Personal · Politics · Technology

Impulse buying and manufacturing demand.

When you take economics at high school the very first thing you learn about is supply and demand – the ‘customers’ have a demand for a given good or service then the that sends a signal to the marketplace to which the response is the creation of businesses that meet that demand. The point of marketing? to tell the consumer, “hey, you know that thing that you’ve always wanted? well, we make that very thing!” and if there is a competitor making the same product then that marketing will also talk about why your particular product is better than the competition. Like many things you learn in economics, when first starting out, the explanation is simple and straightforward – there is demand and in respond someone addresses that demand through building a business to produce a good service or service. Once everyone has obtained that given product or received that particular service then how do you have a repeat customer? you create an upgraded version but what happens if customers are happy with what they have even after explaining all the benefits of the new version? well, there is planned obsolescence where you’ll say that you will only provide software updates for a set number of years but then there is a more ingenious way of getting to people.

With the rise of YouTube a whole new genre of videos emerged in the form of ‘unboxing’ and ‘product reviews’ which are another avenue of marketing that a business can take advantage of. A business will recognise that a certain reviewer has a large enough audience and will send a review unit so then, rather than having a someone from the business speaking about the product you have someone whom the audience already has a parasocial relationship with – a sense of implied trust that the person speaking is speaking from a place of genuineness rather than it being the result of that person simply carrying out their job as a spokesperson for the business aka “I have no skin in the game so I’ll give the upfront truth”. Then there are the influencers, be they online such as Instagram or offline, that imply that if one wishes to be ‘up with the play’ and on the ‘cutting edge’ then one should get this new product or service that they are using.

Then there is the role of social pressure which is amplified not only through real world interactions but also through social media. Where such products and services are seen as embodiments of social capital – friends and family only ever uploading videos and photos of the good things in their life thus giving the perception that everything is going well with examples of that success being that they have bought in terms of ‘symbols of success’ (along with the cultural cachet that comes with it) such as the latest phone, laptop, desktop or some intangible such as a holiday. The company taps into the angst over whether you’re missing out/falling behind your social circle and because we’re social creatures we want to conformt to be seen as part of the group – we’ll of course try to justify the purchase to ourselves but ultimately it is the peer pressure to ‘keep up with the Jones’ and be part of the ‘in crowd’ which will shape our behaviour.

Then there is the atomisation of society of individualism off the rise of capitalism then it taken to the extreme with the rise of neoliberalism and its emphasis on the individual but as noted before we’re social creatures so in lieu of a sense of a community based identity a new form of neo-tribalism has developed around companies, products, sports teams etc. where we associate our own self image to the image that those particular vestiges of identity which are associated with particular brands, sports teams, products etc. If one were to slip into Marxist mode, one could see this as an example of people trying to deal with alienation by substituting real relationships based on shared interests, values, religious beliefs etc. with the fetishisation of commodities then creating common interest around that shared commodity usage through virtual communities online.

The below video makes a light hearted look at the situation – reminds me of when I see an smart watch, I think of all the things that I could find useful but then I quickly realise that I’m trying to justify an impulse buy rather than a situation where the product itself is addressing unaddressed needs that existed before the arrival of the product to the market claim to address a need that in reality never actually existed in the first place.



Heading up to Auckland.

Well, on Tuesday I’m heading off up to Auckland for Christmas with mum and nanna. I’m grabbing the 12:55 midday flight so that’ll mean I’m getting up at 9:00am and going to grab the 9:41am train which will get me in by 10:00am where I’ll grab the bus to the airport – I’m still deciding whether to bring my laptop but I’ll see how I feel in the morning.

The process by Customs is taking its good old time – it appears that they’ve got a bit of a backlog. Just a tip to businesses, in the age of the internet there is no excuse for failing to communicate to your customers about what is happening – if you’ve got a backlog which is why there are delays then be upfront about it as to avoid people ringing up every other day chasing up on something that could have been communicated via a website message.

