Steve Zone:https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddleenNo, AT aren&rsquo;t stealing your money. How Stuff confused a nation.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8955GeneralSat, 09 Sep 2017 09:25:00 PDT<p>New Zealandís <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/96542243/hop-cards-60day-cash-swipes" target="_blank">biggest news site today wrote a story</a> basically accusing Auckland Transport (AT) of being thieves. Iíd hate to be working at AT tomorrow having to be dealing with the fallout from this alt fact fake news.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/db8c0548036a4566bee58a405dbe2ac3.png"><img title="image" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/5329c4fef54e4205b576faf318805e2b.png" width="644" height="410"></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>This story has resulted in mass confusion from AT HOP card holders and lead many people to believe theyíre going to lose the credit on their AT HOP cards if they donít use them every 60 days. Nothing can be further from the truth. </p> <p>The woman in the story topped up her AT HOP card online. The key point here is that AT HOP card, like any other stored value public transport card has the balance stored on the card itself. There are two ways to load credit onto the AT HOP card Ė the first is to do this at a retailer or AT HOP kiosk, and the second is to do this online.</p> <p>Until the balance is physically loaded onto the card it doesnít actually exist.</p> <p>When you top up a AT HOP card at a kiosk or retailer itís a real time transaction and your card balance update is immediately applied. </p> <p>When you top up your card online itís a two part process. First off you ďbuyĒ the credit online using your credit card. Typically this payment data is downloaded to every AT HOP terminal across the network in every bus, train and ferry overnight. When you now tag on to a bus, train or ferry, or ask for a balance query at a AT HOP terminal that new balance will be applied to your AT HOP card.</p> <p>The woman in this story purchased the credit online but ignored the very clear instructions provided during the online top up process. Her balance never ďmysteriously dropped to zeroĒ as it was always zero. As she didnít use the new card within 60 days of the online transaction her balance was never applied to her card. </p> <p>Many people who have read the story now mistakenly believe that they will lose their AT HOP card balance if they donít use it every 60 days.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/d6a92317ecaf4eec9f565fdfef6ef0e5.jpg"><img title="hop1" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="hop1" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/454c2a79739747d887a43e3ec8158038.jpg" width="644" height="136"></a></p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/8e361797430e4878b34ac802229b8dd1.jpg"><img title="hop2" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="hop2" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/34f67ae6e6134839a69e3773086031e6.jpg" width="644" height="138"></a></p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/06ccc7ced9be4c659a1fd02ea5a4a4c6.jpg"><img title="hop3" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="hop3" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/02d0bf44829d4569b67bba151f680131.jpg" width="644" height="123"></a>&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/868d6d924f474a8180df9861a234fb40.jpg"><img title="hop4" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="hop4" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/4c4ca693369f4fe5a72dc478380c8e87.jpg" width="644" height="122"></a> </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/9f7850d42d094865b4fccbd7412ca58b.jpg"><img title="hop6" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="hop6" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/0c5e46b14924424d84067f46196c4243.jpg" width="644" height="118"></a> </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/2a94fb42c5fc46e3a7bd0d1cfdfa5336.jpg"><img title="hop7" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="hop7" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/1b3528c1b7e54273ba95a9ce766b3eff.jpg" width="644" height="138"></a> </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/789ede360b4e40b5bc5241fe39e58459.jpg"><img title="hop8" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="hop8" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/72e23a532f824e788118534d9c499110.jpg" width="644" height="118"></a> </p> <p>The actual story here is the 60 day period that exists between purchasing credit online and using your AT HOP card on a bus, train or ferry, or asking for a balance at an AT HOP terminal. If you fail to use your card within 60 days of an online top up, your top up is removed from the system. </p> <p>As explained above every night every AT HOP terminal is loaded with a file that contains online payment details and card numbers. Every time a person taps on to a bus, train or ferry this database needs to be queried to check if credit needs to be applied to the card. </p> <p>A typical HOP transaction takes around 350ms to occur Ė in this time the card is read, the database queried to see if the card is valid or blocked, the top up database is checked to see if a top up balance needs to be applied to the card, and lastly the new balance is written back to the card. Every step of this process takes time, and time is critical. If transaction times were doubled to 700ms for example it would cause considerable delays to the tag on process and would create significant delays for people boarding their bus.</p> <p>Best practice for any ticketing solution anywhere in the world is to have a period of time where online top up data is stored on terminals before itís removed. If this data is stored indefinitely it would simply slow down card processing times to the point where the customer experience would be impacted.</p> <p>Many people have accused AT of theft. This canít be further from the truth. The credit is sitting there waiting for the AT card holder to tell them what to do with it, and it seems AT are only too happy to credit this back when people do make contact.</p> <p>An analogy of this would be to compare it to ordering and paying for a product online from a click and collect retailer but never actually going to the store to pick it up. When you finally do the retailer has sent the product back to the warehouse because they donít have room to store it. Theyíve simply been waiting for you to contact them to tell them what youíd like to do.</p> <p>Automatically refunding the balance back to the credit card that was used is not a good solution. Credit card numbers change and the card used may also not belong to the card holder.</p> <p>ATís best approach should be to make contact with the card holder if the top up isnít applied within 60 days. I have no idea if this is process or not, but as a card has to be registered to be topped up online AT should have contact details for the card holder.</p> <p>If youíre an AT HOP card holder you can be rest assured your balance will not expire if your card is not used every 60 days. As per <a href="https://at.govt.nz/about-us/about-this-site/terms-conditions/at-hop-card-terms-of-use/" target="_blank">AT HOP terms and conditions (section 9)</a> any credit on an AT HOP card will expire if an AT HOP card is not used for a period of 6 years.</p> <p>If youíre somebody who tops up online, ensure you use your card within 60 days by either taking a journey or checking the balance at an AT HOP kiosk or retailer so the balance can be applied.</p>Sangoma Roadshow heads to New Zealand in Septemberhttps://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8954VoIPSat, 02 Sep 2017 22:25:00 PDT<p>Anybody whoís ever spent time in the VoIP space will be well aware of Sangoma Technologies. The Canadian company become well known for itís Vega gateways and telephony cards which were very popular favourite among Asterisk users from the very early days of Asterisk in the early 2000s.</p> <p>In 2013 Sangoma acquired Schmooze Com, the maintainer of the FreePBX GUI and FreePBX distro. They have continued to grow the worldís most popular Asterisk distro as well as add new hardware and products to their product portfolio.&nbsp; Sangoma now have a wide range of products including FreePBX, PBXAct, IP Phones, VoIP gateways and Session Border Controllers (SBCs).</p> <p>As a frequent visitor to the Astricon Asterisk user conference in the US, Iíve met many of the great guys from Sangoma over the years. Now itís their turn to come to New Zealand with a roadshow covering both New Zealand and Australia in September that will show off their product range.</p> <p>The show in Wellington is on Tuesday 26th September and is free to attend. Registration is essential.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/76a615afa4ee4339a2f6974de6b67bf4.png"><img title="image" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/0b29dc5f1c12478d8211aa0e26419b73.png" width="644" height="240"></a> </p> <p>For more details see the official roadshow page - <a title="https://www.sangoma.com/events/event/sangoma-roadshow-australia-new-zealand-tour-september-2017/" href="https://www.sangoma.com/events/event/sangoma-roadshow-australia-new-zealand-tour-september-2017/">https://www.sangoma.com/events/event/sangoma-roadshow-australia-new-zealand-tour-september-2017/</a></p>The perils of using Airbnb during big eventshttps://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8953GeneralSat, 02 Sep 2017 06:56:00 PDT<p>Those of you who know me will know Iím a pretty prolific traveler. As is the case when you fly somewhere you normally need somewhere to stay, and over the past few years Iíve spent somewhere in the vicinity of 60 Ė 80 nights per year in hotels both for work and leisure. </p> <p>Despite my need for accommodation, Iíve never been a big user of Airbnb. On a recent trip to to Europe I spent a week staying in Airbnb properties with friends, and on a trip to Europe several years ago also spent a week staying in a number of properties with friends. Apart from minor issues such as broken air conditioning that would be easily fixed in a hotel (they move you to another room) Iíve never had any major issues with Airbnb and have stayed in some fantastic properties.</p> <p>So why donít I book Airbnb more often? Much of it comes down to the fact that staying in a hotel is just so much easier. I can get to a location, head straight to the hotel, check in, and head to my room. With Airbnb the process normally involves meeting with people to arrange keys and/or access which simply isnít as quick or simple. Like being an Apple or an Android user I appreciate both options Ė and in my case I simply prefer hotels for much of my travel. When traveling with friends however, a large house or apartment that can sleep 3 or 4 people is much preferable to booking multiple hotel rooms.</p> <p>Those of you in the tech world will know all about CES. Itís the biggest tech show in the world and sees Las Vegas turned into a city of chaos for 5 days as 170,000+ people from around the world all converge on it. Itís somewhere Iíve been before, and somewhere Iím heading to again in January along with several other Geekzone users.</p> <p>As you can imagine with so many people visiting Las Vegas, accommodation becomes very important. While hotels in Las Vegas can be dirt cheap for much of the year, CES is an opportunity to make money. Rooms that are normally US$25 a night can go for US$250. Rooms that are US$250 night can easily go for US$1000. Look at an accommodation site such as Expedia right now and youíll struggle to find a hotel room in Las Vegas for a week for under NZ$2000 during CES. Want something more upmarket? A stay at the Venetian or Palazzo will easily set you back NZ$7000 for a week long stay! At other times of the year youíd pay roughly 1/4 of this price.</p> <p>In May when I booked flights to Las Vegas I immediately started looking for accommodation. The traffic carnage that ensues during CES means that buses, taxis and Uber simply end up being the traffic congestion. Roads are clogged, and getting around takes a very long time during both the morning and evening rush hours. Despite Las Vegas being a big city, walking is the best way to go. Finding somewhere to stay within 20 mins walk of the Las Vegas Convention Centre and The Strip really is the perfect place to be.</p> <p>I looked at both hotel and Airbnb options before settling on an Airbnb property that cost me NZ$1150 for the week. The apartment looked great, and the location was also great. Everything was great.. Until several days ago when I received an email from Airbnb saying my booking had been cancelled.</p> <p>Immediately I asked Airbnb what they could do for me and have been in contact with their team both via email and phone. Their customer service has been great, but right now I still donít have anywhere to stay. Several other suggested properties are literally miles away. Others that are closer are still not as good or as well located as what I had previously.</p> <p>Due to the fact many hotels have sold their cheap rooms and most good Airbnb properties are now booked, finding something else to book is proving difficult. There is nothing in the price range that I paid thatís in a location I want. Airbnb are willing to offer me a US$100 credit for the inconvenience, but when properties that are suitable are up to twice the price I paid thatís hardly a great deal. Staying in a cheap hotel may be the best option, but thatís going to cost me another NZ$500ish or so for the week.</p> <p>All of this shows the problem with the Airbnb model. Short of a major disaster, a hotel selling rooms isnít going to suddenly disappear Ė once you pay your money your booking is confirmed and youíll have a room. </p> <p>Paying for a property with a strict refund policy on Airbnb meant I was locked in to that property and was not eligible for a refund if I cancelled. Nothing however prevents the Airbnb host from cancelling under an extenuating circumstances policy. This property has now been removed from Airbnb so there is nothing to suggest the host is doing anything dodgy such as cancelling so he can relist it for a higher price, but a recent change to the listing suggests it was being turned into a long term stay rather than short term.</p> <p>Under many circumstances such a cancellation may not be a major deal Ė the problem is in somewhere like Las Vegas during CES itís now me whoís dealing the the extenuating circumstances of a cancelled booking and the fact rebooking somewhere to stay will cost me significantly more money.</p> <p>I donít necessarily think expecting Airbnb to front up and offer me another NZ$1000 in credit to book a property in a similar location to where I had booked is fair Ė but I also donít think me having to pay a single cent more than I had already paid for a booking is fair either. Ultimately theyíre the ones who have inconvenienced me, so why should I have to settle for a property or location that means my holiday experience is ruined?</p> <p>While this wonít put me off ever using Airbnb again, itíll certainly put me off booking Airbnb ever during a peak travel period or for an event where accommodation is busy. The risks of having your host cancel and being left to find accommodation that will cost significantly more simply isnít worth the risk.</p>How to remotely control your heat pump from your phone for under NZ$25https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8949GeneralSat, 15 Jul 2017 03:46:00 PDT<p>A heat pump is now the most common method of heating New Zealand homes. With winter now in full force itís safe to say most will be in use to combat the current cold weather.</p> <p>One feature of relatively new heat pumps is the ability to connect them to your WiFi network and control them from a phone app. Being able to turn your heat pump on remotely as youíre on your way home, or schedule daily timer settings that canít be easily set from the remote become incredibly handy features to have.</p> <p>But what if if youíve got an older heat pump that doesnít have built in WiFi and an app? There are now a growing number of 3rd party hardware solutions that will allow you to control your heat pump from your phone - several New Zealand developers have even entered the market offering products.</p> <p>These solutions are all very similar, consisting of a hardware Infrared (IR) transmitter that connects to your WiFi network, and an app that connects to the transmitter, typically via a cloud based server on the Internet. Simply by configuring your brand of heat pump the app can send commands to the IR transmitter which in turn sends the IR commands to the heat pump, emulating the regular remote control.</p> <p>While many of these solutions work incredibly well there is one downside Ė the price. Many are well over NZ$200 for the hardware and app. </p> <p>What if I told you that you could control your heat pump remotely from your phone for under NZ$25? You can.</p> <p><a href="http://www.ibroadlink.com/rm/" target="_blank">Broadlink</a> is a Chinese hardware manufacturer who builds IR transmitters and smart switches. Their miniature sized RM Mini 3 is a USB powered IR transmitter thatís perfect for controlling your heat pump, or in fact any other IR controllable device such as a TV, stereo or set top box.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/80cb5a30eae04df5a25f53fa9623919e.jpg"><img title="Newest-Broadlink-RM-Mini3-Black-Bean-Smart-Home-Universal-Intelligent-WiFi-IR-4G-Wireless-Remote-Controller" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Newest-Broadlink-RM-Mini3-Black-Bean-Smart-Home-Universal-Intelligent-WiFi-IR-4G-Wireless-Remote-Controller" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/8d66e9a9a31e4ab2b728f038447c06d9.jpg" width="480" height="480"></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Broadlink RM Mini 3 is available from a myriad of usual sources of Chinese electronics goods such as Aliexpress, Banggood and eBay, with prices typically between US$13 and US$19 including free shipping to New Zealand. A quick search of TradeMe has shown several New Zealand sellers who are probably just importing this hardware from similar sellers and reselling it with a fairly hefty margin.