Rant of the Day - By no means updated daily

Bus-Stop Smokers

Posted on Wednesday 8th of March 2006 07:50:35 PM by Maximinus
Yesterday was a particularly bad day in the way of bus-stop smokers for me.

Firstly, I was waiting for a bus from CPIT to work - standing in the bus shelter, and along comes a man, smoking like a chimney, and takes a seat right by me, and continues to smoke, making no effort to keep his smoke away from me.  I moved out of the shelter to escape his smoke, and although he noticed me do so, he made no apology for his lack of effort - not even acknowledging it.

Next, on the way back from work to CPIT for my afternoon classes, there was a Pacific Island woman with three young children, who arrived at the bus shelter shortly after I did.  She sat down, and encouraged her children to do the same - except the youngest, which she asked to stand in front of her so she could access the child's backpack.  Out of the backpack she pulled a pack of tobbacco, some papers and a filter - and proceeded to roll herself a ciggie.  She then, with her children all sitting close around her, proceeded to light up - making no effort to keep the smoke from her children (or me).  Has this woman never seen one of those ads on TV, advising smokers to 'take it outside?'  Sure, she was outside - but still in a relatively confined space, and with her young children in very close proximity.  It was fairly evident that she doesn't 'take it outside' anyway, as her youngest child proceeded to demonstrate by having a small coughing fit.  It is worthy of note that this child could not have been more than 3-4 years old.

I was then confronted with another bus-stop smoker when waiting for a bus home from CPIT - this time outside Hoyts 8/Science Alive.  This one wasn't so bad, though - although that was probably mostly because they were downwind from me, so the smoke was blowing away from me.

The woman mentioned in the second incident above was by far the worst offender; not only being inconsiderate to me, but damaging her children's health and increasing the likelihood of them becoming smokers as they get older as well.  It's people like her who really need to stop and think before they light up.  Pay attention to the ads, people!  Take it outside - for the good of all of us.
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NZ-Only Advertising

Posted on Friday 3rd of March 2006 06:37:04 PM by Maximinus
Ok, so it's not a rant.  Just spotted this ad in a story on The Reg - seems it was only used in New Zealand; how come I never saw it?

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Confounding Countrymen

Posted on Saturday 4th of February 2006 01:59:25 PM by Maximinus
What puzzles me is how nearly all overseas news stories involving New Zealand are about its people - doing preposterously absurd, worrying or disturbing things:


To name but a few.

Why is there never any 'good news' from New Zealand making international headlines?
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Chillingly Chinese

Posted on Saturday 4th of February 2006 12:42:21 PM by Maximinus
You've probably heard that Google recently started censoring its search results in China.  Here's a great example:

Search Tiananmen from Google Images:
Search Tiananmen from Google China:

On a related note, what about that Tank Man, eh?

Note: these links will open in new windows, so you can get to both from here.  If you use Firefox, you can middle-click or ctrl-click them to open them in new tabs, or even set Firefox to use new tabs instead of new windows.
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Taxing Telemarketers

Posted on Monday 23rd of January 2006 07:58:17 PM by Maximinus
Telemarketers.  We all know and hate them.  Just as you're sitting down to eat your delicious dinner, *ring ring* - it's a telemarketer.  Or you're watching your favourite show on TV, and *ring ring* - it's a telemarketer.  Maybe you're even just lazing about, enjoying some quiet time - until, *ring ring* - it's a telemarketer.

They're always wanting to sell you something you don't want, or invite you to a "free" seminar on something you're not at all interested in.  They're never ringing to offer you a million dollars, or something else you might actually be interested in.

Worse than your average telemarketer is the recidivist telemarketer.  You tell them to piss off once, and they ring again another day.  Once more, you tell them you don't want whatever crap they're offering; that you're not at all interested.  Yet they still insist on ringing back yet again, to once more offer you the same crap you've turned down twice already.  They just don't seem to get the picture.

