HSC 2014: Hunter students excel

Written by admin on 16/08/2019 Categories: 南京夜网

Merewether High’s Rebecca Tyler. Picture: Ryan Osland► HSC results: ‘Huge relief’for two Merewether students
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► HSC Merits Lists

HUNTER students have excelled in this year’s Higher School Certificate, with 1114 students achieving a mark of more than 90 in at least one of their subjects.

A total of 30 students appeared on the Top Achievers list, after receiving a ranked place in a subject as well as a mark over 90.

This included Merewether High students Rebecca Tyler who came first in the state in Community and Family Studies, third in Food Technology and fifth in Earth and Environmental Science.

Fellow Merewether High student Rachel Leonard came eighth in the state in Food Technology and 10th in the state in Hospitality.

A cohort of 35 Hunter students also appeared on the All Rounders list, for achieving results in the top band possible for at least 10 units of their HSC courses.

This comprised 18 female students and 17 male students.

As reported on Tuesday, Rebecca Tyler of Merewether High topped the state in Community and Family Studies, Luke Pulver of Hunter School of the Performing Arts came first in Aboriginal Studies and Jack Haberfield of Swansea High achieved the number one spot in the Metal and Engineering exam.

Christopher Windus of St Philip’s Christian College Waratah had the highest ranking in the Entertainment Industry exam.

Public Schools NSW Executive Director, Frank Potter, said he was confident that the latest crop of HSC graduates from Hunter public schools was well-equipped for further study, work and life.

“Many of our students are already well set on their chosen pathway,” Mr Potter said.

“Whether it is by being awarded early entry at university, securing an apprenticeship or traineeship, establishing themselves in employment or feeling assured that the results they received yesterday will enable them to meet their goals, our students finish 13 years of schooling ready to take the next step.”

Mr Potter said it was pleasing to hear from schools about students who were the first in their family to complete school through to the HSC.

“This is a proud moment for these students and their families,” he said.

“Having this well-recognised credential offers assurance of improved life outcomes and a great model to encourage other family members to make the most of educational opportunities.”

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Keep On Keepin’ On review: Teaching and all that jazz

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Musical connection: Clark Terry and Justin Kauflin in Keep On Keepin’ On. Musical connection: Clark Terry and Justin Kauflin in Keep On Keepin’ On.
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Musical connection: Clark Terry and Justin Kauflin in Keep On Keepin’ On.

Musical connection: Clark Terry and Justin Kauflin in Keep On Keepin’ On.

FILM KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON ★★★☆ (M) Selected cinemas (86 minutes)

Australian musician-turned-filmmaker Alan Hicks has made a disarming documentary portrait of legendary jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, 94, whom he first knew as a teacher. Hicks is not a figure in the film, although his affection for his subject is evident in every frame. The documentary  focuses on Terry’s mentoring of a talented twentysomething pianist Justin Kauflin. Kauflin has been blind since the age of 11 and sometimes struggles with doubt and nerves. But with Terry, there’s no sign of this.

Terry’s enveloping warmth, wisdom and good nature give the Oscar-shortlisted documentary much of its energy, even as his health declines. He might be full of stories from jazz’s glorious past, but he’s a man who also lives in the moment, musically and emotionally. This is a film about the nature of connection, a picture of a celebrated performer who loves to teach, even from a hospital bed, and of a teacher-pupil relationship in which friendship is as essential as rigour.

Earlier this year, Damien Chazelle’s feature Whiplash told the story of a young jazz drummer and his domineering, brutally manipulative teacher. Keep On Keepin’ On is is an intriguing contrast. It is built on very different assumptions about art and legacy.

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Monday, December 22

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FREE TO AIR
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Commando School, SBS One, 8.30pm 

One of the best of the recent ob-doc series, this Channel Four production follows the trials of Troop 174 as its members undergo training to enter the Royal Marines. Each episode focuses on one or two of the recruits, and here it’s the bespectacled Tom Dilliway, who’s struggling to meet the physical and mental demands of the course. By his own account, he was a chubby kid saddled with the nickname Harry Potter. His battles, closely observed by astute corporal Adam Perkins, make for engrossing viewing.

