Posts tagged Stuff


Lazy media (again)


Media frenzyI’m on my band-wagon again.  Well, one of them.  My ‘sheez the media is crap, especially considering they are (supposed to be) professionals at it.’ band-wagon, to be precise.

Anyway, in the last week I have seen so many cases of either sloppy reporting, or misleading headlines/sub-headings that I decided to post about it.  Two examples here are from today, but the best example I can cite is actually from a week or so ago (more on that later).



Today’s example 1: Wrong facts

Screenshot_10_03_13_12_22_PMThis one states ‘CEO Mark Ford …“.  The problem here is Mark Ford isn’t the CEO, he’s the chairman.  A very important distinction, especially considering the current criticism for the ex-CEO. OK, a simple error perhaps, but it should have never got past the proof reader.  And if it did, it shows that either the proof reader didn’t do their job, or doesn’t know their content.  Mark Ford is a professional DIRECTOR, he’s not a CE of anything that I know of at the moment.  I know this, why doesn’t the person writing and proofing this?




Screenshot_10_03_13_12_23_PM-2Example 2: Misleading sub-heading designed to trick the reader into clicking (I think we call that Spam if it’s an email).

This sub-heading reads ‘Cantabrians who have made Earthquake Commission claims will be investigated‘.  Now there are 200,000 or so claims in Canterbury (from memory), so that means 200,000 people might be quite interested in this story.  Except one important word has been missed out.

When one clicks on the headline, the full story reads quite differently it starts ‘Cantabrians who have made false claims…‘.  There is the key word FALSE.  So what the actually story is saying is that false claims will be investigated, not ALL claims.  That word should have never been left out of the sub-heading.

The story has it in the first line (as shown below), why not the sub-heading?  Because sensationalist headlines are in, that’s why!




Screenshot_10_03_13_5_16_PMBut the best (or is that worst?) example was a few weeks ago when the NZ Herald lead on their web site with the headline “Gay marriage bill approval“.  The article also initially stated “The Select committee approved gay marriage…”, when BOTH statements are totally incorrect.  The select committee RECOMMENDED that the bill be approved.   HUGE difference.  It’s politics 101, how our parliamentary systems works.  Once again, why doesn’t a journalist know this?  Why wasn’t this very basic, yet fundamental error picked up?  And just to be clear, this approval means the bill (ie not yet law) goes back to the house and parliament votes on it again (called the 2nd reading), and only once it is passed and approved the THIRD time by parliament is it law.  THEN and ONLY THEN is it approved by anyone!  A full summary of this process is here.

Over the course of several hours I noticed the headline and story edited several times, but the most fundamental error (the ‘approval’ vs recommended) error wasn’t picked up until the end of the day, and even then the headline was still factually misleading (it still said ‘approval’).


Black and White Version: Headlines are important.   Facts are important.  Media screw up both too often.



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Lazy crappy media


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Stuff you should not skimp on


I quite like bargains, especially for quality stuff (yep, I like champagne on beer money).  So I use web sites like to book hotels, buy $30 bottles of wine on special at the supermarket for $9.95, and spend $14 to fly to Sydney with AirNZ when it’s on special.

But IMHO, there are just some things one should not skimp on and here they are listed below (in no particular order).

Stuff you shouldn’t skimp on:

  • Oil for your car (even a cheap car) – get a good grade synthetic like Mobile 1.
  • Cornflour: Get Fielders (or whatever your good local brand is).  Same applies to baking powder.
  • Toilet blue thingies you put in your cistern.  The cheap ones just don’t last.
  • Your daily coffee – enuf said.  If you don’t understand this one you never will.  And if you don’t have coffee daily, then you are broken, that or you live in America where one can’t get good coffee.
  • Vanilla Essence.  Don’t buy imitation vanilla essence, ever.
  • If you live on a computer all day, and/or it’s your main work tool, get a good one.  This means one that doesn’t crash and is fast enuf to do what you do regularly without you tearing your hair out.  This probably means getting a Mac :-)
  • For men that wear them to work: black socks.  You wear em for 8+ hours a day, so make sure they are 95%+ natural fibers (like cotton or wool).
  • Ice-cream.  The $9 a litre stuff is just SO much betta than $5 for 2l.    This of course assumes you don’t eat it every week, just as a treat.
  • Pizza.  Actually scrap that, pizza is like sex, even when it’s bad it’s kinda OK.
  • Flowers for special occasions: Spend the extra $ and get a nice bunch, that or go minimalistic (single red rose).
  • ISP providers – esp if you use the net a lot.

Just to be clear, no one payed me to plug any particular brand, and no brands have given me permission to use their name.  I just blog about stuff I like and use.

Black and White Version: Cheap stuff works well sometimes, and quality cheap stuff is even better. But sometimes it’s just not worth skimping.

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Media gets it so wrong about dangers of WiFi on planes


Today the Age in Australia, Via Stuff in NZ, reported that WiFi may be dead before it arrives on planes due to new security concerns.

They claim:

The long-awaited advent of Wi-Fi and mobile phone usage on planes may be scuttled before it begins after last week’s bomb scares.

The person they quote (a Managing Directory of a British explosives consultancy) claims:

Wi-Fi connections give a bomber lots of options for contacting a device on an aircraft, Alford told New Scientist, including voice-over-internet connections to reach a mobile phone.

Pity they didn’t interview a TECHNOLOGY expert rather than an explosives MD.  Because the facts are:

  • At 30,000 feet most cell signals are out of range from terrestrial (ground) cell sites.  If they are in range whether or not the plane offers a service or not doesn’t change any risks.
  • WiFi on planes will require security to log on (just as a WiFi access point does on the ground).  This means a device on a plane has to know that password before it’s able to communicate.
  • The headline is totally misleading. Even the story says things will be reviewed (not dead) and the only airline quoted says their use would not pose any threat.
  • The headline is also TOTALLY wrong since already dozens of airlines offer WiFi and have been for over a year.

With a simple password system any WiFi on a plane will not add to any security issues (which all have BTW), Airlines don’t normally provide WiFi for free!).  The biggest issue is actually a device on a plane that’s near the ground (ie within terrestrial cell site range) coz unless planes install cell blockers, a device could be remotely activated from the ground without any airlines providing WiFi or cell services (ie it just uses the standard land based cell network).  Of course a bomb with a simple timer would work too.  The risk is from the BOMB, not WiFi!   The focus needs to be on how to detect explosives devices, not banning communications that have no bearing on the issue.

Black and White Version: Another headline that is NOT what the story says.  Nothing to see here, move on.

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