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Getting a new phone

I was interested to hear that the prospects of Apple and other cell phone retailers are looking somewhat worse at the moment.  That is because, with subsidies for buying phones have not gone down over the years, people are taking longer and longer to upgrade.  Apparently, Apple owners upgrade every 2.5 years and owners of other brands upgrade every 2.7 years, but people are not feeling the need anymore to upgrade every single year.  That in turn is obviously hurting their profits, because they are just not selling as much as they used to and I think that the iPhone X has been the first sort of surprise for them – where it just has not sold as many as they would think. 

I would give another perspective – and my perspective is of someone who does get a new phone every year and who in recent years has felt that quite honestly, the upgrades to the phones and the video cameras, while good, have not been as good as I would have hoped for or expected.  As an example, my professional camera takes pictures that are 55Mb big, which obviously allows amazing detail and clarity.  Phones were catching up all the time, but they are miles behind that – at most, excluding a pano picture, which of course you can make huge, and even then it is only 20Mb, most photographs are topping out at about 5Mb.  They don’t have the same sort of clarity and detail I would have expected by now on the basis that if it was 4Mb last year it would be 8Mb this year and 16Mb next year, etc, etc, just doubling each year and that has not happened in the last few years.  Yes, the portrait mode on the iPhone is superb and really does allow you, with the different light settings that you can choose, to take far more professional pictures than previous models of the phone would, but that in itself is never going to be a major selling point to a huge number of people.  Yes, they seem to last an hour longer each year than the year before – but I think people want more than that – they want to see something more dramatic.  A lot of the phones in recent years just have not had that type of “you have to have it” feature and I think as a result, while of course these brands continue to be world leading and making billions of dollars in profit, the sales are beginning to slow down.   I obviously should also correct myself by saying that of course Apple is not just a company that sells phones – it sells iPads, Apple watches, and it increasingly makes a lot of its money through the sale of apps and music on its various stores.  It is definitely not just a one trick pony type of business!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 17-May-18   |  Permalink   |  13 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
You don’t care about the news, but you do about the petrol price

A lot of people say they don’t care much about the news and it does not interest them.  One of the reasons I think that should be is that the news generally affects you – whether it is in terms of investments you make in yourself and your education or in the areas where you purchase a property or when you buy shares.  It also affects you in more mundane, day to day things like the petrol price.  For example, right now, it is fairly obvious that we should see petrol price increases at the beginning of June.  We have seen some Rand weakness recently against the Dollar and oil is priced internationally in Dollars, so that in itself should see the price going up.  The other factor will be America pulling out of the agreement with Iran which has led to the oil price also going up.  Those two factors together make it pretty guaranteed that there will be a petrol price increase at the beginning of June and it just becomes a question of how much.  Any time there are political problems, strife or threats of war in the Middle East, of course you will also see a spike in oil or gas prices and there is certainly more chance of that at the moment than there may have been a month or two ago. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 15-May-18   |  Permalink   |  17 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Words

I enjoyed reading a short little book recently called “On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder.  The sub-title of the book is 20 lessons from the 20th century and it explains quite a lot about how, when people don’t stand up against dictators or people who flout their democracy, disaster can often follow quickly for that country. 

It also gives examples such as when e-mails are leaked, like during the 2016 Presidential campaign, and how piercing somebody’s privacy can humiliate them and disrupt their relationships.  The book says, “No-one has a private life that can survive public exposure by hostile directive … words written in one situation make sense only in that context.  The very act of removing them from their historical moment and dropping them in another is an act of falsification.

In short, what he is saying is that there is nobody out there, if all their e-mails are exposed for example, who would look good.  Nobody can survive that type of scrutiny or to put it another way – embarrassment.  People will always write or say things that can tend to embarrass them at a later stage, even on blogs that become dated with time and may reflect an opinion one held but has long since changed, but to take e-mails out of their context is an act of falsification in the first place, never mind of course it is a violation of privacy.  We should all remember that the next time we are gloating over something that has been released somewhere and understand that while we might have a small context from the media or wherever we are seeing those words, that we don’t fully understand why they were written, when they were written or the context to how they were written and the truth is, as the book says, “Words written in one situation make sense only in that context.”   