</p> <p>I donít want to directly link to any Aliexpress sellers to avoid anybody accusing me of favouring a single seller. A quick search of Aliexpress will show plenty of sellers across the price range.</p> <p>The Broadlink RM Mini 3 is USB powered but does not come with a power supply. Any surplus USB phone charger will work fine. Obviously the device needs to be permanently powered, and located within line of sight of the heat pump (or other device you want to control) so the IR transmitter will work.</p> <p>Once powered up configuration is relatively straight forward. The device will broadcast itís own WiFi network, so once youíve installed the Broadlink app on your phone connect to this network. From the app youíll now be prompted to enter the WiFi SSID and password for your home WiFi network. Once this is done the Broadlink RM Mini 3 will connect to your WiFi network and is ready to go.</p> <p>Adding a heat pump is also relatively simple. Simply select the menu option to add a device and then follow the prompts on screen Ė simply by aiming your existing remote at the RM Mini 3 and pushing a button on the remote will allow the hardware to match the IR code with itís database and know the brand of hardware you have. Setup is now complete.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/617da9d7d5154da49daaa7c9295cbdbb.png"><img title="Screenshot_20170716-121501" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Screenshot_20170716-121501" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/be80be4c282e4e4a8024bf62e138cbed.png" width="270" height="480"></a> </p> <p>Controlling the heat pump is now simple. Open the app, select your device and youíll see a screen replicating your existing remote control.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/3e1689f5688b45709cd67b6e032f3c63.png"><img title="Screenshot_20170716-115852" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Screenshot_20170716-115852" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/1de1a48b617e43ff926c7991d5f6f8df.png" width="270" height="480"></a> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>From the menu you can also configure multiple timer settings across the week. You can configure one off events, or daily events to switch the heat pump on or off.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/a0eb62074fb04e4c93559d99fca3657a.png"><img title="Screenshot_20170716-115916" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Screenshot_20170716-115916" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/e93175222c934cef8c8764ef33097f55.png" width="270" height="480"></a> </p> <p></p> <p></p> <p>The Broadlink app is available for both Android and iOS. Itís fair to say itís not the most beautiful app, or the best designed, but it serves itís purpose allowing you to easily turn your heat pump on or off remotely.</p> <p>For those are looking to take things further the Broadlink RM Mini 3 hardware can be integrated with openHAB or Apple Homekit via the Homebridge gateway. Fellow New Zealander Nic Wise has <a href="https://fastchicken.co.nz/2017/06/25/more-homebridge-aws-iot-dash-button-sqs-broadlink-rm3-mini/" target="_blank">written up a great guide for integrating this hardware with Homekit</a>.</p>Why a 24hr parking limit won&rsquo;t fix the Wellington airport parking issue.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8945GeneralThu, 08 Jun 2017 03:22:00 PDT<p>Unless youíve been living under a rock youíll be well aware of the issues surrounding car parking at Wellington airport and the surrounding Miramar streets. Streets nearby to the airport have become a popular alternative for both travellers and staff working at the airport to avoid what many consider to be be excessive parking charges at the airport.</p> <p>The issue reached breaking point earlier in the year when a local resident was charged and jailed for slashing the tyres of cars parked in streets near his home. This spurred the Wellington City Council into reviewing the situation.</p> <p>Last week the Council (who are a part owner of the airport) announced that nearby streets within an approximate 700m range of the airport will have a 24hr parking limit. Local residents will receive a single parking permit per property allowing them to park a single vehicle in this area. </p> <p>This was exclaimed as a ďsolution to the problemĒ by media and Council however this canít be further from the truth Ė anybody who thinks such a limit will be a magic fix for the problem really are living in a dream world. Rather than actually looking at the issue and why it occurs theyíve implemented a ďsolutionĒ thatís nothing but a knee jerk reaction.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/f6156babb36140779f408bde2438e3b5.png"><img title="image" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/77d36155f849440092c34976d65f175f.png" width="644" height="444"></a> </p> <p>From an economics point of view parking at the airport is a finite resource and with significant numbers of parks currently unavailable due to construction of both a new multi story parking building and hotel, many would argue that pricing needs to be set accordingly to ensure demand is matched with supply. With this in mind itís clear the airportís parking pricing model is fundamentally flawed Ė offering long term parking for $125 for up to 9 days and then $5 per day for additional days simply ties up parking space at the airport, meanwhile those who want to park at the airport for a weekend trip away can easily find themselves paying roughly between $64 and $90 for parking. With such high pricing for short term stays itís hardly surprising people are looking for cheaper alternatives for a day trip or weekend away.</p> <p>As a frequent flyer I used to be a regular customer of Air New Zealandís airport parking. This parking space was shared with Air New Zealand staff and consisted of both outdoor and under cover parking using the former Air New Zealand hanger. I was happy to pay $18 per day to park 5 minutes walk away from the terminal and had the option of using the provided shuttle if I so desired. As a result of the demolition of the hanger in early 2017 this land is no longer available to Air New Zealand and their public parking has been discontinued. Air New Zealand Airpoints Elite customers are also disadvantaged with no ability to use their parking vouchers that are allocated each year as a customer benefit.</p> <p>Itís not the first time that Air New Zealand have been involved in a dispute with the airport company over parking Ė their valet parking was discontinued several years ago after the airport company announced a significant price increase for the use of car parks near the terminal.</p> <p>The alternative is now $32.30 per day to park in the airportís own parking near the terminal. This significant jump in parking prices has turned me into a ďstreet parkerĒ and itís something I donít feel guilty about. An 80% increase in the cost to me is a fairly significant price hike.</p> <p>Many would argue the solution is to encourage alternative forms of transport to the airport including public transport. Public transport during the day is great, but is not an option for those arriving for early morning international or domestic departures, and is also not available for late night international arrivals. </p> <p>While a taxi or shuttle is an option (complete with an airport surcharge) the airport company refuses to let ride sharing service Uber operate from airport land and continually threatens to trespass drivers despite some legal advice which says theyíre unable to do so. The airport company are so unhappy with Uber that theyíve even gone as far as blocking access to the Uber website using their free WiFi meaning itís not possible to make a booking using this. This means that the hundreds of users per day of the Uber service are typically picked up from the nearby Burger King &amp; Z petrol station which is a 5 minute walk away. Such draconian measures from the airport company towards Uber does nothing to encourage the use of alternative means of transport. </p> <p>With a 24 hour parking limit set to soon be in place in nearby streets the big question will be what impact this has on those streets. Local residents will only be permitted to park a single vehicle outside their house in the zone Ė and one assumes if you have more than one vehicle that you will simply find somebody elseís street nearby outside the zone to park it in. Those staff at the airport who arenít eligible for free staff parking will presumably continue to park in the streets as theyíre under the 24 hour limit. Travellers parking for under 24 hours will presumably continue to park in nearby streets as they wonít be affected by the new restrictions. Those who are parking in the street for more than 24 hours will presumably just park outside the 700m zone, because after all an extra 5 minute walk is highly unlikely to change their mindset. </p> <p>Vehicles breaking the new rules will be liable for a $57 fine or face being towed away. As parking for 28 hours at the airport will cost more than $57 such a fine seems pointless Ė every car caught breaking the rules would need to be towed for it to be affective as simply paying the fine will be cheaper than airport parking.</p> <p>Rather than fixing the problem this change is simply going to move the problem further into the suburbs and potentially even increase the problems on the Kilbirnie side on the airport which is easily accessible via the underground subway under the runway.</p> <p>So what am I going to do? For my regular day trips away Iíll likely still be parking in the street. For weekend trips Iíll just park beyond the 700m zone and walk. I was happy to pay $36 for parking at Air New Zealand for a 30 hr weekend away in Auckland Ė Iím not happy to pay the $64 the airport want for their parking. For that extra $28 I could even park in a nearby street and catch a taxi or Uber and still save money. Watching what happens over the next six months will be interesting to observe.</p>CCTV exposed. Why understanding network security is so important.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8941GeneralTue, 16 May 2017 22:44:00 PDT<p>For those of you who are regulars on Geekzone youíll know one of my pet peeves is people who donít understand the huge security risk associated with port forwards. Configuring a port forward in your router or firewall is something configured by people every day, with the vast majority probably failing to consider the security risks of something thatís so easily done.</p> <p>Opening up your network to allow traffic from anywhere on the Internet to directly access your PC or hardware behind your router and/or firewall removes an entire layer of security, and allows anybody on the Internet to directly access your PC or hardware on the port(s) that have been forwarded. If there are security exploits in either the software on your PC or the hardware it could easily compromise your entire network and your security.</p> <p>If youíre running a VoIP setup and port forward port 5060 youíre opening your IP PBX or phone system up to what will be a never ending attack from bots and scripts trying to find holes your system for the purpose of routing illegitimate calls.&nbsp; By setting up a port forward to CCTV equipment you run the risk of your security cameras being left wide open for anybody on the Internet to view for both entertainment and for possible malicious purposes.</p> <p>In recent days weíre once again seen a <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/92544687/kiwis-bedrooms-and-businesses-broadcast-online-on-compromised-cctv-cameras" target="_blank">mainstream media article on Stuff</a> discussing compromised or poorly configured CCTV cameras in New Zealand that can be openly viewed by anybody on the Internet. While Stuff have chosen not to name where these cameras are linked from, the source is insecam.org, a site that proclaims itself as ďthe world biggest directory of online surveillance security camerasĒ. This story is very similar to another run in <a href="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/privacy/news/article.cfm?c_id=546&amp;objectid=11355565" target="_blank">2014 in the NZ Herald</a> discussing the very same issue with cameras in New Zealand viewable on the insecam website.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/460491fcb55f4bd3a197724228094c9d.png"><img title="cctv image 1" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="cctv image 1" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/328f7e17cb9541f6a691d0fa52d8f8ca.png" width="644" height="484"></a> </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/7dcdff1744444b76b8c53e9d261d619a.png"><img title="cctv image 3" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="cctv image 3" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/de2a32ab13d14b508fe5241797cefe9e.png" width="644" height="364"></a> </p> <p>While this site lists only lists openly viewable CCTV equipment, <a href="https://www.shodan.io/" target="_blank">IoT search tool Shodan</a> is the best resource on the Internet for discovering hardware devices (both CCTV and other) that are exposed to the Internet. Many of these devices are ďcompromisedĒ because of one simple flaw Ė either configuring port forwards to allow remote access, or enabling UPnP allowing the devices to create their own port forwards for remote access. Itís worth pointing out here that the insecam website isnít doing anything illegal Ė theyíre simply aggregating content thatís all publically accessible. </p> <p>If youíve got CCTV cameras then itís not an unrealistic requirement to want to view these remotely. Most systems these days offer web access and/or mobile apps allowing you to view your cameras from anywhere in the world, and many even pitch remote access as a key selling point. The simplest way to configure remote access is to set up a port forward allowing direct access to the camera itself, a Network Video Recorder (NVR) or a Digital Video recorder (DVR).</p> <p>Some equipment may also be UPnP enabled to make this process even easier Ė if you have a router with UPnP capabilities and the UPnP functionality is enabled on both your router and the CCTV equipment you may have your CCTV equipment exposed to the Internet even without your knowledge. By having a port forward or UPnP enabled youíve exposed your CCTV system to the entire Internet and itís now as a secure as the hardware youíre using.. And thatís where the problems start.</p> <p>Many people clearly never change default passwords of some of the equipment viewable on the Internet. Many brands of cheap Chinese CCTV equipment also run embedded software of dubious quality with very well known exploits and hacks. Many also contain backdoor passwords, meaning that even if you change the password these devices can still be accessed by anybody with this knowledge. As many of these systems are never upgraded by installers or end users, flaws that have been fixed can often still exist for the life of the system. </p> <p>The issues also extend beyond somebody snooping on your video feeds Ė some of these exploits can also be used to turn your hardware into a bot capable of being used for major DDoS attacks, or even turned into a tool <a href="https://www.wired.com/2014/04/hikvision/" target="_blank">for mining bitcoins</a>. In September 2016 <a href="https://arstechnica.com/security/2016/09/botnet-of-145k-cameras-reportedly-deliver-internets-biggest-ddos-ever/" target="_blank">one the worldís largest DDoS attacks against krebsonsecurity</a> was reportedly performed with the assistance of over 145,000 compromised CCTV cameras.</p> <p>In my day job as a network engineer Iíve had numerous dealings with security companies who lack even basic fundamental knowledge when it comes to networking and security. Concepts of networking are something that many people will fail to grasp, with many people relying on the advice of others or a ďsheíll be rightĒ mentality rather than seeking proper advice from an expert.</p> <p>There have been many threads here on Geekzone about CCTV systems and comments posted by people who have been told that ďnobody knows your IP addressĒ, ďyouíre on a dynamic IP address which keeps changing so nobody will find youĒ, ďIíll change the port to something random so they wonít find youĒ or ďif you make your password secure youíll be fineĒ. Statements like this show a fundamental lack of knowledge, and when theyíve given by people posing to be security experts, should really be raising alarm bells. Having a public IP that changes regularly or changing ports offers absolutely nothing in the way of security. Likewise having a secure password is meaningless if a backdoor master password exists on your device.</p> <p>If youíre wanting remote access to most hardware on an internal network there is only one safe way to do this Ė by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). By using an appropriate router with a built in VPN server you can connect your remote PC or phone via VPN and then safely browse your cameras with no risk of your cameras or data being exposed to the entire Internet. If access is only required from specific connections then you could also look to restrict access to a locked down range of public IP addresses to ensure your cameras are not unnecessarily exposed.</p> <p>If you have an IP camera, NVR or DVR thatís exposed to the Internet using port forwards or you have UPnP enabled you should be taking immediate steps to secure it. If your knowledge of networking doesnít extend to configuring a VPN then you should be disabling remote access and/or UPnP until such time as you are able to implement a VPN or lock down access to specific IP ranges.</p> <p>If your security or CCTV installer has no issues with allowing port forwards then you should be on the lookout for a new installer. Youíre not just compromising your own safety and security, youíre also compromising the safety, security and end user experience of everybody on the Internet if your hardware can be compromised and used as a bot for DDoS attacks.