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Five more tech challenges

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

I posted earlier in the month about how there seems to be some new ‘tech challenge’ almost every day. OK, here are 5 more of them:

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• Once you’ve subscribed to a magazine it’s a race to see how soon they can suggest you resubscribe. Of course when they make their resubscription offers they never show when your current subscription expires. Time Magazine are particularly good at this, I recently had a resubscribe offer when my current subscription expires not this year (2014) or even next year (2015), but not until 2016! OK – they admitted when I queried this – we were just trying to fool you into renewing two years early, we promise we won’t bother you again. A week later there’s a Time Magazine query ‘didn’t you get our special renewal offer?’

• On the other hand The Age – the Melbourne, Australia daily – has twice in the past month contacted me to ask why I’d let my monthly print and digital subscription expire when in fact it hadn’t expired at all.

images◄ Maureen’s just got a new car – a Mini – which had a fault with the exterior mirror covers. The new mirror covers were sent from the UK (where Minis are made), which I suggest should only take a week. ‘Not a week unfortunately, more like a month,’ I was told. OK, so it takes BMW (they own Mini, and Rolls-Royce for that matter) a month to get something from the UK to Australia.



Net-a-PorterOn the other hand Maureen orders something from Net-a-Porter, and before she’s shut down her computer and folded down the screen there’s a knock at the front door as it’s delivered. Sometimes from England, sometimes from Hong Kong and only a slight exaggeration. Do BMW need to talk to Net-a-Porter about how to do things really fast? ►

• Why is it near impossible to change addresses online? In that last tech challenge posting I commented on how changing my Apple iTunes account was an incredibly difficult process. Expensive too, some stuff simply disappeared off my iPad and I had to buy it again. This time it was Starwood Hotels where it took multiple website visits to make a simple address and credit card change. And as for Lloyds Bank!

• I hate hotels which charge – particularly when they charge like a wounded rhino – for Wi-Fi. The most recent example was at the Westin Sydney (a delightful hotel, a couple of quibbles like this apart). Now it’s no problem for me in Australia, I can access emails on my smart phone and if I need to do something on my tablet or laptop I can set up a Wi-Fi hotspot from the phone. But for overseas visitors liable for roaming charges that can be a real financial hit. Of course these days there’s often lots of free Wi-Fi available, even if it’s not in your hotel. Here in Melbourne Federation Square, the State Library and The Wheeler Centre are all good places to go!

In high tech Germany it’s a different question. A recent German study revealed that per 10,000 population Gemany has only 1.9 free hotspots – versus 4.8 in the US, 29 in the UK and 37 in South Korea. You can’t even get free Wi-Fi in the Reichstag. Angela Markel says she’s going to do something about it. A principal reason for the poor coverage is a German law which makes Wi-Fi providers responsible for wrongdoings (like illegal downloads) by anybody who uses their systems.

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Five more tech challenges

25 November 2014 | Living

I posted earlier in the month about how there seems to be some new ‘tech challenge’ almost every day. OK, here are 5 more of them: • Once you’ve subscribed to a magazine it’s a race to see how soon they can suggest you resubscribe. Of course when they make thei...

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Brisbane – Bicycles & Do Do Land

23 November 2014 | Places

◄  Seems like everywhere I go these days has recently signed up to a bicycle rental scheme. I’ve posted about my encounters with them in London, Paris, Melbourne, New York, San Francisco and now Brisbane. Back in September I was in Brisbane for the Brisbane Writers Fe...

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Eight Months on Ghazzah St

14 November 2014 | Media

Hilary Mantel wrote a number of books before her big breakthrough with Wolf Hall. Followed up by her second Booker Prize winner Bring Up the Bodies. I saw the two books, as plays, in London earlier this year. On the same day, matinee and evening performance so it was ...

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It’s Time – the Whitlam Era

13 November 2014 | Living

▲ Maureen and I arrived in Australia – on the beach at Exmouth on the North-West Cape of Western Australia – on 7 December 1972. In a few weeks time that will be 42 years ago. ▲ Exactly five days earlier Gough Whitlam had been elected Prime Minister with the electi...

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More Backyard Birds

11 November 2014 | Living

There’s always lots of bird activity around my place in Australia, this time of year I can watch my courtyard blackbird and my computer screen at the same time. Last year I noted the first blackbird chicks had hatched out and were contemplating departure at the end of...

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Climbing Mah On Shan in Hong Kong

10 November 2014 | Places

Between my recent visit to Shanghai and to Guizhou Province in China I stopped in Hong Kong to meet some friends and climb a little mountain. Hong Kong has a surprising amount of countryside and walking trails and lots of peaks you can climb, to peer through the China...

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Tech Challenges

8 November 2014 | Living

▲ At Hong Kong Airport these warning signs appear on all the escalators. You’ll also hear regular warnings on the MTR – the Hong Kong subway system – to pay attention to the outside world, not to focus all your attention on your phone. These mobile/cell phone warnings...

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An Innocent Abroad

7 November 2014 | Media

There’s a new Lonely Planet travel book about to hit the shelves – An Innocent Abroad – and I’m one of the 35 contributing writers. My tale, Cabbage Soup, involves arriving at a campsite on the Yugoslavian Adriatic Coast back in the Tito days and discovering the campe...

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Guiyang in Guizhou

6 November 2014 | Places

My Guizhou travel, with the village of Dali as the main focus, started and finished in the capital city, Guiyang. There are direct flights to and from Hong Kong and there’ll soon be a high speed train service linking Guiyang with Guangzhou. ▲ The Jiaxiu Pavilion in...

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Zhaoxing in Guizhou

5 November 2014 | Culture

Global Heritage Fund are working on the preservation of Dali, a Dong minority village in Guizhou province, but tourism has already arrived at some corners of the region. Notably in Zhaoxing, described in the Lonely Planet China guide as the ‘quintessential Dong villag...

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