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 04-May-18   |  Permalink   |  25 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Contributing to good causes

I believe it is always important to contribute to good causes.  A lot of people would say that they agree with that, but they cannot afford to at the moment.  I don’t agree with that – I know that out of my first salary as a candidate attorney, when I earned R1,500 a month, I was able to put R200 aside for something I wanted to buy and so, one can really, on any salary, afford something.  That does not mean it has to be R1,000 or R100 – whether it is R10 or R50, people can make a difference.

A former President of America called the huge number of charities “a thousand points of light” which lights are best seen as stars at night.  Those charities should be things that you believe in – possibly even political parties which you contribute to or environmental organisations, but we should all try and ensure that we keep ourselves involved in things that interest us, are important to us and try to persuade our friends and family to get involved.  It builds a stronger society and it will help and build a stronger South Africa.

Let’s not forget about all the organisations that stood up against Jacob Zuma, by way of example, and who eventually achieved their result.  One must never think it is just you, against some vast organisation, and that you have no chance of winning, because when you contribute to charities and organisations like that, you are of course allowing yourself to be part of something much bigger and it is then not just you against some massive, unstoppable problem.  It is important that we make non-governmental organisations strong and dictators also know that, which is why in countries like Russia non-governmental organisations have to register and are carefully monitored. We don’t want to go down that road and that is why I encourage all of you to get involved in what interests you, to support it financially, even if that means only R20 a month set up on an auto pay debit order, and give of your time as well.  I will make you a better person, it may even lead to you meeting some new friends with whom you have something special in common and it will help your involvement in society.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 02-May-18   |  Permalink   |  30 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
27 April – public holiday

The 27th April is one of those public holidays I will never forget.  I do know that I did not vote on 27 April 1994, but waited until the next day (there were 2 days of voting) when I thought it would be a little bit quieter, but it was not, to vote in South Africa’s first free democratic elections.  At that time, I very happily put my cross next to the name of the ANC and the photograph of Nelson Mandela.  I was determined that I was not going to live in a country where I felt there was us and them and that I was part of some unhappy minority.  I think that the ANC also came out with all the correct policies – for example they got rid of the death penalty and they said of course you did not need Afrikaans to be an attorney – and why for that matter did you need Latin – all things that were insisted upon by the apartheid National Party government, whose real goal was of course to stop more black people studying law.  Imagine that you had to have as your home language Xhosa or Zulu and for you to become an attorney you had to pass an English University course in English as well as Afrikaans which is now your third language as well as one year in Latin!  Can you see how much more difficult they made it for black people to become attorneys in that particular time?  Obviously, you don’t want many attorneys, especially from people you are oppressing, because they will raise too many questions and so it really was a very manipulative, cleverly thought out disgusting system in every way and I was quite happy to vote for the ANC to bring an end to that rather than other parties.  I am surprised that more children don’t ask their parents why they voted for the National Party during all those years and supported the apartheid regime or why the Law Society, for example, struck Nelson Mandela off as an attorney.  All these things seem to have been conveniently and politely forgotten.

In any event, it is now 24 years since we voted and it is one of those public holidays I hope we never forget and how much has changed during that time – from the hope of Nelson Mandela to the absolute despair of living under Jacob Zuma.  Things are looking good again and it is reflected in the Rand and I sincerely believe that South Africa is in a much better place now than it was at any time in the last 7 or 8 years.  It is not quite the euphoria and amazement of 1994, but it is a damn sight better than anything we’ve had since 2010!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 26-Apr-18   |  Permalink   |  31 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Roger Federer

I recently had the special opportunity of a front row seat to watch the greatest tennis player who has ever played the game win a 2 set match.  Roger Federer is not only an amazing tennis player, but I think he is an extremely good marketer.  He knows how to play the crowd, he knows how to acknowledge people in the audience, such as André Agassi, who very rarely attends tennis matches, but did attend the tournament which was played relatively close to where he and his wife, Steffi Graf, live in Palm Springs.  He is wildly popular, the stadium fills before his game and by the time the next game is to be played, even though it is on the centre court, half of the people have deserted their seats, if not more than half.  Watching him, you just realise that he knows how to say the right things at the right time, to be charming and to ensure that he is very marketable.  There are sports stars, and I can think of a number of South African golfers, who would make a lot more money if they were better at media interviews, at getting the crowd excited, etc and instead of being rather boring personalities who don’t say much, and probably as a result earn a lot less than they could.  

