Warehouse Stationery's so called specials.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 7-Aug-2007 18:05

Reading the junk mail today I couldn't help but notice Warehouse Stationery are claiming they are "taking a byte out of prices".. Or maybe that should be taking a bite out of your wallet.

Advertised on the front page is a Philips 19" Widescreen Monitor & Philips VOIP 433 Skype phone combo. This is a super special bundle that is advertised for $499 and will save you a whopping $279.

That's a deal almost too good to be true!

Now lets have a look at the going rate elsewhere on Pricespy.co.nz

Philips VOIP433 phones - first 4 prices are $76.50, $77.63, $112.15 and $112.50 (you're too expensive Brad!)

Philips 19" Monitor - first 4 prices are $310.01, $312.75, $313.00 and $325.13

So if you shop elsewhere you can pick up the exact same goods from a single retailer and pay $386.51 - add on freight and credit card surcharge and you'll still save yourself over $100. I'd love to see them explain to the commerce commission exactly how I could save $279 buying the goods at their store.

             "Warehouse Stationery, Why Pay Full Price" 

I didn't realise they were telling me to go elsewhere.

Country of Origin Labelling

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 2-Aug-2007 18:35

I posted a blog entry several weeks ago about Country of Origin Labelling on food which is available here

The Green party have today launched a nationwide campaign calling for compulsary country of origin labelling on food. I am by no means a Green Party fan (I wouldn't vote for them if you paid me) or even a fan of Sue Kedgley but this is an issue that I feel strongly about and I encourage everybody to sign the petition that the Green party have launched. Surely being able to clearly see that a product is NZ Made and being able to support NZ manufacturers isn't an unreasonable request?

The only thing that annoys me about the Green Party campaign is that they seem to specifically mentioning that we should have country of origin labelling so we can avoid products made in China which is just wrong. Just because something is made in China doesn't automatically make it bad. In a few years time they will be a world superpower..

Bollard raises OCR by .25

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 26-Jul-2007 09:22

As expected Reserve Bank Govenor Alan Bollard has just raised the official cash rate by .25% to 8.25%

Country of origin labelling on food

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 17-Jul-2007 11:19

New Zealand and Australia signed a joint memorandum in the mid 90's signalling the creating of ANZFA, an organisation that has since been renamed FSANZ (Food Standards Australia new Zealand) who's responsibility it was to develop and impliment joint food standards in both countries. This is something that's extremely logical and the fact so many suppliers in this part of the world have products in both countries it meant that the development of ingredient and nutritional panels on foods would be easier since both countries would have the same standard. This system has worked very well with the implimentation of compulsary ingredient and nutitional labelling over the past few years.

Over the past couple of years however things have started to go off track, we've had the current saga of the complementary medicines act which is likely to be be passed in Australia and canned in NZ but lets ignore that and focus on other issue where NZ has differed - country of origin labelling on foodstuffs.

In Australia it's soon going to be compulsary to include the country of origin on all food products. While a large percentage of food already mentions this it's was not required by law and companies had no obligation to include this information. All food products will require to have this information on the packaging including fruit & vegetables, meat and seafood. Australia adopted this however our Food Safety Minister Annette King decided this was not in the best interests of NZ on the grounds that it was not a Food Safety issue but simply an issue of consumer information. Several  groups in NZ were strongly against this bill including Federated Farmers who believed there was no need for such labelling. The irony of this is that our own farmers are suffering due to cheap foreign meat being imported into NZ and sold at a retail level with consumers being totally oblivious to this. If meat had to have country of origin labelling you would at least be giving consumers a choice between imported or domestic products. How they could possibly object to a law that would force retailers to show the country of origin of meat completely baffles me.

Recent cases of dodgy Chinese seafood and dodgy toothpaste shows how out of touch Annette King is. Whether these products are safe or not is irrelevant. Consumers have a right to know where their food is manufacturered so they can make appropiate decisions for themselves. Maybe people want to avoid food from a country such as China? Maybe people just want to know if their food is made in NZ so they can support locally made products? Annette King's claim that country of origin labelling was in no way related to food safety has now been proven totally innacurate so it's about time we reviewed this stupid decision not to join Australia in enforcing country of origin labelling.

If you are serious about knowing where your food comes from make sure you write to your local MP and suggest that her stupid decision be over turned. Knowing where our food comes from is a basic right.

Is Ernie Newman for real?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 25-Jun-2007 14:46

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the Dominion Post this morning. According to our out of touch TUANZ CEO Ernie Newman some people are paying 71c per minute for calls from landlines to mobile phones and if you’re to believe Ernie this high cost is a direct result of both Telecom and Vodafone charging excessive rates for call termination.


Termination rates are a major component of retail fixed to mobile calls and a reason we are paying silly prices of 71c per minute for a call from home to a cellphone.


Excuse my language but what the hell are you smoking Ernie?


Both Vodafone and Telecom have cut their interconnection rates considerably over the past few years and the cost of calls from landlines to mobile phones has dropped for many users. The problem has nothing to do with interconnection rates, it’s solely a case of telcos making excessive retail margins on calls from landlines to mobile phones. There are plenty of providers now offering call rates from as low as 25c per minute upwards with many customers now paying somewhere between 30c – 35c per minute for calls. Why is it that Telecom still have a base rate of 71c per minute for calls to mobiles? When this rate was set in the late 80’s the term interconnection agreement didn’t exist as their where no other toll providers and it wasn’t until the mid 90’s that you were able to make non coded calls to mobile phones using a provider other than Telecom. Off the top of my head the interconnection rates were set at around 45c per minute at this time for both Telecom and BellSouth.


