Great cricketing news today, with big smasher Craig McMillan called back into the Black Caps as cover for his brother-in-law, the injured Nathan Astle.
(Astle has a badly bruised thigh, after being hit with the ball while batting in the first ODI against Sri Lanka.)
McMillan was dropped from the Black Caps by John Bracewell earlier this year, and even missed out a New Zealand Cricket contract mid-year, after a run of poor form with the bat.
While we probably do still need Astle in the lineup, it would be great to see Macca back in Black. He's been having a very good domestic season with the bat, and has a ODI average of 27.47 from 175 matches.
The aggressive batsman might even be handy as a part-time bowler as well, given New Zealand's lack of success with the ball. Macca was always known for having a bit of a "golden arm", and seemed to have an uncanny ability for breaking up niggly partnerships.
The Black Caps second One Day International against Sri Lanka is in Queenstown tomorrow.
^ Lazy Town - Bing Bang (Time to Dance)
^ Chris Cornell - You Know My Name (Casino Royale theme) ]
Posted at 8:08 pm
Hands up those of you who've seen the hit animated movie Happy Feet this holiday season?
Happy Feet is set in Antarctica, where the Emperor Penguins have to sing for their soulmates... all except Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), who's unfortunately the worst singer in the world - but luckily he's a flash hot tap dancer ;-)
Here's the Gangsta Happy Feet Remix video...
Posted at 5:04 pm
2006 is almost over, and some of the country's bloggers are compiling their look back over the last year...
Here's the great Year in Review contribution from Dan News NZ...
* Check out Gman's Awards of the Year here...
(and he's not too impressed with Labour luvvy, Nigel Neill (that's Sam to you thespians), getting a New Year's gong either ;-)
Posted at 4:18 pm Wednesday, 27 December 2006
Posted at 6:39 pm Saturday, 23 December 2006
Check out this great program... It will transform your computer (Windows XP) user interface to imitate Windows Vista (Microsoft's upcoming update of Windows).
Vista Transformation Pack gives you PC the fresh new look and feel of Windows Vista, without the hassle of learning a whole new system ;-)
* More screenshots and Download page here
read more | digg story
Posted at 11:23 pm Thursday, 21 December 2006
New Zealand's TV3 had a 'soft' relaunch today of its website. The CanWest MediaWorks channel has unveiled a major revamp of its site, offering a much wider range of News and other video clips, as well as more interaction with browsers.
The main page is dominated by news... Items from 3News and Campbell Live (with video clips and/or pictures) are now mixed with stories coming in from RadioLive throughout the day.
TV3's new site now also offers localised weather forecasts, movie reviews, competitions, gig guides, streaming radio stations, and more detailed programming information and schedules for TV3.
There are however a few teething problems with the new site. A few people seem to be having problems viewing the video clips now (no video, just audio), and there's some layout issues with browsers like Firefox. This is probably to be expected with a major revamp like this, but it would be nice to see web designers fully road testing sites in more than just Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.
On the whole its a big improvement, and puts TV3 in a much better position, with state broadcaster TVNZ set unveil a revamped version of its site sometime in the new year.
* TV3 New Zealand website
^ Avril Lavigne - Keep Holding On (Dr Luke) - Eragon Soundtrack
^ Tommy Körberg & Sissel Kyrkjebø - Julen Är Här ]
Posted at 10:59 pm Monday, 18 December 2006
New Zealand's State TV broadcaster has announced the launch of a new online division, which will offer some of TVNZ's premium shows for sale on the internet... albeit with a number of catches.
TVNZ ondemand is scheduled to launch on the 1st of March 2007, featuring a wide range of video content from TV One and TV2. The state broadcaster says most of their premium local shows - including Shortland Street and Eating Media Lunch - will be available for pay-download.
Some 15 and 30 second video advertisements will also screen before shows and clips. The site will also make money through traditional internet skyscrapers and banners, and sponsorship packages for some shows.
However, one big stumbling block in attracting regular users could be TVNZ's draconian Digital Rights Management system. All download content will be encrypted, and can only be viewed for 7 days after downloading. After that time, the paid download will simply die, and the video will no longer play (making it more of a rental than a purchase).