I’ve been reading more about the failure of Labour and it appears that there is a tendency for uncomfortable truths to be disregarded when one is stuck in a particular echo chamber. The narrative in left wing circles at the moment is that Jeremy Corbyn and Labour were slandered by the capitalist class and if it weren’t for the capitalist class then he would have won. The problem is that it completely disregards all the decisions that Jeremy Corbyn and his backers made, Although I sit on the left I think it is important that we don’t get stuck in bubbles, that when uncomfortable truths do appear that we don’t ignore them because they don’t fit into the narrative that we’ve constructed in our head. The postmortem for many on the left will be uncomfortable but I do hope it is a wake up call so that lessons can be learned and mistakes are not repeated.


Recent UK election post mortem.

I thought I would leave it for a few days before writing something about the recent defeat of Labour UK at the most recent election. There is a process of post mortem about what went wrong and during this time I am reminded of a saying my boss used to say about ‘controlling the controllables’. The meaning of that is the idea that there are things that we cannot control and we shouldn’t fixate on those but instead focus our energies on the things that we can control. In the case of working at the restaurant I was employed at – we couldn’t control the hours of operation, the location or a host of other issues but we could control the freshness of the cooked ingredients, speed of service and the regular maintenance of equipment to ensure that customers can buy the products when they want it.

When it comes to politics the left wing will always be at a disadvantage when compared to the right wing – we don’t control capital or the means of information dissemination so any time we are given an opportunity to spread our ideas we need to ensure that peripheral issues aren’t taking away the focus. In the political world there is a limited supply of ‘oxygen’ and we need to use that ‘oxygen’ in the most effective way possible. If we are spending our time defending ourselves because we’ve surrounded ourselves with people who have a questionable past or associate with questionable people then that valuable ‘oxygen’ will be wasted trying to defend a decision that could have been avoided had that appointment not take place. The net ‘being on the defensive’ results in the focus moving away from being spent on policy and instead it is focused on being in defensive mode. The most recent example of that would be the article by Tina Lowe (granddaughter of NAZI collaborator) entitled ‘Bernie Sanders has an anti-Semitism problem’ (link) by virtue of Linda Sarsour being a surrogate for the Sanders campaign for president. Why focus in on Linda Sarsour? because of her relationship with Louis Farrakhan. I made some tweets on Twitter pointing this article out, not because I think that the accusation holds any water (the accusation by dismissing Bernie Sanders as ‘merely culturally Jewish’ which lays the foundation for the reader to draw the inference rather than the author coming straight out with it) but rather the fact that the right wing in the United States are already starting their dirty tricks campaign against Bernie Sanders early.

Then there is the man himself, Jeremy Corbyn, who had a low approval rating even before the media got a hold of ‘Jeremy’s dumbest quotes’ that the media repeated on regular basis. After the 2017 election he should have stepped aside and allowed a fresh face to carry the ideas forward without the person advocating them being a distraction. A position I’ve always stuck to is this, if you go for the top job and you fail then one should at least have the humility to admit that maybe you’re not the right person for the job and allow someone else to take over leadership. It is something that Hillary Clinton should have done the first time around when running in the primaries against Obama, when she lost she should have stepped aside and let a new generation of leaders come through. Not all people are destined to be leaders – some are better suited to being technocrats who work behind the scenes to get things working and others have that charisma about them which can unite people from within the party and outside a party towards a set of objectives. There is also the matter of antisemitism within the party, there are many videos talking about it but this one is pretty succinct:

Then pair that up with Corbyn referring to Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends’ and a ‘force for peace and justice in that region of the world’ then I think it is fair to ask some pretty serious questions as to whether he is antisemitic or at the very least tolerates it. Then there is an astute observation by Howard Jacobson¬†regarding how conformable Jeremy Corbyn appears when surrounded by antisemitic people (Ken Livingstone and George Galloway to name a few). Then to compound the situation further is the denial by supporters online (and in real life) who attack anyone who bought up the issue of antisemitism within Labour as if it were some sort of ‘vast right wing conspiracy’. As @JewishWorker noted in a recent tweet:

So when allegations were raised regarding antisemitism within the Labour Party it should have been taken seriously rather than having the usual noise makers on social media and the the real world smearing any who dares to bring up the issue by labelling them as ‘angry Blairites’. The net result of that defensive posturing? it re-enforced the conclusion that Labour has an antisemitism problem and that they’re in denial.