</p>Anker make some of the best USB chargers and powerbanks available. Now you can get their products shipped directly to New Zealandhttps://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8939GeneralWed, 19 Apr 2017 22:37:00 PDTI&rsquo;ll start by being honest. I&rsquo;m a huge <a href="https://www.anker.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Anker</a> fanboy. Since I first purchased one of their multiport USB chargers a few years ago I&rsquo;ve ended up with quite a collection of their USB chargers and USB powerbanks. These days electronic devices running out of battery can be a major first world problem, so a good portable powerbank and desktop charger are must have gadgets for many people. As I travel a lot I find a good quality powerbank an essential travel item in my bag.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/59bf3223bd974a1da6a40d87901f78a0.png"><img style="float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; margin-right: auto; border-width: 0px;" title="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/21b798dd0f5d4843911331df11748e96.png" alt="image" width="240" height="152" border="0"></a></p> <p>I&rsquo;ve played with other brands of USB chargers and powerbanks and have quite a collection here of devices from Anker, Ravpower and AUKEY. Anker is the top selling brand of USB charging devices of Amazon, with Ravpower and AUKEY sitting just behind. Based on my experiences I find AUKEY is OK, Ravpower is great, and Anker leads the pack.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/990ddbb475d74bf48072626408eda32c.png"><img style="float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; margin-right: auto; border-width: 0px;" title="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/d8a4ea5eb12c44c9a84d42f1919dbc0b.png" alt="image" width="216" height="240" border="0"></a></p> <p>Purchasing all three brands is difficult as none of these are sold in New Zealand. Purchasing a good quality portable USB powerbank or desktop charger from a NZ retailer is pretty much impossible. Anker products are slowly entering the Australian market after launching there last year, so hopefully a New Zealand retailer will pick up distribution here.</p> <p>You&rsquo;re probably wondering about now these brands are so much better than cheap powerbanks or wall chargers. The answer to that isn&rsquo;t quite so simple to explain without a long lecture on USB standards and modern devices. I&rsquo;ll try and shorten that to a few paragraphs.</p> <p>In the &ldquo;old&rdquo; days USB ports simply supplied +5VDC over the power pins and anything plugged into it charged, normally at a rate somewhere between 100mA and the 500mA maximum that the USB standard supported. As smartphones got smarter and battery capacity increased in both phones and tablets additional USB charging specifications were created allowing devices to draw far more than 500mA. If you&rsquo;ve got a smart phone manufactured within the last 5 or so years you&rsquo;ll typically find it can charge at up to around 1000 mA or more. Most mid to high end devices from the past couple of years support Qualcomm Quickcharge (QC) 2.0 or QC3.0 standards that supports charging rates of up to around 2000 mAh, or have a USB-C connector that supports charging rates even higher.</p> <p>Years ago it could easily take 5-6 hours (or even longer) to charge a phone. Now a modern high end smart phone can often be fully charged in 60 - 90 minutes. A quick 10 minute top up charge on a modern QC2.0, QC3.0 or USB-C device can give you a few extra hours of battery life.</p> <p>If you plug a modern smart phone into a &ldquo;dumb&rdquo; charger you&rsquo;ll find that it&rsquo;ll probably charge at around 400 &ndash; 500 mA maximum and charging your device can take 6-8 hours. Such examples of dumb chargers are USB connectors on plane IFE screens, hotels or in many public places. Most cheap USB chargers and powerbanks also fall into this category. It&rsquo;s also worth mentioning here the importance of good quality USB cables &ndash; many cheap cables are poorly made and can also affect charging performance.</p> <p>The picture below demonstrates the charging rate of my Xperia Z5 phone plugged into my Anker powerbank (left) and the IFE screen on an Air New Zealand 777 with Panasonic eX3 IFE. As you can see the Anker is charging the phone nearly 5x faster than the IFE USB port. Fully charging my phone plugged into the IFE would take somewhere around 9 hours. It would take under 2 hours with this particular powerbank.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/94bc6632fa6c47b3802252b86d684a7b.png"><img style="float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; margin-right: auto; border-width: 0px;" title="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/570a707b65954a4d99eaa47ec19e29c9.png" alt="image" width="564" height="484" border="0"></a></p> <p>A good portable powerbank or charger will support modern standards such as QC2.0, QC3.0 or USB-C and also have the smarts to detect the type of device and charge it at the maximum possible charge rate. Products from reputable brands such as Anker, Ravpower and AUKEY all do this on various models. In my opinion Anker just do it better with their PowerIQ smart charging system. Many cheap aftermarket USB powerbanks and chargers don&rsquo;t have any smarts, and as a result you&rsquo;ll encounter charging rates far less than you could be enjoying.</p> <p>As I visit the US several times each year I tend to order a lot of products from Amazon and have found myself bringing back large quantities of Anker products for other Geekzone users. Many people can use shipping services such as YouShop to buy products from the US, but due to restrictions now in place in the aviation world in part due in part to two 747 freighter crashes linked to cargo fires involving lithium batteries, the shipment of devices containing lithium batteries is now heavily restricted.</p> <p>Anker have their own eBay store and have been selling products on here for some time. At times they&rsquo;ve offered shipping to New Zealand, but without reason this has suddenly ended &ndash; only to resume again months later. For several months now they&rsquo;ve been shipping products to New Zealand, and the good news is it&rsquo;s a) affordable (shipping is around $10 on many products), and b) they will ship some portable powerbanks.</p> <p>Products such as their regular 10,400 mAh portable charger work out at just over NZ$40 incl shipping</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/b0876028169d48ffafed1b03451db3be.png"><img style="float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; margin-right: auto; border-width: 0px;" title="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/d316d25e07a643719fcb58bd9da2005b.png" alt="image" width="640" height="305" border="0"></a></p> <p>Or if you&rsquo;ve got a phone with QC2.0 or QC3.0 and want to take advantage of much faster charging speeds then you&rsquo;ll probably be interested in one of their QC3.0 capable powerbanks. This is the model I currently use and recommend.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/e4a2c51f89b64101a943de113bf365d4.png"><img style="float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; margin-right: auto; border-width: 0px;" title="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/58cd8ee53df5467da0cc904a677f5a1b.png" alt="image" width="640" height="294" border="0"></a></p> <p>Or if you&rsquo;re simply after a desktop charger for your USB-C phone then one of these will work perfectly. You will just need to purchase a <a href="https://www.pbtech.co.nz/product/CABDNX9054/DYNAMIX-2-Meter-2-Pin-figure-8-power-cable-Figure" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NZ power cable (figure 8 plug) which will cost you about NZ$4.54 from PB Tech</a></p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/d92aeb7014d74393b7e7eea699b849c7.png"><img style="float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; margin-right: auto; border-width: 0px;" title="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/15f77fb035b141fb8253ae2371c6e6b8.png" alt="image" width="640" height="285" border="0"></a></p> <p>Not all products on the Anker store can be shipped to New Zealand, but many of their powerbanks and desktop chargers can. If you&rsquo;re after a great charging solution or powerbank it&rsquo;s a great time to buy now in case these shipping deals ever end again.</p> <p>You can visit the Anker eBay store at <a title="http://stores.ebay.com/AnkerDirect" href="http://stores.ebay.com/AnkerDirect">http://stores.ebay.com/AnkerDirect</a>United Airlines pulls out of New Zealand for Southern Hemisphere Winter &ndash; AKL/SFO becomes seasonal.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8932GeneralThu, 05 Jan 2017 11:55:00 PST<p>Airline travel from New Zealand to the United States has seen plenty of deals over the past year with the introduction of flight by both American Airlines and United Airlines on the Auckland (AKL) to Los Angeles (LAX) and Auckland (AKL) to San Francisco (SFO) routes during the middle of 2016. These routes had been operated exclusively by Air New Zealand for a number of years since Qantas stopped flights to North America out of New Zealand in 2012.</p> <p>The tie up between Air New Zealand and United on the SFO route was a joint venture that also revenue shared. It meant a reduction in Air New Zealand services (who previously operated twice daily flights some days) that were in turn replaced by the United flight. The earlier United Airlines flight time meant better connections into SFO for those heading across the country on the United Airlines US domestic network. </p> <p>United have today pulled year round services on the AKL to SFO route and made this route seasonal. The last scheduled services will be on April 16th 2017, however availably beyond March 24th 2017 seems to be non existent. The route will recommence on 31st October 2017.</p> <p>Those who are cynical will know that the reason for such a tie-up between both airlines seemed merely to introduce additional capacity into North America to compete with American Airlines (AA) who launched AKL to LAX and partnered with fellow oneworld partner Qantas on this route. Both Qantas and American had applied for permission to operate Australian and New Zealand routes as a joint venture, however their application was declined by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) in November, a decision that has also potentially throw into doubt the future of their New Zealand operations in light of their low passenger loadings on this route.</p> <p>The introduction of American Airlines services saw prices drop as low as $899 return from Auckland to Los Angeles as competition heated up on the route. Such pricing is not sustainable however, and even with pricing that low American Airlines have struggled to fill seats on their planes. Rumours have been around for some time that theyíve been considering pulling the plug on this route, so itíll be interesting to see if anything eventuates in light of this news from United Airlines.</p>Air New Zealand launches Flexitime Membership (and how it can save you $$$)https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8923GeneralMon, 31 Oct 2016 23:52:00 PDT<p>In my inbox this morning I received an announcement of Air New Zealandís new Flexitime Membership. Itís been a while since Air New Zealand made any significant changes to their domestic flight offerings, and if youíre a frequent flyer this membership represents a true bargain that could easily pay for itself in a single trip.</p> <p>On Domestic flights Air New Zealand offer four fare types -</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/6629507c42ad48ee8aaccfdca457dfb5.png"><img title="image" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/1323aa1643fb406980c4919ed6a6e865.png" width="602" height="480"></a> </p> <p>Flexitime Membership is an annual fee of $199, is only available to specially invited customers, and at this stage is only available for sale during a trial period until the 15th November (what happens after then is unclear). For your $199 you get the ability to purchase seat only fares but get the benefits of flexitime for all flights Ė this means you can change your flight on the day of departure, get a free bag, and also have the ability to select a seat. Airpoints Dollars and Status Point earn is that of the seat only fare. </p> <p>The ability to change a flight only applies to the person with membership, so you canít book a flight with somebody else and make changes to both passengers.</p> <p>For those who donít travel frequently, the significant benefits of a flexitime fare may not seem obvious. While primarily targeted at business customers who may find their plans change and giving them the flexibility to change their flight time to an earlier or later one, flexitime fares are increasingly being purchased by passengers to save money on airfares.</p> <p>Looking at the example below itís $139 for the cheapest flexitime fare between Auckland and Wellington this Friday. Later on the day itís up to $314 for a seat only fare on flights later in the day. If you were travelling between Auckland and Wellington this Friday evening and were only planning on a seat only fare, by buying a $139 fare on the 6:30am flight you can change this on the day you are flying (from midnight Thursday) to the 8:00pm flight for free, meaning youíve saved yourself $140 Ė or 50% of the fare price. With Flexitime membership you would save even more as youíd only need to spend $109 for a seat only fare on the 6:30 flight.</p> <p>Playing a game like this not for the faint hearted Ė youíre gambling that there is space on the flight you want to move to, and if the flight you want fills up, youíre going to be stuck. On main trunk jet routes this is unlikely except for very busy travelling times, but on regional routes with only a few flights per day itís not recommended as itís a lot easier to get caught out.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/001034cf38644c179574184e9aff115c.png"><img title="image" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/9519f99d416e454f927d55d0811e0af1.png" width="640" height="262"></a> </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/8473cd6730644764a5bdf11bfb883a5e.png"><img title="image" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/7af5da89bec4491a9e23e0205aff0c83.png" width="640" height="188"></a> </p> <p></p> <p></p> <p>Flexitime Membership changes the game entirely. The $199 membership could easily pay for itself in a couple of flights, but itís likely to significantly increase the number of passengers flying with flexitime fares, meaning same day changes could become more difficult. This is no doubt the reason why sales of the product are currently only available until Mid November and that it is considered to be a ďtrialĒ product.</p> <p>More details are available on the Air New Zealand website - <a title="https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/flexitime-flyer-membership" href="https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/flexitime-flyer-membership">https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/flexitime-flyer-membership</a></p>Have an interest in retail payments and credit card interchange rates? Here&rsquo;s your chance to have a say.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8921GeneralWed, 26 Oct 2016 22:43:00 PDT<p>In May this year I wrote a blog post about credit cards and reward schemes - ď<a href="http://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8893">Addicted to the Airpoints Credit Card money go round? You might be about to be pushed off.</a>Ē. I wrote this after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) was asked by the Government to examine retail payments in New Zealand. This followed similar investigations in both the United Kingdom and Australia over the past two years that have seen major changes to retail payment schemes. Amongst other things these changes have seen credit card interchange rates slashed, meaning that the cost for retailers to accept credit cards has been cut significantly. It has also meant major changes to credit card rewards programs in the United Kingdom, but the effects on the Australian market have yet to be felt.</p> <p>MBIE are now calling for public submissions on the issue, so if youíre a retailer who believes that your cost of accepting credit cards is too high, or simply an individual who has an opinion on the matter hereís your chance to be heard. Submissions close on the 13th December 2016.</p> <p>Even if you have no interest in making a submission but have an interest in understanding how payments systems work the issues paper makes great reading.</p> <p><a title="http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/business/competition-policy/retail-payment-systems" href="http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/business/competition-policy/retail-payment-systems">http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/business/competition-policy/retail-payment-systems</a></p>Fairfax takes journalism ethics and integrity to a whole new low with Stuff fibrehttps://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8913GeneralTue, 13 Sep 2016 04:49:00 PDT<p>On Monday this week New Zealand saw the launch of a new nationwide Internet provider back by Fairfax and known as Stuff Fibre. Much fanfare (mainly on Fairfax owned stuff.co.nz) has preceded the launch over the last few months. Stuff Fibre joins the list of around 100 existing ISPís in the incredibly competitive retail market.