The system will also allows TVNZ to track user's viewing habits... letting them analyse which demographics are watching each show. The videos will be in the Windows Media Player 9+ format, meaning its a PC-only affair. TVNZ say "At this stage Macintosh users are not part of this experience".
They do play to offer some content free of charge, including News products. TVNZ will also dip into their archives, offering selected items for free... at least initially. A range of show clips and previews will also be available free of charge.
TVNZ say they're hoping to negotiate rights deals with some overseas suppliers for top imported shows. Their ABC/Touchstone Television deal, which includes hits like Lost and Desperate Housewives may be a hopeful target.
State TV's chosen direction is in contract to that of many of the major US and UK networks, who currently offer many of their top TV shows for free online (most through streaming).
Americans can also download episodes from a huge range of Network and Cable TV shows through itunes and Amazon Unbox. These cost (US) $1.99 an episode, and unlike TVNZ, don't self destruct after 7 days. Videos from itunes are "near-DVD quality", and can be downloaded onto video iPods. Amazon's Unbox video downloads can even be backed up onto DVD.
In the UK, state broadcaster BBC offers some shows for free download, and is hoping to allow people to watch anything from the past week for free. Channel 4 lets users download all of its home-grown programming for a charge. But like TVNZ they're only valid for a short rental period... although for just £3.99 a month you can watch everything you want.
* TVNZ: Broadening your viewing horizons
* Variety.com: Primetime downloads are plentiful, but quality's spotty
* BBC: Online TV a reality in the US
* The Inquirer: It's a big week for UK broadband TV
Posted at 10:14 pm
Some interesting information from a recent US study, revealing that building a strong economy and helping the poor means keeping taxes and government spending low.
The study revealed that the US states with the highest tax rates are failing in the fight against poverty... while those states with the lowest tax rates are reducing poverty.
read more | digg story
Posted at 12:43 pm Thursday, 14 December 2006
Even a poor amateur musician can sound pretty good with some judicious editing!
Check out this Norwegian guy (Lasse Gjertsen) as he performs a great Drum solo, before duetting with himself on the Piano...
Posted at 6:29 pm
New Zealand lost another sensible and intelligent politician this week, as Don Brash bowed out of politics. Brash's retirement came just weeks after he resigned as leader of the National Party, and after a short 4 1/2 career as an MP.
The MSM loved to pick up on his stumbles, and worked hard to promote controversy with his speeches. The lefty liberals labelled his accurate call of "One law for all New Zealanders" as racism, and couldn't understand that they were so out of touch with much of the country.
In his now famous Orewa 1 speech, Brash quite rightly voiced concern about the growing trend towards racial separatism based on the Treaty of Waitangi. He expressed concerns about the trend of race-based favouritism in policy-making, and in Government departments.
"We need to re-establish the principle of personal responsibility, re-affirm the importance of family and community, and turn our back on the politics of envy, where the party that wins is the one that can take $25,000 off a hard-working Kiwi and spread it around to win the maximum number of votes among those who aren't so hard-working."
The Ghost of Christmas Past, with her offsider The Christmas Grinch
* Kiwiblog: Don Brash valedictory speech
* National Party: Don Brash Valedictory Speech in full
Posted at 5:57 pm Wednesday, 6 December 2006
The National Party has agreed to support plans by the Labour Party to clamp down on anonymous political donations, and to ban third-party advertising that attacks other political parties.
Election law reform is on the table after overspending during the last election campaign, most notably by Labour, who illegally overspent by around $800,000 on "pledge cards" and glossy brochures.
In return for supporting the reform, National wants to have tougher penalties introduced for parties breaching the spending cap rules.
New deputy leader Bill English is also calling for a 90-day pre-election ban on advertising by government departments to promote "the pet policies of the government of the day".
This would be a major step towards a more level playing field. Labour exploited this loophole last year, spending a whopping $15 million promoting its "Working for Families" package, designed to put more of middle New Zealand on welfare.
The idea of state funding for political parties is also likely to looked it. This should be vehemently opposed by National. There is no reason why New Zealand taxpayers should be funding the advertising campaigns of political parties without their consent.