Regarding the attempts to try to draw parallels between Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, I would be cautious about drawing such parallels simply because Corbyn was never a popular person outside the legion of supporters who signed up as members. When it came to polling, Labour never had a chance of ever winning which is why I keep reminding people that Twitter (and social media in general) doesn’t equal the real world. Yes there was a lot of momentum and excitement but these were pockets of echo chambers that never represented the real world. Compare that to Bernie Sanders and when they have done polls in terms of a ‘Trump vs. Sanders’ the end result is Sanders comes out on top where as where as with Corbyn he was unpopular and remained unpopular even after the electorate had a better look at what he stood for.

The big question is whether the left in the United States learn from the mistakes made in the United Kingdom or whether the left in the United States waste that valuable ‘oxygen’ justifying who they appointed to various positions or whether they defuse the situation by having a top to bottom audit of everyone involved in the campaign and remove anyone who has the slightest hint of possible associations with undesirable characters such as Louis Farrakhan. The right wing are testing out the waters so even though The Washington Examiner is a right wing tabloid the reality is that the right wing media is very much the human centipede of news – eventually it’ll make its way to Fox which in turn will eventually make its way into the mainstream whether you like it or not:

Policies also need to be realistic – politics aren’t about making giant leaps forward that cause disruption and instability but a gradual progression forward which involves ensuring that you bring not only along your ‘hard core’ supporters but also the wider society into your vision for the country – this is the reason why I talk about the need to focus on the general trend (are we moving the overton window to the left and shaping the discourse to our advantage) rather than whether we get everything done in a single election cycle. There is no use in sitting around boasting about being the most pure of the pure in adherence to one’s ideology if the net result is that you lose every election but you have the smug satisfaction that “well, I kept to my principles and never compromised”. Congratulations, rather than getting into power and being able to make incremental changes to improve the lives of millions of voters you have instead engage in purity boasting only to lose the election and now millions are going to find that their conditions will keep getting worse. Here is a good interview outlining just that:

When came to the issue of Brexit, although there was a graph (circulated on Twitter) which showed it was the second most important factor for why people did not vote Labour (behind Jeremy Corbyn being the leader sitting at the top of that list) the survey was based on people who turned out to vote. The question I ask is how many didn’t turn out to vote because they would normally vote Labour but saw a second referendum as a betrayal but couldn’t bring themselves to vote for one of the other parties. Ash Sarkar posted on her Twitter feed a graph with voter turnout, over the last 40 years the voter turnout has been going down with the parties fighting over a smaller and smaller number of voters. How many of those who saw the promise of a second referendum as a betrayal of the first referendum would have turned out had Labour steadfastly said that the British public voted Brexit and we should work to get the best possible deal for Britain? if the remainers within the party accepted the result rather than trying to relitigate the past and throwing a temper tantrum of “I’m going to vote for lib-dems if I don’t get my own way” then one has to ask whether the defeat wouldn’t have been as bad.

Regarding the what one could call ‘the liberal establishment’ (sometimes known as the ‘liberal census’) or what the journalists who describe centrism as in the following video:

The class of people that the journalist refers to don’t make up the majority of the electorate and they never have – 40 years of capitulating to the Islington/London liberal cosmopolitan set has resulted in 40 years of declining voter turn out for the Labour Party with the culmination being 15 years of wandering around in the wilderness where neither Blairism and Corbynism have addressed why people stayed home and not vote who in past elections would have voted for Labour. Corbynism went to far in the crazy direction (see comment in video about foreign policy, views regarding IRA, Hezbollah, Hamas etc) direction and Corbyn was the wrong person to advance it but if there is a drift back closer to the centre left in terms of of retaining scaled down versions of those populist centre left policies then there is a good chance of winning back those voters who held their nose and voted Tory at this recent election.