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 23-Apr-18   |  Permalink   |  25 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Naspers

Many years ago I started playing golf with financial journalist, Alec Hogg, and one of his friends, Flippie Meyer.  Flippie was a retired Naspers journalist and after every round of golf Alec used to tease him because Flippie kept telling him that Naspers was going to make an absolute fortune based on a company that the CEO had invested in, in China, called TenCent.  Alec would assure him that TenCent was not going to be the winner that Flippie thought it was and that he was gambling a bit by having all his shares in one company.  

Flippie subsequently died, after contracting, as I understand it, a strain of flu, on a golf tour, but I sometimes wish I listened to him rather than Alec, when he was talking about Naspers.  The price must have multiplied more than 30 times since then and Flippie, if he were alive today, would be a very rich man in terms of his shares.  TenCent has gone on to be, when I last looked, the 7th biggest company in the entire world and approximately a third of it is owned by a South African media company!  Koos Bekker of Naspers really has done incredibly well for his company and buyers of the share.  Many in South Africa say that the share price now is overpriced, but the international coverage of TenCent is also more optimistic – saying that TenCent has a lot more profits coming – meaning potentially of course that Naspers share price can still run quite a lot, despite its substantial increases already.   

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 19-Apr-18   |  Permalink   |  19 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
A party place like no other - Las Vegas

For those of you who have not been to Las Vegas yet, the home of casinos and so much more, you will never understand how much of a party it is.  Firstly, let’s not forget that this one city has 140,000 hotel rooms in it.  What should we compare that to?  Well, let’s compare it to the whole of Europe – there are more hotel rooms to stay in, in Las Vegas, than there are in all of Europe added together!

In fact, the clubs are so packed and the people stay out so late, that one new company called Revive, is making a living, and had a queue most of the day and night, by simply giving a drip filled with vitamins, energy boosters and all sorts of things to help them overcome hangovers and give people more energy to party.  They put you in a massage chair, they put an intravenous drip into your arm, and they then give you whichever drips and boosters you have chosen based on flushing out toxins, recovering from a hangover, an energy boost or all of them combined if that is what you would like!   I think you will know that you are in a serious party place when a business like that is doing so well!  Interestingly enough, I see from the Shiller Index that Las Vegas had the second fastest rising property prices in 2017 – with the average property up 10%.  Only one city in America beats that, namely the home of Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks and Microsoft – Seattle.  

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 16-Apr-18   |  Permalink   |  36 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Addiction to buying junk

I think one of the problems many of us have – and I am certainly one who does have it from time to time – is to buy all sorts of things that you don’t end up using.  It does not necessarily mean expensive things, but it is often rubbish.  I don’t mind buying rubbish books, because I feel that even if they cost me R130 or R250, as long as I got one idea out of the book that I can use in my business or somewhere else, then it was worth the money.  It is very seldom that you get no ideas out of a book, so that type of purchase I can justify.  Not every book will be as good as The Four or as beautifully written as most of the books by Nassin Nicholas Taleb.  His latest book, which I am reading is his follow-up to The Black Swan and is called Skin In The Game.  

In any event, I digress.  I am talking more about the items when you open your drawer that you wonder why on earth you ever bought that fridge magnet that does not actually work or the pair of shoes that look so good in the shops, but now does not go with anything you own.  My wife in particular gives me a hard time about all of these types of purchases, because she is very sensitive about the way we damage the environment with plastic, plastic wrapping, bubble wrapping, cardboard, boxes and all of that that go around all the things we buy.  I think it is important if we are sensitive to that – we need to leave this world a better place than we come into it and part of that is by not contributing, in any negative way, to pollution and destruction of the environment.  

Half these materials don’t seem to break down at all and one gets horrified when one reads about some packaging and chemicals that end up flowing through our toilet systems into the ocean and before you know it are now being ingested by dolphins and tuna.  I mention the tuna, because we end up eating fish that are eating all the things we are polluting the environment with – I guess you could say that is karma or payback!  The point is we hurt ourselves when we abuse our environment and it is not just coming back at us in climate change, it is coming back at us in the various foodstuffs we eat, etc.  Try and reduce the packaging that you use, try and ensure that you recycle things and when you discard things they do go into the correct trashcan – so that they don’t just all end up on a smelly dump just off Turffontein racecourse.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 12-Apr-18   |  Permalink   |  38 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Fitbit continues to plunge