Bones, Seven, 8.30pm

The formula is now so familiar that the rather bizarre blend of elements in this crime series no longer seems so strange. Essentially, a bunch of scientifically gifted eggheads banter over dead and decaying bits of bodies. They use their brilliant minds and whiz-bang gadgetry to figure out whodunit in each episode’s murder mystery as the series, adapted from books by Kathy Reichs, aims to mix science, sexual chemistry and sleuthing. Atits heart are darkly handsome special agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) and his brilliant wife, DrTemperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel). Now they’re parents to a precocious four-year-old and must debate their level of concern about her use of profanity  while trying to solve a case about a body discovered in a playground. There’s a bit of domestic repartee, a dash of The Wolf of Wall Street, a murder investigation and a misguided colleague with delusions of trumping Bones in the lab. It’s an improbable mix that somehow comes together to create a passable crime drama.

Debi Enker, Parks and Recreation, Seven, 11.30pm

The season finale has arrived, as has the Pawnee/Eagleton Unity Concert with Leslie (Amy Poehler) facing a big decision, Tom (Aziz Ansari) trying to get his restaurant on track and Andy (Chris Pratt) living out his rock star dreams. It’s all fun, but nothing compared with the brilliance of when Ron (Nick Offerman) bumps into his ex-wife Tammy (Megan Mullally). “Tammy,” Nick sneers, “What could possibly bring you to a children’s performance? Preparing a ritual sacrifice of a newborn?” Bazinga! Oh and given this is set in a music festival, keep your eyes peeled for the inevitable guest stars including The Decembrists, Yo La Tengo and a beautiful surprise in the closing seconds.

Scott EllisMade in Chelsea are still with us, let alone on TV. You’d think they’d have long since been buffed to death by private-jet upholstery – or at least have contracted terminal ennui from the sound of their own braying voices. Yet here they are, on an interminable excursion to New York, where they sit around in trendy bars gossiping about each other and occasionally flirting with young Americans who are just as dull as they are. Made in Chelsea is a chore to watch, even by the standards of the scripted-reality genre. The cast are stiff and listless, the dialogue is dreary, and the over-the-top telenovela-style direction serves only to underline the fact there’s nothing interesting going on. The tedium is compounded by the fact that every boring scene is followed by another in which everybody talks about what just happened. That a show so completely contrived could be so utterly devoid of entertainment value is extraordinary.

Tiny, LifeStyle Home, 7.30pm

An interesting documentary following American Christopher Smith as he builds a tiny wooden house on a trailer so he can tow it to a remote part of Colorado and live in it. Other “tiny housers” from around the US show off their homes and explain why they choose to live small.

Brad Newsome The Spy Who Loved Me, which has zero to do with Fleming’s book, is not a total write-off – the underwater Lotus Esprit is fun and Curt Jurgens makes a decent if dour villain – but it is not what a Bond movie ought to be.

Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn (1942), Fox Classics (pay-TV), 8.35pm

Based on an original idea by songwriter extraordinaire Irving Berlin, Holiday Inn is the story of a fractious stage trio that splits apart over the love of the girl. Singer Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) wants Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale), but she dumps him for her dance partner, Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire). Jim retreats to a Connecticut farm, where he turns a farmhouse into a restaurant-nightclub called Holiday Inn. That he does most of this Herculean task by himself in a few days is not a lapse of moviemaking sanity, merely a nod to the musical genre where almost anything can happen if you wish it. When Lila later runs off with a Texas millionaire, a lonely Ted tracks down Jim and gets to fight him all over again, this time over a new girl, Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds). Along the way, Crosby croons 12 new Berlin songs, plus a few classics. There are several dazzling routines from Astaire, including his first with Marjorie Reynolds. When Reynolds laughs and smiles mid-dance, Astaire pulling both her arms over his left shoulder, you get to experience one of cinema’s most naturally sexy moments.

Scott Murray

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Record number of asylum seeker deaths at sea in 2014: International Organisation for Migration

Written by admin on 17/07/2019 Categories: 南京夜网

Brothers Ibrahim Awadallah, Mohammed Awadallah and Mamoun Doghmosh, who survived for four days after smugglers capsized their migrant boat. Photo: New York TimesSix migrants floated in the freezing ocean in September, desperately trying not to slip under the thrashing waves. They had just watched 500 people drown in a small, unseaworthy boat captained by people smugglers who had since deserted them.
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The Palestinians, Syrians and Egyptians were plucked from the ocean by rescue authorities. They later told authorities they had heard the smugglers laughing as they left behind the hundreds of floating bodies.

