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Up until recently i've been a stalwart supporter of Dick Smith Electronics - yes, I'm a former employee. That was 10 years ago, however.

Sadly though they've seen fit over the last few years to drop out of a lot of their 'specialist' electronics stuff and focus instead on the consumerware that is otherwise found in places like Harvey Norman and Noel Leemings. DSE have the advantage of being far more numerous, and thus, more accessible. I used to also believe their staff were sharper, but this remains to be proven in the current climate.

Of course, DSE still carry more 'eclectic' stuff (they're a hybrid Harvey Norman -> Jaycar bridge, now, really) but there's one thing you need to be very careful of with DSE; check the pricing on what you're after and make sure it's infact sane.

Here's an example.
End of last year I picked up a Bluetooth Handsfree Kit (aided by the law change requiring their use).
The unit I picked based on cost:benefit was the DSE EA0054.

Here's their photo ripped from their website:

This retails at $79.95. Pretty sure that's about what I paid for it nearly a year ago, too.

Then I spied this at the local supermarket the other day:

It's the same damn unit with a different brand name printed on the front. And it's $49.95. Or 62% of the price.

Frustrating, really. I'm seeing no significant advantage to having the DSE brand name on my handsfree unit. Not enough to translate to nearly half-price at my even more ubiquitous supermarket.

So, DSE; what's your markup on EA0054? Can you justify being that much more expensive?

I have to give a lot of credit to David Millar (and others) for giving those of us in the NZFIRE group a steady stream of updates from Christchurch in the aftermath of one of NZ's most significant natural disasters. The affects of the magnitude 7.1 quake which hit last weekend will be felt for years.

One interesting point of note is the value the new Hazmat-Command Units NZFS has recently fielded have brought into play, with their integrated communications systems, etc. Here's some photos taken by David and posted to NZFIRE today:




Larger versions can be found in my South Island Album.

A couple of years ago wifey and I formed a home business as the New Zealand distributors for CardMemories. The business we formed was Jazzed Solutions Ltd and we just relaunched it's website after running a very flat, very basic HTML page for a while.

Due to our changes in personal circumstance the business has been wound right back until recently, but now it's time to get out there again with our Greeting Card Albums. They really are a neat product and are an awesome gift (Christmas is coming y'know!).

So check us out. What can I say, it's our lil thing and it deserves the odd plug. :)

Whilst reading the Herald today I was surprised to see an article on NZ's thriving underbelly which mentioned Jason Boon - a school acquaintance who was brutally murdered and it opened my eyes to a few more of the details which were not spelt out well at the time.

It's enough to provoke a lot of thought, most of which isn't suitable for open discussion, but fundamentally it makes me grateful for the values that my parents taught me and for the person i've become.

It also disturbs me exactly how significant the criminal world out there really is, and how oblivious to it many folks are.

As previously blogged our company (the one Liz and I operate privately) has received unsolicited advertising from 'Pieroth Wines NZ' at least once before. They gain our details via the Companies Office Register.

This has been further validated; Last week Liz updated our details with the Companies Office now we've relocated to Auckland.
It didn't take long to receive more junk from Pieroth, addressed to 'Dear Lover of Fine Wines' at our registered address.

DO NOT EVER TRADE WITH PIEROTH WINES! This sort of harrassment-style direct marketing is rude and obnoxious. I'm not a wine lover, no matter how many times you try to suck me in with your faux-manners!

Most of my previous rant on this subject remains entirely valid. It's postal direct marketing, so it doesn't fall under the UEM Act... It could potentially be argued that using the Companies Register for purposes other than for which it is provided, is in breach of its terms of use. Yeah, that'll stand up to scruitiny... ??

Are people stupid enough to actually respond to these mailouts with enough frequency to make the cost of doing them worth the grief?

Why do I have to live with the fact there's absolutely no way to protect myself from this sorta crap?

Ok here's one that's annoying and frustrating as heck.

We picked up a safety-gate to block off the stairwell of our place. It's a fairly decent brand, and pretty well made - a style similar to a window blind (of the roll up variety).

The attachments are meant to be screwed into the wall.

So I had a go. This was the result of attempting to use the self-tapping screws to _try_ to fit the brackets to the wall.

The instructions were followed precisely. Drill a 3mm pilot hole 5cm deep. The screws are 5 cm long.

Problem is that by the time they're about 3cm into the wood, the work becomes tough and the heads of the screws... well take a look at the outside ones. The screwdriver tip came away covered in metal shards/splinters (one of which attacked my finger)and I definately appear to have stopped trying at exactly the right time.

So what's the deal, oh experienced interweb handyfolks? Is this just a case of cheap screws letting down an otherwise good quality product? Any tips on whether I should pick up 'harder compound' screws?

How can we claim to be fans of equal rights and equal opportunities when so many dads get shafted?. An insane situation - C'mon Government, fix it!! (I know Dads who're paying child support, in some cases the terms are reasonable but in others, utterly not!!)

Seriously pisses me off when I read stuff like this, which it appears the government is not paying any attention to whatsoever.

I just hope that he doesn't 'bake' when the flames get too close!

(He's officially called a 'Fryer-fighter'. Har Har Har!)

Yeah, i'm getting old in a day or two. :-) So in celebration we had a few friends around tonight for some food and drink, and to share in this remarkable birthday cake that my good wife made for me this week.

What can I say? It rocks. Or Rocked, until we performed a 'front cut'. ;-)

We also found one of the best uses ever for an iPad.

For the firetruckspotters out there. (Additional pics by clicking on either the link or photos below...)

http://gallery.blakjak.net/v/FireStuff/Incidents/2010/0714PFAQueenSt/

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