I have written about Fitbit before, and its share price continues to go down.  The problem for Fitbit is that the devices themselves, tracking one’s walking and activities, compete with so many other devices.  At the exact same time that Fitbit sales are going down, predictably the sales of the Apple watch are going up.  More and more phones, devices, etc all include these features and as a result companies that compete with the phones end up getting hammered.  We have seen it with companies producing cameras that have largely been hit hard by the increased power of our phones and we have seen it in heart rate monitors and activity trackers.  Personally, I think all of these companies are fairly easy to have bet against – in other words, to have predicted that their shares would go down and take a bet on that basis – just as it was obvious that there are not that many people that don’t have a GoPro already, or two as in my case, both of which struggle to work.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 09-Apr-18   |  Permalink   |  29 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Jan Smuts Avenue to be widened

It was interesting to read that, after many years of speculation, Jan Smuts Avenue is finally to be widened.  They are going to take the strip, between Rosebank and the Zoo, which is currently one lane in either direction, and they are going to turn it into two lanes in both directions.  

To do that, they will have to reduce the width of the pavements and the project is expected to last 12 to 18 months.  

I do believe that most projects in South Africa, when it involves work on the roads, take far too long. I cannot imagine why something like this cannot be done in 3 to 6 months and why it will need 12 to 18 months, and then probably run late on that anyway.  It will undoubtedly cause chaos at our offices for some time and for everybody who uses what is a very busy road into the city centre.  Hopefully, a lot of traffic will be diverted towards Oxford Avenue, but as pavements get chewed up, the road widened and construction takes place, it is going to be a difficult 12 to 18 months of driving in and out of our offices.  

It sounds like this project is going to begin either late in 2018 or in 2019, but I guess the inconvenience will not be for the full 12 to 18 month period – it will be while they are directly outside our particular offices and busy with our pavement – reducing its size. The long-term benefit will be that traffic does not have to suddenly merge from two lanes to one and will flow far faster along Jan Smuts Avenue.  Whether that is really such a big problem that it requires this to be done is another question.  I can think of many roads in the Fourways area that need widening, long ahead of a small little stretch of Jan Smuts Avenue where I never really notice any major issues anyway – and however much they widen it, it is not going to reduce the problems that you find, as you head north in the afternoon along William Nicol to Fourways – that is where the real disasters begin.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 05-Apr-18   |  Permalink   |  40 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Self-driving cars

The home of self-driving cars at the moment appears to be California which of course is also the home of Tesla and Elon Musk.  Everybody is obviously nervous about what is going to happen when the computers get it wrong, as inevitably they must do a little bit at the beginning.  People will sensationalise any deaths from autonomous driving cars, and already have, and no mention will be given to all the accidents that may have been avoided.  Getting officials and departments for testing is obviously extremely difficult with people being nervous about how these things will go and so it is with some interest that I read that California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is giving out permits to companies that will allow them to test autonomous cars from yesterday, 2 April.  The future is coming much quicker than we all think!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 03-Apr-18   |  Permalink   |  38 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It

Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!
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Recent Settlements
Lumbar spine compression fractures R2 500 000.00
Severe hip fracture requiring total hip replacements R3 305 000.00
Head injury with disfiguring facial scaring of a young female R4 000 000.00
Whiplash and compression fracture of the spine R4 000 000.00
Broken Femora R1 914 416.00
Broken Femur and Patella R770 881.15
Loss of Support for two minor children R2 649 968.00
Fracture of the right Humerus, fracture of the pubi rami, abdominal injuries, head injury R4 613 352.95
Fracture of the right femur, Fracture of the right tibia-fibula R1 200 000.00
Broken Jaw, Right Shoulder Injury, Mild head injury R1 100 000.00
Degloving injuries to the hips, legs and ankle R877 773.00
Head injury R 2 734 295.12
Fractured pelvis R1 355 881.53
Damaged tendons in left arm R679 688.03
Fractured left hand R692 164.48
Amputated right lower leg with loss of income R3 921 000.00
Fractured left foot R600 000.00
Head injury and multiple facial fractures R5 000 000.00
Head injury, compound fracture right femur, right tib and fib fracture, and injury to the spleen R4 529 672.06
Head injury, multiple facial fractures, collapsed lung and a fracture to the right frontal bone R2 890 592.77
Loss of support R5 144 000.00

 


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