</p> <p>Anybody visiting Stuff today will see some new advertising. Apparently a mere two days after launch Stuff Fibre is the #1 ranked National Fibre Provider according to broadbandcompare.co.nz</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/4d6c8708f93c4ea58cd5067f853fef17.png"><img title="Screenshot_20160914-122522" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Screenshot_20160914-122522" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/95a1ee5de90b43179fc73b05c28f6095.png" width="274" height="484"></a> </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/53c88260c5174d439768a283984776a3.png"><img title="Screenshot_20160914-130432" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Screenshot_20160914-130432" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/a1f791eaefff49d8a416962dbe1f8f58.png" width="274" height="484"></a> </p> <p>#1 for what? Thatís a very good question. Visiting the broadbandcompare site offers no suggestions as to what Stuff Fibre have been ranked #1 for. There are no website comments, and as broadbandcompare doesnít actually rank ISPís or plans it doesnít appear itís #1 for anything. Considering their offerings only hit the market on Monday Iíd be surprised if Stuff fibre had any more than a few hundred active connections across New Zealand.</p> <p>Broadbandcompare is a newly launched comparison site that attempt to compare broadband plans across a large number of ISPís. Itís revenue appears to be advertising based, with ISPís being able to buy packages promoting their products and brand on the site. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. This model however does bring the concept of integrity into play. Since there is absolutely no feedback or reader comments any views or rankings on the site appear to be either the views of the site providers and/or influenced by advertising paid to them by ISPís.</p> <p>Stuff promoting their own business through the use of ďpromoted contentĒ with a meaningless claim that could quite simply be summed up as bullshit really takes journalism to a whole new low.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE - broadbandcompare have now said any claims made by Stuff are incorrect, and that they have contacted Stuff about removal of these ads.</strong></p>Skinny takes FUD to new heights with Vodafone GSM network shutdown billboards.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8906MobileThu, 28 Jul 2016 05:20:00 PDT<p>Itís not uncommon for companies to attempt to stretch the truth when it comes to advertising. Skinny have taken this to a whole new level with a bus stop advertising billboard saying that Vodafoneís 2G network is shutting down Ė with the minor problem being Vodafoneís 2G GSM network is not being shut down until 2025. I stand to be corrected, but right now Iím pretty sure itís only 2016. Warning people of something thatís happening in 9 years seems a little bit over the top to me.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/05a973bf649c40a881884851688886d2.jpg"><img title="DSC_2371" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2371" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/92b88fcb6cef4d95b376991f8052cf47.jpg" width="436" height="772"></a></p> <p>In March this year Vodafone New Zealand publically announced the 2025 shutdown of itís 2G GSM network. Along with phone calls and text messages this network carries traffic for over 1 million machine to machine (M2M) devices such as smart electricity meters that use the GPRS data network. Upgrading large numbers of devices to newer hardware that supports newer 3G and 4G networks takes time, hence the long timeframe.</p> <p>Vodafone announced at the same time that at some point in the future (prior to 2025) that voice and SMS services on the 2G GSM network would be disabled, however they would still be maintaining the GPRS data functionality on the 2G GSM network for M2M devices. When this occurs any users of 2G/GSM only phones would find their phone would stop functioning. </p> <p>The vast majority of Vodafone customers have 3G or 4G capable handsets, and it would be pretty rare to have purchased a new handset within the last 3 or 4 years that only supported GSM technology. Vodafone have not sold any GSM only phones for some time now, and even cheap $20 prepay phones support 3G technology.</p> <p>Vodafone have not officially announced any date for this to occur, but speculation Iíve heard is that this *may* occur in 2018 or 2019. It is certainly not happening this month, or even this year.</p> <p>Skinny are clearly misleading the public with this campaign and need to be called out for spreading what can only be deemed as misleading FUD. One can only wonder why somebody thought this campaign was a smart idea..</p>Why are airport taxes and service charges so high on Trans Tasman flights between New Zealand and Australia?https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8901GeneralTue, 05 Jul 2016 13:02:00 PDT<p>Air New Zealand has a sale on flights to Australia today. There is nothing amazing about that Ė these days itís something that happens almost as a regularly as a sale at Briscoes.</p> <p>I happened to notice a few comments on social media this morning from people complaining about the cost of return flights from Australia. Air NZ advertise flights to Australia for $149, but make no mention of the price of the return flight Ė and thatís not surprising, because itís a lot more than $149.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/12a27f3218fc40f9b7ca83453ff9c56f.jpg"><img title="air nz sale" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="air nz sale" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/5ad97b2e74ee45abbe5e285bbebc147c.jpg" width="640" height="421"></a> </p> <p>Hereís an example of a return flight to Sydney from Wellington with flights for $149 to Sydney, and $209 back.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/278088c07f9a4c29b71e40125f8340b9.png"><img title="image" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/5a0aad0847f548fcac98dfd13e6c05db.png" width="640" height="260"></a> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/52a45404745e42bda53a15031433ed60.png"><img title="image" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/90090ad969ca448e91cc95f7652863b0.png" width="640" height="266"></a> </p> <p>The first obvious conclusion for those that donít understand the aviation industry is that Air New Zealand are blatantly ripping off customers Ė but the reality is far from that.</p> <p>When you look at the breakdown of that $149 flight, $62.40 of it is actually tax and service charges. This is a combination of New Zealand departure tax, and the Australian arrivals charge.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/33bae9cc29cf40f891547a87aad61e9a.jpg"><img title="sydney tax 1" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="sydney tax 1" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/4049b0038e27482e9b3e36372db699f9.jpg" width="640" height="144"></a> </p> <p>For the return $209 flight, $122.56 is tax and service charges. This is a combination of Australian departure tax, and the New Zealand arrivals charge.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/3e1dbc5eb35b4d9283b060b30996e980.jpg"><img title="sydney tax 2" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="sydney tax 2" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/3af3a46a81b54df886d75735cb5328d8.jpg" width="640" height="145"></a> </p> <p></p> <p>So from a $358 airfare, $184.96 is simply tax and service charges thatís collected by Air New Zealand and paid to both Australian and New Zealand Governments. Thatís over 50% of the total cost on a entry level special fare. When you see airlines offering airfares under $100, thatís not enough revenue for the airline to actually pay for the fuel that youíll burn.</p> <p>As a comparison itís only $156.96 in tax and service charges if you head off on a cheap Air New Zealand special to Los Angeles to visit Disneyland and stop by for a world famous 4x4 burger and animal fries at In-n-Out burger.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/7f886347b5694b0abd21005dd3ea0371.png"><img title="image" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/bc0b89dbe71f424ab36f4d8c40e6cc9d.png" width="640" height="60"></a> </p> <p>There has been plenty of talk from both Governments in recent years about improving the Trans Tasman experience for passengers, and talk of pre-clearing Customs and Immigration before hoping on the plane. While it would be nice to see this, one can only live in hope that one day we might see these charges actually drop rather than continue to rise.</p>Flight reviews &ndash; Air New Zealand NZ87 Auckland (AKL) to Hong Kong (HKG) in Premium Economy and Air New Zealand NZ 80 Hong Kong (HKG) to Auckland (AKL) in Business Premier on the 777-200ERhttps://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8900GeneralMon, 04 Jul 2016 00:05:00 PDT<p>Itís been quite a few months since Iíve flown internationally so a quick trip to China was a good opportunity to compare two different premium classes of service flying Air New Zealand to Hong Kong.</p> <p>Air New Zealand flights to Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai all leave Auckland late at night for an early morning arrival. NZ87 has a scheduled departure time of 11:55pm and scheduled arrival into Hong Kong of 7:30am. The return NZ80 flight from Hong Kong has a scheduled departure time of 7:10pm and scheduled arrival into Auckland of 10am.</p> <p>Air New Zealand operate their 777-200ER aircraft on this route. Their fleet of these aircraft were all fully refitted during 2014 and 2015 giving them new seats in all cabins and a new Panasonic eX3 in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. The aircraft features 26 fully lie flat seats in a 1-2-1 layout in Business Premier, 40 seats in a 2-4-2 layout in Premium Economy, and 246 seats in a 3-4-3 layout in Economy. Economy class also features the innovative Skycouch.</p> <p>Iím a huge fan of the Air New Zealand Premium Economy Spaceseat offered on the 777-300ER fleet. In my view (and of those who have given Air NZ awards for it) this seat and offering is the best Premium Economy offering in the world. As part of Air New Zealandís current ďprofit at all costsĒ cost cutting mentality <a href="http://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8894" target="_blank">the future of this seat is uncertain, with expectations that Iíll be removed from the 777-300ER fleet in 2017 during a refit</a>. The 777-200ER is fitted with a more conventional Zodiac medium haul business class recliner seat as the Premium Economy offering. This seat is also fitted in Premium Economy in the 787-9 Dreamliner, and will also be used to replace the Spaceseat on the 777-300ER assuming that it is to be replaced. The fully lie flat Business Premier seat is the same as that used on the 777-300ER and 787-9 Dreamliner.</p> <p>The onboard IFE system uses current generation Panasonic eX3 and features a multi touch HD touch screen. Reliability of Air New Zealandís IFE systems is an issue with issues on the vast majority of flights Iíve been on over the past year including an entire flight with no IFE across a number of seats returning from Vancouver last year. Performance of the eX3 system is superior to the eX2 system fitted to the 777-300ER fleet. The screens feature a single 3.5mm headphone connector and USB port, along with a dual 3.5mm headphone connector on the seat. If you are using the single 3.5mm connector in the IFE screen you will be required to unplug headphones for takeoff and landing for safety reasons.</p> <p>The screen also features a USB port for playing content or charging devices. Like the majority of USB charging ports in public places it is a ďdumbĒ charger and will not be able to charge most modern devices at anywhere near full speed. The USB would only charge my Sony Xperia Z5 at 330mA, meaning it would take roughly 9 hours to fully charge my phone. Compare this to my Anker portable battery pack that is a fully featured smart charger and will charge my phone at 1500 mA, fully charging it in well under 2 hours which is nearly 5x faster.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/1e919165c5a64807906f3352f2c80309.png"><img title="Screenshot_20160701-045058" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Screenshot_20160701-045058" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/cd935136c9ff4e20823c0e164d522936.png" width="270" height="480"></a> </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/34abe04bd7294da38d7f56f63c08aed8.png"><img title="Screenshot_20160701-044604" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Screenshot_20160701-044604" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/395b5c4cee764f569e9adef26ce6989a.png" width="270" height="480"></a> </p> <p>As I had never actually flown in the new Premium Economy seat I opted to try it on the way to Hong Kong, and fly Business Premier back from Hong Kong. I was seated in 24B on the way over, and 4K on the way back.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/22ea1ecd1bec4f0fa1523dece8fc1e3d.png"><img title="image" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/2c0a346e0c8c41a593111f893a092d8a.png" width="238" height="480"></a> </p> <p>One minor disadvantage of the 777-200 cabin layout is that bathrooms are shared between Premium Economy and Business Premier. Curtains partition off the Economy cabin but no such segregation exists between Premium Economy and Business Premier meaning passengers often mingle around the galley and bathrooms. Access to the front bathroom is restricted to Business Premier passengers, however at certain times of the flight only 3 bathrooms shared between 66 passengers means queues for the bathroom are a reality. If youíre peckish during the flight snacks and drinks are on offer in self service baskets in this area for customers of both cabins.</p> <p><u><strong>Auckland to Hong Kong NZ87</strong></u></p> <p>As I flew on a connecting flight from Wellington I took the last flight of the day at 8:45pm giving me a couple of hours in Auckland before the flight. After a quick 10 minute walk between the domestic and international terminals in Auckland I enjoyed a few quiet drinks in the new(ish) International Koru lounge that opened in 2015. Auckland airport is relatively quiet at this time of night so there were no delays clearing immigration or security.</p> <p>With boarding scheduled for 11:10 I started heading down to the gate around this time and was met with a completely full gate lounge and lots of people standing around. It wasnít until around 11:40 that any form of PA announcement occurred telling is what we all gathered Ė the flight was going to be late.&nbsp; Better communication would have been nice. Boarding started a few minutes later and we pushed back from the gate around 30 mins late. Air New Zealand typically only use a single air bridge for boarding at Auckland so boarding is in stages with Business, followed by Premium Economy, and then Economy.</p> <p>My first impressions of the Premium Economy seat were good. Taking a photo is a little hard on a dark aircraft due to Air NZís pinkish LED lighting, so Iíll just use a stock photo.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/ef0cb42910304d048e600e2c71a0a0be.jpg"><img title="new pe seat" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="new pe seat" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/de073b3c4694422a99a3854f9b2ca1ee.jpg" width="640" height="427"></a> </p> <p>The Premium Economy offering includes an amenity kit containing an eye mask, socks, toothbrush, pen and NZ brand Antipodes moisturiser and lip balm. Also present are noise cancelling headphones (which are a significant improvement over the regular headphones but very average compared to my Bose QC15ís), a 3/4 sized pillow, blanket and water bottle. Legroom is great, with relatively easy access past any seat neighbours without them having to get up.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/f92f9e02ea084448b51e0930cb348f2e.jpg"><img title="DSC_1754" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_1754" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/ff708ac754eb484bba1e94a56014219c.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a>&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/2b8ad57278ac4bb3a1905a6c4af5008f.jpg"><img title="DSC_1758" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_1758" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/b3cb5996c1d74baaa7fe8abba96f0dd0.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a> </p> <p>I was seated in 24B which has the downside of being a row behind the bassinette seats in 23AB and 23JK. Noise from twins in the in front was an issue, so if screaming babies arenít your thing sitting further back may be a better option. Noise from the galley wasnít an issue.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/2f36b69726f54e1283bd0942902b50f0.jpg"><img title="DSC_1763" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_1763" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/b0fe28f1b8b14ede8cf0b7d5ca053414.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>After takeoff hot towels and drinks were on offer with a choice of juice or sparkling wine. Air New Zealand no longer serve champagne in Premium Economy but based on my past experiences if you ask specifically for this during meal service you may get lucky. One minor peculiarity is that this initial drink service is in plastic cups, while all other drinks are served in the same funky self-righting glasses used in the Business Premier cabin. I can only assume this is to save another 40 or so dirty glasses, but in my view it is a slight cheapening of the product offering.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/56f09d604adf4909b97e7aae7bce33dc.jpg"><img title="DSC_2311" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2311" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/bfee648f4b0443c19b517fc8f4cf73fc.jpg" width="432" height="768"></a> </p> <p>Not long after this meal service began, with meal trays being delivered to the seat containing the starter and desert, followed not long afterwards with the bakery offerings of various breads. </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/9c2b87b8c0d64dba840c041eadcb155c.jpg"><img title="DSC_1755" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_1755" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/6a1ae9b722cb47f0a40695ba0d32a7ca.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a> </p> <p>The crew seemed extremely flustered and rushed during service and it was around 30 minutes before the main course was delivered. Looking around the cabin most people had got sick of waiting and had started eating their panna cotta desert Ė and the fact many only had a spoonful or two removed when trays were collected shows black sesame wasnít a popular flavour. Iíve had some fantastic panna cotta deserts on Air NZ, but this flavour was not one of them.