Internet & Related Stuff

For Internet and Related Stuff.

As heads roll, there's outrage amongst Telecom XT Customers - but there's similar frustration from a strong minority of folks who don't see why folks are letting themselves become so vulnerable in the first place.

We have the slant being taken, that the XT outage is serious enough to cause risk to life and property due to the inability to call 111. The example given is a kid who was bashed at a Mall in Christchurch and how folks couldn't call for help...

- What, no other cellphone networks were available amongst the folks in the neighbourhood? At the moment we have XT and CDMA (both Telecom, but seperate), plus Vodafone, and 2 Degrees. Seriously, noone around had a non-XT handset?
- What, no landlines handy? You were in the urban area of one of NZ's main cities and you couldnt find a payphone or a building with a landline?

Another point; Noone's noting the fact that Cellphones were never sold as 100% reliable in the first place. There will be coverage failures from 'time to time'. (Admitted, XT's woes are pretty unreasonable if you're throwing money at them and theyre broken more than is 'reasonable').

For those complaining they're losing business; why don't you have a plan-B? Landlines? Cellphones on other networks? A backup plan could simply be an old handset on another network with a prepay connection. I still have my 027 CDMA Prepay for this reason, despite having been a Vodafone customer for ~11 years.

And with number portability, there really is little excuse for the final point; vote with your feet applies!! If the network you're a customer of is not cutting the mustard, change to a better one. Ultimately that is the way to demonstrate your satisfaction (or not) - it's the way that businesses listen (with their wallets).

Fundamentally, i agree with everything said here.

People pirate media because it is a) convenient, b) cheap and c) rapid. Having media directed to your home PC, delivered for $0 in the space of hours - and as soon as it's available - I understand the desire.

The content deliverers (movie theatres, followed by retail stores and rental outfits) need to move with the times. DVDs are relatively fragile compared to digital media, but at least they're readily accessible to most folks. What keeps people renting is that they are accessible, and relatively inexpensive.

As bandwidth costs drop, the inexpensive part is less relevant. Anything, at all, which makes renting less convenient is going to have piracy as a byproduct. This is a given. Industry should be looking at ways of providing content to end-users for reasonable cost, without all the stupid restrictions. Otherwise folks will continue to bypass said restrictions, and not share their money with the content-makers.

I happily buy DVDs for movies and TV series that i'm particularly keen on, and visit movie theatres and rent movies for newer content (as opposed to getting the MPAA all riled up) but I can fully appreciate the frustration of some.

At least DRM seems to be slowly dying, which is a boon for those who run open platforms that can't use proprietary DRM decoders. That's another major fall-down point...

By now Youtube regulars will have heard about "My Speed" functionality - Youtube now plot video performance data based on a fingerprint of IP and browser headers.

Mine just go to show how poorly TelstraClear are performing when it comes to Youtube:

They also publish a 'test video' which has plotted onto it, realtime performance. Mine wasn't great. (This test, btw, is from my Ubuntu 9.04 box, a P4 2.4Ghz machine with 512Mb ram i.e. not a speed demon (we know how flash under Linux is problematic)...

I'll do some tests under Windows next time the opportunity arises. Meanwhile I'll keep monitoring Geekzone's 15 Page Thread with TCL users discussing how Youtube is for them, a major issue - and that TCL are 'working on it'...

So lately i've managed to attend a couple of geek-conferences (Kiwicon late last year, LCA2010 this year) and the appeal of smartphones is starting to wear me down.

I've steered away from the smartphone world, mainly because I was able to get away with a very basic handset and still have access to it while at work.

The rules have changed, I'm basically not allowed my mobile on me at all times now @ work, so that side of things is now moot; i'm left considering my situation when i'm not at work.

Thus i'm currently rocking the Motorola K3:

Which being a Motorola Flip, is fairly reliable. It has 3G, which means i can actually surf the web from it (no javascript support!) and send/receive email (if you can be bothered with using a number pad data entry style). Unfortunately it's not much good for either in any great volume.

It does have a 2MP Camera; it does Bluetooth. And those are the main things I do with it, aside from SMS and Telephony. I also have one of these...

... being the Palm Z22, as my 'current generation' Palm Pilot (i've had PalmOS devices since my Handspring Visor...) - the Z22 basically is a diary and phonebook for the stuff I can't do on my phone. I'm also not meant to have the Z22 at work, either...

(I have a work-issued Blackberry from which I use the calendar (because it tracks my professional appointments as well as the relatively small number of personal ones I use) and because it's permitted to carry it on me in more places - but I rarely use the work phone for personal reasons (I have to refund the cost of doing so) and my personal cell number has been with me a lot longer than my current job.)

So what I'd really like, then...

.. Is a Bigger Screen,
A more flexible web browsing experience via 3G or Wifi,
A QWERTY Keyboard,

[EDIT: IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW]

Just received an obvious Spam; it was directed to an email address used solely for domain name management (i.e. it was plucked out of a domain 'whois' output).

