Posts tagged new zealand

My submission on the marriage equality bill

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A private members bill put up by Louise Wall and recently chosen out of the ballet (the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill).

It passed it’s first reading 80 to 40, and as a result has been passed on to the Government Administration Select Committee (yeah, who knew there was one!) public submissions were invited, which closed yesterday.

My submission is below.


 

I believe we should live in a society were all law abiding citizens are all treated equally under the law. It is the (rightful) role of Government to set laws in such as way as this principle is upheld.

Marriage of two people, who choose  to commit to one another, should have no barriers based on sexual orientation. This is both fair, and right. Equally as important, as already stated above, it is the role of the Government to ensure this happens.

Human rights, such as the right to marry the person one chooses, regardless of gender or sexuality, should not come down to popular vote, even though the majority of New Zealanders support this. It comes down to doing the right thing.

Religious beliefs should have no bearing on a person’s support for this bill. I support people holding beliefs that differ to mine, and moreover would fight for their right to hold such views and express them. However, I do not expect them to follow my moral code, nor do I expect to be forced to follow theirs. I do however expect everyone to have the same freedoms and obligations as a citizen.

If some individuals find it offensive that two men or two women wish to marry, that is not a valid reason to stop this bill. There will always be persons that hold views that are discriminatory, divisive, or wish to provide one part of society with less rights than others. But regardless of why a person holds such views, they should not be allowed to override the principles of justice, where we are all treated equally.

We also need to consider the message sends to the future generations of New Zealanders, and in particular what message the current law sends to a young LGBT person. Already New Zealand has atrocious youth suicide rates, and being LGBT is a significant determinant factor. Research is clear that direct discrimination is one of the leading factors influencing a person’s decision to end their own life – one only needs to look at all the various groups that have high suicide rates to know how significant this is. As such, MPs have a unique opportunity to end one of the last pieces of legislation in New Zealand that is discriminatory of LGBT persons, and in doing so, not only provide equality for LGBT couples, but also send a clear signal to LGBT youth that New Zealand lawmakers do not support discrimination in any way. MPs have an obligation to protect citizens. Passing this legislation will do this.

In summary, I urge all MPs to make the right choice to end discrimination; make the choice to allow people who love each other full rights ability to choose under the law; and make the decision to send a signal to New Zealanders, and indeed the world, that New Zealand is a tolerant and open society that treats all its citizens equally.

 


 

I intend to personally present to the select committee considering the bill, and will be making the same statements to them, just more firmly.  The more I think about this, the more I am of the view that MPs have an obligation to pass this bill, for all the reasons outlined above, but mostly because it is the right thing to do in ending legislative discrimination in New Zealand.

Black and White Version: I support the bill.  I trust MPs in NZ do the right thing and continue to support it until it is law.

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VW-Golf-R

Golf-R – review 2 weeks in

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Here’s my updated Golf-R review (now that I own one)

I got the car two weeks ago, but waiting until I had 1,500km or so on the clock, under a variety of conditions and roads, so I could comment in some depth.

Firstly, let’s cut to the chase: This is ONE AWESOME CAR! The gear box rocks, the performance and handling is confidence inspiring, and the production quality is top class.  Car is very well appointed with extras, and things like iPod integration (for music) and iPhone integration (for phone) is very usable.

I suggest you read my 1st review of the Golf-R in New Zealand if you haven’t already done so. It has lots of commentary on it, as well as a comparison with the Scirocco-R.

Also some other useful links in case you want more info:

In this post I am going to make some specific further comments on:

  • The DSG gear box
  • The whole value proposition of this car, and how the competition lines up
  • Why I bought one (which may help to answer the question is it the car for you?)
  • The extras on the car (the ones you get, and the ones you pay for)
  • The bad – surely there must be some?

Before I start, the Golf-R has recently been named by TopGear UK as the hotest hatch for 2010. Not a bad wee award to win!  It also wins the somewhat less prestigious, but IMO far more important award of the 2011 best car in the world (according to me). I’ll explain why below.

