Monday, November 30, 2015

NZ Passports Grow Wings

From today (Mon.30 Nov.2015), you can now purchase a ten-year New Zealand passport again!
Since 2005, kiwis were issued 5yr passports: that was in response to security concerns after the New York Twin Tower attacks on Sept.11 2001. But last May, the NZ Govt announced passports would return to a 10yr validity, as modern biometrics technology was considered strong enough to address passport fraud security issues.
So from today, NZers aged 16yrs+ can apply for the new passport at a cost of $180 - $40 more than a 5yr version. And although the new 10yr passports are more expensive per unit than the 5yr ones, they work out cheaper per year of validity. Children's passports remain at 5yrs (as is international convention), due to the rate at which their appearance change. But the 5yr adult passport is now a gone-burger.
A surge of applications is expected from today on, as lotsa folk wanting to renew their 5yr passports have been holding off until now. However the Department of Internal Affairs is confident that new passport turn-around time will be within 10 working days.
The new passport validity period brings NZ passports in line with US, UK, French, Dutch, German and Ozzie passports.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Puppet Power!

Who's the dummy?!
If you're tired of the same ol' ventriloquist and puppetry acts - y'know, wooden dummy sits on human dummy's knee, taking the piss out of human dummy in tired slapstick routines, dubiously half-funny back in the '50s - well, be prepared for a massive sea-change!
Puppetry just got supa-COOL! In the video clip below, puppet master Alexander Jorgenson does a phenomenal performance with his marionette Barti, controlling more than 40 strings to make this puppet come alive. Barti plays the piano and sings Lucille (a big hit for Little Richard in 1956) for a cabaret crowd, and afterward Barti even steals a few kisses from some of the ladies in the audience!
This must surely be the most stunning marionette work you'll ever see!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Old Friends DO Die...

Don't it always seem to go, that we don't know what we've got...
'til it's gone. Ahhh, how true.
Many people have reconnected with friends, acquaintances and schoolmates over the years, on the kiwi website But soon they'll have to find a new platform.
Old Friends, a subsidiary of Trade Me, is going to be shut down in Jan.2016 and all its data deleted (as required under the Privacy Act).
Spokesman for Trade Me, Logan Mudge, says it's not a decision made lightly: "We have to focus on what we can and cannot do. We haven't been able to give it the attention it needed so it was time to close." He said it wasn't a financial decision as the site was making a modest income, but rather so that Trade Me could focus on bigger business opportunities in its core areas.
Over the last few months, 600-1,200 users accessed the website daily. In comparison, Trade Me had 848,000 daily users. But saying that, Old Friends had other impressive numbers. These included 1,621,577 members - nearly half the NZ population - plus 2300 schools, 36,000 workplaces, 7100 clubs, 164 marae etc etc. But even those numbers weren't able to be converted into any sort of income. So it's goodbye, Old Friends, coz dollars talk.
Many Old Friends users have tales of reuniting with friends they haven't seen in decades - some have even caught up with childhood sweethearts.
Nothing will be launched to replace Old Friends. Users have been emailed to tell them the website is closing down in mid-late January. They've been urged to download and save any information, photos and data they want kept.
It seems to me such a shame that the service could not have been outsourced to save it. Surely, with the existing infrastructure in place, a couple of part-timers could have maintained Old Friends from a home base...?

Note: Sam Morgan, who founded TradeMe, NZ's largest online auction site, sold it in 2006 to Australian media company Fairfax for over NZ$750 million.