Activists also need to take a good hard look in the mirror – the woke brigade of self appointed upper middle class white folks, who embrace on a superficial basis language of social justice but lack a coherent class analysis because they’re addicted to virtue signalling, made it easy to portray the left as out of touch elitists who have a vanguardist condescension about themselves which amounted to talking at the working class rather than listening to the working class. When you tell an already down trodden people without power or influence that they’re horrible humans for voting for Brexit and that they’re racist, xenophobic for ‘not making the correct decision’ then is it surprising that will be a backlash? Same can be said for what happened in the US with Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deporables’ which the media and Donald Trump campaign run with then compounded it further where Hillary Clinton pretty much said, “I won in the states that matter”. There is no use talking about having a working class movement when you can’t even lead the working class out of a paper bag.


Big updates from Apple.

Today there were some big updates pushed out by Apple, macOS 10.5.2 at slightly above 3GB which includes firmware updates, a sizeable number of security updates as well (link) along with pretty much almost every part of the operating system having been touched in some way by the update. iOS almost received an update to 13.3 with a modem firmware being updated to 2.03.07 and the carrier settings updated to ‘Skinny 40.0 – unfortunately it hasn’t yielded VoLTE yet as Spark has only just started pushing it out to spark customers (Skinny is their cheaper no-frills brand – all the thrills, none of the frills).

Google is/have pushing out a feature update for their Pixel phones which will include memory compression for cached applications (along with other improvements) so hopefully that should mean a more efficient experience (link). It is also good to know that Google is going to be pushing out ‘feature drops’ on a regular basis so hopefully it should build up brand loyalty knowing that as they keep their device that software experience will keep improving over the life of the device.

There is a rumour that Google is going to release an Google branded Android TV 10 (based on Android 10) device sometime in 2020 to cater for the gap in the market sitting between a stripped down device like Chromecast and a high end ‘jack of all trades’ which the nVidia Shield Pro caters for. Google has released the ADT-3 device to developers along with the Android TV 10 code to third parties so that they can get onboard with testing and pushing it out to customers. Personally I long for the days where one could just settle for a television without all the bells and whistle, and if you wanted a smart television you just went out and bought a set top box like an Apple TV, Fire TV or some other device. There is the Xiaomi Mi Box S which is currently testing Android TV 9 (based on Android 9) – hopefully with the foundations laid in Android 9 (project treble) will yield a smoother migration from Android TV 9 to Android TV 10. I’m still umming and arring about getting an nVidia Shield Pro but I am learning towards getting it but in 2020 after coming back from Christmas holidays with the family.

Side note: Chrome 79 has been released for Android, iOS and desktop operating systems (Windows, Linux, macOS) – everything is working smoothly as always. I can now sign into YouTube using my G Suite account – there is a stand down period after creating a new account. After I could sign in I cancelled the Premium subscription on my old account (which is just used for chatting with a friend and for my domain registrations) and enabled it on my new one along with getting my television to log into my new account and migrating the subscriptions from my old account to my new one.


Presents have arrived.

The first part of the Christmas presents have arrived today – the glasses I bought online:

The top two will go to my sister and partner along with a box of chocolates, the bottom two will go to my brother and his partner along with a box of chocolates. It is difficult to buy for people who can pretty much buy what they want so something that is unique or quirky.

At the moment I’m still waiting for my Pixel 4 XL phone, case and accessories to clear customs but I’ve jumped the gun and sent in via email the special customers client code which is required when importing something that is over NZD$1000. Once that has arrived I’ll put my old phone up online along with my Apple TV plus a few other things for sale to balance things off in the end. I’ve had a look at Amazon regarding the nVidia Shield Pro and although I am tempted the problem is that by the time it is in stock and arrive in New Zealand I’ll already be up in Auckland for Christmas. I’ll have a sleep on it and see how I feel after Christmas about whether it is something I want to go ahead with.

Side note: As a convert to Judaism I see Christmas as a time to get together with family – even before conversion I never really saw it as any more than a secular holiday to have fun with the family. The kids enjoy the presents, a lovely big meal with the family etc. given how we’re spread over two countries – perfect time for the family to all come together.

Personal · Technology

Getting the presents organised.

Each year I set myself a deadline that all Christmas shopping must be done before 10th December as to avoid the crazy Christmas rush. The last part was bought tonight KMart on the way home – $50 voucher for my niece but while I was there I saw that they had some cheap and cheerful plain black t-shirts so I bought four of them at $7 each. I’ve got the rest of the stuff coming via courier so hopefully that’ll be arriving either next week or the week after so then I can get it all wrapped up for Christmas. The plan is still going ahead to order some desserts from Denheath and have them delivered to my Grandma’s place – my way of contributing something for christmas lunch.