(more…)

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shopping_bags

Is shopping in New Zealand a rip off?

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Yesterday the NZ Herald made an interesting story on how Jeans in NZ were almost double the identical pair in the US.  The asked the question is shopping in NZ a rip off?

They pointed out:

A pair of black Levi’s 501s for men cost up to $139.90 here but you can pick up the same pair in the United States for just $75.11.

Some of the explanations proposed by Shamubeel Eaqub, principal economist for the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, were:

(more…)

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apple logo

iPhone 4 and iPad in NZ – the black and white version

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I recently made a post about my take on the world in a black and white, cut to the chase, way.

Over the next few days I had a few friends ask me about the iPhone with questions like will they fix the antennae issue?, and should I buy one now or wait?

So here is my black and white answers.  Where possible, I try to answer in one (or a few) word(s).  The idea is to keep this straight to the point.  So here is my take on the iPhone 4, and the iPad in New Zealand

iPhone 4 in New Zealand

Question
Answer
Where can I buy one? www.apple.co.nz
Is there an antennae issue? Yep
Is the antennae issue a major one? No
Will they fix the antennae issue with a new model soon? Nup.
Will the next model fix it? They will change it, but it won’t “fix” it.  All phones suffer from it to some degree
When will the iPhone 5 come out? No one knows, but it appears to be about a new iPhone every 12-18 months.
Should I buy one? That’s up to you.  Do you want one?
Should I buy one now or wait for the next model? If you want to buy one, get one now.
How much do they cost? 16GB: $1099, 32GB: $1299
Should I buy one in NZ or overseas? New Zealand.  Coz the warranty is only in the country you buy it in, plus NZ and Australia are one of the few countries that have unlocked iPhones.  Do NOT buy one from the US.
Are we getting ripped off in NZ with the price? No, prices are about the same as OZ for an unlocked phone.  The reason US has such cheap phones is that you are locked into a 2 year plan with AT&T.
What provider should I use? XT
Do you get paid by Apple or anyone else to say stuff? No.
Who’s fault was the launch fail in New Zealand? Vodafone

iPad in New Zealand

Question
Answer
Where an I buy one? Apple.co.nz or lots of retailers like JBHiFi
Should I buy one? Up to you.
Will overseas iPad works in NZ Yep, right out of the box.  ALL iPads are ‘unlocked’
Buy in NZ or overseas? Up to you.  Probably NZ.  NZ price is about the same (or cheaper than) most countries.   Can be a tad cheaper in the US.  Remember warranty is country specific for iPad (so if you buy it in the US you have to take it back there for warranty claims).  Also anything over $700 attracts GST when you bring it in.
3G of WiFi model? Does depend, but for 95%+ of people, I recon 3G model (it has WiFi too remember)
How much does it cost? From $799 – an iPad Price list in New Zealand is here
What mobile provider shoudl I use for data? XT for 90% of people.  2 Degrees for the other 10%.  A comparison can be found here
But really why would I buy one? If you are asking this, then don’t buy one.  There are lots of reasons you might want (or even need?) one.  It’s up to you, they are cool, the work well, but all depends on what you might us it for.
OK, is it cool, like really? Yep.  It rocks!  A useful work tool too.

Black and White Version: Prices in NZ are fair for iPhone 4 and iPad.  Both are great devices, but only buy one if you want to.  Buy them in NZ, and use them on XT.

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Grindr, gay men, sex and the NZ Herald

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For those that don’t know, Grindr is an iPhone (and now Blackberry) application that uses location based search (i.e. it knows where you are) to tell you where other people using the same application are.  It has a simple image of each person (a photo you pick) and a short profile and basic stats (height, weight, age etc).   For anyone reading this, it’s easy to see that this is used by gay guys wanting to hook up ({f you don’t know what I mean by this check out this meaninglook for Slang Meaning 3(b) }.