The smugglers, who had charged each asylum seeker US$2000 to seek refuge in Europe from Egypt, had deliberately rammed the boat with their own when the 500-plus migrants refused to move into a smaller, unseaworthy vessel. The 300 people below decks drowned almost immediately as the 200 people above scrambled to survive.

The tragedy has been labelled the worst shipwreck in years. And it happened during what has now been declared the “deadliest year” for migrants, with a record 4868 people dying while trying to cross treacherous oceans in 2014 – double the 2013 tally.

According to International Organisation for Migration (IOM) figures released this week, the crossing from the Mediterranean to Europe claimed over 3000 lives, while 540 migrants died in the Bay of Bengal. At least 307 died trying to cross the land border between Mexico and the USA. There have been no known asylum seeker deaths in Australian waters in 2014.

The IOM says “desperation migration” due to the unprecedented number of man-made crises needs to be addressed by political leadership to counter the “worrying rise of xenophobia”.

“All states have the international obligation to save lives of those seeking help,” said the IOM director-general, William Lacy Swing.

The number of people displaced around the world is now the highest since World War II, with 33.3 million people internally displaced and 16.7 million refugees.

Yet in response to these figures, western nations are moving in an opposite direction as they begin to scale back their rescue operations, rather than increase them.

Australia has effectively cut off the number of boats making the journey here through hardline policies that include turning back asylum seeker boats, sending asylum seekers to offshore processing centres and, in the latest tactic by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, ending the option for genuine refugees in Indonesia to ever resettle in Australia. This month, the Senate passed the Migration Act, which means 30,000 asylum seekers who arrived by boats under the Labor government will be offered temporary protection visas, not permanent visas.

The Abbott government has argued that by “stopping the boats” they are saving lives at sea.

The United Kingdom is similarly winding back its response to sea rescue operations in the Mediterranean. In October, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that to reduce net immigration, the UK would no longer fund the Italian rescue mission, Mare Nostrum, which refugee advocates described as “morally shocking”.

The IOM continues to urge western countries to step up their rescue operations as an important approach to the asylum seeker surge.

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Avoiding home-business hell

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At least you have the dog for company…Working from home full-time is mostly terrific. Until summer holidays arrive and extra noise, distractions, kids, and annoying animals create home-business hell. Knowing how to navigate the silly season and combine work and life is critical.
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Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t swap working from home for an office life. And a house full of people and neighbours having parties over summer is hardly the worst problem. Also, plenty of office workers have to adjust their schedule for school holidays.

Still, it’s always hard for home-business owners when everybody else seems to be on holiday. We could join them, of course, but that’s not always possible for contractors and consultants who are often busiest in the lead-up to Christmas as they help short-staffed clients. And who only get paid when they work.

Heading into my ninth year as a home-business owner, I’ve learned there are ways to maintain productivity over the summer while taking advantage of the flexilbity of self-employment.

Here are eight tips to get you through the silly season. Home-based business owners should add their best tips to work over summer by commenting at the end of this blog.

1.  A summer plan

The summer break can be upon busy home-based business owners before they realise it. Ideally, plan well in advance how you will work and have a break between Christmas and Australia Day. Don’t make my mistake of years past: jamming in meetings, interviews and other work at home when you unexpectedly have a house full of people.

2. Be realistic

I’ve long given up on asking kids to be quiet, or getting annoyed when there is excessive noise over summer. Don’t expect any favours as a home-based business owner. Work around others; don’t expect them to tone down their holiday while you work. The best part of working from home is having more time for family, so why try to avoid it?

3. Business development in December

If you have extra time, and no plans for a holiday, use December or January for business development. Clients can be more receptive to your pitches and idea, and may have extra time to meet over summer if work is quieter. Extra business-development work gets you out of the house and, if done well, gives your venture a flying start to the following year.

4. Go nocturnal

It works for me. Late nights can be highly productive when children are in bed and there is space to work on projects. More is done late at night in a few hours than in a full day when there are constant interruptions. Others prefer early starts. My point: be prepared to adjust your work schedule so you can fit around others over summer.