The Pixel 4 XL phone along with all the other goodies has left the United States on 4 December so hopefully next week on Monday or Tuesday it’ll be delivered so then I can sell my iPhone XS Max 256GB and Apple TV 4K where the amount will be enough to offset the original purchase (basically I”m no better off or worse off than before purchasing it). The good side is that I’m now fully back with ASB which supports both Apple Pay and Google Pay. I’m having a look at an Amazon Fire TV Cube assuming that the built in one included with my television becomes too irritating but so far it is holding up well.

Windows 10X appears to be a project that is a lot wider in scope than was first announced with the advertisement of a job to work in the IoT area of Microsoft specifically on working with Windows 10X running on IoT devices. Interesting to see what is happening with Windows 10X and whether long term we’re going to see it offered as a download alongside the standard Windows 10 ISO.


Waiting for YouShop delivery.

The phone has finally arrived at the YouShop warehouse, it has been repackaged with the two other items and will be shipped soon so hopefully if I am lucky it might arrive either at the end of this week (which is highly unlikely) or maybe Monday or Tuesday next week. It’ll be interesting to see how it performs given that the Qualcomm modem included with the 855 SoC is superior to what Apple use in their own phones (Intel based modem). I’ll take some photos of my unboxing and write a preliminary review as soon as I get it then around a month later I’ll do an updated review to add any additional information that cropped up over the month.

Today I took advantage of the cyber Monday (we had on Tuesday in New Zealand) and bought 12 pairs of undies and 12 pairs of socks which will be arriving in around a weeks time. I’ll be a happy lad once it arrives as I have a whole lot of old undies and socks I’ll need to throw out as it has been over 3 years since I bought new undies and socks.

Personal · Technology

End of the week.

Last day of work for the week tomorrow (Sunday) so I’m looking forward to getting it out of the way – I’m going to chill out and relax over the next couple of days and enjoy not having to worry work.

The Pixel 4 XL is still on its way so hopefully it’ll be at its destination by Monday or Tuesday next week at which point I’ll combine all three packages together as a single package to New Zealand. With YouShop they collect GST so it should mean that once sent from the United States it will go through customs pretty quickly. I think in future when I buy stuff from overseas I’ll wait till black friday, order a whole heap of stuff and then get it delivered to New Zealand.

Something I have been wanting to write about for a while and that is replying to the accusation which some people have made in the technology media that Google ‘sells’ your personal information. Now, I am no habit of defending multi-billion dollar companies but that being said I do get frustrated when people make disingenuous claims for the sake of getting those all important clicks and views.

Google doesn’t sell your personal information to third parties, what happens is this: for example, a company comes to Google and says, “I am selling widgets, I want to target women over the age of 30 who are married and have an income over $100,000” then Google say, “sure, we can do that, and here is the cost $x”. No information ever changes hands other than the ad buyer wanting target ads towards a certain demographic and Google is the mediator between the ad buyer and the person(s) seeing the ad.

Facebook on the other hand was a different situation – third parties they were able to pull down information from those who directly opted in for an application but also all those who are friends and friends of friends who hadn’t opted into sharing anything . which is why the likes of Cambridge Analytica (along with many other organisations) were able to harvest so much personal information from so few users who had opted into using their application or online service (which linked back to their Facebook profile).

The problem with spreading false information is that it doesn’t help the consumer in the end which result in many just throw their hands up believing that ‘they’re all the same’ thus giving up on the idea on security and privacy. A parallel to that would be the way in which the media portray every politician the same (example in the US where they never mention the politicians party affiliation) resulting in the voting public taking the jaded cynical view that ‘they’re all the same’ and then end up disengaging from politics completely. What consumers need is the truth, no sectionalism, but the truth and through being truthful then and only then can consumers make an informed choice. As Steve Jobs noted an interview, it is about ensuring that the user knows exactly what they’re getting themselves into and for them to make the decision whether any trade offs are worth it.