Getting Puffy with it
Throwing a Pirate Party
One of the problems facing fair copyright advocates is that they don’t have the political clout of the entertainment industry that employs lobbyists, and in some countries, the judges that convict alleged file-sharers. This looks set to change, in Sweden at least. Well, there won’t be Pirate Bay judges but there may be Euro Pirate Bay MPs if the polls in Sweden are anything go by. Apparently, in three weeks’ time, the Pirate Party has swelled its membership to 44,000, making it the third largest political party in Sweden. And, the Pirate Party could get a seat in the European Parliament in the coming elections if its youngish supports can be bothered to vote. It’ll be interesting to see if this happens, and if it does, whether or not the Pirate Party can make itself heard in the European Parliament. — Swedish ‘Pirate Party’ could win seat in election — Pirate Bay judge denies ‘conflict of interest’
From the telco trenches
Now that the dust’s settling after the High Noon, I mean High Court action between Vodafone and Telecom, there seems to be some confusion as to who won. This confusion replaces the earlier one, which had people like yours truly scratching heads over why a relatively straightforward engineering problem had to be resolved in court. Stepping back, the whole thing looks like a very expensive game of chicken. Telecom knew the XT network created interference for other providers since November last year. It even went as far as installing filters so as not to disrupt NZ Communications’ network. Vodafone claims it noticed the interference issue in January this year, and asked Telecom to remedy it. This does seem to be the case, as a letter dated April 9 from the Ministry of Economic Development addressed to CEO Paul Reynolds speaks of the Radio Spectrum Management unit looking into interference issues between Telecom’s XT network and the GSM ones of Vodafone and NZ Communications. For whatever reason, the MED only investigated the interference between Telecom and NZ Communications’ Management Rights (MRs) in co-located sites in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. According to the April 9 letter, it doesn’t appear that the MED investigated interference between Telecom and Vodafone’s MR in a similar manner, however. A statement by Wayne Wedderspoon of the MED from May 4, the Monday after Vodafone went to court, says, “Last week MED received notice from Vodafone NZ Ltd that its GSM cellular network as also being disrupted. The matters raised by Vodafone raise [sic] a new dimension to the problem, and MED is monitoring the situation and making further measurements.” Speaking to Vodafone CEO Russell Stanners and CTO Ken Tunnicliffe earlier this week, both say Telecom didn’t remedy the interference problem, hence the High Court action. Looking at the April 9 MED letter, it clearly states that while Telecom’s WCDMA transmitters meet the emission limits specified under the spectrum licenses that the telco’s MRs were granted, interference from the XT network could lead to affected rightholders seeking an injunction under the Radiocommunications Act. With that advice in hand, and solid evidence and admission from Telecom that XT is creating interference on 900MHz GSM networks, Vodafone must’ve felt as if it had won the Lotto. Not only could Vodafone blame current network issues on Telecom interference, but this was also a golden chance to put Reynolds’ goolies in a vice over the delivery date of XT. The technical competence of Telecom and its network contractors could also be called into question, Vodafone didn’t miss that opportunity, and deftly cornered Telecom with the High Court action, being armed with affidavits galore and QCs. Telecom probably would’ve liked to fight the injunction; especially if it isn’t entirely clear to what degree the XT interference disrupts Vodafone’s network service. With the XT launch date being so close though, Telecom didn’t have that option. As it is, Telecom had to fold and has agreed to filter its 850MHz network. Apparently, it will pay for the cost of remedying the current problems with any future expenses related to network expansion being shared with Vodafone. The cost of the filters, labour to install them, and loss of revenue as the network is down adds further salt to Telecom’s wounds. The two week delay while the filters are being installed is a humiliating climb-down for Telecom, which will hold the XT launch party on May 13 as planned but without a live network to show off. This suits Vodafone, but will annoy the general public. With all that was at stake, it’s really quite difficult to understand why Telecom walked into the High Court on Wednesday this week, instead of quickly coming to a deal with Vodafone on the interference issue. Vodafone on the other hand took a gamble that its action would be seen as justified, and that that would mean no or little PR fallout from taking Telecom