Saturday, 27 December 2008

iBoobs too jiggly for Apple's tastes

Apple has always had a reputation for being rather heavy handed when dealing with other companies and individuals, and that attitude has continued with the tough approval process for iPhone and iPod Touch applications.

Iphone App developers have complained of long delays in getting new or updated applications approved for the popular handheld devices.

Other applications submitted to Apple for "vetting" have been rejected, for reasons believed to include competition with Apple's partners (eg. a Skype client), or for tapping into "undocumented Apple APIs (application programming interfaces)".

The latest application to fall foul of Apple's rules is one called "iBoobs". The program displays a pair of virtual breasts, tastefully wearing a black bra. Users can wobble the breasts by shaking their handheld device, which activates the iPhone/iPod Touch's movement sensors.

However, Apple's application store has rejected iBoobs, because it deemed that bouncing bosoms constituted "objectionable content".

Critics say iBoobs is just another in a raft of light-hearted iPhone/iPod Touch applications - like iBeer, iMilk, and Crazy Mouth - which may not assist greatly with productivity, but are just there to make people smile...

Update: I see Whale Oil has also picked up on this story... I guess I'm not surprised ;-)

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Thursday, 25 December 2008

Happy Chrismukkah! Oy Joy!

Oy Joy, and a Merry Mazol Tov to you all! It may have been popularised through a TV show, but the "faux holiday" of Chrismukkah is becoming a genuine part of many family's festive celebrations in the United States.

Fictional tv character Seth Cohen claimed in the Fox television show "The O.C." to have "created Chrismukkah" when he was six years old, merging the two faiths because of his Jewish father and Protestant mother. (Some spell it with the "T", retaining the Christian "Christ" in the name).

The hybrid holiday of Chrismukkah - combining Christmas and Hanukkah - has now been adopted by Greeting Card companies and other merchandising businesses.

This year is the perfect year for merging the celebrations, with Christmas's December the 25th falling right in the middle of the 8 days of Hanukkah (which began at sunset on the 22nd Dec).

Reading stories on the web this morning, it seems many hybrid American families are adopting the holiday, which allows them to put up both a Christmas tree and a Hanukkah menorah.

Food is of course a big part of both celebrations, with suggestions on how to cook up a Kosher Chrismukkah feast. Some say it is possible to serve up a platter full of potato latkes, alongside a traditional Christmas stuffed turkey with all the trimmings!

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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The Top Christmas Songs... forgotten or overlooked

'Tis the season to be jolly... and whether you're looking forward to a traditional White Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere, or a t-shirt & flip-flops BBQ Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere, you're sure to have a few good festive tunes playing on the cd player/radio/tv.

Here's a few songs you may want to add to your Christmas mix-list...

* TV Allstars - Do They Know It's Christmas

The original charity song that kicked off a generation of charity song. The original Band Aid version was released a way back in 1984, and featured the likes of Duran Duran, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, Wham, U2, and Sting.

A number of cover versions followed, notably Band Aid 2's version in 1989, produced by hitmakers Stock/Aitken/Waterman and featuring pop acts including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Bros, and Bananarama.

Sensational Swedish Schlager singer Shirley Clamp released a version in 2004, which is still popular around Christmas in Sweden.

But the best modern cover version of the song is by Germany's TV Allstars, a group made up of singers and pop artists from the country's Pop Idol tv talent shows...

* Hot Pantz - (I'd Like To) Give U One 4 Christmas

This novelty Christmas single from 2005 was unfairly picked by music website Popjustice as "still the worst Christmas song of all time". A hasty description I would suggest for a catchy-albeit-slightly-tacky festive single.

The song was written by Barry Upton (who helped form Steps, and wrote their debut single "5,6,7,8". It sounds like a budget version of the hit pop group, with Upton securing the services of Southampton glamour girls Shelley and Kelly to front the song.

Unfortunately the Brits didn't think the joke was funny, with the single peaking at #64 on the UK Singles Chart. I think it's worth another look/listen tho!...

* Paul Holt - Fifty Grand for Christmas

Paul Holt was rejected from the UK TV talent show The X Factor, with judge Simon Cowell telling Holt he'd give him £50,000 if he did ever manage a #1 UK single.

This Christmas novelty song was his big attempt in 2004, but unfortunately for Holt it only reached #35 on the charts. A catchy song nonetheless...

* Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You

She may be crazier than a crazy homeless crazy person on crazy crack, but in 1994 she recorded what has become probably the most successful Christmas single of recent times.

All I Want For Christmas Is You became the "best-selling holiday ring tone of all time" in the United States in 2006, and the track was there year voted "the UK's favourite Christmas song".

It has been covered by many artists over the years, including The Cheetah Girls, My Chemical Romance, a duet by Swedish singers Agnes Carlsson & Måns Zelmerlöw, and by popular teen star Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana).

A spoof version of the song, called "All I Want For Christmas Is... Jews" was released on the internet this month by stand-up comedy troupe Hot Box...

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What to do and where to cut in '09

Now that the National-led Government is faced with a "global credit crunch" and the truly awful set of the country's books, there is an urgent need for Ministers to spend their summer holidays planning some decisive action when Parliament resumes in the New Year.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog has made an excellent post, looking at the worsening outlook, and the financial effects/possible options for big budget Government spending items like the "Cullen Fund", KiwiSaver, and Working for Families.

DPF suggests the Government consider suspending contributions to the Cullen Fund (which in the next few years will be borrowing $$$, so the Government doesn't borrow so much in a few decades time to fund Superannuation payments).

He also looks at the option of ditching the Government's Employee subsidy for KiwiSaver, while at the same time perhaps raising the maximum Employer contribution to 3%.

It is good to see a National supporter like DPF describing Liabour's Working for Families welfare scam as "another major spending commitment that falls into the category of unaffordable with hindsight", although he does stop short at calling for the scheme to be dumped in the short term (rather some "medium-term work on a better tax and welfare system that has less tax churn").

However one commenter on the above post ("JamesP") points out the problem with the current Labour-lite National Party direction under Key/English, who are continuing in a very similar direction to the previous Champagne Socialist agenda of Clark/Cullen...
Add National’s unwillingness to make any substantial spending cuts to that list. It is all very well pinning the blame for $10 billion+ / year of low quality spending on Labour but if you are going to continue spending and borrow massively to pay for it then you are to blame too.

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Saturday, 6 December 2008

Different Labour team, same dirty tricks

As many bloggers and commentators have noted this week, the requirements of the "Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update" weren't enough to force the recently-deleted Labour regime to tell the truth when it came to the Government's books.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act was introduced following the 1990 election by then Minister of Finance, Ruth Richardson. The previous Labour Party had campaigned on the lie that they had balanced the books... which couldn't have been further from the truth, as the National Party found out once took over.

National discovered the BNZ required a massive Government bailout to survive, and the Crown accounts revealed rapidly increasing deficits, rising to over $5 billion if nothing changed.

Ruth Richardson decided that never again should an incoming Government be put in the position National found itself in in 1990, when it was forced to break election promises in an effort to save the country from spiralling out of control.

Recently elected Labour Party leader Phil Goff told the media this week that National had "inherited a healthy set of books, and it should not be squandered."

Huh? In what sense is the fact that the Government's operating balance has plunged $3.5 billion into the red "a healthy set of books"?? The Treasury revelation was a turnaround from a forecast surplus in October of $1.5 billion. That's a difference of $5 billion.

The multi-billion dollar ACC landmine hidden by Liarbour (Michael Cullen and Maryan Street certainly knew about the impending black hole). It's unlikely to be the last booby trap left by the last administration. How ironic that they tried to campaign this year on "Trust"!?

New Zealanders are already bracing themselves for a bumpy ride over the next year or two, and some tougher times.

However they can at least thank their lucky stars that Labour didn't get the chance to unleash its "December mini budget" on the country. That would have seen the instant cancellation and wind-back of all promised tax cuts, along with increases to both personal tax and GST, and a raft of new taxes.

Unfortunately, National's centrist leaders and ministers don't have the balls to do what the country really needs. As a perceptive commentator at No Minster notes, the Government needs to take the bull by the horns and get rid of all the wasteful crap and increased spending overseen by Labour over the last 9 years.

The socialist gravy train known as "Working for Families" should be dumped straight away (and partly replaced by larger tax cuts). The State should get its inefficient fingers out of ACC, Health, and Education.

Slashing red tape and bureaucracy would save the country billions of dollars, and bring great efficiencies for businesses and individuals.

Yes the voters of New Zealand have received their long-awaited "Change of Government", but they need to see a bold, principled and genuine "Government of Change" if Aotearoa is to become a nation of true innovation and growth.

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