Gravity v1.0 - Twitter finally comes to Symbian S60!

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 30-Mar-2009 21:29

If you're a Twitter user with a Nokia S60 handset you'll realise that unlike other devices such as the Blackberry and iPhone there haven't been any "cool" twitter apps. The best option has been to use a web based service.

This has now changed with the launch of Gravity. Gravity simply blows the competition away delivering an extremely nice looking UI that's feature packed and offers integrated twitpic support.

If you're a Symbian user and hooked on Twitter then Gravity is a must have!

To see more and to download Gravity check out

Attn Mainstream Media - ASO will *NOT* be occuring in NZ in 2012

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 19-Mar-2009 09:31

It seems to be a common misconception in NZ that analogue shut off (ASO) will occur in 2012. ASO is the date that analogue TV broadcasts will shut down in New Zealand, meaning you will need a Freeview box, Freeview IDTV or a TelstraClear STB or Sky STB to continue to receive TV broadcasts.

This misconception is being continually fueled by the media who continue to repeat this date, including in an interview with Steve Browning from Freeview that appeared in the Domonion Post yesterday that says

(discussing ASO)

Public policy is to achieve this by 2012, or when three-quarters of the population has digital instead of analogue TV, whichever comes first.

This is incorrect. Lets get the facts straight.

ASO will *NOT* occur in New Zealand in 2012. Analogue TV will continute to be broadcast past 2012.

To quote the Ministry of Economic Development

(b) Setting a Switch-off Date

10. Free-to-air digital television (DTV) needs to establish itself, and time is needed to assess take-up rates and the public response to DTV. An initial target date (or range) for ASO will therefore only be announced once total DTV penetration reaches around 60%. Following this, a firm date will be set once penetration reaches around 75%, or in 2012 – whichever is first.

Is it very clear that a date for ASO (analogue shutoff) will be announced in 2012 or when uptake reaches 75%. ASO will NOT occur in 2012 or when 75% of households have digital TV. 

Industry expectations are that ASO will occur when digital uptake reaches around 90%. This is expected to occur sometime around 2014 - 2016. It will certainly not be occuring in 2012.

I've blogged about this in the past and it's clear that many members of the mainstream media seem to struggle to grasp this basic fact as it seems to be continually repeated. A little bit of reading on the MED website will give you all the facts.

Trans Tasman airfare war? What airfare war?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 16-Feb-2009 20:40

If you've been following the news over the past few days you'd be aware of some very good bargains for flights between New Zealand and Australia. Some of the advertised prices are so cheap that media have reported they have hit 20 year lows with flights getting down to $300 return including all taxes.

Instead of reporting how cheap prices are some of the media could try asking both Qantas, Air New Zealand and Pacific Blue why prices out of Wellington are significantly higher than out of both Christchurch and Auckland?
Looking at a few random dates it's typically between $120 - $150 more to fly from Wellington to either Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane than what it costs to fly from Auckland or Christchurch. This also doesn't factor in the $25 airport tax at Wellington that must be paid at the airport and is not included in the ticket price unlike Auckland or Christchurch.

We know significant additional competition exists across the Tasman flying in and out of both Auckland and Chrittchurch. Emirates have just launched their new A380's on the Tasman services and Qantas owned Jetstar have also slashed prices to compete. This has meant Air NZ, Qantas and Pacific Blue have have cut many fares significantly to compete. Here in Wellington we're stuck paying significantly more than an Air NZ  or Qantas customers out of either Auckland or Christchurch for the same routes.

Is it really fair that we're not seeing prices come down? Are Qantas, Pacific Blue and Air NZ price gouging customers flying out of Wellington? Is Wellington Airport doing enough to encourage competition?

How would your business cope if it lost it's internet?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 30-Jan-2009 13:28

The explosion of WiFi hotspots in recent years has now meant that a large number of business owners now see value in offering their customers internet access. It's now pretty common for many motels and cafe's to offer internet access and forward thinking NZ companies like Tomizone have made offering your customers a WiFi service easier than ever.

Simply buy an off the shelf router and you can start offering your customers a compelling reason to visit your business over another business that doesn't offer internet access. Give the internet away or charge for it - the choice is yours.

Section 92A of the Copyright Act comes into effect next month and will force ISP's to disconnect your internet connection if multiple complaints are received regarding the downloading of copyrighted material from your connection. This means that if you're a small business you could find yourself without an internet connection through no fault of your own if your customers download copyrighted material using your internet connection.

If you're a business offering an interneret connection what are your plans to minimise the risk of this occuring? Can you afford to have your internet disconnected? What effect would that have on your business? Are you likey to remove internet access (which could potentially lose you customers) simply to remove the risk of having your internet disconnected?

If you're a rental car company and somebody breaks the law and speeds in your car then you can pass that ticket onto the renter. Section 92A is the equivilent of having that car seized permanetely by the police with no compensation for you. How is that fair?

Have you really thought about this at all? If not you have a month to think about it!

Falling $NZ causing TV price increases

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 22-Jan-2009 08:08

I've been having a quick look around over the past few days at TV and it's interesting to note the significant price increases that are now hitting due to our falling $NZ.

Panasonic PZ850 50" Plasma TV's are one of the best TV's in the NZ marketplace at present. These TV's had a street price of around $4000 in mid December. During the boxing day sales prices fell as low as $3399 at DSE for this TV.

A quick look at DSE and LV Martin stores yesterday shows this TV now has a street price of around $5499. That's a whopping increase!

Speaking to a couple of retailers it appears price increases of around 20% are now taking effect. If you're in the market for a big screen TV then it'll pay to get in now!