I’m sorry Ernie but you’re barking up the wrong tree here and so was the Commerce Commission when they tried to enforce lower interconnection rates. Unlike mobile networks in countries without calling party pays most mobile networks in countries with CPP regard this revenue stream as a very valuable source of income. Cut these interconnection rates and mobile operators simply gather that revenue from other parts of the business by way of higher costs for mobile originated calls so at the end of the day nobody really wins. While mobile operators were forced to cut their interconnection rates there is nobody out there forcing toll providers to cut their margins on calls to mobile phones which is the precise reason Telecom can still get away with charging 71c per minute to call a mobile. Don’t go blaming Vodafone for a problem that has nothing to do with them. Vodafone argued to the Commerce Commission that lowering interconnection rates wouldn’t necessarily result in those savings being passed on to the end consumer and it’s now obvious that this is precisely what has happened. Why not start targeting individual toll providers who are charging excessive rates and who haven’t reduced their rates despite paying lower wholesale prices? They truly are the cause of the problem.



Stuff's "News" now a year old?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 23-Jun-2007 07:29

I couldn't help but notice this story on Stuff today which talks about HP's new Digital Cameras with a slimming function which can apparently look like you weight 10 pounds less. The story even made the editors picks and currently appears on the front page.

That's all fine and dandy but what's so newsworthy about these cameras? HP announced them at the CES in January 2006 and these cameras have been available in the US and UK markets since September 2006. A quick Google search shows a lot of blog posts and reviews from around September and October 2006 of these cameras with most people saying the feature is average at best. Here's a couple of links describing the feature back then - Macworld gadget blog   and this blog post which has a few funny comments.

How can Fairfax possibly class a rehash of a 9 month old product release as news?

What planet is Helen Clark on?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 13-Jun-2007 10:51

Reading the Dom Post this morning I couldn't help but notice Helen Clark's comments in this story (which will only be valid for a week until Stuff archive their article).

Helen Clark has shunned the idea of a common currency but has suggest a compromise - a single trans-tasman telephone calling rate.


Miss Clark instead suggested closer collaboration in telecommunications markets. The key to both countries' prosperity was joining forces in areas of complementary strengths.

"My dream would be to see two trans-Tasman telecommunications markets offering one domestic rate of calling. That would be fantastic for families, business, travellers, the lot."

Yet more proof of how out of touch our Prime Minister really is.

Toll plans are already available from virtually all telecommunications providers offering bundled calling rates to NZ and Australia. Telecom's package is probably the most popular delivering residential users 6000 minutes per month to NZ or Australia for $25 per month. VoIP has also delivered more than that - it's now enabling businesses to use VoIP providers in both NZ and Australia to avoid the costs incurred using traditional PSTN solutions and deliver far greater flexibility. A business can now have both NZ and Australian telephone numbers and pay less per month that what Telecom NZ will charge you for a standard business PSTN phone line.

It's obviously she opened her mouth (yet again) without bothering to check her facts first..

Vodafone's lousy coverage - WiFi + VoIP saves the day!

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 11-Jun-2007 21:50

I went over to Greytown for lunch yesterday. The food at the Main St Deli was sensational but Vodafone's coverage in Greytown is anything but. It's OK outdoors but inbuilding it's non existant.

Thank's to CafeNet and my VoIP enabled Nokia E65 my day was saved. I could connect to the CafeNet access point across the road at Greytown Computers and be connected with my Asterisk PBX here at home and was free to make calls - and avoid paying Vodafone! :-)

Intel D201GLY Mini ITX motherboard.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 1-Jun-2007 15:14

For those geeks who drool over the latest in cool tech toys you've probably read the news recently that Intel announced plans to release their first Mini ITX motherboards. The good news is that they are now available in NZ as of today.
The Intel D201GLY packs a integrated Celeron processor onto a Mini ITX board and is as cheap as chips - I was quoted a price today of just on $150 + GST for the system with 512MB RAM. Via have essentially had the mini ITX market to themselves for a long time and have traditionally had lower powered processors on their boards. Something like this Intel board would be fantatic for anybody who wants to play with embedded systems or even put a cool CarPC in your boot!

BP got pwned again.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 29-May-2007 17:06

Following on from my post yesterday BP Raises petrol prices by 8c per litre and rips of Kiwi motorists (again) my prediction that BP's 8c price increase was completely unsubstanciated has yet again been proven correct. They have been hung out to dry by the other major fuel companies who this afternoon raised their prices by 5c per litre to 156.9 forcing BP to cut their price by 3c per litre to match them. This is exactly the type of games BP have been playing over the past 3 weeks and follows on from my post last week about BP getting pwned.

Has anybody also noticed how the AA always used to criticise fuel price increases until BP started being the main culprit? It's obviously pure coincidence that around the same time as this BP hopped into bed with the AA. In the old days George Fairbain from the AA would be out accusing the fuel companies of ripping off customers. Now that it's their partner you hear very little..

I'm reckon everybody should boycott BP, it least it would send Peter Griffiths a blunt message that consumers don't want to be ripped off...Looking at it from another perspective  however maybe the fact that so many dumb consumers are happy to pay 8c per litlre more for fuel is all the proof they need that there is nothing wrong with their current strategy?

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 stevenbiddle@gmail.com