That was the first sign of trouble. Plenty more...

Next we have a firm offering a special on aerial photography of NZ. I should be grateful they got my country right, I suppose?
Then you keep reading.

Embedded links point to a .co.nz (aerialimpressions.co.nz) - it appears to have valid, if limited, registration details (registrant = Aerial Impressions, address in Australia (City, no state given, though it appears it's in Victoria).

A look on the Australian ABN Lookup tool for 'Aerial Impressions' reveals that it is a Trading Name for a company actually known as DGB Technologies Pty Ltd.

IMPORTANT UPDATE ON THIS BLOG ENTRY!

When I used Google to search for "DGB TECHNOLOGIES PTY LTD" (copy/pasted from the ABR Site), they 'automagically' provided me with DBG Technologies - note the B and G are transposed! - as the first hit, along with several more. I didn't notice this until I was contacted by a helpful reader - and by one of the directors of DBG, seeking to clarify!!

I apologise profusely to DBG - the legitimate, South Australia Registered firm who appear to be unrelated to DGB.

Just for entertainment, feel free to compare their entries in the ABR:

DGB Technologies (Trading as Aerial Impressions)

and

Yeah, I didn't find these, but they were damn funny so why not (continues after the jump):


Stuff has yet another article on XT's recent failure but a couple of things stick out:

Wellington sisters Leigh and Nikki Maetzig said when their mother became ill with a stomach condition near the Basin Reserve on Wednesday night, her calls to them did not get through. She was eventually able to ring an ambulance and was taken to Wellington Hospital.

Did the woman try to flag down a passing motorist? Was she in a state where she could walk to a nearby property and ask for a landline call to be made? Was this a pre-existing condition?

Severe enough for an Ambulance, likely means severe enough to take steps beyond simply trying your own cellphone, and looking failure in the face for an hour!. Of course, if she was trapped in her car and doubled over in pain, perhaps this isn't so cut and dried; it's certainly reasonable to expect that if you own a cellphone, it should be a fair contingency for a situation such as this, though i'd love to know more detail of the background...

... And desperate relatives looking for missing Nelson teenager Leo Lipp-Neighbours, last seen on Sunday, said the outage made it impossible to call some searchers, hampering efforts to find him.

Coordinated search was it? There's a reason that SAR prefer radio comms to cellphones in a lot of circumstances! Again, whilst a cellphone is useful, XT's outage should've been an inconvenience but not a major.

Of course, the fact that it was an inconvenience at all is a major problem for Telecom. As the article cites, people expect a degree of reliability in a cellular network - especially when they pay big money and sign an agreement of service.

Yes, there's the usual 'act of God' type exclusions but XT's had more than it's share of problems of late.

A recent conversation on Twitter revealed that several XT users find the need to retain a Vodafone or 2Degrees Prepay as a 'backup'.

I on the other hand have Vodafone as my primary and though I do have a CDMA (Telecom's pre-XT legacy network) prepay, that's more through good luck than good planning (twas a freebie many moons ago) and thus far I don't think i've ever had to use it. Maybe once in 6+ years?

Nice to know it's there, of course. I try to travel with at least two means of communication, if i'm at any risk and/or it's any distance. Of course, Amateur Radio makes that easy.

[EDIT: Funny ad being run by Vodafone in response to Telecom's XT FAIL. As Tweeted by @DomHarvey of The Edge Radio Station... ]

Internet Blackout is ON!.

The Australian Government has an intention to implement a mandatory content filter which has been very, very poorly thought out.

For info check out http://www.nocleanfeed.com/ but even Kiwis need to pay attention; this is a dangerous precedent!

So today - first day of LCA2010 - we were greeted by a lovely foggy day.

Uhoh, on behal of all those trying to fly in to a (closed) Wellington Airport!

This started last night affecting one of the Aussie-sourced inbounds shortly before midnight, who got to divert to Auckland (lucky them!)

Biggie Ups to Suzanne and Andrew Ruthven - the powers-that-be behind the Capital Cabal (i.e. the folks who set up LCA2010) who're at home sick today (oh the irony)! However, everyone here can see the fruit of their efforts (several comments on how well organised (relatively speaking) things are this year compared to previous LCA's).

The Miniconf's have begun, and the organisers are working behind the scenes to tidy up the last few kinks in the AV and other such spaces which often only reveal themselves 'live'.

A good morning had so far, with more to come.

Headsup to Professional Delegates; Check your 'Cube' for evidence of leaking batteries, it seems a few suffered from this. There are a few replacements to be had if you check at the Registration Desk, I understand, but quantities unknown!

Noted a couple of simultaneous subscriptions to NZLUG mailing lists this morning from different addresses @zeusmail.org - this immediately looked suspicious, and a Google confirms my fears.

A warning for those others dealing with mailing lists, forums and such; that's one domain with a baaaad rep.

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