If you are in the market for one of these TV's JB HiFi appears to have the best deal in the market - they still have these at $3993 but only have limited stock available.

BP raises fuel prices by 5c per litre.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 14-Jan-2009 12:59

BP has today increased the price of it's petrol by 5c per litre.

Infamous for having lead every petrol price increase in New Zealand for well over two years until prices started a downward slide in mid 2008, the company seems to have identified an increase in oil prices, refined fuel costs or a lower kiwi dollar, something no other company has identified as no other fuel company has yet followed this increase.

Rumors have been circulating for months that the company is soon to change it's logo to "the bird" so customers entering the forecourt are well aware of what the company really does think of it's customers.

When will NZ banks start taking card security seriously?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 28-Dec-2008 08:38

It's been revealed today that yet another case of ATM card skimming has occured. This time National Bank machines in Queen St, Vulcan Lane and Parnell all fitted with "anti skimming" devices had card skimming attachments fitted and card details taken.

It's well known in the security world that both NZ and Australian banks have some of the most lax card security in the world. This is the reason that New Zealand is now being hit by card scammers - it's becoming increasingly difficult to skim card details in Europe due to enhanced security measures in place. There are also numerous reported cases of European retailers now refusing to accept NZ or Australian credit cards due to the risk of fraud.

So what can we do? New Zealand banks should immediately be replacing all credit and EFTPOS cards with chip cards which offer a significantly higher level of security compared to existing magnetic stripe cards which are very easily cloned. PIN numbers should also be required on all credit card transactions as is the case in the UK and very soon all of Europe. Chip cards are not entirely foolproof however - there has been a case in the UK where EFTPOS terminals have been phyically altered to capture card details and send details via Bluetooth to capture equipment nearby due to a fundamental flaw in the architecture of the 3DES security for terminals that doesn't encrypt PIN numbers between the pinpad and the terminal.

So why don't NZ banks do something? Like everything banks do it's all about risk management. Replacing cards and upgrading infrastructure to replace mag stripe cards with chip cards costs money. Large amounts of money. It's obvious right now that these costs exceed the amount it costs backs to refund customers for fradulent transactions. Due to our lax security New Zealand is now turning into a prime target for scammers and skimming is a problem that is now going to become progressively worse until the tide turns and banks start taking security seriously.

So what can you do? Ensure that your credit card never leaves you sights.


* Hand over your card at a service station if they want to hold onto it when pumps are on prepay.

* Hand over your credit card at a cafe/restaurant for payment. Take the card to the counter yourself.


* Ask your bank what THEY are going to do to step up their security measures. In particular when THEY will be introducing chip cards for EFTPOS and credit cards issued by them. Remember YOU as a customer are in effect paying for fradulent transactions as its's simply part of their cost of doing business and reflected in the charges they pass on to you.

* Check your bank statements carefully. Report any suspcious transactions immediately.

* Be aware of any suspicious activity near ATM's.

$211 Freeview|HD Receiver - NZ's cheapest Price

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 25-Dec-2008 10:10

If you've been wanting to grab a Freeview|HD Set Top Box then DSE's Boxing Day sale is just what you've been waiting for.

$211 for the DSE branded Freeview|HD receiver. That's a bargain in anyone's books.

DSE's sale features 15% - 40% off everything in store for 3 days only, 26-28th December 2008.

The simple solution to petrol driveoffs.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 10-Dec-2008 21:35

Anybody who has a car will know that petrol driveoffs have become a real issue over the past year as fuel prices have increased. Go to fill up these days and it's not uncommon to find the pumps on prepay forcing you to pay for your fuel first to stop people filling up and driving off without paying.

The issue of prepaying for fuel was discussed earlier this week on Campbell Live, it seems that many stations are wanting to hold your credit card inside at the till if you choose to fill your tank, since they have no way of knowing exactly how much this will cost. This causes significant customer inconvenience while you stand in line, hand over your card, go outside, fill your own car (since chains like BP don't have forecourt staff), join the queue again and pay for your gas. Not only does this take time it exposes you to the risk of fraud due to the ability of staff to capture your credit card details or duplicate a card. Under no circumstances should you do this - never let your card out of your sight.

So how do we fix this problem? Simple. We go back 10 years.

Remember all those fancy EFTPOS at pump terminals that the service stations trialled everywhere? They are in use today at Pak 'N Save and New World Fuel sites and many truck stops but have virtually disappeared from forecourts everywhere else.

Why you may ask? They made life so simple for the customer, infact they made life so simple they were bad for business.

Every time a customer paid for their fuel using one of these they didn't enter the premises to pay the cashier. Get annoyed every time the cashier at Shell tries to upsell you to the special of the week on the counter? This is because the profit margins on goods in service stations is exceptionally high. As fuel margins have declined it's become a significant revenue source however if people don't walk in the door to pay for their fuel they can't be upsold overpriced drinks or snacks.

A source tells me over 85% of fuel transactions these days are card based, this figure is fairly typical for most retail outlets as we move towards a cashless society. Reintroducing EFTPOS at pump obvious has significant costs but can virtually eliminate driveoffs and speed up the whole process of buying fuel. But will it ever happen? I have a feeling the answer is no..

The next time you are inconvenienced standing in line just remember the reason you have to do this. Life could be so much easier if you were able to pay for your fuel at the pump but it's those damn greedy fuel companies intent on selling you snacks you don't need that are intent on not only ripping us all off with their fuel pricing, but making life as difficult as they can because the simple solution is a threat to their business model.

Go figure..

RIP Boston Legal

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 10-Dec-2008 08:57

The last show ever has now screened in the USA.


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sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at