The third-party advertising issue is an interesting one, as Labour have always relied on the Unions to fund major anti-centre-right campaigns during election time. Labour will be looking for a way to leave in some loophole to allow this practice to continue.
(A media release today by Don Brash notes that the union representing many old-school and state-broadcasting journalists - the EPMU - "had members driving up and down the main streets of our major cities on the eve of the election, chanting anti-National slogans over loudspeakers".)
I personally believe banning third-party political advertising would be a breach of freedom of speech. It seems really to be an attempt by Labour and National to cement their "duopoly" in New Zealand politics, by quietening any outside voices.
* NZ Herald: National to play ball on election law reform
Posted at 10:18 pm
New Zealand has finally come in from the dark, and been added to Apple's global iTunes music empire. (However, the standard itunes.co.nz domain wasn't operational today, with the NZ site accessible only via www.apple.com/nz/itunes).
iTunes NZ offers over 2 million songs for download, at $1.79 each. That's around 25% more expensive than in the USA, where songs retail on iTunes for just 99c each (~$1.23 NZ). Meanwhile, most albums here are priced at $17.99, music videos at $3.59, and games for $7.99 each. A large range of podcasts are also on offer.
Apple's unique relationship in New Zealand - previously only operating through third party distributor Renaissance Corporation - was perhaps one of the reasons why kiwis were so far down their priority list... left in the dark when Apple launched in Australia last year).
Apple USA have owned the itunes.co.nz domain name since mid-2005, but its believed that negotiations with local record companies took longer than expected.
The Apple iTunes Music Store will finally allow kiwis to easily buy digital music for their ipods, and lessen their temptation for illegal music downloading. The current largest digital music stores here - Digirama and CokeTunes - only offer songs in the WMA format, which can't be directly transferred to an iPod.
Renaissance will continue be the distribution manager for Apple products in New Zealand. However, Apple will now operate its own Online Store, giving it the ability to sell product directly. New Zealand will also become part of Apple's "worldwide pricing model", which should mean lower prices for consumers here.
* NZ Herald: iTunes finally available in New Zealand
* STUFF: Apple launches iTunes in NZ
Posted at 10:03 pm Tuesday, 5 December 2006
It's great to see an Australian parliamentary committee is encouraging Australia and New Zealand to work together towards a full union... or to at least adopt a single currency, and have more common markets.
Committee chairman Peter Slipper says, "This is not an attempt to annex New Zealand, or have a compulsory takeover... Any change would have to be voluntary and mutually beneficial."
New Zealand became a separate colony in 1840, the capital moving from Okiato to Auckland to the more central Wellington, after political concerns the South Island would form a separate colony when gold was discovered in Central Otago.
The Australian committee wants to see a closer relationship between the six ocker colonies, and the lone colony in the deep south, and is calling for a joint committee between the Australian and New Zealand parliaments to investigate the possibilities.
Labour's Finance Minister, Dr Micky Cullen has rejected any suggestion of New Zealand adopting the Australian currency... although he hasn't been quite as dismissive of the idea of an Anzac currency or adopting the US dollar.
And in an exclusive interview with LFRF, PM Hillin Cluck said, "I don't rucken ut'll hippin. Nu Zuhlind us the bust countray un the wehld, end we won't consudah joinung Austrahliah fur et least sux or siven years".
Let's face it, the Aussie accent isn't quite as bad as the Kiwi one, and the two countries flags look pretty much identical.
If we joined Australia as a new state, our sports news would be filled with happier stories about our national cricket team, basketball team, football team, and swimming stars. (We could just agree to ignore that Aussie Rules game down here ;-)
Hat tip to...
* Radar blog: Stay where you are, New Zealand, we're taking over
Posted at 10:36 pm
Hmm... Can we assume our Popular and Competent leader has been getting the paintbrushes out for a little self-portrait? ;-)
(Lets just hope it's not another Paintergate...)
* Screen capture by TINA: There is no Alternative
Posted at 6:56 pm
Two clips doing the rounds on the interweb, from this week's Viral Video Top 10... The liberal lefties are so gonna love these ;-)
* Western soliders make Iraqi kids run for fresh water...
