The Swine Flu isn’t going away any time soon


So the story continues. It seems a long time ago (Monday of this week!) when I asked the question, Is the Swine Flu going to be a pandemic? Well on level 4 indicating a significant increased risk of a pandemic, a global outbreak of a serious disease.  It isn’t yet a Pandemic, but it doesn’t show any signs of abating. As it appears that secondary transmission of human to human may now be occurring, a Reuters story says that they may soon raise to Level 5.

Another Reuters story also mentions that many countries have imposed a ban on US pork imports, this could lead to similar bans on pork exports from all countries where Swine Flu has been confirmed. This is despite WHO announcing that you can not catch A/N1H1  Swine Flu from eating pork, and in fact there is no evidence of pigs in Mexico or the USA being sick. There is conjecture that they may have captured the virus from Asian birds, possibly imported into Mexico, but the mystery is if the pigs aren’t sick, how is it that humans have caught it from them. It’s no wonder that conspiracy theories abound, while we have no real answers. A team of WHO specialists are now in Mexico trying to unravel this mystery.

On Tuesday I commented that Swine Flu is a bit close to home as New Zealand is one of the early significant areas where Swine Flu was strongly suspected to exist. This was confirmed yesterday and 360 odd passengers on Air New Zealand Flight 1 from Los Angeles were asked to quarantine themselves.

On Wednesday I blogged about how to get Swine Flu and within 24 hours most large corporates had emailed their staff with instructions about personal hygiene and how to minimise the risk of infection. Whether people are concerned or not is difficult to gauge and I suspect a lot of people are still thinking, this wil never happen to me. Despite this 2 hours ago the number of confirmed infected was increased to 14 and the suspect list includes an additional 56  people according to New Zealand’s TV3 News.

According to the Google Swine Flu Map the Kiwi’s affected are spread from Auckland in the North Island to Otago deep into the South Island. They of course had to use confined public transport to get there, so it is likely they may have spread the virus further.

One question I have is why have people died in Mexico but not in other countries. It also seems that the symptoms have been worse for people in Mexico. One theory is that it is attenuating as it spreads from one person to the other and weakening in the process. This could explain why the people in Mexico, including expats, have suffered far more than people in other countries, although this ios contraindicated by the fact that most if not all of those in New Zealand contracted the virus whilst personally in Mexico. There have been a very small number of people suspected to have Swine Flu who had not been to Mexico, but had been on flights together with people who have been confirmed as having Swine Flu. I have yet to hear of anyone who has been confirmed with the virus who were noton a flight with people who had been to Mexico or hadn’t been to Mexico themselves.

There are still some unsolved mysteries and it is the secondary nature of the spread of this virus that holds the greatest risk of a pandemic.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

And please do leave a comment!

How to get or spread Swine Flu


It was interesting to note that after my blog, Swine Flu is a bit close to home, where I pointed out that Air New Zealand were not telling the full story about how germs can spread on a plane by saying that the filters in their air conditioning system were very good at killing 99.9% of bugs and virus material, that there was a story in this morning’s NZ Herald, pointing out that even wearing a face mask only stops around 50% of contaminant material from entering the surrounding air. They also said that health officials are trying to track down the 367 passengers on the flight which brought the Kiwi students home after their trip to Mexico.

I can understand concerns within the airlines, because people contracting Swine Flu simply by contamination from fellow passengers could stop a lot of people from flying when they don’t have to which could be a commercial disaster.

Some time ago I wrote a blog called wash your hands after you do your business. On a 12 hour flight from Los Angeles to New Zealand, most people are likely to use the conveniences a couple of times during the flight. Several of them will not wash their hands after they have done their business and will then use the door handle to make their exit. The next person that comes along who does wash their hands, will find possibly end up with contamination from the previous user. Now they sit down and pick up their book or newspaper, lick their finger to wet it and turn the page, or finger a pen and put it in your mouth and guess what, they are now at risk from not one, but several people who had poor hygiene habits. That’s of course only one example. Maybe you shake hands with someone on the flight, or are sitting next to someone and you pass their tray from them to the cabin crew after they have had a meal. The opportunities are endless and the risks are many. There is no easy answer to this unfortunately.