</p> <p>The starter and main course were both delicious. Menus between Premium Economy and Business Premier are very similar, with many of the same options but simply fewer options overall. In Business Premier the meals are fully plated up (as youíll see below) rather than simply reheated in the meal tray. Air New Zealandís Premium Economy is much more ĎPremiumí than ĎEconomyí and very different to other airlines such as Lufthansa who offer near identical catering and beverage offerings in their Premium Economy and Economy and simply differentiate with a slightly better seat with more space.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/4f9d1f244f7646fdae7d7ac1c0c56711.jpg"><img title="DSC_1756" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_1756" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/adcf02742c8649eaa7ddb3f67bf74bbb.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a> </p> <p> The crew still seemed quite rushed while clearing up and it was quite some time before the curtains were shut and cabin lighting dimmed. Service in Business Premier had been a lot quicker and the cabin was darkened significantly earlier.</p> <p>As it was now around 3am New Zealand time I headed off to sleep, and got a solid 4 1/2 hours sleep only disturbed by the babies in front crying. Bose really need to make baby cancelling headphones! :)&nbsp; I found the seat comfortable to sleep in however the leg rest didnít quite adjust to where I wanted it.</p> <p>After watching a couple of TV shows it was time for breakfast. Breakfastís on Air New Zealand are a big meal which is great if youíre hungry. First up was fresh fruit and cereal with an option of muesli/granola or bran flakes. This is served with yoghurt and milk. This is followed by a choice of toast and croissants, followed by the hot meal option.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/3b0e0b11feae4946a1f073a7196b4799.jpg"><img title="DSC_1760" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_1760" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/83d354155d82484482dc422d20a1f173.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/ed227e79e3ae4476a575baf55d91d916.jpg"><img title="DSC_1761" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_1761" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/29bcf41c38b049d6b82a102e1003162e.jpg" width="270" height="480"></a> </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/9c9dd9dc146a4e45bb3a349d17b96de2.jpg"><img title="DSC_1762" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_1762" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/6a99d0c2cdaf451d93a74795f4ff0a4f.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a> </p> <p></p> <p></p> <p>After the trays were collected it wasnít long before the crew began preparing the cabin for landing. Overall the flight was an enjoyable one, apart from the crew seemingly being very rushed during the initial meal service. As an Air NZ Elite customer there was no Elite recognition by the Inflight Service Manager (or any other crew) of myself or the other Elite passengers in the Premium Economy cabin. </p> <p>As a Spaceseat fan I was keen to try the new Premium Economy seats to compare the two. Overall the seat offered a similar level of comfort and I found sleeping in the seat fine. It does lack the privacy the Spaceseat offers, and IFE screens are some distance away due to them not popping out on an arm like the Spaceseat. The Spaceseat is a very polarising product with some very tall or short people finding these uncomfortable, but I still rate the Spaceseat as a superior offering and it will be very sad to see these disappear purely on the basis of financial gain rather than customer satisfaction. Air New Zealand may be able to fit more of these seats on the same cabin area on the 777-300ER, but I think you can guarantee prices wonít drop as a result!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>Hong Kong to Auckland NZ80</strong></u></p> <p>I had around 90 minutes free on my way back through Hong Kong from Beijing so had time for a quick snack and shower in a lounge. If youíre flying Air New Zealand in Business Class or are Star Alliance Gold you have a number of different lounge options available. *G access is available to the United Club, Thai Airways Royal Orchid or the Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge. The SilverKris lounge is around 20 minutes walk away from the gates Air New Zealand use, whereas the others are very close. If youíre an Air NZ Elite customer you can also access the brand new Cathay Pacific Pier Business Lounge Ė this is accessible as part of the NZ/CX partnership on the Hong Kong/Auckland route.</p> <p>I visited all three *G lounges earlier in the week and will write a quick review when I get time. My recommendation would be Thai Royal Orchid, followed by the United Club, and lastly the SilverKris lounge. Both the Thai and United Club are above the gates offering great views of the airport and apron. The SilverKris lounge is great, but windowless.</p> <p>If you are Air NZ Elite visiting the new Cathay Pacific Pier Business Lounge is a no brainer. This lounge is quite simply stunning and is vastly superior to any of the *G lounges on offer.</p> <p>It was only a few minutes walk to the gate and I got there just as boarding commenced. Dual air bridges were in place so boarding for all passengers was occurring at the same time. Business was boarding via door 1L, and Premium Economy and Economy via 2L.</p> <p>Iíve flown Business Premier plenty of times with Air New Zealand and really love their seat so chose a window seat. The seat is licensed from Virgin Atlantic and the original dates from the early 2000ís so is starting to look a little dated compared to many new seats currently being deployed such as the new B/E Super Diamond. It doesnít offer the same level of privacy as many new seats now being deployed, and there is no way for couples flying together to easily chat. I recommend any couples sit opposite one another in the aisle, rather than the middle seats or behind each other.</p> <p>I have a preference for B/K seats rather than A/J as I prefer to sleep on my right hand side. This means my face has the open space of the IFE screen side of the seat rather than the back wall of the seat.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/5363cd3f588946b68c42fbcc71072e4e.jpg"><img title="DSC_2261" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2261" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/145b413fe67b495ea107244e67600b0d.jpg" width="270" height="480"></a></p> <p>&nbsp;<a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/a703766585f642729750f81d20fd0d54.jpg"><img title="DSC_2262" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2262" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/45f4f202937b45ddb8e2b4888d47d5e2.jpg" width="270" height="480"></a></p> <p>&nbsp;<a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/71af3f3d653547bead1fa9b09dc2b9b3.jpg"><img title="DSC_2263" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2263" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/0fb257183731421e9c9e3ee8b46a7316.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a></p> <p>&nbsp;<a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/d1521c7e5d094c1981b43a3bfd4b62f4.jpg"><img title="DSC_2264" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2264" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/202b9916c50f4d15b91a22642c4615c5.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a></p> <p>&nbsp;<a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/ea4b674f03fd480c9e6a5b8e3d404dda.jpg"><img title="DSC_2265" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2265" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/f266b7963acf4104aae27ad88d746ecd.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a> </p> <p>After sitting down I was greeted and offered a refresher towel and pre flight drink of orange juice or sparkling wine. Air New Zealand do not serve champagne while on the ground Ė they only open this when airborne. Orders were taken for a drink after takeoff, and as I was celebrating my birthday champagne was the only logical choice! Air New Zealand serve Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve.</p> <p>The amenity kit contains the same products as Premium Economy, but is in a tablet sized felt bag. Noise cancelling headphones and a bottle of water are also present.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/e7b95ee1ffb044f3b22d4369b83678ec.jpg"><img title="DSC_2273" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2273" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/fa3c340b4e76415986cfedc6fa4c1e33.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a> </p> <p>Not long after this the Inflight Service Manager walked around the cabin introducing herself to passengers and handing out arrival documentation for New Zealand.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/fcc3190e77bf44b1a088cad2274a1b59.jpg"><img title="DSC_2308" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2308" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/bb1f9ae864434b3483dc15d7048c56a3.jpg" width="432" height="768"></a></p> <p>&nbsp;<a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/7ca52a7e25984a7f85b2fa17f1cbfd75.jpg"><img title="DSC_2309" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2309" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/dc44696df16748acbbdfa3a98626522e.jpg" width="432" height="768"></a></p> <p>&nbsp;<a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/c3707779963e4003bbec817cb230c9b8.jpg"><img title="DSC_2310" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2310" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/48727c64f294453bb986f3df844ea906.jpg" width="432" height="768"></a> </p> <p>Orders were taken for dinner, and not long after the meal service soon commenced. Elite customers were given first option from the menu. I opted for the Salmon and a few items from the bakery selection. This was followed by the stir fried chicken, and cheesecake for desert. All were incredibly delicious.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/074c695fd8d949ea90e19a213fb9bd43.jpg"><img title="DSC_2277" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2277" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/99104bd70c8447b7a96711ea82bb4e4b.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a> </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/2bf01ef74b8848508d65a6cf20c9c2e2.jpg"><img title="DSC_2279" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2279" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/ace0323d5589482b9afa3f72b2356850.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a> </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/323df343782c47268449b8fc0867cac6.jpg"><img title="DSC_2281" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2281" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/77ae24d57f184a9fbc92707c2fc159d6.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a> </p> <p>Converting the seat to a lie flat bed involves flipping the seat over. There is no point trying this yourself as the crew are experts. The bed is complete with a memory foam mattress, two pillows, and a duvet. After a Glenmorangie 10yr as a nightcap I headed off to sleep for a good 5 hours sleep.</p> <p>The cabin can tend to get a little noisy once people start waking up and the crew start packing up the bedding so if you are a light sleeper youíll probably find it difficult to sleep through this if youíre not wearing earplugs and eye mask.</p> <p>First up was a berry smoothie, followed by fresh fruit, yoghurt and cereal. Up next was a selection of bakery items, and finally the hot meal option. I absolutely love the bacon and egg Ciabatta with BBQ sauce, and as it was my birthday I saw no reason to settle for anything else!</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/55fe7311118249fab355a6e840ec9a38.jpg"><img title="DSC_2289" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2289" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/099ec0279e1442898e20814c3f4e288c.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a></p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/adb97c60f73e421dbfe7afd057e8abc9.jpg"><img title="DSC_2287" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2287" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/f4025e6757ed44d49e18230896ad8b1b.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a></p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/c1d8091987ab4c33a666192fd370b46c.jpg"><img title="DSC_2290" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2290" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/26dd936876f44e7cb33c0d7ef33c1c74.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/fbf5bbc3f12a475681b67743bad95407.jpg"><img title="DSC_2292" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_2292" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/3c00f3ebc66b4ce0a6f62a9e3b0cc5ed.jpg" width="640" height="360"></a> </p> <p>Once the cabin had been cleared we were well on our way into Auckland, helped along with a very strong tail wind across the Tasman Sea.&nbsp; Overall the flight was a great one with a friendly crew and great service.</p>Are Air New Zealand about to dump their Premium Economy Spaceseat?https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8894MobileSat, 28 May 2016 01:19:00 PDTEDIT: Air New Zealand have confirmed today (22nd August) that the Spaceseat will be dumped. A refit of the 777-300 fleet commences in February 2017 and will see this seat replaced with the Zodiac Premium Economy Seat.</p> <p>--------------------</p> <p>When Air New Zealand launched the 777-300ER into it&rsquo;s fleet in 2011 one of the most talked about features was the introduction of the new Premium Economy Spaceseat. This seat, developed in-house by Air New Zealand and design company Ideo, had originally been designed for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Due to the delays in the Dreamliner project (the first aircraft was due to delivery in 2010 but ended up entering service in 2014) Air New Zealand ended up deploying these seats in the 777-300ER first.</p> <p>The Spaceseat was a revolutionary product for Premium Economy for both Air New Zealand, and the airline industry as a whole. While the existing Air New Zealand 747-400 and 777-200ER Premium Economy seats were simply an &ldquo;economy plus&rdquo; offering with better leg room and seat pitch, the Spaceseat was a true &ldquo;business lite&rdquo; offering in a 2-2-2 layout, and a unique hard shell back design meaning your seat moves forward when reclined rather than moving back which means it doesn&rsquo;t cramp the space of person behind.</p> <p>The outer seats were angled outwards to deliver privacy for people travelling individually, while the inner seats were designed for couples travelling together.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/1524d68da16b4fa59dc588780afcb9cb.jpg"><img style="float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; margin-right: auto; border: 0px;" title="spaceseat 1" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/93a7db51c6f84c478aee149b325568a9.jpg" alt="spaceseat 1" width="644" height="455" border="0"></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/f96bcdea7cdb445ea90e11fd92eb5c51.jpg"><img style="float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; margin-right: auto; border: 0px;" title="spaceseat 4" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/da0b38edd9714f5bbf0315f9d60f810a.jpg" alt="spaceseat 4" width="644" height="484" border="0"></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In pre launch testing the seat was loved by everybody who got the opportunity to test it in Air New Zealand&rsquo;s not so secret Hanger 9 cabin interior development facility in Auckland. Everybody thought they had a winner on their hands - until the first 777-300ER started flying.</p> <p>Within the first few months a row of Spaceseat&rsquo;s was removed due to overwhelming complaints about a lack of space. This in turn reduced the number of Premium Economy seats from 50 to 44, and with a 10% reduction in seating it instantly changed the economics of the whole Premium Economy cabin. Over time it became clear the Spaceseat was a polarising product &ndash; there are those who absolutely love the Spaceseat (myself included) and those who dislike it. Many people find the recline difficult to use as you need to use your body weight to move the seat forward and back, the seat angle feels funny for others, and people who are either very tall or very short can find the seat uncomfortable and find the bean bag foot rest something that just doesn&rsquo;t work. If you&rsquo;re sitting in the middle seats facing outwards you also need to be careful not to hang your feet out in the aisle if you don&rsquo;t want them run over by a drinks cart!</p> <p>By 2013 the decision had been made not to deploy the Spaceseat in the 787-9 Dreamliner, and that this would feature a slightly customised Zodiac seat for Premium Economy in a 2-3-2 configuration. Not long after this it was also decided the 777-200ER refit would also feature this Zodiac seat rather than the Spaceseat in a 2-4-2 configuration.</p> <p>At the time Air New Zealand said it was committed to the Spaceseat for the 777-300ER.</p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;Air New Zealand remains committed to the Spaceseat on our 777-300 fleet&rdquo; a spokeswoman for the airline told <em>Australian Business Traveller</em>.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/befb8039391142a282b452f588cd1622.jpg"><img style="float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; margin-right: auto; border: 0px;" title="777-200ER-premium-economy" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/4d72eab3f544489fab9e1e6d63b5fd97.jpg" alt="777-200ER-premium-economy" width="644" height="431" border="0"></a></p> <p>The new Zodiac Premium Economy seat is a regional Business class seat that has been customised by Air New Zealand. It&rsquo;s being used by a number of airlines including Cathay Pacific for their Premium Economy offering. It too has a mix of people who both love and hate the seat.