* US soliders punish Iraqi looters by crushing their car with a Tank...
(I don't think the reporter was working for Fox News ;-)
Posted at 6:45 pm Monday, 4 December 2006
With John Key replacing Don Brash as leader of the NZ National Party, most pundits are expecting the party to gradually reposition itself further to "the middle" of the political spectrum.
However, it will be interesting to see how much National tries to fight Labour with big spending promises in major areas like Health, Welfare, and Education.
While the National Party does have a history of being more "right of centre", it's not well known for its ability to curb spending, or opening the way for more freedom and individual responsibility.
The final weeks in the political career of Don Brash must have been pretty tough. After the 2002 election, where National won just 21% of the vote, some commentators even wondered whether the party would still be a seen as a major force. Don Brash helped rebuild the party and its support, very nearly leading National to victory on the back of a campaign to cut taxes.
Posted at 9:29 pm Wednesday, 29 November 2006
Its been a few weeks now since the first icebergs were spotted off the Otago coast. A flotilla of maybe up to a hundred icebergs have drifted into New Zealand waters, having travelled for the last 8 years from Antarctica after breaking off an ice shelf.
The unusual visitors have proved a hit with Dunedinites and tourists, who've kept local helicopter and charter plane operators busy with regular flights to the constantly moving icebergs.
I was able to fly over a couple of the larger bergs last Monday, which was an amazing experience. We flew over in 40 knot winds, and watched as the ocean waves crashed against the massive ice structures.
The largest was around 500m long, 400m wide and 400m high (above the water at least - around 90% of the volume of an iceberg is actually under the water.)
* Australia's Channel 9 television network was one of the overseas media outlets that came to Dunedin to visit the icebergs.
They did a very good piece for A Current Affair, which you can check out here... (even they did steal our Martini glass and idea for their piece to camera on the berg! ;-)
Posted at 11:05 pm
Posted at 10:36 pm
Posted at 10:31 pm Saturday, 25 November 2006
Posted at 12:30 pm Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Cor lummy! You'll need a solid stomach for the latest allegations out of Investigate Magazine HQ...
MP David Benson-Pope, Labour's former Associate Minister of Education and current Minister of Social Development (including the Child, Youth and Family Service) is accused of being a pervert. Again.
Investigate's breaking story involves some very adult allegations about Benson-Pope's after hours hobbies... Quite shocking if they can prove there's any truth in the detailed claims. No word yet on where he stands on the anti-smacking bill.
* Update: Investigate Online claims to have an audio recording of a phone conversation with members of the Dunedin adult club that Benson-Pope is alleged to have been connected with. The magazine's news forum claims one of the members admits lying to a journalist (ODT?) about links with the MP, denies knowing other key members of the group, and discusses combat measures for the leaked information.
David Benson-Pope has yet to made any public statement on the allegations, other than to ask "When would I have time for this?", and issuing legal warnings. The MP failed to turn up for his regular weekly interview with a Dunedin radio station, and has not returned calls to the local paper.
* TBR.cc: The Secret Life of David Benson-Pope
* Sir Humphrey's: Tennis Ball back in Play
* Kiwiblog: Investigate Breaking News thread
* NZ Herald/ODT article
Posted at 10:16 pm Tuesday, 21 November 2006
Is it any wonder State TV in New Zealand falls over itself to praise the work of Hillin Cluck's Labour-led minority Government, when its staff members are trying their best to be the poster-kids of the Union movement.
Around 300 staff members walked off the job again this morning... for the 16th (!?!) time in the last month. Workers at Wellington's Avalon studio joined in the lightning strike action for the first time, forcing TV One's lifestyle/chat show Good Morning off the air.
They joined with other colleagues (both on and off screen) in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch... all members of the EPMU and PSA unions.
Workers want a 5% pay rise, and an extra week's annual leave. TVNZ in return is offering a 2.25% increase across the board (including incentive payments based on performance), but no extra leave.