Anyway, I have done a wee review of Grindr before, but had to laugh when the NZ Herald had this article today on Grindr. The headline was Gay men embrace GPS dates. That headline is quite wrong on a few levels:

  1. Grindr isn’t always GPS based – it’s LOCATION based.  An iPhone 2G uses cell phone triangulation to work out where it is.  But that’s a minor issue.
  2. How does one put this nicely?  Ummmm, Grindr is NOT about dates, it’s about HOOK UPs.  Cute that they say GPS dates, but yeah, no, not really.

It also quotes former Gay New Zealand editor Matt Akersten:

“You might not be in the traditionally gay areas like Ponsonby or Grey Lynn or the inner city – you could be in one of the smaller centres – and you just plug it in and realise you’re not alone, and there are other people like you out there, it’s a great networking tool,” he said.

Euphemisms are so cute..  It’s a great networking tool. Well if by networking you mean HOOK UP then sure, it is.

On a more serious level, Grindr works best in big cities with lots of users – like Sydney or bigger.  But when you go to Oamaru and you are the only person on it, it kinda falls down.   As they say, I am the only gay in the village. There is one downside of the super large cities: Since Grindr only lists a few pages (100 I think) of the closest people, in places like Sydney there might be 100 people within a few km, meaning you only see those people and not people further out.  In places like Auckland you see everyone (coz there are often only a few dozen online withing 10-20km at any given time).  Also as I have blogged previously, the application has to be running to work (no background push services unless you want to pay a monthly fee), so it kills the battery super quick.

That’s all.  Not a major issue, in fact it’s kinda nice that the media don’t write the headline Gay Mean use technology to have more sex, coz that would be true.  Mind you it would be true of MEN generally, not just gay men.

And fear not, new versions are coming:

A version of Grindr for lesbians and heterosexuals is expected by the end of the year.

Black and White Version: It’s nice to see a misleading headline (and story) that’s actually written more positively that the potential underlying story.

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iPhone Speed Test – Vodafone and XT in Dunedin

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I got a very nice email from  Ahmad who has done some cool (and independent) iPhone 4 testing in Dunedin.

Ahmad goes to some lengths to point out hes NOT associated with any telco – and just wants to share info (like me hes just doing this out of interest).  Thanks Ahmad, and here is the video:

Full test results for iPhone 4 XT vs Vodafone here.

Update: Here is the disclaimer info from Ahmad’s page, which I think is important to re-post here.  Coz I just say “Wow .. XT rocks” which is not quite how he says it!

  • This is NOT a test of which network is “best” or “fastest” out of Telecom XT and Vodafone 3G.
  • This is an iPhone specific test, and should only be taken as such. It is a comparison of speeds using the  iPhone 4 device, on Wednesday 4 August 2010 in Dunedin.
  • The test results should not be extrapolated beyond the scope of the test. However the results should be of interest to iPhone users in Dunedin, and to iPhone users generally. Your milage may vary if you use a different handset/device, or if you live in another city/town.
  • I am not a telecommunications expert. I am simply an iPhone user with an interest in testing the claims of Telecom XT being “faster in more places”. I repeat – this is a hobby. I welcome any feedback about these results and will endeavour to correct any errors which have been made if they are pointed out to me.

Black and White: More evidence that XT rocks on the iPhone (although like anything, it can vary).

Hat tip: Ahmad.  Thanks!

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mobiles

Mobile Termination Rates Will be Regulated in New Zealand

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YES!  Finally. WOOWHOO!

After all the attempts by the big two (Vodafone and Telecom) to stop this, it’s gonna now happen.  And this is GOOD for any mobile user in NZ.  It will also help 2Degrees to grow and be a more effective 3rd player.  The reason this is so important to 2Degrees is that 95%+ of mobile users are on Voda or Telecom connections they can’t drop their rates too much because of the high Mobile Termination Rate (the amount Telcos pay each other to interconnect). Anyway .. this will help this big time and enable 2Degrees to lower its rates further and further drive down prices!