</p> <p>Over the years Air New Zealand have won a lot of praise and industry awards for the Spaceseat. It has featured heavily in promotions and has won Skytrax awards for best Premium Economy seat on a number of occasions.</p> <p>Despite all of this, if rumours are correct the Spaceseat won&rsquo;t be around for much longer. Over the past few years cost-cutting within Air New Zealand been occurring with a profit at all costs mentality. It doesn&rsquo;t seem to matter whether customers may like something, because if way of making extra profit can be found, it&rsquo;s safe to say it will happen. It seems that the accountants have had their way and the Spaceseat will very likely be removed from the 777-300ER within the next year, to be replaced by the same Zodiac seat as the 787-9 and 777-200ER. Replacing the Spaceseat will allow additional Premium Economy seats to be fitted into the same cabin space in a 2-4-2 configuration which will in turn deliver a better return to the airline.</p> <p>If this rumour is true it&rsquo;ll be a very sad day indeed. I love the Spaceseat as a product, and it will be a shame to see it go.Addicted to the Airpoints Credit Card money go round? You might be about to be pushed off.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8893GeneralFri, 27 May 2016 08:22:00 PDT<p>Anybody in New Zealand who has a credit card will be well aware of the intense competition over the last few years for credit cards aligned with Air New Zealandís Airpoints program. ANZ and Kiwibank have been aligned with Airpoints for a number of years, and in 2015 BNZ were dumped as a partner and replaced by Westpac who have aggressively marketed their cards over the past year. Simply by spending money on your credit card you will earn Airpoints Dollars and Status Points.</p> <p>What most people donít realise is how those Airpoints Dollars and Status Points are actually funded. Itís not your bank being kind - ultimately itís you, the consumer who is funding these, in what can only be described as a huge ďmoney go roundĒ funded by credit card interchange fees.</p> <p>In December 2015 the European Commission announced a major restructuring of credit card interchange fees, and last week Australia also announced changes to credit card interchange fees. These are currently under review in New Zealand, and Iíve heard from a few sources that pretty much identical changes will be announced in New Zealand by the end of the year.</p> <p>When you use a credit card to pay for a product or service, the retailer or company youíre dealing with has to pay a fee for credit card processing to their bank or company processing their credit card transactions. This fee will depend on the size of the retailer, the number of transactions they process, and the type of card you have. For the vast majority of businesses in New Zealand this will range from around 1% up to 3% depending on whether they have opted for blended or non blended transactions (blended allows a retailer to pay the same % for all card types rather than paying a different rate for each card type), the type of merchant they are, and the type of card used. This fee includes all processing fees and the credit card interchange fee. Many retailers and companies now charge a credit card fee to recover these costs, and those that donít simply build it into their cost of doing business. Retailers hate credit card charges which can be a significant cost of doing business, and customers hate having to pay credit card surcharges. At the end of the day as a customer youíre ultimately paying this fee, regardless of whether itís a surcharge or built into business costs.</p> <p>So what is an interchange fee? Thatís a very good question, and rather than trying to reinvent the wheel Iíll simply copy the following few paragraphs from Wikipedia which sum things up pretty well :-</p> <blockquote> <p><b>Interchange fee</b> is a term used in the payment card industry to describe a fee paid between banks for the acceptance of card based transactions. Usually it is a fee that a merchant's bank (the "acquiring bank") pays a customer's bank (the "issuing bank"); however there are instances where the interchange fee is paid from the issuer to acquirer, often called reverse interchange. <p>In a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_card">credit card</a> or debit card transaction, the card-issuing bank in a payment transaction deducts the interchange fee from the amount it pays the acquiring bank that handles a credit or debit card transaction for a merchant. The acquiring bank then pays the merchant the amount of the transaction minus both the interchange fee and an additional, usually smaller, fee for the acquiring bank or <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchant_account#Marketing_by_Independent_Sales_Organization_.28ISO.29.2FMSPs">independent sales organization (ISO)</a>, which is often referred to as a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchant_account#Discount_Rates">discount rate</a>, an add-on rate, or passthru. For cash withdrawal transactions at <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_teller_machine">ATMs</a>, however, the fees are paid by the card-issuing bank to the acquiring bank (for the maintenance of the machine).</p></blockquote> <p>When you use your credit card to purchase something, your bank generates revenue from you by way of interchange fees. These fees pay for processing, marketing and upkeep of the credit card platforms, but they are also a huge source of revenue for banks. Many people assume banks make their money from interest from people not paying their credit cards off in full, but revenue from people paying their cards off in full each money is very significant. If you spend $25,000 per year on your credit card your bank will easily be making a minimum of several hundred dollars per year just off the interchange fees they receive from your transactions.</p> <p>Interchange fees in New Zealand are public knowledge and displayed on all bank and credit card websites -</p> <p><a title="http://www.visa.co.nz/aboutvisa/interchange/interchange.shtml" href="http://www.visa.co.nz/aboutvisa/interchange/interchange.shtml">http://www.visa.co.nz/aboutvisa/interchange/interchange.shtml</a></p> <p><a title="http://www.mastercard.com/nz/merchants/understanding-interchange.html" href="http://www.mastercard.com/nz/merchants/understanding-interchange.html">http://www.mastercard.com/nz/merchants/understanding-interchange.html</a></p> <p>Now that you understand interchange fees, youíll now understand how banks can offer airline frequent flyer points on their cards. Banks such as ANZ, Westpac, American Express and Kiwibank who are all affiliated with Air New Zealand Airpoints buy Airpoints Dollars, Status Points and Koru lounge vouchers for a fixed price from Air New Zealand. Theyíre keeping a % of the interchange fee for themselves as profit, and giving you a % of this interchange fee back to you in the way of Airpoints Dollars and Status Points. </p> <p>In recent years banks have heavily started pushing Platinum cards over regular or Gold cards. Ever wondered why? Itís because the interchange fees on these premium cards are nearly double those on a regular card or a Gold card. Simply by giving you a new card your bank is actually making more money from you every time you purchase something, and companies accepting your Platinum card are paying a higher fee than another customer using a regular credit card or Gold card if theyíre not on a blended rate plan.</p> <p>By now youíll probably see why interchange fees have become a big money go round. At the end of the day youíre paying a surcharge to simply get a percentage of that surcharge given back to you. Itís an issue that competition regulators and central banks around the world take issue with, and something theyíre now doing something about. In 2006 in New Zealand and Australia both the ACCC and Commerce Commission took action against the credit card companies in what can now be seen as a dismal failure for both competition regulators. Their legal action has backfired and ultimately sent fees upwards.</p> <blockquote> <p>In 2006, the New Zealand <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_sector_organisations_in_New_Zealand#Crown_entities">Commerce Commission</a> issued proceedings against Visa and MasterCard, alleging that interchange fees constitute price fixing and result in a substantial lessening of competition.<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interchange_fee#cite_note-32">[32]</a> Shortly before the court case was due to start in Autumn 2009, the suit was settled out of court; the "no surchage rule" was prohibited, allowing retailers to pass on the cost of MasterCard and Visa transactions to the customer, and card issuers were allowed to set their own interchange fees, within a maximum limit set by Visa or MasterCard.<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interchange_fee#cite_note-33">[33]</a> All issuers of MasterCard cards in New Zealand announced they would be charging the maximum rate.<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interchange_fee#cite_note-34">[34]</a> The Commission released a report in 2013 reviewing the outcome of the settlement, showing that many merchants were paying higher fees for accepting credit cards than before the settlement.<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interchange_fee#cite_note-35">[35]</a></p></blockquote> <p>In 2015 the European Commission announced a significant clampdown on credit card interchange fees to improve transparency in the marketplace. Interchange fees were slashed to a maximum of 0.2% for debit cards and 0.3% for credit cards. </p> <p>In Australia this week the Reserve Bank of Australia announced the outcome of itís long awaited review and has slashed interchange fees to a maximum of 0.8%, a drop of over 50% from the rate of many premium cards today. It has also announced that flat rates for credit card surcharges (such as those charged by airlines) will be outlawed and all credit card surcharges must be a percentage component, and cannot exceed the true cost the retailer pays for credit card processing.</p> <p>Interchange fees are currently under review in New Zealand and itís expected that weíll see similar changes announced by the end of 2016. This will be a significant win for retailers who will see processing fees drop, but itís going to be a very difficult time for banks. Theyíve sold customers on Airpoints cards and earn rates that will simply no longer be sustainable, and itíll be realistic to see earn rates on Airpoints Dollars and Status Points cut significantly, potentially slashing earn rates by at least half.</p> <p>Likewise for Air New Zealand there will be plenty of change for their business Ė selling Airpoints Dollars and Status Points to banks is a multi million dollar business for the airline that will be significantly disrupted as banks give away far fewer Airpoints Dollars and Status Points. Assuming that flat rate credit card surcharges are outlawed in New Zealand, Air New Zealand will also see itís credit card surcharge replaced by a percentage fee, something that will no doubt be both loved and hated. Right now if youíre a passenger buying a $39 airfare you have to pay $4 (nearly 10%) to pay that airfare with a credit card, a fee that means the airline are profiteering from you to subsidise a business class customer whoís paying $17.50 (.35%) on their $5000 Business class airfare. Air New Zealand deny that credit card surcharges generate a profit and that they ďall average outĒ at the end of the day. Such a change will ensure that all such charges are fully transparent to customers and that Business class customers pay the true cost of their credit card payment and are not being subsidised.</p> <p>Such changes are going to be equally liked and hated by customers but at the end of the day it delivers transparency to the payments process. If youíre addicted to points then itís time to enjoy the ride while it still lasts, because its likely to end very abruptly in the not too distant future.</p>Booking a cheap Air NZ flight to LAX? Beware of the new P class non upgradeable fares.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8887GeneralMon, 04 Apr 2016 12:22:00 PDT<p><strong><u>IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of the 6th April (the day after this went live) Air NZ have had a ďpolicy changeĒ that now means these new P class fares CAN NOW be upgraded like other classes of fares. This means that F class (Grabaseat) fares are the only revenue fares that canít be upgraded.</u></strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If youíre a frequent flyer like myself youíll enjoy the benefits of upgrades when travelling on Air New Zealand. If youíre Airpoints Silver, Gold or Elite youíll receive Recognition Upgrade(s) that can be used to upgrade to the next booking class, ie from economy to premium economy, or from premium economy to business premier. For those who donít have Recognition Upgrades, AIr NZ operate a PlusGrade platform known as OneUp that allows you to bid for an upgrade, or if youíre Airpoints Elite you can upgrade by purchasing an Elite Standby Upgrade.</p> <p>All of these upgrades are available on regular paid booking classes. For travel to the US these classes are as follows -</p> <p>Economy - K/G/S/L/T/W/V/Q/H/J/M/B/Y</p> <p>Premium Economy Ė A/O/E/U</p> <p>Business Premier Ė J/Z/D/C</p> <p>For the past few years Air New Zealand have been promoting cheap international flights on their Grabaseat website. Many of these flights (particularly to North America) are in a special promotional fare class known as F class. Bookings made in this class are non upgradeable, meaning you canít use any form of upgrade to escape economy class. Itís important to note as well that F class airfares are ONLY available from the grabaseat booking engine, they canít be booked on the main Air NZ website, or a travel agent via GDS.</p> <p>While the <a href="http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/air-newzealand-recognition-upgrades">main Air NZ Recognition page</a> makes no mention of F class fares not being upgradeable, <a href="http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/airpoints-terms-and-conditions">their terms and conditions do</a>.</p> <p>From the Air NZ website :-</p> <blockquote> <p>Airpoints Upgrades are not available on all Air NZ operated and Star Alliance operated Flights. For example, Airpoints Upgrades cannot be requested for Companion Tickets, travel industry fares, prize and promotional Tickets, grabaseatô greenlight fares and Flights booked in certain discounted or low cost booking classes, including F class..</p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Over the past week Air New Zealand have been offering some pretty good deals to the US with fares as low as $899 return. These fares have been available from the Air NZ website along with travel agents via GDS. </p> <p>What Air NZ have failed to mention is the introduction of a new booking class Ė P, which is being used for these flights, is non upgradeable. If you book a P class fare you canít use a recognition upgrade, OneUp, or Elite standby upgrade. Donít go hunting for this mentioned anywhere because you wonít find the rule Ė itís not listed anywhere. Your fare simply canít be upgraded on the Air NZ website, and a call to the call centre will confirm this. There is also no mention of this in the fare rules so a travel agent booking this would also be unaware of this new restriction.</p>Purchased a Fitbit from Dick Smith and not yet received it? Don&rsquo;t run to the news media because they won&rsquo;t help you.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8878GeneralTue, 08 Mar 2016 21:52:00 PST<p>Unless youíve been living under on another planet for the last few months youíll know that retailer Dick Smith is in the process of being shut down after being placed into receivership in early January.</p> <p>In mid January media reported cases of people who had prepaid for Fitbit devices at Dick Smith during their Boxing Day sale and were promised new stock when it came in. </p> <p>Stuff.co.nz ran such a story <a title="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/76143097/Dick-Smith-customers-who-paid-for-Fitbits-still-left-only-with-receipts" href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/76143097/Dick-Smith-customers-who-paid-for-Fitbits-still-left-only-with-receipts">http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/76143097/Dick-Smith-customers-who-paid-for-Fitbits-still-left-only-with-receipts</a></p> <p>Followed the next day by a follow-up story <a title="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/76183887/Fitbit-investigating-after-Dick-Smith-fails-to-front-up-with-tech" href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/76183887/Fitbit-investigating-after-Dick-Smith-fails-to-front-up-with-tech">http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/76183887/Fitbit-investigating-after-Dick-Smith-fails-to-front-up-with-tech</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>And a few days later by another follow-up where Fitbit and retailer Harvey Norman had partnered to offer a FItbit to any customer who took their Dick Smith receipt to a Harvey Norman store up until the 29th February <a title="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/76244606/dick-smith-customers-to-get-fitbits-from-harvey-norman" href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/76244606/dick-smith-customers-to-get-fitbits-from-harvey-norman">http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/76244606/dick-smith-customers-to-get-fitbits-from-harvey-norman</a></p> <p>Yesterday Stuff ran yet another story with a customer who had prepaid for Fitbit devices and had been trying to get them from Dick Smith without any luck. <a title="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/77698320/dick-smith-store-selling-fitbits-did-not-honour-prepaid-customer" href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/77698320/dick-smith-store-selling-fitbits-did-not-honour-prepaid-customer">http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/77698320/dick-smith-store-selling-fitbits-did-not-honour-prepaid-customer</a></p> <p>The Stuff journalist clearly had enough time to contact Dick Smith, contact a lawyer and contact the receiver but clearly didnít do something as simple as contacting Fitbit for comment, searching the Stuff archives, or simply using Google which would have lead to the January announcement along being carried by a number of news sites and forums along with a number of discussion forum threads on this very issue.