarkable feeling. You can wash the gloves by leaving them on and washing your hands in the normal way.

To be fair you do need to get the right gloves, making sure they match the task at hand. I’ve been astonished at the variety of gloves available these days, and they are at very good prices. (check out your local handyman store.) There are tight fitting ones that actually make gripping fiddly things easier and heavy ones that keep you warm while working outside.

One friend lost the tip of his finger in a sawing accident – he could have been wearing gloves that could tolerate a brief encounter with a whirring blade and saved a finger. These ones are essentially a modern form of chain mail, and are bound to impress small children as well:


Another person I recently met lost a finger tip after getting pricked by a rose – I kid you not. It became infected quite some time after the incident and he

was lucky not to have died. These days there are gardening gloves specifically designed for handling thorns – and you can even get gauntlets and chest protectors for those in the thick of it. Imagine being able to prune roses and the like knowing that your hands will not be hurt – not that pruning roses is any particular love of mine. The gentleman I met said he was still pruning roses without gloves, as was the surgeon that removed his finger-tip. Both could save themselves some pain.

Posted in NZ Business | 1 Comment

Wear your safety equipment – dorky glasses are cool

This chap ended up with a grinder blade in his head and is lucky to be alive.

What the article does not say is whether he was wearing a face shield, and it also makes no comment on the safety of the tool itself, whether he was wearing other safety equipment such as a face mask and so forth. It certainly doesn’t sound good.

@hellonearthis commented on twitter “I think its more the need of a guard on the 9″ grinder than a face mask. A 9″ grinder would flick a face mask of the head if hit.

I absolutely agree about the grinder guard, but I would question whether an face shield is not available and also ask why such a big grinder was required. A decent sized face shield attached to a helmet should divert the blade away from the face. Here’s one for sale in the USA – $10.50 each or $8.50 in bulk. The visor flicks up when you don’t need it and has a cam to lock it in place. Price isn’t the issue with safety equipment – usage is.

I dare say this example from looks a little short for the task, while the open shirt is inviting trouble and he is wearing glasses but not goggles and it appears he has no hearing protection.

Minimum standard equipment on a safety oriented site for grinding is normally a face shield (to protect against face injuries and big chunks), safety goggles (to protect against smaller pieces in the air and a second line of protection), helmet, earmuffs, gloves and so forth.

Indeed @hellonearthis “9″ grinder only cuts 4.5″ A better mask, a full face helmet design. For the grinder to kick back, he was using it upside down.”, agreeing with the helmet/face shield approach. He also points out a very important fact – this accident happened because the tool was not used appropriately – reinforcing that the operator didn’t take the time to make sure the job was safe.

I cringe every time I see people doing tasks without any sort of protection. Indeed the risk of hurting yourself at home is probably higher than at work – because at home people take safety shortcuts, thinking that wearing safety gear is something that work imposes rather than something that is just plain dumb not to do.

It can creep up on you as well – just the other day I saw a woman escape possible eye injury from an angry exploding barbecued chestnut because she was wearing normal glasses. That’s not the sort of accident you can plan for, but kudos must go to the BBQer for making sure that the BBQing process was otherwise conducted safely, and for cordoning off the offending nuts when the incident happened.

So start by wearing safety glasses when there is risk – it’s easy to do, and is the  thing that will save you from most harm most easily. These days you can get cool glasses from the likes of Oakley, but a dorky $10 pair will work just as well.

The two dorky options below are cheap and cheerful – the first is $4 odd and the second $10. The third pair is one of a bunch on – another US site, and they sell for $5.75 each or $4.25 in bulk. So there is not a lot of difference between cool and uncool – though I daresay not wearing them at all is the least cool option.

I wear a set of glasses when I am working on stuff and even (and/or a visor) sometimes when I am motorcycling off road*.

I went the full hog and purchased a pair of compliant prescription glasses that change shade with the sun. It means that they are comfortable to wear for long periods of time (while they do look very dorky) and that I can keep them on indoors and outside when working in an industrial setting. While motorcycling I actually found that they are better when in the sun than my prescription sunglasses, and when the sun is low they are substantially better as they adjust to the changing conditions.