5. Find a second space

The best planning in the world won’t overcome a house full of visitors, unexpected noisy tradesmen, or neighbours throwing summer parties. Have a second workspace ready to go to, and a computing set-up that allows seamless movement between locations. It need not be expensive: the local library can double as a second workspace and plenty of university libraries are empty around this time. Consider shared office space that can be rented at short notice, or work at a friend’s office or home.

6. Set boundaries

Set clear boundaries so that friends and family know what to expect of you. Be clear when you are working and cannot be disturbed, and when you are more flexible with work time. You only have yourself to blame if people can’t tell if you are working or on holiday.

7. Work-free days

A temptation for home-based business owners is working part of each day over summer. Break your time into three categories: days with no work (such as Christmas to early January); days when you are more flexible on work; and days when it’s mostly work. Again, it’s all in the planning and communicating your schedule to others.

8. Noise-cancelling headphones

If all else fails, buy a good set of noise-cancelling headphones and get used to them. It’s the best $300 I spent this year. Double-glazed office windows are next on the agenda, but for now, these simple steps that should help maintain high productivity while having a great summer.

This is my last blog for 2014. Many thanks to all the readers who commented on The Venture. Your feedback, positive or negative, is always welcome. The Venture returns in early January.

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Dave Grohl’s dead

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The late, great Dave Grohl in happier times.My car, whose name was Dave Grohl*, was rear-ended on Sunday. Sadly, the injuries he sustained means he’s a write-off.
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The accident wasn’t my fault. I was stationary, sitting at traffic, and became the meat in a three-car pile-up sandwich. Frankly, I could have done without it 10 days before Christmas.

I’m fine – thanks for asking.

I managed to get poor Dave home, despite his injuries, and promptly called my insurer. It was a very business-like and impersonal end for a vehicle that was my trusted steed for more than five years, my constant companion as I travelled around the country. Despite having done 160,000 kilometres, of which I was responsible for about 80,000, he never skipped a beat. I was hoping to get him to 300,000 kilometres. Sadly, that’s not to be.

Anyway, back at home that afternoon I was sitting on the couch, somewhat shell-shocked, when there was a knock at the door. It was the tow truck driver who had towed the guy’s car that hit me.

He was “just driving by” – what a coincidence – and saw my crumpled car in the driveway and wanted to see if I was all right.

I doubt that was the case. He wasn’t interested in my wellbeing – he wanted my business. But how did he get my address, given he arrived after I left?

The guy who hit me took a photo of my licence with his phone. I suspect the tow truck driver either got him to send the photo of my license to him, or he just looked at the photo of my licence and committed my address to memory.

Seizing the opportunity to drum up a bit of business, he thought he’d drop around to see if my car needed towing too. It didn’t, because I’d made arrangements with my insurer to have it towed to its preferred smash repairer to be assessed.

As soon as I closed the door I got that weird feeling you get when something doesn’t pass the smell test. I didn’t believe he was driving by and saw my car.

It rankled that he had obtained my address by cunning means and thought it was appropriate to come to my home, without me having solicited his services, to try to get my business.

I don’t think there’s anything illegal about this. The privacy laws cover the way commercial enterprises use personal information. But I don’t think they apply when a customer gives a business someone else’s personal details.

Even so, there’s certainly something not right about the way the tow truck driver got my information. Even though I appreciate he was just trying to be enterprising.

The driver’s underhand approach sends a big message about the tow truck industry. They must be so desperate for income they are reduced to using trickery to win work. Competition must be so fierce in this game they’ll use any means to drum up business.

For example, you will often find a tow truck driver or two poised at the entrance to the south-bound approach to Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and tunnel, waiting to pounce on an accident that’s just happened so they can supply their services. This ambulance-chasing means of securing new business confirms how hungry they must be for work.

They do provide an essential service – how else are we supposed to get broken down or damaged vehicles to somewhere they can be assessed and repaired or scrapped?

But when you’ve had a car accident you’re in a vulnerable position. The way this tow truck driver tried to get my business took advantage of this.