</p> <p>While itís unfortunate for the customer to be in this situation, it poses the question of why the Fairfax journalist did such a poor job of researching the issue when a successful resolution for the customer could&nbsp; possibly be so easily achieved.</p> <p>If youíve in this situation of having paid for a Fitbit at a Dick Smith store and are yet to receive it itíd pay to contact either Fitbit or Harvey Norman to discuss your options. Donít contact Stuff because theyíre not going to help you.</p>When will the pain end for Jetstar?https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8873GeneralTue, 09 Feb 2016 11:22:00 PST<p>The news media has been full of horror stories about Jetstar in recent months - and those stories will continue as Jetstar have finally released their official on-time figures for December and January</p> <p>In December 2015 Jetstarís NZ on-time performance (% of departures within 15 minutes of the scheduled time) was 64.4%. Compare this to Air New Zealand who sat at 90.8% for the month for jet services and 84.5% for regional services. January was no better for Jetstar, with on-timer performance figure only increasing to 65.2%. </p> <p>Itís no secret that the wheels are falling off Jetstarís New Zealand operations, and this further adds to the pain. There were days leading up to Christmas where flights to Sydney were cancelled multiple days in a row due to aircraft being unavailable, and compound delays of over 7 hours on their 6 daily services between Wellington and Auckland. Trying to run aircraft with extremely high daily utilisation means that delays are hard to recover from, and their current schedule simply canít cope. Their problems arenít just not meeting the 15 min timeframe, theyíre that delays are routinely 3+ hours once aircraft are delayed.</p> <p>Sure competition is great, but right now Jetstar are not competition for Air New Zealand. Theyíre the laughing stock of the airline industry. Sure their prices may be cheaper, and if youíre willing to arrive at your destination +/- 2 days theyíre probably an OK option..&nbsp; For those who want to arrive on time, theyíre a risk not work taking.</p> <p>Jetstar long claimed they were NZís most punctual airline, and Air New Zealand was mocked by many for targeting this in marketing campaigns as a lie. The stats donít lie however, and they should be incredibly embarrassing for Jetstar and their industry partners.</p>CES Day 1https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8866GeneralWed, 06 Jan 2016 08:40:00 PST<p>Iím luckily enough to be in Las Vegas for CES, and hoping to write something at the end of every day to sum up some of the cool stuff Iíve seen.</p> <p>Today marked the opening day of CES ,however Iím luckily enough to have a media pass so have been to a number of events and keynotes on Monday and Tuesday. What follows is just a few notes and observations followed by a few photos. Iím just writing these as brief notes.</p> <p>My day started with a guided tour of the LG stand. Iím not aware of any other NZ media here at CES and so I was with a few Australian media. LG were big on two things Ė TVís and their IoT solution called SmartThinQ where huge. IMHO LG really lead the TV market right now (assuming you can afford it) with their OLED solutions. OLED took centre place, along with the new WebOS3 which is the operating system used on their TVís. All the usual apps are there, but WebOS3 brings enhancements for SmartThinQ Ė where is their IoT (Internet of Things) solution. Imagine if every appliance in your home cold be connected, and controller, from your TV or from an app. This isnít a dream, itís reality. Everybody is doing IoT here and it really is the latest buzzword. Everybody is talking about ďopen standardsĒ but the reality is there arenít any. Everybody is building their own systems and hoping to get other vendors on board Ė welcome to the TV app market all over again.</p> <p>TVís are a big deal. 4K is becoming the norm, but HDR is now where itís at. If you donít know about HDR itíll probably pay to Google it Ė but in an environment like CES itís hard to tell whoís really telling porkies. I visited Sony, Samsung, Panasonic and LG and listened to every single one of them trash the other. In an environment where TVís are clearly optimised to show the differences between HDR and non HDR content itís really hard to gauge where things are at. My personal view however is that LGís OLED is still ahead of Samsungís much walked about Quantum Dot technology.</p> <p>LG also displayed their new 98Ē 8K OLED. I have nothing else to say about this but wow. Estimated RRP when it hits the market this year is somewhere around US$40,000.</p> <p>Drones are huge. Theyíre not just huge, theyíre HUGE. Theyíre everywhere. Drone technology is advancing so rapidly that anything you buy is pretty much obsolete by the time you walk out of the store. 360 video and personal tracking (such as filing you skateboarding or mountain biking) are where itís at. Just donít ask about battery life.</p> <p>I attended the Intel keynote last night, and had a good look at what Intel have on display. Itís safe to say itís amazing. Intel Curie (itís embedded mobile) is going to change the way we watch and engage with live sport. Intel have partnered with Red Bull for extreme sports to really show off Ė real-time analytics showing performance, G forces, speed and movement are going to change the world. The potential for Curie was also show off with their partnership with Oakley delivering sunglasses that act as a personal trainer,</p> <p>I also got the chance to have a look at a Tag Heuer smart watch (disclaimer Ė I own a Tag Heuer so am a fanboi!) and really only have one thing to say Ė OMG. It leaves every other smart watch for dead in terms of styling.</p> <p>Retro was back with turntables. Panasonic have re-launched the Technica brand with turntables, and many other manufacturers also had them on display. Headphones were also everywhere, but Iíll hopefully get to spend some more time tomorrow.</p> <p>Panasonic had their Panasonic Aero IFE systems on display Ė I know Air NZ announced earlier in the year they;re looking at some of their APIís to allow access to view and bookmark movies that will be on your flight before you fly. Hopefully they integrate this into the Air NZ app at some point.</p> <p>And lastly 802.11ad finally hit the market with routers being announced. 802.11ad will deliver up to 2.4Gbps of real world WiFi throughput, however the 60GHz band means an AP in every room will be essential!</p> <p>Thatís it from day . Hopefully Iíll update this again tomorrow.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/847956d14d3247be8f70e65645db82f1.jpg"><img title="DSC_0769" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0769" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/feb3916146a645e194e63136cf2b44e8.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/3df6c619932f4718850e7b63c05dd5e7.jpg"><img title="DSC_0770" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0770" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/4c15f791bea249ffb68d589fb29a3fe1.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/126a77b4bc7c451ab95164c27b35c5d2.jpg"><img title="DSC_0771" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0771" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/73d4b2598b7f4b7bb88967ddbd729941.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/6896622c773a47fba199990d9d871f10.jpg"><img title="DSC_0773" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0773" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/e9030ec082744c159f696fd8a020984c.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/4cf87242f1154cca8fa184d41cfb3e60.jpg"><img title="DSC_0776" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0776" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/1f392e6c6de04a3fa04291e7fcce82f8.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/481776fd98094139b7eb8c8a8e8dcadb.jpg"><img title="DSC_0780" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0780" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/8e09720b304e4f798948d00f765bd229.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/d8c32a2960644744b20e84a1fa6e01a4.jpg"><img title="DSC_0781" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0781" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/14b90a1d3b4f43deb6812d68433ce3b6.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/10230bae29da4457ba43a741dd113eaa.jpg"><img title="DSC_0782" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0782" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/84621ed35e734781ac89b31f20dd4554.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/8c89a39794ef47b38d1ee3259400b302.jpg"><img title="DSC_0786" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0786" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/63aa8f4eef3d40338c0f0146a32cb1af.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/7d6babf1185c426fb7b996065d05d199.jpg"><img title="DSC_0789" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0789" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/fccfae5067e84dbd86ea4f1502ffa1fa.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a>&nbsp; <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/13c168c992a04a1eb6fe9a273b0a5835.jpg"><img title="DSC_0794" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0794" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/63c69f30a6624f9b89444e1ef976bdbd.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/23b13b0d0dfa42149e718b8ffe73dd44.jpg"><img title="DSC_0795" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0795" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/e8186408f46044869fd630d6235fc055.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/60dfaaaf6edf43f8b56f93a616148683.jpg"><img title="DSC_0802" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0802" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/d5619044ed184a15873e39f35ee317de.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a>&nbsp; <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/e31173d7e1334fb08876997d5302fe61.jpg"><img title="DSC_0805" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px" border="0" alt="DSC_0805" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/49e8f2e397ca4566a4c72a1c5219bfd0.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/1a0c8e24d66c47a29c3e3307a3f91fa9.jpg"><img title="DSC_0806" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px" border="0" alt="DSC_0806" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/acc1140580c3449bbb2720d1b7c1a8c5.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/7cdb0f50692f45cc8407eaafca204386.jpg"><img title="DSC_0809" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px" border="0" alt="DSC_0809" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/4b16b6edf5ff4ccc95ac96965eae7995.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/3500c11a3e9b4be4880782b3b878579f.jpg"><img title="DSC_0810" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0810" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/894ae5201f1c40dbbdb3c420a03f66e6.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/dd709195d70248a2aa1cc63bb8ff4971.jpg"><img title="DSC_0812" style="border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; display: block; border-top-width: 0px; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="DSC_0812" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/65ace91f9eb141cbbe68d286c9b37f00.jpg" width="644" height="364"></a></p>I'm off to CES 2016https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8865GeneralTue, 29 Dec 2015 07:17:00 PSTJust a bit of a heads up for anybody who loves their gadgets - I'm off to CES next week. This isn't a free PR junket so don't expect me to come our writing nice things about companies that have taken me! <img src="https://tinymce.cachefly.net/4.1/plugins/emoticons/img/smiley-smile.gif" alt="smile"><br><br>I'm attending with a media pass so will have access to some behind the scenes stuff that the general public don't. My plan is to hopefully have a blog post up each night with some of the best things I've seen that day.<br><br>Since there are a lot of you here who will never get the opportunity to go, I'm keen to help out others. If there is a product or company you'd like to know more about, post a question or suggestion&nbsp;in the thread <a href="http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=48&amp;topicid=189462">http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=48&amp;topicid=189462</a>&nbsp;or post a comment here. I'll see what I can do (no promises).<br><br><br><br>Snapper+GWRC+NZTA. Why integrated ticketing isn&rsquo;t as simple as it should be.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8860GeneralWed, 02 Dec 2015 10:37:00 PST<p><a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/74639724/snapper-card-faces-uncertain-future-as-nzta-pushes-to-have-aucklands-hop-card-in-wellington" target="_blank">Stuff</a> today reported what was almost an obituary for Snapper. While it may have come as a surprise to some, it was hardly news. The real story is the one behind the scenes.</p> <p>Before we look into the bigger issue, lets take a look at the history of Snapper. Infratil subsidiary NZ Bus own and operate bus services in Wellington, Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt under the Go Wellington, Valley Flyer and Runcimanís brands under contract. By 2006 their existing card based ticketing solution was horrible and cash fares were a nightmare to deal with. They needed a solution, and that solution was a contactless smartcard. Infratil also had just the man to launch a product, and with that, Snapper was born. The company was headed up by Charles Monheim. Monheim, who had headed up Tfl (Transport for Londonís) Oyster Card ticketing system from 2001 to 2006 had the perfect skillset required to launch a new ticketing system. </p> <p>Snapper opted for a system based on the Korean T-money platform, with the actual Snapper ďcardĒ bring a JCOP (Java Card Open Plaform) application that resides on the card. This platform had been in use in Korea for a number of years and had a number of advantages over other solutions, particularly competing MIFARE based solutions at the time that were dealing with ongoing issues with the encryption on cards being broken rendering the cards open to being compromised.&nbsp; </p> <p>Snapper hit the ground running in July 2008 Ė literally. Problems arose with buses that didnít yet have readers, and the accuracy of billing for some journeys was a nightmare that took quite some time to solve. Over the coming months however the issues were sorted, and as we now look at the product 7 1/2 years on from the launch itís safe to say itís fulfilled itís purpose of delivering a solid contactless solution for Wellington bus customers.</p> <p>Within months of itís launch in 2008 it was clear Snapper were out to play hardball. Attempts to convince both Mana and Newlands bus companies to offer the product failed Ė in part because both took issue with the link between Snapperís owner Infratil, and NZ Bus. As Snapper would have access to full details of passenger numbers and routes the fear was they would then provide this to NZ Bus who could potentially then tender against Newlands or Mana to operate services. This lead to the GWRC (Greater Wellington Regional Council) also privately having concerns about expansion of Snapper Ė what would happen if NZ Bus lost the tender for bus services but controlled all the ticketing? What conflicts of interest are there when both share the same parent? Theyíre all issues that have plagued Snapper since the launch, and to an extent still plague it today.</p> <p>2008 also marked the announcement by ARTA (Auckland Regional Transport Authority) of itís plans for a new integrated ticketing solution for Auckland across all buses, trains, and ferries. NZ Bus owned several bus companies in Auckland so took the initiative to launch Snapper into the Auckland market, promising that they could deliver a full solution and have it in place before the 2011 Rugby World Cup at a fraction of the cost of other suppliers. Unfortunately for Snapper several key members of the ARTA had some well known personal grievances with NZ Bus, which in turn meant Snapper was on the out, before it was even in.</p> <p>It was around this time that the NZTA (New Zealand Transport Agency) stepped into play pledging to help fund integrated ticketing in Auckland, providing they had a say in the solution and day to day running. Their plan was to build a system for Auckland that in time could then be rolled out to other cities in New Zealand achieving economies of scale that would somehow ďsaveĒ money. Snapper dug their heels in Ė they had a system in place and were gaining traction with micropayments but the NZTA wanted none of this. A deal was done with French giant Thales to provide the bulk of the backend systems for the ticketing solution and terminals for trains and ferries. Terminals for buses would be available from two vendors, with Snapper pledging their system could be made compatible meaning their terminals would stay.