Glasses are a few bucks at Placemakers and the like – pick some up next time you are shopping and hopefully we won’t have to read about a nasty lawnmower or workshop accident.

*I could wear a motor cross helmet and goggles when riding off road, but I find that the advantages off road are lost on road – they are noisy, less aerodynamic and much more tiring. I should really wear goggles in very dusty conditions – goggles seal against dust whole glasses are open to the air. In reality I just drop back or take a break if there is a vehicle going at my speed just ahead (which is rare as I wouldn’t have caught them if that was the case) or if a vehicle is producing angry clouds of impenetrable dust.

Posted in media | 4 Comments

How to write a promo email – Apple sets the standard

It’s a great product – but I really don’t think my Mother will use an iPod touch, and I really don’t think Mothers day in an economic downturn is the time for Kiwis to give expensive presents.

However  the email is so nice that you just want to click:

Apple just gets these promotion emails exactly right – you can tell there is considerable design and language effort that goes into them. Let’s have a look at a few from the last year or two. I challenge you not to go to the
Apple store and  peruse some of the goodies on display.

While you are looking – think about your own personal and business emails. Are they up to standard? Are they reflecting what you want your company to reflect?

Trade Me can hold their head high (e.g. Mod’s Motors is beautifully written and produced) but not many others come close to this. Why not give it a go?

So Pink

Apple email

Christmas is red and white

Apple email

Boys valentines

Apple email

Christmas season begins

Apple email

Cheap offerings for Kiwis
Apple email


Apple email

New books

This had some localization issues – a version went to NZ where Treasures are a nappies/diapers brand.

Apple email


This one worked on me

Apple email

Mac Pr0n

Apple email

Edu.mac.ate me

Even newsletters are done well. Thus is a sales brochure really

Apple email

Uber cool

Apple email

Nerd mail

Even iPhone dev emails are beautiful. This was from a year ago.

Apple email

Posted in Internet Business, Life | 1 Comment

Two McKinsey pieces on education – do read them

Two astonishing reports on education from McKinsey.

The first shows the effect that the USA’s poor schools have had on their economy – and was just released. It finds the economic loss in the order of US$2,400 billion to $4,200 billion of GDP in 2008 alone. That’s more than enough to compensate for the current economic crisis.

It’s a tough number to get to though, as it means that the US schooling system would need to be the best in the world, whereas in fact is is close to the worst in the Western world. Their top schools are astonishingly good, but their average and below average schools are appalling.

NZ fares better than the USA, but there is a lot we can learn from this report. It wouldn’t be too hard for the local McKinsey office of the NZ Institute to generate the economic loss numbers for New Zeaand – how about it?

The Economic Impact of  the Achievement  Gap in America’s Schools

The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools

Poor school systems mean the students have poor grades, which mean that a lower proportion go to university, the average income is lower and they are more likely to have low civic engagement and criminal records. That’s summarized nicely in a page, as is a McKinsey team’s wont:

Somewhat frightening are the differences in scores relating to being black and/or low income – things which are also correlated. I wonder what the sme chart looks like in other countries.

While the most recent report stays well away from asking why the education is so poor, the report from 2007 does so – and it is fascinating reading as well.

How the worlds best-performing schools systems come out on top

How the world's best-performing schools systems come out on top

The summary is simple – get great people, help them become great teachers and support them with an equitable excellent system:

The difference a great teacher can make is immense – lifes are changed:

The end of the document has this wonderful check-sheet to determine whether you have an excellent education system or not. The gaps are pretty clear:

I would like to see this on every headmaster’s wall, along with everybody in the Ministry of Education, every member of a school board and all teacher of teachers:

In closing my recent favorite question to ask teachers is “how often are you reviewed by your peers?” The answer is usually close to “never”, and that is sad. It is very hard to improve if you are not getting continuous feedback related to normal situations.