It’s not a good long-term strategy, because this approach gives tow truck drivers a bad reputation. And if you have a poor reputation, you can’t charge a premium for your services. By acting so aggressively, all they succeed in doing is to create a commoditised market, with no provider offering a differentiated service, for which they could charge more than the market average. To prove my point, what brands in the tow truck market can you name? None? Thought so.

So there’s an opportunity for a tow truck operator to come in, build its brand and become the name people think of as offering a reputable, respectable service in this market.

That business will be able to build connections with insurers, which will send business its way. It will also be able to build its reputation among mechanics, who will also refer business.

Spending time forming relationships with potential referral partners, who can help generate ongoing work, is a much more productive way of building a business than knocking on the door of some poor sod who has just had an accident, a tactic that can generate only a one-off job. Food for thought, tow truck driver, food for thought.

* Dave Grohl is the lead singer of the band the Foo Fighters.My previous car’s name was Ben Harper, the name of another musician. I name my cars after rock stars so I can say, “just going to the shops with Dave Grohl”. You know what they say, small things amuse small minds.

What’s been your experience with tow truck drivers? Are they ambulance chasers or respectable members of the business community?

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SMSF assets hit almost $560 billion

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Self-managed super funds now account for 99 per cent of the number of super funds in Australia. Photo: Jessica ShapiroThe number of DIY super funds has ballooned 29 per cent in the past five years to hit 534,000 retirement saving vehicles with $557 billion in assets – making it the fastest growing segment of the superannuation market.
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New data from the Australian Taxation Office found that self-managed super funds now account for 99 per cent of the number of super funds in Australia, with 30 per cent of the $1.9 trillion in super assets across the country.

“Over five years to 2012-13 contributions to SMSFs averaged $24.9 billion a year on behalf of 64 per cent of SMSF members,” ATO assistant commissioner Matthew Bambrick said.

“Notably, member contributions increased by 5 per cent and exceeded employer contributions by approximately three to one in 2013.” The ATO report showed that the vast majority of SMSFs were still in accumulation phases where Australians are pumping money into the vehicles to save for their retirement. However, over the last five years 7 per cent of DIY funds have switched into full pension phase.

DIY funds are often seen as a honey pot for advisers and accountants looking to woo sophisticated trustees’ fees.

Regulators are closely monitoring the investment habits and practices across the sector.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission cancelled the registration of 440 SMSF auditors after they failed to meet competency standards. ASIC has also disqualified two DIY fund auditors.

“As the SMSF sector continues to grow in popularity with Australian investors, it is critical that SMSF auditors play their key gatekeeping role,” commissioner Greg Tanzer said. “ASIC will continue to administer the registration process to assure Australians that SMSF auditors at least meet base standards of competency and expertise.”

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Standard & Poor’s cuts oil price forecast, threat to company credit ratings

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Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has cut its price assumptions for crude oil for the second time this month, raising the prospect that companies will face further pressure on their credit ratings as their creditworthiness is tested against the lower prices.
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Just three weeks after the last cuts in price assumptions for crude oil fed through to a cut in the rating of Santos, the estimates have been further reduced by about $US10 a barrel, with S&P citing the “precipitous declines” in future prices.

S&P said on Wednesday it will now assume a price of $US70 a barrel for Brent crude oil in 2015, instead of $US80, and $US75 a barrel in 2016, instead of $US85.

For the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate, the assumed price is now $US65 a barrel for 2015 and $US70 for 2016.

Those new levels are still well above current levels for crude futures, with Brent at about $US60 a barrel on Wednesday, while WTI was about $US55.40.

“Over the coming weeks, we will be updating our forecasts, and we anticipate a number of corporate rating actions in the upstream and oil field service sectors,” S&P said.

“However, any such actions also depend on company-specific factors, including our other rating assumptions and issuers’ flexibility to adapt to lower prices, hedge positions, and liquidity. We anticipate few immediate sovereign rating changes as a direct consequence of these updated price assumptions.”

Santos had its BBB+ credit rating cut to BBB on December 8 after the last downgrade to S&P’s oil price assumptions. While the company said it had plenty of cash and debt capacity to fund its capex obligations, investors marked the shares down on concern it would be unable to avoid an equity raising to beef up its balance sheet should S&P again lower its price assumptions, and its rating was further reduced, to just above investment grade.

