Saturday, August 29, 2009

AndroBlogger v1.03 and Android phone

My new Android-running, HTC Magic phone has been getting a thorough thrashing from me since I got it 5 weeks ago. Since then, I've learned a fair bit about the device and the Android system that runs on it. I've downloaded dozens of apps that do a myriad of things. They have all been free apps so far because New Zealand doesn't yet have access to paid apps on the Android Market.

My favourite apps so far are: TwiDroid for Twitter; any app that accesses the camera (especially Handcent SMS and the Camcorder);

09-09-04 Update: I've also discovered you can include links to URLs in a post from AndroBlogger if you wrap the appropriate HTML around a link pasted into the draft post. I've created some templates in "One Note" which I can put into my clipboard (using Clipbot) and then paste each one as and when required. Ok, it's a hack.....but it works. :-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chromium for Linux now does Flash!

I downloaded the latest build of Chromium for Linux this weekend and found they now have the Flash support up and running. They say it isn't complete and there will be frequent crashes, but so far, so good.

To turn the Flash support on, you have to add "--enable-plugins" to the command line in the object that starts the browser.

Here is a screen shot of a random YouTube video playing in Chromium on my 64-bit AMD Ubuntu 9.04 linux box. Click on the image to see the big picture.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Update on Murdoch's Chutney

Last April, I posted a blog entry about the trouble I was having finding products from "A. Murdoch & Co (Wgtn) Ltd". In particular, I liked their mango chutney, piccalilli and chow chow. These products were far better than the degraded approximations sold by others. But they were increasingly difficult to find. The only source we knew of at the time was New World supermarkets in Wellington and Foxton.

Since then, they disappeared completely from the usual places.

About 3 weeks ago, we went into a Foodtown supermarket at Glenfield on Auckland's North Shore. Among the condiments, we found a re-labeled and (judging by the colour) re-formulated Murdoch's Mango Chutney. The colour is lighter and the taste of ginger is much stronger. The taste of dates and sultanas have both been reduced.

Googling around, it seems Murdoch have been merged (2007) into Cooks Food Group, along with Sahara Foods Limited and Cotterill & Rouse Limited. The web site isn't very helpful, being more or less an online business card and nothing more. Cooks Food Group was listed on the NZAX in October 2008.

In April 2009, Cooks Food Group sold up to Hutchinsons, one of NZ's largest food importers, distributing lines like Trident, Ryvita, Lurpak, Castello, Carrs and Bel Cheeses. Hutchinsons, in turn is owned by Food Holdings Pty Ltd, which trades in Australia as Manassen Foods.

Manassen describe themselves by saying:
"... Our Brand portfolio is wide and diverse and spans across many Food categories in the Retail and Foodservice trade including: Dry Groceries, Confectionery, Biscuits and Cakes, Perishables and Frozen Foods. The company also has a strong focus on private label development with its retail partners and works closely with them in pursuit of quality suppliers.

- Manassen has a single-minded focus on Sales, Marketing & Brand building whether launching new brands or growing our existing brands. Such is our ongoing dedication to this goal that many of our existing brands have become household names."

I'd like to think they weren't going to mess with a good product, but the history of "brand focused" conglomerates is poor in my opinion. They tend to pump the brand while gutting the product to maximise profit.

Having said that, I do like the Murdoch's Mango Chutney they are selling now. It isn't the original product, but it's good anyway. I still can't find the Piccalilli or Chow Chow. Hopefully I won't have to add mango chutney to the growing list of things I already have to do myself if I want them done right....the market having failed me.

It's interesting what you find when you look at the companies behind the labels of almost anything on the shelf at the supermarket.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Straight talking from Green Co-Leader, Russel Norman

In an almost empty parliamentary chamber, Green Co-leader, Russel Norman explains why the tax laws in New Zealand seriously disadvantage companies who actually make stuff here.

The madness is obvious. What isn't obvious is why it happening.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2degrees live today

A notable event in NZ telco history is underway today. "2degrees" went live this morning. They are the first new cellular phone provider in NZ since Bell South (now Vodafone) went live in 1993.

Their voice and txt pricing looks attractive compared to the Vodafone and Telecom NZ, though the two incumbents effectively reduce their pricing in reality by offering bundles of txts for a flat fee or free phone time to nominated partner phone numbers ('Bestmates' and 'Family'). At 50 cents / MB, they are providing data services, but clearly not as a primary customer winner. At best, this will be useful if your main mobile data provider is offline for any reason.

I should be receiving my free 2degrees SIM with $5 credit in the next few days. It will be interesting to see how 2degrees fair. NZ can be a tough market. Small and somewhat inert ("Why change?").

I wonder if the 2degrees SIM will work in my HTC Magic? I've been with Vodafone as a prepay customer for years. I like Vodafone. But that doesn't mean I won't be a good consumer and help the market function more efficiently through pursuing my own interests. In vendor / customer relationships, loyalty is one-way at best. I learned that a long time ago.