Word of the day

10/04/2012

Cocinnous – neat, elegant; harmonious.


Happiness & success, children and growing furniture

10/04/2012

The websites discussed with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today were:

Is happiness the secret of success? at CNN.

Big family? – Fine if you’re posh in the Guardian.

7 examples of living furniture at Mother Nature Network.


Users don’t like user pays

10/04/2012

A survey shows most respondents resent a surcharge on credit cards:

The survey, commissioned by public relations agency Impact PR, investigated the habits of Kiwi consumers and their perceptions of having to pay additional credit card surcharges.

The research showed the vast majority (90%) of customers would stop shopping at their regular store if a 3% credit card surcharge was added to their purchase.

Businesses have to pay a commission on credit card transactions so they’re just passing the cost on to the customers who’re availing themselves of the service.

However, the issue isn’t necessarily that simple:

Mark Devlin, owner of shopping website Showroom.co.nz, says retailers who add the credit card surcharge are short-sighted.

He says his New Zealand customers have no additional charges of any kind, whether it’s for payment by credit card or freight.

“What we may lose in margin we definitely make up for in customer satisfaction and repeat purchase. We wanted to create a ‘no surprises’ shopping environment where customers could feel confident purchasing a product without having gone through the whole process only to have charges added on the final screen.”

No surprises is a very good policy.

In New Zealand, unless it’s explicitly stated that something is GST is excluded we know it’s included and we’ll have to pay the price that’s stated.

When travelling I find it frustrating to see or be given a price then find it costs more because the price given doesn’t include taxes and other charges.

Nobody likes being charged more than the quoted price and most of us do have a choice of using cash or EFTPOS rather than a credit card if we don’t like surcharges.

However, rather than imposing a surcharge businesses could turn a negative for credit card users into a positive for others by pricing everything at 3% more then offering a discount for cash or EFTPOS.


App assessment

10/04/2012

British Prime Minister David Cameron is getting a custom-designed app for his iPad which will give him management data about his ministers’ performance.

The personalised PM app for Mr Cameron’s iPad has been under development   for months by experts in the Cabinet Office.

Previously the app had been billed as a way for Mr Cameron to keep on top of   Government business.

The software will allow the Prime Minister to see the latest NHS waiting-list   figures, crime statistics, unemployment numbers and a wide variety of other   data at a glance.

However officials are now working on ways for the app to be used to evaluate   ministers’ performance, using points-based evaluation systems from   corporate life.

One source said that it was quite natural for Mr Cameron to use points-based   assessment techniques used by chief executives in big companies.

Ministers could be ranked between 1 and 5, with 1 being excellent and 5 being   very poor, and evaluated at regular intervals by 10 Downing Street.

An app which gives an objective assessment of performance is a good idea – and not just for Prime Ministers.


The law is even more of an ass

10/04/2012

The Labour Department people working on Good Friday which is a statutory holiday found 22 shops open when they should have been closed.

Those working on Easter Sunday found 19 businesses trading when they shouldn’t have been.

The stupidity of the law which allows all shops in some places and some shops in all places to open while telling most shops they must stay closed has been well canvassed.

But I discovered the law is even more of an ass – bars which open on these days can only serve drinks to people who also order food.

Eating while drinking is sensible but this isn’t about drinking or eating. It’s just another silly clause in a really silly law which results in more people working to police or comply with the law than would need to be working if the law was more sensible.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has been doing her best to help Wanaka retailers have the same right to open as those in Queenstown just over the hill. She has a Members’ Bill on the issue due to go before the House in a few months and says she’s prepared to do a bit of horse trading to get it through.

It will be a conscience vote but last time the issue was before the House labour MPs whose consciences had allowed them to support a Bill from their own caucus a few years earlier block voted against it.


Road toll zero

10/04/2012

The Easter road toll was zero for the first time since records began in 1956.

Police believe the fatality free weekend is because of good weather conditions across the country and the decision to change the speeding threshold from 10 to four kilometres.

The roads weren’t free from inconsiderate drivers, though.

A woman was charged with driving too slowly between Levin and Palmerston North.

We were caught behind a couple on Friday who could have faced a similar charge.

We came upon the first driving considerably slower than was both safe and legal a few kilometres west of Omarama although in this instance the second vehicle was at least as much at fault as the first. We were the third car in line and there were a few opportunities where we might have passed one vehicle but the second made no attempt to pass the first and was too close to the first for us to pass it by itself.