S&P said on Wednesday that while it recognised current oil prices were even significantly lower than its new assumptions, it expected “some stabilisation and ultimate recovery” as oil companies curb production of high-cost wells and defer capital spending. Uncertainty also remains as to future decision on production made by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, it noted.

It expects US shale development drilling to be cut back next year if WTI prices remain below $US75 a barrel, slowing production growth and ultimately supporting prices. It pointed to estimates by consultancy Bentek, which estimates that a 10 per cent cut in annual drilling activity would result in a 4 per cent reduction in production growth in six key US shale plays next year, and a 6 per cent reduction in 2016. A 25 per cent cut in spending would result in reductions of 11 per cent in 2015 and 16 per cent in 2016. Lower prices also render many deep water oil fields less economically viable, it noted.

“We do not foresee a dramatic drop in near-term US crude production, but we believe the rate of investment in growth is likely to slow with prevailing spot and futures prices,” S&P said.

Longer term assumptions for both Brent and WTI crude were left unchanged at $US85 a barrel and $US80 a barrel, respectively.

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Good year, bad year: how the big games companies fared in 2014

Written by admin on 16/06/2019 Categories: 南京夜网

Critically acclaimed Grand Theft Auto V continues to do well for Take-Two. Photo: RockstarBorderlands: The Pre-Sequel! pleased series fans but failed to do much new.
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2014 has been a fascinating year in video games. We have seen surprise smash hits come out of nowhere while heavily hyped big budget titles have sunk without a trace, plus PR disasters, major controversies, and consumer revolts.

Here is our list of the winners and losers of 2014. WinnersGrand Theft Auto V had a high-definition re-release on the new consoles and PC, selling three million copies in its first week despite already shifting more than 35 million copies on 360 and PS3.

Over at 2K, there was more success. Civilization: Beyond Earthtopped the PC gaming sales charts both for UK retail and Steam simultaneously, a rare feat, and also enjoyed positive reviews. Popular basketball simulator NBA 2K15 also achieved success with critics and fans.

There were some downbeat notes, however. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! received mediocre reviews, and WWE 2K15, the publisher’s big entry into next-generation wrestling games, was a dud.

Activision – The first big hit of the year was Activision’s: Destiny, the first new property in many years from Halo creator Bungie. While it divided critics, it was a sales phenomenon, topping $US300 million in sales in its first week and claimed by Activision to be the highest-selling new property in games history.

Also performing well critically (though sales figures have not yet been released) was this year’s Skylanders, titled Trap Team.  It reviewed well and seems to be selling strongly, despite competition from Disney Infinity 2.0.

Finally there was Call of Duty, the main event in Activision’s annual release schedule. The series regularly breaks sales records, and 2014 was no exception: Advanced Warfare was cited as “the biggest entertainment launch of 2014”, meaning that it raised more revenue at launch than any other game, film, music album, or entertainment property. It also received the best reviews the series has seen in years. Losers

Ubisoft – The usually reliable Ubisoft has had a year that truly deserves to be called annus horribilis. Watch Dogs set the trend for the coming year: it was criticised before release for not living up to the amazing graphics seen during its trade show previews, and when released it was savaged by critics. This triggered the first of several sharp drops in its stock price for 2014.

The unveiling of Assassin’s Creed: Unity in June attracted more controversy, with fans outraged that the new four-player co-operative play featured only male characters. Ubisoft spokespeople stumbled through unconvincing excuses, but there didn’t seem to be any good reason for the oversight.

When Unity was released there was more bad news. The game was a buggy, unfinished mess, apparently rushed out the door to meet a deadline instead of being delayed until it was complete.

Ubisoft has apologised for the disastrous launch, released a series of major patches (one of which listed more than 300 fixes), and offered free games and downloadable content to make it up to frustrated fans. None of this stopped Ubisoft shares plummeting.

Open world racing game The Crew, which was delayed for more than a year, was also a critical disaster, but at least Far Cry 4 launched without major problems or controversy. It was an unusually bad year from a company generally known for quality games, and it will no doubt be hoping for 2015 to be better. The big three

Sony, Microsoft’s Xbox division, and Nintendo all had interesting years, with all seeing strong sales, but one console being a clear leader.