The latest strike action comes just a week after suggestions TVNZ may be preparing to make staff cuts, after months of major budget blowouts. The State broadcaster's rumoured to be as much as $30 million behind budget, after a sharp fall in advertising revenue caused by sliding ratings.
TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis told a Parliamentary committee the company was not planning redundancies, despite speculation of between 100 and 200 job losses. However, he admitted that a 'culture of excess' has hurt the state broadcaster.
* NZ Herald: Striking TVNZ workers force programme off air
* Stuff: 300 TVNZ workers walk off the job
Posted at 9:39 pm Monday, 20 November 2006
Sony's spectacular bouncing coloured balls advert for their Bravia TV's were a big hit, spawning at least one ambitious imitation.
Drawing just a little inspiration from the guys at Eepybird and their famous Coke & Mentos fountains, Sony's new Bravia TV ads feature massive paint explosions, covering an abandoned 23-storey tower block in a rainbow of exploding colour.
Award-winning director Jonathan Glazer headed up the paint fireworks shoot. (He's responsible for a number of memorable music videos for the likes of Radiohead and Jamiroquai, as well as other ad campaigns for Guinness and Stella Artois).
Their arsenal included 358 single bottle bombs, 33 sextuple air cluster bombs, 22 triple hung cluster bombs, 268 mortars, 33 triple mortars, 22 double mortars, 330 metres of steel pipe, and 57 km of copper wire.
Sixty people spent the next five days after the shoot on a major clean-up operation. A special water-based non-toxic paint was used, making it safe for workers and local, and a little easier to clean up!
Watch the new Sony Bravia TV commercial...
And a look Behind the Scenes at the 'Making Of the Ad'...
(Hi-res version of the new commercial available here...)
Posted at 9:24 pm Saturday, 4 November 2006
Good to hear the reporters involved in the recent "Filtergate" story are all back fit and well and 100%.
3News reporter Beverly Lockhart and freelance cameraman Joe Morgan both fell ill after sampling the water from a new iodine-based filtration system during a recent story.
Inventor Russell Kelly mixed water from Christchurch's Avon River and with sewage water, before putting it through his filter system.
He then invited members of the news media to try the processed water. However, after four of them became sick in the days following, fingers were pointed at the filtered water.
Some tv shots suggest some of the sewage water may have dripped down onto the tap nozzle while Mr Kelly was refilling the filter. The other theory is that the water drunk by the journalists could have become contaminated, because Mr Kelly didn't disinfect his hands after handling the dirty water.
NZ Herald journalist Jarrod Booker needed a trip to the doctors after he became ill. State TV reporter Blair Norton also required medical treatment, but claims he had a viral - rather than a bacterial - infection, so may not be blaming his illness on drinking pooey water ;-)
* Stuff: Journalists ill after 'filtered' water test
* NZ Herald: Low-tech filter turns muck to drinking water
Posted at 3:23 pm Thursday, 2 November 2006
The mad scientist guys over at Eepybird who created the original and best Diet Coke & Mentos display are back. The pair's classic experiment was creating a minty-soda version of the the Bellagio Hotel's famous dancing fountains in Las Vegas.
Now they have created a Coke & Mentos flavoured domino-effect chain reaction, in an impressive experiment using over 500 litres of Diet Coke, and over 1,500 Mentos candies.
The Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments II - The Domino Effect...
Posted at 9:23 pm Monday, 23 October 2006
State radio broadcaster, Radio NZ has been ordered to pay $7000 in costs, after the Broadcasting Standards Authority upheld a complaint by MP David Benson-Pope that an interview they carried was "unfair".
Radio New Zealand broadcast an anonymous interview with a former Bayfield High School student, who alleged Benson-Pope - a former Associate Minister of Education - bullied students while working as a teacher at Dunedin's Bayfield High School in the 80s.
The anonymous interview with a male student was broadcast on the Radio NZ's "Nine to Noon" show. The man alleged Benson-Pope enjoyed giving corporal punishment, laughing as he caned students until drawing blood. The former pupil described Benson-Pope as a "nasty bastard" and "a liar".
Many other students came forward with similar allegations of bullying, including Benson-Pope's unusual tennis ball fetish... the former teacher used to throw tennis balls at his students, and jam tennis balls in their mouths as punishment.