We finally got past them then several kilometres on in the middle of the Lindis Pass we gained on a line of vehicles. When the road straightened the leading car pulled over and let several vehicles pass but pulled out again before we and the car behind us could pass. We had to crawl along well under the speed limit for about 10 more kilometres before we could safely pass.

If ever there’s a call to design purgatory I’d suggest a road like that with long queues of traffic led by a driver who shows no consideration for those caught behind with oncoming traffic preventing passing at every straight.


April 10 in history

10/04/2012

879  Louis III became King of the Western Franks.

1407 The lama Deshin Shekpa visitsedthe Ming Dynasty capital at Nanjing where he was awarded with the title Great Treasure Prince of Dharma.

1500 Ludovico Sforza was captured by the Swiss troops at Novara and handed over to the French.

1606 The Charter of the Virginia Company of London was established by royal charter by James I with the purpose of establishing colonial settlements in North America.

1710 The first law regulating copyright was issued in Great Britain.

1741 War of the Austrian Succession: Prussia defeated Austria in the Battle of Mollwitz.

1794 Matthew C. Perry, American commodore, was born  (d. 1858).

1815 The Mount Tambora volcano begins its peak eruption period that lasted until July 15.

1816 The United States Government approved the creation of the Second Bank of the United States.

1821 Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople was hanged by the Turks from the main gate of the Patriarchate and his body was thrown into the Bosphorus.

1826 The 10,500 inhabitants of the Greek town Messolonghi start leaving the town after a year’s siege by Turkish forces. Very few of them survive.

1829 William Booth, English founder of the Salvation Army, was born (d. 1912).

1847 Joseph Pulitzer, American journalist and publisher, was born  (d. 1911).

1858  The original Big Ben, a 14.5 tonne bell for the Palace of Westminster was cast in Stockton-on-Tees by Warner’s of Cripplegate. It cracked during testing and was recast into the 13.76 tonne bell by Whitechapel Bell Foundry and is still in use to date.

1864 Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg was elected emperor of Mexico.

1865 American Civil War: A day after his surrender to Union forces, Confederate General Robert E. Lee addressed his troops for the last time.

1866 The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) wass founded in New York City by Henry Bergh.

1868 At Arogee in Abyssinia, British and Indian forces defeated an army of Emperor Theodore. While 700 Ethiopians were killed and many more injured, only two of the British/Indian troops died.

1874 The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska.

1887 On Easter Sunday, Pope Leo XIII authorised the establishment of The Catholic University of America.

1912 The RMS Titanic left port in Southampton for her first and only voyage.

1916 The Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) was created in New York City.

1919  Mexican Revolution leader Emiliano Zapata was ambushed and shot dead by government forces in Morelos.

1925  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was first published in New York City, by Charles Scribner’s Sons.

1932 Omar Sharif, Egyptian actor, was born.

1933  New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps was created.

1941 Paul Theroux, American author, was born.

1941 World War II: The Axis Powers in Europe established the Independent State of Croatia from occupied Yugoslavia with Ante Pavelić‘s Ustaše fascist insurgents in power.

1944  Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler escaped from the Birkenau death camp.

1947 Bunny Wailer, Jamaican musician, was born.

1953 Warner Brothers premiered the first 3-D film, entitled House of Wax.

1959 Akihito, future Emperor of Japan, married Michiko.

1963 129 people died when the submarine USS Thresher sank at sea.

1968 The ferry Wahine sank with the loss of 52 lives (plus a 53rd victim who died in 1990 from injuries sustained in the wreck), this was New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster..

Sinking of the <em>Wahine</em>

1971 Ping Pong Diplomacy: In an attempt to thaw relations with the United States, the People’s Republic of China hosted the U.S. table tennis team for a weeklong visit.

1972  Oberdan Sallustro was executed by communist guerrillas 20 days after he was kidnapped in Buenos Aires.

1973 A British Vanguard turboprop crashed during a snowstorm at Basel, Switzerland killing 104.

1979 Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak: A tornado landed in Wichita Falls, Texas killing 42 people.

1987 Hayley Westenra, New Zealand soprano, was born.

1991 Italian ferry Moby Prince collided with an oil tanker in dense fog off Livorno, Italy killing 140.

1991 – A rare tropical storm developed in the Southern Hemisphere near Angola; the first to be documented by satellites.

1998 The Belfast Agreement was signed.

2007 Abortion was legalised in Portugal.

2010 – Polish Air Force Tu-154M crashed near Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 people on board including President Lech Kaczyński.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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