The Telecommunications Minister, Stephen Joyce, has announced Mobile Termination Rates will be regulated:

Mr Joyce says he considers that accepting the Commission’s recommendation meets this test and in this case will lead to lower mobile termination rates and more competitive mobile pricing plans for consumers.

“Following today’s decision I look forward to New Zealand mobile users enjoying more competition between operators and better prices.”

The next step is to add mobile termination access services to schedule 1 of the Telecommunications Act by regulation. The Commerce Commission will then go through a process to set prices and other terms which mobile carriers must offer. This process will likely take a few months.

And who do we have to thank?  Well the boys at droptherate for an excellent campaign AND of course a big thanks to Vodafone, for their own goal (yep they sure screwed up).   Sucks to be you eh Vodafone? <grin>

Black and White Version: Well done on regulating mobile termination rates Mr Joyce!

HatTip: Kiwiblog

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Gym Memberships Sale

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Thought about joining a gym but still coming up with an excuse (kinda like the same ones for quitting smoking I guess, or the diet starts tomorrow stuff)?

Anyway .. here’s your chance to get in now and get your gym membership subsidised by AT LEAST 40%.  The offer starts on 1 August 2010, so if you are reading this before then, get in now before the rush!

Click on the image below to be taken to the web site of FitnessNZ, who is offering subsidised memberships at over 100 exercise facilities (gyms) around New Zealand.

There are some terms and conditions (which are all listed on the FitnessNZ web site), but the key ones are:

  • This is designed to encourage NEW people into exercise, so current members (and certain past members) are not eligible
  • There is a VERY limited number at each facility available – and this depends on the facility, so if you are interested get in now!
  • You CAN buy this for someone else if you like, but they need to meet the criteria (i.e. a new member).

Black and White Version: Subsidised gym memberships available for a limited time – get one now!

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NZ map

iPad – XT, Vodafone and 2Degrees comparision

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Well the iPad is out in NZ now (although the Apple NZ site still shows Notify Me at the top right for where the Order Now button should be as spotted 1st by Lance Wiggs).  Anyway, in addition to this meaning that I now won’t get swamped by people when I pull the iPad out in public, it does mean many of the NZ telcos have also released micro sims and also iPad data plans.  So here’s the round up.

iPad summary for New Zealand across telcos

For each item, any clear winner is marked in green, with any clear last place network marked in red (blue is for hyperlinks, so ignore that colour!)

2Degrees

XT (Telecom)

Vodafone

3G network

Next week

(only have coverage in 50% of NZ)

Coverage Map

Yes, full

Coverage Map

Yes, but not 3G in all of NZ for the iPad1

Coverage Map

Micro Sims

Available now Available now Available now

Data Plans

(pre-pay)

$6 for 50MB2

2Degrees iPad Data plans here

500MB – $29.95 (1GB is $59.90)

2GB – $59.95 (4GB is $89.90)

4GB – $79.95 (8GB is $109.90)

XT Pre-Pay Data Plans here See note 3


250MB – $20

3GB – $50

Vodafone iPad Data Plans here See note 4

Data Plans

(contract)

Not yet available

500MB – $29.95

2GB – $49.95/$59.95

4GB – $69.95/79.95

XT Contract Data Plans here See note 5

No idea.  Some other voda plans MAY work, but remember some plans are “add ons” only (meaning is has to be added onto an existing Phone Plan, no a stand alone data plan.

Price of Micro Sim

Free to swap, or $20 with $20 credit.

Prepaid $29.95 / Postpaid $19.95 (free on open term 500MB plan)

Free according to the web site (but $6.95 postage)

Data charges special conditions

30 Days Expiry on pre-pay

Charges full amount each month when used at all.

PREPAY: 30 Day expiry for pre-pay.  Offers special 10c/MB until hit cap, and also $29.95 in a month to double data

CONTRACT: Can do the “double up” for $29.95 (see note 5)

30 Days Expiry on Pre-Pay

Charges full amount each month when used at all.