The PlayStation 4 has enjoyed a strong sales lead over its next-gen competitor, but the Xbox One refuses to die, and the long-struggling Wii U has seen a surge in sales, probably due to some strong exclusives.

Between Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8, and to a lesser extent Hyrule Warriors and Bayonetta 2, the Wii U has gone from trailing far behind the Xbox One to roughly level pegging. The PS4 is the undoubted king, however, selling about as many consoles as the Xbox One and Wii U combined.

DexX is on Twitter: @jamesjdominguez

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Why higher petrol prices would be good for you, me and Joe Hockey

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V8 fans won’t welcome higher fuel pricesOf all the unpopular measures in Joe Hockey’s unpopular budget, reportedly the most unpopular was reinstating indexation of fuel excise.
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Yet a much better – but even more unpopular – idea would be to seize the opportunity of crashing oil prices now to recoup all the indexation that has been forgone.

Yep, I’m saying increase the price of petrol by about 12 cents a litre.

When you’re stuck this deep in the policy and opinion poll mud and show no sign of climbing out, you may as well lather on some of the medicinal variety for its complexion-enhancing properties.

Hey presto, around $5 billion a year would disappear from Joe’s troublesome deficit.

And he could claim all of that as a “direct action”, carbon-reducing measure, allowing him to scrap the silly $2.5 billion allocated for burying charcoal and such.

But before the V8 drivers arrive at my garage door with tar and feathers, let me point out that there would be reasonable benefits for our economic health in such a move.

John Howard’s excuse for scrapping indexation back in 2001 (and actually cutting it by 1.5 cents a litre as well) was to alleviate the impact of higher petrol prices.

The real reason of course was to get himself get re-elected, but let’s stick with the theoretical one for now.

With oil prices nearly halving in six months, there are no higher petrol prices needing alleviation.

Indeed, the punters would barely miss what they haven’t quite got yet.

Maintaining petrol prices close to $1.40 a litre would hardly cause great strain. Remember that inflation is quite low and it actually wouldn’t be a good thing for us for it to go much lower.

And it’s not as if petrol in Australia is expensive by international standards, as the attached graph shows.

Yes, there’s the odd silly oil state and the USA that nearly gives the stuff away, but most of the world pays considerably more, which encourages them to use it more efficiently, taking with all the inherit benefits that efficiency delivers.

Petrol becoming cheap again would send a different message.

Many of us have actually been considering fuel efficiency as factor in deciding what vehicle to buy.

Drop prices to $1.20 a litre or less – a level that would feel cheap now – and, gee, that V8 does have an engine note the fuel-sipping little turbo-diesel lacks.

The downside is mainly political. Labor and the Greens were shamelessly populist and short-sighted in whipping up opposition to the reintroduction of indexation alone, so they would have even more principle-free fun over recouping the foregone indexation.

The move therefore would need to be carefully packaged: the OECD has told us we need more consumption tax revenue of one sort or another, so wouldn’t restoring indexation be more palatable than a 15 per cent GST?

And you could always pretend a share of the extra revenue was going to public transport or something similar.

After scaring the electorate so hard for so long about the evil deficit, maybe being seen to make a little progress on that front would count for something. Or maybe not.

Economically, we would miss out on the stimulus that cheaper fuel gives consumers, an effect similar to a small tax cut when the economy wouldn’t mind some stimulus.

While it would be nice, it’s of passing interest.Punters adapt to prices very quickly. And, as you’ve noted, the poor don’t drive cars – or maybe you’ve un-noted that.

A bigger problem with this initiative is that, while it’s been slowly forming, the key driver (so to speak) for it has been shot down in flames on these pages by two colleagues.

On Monday, overshadowed by tragedy, Peter Martin very nicely made the case for solving all the budget’s problems simply by taxing superannuation contributions as part of normal income

The case for it is overwhelmingly convincing, despite the predictable howls of self-interest from those who would lose a massive and unnecessary perk. (It was one of the many fine ideas in the Henry tax review that are being steadily exhumed.)

And today, Ross Gittins slaps all of the budget-fixation brigade around the head with a heavily-framed edition of the missing Big Picture.

There are more important things we should be concentrating on while doing the necessary housekeeping.

But, personally, I’d be happy for the greater good to see petrol prices not fall sharply – it would make me feel a little better about buying that efficient turbo-diesel.

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