Meanwhile if you have a look at the Google Swine Flu Map, you will see that it has now progressed to Sydney and since the flight that brought the Kiwi Students back arrived, there are now suspected outbreaks throughout NZ, confirming that no matter how good the ventilation system is on the plane, it can’t stop viruses from spreading.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

What’s wrong with calling yourself a New Zealander


I love the Census. Every 5 years we get this massive set of questions about who we are, where we come from, what we do, where we live etc. There is an amazing wealth of information in the Census and this time the Government have made it available for free if you can find what you want without assistance.

I spend a lot of time helping people on the fringe of this and am working on the development of a web application to help people view both their own business data and relevant Census data. Watch for this in a future blog if you are following me.

One of the questions they ask us Kiwis is about our ethnicity. I remember in 2006 when there was a strong movement of people saying to each other that they had had enough of the racial issues between Maori and Pakeha (and this clearly came from both sides of the fence).  A large percentage of Kiwis grew up side by side with Caucasians, Maori and people from many othr places including the Pacific Islands. They grew up as friends and neighbours and if there was discussion of ethnicity it was with interest and pride, not with any tensions or mistrust.

On that theme, 400,000 Kiwis signed their ethnicity, not by selected tick boxes for European Caucasion. New Zealand Maori etc, they signed in a text box called other as New Zealanders.

Whilst this made sense in a way as they tried to make their point, it has also caused some significant problems for organisations who use that information for decision making and the Department of Statistics is looking for ways to get better information in the next Census is 2010.

In the Statistics New Zealand Draft report, prepared for public discussion, they outlined some of the concerns and explained ways that the ethnicity data is used. Here are some examples including some of my own:

  • The health sector uses ethnicity data to target services for groups experiencing inequalities in health. For example, it is commonly known that Maori have a significantly lower life expectancy than Europeans.
  • Asian people, especially new immigrants have unique health needs.
  • Local government agencies use these statistics in planning and service delivery, particularly in regions experiencing significant demographic, social and economic change.
  • Marketers with products targeted and particular groups are able to identify where those markets reside.
  • Education planning needs to take into consideration the demographics that make up local communities to ensure that education services are relevant to the needs of that community. Diverisyt is a key tenet in the NZ education system, but in order to best support it and plan for it, statistics are requred.
  • In the business world, demographics can help with many aspects of business planning. For example a manufacturer of baby bottles found that in one area bottles with blue teets weren’t selling and in another area bottles with yellow teets weren’t selling. After a year or so with lots of stock thrown away or discounted they discovered that it was an ethnicity issue. By rotating the stock to the other areas the problem was solved.
  • Today we have many ethnic communities, which is a relatively new situation, at least in Auckland where most of the population lives. This can be very useful for specialist retailers or service providers such as ethnic supermarkets, restaurants, clothing, music and entertainment providers. This is also of relevance for churches who want a lot of their congregation to be able to walk to their place of worship, immigration consultants, language schools or ESOL and so on.If a business can identify where their target market lives, they can better plan on placement of their business or how to find their new customers.

From a futurist persepctive we can use this information to try to predict what the city and country will look like in the future, where the opportunities and threats lie and how to support the changing community. For many people, New Zealand is seen as a wonderful safe and green place to live and raise a family, but each one brings a piece of their own culture with them, but also bring issues of culture, work training, language, education, commerce and the need to belong to a group of people with similar interests and problems, while their children are assimilating into the local community. New Zealand has changed dramatically over the last few decades and it is essential to the wellbeing of the country that the Census accurately represents statistics that can assist in making sure that everyone is able to enjoy living in this country and able to contribute in their own ways.

The Census provides valuable information about the changing nature of our country. Unfortunately this ‘movement’ towards calling people Kiwis means that it has been very difficult to monitor the change in ethnicity in NZ from the 2001 Census to the 2006 Census, meaning that the data is difficult to use for a 10 year period.

Statistics New Zealand is now asking the country for input as to how to allow people to assert their relationship to the country, while at the same time allowing Statistics to gather important information in order to help the country meet the needs of the large range of ethnicity in our country.

I think the answer has to accomodate both the desire for people to consider themselves bona fide New Zealanders irrespective of their ethnicity, but it is also essential to understand their roots or backgrounds. It shouldn’t be hard to combine the questions in such a way as to support the need for quality of information as well as the need of people, irrespective of their origins, to feel they belong and are important players in our multicultural society today.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Swine Flu Is a Bit Close to Home


Yesterday I posted a blog about Swine Flu, this is an interesting situation which will be at the forefront of many people’s minds for some time to come.