Then there are the horse-racing commentator telemarketers - you know the ones, they just keep talking incessantly, never letting you get a word in edgewise (so you can't tell them to get stuffed, I suppose).  The only way to deal with these telemarketers is often to just slam the phone down on the hook, and hope that they don't ring back.  I've often wondered if you cut them off quietly, how long it would take for them to realise that you've hung up, and stop talking...
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Dastardly Drivers

Posted on Thursday 19th of January 2006 09:40:28 PM by Maximinus
Of late, I've been biking to work at least once or twice a week.  Today, trying a different route, therefore not having a nice bike path separate from the road (well, that's only for about 2/3 of the way actually) I was exposed to the dastardly doings of drivers for much of the journey.

Firstly, you have the reversing rascals who decide that since there's a parking lane thing going right by outside their place, they can go right out onto the road before checking for traffic.  Right into the middle of the bike lane I'm in, causing me to have to do some emergency braking to prevent myself from plowing into them.  What has happened to common decency, and common sense?

Next, there are the gas-guzzling gargantuans known as "4WDs" or "SUVs" - often driven by soccer mums, or other people with no use for their offroad capabilities.  When they're not just generally driving badly, or driving at about the maximimum speed that somebody like me can attain on a bike like mine, right in front of said somebody on said bike, belting out huge clouds of smoke right in one's face, they also enjoy taking five times as long and six times as many turns to get their monstrosity out of their driveway and onto the road as any other road user - preferably just in time to cut of a cyclist or two, creating the need for quick braking and perhaps a bit of backwards motion to get out of the way.  They then proceed to take longer than the cyclist to build up speed, all the while pumping out large, thick clouds of smoke.

And worst of all are the cups.  You have very dusty cupsI want to.... Sorry, momentary lapse into the greatest series ever - Black Books.  Anyway, they're not worst of all, but what they are is buses.  They have a nasty habit (although they haven't managed to do it too much lately) of driving ridiclously close to the kerb - sometimes leaving so little space that I have even had to jump up onto the footpath, hauling my bike after me - that it's just not funny.  They also seem to enjoy pulling out of bus stop either as you're going past, or just as you have passed them - either forcing you out into the middle of the road, or forcing you to make a mad dash to avoid having a bus crammed up your rear end.

There are three long-running stereotypes about types of people who can't drive.  They are, in no particular order, Asians, women and old people.  So, what happens when you mix all three?  I found out the answer to this the unpleasant way today whilst waiting to turn right onto the vertical part of a T-junction.  She was sitting there waiting to turn from my right, to her right (ie, across my path).  She therefore had the right-of-way, thanks to New Zealand's crazy road rules.  Several opportunities arose where there was nil traffic and she could have safely turned - and each time, she inched forward slightly as if she were going to go, then thought better of it, and slipped back to her original position.  Eventually, a very large gap opened up, and she finally decided to go - albeit by this time there were a few other vehicles behind her, also waiting to turn.  Next in line was a white-van-man.  But no ordinary white-van-man - a very kind one.  He had obviously seen me sitting there waiting for the old woman to move, and so he signalled for me to go ahead and turn, despite him having the right-of-way.  Thank you, white-van-man!
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System-Wide Slack-Off

Posted on Wednesday 4th of January 2006 11:45:37 PM by Maximinus
Ok, so I can understand the need for people to have time off work, especially over the Christmas/New Year period - that's why there are public holidays etc. So, it's only fair that shops etc shut on Christmas Day, and some types of business for other days as well (ie family-run or small businesses, like many takeaway places and dairies). But why do computer systems need these days off?!

I went to send somebody some money using online banking, only to find that for some reason, the system was taking the entire 4-day weekend off, so the payment, even if I had requested it after cutoff on Friday, would not be processed until today (Wednesday) - and the evening, at that - and so the money would not get to the recipient until tomorrow morning. It's an automated computer system, what reason could they possibly have for it to not work on the Monday and Tuesday? In fact, why doesn't it work on weekends normally? It's an automated system, why can't it work 24/7? And why is it that I can move my money between my accounts instantly, at any time of the day on any day, even these days off, yet if I send money to somebody else, it vanishes from my account instantly, but they don't get it until the following business morning (assuming I got in before cutoff)?