</p> <p>I donít need to write about the disaster that evolved over the next year or so. Thales struggled to deliver on time, the AIFS (Auckland Integrated Fare System)&nbsp; which was key to the actual billing of journeys was a joke, and Snapper along with the other bus terminal vendor (whoís name completely escapes me right now) had trouble making their terminals compatible because they had a) nothing to test against because AIFS wasnít built, and b) because the specifications kept changing. We all now know the outcome Ė Snapper pulled out of Auckland, Thales took over all bus terminals, and in 2012 HOP was launched with the cost blowing out to somewhere in the vicinity of $100 million. Since that day itís either been plagued by problems or the best solution to ever hit the market&nbsp; - depending solely on the side of the fence you want to sit on. Needless to say both parties believed in some very different things Ė Thales, NZTA and ARTA were very much about building closed, proprietary systems. Snapper were all about building open systems. It really is no wonder heads clashed with such differing views.</p> <p>The involvement of the NZTA in Auckland was critical. Their involvement resulted in the creation of NITIS (national integrated ticketing interoperability standard) along with the concept of a centralised system for overall management, but with individual clearing houses for each city or town that wanted to jump onboard. This clearing house concept is quite important here Ė&nbsp; unless fundamental changes are made to the clearing house model you will not be able to use an Auckland issued HOP card in any other region, or use (say) a Wellington HOP card in Auckland. The NZTA also donít want their solution used for anything but public transport. Both approaches differ significantly to what Snapper believed in, with Snapper pushing itís use in taxis and parking along with micropayments.</p> <p>While it wasnít clear to many at the time, the future for Snapper became a little less uncertain after HOP went live. With the NZTA committing to funding integrated ticketing outside Auckland on the condition integrated ticketing solutions were fully compliant with the NITIS specifications (something Snapper wasnít) . Here in Wellington our slightly backwards GWRC still saw no need for integrated ticketing across all buses and trains and saw it as a solution looking for a problem, despite the fact the advantages of integrated ticketing across buses and trains are just Ö logical.</p> <p>Move on to 2015 and integrated ticketing is finally on the cards at GWRC, with plans to have a solution in place towards the end of the decade. GWRC really only have one option for a solution, and thatís piggybacking on top of HOP. Deploying Snapper across the rest of the trains and buses in Wellington would cost a fraction of the cost of jumping onboard NZTAís solution, and no doubt start raising all sorts of questions all over again about why HOP cost so much money not just on a solution, but a backwards solution.</p> <p>10 years ago the concept of a piece of plastic to pay for public transport was a great one. It replaced cash and was reloadable. As we enter an era of smart devices and contactless payments in the form of Visaís Paywave, Mastercardís Paypass, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay the game has changed. Carrying around another piece of plastic to pay for a public transport journey feels backwards. Oyster card usage in London has plummeted this year with the adoption of Paywave, Paypass and Apple Pay to pay for all public transport journeys. Passengers no longer need to worry about carrying around an extra card and topping it up, and for tourists it makes using public transport incredibly simple.</p> <p>The sad aspect of such advances is that the NZTA donít believe in such things. Their concept of a closed model means HOP users are unlikely to see solutions such as this anytime soon. Itís highly likely youíll see a mobile phone app but thatís hardly groundbreaking stuff Ė Snapper did that 3 years ago with their touch2pay solution which was the first of itís kind in the world. Simply tagging your smartwatch against the reader to tag on and tag off&nbsp; may be the way of the future in some countries, but New Zealand wonít be one.</p> <p>All of this poses one big question. With all of the talent we have in New Zealand, how did we end up with the NZTA spending $100 million to build a solution based on French technology that doesnít fully meet the needs of public transport users? The hardware isnít the complex part, itís the software that is. The clearing house and interchange model used by HOP is very inefficient, and issues such as online top-ups taking 3 days show the downsides of the current solutions.</p> <p>Is it time to for Wellington to simply tell the NZTA were to stick HOP and build our own open standards solution for public transport ticketing? </p>Air New Zealand&rsquo;s IFE systems. Why is it so difficult to get the basics right?https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8858GeneralMon, 23 Nov 2015 22:48:00 PST<p>Anybody who knows me will know Iím a bit of a travel junkie - I love planes, and I love travel. I have flown around 50 plane flights per year over the past few years, with at least 2-3 trips to the United States every year, and typically flights to Australia every few months. All of this means a lot of time spent on planes, and in particular a lot of it spent on Air New Zealand planes. Despite their many failings including a very flawed Airpoints loyalty program and the extreme cost cutting attitude of the current executive team, I am still a very loyal customer.</p> <p>Unless youíre flying on a low cost carrier, the expectation of most people flying on a plane these days if some form of in-flight entertainment (IFE) system, whether this be the more common seat back screen, or the airline supplying tablets to customers. Onboard WiFi is becoming increasingly common and is the way of the future, but until bandwidth issues between planes and the ground are eliminated this is still a few years away from becoming the norm - the seat back screen isnít going anywhere fast.</p> <p>Airlines both love and hate seat back screens. With the exception of newer generation systems launched in the last year or so which have made huge advances, IFE systems are typically expensive, power hungry, heavy, bulky (ever noticed the big boxes sitting under your economy seat taking up all your leg room?) and 300+ screens emit a huge amount of heat in the cabin that needs to be cooled. Without an IFE system however, passengers would baulk at flying on a plane for 12+ hours with absolutely nothing to do.</p> <p>All of this brings me to my recent flights with Air New Zealand. Out of my last five long haul flights Iíve had the IFE system for my seat fully functioning on only one of those five flights. The other four flights have ranged from minor issues right through to a totally non functioning screen on my flight back from Vancouver last week. If I was to look back even further Iíd estimate that system issues requiring seat reboots for my seat or individual seats around me where Iíve heard customers reporting issues, or full mid-flight system reboots occur on probably 30% of all flights. All of this poses one big question Ė why are these expensive systems so bad? If a TV manufacturer launched a TV that simply decided not to work some days, required reboots half way through your favourite TV show, randomly become non responsive, or suffered loss of audio sync, there would be outrage. People would be demanding their money back. </p> <p>Air New Zealand use Panasonic Avionics as their IFE vendor. Across their fleet Air New Zealand operate three different IFE platforms Ė older generation Panasonic eFX systems on itís A320 and 767-300 fleet, newer generation Panasonic eX2 systems on itís 777-300 fleet, and the latest generation Panasonic eX3 systems on itís 787-9 Dreamliner and 777-200 fleet (of which all aircraft flying have been newly refitted at the time of writing this from an older Thales system). The architecture of these individual systems varies greatly due to massive technology advances in the 10 years since the EFX system was new, and the launch of the eX3 system has seen Panasonic move from Linux to Android as itís core operating system powering the IFE system. Tales of instability issues on the eX3 platform are well known Ė Air New Zealand had Panasonic engineers flying on 787 Dreamliner flights at one point so they could fix things when they broke.</p> <p>Earlier this year Air New Zealand deployed new software updates to the eX2 systems on the 777-300 fleet to deliver a similar user interface (UI) as that used on the newer eX3 systems. As the eX2 screens arenít multi point capacitive they canít support swiping unlike the eX3 screens, but the look and feel is now similar. This software update immediately caused the in-flight maps to break and caused general instability issues across the fleet. As aircraft couldnít easily be taken out of service to work on the issue many of these planes simply flew around broken for weeks. I flew through to London in June via Los Angeles in Business Premier and had pretty much an unusable IFE system on both flights on two individual planes. While the in-flight service managers (IFM) on both flights were extremely apologetic, I got the feeling from both that they were increasingly frustrated at the faults and felt that members of the IFE team on the ground were seemingly in denial that such issues existed.</p> <p>Last week I flew to Vancouver for a quick week long holiday and got to experience the new eX3 system on a new 777-200 refit. On the way over the system worked flawlessly. On the way back the system was totally broken for both my seat and a number of other seats in the plane. Multiple seat reboots and help from the engineering on the ground was unable to solve the issue. Short of a full system reboot that would take down the entire aircraft for around 15 minutes (something crews will only do as a last resort due to the massive inconvenience it causes to all passengers) there was nothing that could be done. I sat there for 13 hours with no IFE and unable to use my laptop due to the incredibly crammed seats in economy class. While I managed to cope (and a generous Glenmorangie from the super friendly IFM at least helped me sleep!) the passenger behind me showed the level of expectation that many passengers have for an IFE system Ė he wanted (or should I say expected) to be upgraded to a seat that worked in Premium Economy or Business Premier. Needless to say that didnít happen.</p> <p>All of this poses a few big questions. Why are Air New Zealandís IFE platforms so poor? Who is at fault? Panasonic for building poor quality products or Air New Zealand for poor implementations? More importantly why do flight crews believe that ground staff arenít listening to their complaints and fault reports?</p> <p>Am I just the unluckiest customer ever when it comes to issues? Or do other people see the same problems? Iíd be interested in your comments.</p>Catching Uber to Wellington Airport? Uber may well be ripping you off.https://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8852GeneralTue, 20 Oct 2015 12:42:00 PDT<p>Anybody who knows me and has read my numerous blog posts about Uber will know Iím a fan. Iíve used Uber in a number of countries and love both the concept of the product, and the product itself.</p> <p>In the last month Iíve used Uber to get from my office in Wellington to Wellington airport. Both times Iíve been charged $25, and on both occasions the fare estimate was significantly less than this. After spending a bit of time looking into this it seems that Uber charge a flat $25 rate to get from Wellington Airport &lt;-&gt; Wellington CBD according to the Uber website, but make no mention of this anywhere in the app. For areas in the city (such as my office) where the estimated fare is in the $16 - $21 price range depending on the time of the day, youíre automatically charged $25 for the journey. As much as I like Uber, I donít like being ripped off, and Uber have ripped me off. Twice.</p> <p>Lets have a look a few random locations around Wellington</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/5d0e2432582842969126a58d3a660ac3.png"><img title="Screenshot_2015-10-21-21-26-38" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Screenshot_2015-10-21-21-26-38" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/6b134f5230344b0f84dfe80300ec23d7.png" width="139" height="244"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/ecf4cc0fa1014c21bb9ead7d94f911c7.png"><img title="Screenshot_2015-10-21-21-25-30" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Screenshot_2015-10-21-21-25-30" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/7acda0fe81c445beae6df3a996ad5369.png" width="139" height="244"></a> <a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/e80515a3e6f540ce920619191484029e.png"><img title="Screenshot_2015-10-21-21-25-11" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="Screenshot_2015-10-21-21-25-11" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/871b2760a7e248cda9e1f728593b30fb.png" width="139" height="244"></a> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And the Uber website</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/06f3cc33482e446bbcef19fe72166fa0.png"><img title="image" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; border-left: 0px; display: inline" border="0" alt="image" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/5fbf1ff9bf96485dbdd66db0252437cf.png" width="644" height="136"></a> </p> <p>I asked @uber_nz about this on Twitter, but it seems theyíre not the most prompt when it comes to engaging on social media. </p> <p>In the meantime you may want to be wary of being overcharged. There are a number of taxi companies that only charge $20 flat rate to get from the CBD to the airport.</p>When customer surveys go wrong.. I&rsquo;m looking at you Air New Zealandhttps://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8840GeneralTue, 25 Aug 2015 22:59:00 PDT<p>I love flying. I also love Air New Zealand. As a HVC (high value customer) I fairly regularly get customer surveys and I normally take time to fill these in. Over the last year or so the line of questioning in these surveys has become incredibly bad, and it really worries me that business decisions are probably being based on data from surveys where the questions are so poor that any such data probably has no meaningful real world value.</p> <p>The most recent survey sent out on Tuesday night takes things to a whole new level. This survey attempts to look at regional flight offerings, grabaseat and peopleís feelings towards Jetstar. A couple of spelling/grammar mistakes in the survey can be overlooked, but the actual questions posed by the survey make me seriously wonder whether anybody from Air New Zealand or TNS (who conduct the survey) bothered to actually ask themselves whether any of their questioning made sense.</p> <p>Multiple questions refer to grabaseat being an airline. Multiple questions also seem to ignore the fact grabaseat is not a standalone booking site and merely uses the main Air New Zealand booking site for all flights. Every flight listed on the grabaseat site is also shown on the main Air New Zealand site, as this is what is used for the actual booking.</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/394803fabb7e4494bb07122dfd4139fd.jpg"><img title="airnzsurvey" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="airnzsurvey" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/4375c1d82c6f4d9d90c180fc00c2b4d3.jpg" width="644" height="220"></a></p> <p>Since when did Grabaseat become an airline? </p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/57c319f00a684bb3b8fa2c7d4046e524.jpg"><img title="airnzsurvey2" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="airnzsurvey2" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/89cb491640354801b41c8429bdbedbbc.jpg" width="644" height="327"></a></p> <p>Once again Grabaseat is referred to an airline (if you excuse the grammar). Iím not quite sure how youíre supposed to answer any of these questions in the context theyíre posed!</p> <p><a href="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/5062cac5670f4cd699128296fb3f8405.jpg"><img title="airnzsurvey3" style="border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-left: 0px; display: block; margin-right: auto" border="0" alt="airnzsurvey3" src="https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/230efe1bc21044708843a614852cf4ca.jpg" width="644" height="460"></a></p> <p>I hope nobody said they searched for flights on a mobile phone that isnít a smartphone!</p> <p>Any Air New Zealand HVC knows that the recent slash &amp; burn cost cutting across the airline has delivered great profits while cutting many customer benefits and services. It also looks like itís resulted in the culling of staff who understand how to write a customer survey.</p> <p>Itís very clear that Air New Zealand face some very significant challenges from Jetstar in their home market over the next year. After bleeding money for the last few years Qantas are profitable again, and have declared war on Air New Zealand for meddling in the Australian market with their stake in Virgin Australia, something that has resulted in a fairly significant financial hit for Qantas on their home turf. Theyíve decided to take revenge in the best way possible - deploying additional Jetstar resources into the New Zealand market in an attempt to hurt Air New Zealand on their home turf. <a href="http://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8824" target="_blank">I wrote about this a few months ago</a> and still believe Jetstar have left this far too late, but itís clear this will still have an impact on Air New Zealand. Qantas donít care if Jetstar is never profitable in New Zealand (and it probably never will be) Ė if they can hurt Air NZ theyíll consider that a win.</p> <p>Air New Zealand should focus on what theyíre good at. Writing customer surveys clearly isnít one of those things. If you want feedback from your HVCs then creating more focus groups and engaging with customers in real life is the way to get the feedback youíre after. I know Iíd be more than happy to give plenty of feedback and comments as to how Air NZ could improve many of itís products, services and brand if you were to only ask. Iím sure plenty of my friends who fly far more than my lowly 40-50 plane flights per year would also be more than happy to offer their services also!</p>