Notes
  1. See this post for why XT is full 3G for the iPad (and iPhone 3Gs/3G) where as Vodafone is not.  Or check for yourself by comparing coverage on XT with coverage on Vodafone and coverage on 2Degrees or this speed test between XT and Voda on an iPad in NZ
  2. 2Degrees data all expires 30 days after purchase.  50c/MB over 50MB.
  3. XT pre-pay charges 10c per MB capped at rate you set (e.g. if on 2GB then capped at $59.95)  Then for a further $29.95 your data doubles (so 2GB goes to 4) and then its 10c/MB after that.  These “double up” rates are show in brackets in the table above.  All XT rates are the same as other mobile devices.  A reminder some plans on XT are add ons only, meaning they can only be added onto an existing phone plan (i.e. not for data only devices like the iPad)
  4. For Vodafone, these are special iPad only plans.  In theory one might be able to use any of Vodafone’s data plans, but their web site implies that these are the only plans avail, so I am listing these only.  Remember, like XT, some plans are add ons only, meaning they can only be added onto an existing phone plan (i.e. not for data only devices like the iPad)
  5. XT rates for 2GB and 4GB contract are reduced by $10 if Home/Business broadband plan.  The table above shows this.  Also they offer the same “$29.95 for to double data for the month” as they do with Pre-Pay.

My recommendations on plans (updated 26th July 2010)

For light users:

  • The 29.95 XT pre-pay plan is best.
  • If you only use 20MB, that’s 10cx20 = $2, if you use 100MB, that’s $10, and so on up to 295MB (anything between 295MB and 500MB is $29.95).

For heavy users:

  • The XT 2GB plan (on pre-pay or contract, whatever is easier for you).   The double up to 4GB for a further $29.95 makes this plan very flexible (and good value).     Same apples to the 4GB plan – but I would be hard pressed to use 4GB, let alone 8GB, on an iPad.
  • If you insist on Vodafone and are only in the major metros most of the time, their 3GB for $50 plan is quite good, but know that Vodafone does NOT have a 3G network in all of NZ, and that even where it does XT is heaps faster most of the time.

UPDATE 27th July 2010:

Check out my new iPad pricing graphs for data here – it shows all the cross over points right up to 10GB or all pre-pay plans.

Other useful related links


Black and White Version: XT is still the way to go for the iPad (better coverage, and better conditions on plans) but at least there is a choice of three carriers now.

Update 26th July 2010: Made some corrections in line comments below – thanks Reuben! Removed some XT casual plans, and updated notes on XT and Voda.

Updated 29th July 2010: Updated 2Degrees info on micro-sim availability and pricing.


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2degrees logo

2Degrees goes 3G

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2 Degrees  (the third mobile company in NZ with a network) announced their 3G network is ready in the NZ Herlad.

Mobile phone company 2degrees will start using its 3G network next week, putting it on a par with rivals Telecom and Vodafone.

Specialists are completing the final network testing, so it will be available only to a select group of customers.

But company spokeswoman Bryony Hilless said the 3G network would be available to all “sooner rather than later”.

While at present the data plans on 2Degrees aren’t that appealing for any moderate to heavy users.

What’s quite interesting here is 2Degrees are doing a very soft launch, with this 3G Launch news just slipping in, rather than Vodafone that announces things with a big song and dance, but actually says nothing (see post here).

For iPhone 4, and iPad users, this will mean a 3rd network can now offer an alternative, but for iPhone 3g and 3Gs users, XT is still the only option (IMHO) due to the frequency issues (as explained in this post about the iPad).  While there are other providers in NZ (like Slingshot, Orcon etc) these are just resellers of others networks – 2Degrees actually has its own infrastructure and network, albeit that it only covers 50% of the country for now.

Black and White Version: Competition hotting up in the 3G space in New Zealand, hopefully prices will start to fall soon (esp for data).

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