to court. That didn’t quite work out, because Telecom was able to pick up some public sympathy thanks to the case being quite convoluted with all the technical detail. Also, once the filtering is in place, Vodafone will have a great deal of pressure on it to make sure its network operates as glitch-free as possible. There’s no interference excuse anymore, especially for Vodafone’s 2100MHz 3G service. In other words, nobody won. Not Telecom, not Vodafone, and not the consumers looking forward to something new. Actually, what am I talking about? The lawyers won big time, as per usual. Reynolds and CFO Houlden didn’t cop any difficult questions about the court action at the analyst briefing in Sydney this morning, so that should be that for the interference issue. Oh, and NZ Communications will reveal the brand it will trade under on Monday, and apparently an August launch date too — Vodafone discontinues action, XT launch delayed — Telcos slug it out in High Court — Vodafone seeks ‘to shut down competition’ — Telecom knew of XT interference-Vodafone — Vodafone says interference is beyond its control — Lance Wiggs: The XT Network debacle: winners and losers
Robert X Cringely Apple + Twitter = my a**
Rumors can spread like tumors on the Web. Mostly they've been benign, but malignant ones may soon be on their way I love a good rumour as much as the next guy. But the notion of Apple buying Twitter for $700 million (or any price) isn't a good rumour. It isn't even a good April Fools' joke. And if by some apocalyptic event this deal actually transpires, I will eat my fedora with a heaping bowl of salsa picante. The original source of this silliness appears to be Owen Thomas of Valleywag, aka the Perez Hilton of high tech, who cites "a source who's plugged into the Valley's deal scene and has been recruited by Apple for a senior position." Translation: He's unemployed and probably drinking his breakfast. And that "senior position" at Apple? It's actually a position at a retirement home, distributing apples to seniors. You know how bad those cell calls can get. Owen, I love ya babe. You are the Yoda of snark. But Seymour Hersh you are not. If Valleywag had the story, though, TechCrunch certainly couldn't leave it alone. So Captain Crunch himself pens a short note both spreading the rumour and pooh-poohing it at the same time, while offering up this classic: "We would have passed on reporting this rumour at all, but other press is now picking it up." Translation: We don't believe this story is true (and we'll believe practically anything). But we'd never let our ethical standards get in the way of a juicy story, especially when somebody else is beating us to it. That's all it took for the rest of the blogo-newso-twitto-sphere to pick up on it, adding their own special seasonings to the mix. By the time the story got to Wired, the guy had already been hired: "...a senior employee at Apple told gossip blog Valleywag....". Congrats, whoever you are. And by the way, if Saint Steve discovers your fondness for chatting up Valleywag, your career in Cupertino will be shorter than the life span of a mayfly. Welcome to the wonderful world of unfiltered web reporting. Accuracy? Feh. Finding sources who actually know what they're talking about — or even multiple ones? Get real. It's all about speed. And if you can't be the first to leap on a dubious story and report it, you'd better be the first to debunk the story, come up with a tasty portmanteau that captures it in a single word like "Twapple" or "Tweetintosh," or even rebunk the story, talking about how the notion isn't as utterly preposterous as it originally sounded. (Or you can do what I'm doing and complain about how the digital media has blown the story out of proportion. Whatever works.) What's wrong with this picture? Just about everything. The Net has always been a festering source of bad information. The utterly sensible Harry McCracken picks out 12 other Apple rumours from the many that have swirled across the Interwebs over the past few years. But is it just me, or has it gotten much worse lately? Take thousands of blogs written by untrained reporters, add pressure to publish 24/7, toss in a decreasing pool of professional journalists who feel compelled to keep up with the amateurs, and shake vigorously until nauseated. What you get is a recipe for spreading deliberate disinformation on a wide scale. An Apple-Twitter acquisition rumour is just a bit of silliness that will disappear when something juicier comes along. Next time it could be something a lot worse. It's easy to imagine cybercrooks or agents from foreign governments using the web to manipulate vast segments of the population. It wouldn't take much. One juicy rumour would be enough. Maybe it's time to take a deep breath and reexamine our need to have news fed to us from a firehose 24/7. Meanwhile, some folks out there need to have their rumormongering licenses suspended, if not revoked.