We live in interesting times. It seems analogous to the way banks have behaved since the ’89 meltdown when they said they would never be as free with their lending again, such as 100% mortgage loans. we relaxed after the Bird Flu fizzled out, but now we have a new strain N1H1 which apparently comes from pigs but is related to the bird flu. Whilst it appears that Tamiflu has a positive effect on this, there are of course no vaccines because it is new.

It was interesting to read in the NZ Herald this morning that Air New Zealand was saying that their aircraft are safe for fellow passengers because filters in the aircraft’s air conditioning system filter 99.9% of airborne viruses. Funny then how so many of us who travel on long haul flights end up coming down with some sort of virus within a short period of time after a flight.

Of course these filters require that you sneeze into them. A lot of people look into lights to help them sneeze (I must explore that sometime, or ifyou know why, please share the answer in a comment), but you lift your head to the light and then sneeze on the way down, creating a nice arc of germs.

So how fast does a sneeze travel through the air? Well according to the appropriately named site Blurtit, the fastest recorded sneeze was 102 Miles per hour! I would say that the germs from even an average 50MPH sneeze could travel a fair distance in an aircraft cabin.

Some more news from this morning’s NZ Herald was that the students that came back to Auckland after a school trip to mexico come from not one but 2 colleges, Rangititoto and Northcote College. The story also said that some of the kids who were ok when they arrived are now also showing symptoms. I wonder how many people they have been in contact with. The ones who are ill have been quarantined in their homes, but it didn’t say whether their sublings and parents were also quarantined or were going to their schools and workplaces.

What I find really interesting is the coincidence in the numbers. Greater Mexico City has a population of around 22 million people. 1300 reported people with Swine Flu is around 0.00005% of the population and yet a group of 20 odd Auckland kids have been exposed to it. It makes you wonder if the real number is far greater, but these are the only ones that they are prepared to announce. In a city of that size it must be spreading like wildfire.

There is of course already a Swine Flu Google Map, so you can keep an eye on how it spreads.

Is your household prepared for a pandemic?

Just as a footnote, if you have Sky TV, there is a movie called Doomsday on tonight, which is about a virus in Scotland, where they quarantine the whole country. I won’t be home to watch it, but its funny how its on TV tonight. I love coincidences.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Is the Swine Flu going to be a pandemic?


When I first read posts about this on Twitter, I thought it was a hoax. The first I heard was that a British Airways crew member had been raced off to hospital after arriving from Mexico feeling ill. He was immediately raced to Northwick Park Hospital and quarantined. There have been possible cases identified in 

The reason I thought it might have been a hoax was because of the EndGame story, suggesting that a virus which is spreading through Mexico might have been man made. For many years there have been fears that terrorists would use viruses as a weapon. Most  of the comments about this seem to be from conspiracy theorists and noone appears to have claimed credit for this, so hopefully that is just something being discussed to add a little fear factor. 

Once I followed more links to a Reuters story that said the virus has already killed 68 people in Mexico and that the Swine Virus was now crossing from human to human. While we were relaxed and happy that we had missed the bird flu, it looks like there is a new pandemic threat.

Once again people are rushing out to buy face masks and there have been reports of people hawking flu masks at 25 times the going rate.

I’ll watch with interest to see if this can be contained and whether people in other countries need to be concerned. With international travel these days it would be very easy for a virus like this to spread around the world. For more information on swine flu, check out International SOS.

When I wrote this blog this morning, I thought it would be a long time before there was any risk in New Zealand, but then a group from Rangitoto College, a km from my office returned from Mexico on a school trip and 25 people were quarantined, some of them with flu-like symptoms. And at Narita Airport in Tokyo, they are taking the temperature of people arriving on overseas flights.

I guess the good thing is that after the previous scares and preparedness for bird flu, many countries are better prepared for a pandemic. It appears that patients with this flu are responding well to Tamiflu, the vacine which was made to help with bird flu.

Now we are told that this has been going around since February at least and that cases have been found in 10 states of the US

This might be a good time again to be prepared for a pandemic, to make sure you can survive at home for a few weeks if you have to and be very careful with your hygiene, especially if, like me you are shaking hands or in close contact with many people on a daily basis.

A Disease A Day has lots of valuable information about the virus itself: How does it feel? How is it discovered?How is it treated? What happens after treatment? The bottom line – How do I avoid it? 

While my blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Vote for me on NetGuide Web Awards:)


While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

The Final Word on Unilever


If you read my last 2 posts about the new improved laundry detergent products from Unilver, my daughter just rang me to let me know that the new product has gone back down to the old price of $1.89. Social networking and blogging seem to help:)

The first blog was when it appeared that Unilever had a new improved product that does the same amount of work as the old one, but in concentrated form in a smaller pack. Pak N Save had been selling it on special for $1.69 and $1.89 and then offered the new one at 2 packs for $5.00, representing more than 25% increase.

The second blog was after a friendly discussion with Unilver who told me that they hadn’t increased the price at all and had no control over retail pricing, which was up t the retailer.

Today the price has come back down again and it seems that WordPress and Twitter have helped bring the price back down. Thanks Unilever for holding on to your values.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Seems Unilever are not trying to con us


A few days ago I wrote a blog about the new Uniliver products such as Surf and Persil, complaining that they have just launched new super concentrated products and that at a local Pak N Save store where they used to special the product at prices ranging from $1.69 to $1.89 a pack and were promoting the new pack which has the same washing power as the old one, but their new special was 2 packs for $5, a premium of over 25%.

At the time I wrote the blog, I also contacted Unilever via their website and asked for clarification of this and an explanation. Initially I got a very nice email from their Consumer Relationship Consultant, ellaborating on the wonderful properties of the product but bypassing the question on price. I replied to say that I agree, their products are great products and that being more biodegradeable was an excellent feature. The quality was never in question and I have to say that their website is excellent, full of great information about how to use their products in a variety or circumstances.

I then got another response saying that they haven’t changed the product pricing from the old one to the new concentrate and inviting me to call them with any further questions. I did call the Consumer Relationship Consultant who was open and diplomatic, explaining that they have no control over any pricing other than setting the Recommended Retail Price (RRP). That is in fact true and I should have realised that to start with. It was in fact Pak N Save who were manipulating the pricing.

I’m relieved to hear that, its just a shame that the promo person in the supermarket didn’t understand the question to start with. So what was happening? Basically the Supermarket were hoodwinking their customers by in effect saying you could buy 1 of the old product for $1.89 or 2 of the new products, which are the exact equivalent of the old product from a use per pack perspective for more then 25% more.

This is not an unusual trick in a supermarket. They have lots of ways to make you think you are getting a bargain. A common one is to haphazardly throw tins or other containers into an end aisle dump bin to make it look like the products are on sale, but still charge normal full retail. This is all part of the tricks of the trade. On the other hand they also have their loss leaders, where they sell product at very low prices, often below their cost to the supermarket, to get people to come in and combine those with other more profitable products for the grocery spend.

In this case, they were just a bit silly and patronising of their customers who are often quite astute. Their timing was very poor and it has reflected poorly on them. On the other hand Pak N save are often cited as the best value for money grocery chain in the country. So the lesson is, be alert and watch for good deals and be aware of items that look good but aren’t. In today’s tough times, they would have done better to keep the price as it was and keep customers trust.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

What’s That Smell?


When I was a lot younger than I am today I had a keen sense of smell, many of which I still remember and can relate back to earlier times when I smell them again. There was the smell of ozone in the air when it was about to rain, the smell of the steam as a tar sealed road near my home dried up after a rain. Certain food smells evoke memories. For example a few days ago I was in Tauranga for the jazz festival and smelled food cooking in a nearby restaurant, which smelled exactly the same as the pork my late grandmother used to broil in butter on a Dutch winters evening. If you speak Dutch, here’s a recipe which is very similar to how she used to do it. I can still remember many odors from my youth.

According to C. Russell Brumfield, author of the book Whiff! The Revolution of Scent Communication in the Information Age, we can more easily remember what we smell than what we hear. Apparently scent goes straight from the nose to the brains emotional centers whereas the other senses have to go through an interpretation process first. Of course the ability to smell has many purposes that date back to our primitive past where this sense would help protect us from danger, identify food and when a partner was in season, so to speak. Pheromones are of course well researched and companies who manufacture perfumes and fragrances, would consider it the holy grail to come up with a scent that genuinely causes people of the opposite sex to flock to their side.

When I first embarked on my sales management career, I read the mandatory books such as Tom Hopkins, How to Master the Art of Selling Anything. One of his key areas of expertise was selling real estate. A classic example of his teachings was to drop a little vanilla essence on the stove element, which would make the house smell like fresh coffee. I’ve often wondered why nobody does these things, its much more appealing than the ammonia smell of wet nappies.

I often talked about smellovision and there have been a number of attempts over the years to come up with scratch and sniff cards for TV shows or movies. A couple of years ago I visited the theme parks of Disneyworld in Orlando and in one of the theatre shows, they sprayed the scent of cookie dough and others into the audience. The aromas were authentic and while it was a novelty, it certainly was a taste of what will come in the future. I’m sure that before too long, digital theaters will be equipped with atomizers designed to send odors around the room. It may not happen often, but this is a great opportunity to enhance the theater experience and keep people going out to enjoy movies. Whether it is the scent of flowers in a romantic spring scene, or the metallic smell of blood in a horror or action movie, technology will ensure that we are immersed in the scene.

Many organizations have been considering the use of smell with their products. For example, Nokia has been experimenting with the ability to emit smells from their mobiles. At MIT’s List Visual Arts Centre, they used a technology to immerse the smell of sweat and fear into the white paint, which you can smell if you rub the painted surface.

Pepsi used a similar concept added to the surface of the bottles when they launched their new Black-Cherry Vanilla Soda.

My early prediction of Smellovision came true a few years ago with the launch of Smellavision (oh well it was pretty close). I’ll leave the final word to ScentAndrea who are doing it now. They have scents from burnt charcoal, to car paint to fresh coffee and donuts and they have an agent near you.

OK I lied, here is the final word, scent has such a great following that last year they held the SCENTworld conference and Expo in New York and there is another this year in Las Vegas.  So if you haven’t got a whiff of it yet, don’t hold your breath. You could hit the casinos and smell the money as well:)

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Legacy Locker passes all your web accounts on to your beneficiary


I read a story in this morning’s NZ Herald which doesn’t appear to be available online. It was about a new web site which people can use to pass on all their passwords and account details for everything they do on the web from your online banking to all your web sites, social networking pages etc.

This was something I hadn’t considered before from my own perspective, or from those I leave behind. There are of course practical issues, such as having access to my online banking accounts but also my blogs, the sites where I post my music, such as MySpace and Music Forte, and my social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

The practical things are important because I would want to ensure that my beneficiaries have access to all my assets, but there are also the emotional considerations. Unless someone does something about it, my blogs and my social networking pages will remain forever. Personally I think it would be nice to leave a digital footprint behind, especially for my music, but also where people can remember me, almost like a legacy, where my own perspectives can be seen, rather than other people’s interpretations of them.

The NZ Herald story, which came from Telegraph Group Ltd, (which I also couldn’t find online) raised issues of the pain that it might cause to people left behind, when their loved ones pass away, seeing all their posts, photos and other net based activities, like footprints in the sand that people can see in time to come. It could be very painful.

On the other hand, I would love to be able to access information left by my forefathers. I have travel diaries from my grandparents and a small number of photos, but mostly their information is lost forever, or scattered, not shared, amongst my many cousins, uncles and aunts.

So the Legacy Locker service allows you to ensure that people left behind have access to all your accounts and can follow through on your wishes after you pass on. I don’t know how they find out that you have died, their must be a mechanism for that, but you have the ability to write an email that will be delivered to your beneficiaries after your death, so that they have access to all the information you want them to find.

It looks like they have all the systems you need including bank level security, to ensure that your data is safe. Check them out here.

They make a good point on their site that online assets have value. There may be areas of financial value, but there is also the intrinsic value of having access to photos that you may not have ever printed, music, diaries / blogs and traces of all your relationships, business, family and friends.

The pricing is also very reasonable, $30 a year, a flat fee of $300 and you can also have a free trial. I’m not so sure about the free trial other than being able to evaluate how it all works, but it is something I would probably do if I was going to sign up. Will I sign up, not at the moment, but maybe some time in the future, who knows?