I strongly feel we need to get to the stage where peer teachers can wander into and out of each others classes, sitting quietly at the back (say) without the students changing behaviour, and then giving and receiving 1-1 feedback after the class. This means the teachers need more time in the day, which in turn means more teachers.

We need to also better reward great teachers, those who work in lower decile schools and tough areas,  bringing back the student and society’s respect for teachers. It’s a tough job, and the teachers themselves (in the form of their union) are often against performance pay.

However I have yet to meet a teacher that would not welcome the feedback from peers, while the pay for the people to whom we entrust our children’s future is a national shame. Teaching is a calling, and we should not be doing it for pay, but I really think we owe it to them to allow them to live a decent life.

Posted in New Zealand Institute, Politics | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The New Zealand iPhone 3G network debacle

The iPhone will dominate the top end of phone sales

Even if you are a fan of other platforms, we can all appreciate that Apple has bought new levels of usability to the phone. It’s most obvious in the seamless connection with the App store on iTunes – a system that  makes building, selling and buying applications simple.

For me it’s  like 2003 and iTunes all over again – remember the plethora of MP3 players? They are still out there, but Apple grabs almost all of the revenue, and one imagines almost all of the profit as the others compete out any margin.

I sometimes see a future for Blackberrys, simply because of their installed user base and Apple’s unease with selling to giant corporates, but I also remember that everyone used to have Palm Pilots back in the day.

I am predicting that Apple’s iPhones will grab 40-70% of the top end of the phone market over the next 3 years.

Vodafone NZ iPhone data rates will always be lousy

It’s complicated [Geekzone], but worth going through. All of the network providers are upgrading their networks, and from about June everything will be different.

Vodafone are the sole sellers of the iPhone in New Zealand – they have a monopoly. Their 3G network is currently only in cities, and it is excruciatingly slow compared to, say, Telstra’s Next G service in Australia.

In the next 2 months:

  1. Vodafone are rolling out a new NZ 3G network – but it will not work at 3G speeds for (current) iPhones.
  2. Telecom are rolling out a new 3G network, which will work for iPhones. (similar to Telstra’s Next G)
  3. Telecom seem to indicate that they will not be selling iPhones.

Nobody seems to know anything about NZ Communications.

Buy an iPhone from Vodafone, use it on Telecom

Vodafone, to their credit, are selling the iPhone in unlocked state. You can buy it for about $1130, or for cheaper if you sign on a contract.

But you wouldn’t sign a contract – instead the logical move will be to transfer your iPhone and number to Telecom, grabbing a new SIM card and using it on their new 3G network.

If Vodafone starts locking phones then you will need to crack it – the Dev Team are on to that and I am sure there will be plenty of options for those not nerdy enough to do it themselves.

But for now – just wait

We don’t really know what is going to happen in June, and it gets quite fuzzy thereafter.

  • Telecom may launch with the iPhone in June.
  • Apple may emerge with a new iPhone that is compatible with Vodafone’s new network. They are due for a new one soon, and the timing is auspicious
  • NZ Communications may surprise us all by carrying the iPhone
  • Data rates will be in a state of rapid change as the carriers compete
  • I could have some of these facts wrong

Summary and implications

Apple doesn’t really care about New Zealand – as we are so tiny. But if they wake up then they will realize that either they need to give Vodafone a phone that works at high speeds here, or else they will have to sell the phones to Telecom as well.

Vodafone will fight to retain exclusive rights to sell iPhone in New Zealand, but the slow data rates will mean a much poorer experience versus overseas.

Telecom will try to add iPhone to their list of Phones – as not doing so would be a move equivalent to their decisions to go and then stay with the obsolete CDMA standard. Imagine leaving out 70% of the premium iPhone market.

Vodafone will be hoping that Apple deliver a phone that will work at 3G speeds on their new network. Unfortunately for Vodafone, hope is not a strategy. If they have delivered a high speed network that Apple has no intention of supporting, then I have to say that they have just commited equivilent of the CDMA blunder. If they know something that we don’t – then good on them.

The best answer for all of us consumers the iPhone working on all three networks, and sold by all three networks.

Posted in Internet Business, iphone, NZ Business | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments