The Melbourne General Post Office was built in the 1860s, and served as GPO until 2001. Nowadays it’s a shopping centre.
Australia Post moved its retail operations a little north, to the other side of Little Bourke Street, with a big (but no doubt cheaper to run) Post Shop.
Now that too has closed, in favour of a new one a little further north again, on the corner of Lonsdale Street. I assume it’s still under construction — at least, it looks that way.
Inside the most interesting thing of note is the self-service checkouts and vending machines.
There are still humans serving, in what appears to be a similar fashion to other post offices. But PostPaks, stamps and other products can be bought via the machines.
This, at last, means you can buy postal products without having to queue behind dozens of people wanting to buy gifts and pay bills (something I only ever do online these days).
And a bonus: the frontmost section is open 24/7. It’s got parcel pickup lockers, and snack-style vending machines. If you’re ever in the vicinity and in urgent need of a 10-pack of stamps late at night, you’re in luck.
Anybody who likes to minimise their food miles might like to note this… increasing numbers of Woolworths supermarkets are using bags for fruit and vegetables that are made in the USA.
That’s not to say other supermarket bags aren’t also imported from a long way away. As far as I’ve noticed, the Woolworths ones are the only ones that say so.
It’s a similar story when buying cling wrap — almost all brands seem to be made in China nowaways.
The bags shown above aren’t heavy or bulky, of course, but a chain like Woolworths must go through millions of them every year. It all adds up.
Personally, if I’m buying only about three or less of each item, provided they’re not small, I don’t usually bother to put them in a bag at all.
This time, it’s Kia’s turn, though it’s a little less overt. Spotted at Malvern (as well as other locations, such as South Yarra):
You know, I’ve been using public transport for decades. I’ve seen people asleep, but I’ve never, ever had someone fall asleep on my shoulder. Does it really happen, or is it just a cliché?
I suppose this is not necessarily poking fun at walking as a form of transport, but it could be read that way.
It does strike me that getting a plastic bag caught on your heel may be an “uncomfortable moment”, but on the other hand, research indicates that driving in unsuitable shoes such as these is just plain dangerous:
Adrienne Savoy, a driving instructor for DriversEd.com, said the higher the heel, the more a person is in danger.
“When you’re wearing high heels, it’s nearly impossible for the heel to stay steady on top of the mat, which would delay the reaction time between the accelerator and the brake. Sometimes you only have a second to react, so that could be a split second you have to prevent a crash,” she said.
Even for those of us who never wear heels, we know that travelling by public transport is an order of magnitude safer than driving.
I think I’d rather be uncomfortable than unsafe.
“If someone’s abused on this train, let them know you’re on their side.” – Train ads address racism on PT
The small print says: The only thing more painful than racism is the silence that follows. If someone’s abused on this train, let them know you’re on their side. Help stop the hurt.
So are they encouraging people to give the racists a spray? Kind of… as the web site notes:
If you don’t act you might later feel guilty that you didn’t! But, more importantly, research shows that when people watching don’t do anything, it increases the impact of the incident. That is, by everyone staying quiet while someone is yelling hateful things, it makes it seem like they all agree with what’s going on. This can be far more hurtful than the abuse itself.
So by making an effort to let the target know you don’t support the hate, you can make a huge difference to how someone feels about themselves and the community.
It goes on to say that:
would never recommend that you put yourself in physical danger, for instance if the hater is drunk, on drugs or appears violent. Of course, if violence or a crime occurs, call the Police on 000 immediately.
I don’t know whether the kind of racism seen recently is on the increase or if it’s just being brought to attention via the proliferation of phone cameras, but it’s good to see an attempt to address it. Hopefully it helps.
View the full Anti-Hate web site: antihate.vic.gov.au
Magazines aren’t quite dead, but they’re in trouble.
While places like MagNation in Elizabeth Street are often busy, that might hide the fact that it replaced at least two older specialised magazine retailers (Technical Book Shop and McGills) that were in the CBD previously.
At Southland, the newsagency that had been there for decades has recently shut. From what I can gather, there’s now no dedicated newsagent in the centre.
Circulation figures show some publications continue to drop. For instance, comparing 2008 figures to 2012, my old favourite Australian Personal Computer fell from 37,156 to 21,612. In that time, Women’s Weekly fell from 530,143 to 465,477 — still a huge number, but undeniably dropping. Gardening Australia fell from 99,058 to 71,955.
There is a partial revival however, through better distribution channels (some specialised mags are available via air into newsagents and retailers like MagNation), and interestingly: digital.
Zinio is an digital magazine delivery company which seems to have a pretty good range (apparently around 5000 titles in all), including technology, lifestyle, sports, and whatever category things like National Geographic fall into.
Their magazines are readable on iPad, Android, Mac OSX and Windows, plus via any web browser with Flash.
What’s the pricing like? For some it’s much cheaper than buying paper — for instance the UK magazine Retro Gamer, which I’m quite fond of, via Zinio is A$51.10 for 13 issues (compared to 80 pounds/about A$130 subscribing to paper from the publisher), or you can buy just the latest for A$5.43 (compared to $14.95 for a paper copy in the shops, arriving several months after publication). For others it’s similar to the retail price.
Given many people will read a magazine once, then either chuck it out or keep it in the bookshelf for 5 years and then chuck it out, that’s pretty good value.
The other thing they have is called a Z-Pass, where for $5 a month you can read any 3 magazines, and swap between titles each month. That particular deal is US-only at the moment, but is apparently spreading to other countries soon.
I guess it shows that the important thing is the content, not whether it’s on paper or digital.
Zinio got in touch with me recently offering ten free subscriptions to readers, with the option of keeping one for myself.
So, I’m going to keep one for myself! Which means I’ve got nine to give away.
To win, leave a comment with your real email address (which is not visible to anybody but me) on the following topic: what’s your most favourite magazine of all time, and why? Is it still around? Do you still read it?
I’ll pick winners from what I think are the most interesting answers received in the next 7 days. Just try to keep it clean, okay?
[In case it's not obvious: I'm getting a Zinio subscription out of this, so this constitutes a paid blog post.]
Update 26/7/2013 — You can keep the comments coming, but the competition is now closed.
Has anybody else had one of these, possibly dodgy, texts?
This is the second one I’ve received now. After the first I replied “Wrong number” and got a “Sorry” back, but the guy is persistent.
Something smells fishy. Note the supposed pick-up date, which is last Thursday, three days before the text was received.
United Energy is a distributor, not a retailer — many people in Melbourne’s south-east are connected via them, even if another company is the one sending them the bills.
Of course, it could just be a wrong number plus poor record-keeping. The number of emails I get for someone, who apparently shares my name but has no idea of their own email address, is amazing.
I was thinking of using my Commonwealth Bank credit card points to get myself an iPad, or an iPad Mini. After much consultation and trying them out, I thought I’d go for the Mini, which I have about enough points for.
There’s a catch — ordering stuff from points can take quite a while for delivery.
And, as I discovered, it can be cheaper to use the points to get money back or gift cards.
For an iPad Mini, 16 Gb, Wifi only:
- Target: $359. You could get $350 in Target gift cards using 59,300 points (169 points per cent), thus spending only $9 in cash and still having 27,200 points left. Or you could get $500 in gift cards for 82,000 points (164 points per cent), having $141 left.
- Myer: $369. $350 in Myer gift cards would use up 61,200 points (174 points per dollar). Add $19 cash and as above, plenty of points left over.
- JB Hifi: $356. Using the points cash back, this would use up 71,200 points (200 points per dollar)… but has the advantage that if you can afford to temporarily be without the money, you can get the knick-knack straight away.
- CBA Award Points: 86,500 (based on RRP this is 234 points per dollar; some 43% more than via Target gift cards)
It’s only one example of course, but the lesson here is to not blindly use your points to get stuff — check if it’s better to cash in the points for money or vouchers and then buy your gizmo.
I haven’t actually bought my Mini yet — still decided which purchase route to go down.
In one lunchtime walk yesterday, I saw both the past and future of retail.
“As seen on TV.” Seriously, they still use this tagline to hook people in? Does it still work? It’s never the name-brand products which used this — always the slightly dodgy ones. I walked past this display twice, and saw nobody actually looking. Perhaps they do when there’s a shouty person with a microphone spruiking it.