It was also alleged he taped students' hands to the desk, and smacked one student in the face so hard he made their nose bleed.
The allegations came to light following the launch of an "anti bullying campaign" by the then-Associate Minister of Education.
Dunedin Police last year found a prima facie case against the former teacher-turned-politician for at least two bullying events, but announced they wouldn't be prosecuting the Labour MP.
Meanwhile, the BSA declined to uphold a second Benson-Pope complaint against State TV broadcaster, TV One. It said an item screened on One News alleging Benson-Pope had treated female Bayfield High School students inappropriately was not unbalanced, unfair, or inaccurate.
Those allegations included the former teacher staring at female students' legs, and making them stand outside at night during a school camp, wearing just nighties. Benson-Pope had no comment to make about either BSA decision.
* Stuff: Radio NZ 'unfair' to Benson-Pope over bully allegations
Posted at 8:57 pm Tuesday, 17 October 2006
Boo sux to the programming boffins at TV3, who've pulled action drama series 24 from their Friday night schedules from this week, replacing it with repeats of House.
However TV3 claims the current series of 24 "hasn't drawn a large enough audience to justify its primetime slot".
Season 5 of the show, starring Kiefer Sutherland, has been coming second in its Friday 8.30pm timeslot (in TV3's 18-49 demographic)... slightly behind State TV2's The Closer, but well ahead of the offerings on State TVOne.
It's hardly a ratings bomb though, which makes the decision to pull the show a little surprising. TV3 plan to screen the rest of this series in a late Saturday night timeslot, following their movie (they previously had repeat screenings of 24 in this slot).
I wonder whether the reason 24 has slipped slightly in the ratings here this time around has more to do with TV3's scheduling of the show, than the show itself.
In most markets, 24 is a male-skewing show. 24's poorest week here recently coincided with the launch of the female-skewing America's Next Top Model as its lead-in... and competition from an Air NZ Cup match between Canterbury and Wellington over on Sky.
American Idol to a new Monday night slot, 24 saw overall ratings go up by 16% overall (with a 14% increase in viewers 18-49).
Fox are planning to launch Season Six of 24 in January next year for US viewers, with double episodes over two nights. Hopefully TV3 will look for a more suitable show to pair it with, and a different timeslot here in New Zealand next year.
* FOX TV: Watch the Official Trailer for Season 6 here...
Posted at 7:00 pm Thursday, 12 October 2006
Public pressure this afternoon forced the Labour party to finally agree to pay back $824,524 in taxpayer funding that it unlawfully spent during last year's election campaign.
Auditor General Kevin Brady's report was released this afternoon, and revealed Labour were by far the biggest culprit in misspending parliamentary funds on electioneering.
The party, which normally relies on the country's unions for funding support, will tithe its MPs, as well as asking supporters to dip into their pockets to help out. Labour has already set up a donation website and 0900 phoneline ;-)
The Labour Party Cake Stall... Coming soon to a town near you
However, PM Cluck still refuses to accept the Auditor General's report is the correct interpretation, and doesn't believe that misappropriating three quarters of a million dollars of taxpayer funds is in any way "corrupt".
National ($11,912) and the Maori Party ($54) have already repaid their misspending, while ACT ($20,115) and the Greens ($87,192) say they'll do the same.
But Labour's lapdop support parties New Zealand First ($157,934) and United Future ($71,867) say they don't plan to write any cheques at this stage. (Admittedly, neither party is particularly wealthy, and Winston First may find his supporters reluctant to donate, given his refusal to back Rodney Hide's bill to limit local rates increases).
* NZ Herald: Labour supporters to be asked to pay back election spending
* Kiwiblog: Stolen Money per vote (a couple of interesting breakdowns)
* Whale Oil Beef Hooked
* Hat tip: Generation XY
(17/10 Update: United Future has now agreed to pay back the money they owe)
Posted at 9:03 pm Wednesday, 11 October 2006
* Houston Chronicle: New Zealand Records Biggest Surplus
* Scoop.co.nz: Huge surplus shows Labour has gouged taxpayers
Posted at 10:03 pm