Another place I've noticed such slacking off is takeaway places and small food bars etc. There's a great wee shop around the corner from work, which sells pies, sandwiches and more - but they weren't open today, despite it being a normal working day. So, we walked down to the next food place down the road - not open either. There's nowhere else within walking distance to buy food, so we went back to work and ended up ordering pizza - which the WON'T deliver until 4pm, so we had to get a lift down to pick it up! Sure, the two places I mentioned first are probably both family-type businesses, so I can understand them taking a break, but neither, as far as I noticed, even had anything to say when they will be re-opening. And what's wrong with taking Christmas eve through to yesterday (inclusive) off? That's 11 days...
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Txt-Tlk Torture

Posted on Monday 2nd of January 2006 02:18:54 PM by Maximinus
So, you hear these stories of so-called "txt-spk" or "txt-tlk" (otherwise known as "Oops! I forgot half the letters!" or "I Can't Spell for Peanuts") creeping into use in essays and exams. If I were a teacher or exam marker, and I came across such atrocities, I would be deducting marks and probably leaving comments to the effect of "There was no limit to the number of characters allowed" and "Have you forgotten how to write full sentences?" - in fact, no, if I were a teacher seeing that in an essay, I would surely be an "English" teacher - so think I'd see it as a sign that I had failed as a teacher, and would be forced to move on to something better.

Anyway, this "txt-tlk" is getting out of control. People are using it in online conversations, despite having full QWERTY (or other layout) keyboards at their disposal. Surely it should be taking more effort to think up these stupid little abbreviations than it would take to just type the whole word? And being a slow typist is no excuse - you'll never improve the rate at which you can type full words if you never type full words.

Another alarming trend is for adults to use txt-tlk (see, because I know how to use proper English, I keep having to go back and take the vowels out of that abomination, because I somewhat automatically add them in). I'm ok with some shortening of words to make an entire message it within the 160-character confines of a single SMS, but when they're doing it needlessly, it just pisses me off. And when adults are using it in online conversations, it's even more annoying - once again, they have a full keyboard at their disposal, and this time, they've been brought up using full words - and they're mangling the English language in hideous ways despite all that - and to achieve what?
For your sanity and mine, PLEASE type out your words
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Battery-Powered Buggery

Posted on Thursday 29th of December 2005 02:24:54 PM by Maximinus
So, you get something electronic for Christmas. It needs batteries, but doesn't make mention on the outside of the box - so you end up totally unable to play with your new gizmo until at least the next day, when you can get hold of whatever obscure type of batteries it requires.

How hard would it be for the companies to just sling in a couple of el-cheapo batteries, even if they'll only last long enough for you to have a quick play?

And this year I've noticed an even more alarming trend - supplying HALF the batteries needed. A multi-piece set, which visibly displays batteries through the packaging... Which, upon opening, only contains the batteries for one part of the set, rendering it mostly useless. If you're going to do something, do it properly - supply batteries for the whole lot!
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Shop FuBar!

Posted on Thursday 29th of December 2005 12:36:05 AM by Maximinus
Oh, and before I forget again - if you haven't already, check out the better-than-before FuBar School store - grab yourself an all-new black shirt of either the "I See Lagged People" or the "Baby Oil" variety - or any of the other great FuBar School gear - and help get the site going.
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Christmas Spirit

Posted on Thursday 29th of December 2005 12:32:00 AM by Maximinus
So, the idea is that Christmas is all about showing you care, right? As the saying goes, "it's the thought that counts."

So, then, why do people give gifts such as deodorants, soaps etc? The only thought which I can think of which could inspire such a gift is that the person who is to receive it smells bad, or needs to shower more often. This doesn't seem to me like a very nice message to be sending at Chrismas.

If the person really does smell bad - don't dampen their spirits at Christmas. Try something subtle like leaving a can of deodorant in their bedroom or bathroom next time you're at their house, or sneaking one into their bag at school or whatever. That way, if done correctly, they might not even so much as suspect it was you.
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Death of Webcomics

Posted on Saturday 6th of August 2005 07:24:22 PM by Maximinus
We gather here today, to mourn the loss of two great webcomic sites.

Firstly, there was Inktank, home to Angst Technology, Sorry We're Open and Weak-End Warriors. The artist has now decided that it takes up too much of the time he doesn't have, so Inktank is now his personal blogsite.

