Jan 13

What has happened to Japanese brands? (Medium)

My father recently visited me in Berlin. When he arrived, he drove up our driveway in a Kia 4WD (Korean car), which he had nothing but praise for. It was a brand previously unheard of but now my father prefers Kia above all others when it comes to renting cars. The last time I checked, I was still buying Japanese brands. Sony television and surround sound (YES), Panasonic DVD camera (YES), Casio translation device (YES), but strangely as I looked at recent purchasesit struck me! Samsung Monitor, LG phone, Logitech mini speaker…nothing was Japanese.

So why then are brands important and how do we know they are going to be around in five years time? There are many reasons why we buy certain brands over others but one of the most important in an ever changing world should be the ‘resale value’. It’s important to not only buy brands that are ‘good quality’ but to buy brands that will also be around in five years time. I noticed this recently when I sold a used Apple iPhone 3G on eBay. It sold for twice as much as I expected and had three times as many ‘auction followers’ than anything else I’ve sold. So whatever brands you buy today, be it Japanese, Korean, Chinese or even German; make sure the compamy will be around in a few years time or you might find the brand worthless. According to Spiegel Online, Panasonic and Sony may be around but Sharp might not be.

Jan 13

Dealing with Noise Pollution (Light)

In Germany, there are particularly stringent rules with respect to when you can make noise or noise pollution, how often you can celebrate and how loud you can ramp up the volume. Practising a little consideration for your neighbours, monitoring your noise output and being aware of the laws might just ensure you enjoy a little more community harmony. The law generally states that you can’t make excessive noise from 8pm-7am, with no excessive noise allowed on public holidays and on Sunday. During “quiet time” household, garden appliances and machinery are off limits and some states may also still enforce “quiet time” rules from 1pm-3pm or your neighbours might.

If you having a party, you might want to inform the neighbours beforehand and also let them know they can simply ask you to keep it down (the noise) if it is too loud. This way you might avoid a visit from the property manager or the police if someone is annoyed. Another option is to download a sound meter application, which measures your noise output, so you can monitor if your home theatre system is emitting too much noise on a regular basis or how loud it is outside quiet times. Showing a little consideration towards your neighbours might help avoid a lot of problems. Afterall, we can choose where we live but we can’t choose our neighbours.

Note: Apple users may want to try Ultimate Ears