Secondly, there was Squidi.net, home to A Modest Destiny, The Starship Destiny, the new comic that had just begun - Zombies of the Living Dead and a few other short comics etc. There are multiple reasons behind this closure; firstly, the lack of time, partially due to starting a family (same as one of Inktank's reasons) and secondly, horrible things happening which ended up with some bastards posting the physical address etc of the artist, intending to make it possible for people to abuse him more than just online. He has decided to take down the site, though intends to keep writing the comic and is looking for a publisher who will take it. I wish him all the best in finding a publisher, and as soon as I get wind of any of his work being published, I intend to get my hands on it!

Both of these webcomic sites will be sorely missed by their respective fans (me being a great fan of both).
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Parcel Problems...

Posted on Thursday 23rd of June 2005 06:32:25 PM by Maximinus
Ok, so me and a few others did a group ThinkGeek order the other day.

It's in NZ right now, as far as I can tell - but I can't get hold of it yet, because somewhere there was a fuckup and when it hit customs they thought it was worth a shitload more than it is, so they wanted to charge me $200 in duty and GST. I've managed to eventually get them a copy of the proper receipt, so they can work out the correct fees (sounds like I might have to pay GST on the shipping, but nothing else... if I'm lucky) - ended up having to upload it to my server, because their mail server rejected my attachment - though it didn't say that, it just bounced the message saying "exceeded storage allocation" - and it took them over two and a half hours to tell me that it wasn't a problem at their end (at which stage I decided to try without the attachment) - though, in my opinion, it IS a problem at their end, as it shouldn't bounce a message with a 42KB attachment with such a cryptic message.

So, after a day and a bit of attempting to resolve this situation, I still don't know exactly what's happening, though from what they said, the duty should be erased, as it is under $400 - though I will still have to pay GST, though I think it might be only on what's over $400 - ie, the shipping. I'm just hoping like hell that I'm going to be able to get the package tomorrow.

Note to anybody thinking of purchasing stuff from overseas: Keep the total value, including shipping, below NZD$400 and you won't have to pay a cent extra in GST/duty.
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Sorry, you've got the wrong (house) number...

Posted on Sunday 19th of June 2005 11:45:33 AM by Maximinus
Man, the stupidity of some people never ceases to amaze me.

I dare say we've all had our fair share of phone calls from people with the wrong number. There's one guy who I'm sure has run here more than once asking for "Hellen" - and every time, he gets told he's got the wrong number.

Just now, the same guy (I recognise his voice from the stupendous amount of calls) drove up our driveway and knocked on the door - and asked if he had the right house, and if Hellen lived here. NO! GO AWAY! If ringing here gets you told she doesn't live here, is knocking on the door REALLY going to change that? BAKA!
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NZQA - New Zealand Quirky Association?

Posted on Wednesday 11th of May 2005 05:37:07 PM by Maximinus
Well, let's start this one in early 2004.

NZQA sent me my provisional results, followed by my test papers. One of the NCEA L2 Maths papers was listed as Not Achieved, even though right there on the paper it had a big "A" for Achieved. So, I wrote a letter explaining that they had transferred the grade incorrectly, and even used their fancy-pants word to say so, can't remember what they called it now. They sent it back REMARKED, saying they had decided not to change my grade and that I Achieved it. It is worthy of note that remarking costed $10 per paper, and they did not get a cent out of me for it. I then had to send it back AGAIN explaining that that was not what I had wanted, that I was happy with an A and that I just wanted it to be listed as that on the record of learning. Just over 6 months after I got the exam papers back and sent the first letter, they FINALLY sent me an ammended ROL.

When they got around to sending out the actual NCEA certificates, they sent me an NCEA Level 2 certificate, and I figured at the time that they had decided not to send a Level 1 certificate because I had the Level 2... (I passed both Level 1 and Level 2 in that year, while I was in Year 11.)

Today, my NCEA Level 3 certificate and current ROL arrived. But, to my amazement, also in the big brown envelope was.... my NCEA Level 1 certificate! So now I have NCEA Level 1, awarded in April 2005; NCEA Level 2, awarded in April 2004; and NCEA Level 3, awarded in April 2005. Go figure.
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