FryUp: Overbuild to route around damage

Telco incumbents should feel a bit silly for killing the goose that's been laying them their golden eggs

Cure for wintertime blues

Microsoft Songsmith + Tumblr + Matt&Karl from CactusLabs + The Cure + Everyone = Totally Brilliant. Overbuild to route around damage

The telco incumbents on both sides of the Tasman should feel a bit silly for killing the goose that’s been laying them their golden eggs, namely the copper PSTN. Both Telecom here and Telstra in Australia have fought tooth and nail to retain their monopolies over the last mile connections to premises, because they’re the sort of sweated assets that give management consultants all manners of unpleasant daydreams. As a short-term profit maximiser, behaving like that is probably wise for the telcos. How clever is it to cling onto the monopoly in the medium and long term though? Business strategies don’t make for vision, which is what society and politicians want. If you keep on refusing to supply the products and services the nation requires, and the best you can offer is a slow piecemeal approach that ultimately satisfies no one and leaves the country as a backwater, well... you’ll be overbuilt and routed around. And, left out of the game altogether: with the pressure on politicians and regulators to stimulate the economy, the telcos shouldn’t expect taxpayer money to be spent on accommodating them and their interests in endless meetings and discussions. Repeating the turgid regulatory process of the past, looking for industry-led solutions, would be a mistake that won’t deliver the infrastructure that should’ve been in place already. Now would be a good time for Telecom and Telstra to show some cooperative spirit and provide vision, ideas and more. We know they can put the technology in place; that’s never been the problem. Saying no constantly to customers already unhappy with what’s available is the issue instead, and we’re not seeing any real effort to fix that. The result of that will see the telcos lose their monopoly on the last mile for good, and very likely mean they’ll be marginal players in the FTTP infrastructure that’s now being proposed. They’ve only got themselves to blame for that. - Aussie spends $43 billion to establish National Broadband Network

Have your packets ready for inspection

A few years ago, I wrote about how Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) was used by telcos to deteriorate Voice over IP quality, in order to protect PSTN voice revenues. VoIP is cheap and generally, good, but not if massive amounts of jitter (delay between packets) and packet loss is introduced artificially – the human ear and brain is very sensitive to such real-time quality variations which don’t matter in the slightest for most other data applications. That’s just one application for DPI though. Ostentatiously termed a “network management tool” DPI raises a huge amount of issues, ranging from privacy to security and of course, net neutrality. You could find that the site you’re visiting is either unavailable, or you’re directed elsewhere, depending on if your ISP has done a deal with the provider. Some large ISPs have made noises about squeezing Google and other content providers for money, if they want to reach their customers eye-balls and ears. DPI could do that. Other uses for DPI includes inserting advertising into your traffic, and monitoring your Internet habits. What sites do you visit, who do you send emails to and what about – who are your instant messaging contacts? What are you telling them? With all the above, I was pleased to see that the Canadian Privacy Commissioner has decided to educate internet users on what DPI is. We should prod – and help – our Te Mana Matapono Matatapu into action on DPI as well. - Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada: Deep Packet Inspection – A collection of essays from industry experts

Xero the ketchup bottle

It took a while, but patience and persistence appears to have paid off for Xero. The web accounting software outfit is in other words starting to do rather nicely, a vindication of Rod Drury’s Software as a Service vision. Round of applause, please. - Xero zooms on back of three triumphs - Xero vs MYOB – A comparison

XKCD Security question


Robert X. Cringely

A Wolverine in Fox's clothing

The internet is a bad, baaaad thing. It turns otherwise normal people into criminals. And if you don't use it correctly it can get you fired. Erstwhile Fox News movie reviewer Roger Friedman found out this out the hard way when he reviewed a pirated copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine — and found himself X'd out of a writing gig.

But before I get into the juicy details, a series of disclaimers.

* I would rather gargle with live bait than read anything on That's just how I roll.

* I am not sitting in front of my PC wearing Hugh Jackman face fuzz and Wolverine claws, eagerly consuming every morsel of news about yet another in a seemingly endless series of X-Men movies (though I do admit to occasionally dressing up like Emma Frost, just for fun).

* Until a few moments ago I had never heard of Roger Friedman. (Is he related to Roger Ebert? Or maybe Roger Ramjet?)

* I rarely use my BitTorrent powers, and then only for the good of mankind.

* And yet, this topic has a certain lingering aftertaste I can't seem to shake.

Fox isn't talking about why Friedman got the boot. But it seems pretty clear he got axed not only for reviewing a movie that was otherwise unavailable to the law-abiding non-BitTorrent-using public, but also for having the temerity to suggest that downloading and watching pirated movies won't make your face go hairy, cause stainless steel claws to sprout from your knuckles, or turn you into an Obamanista (this is Fox News, after all).

The money quote: "It took really less than seconds to start playing it all right onto my computer."

For shame, Roger Friedman, for shame. You just revealed what only 20 (or maybe 200) million non-mutants already know. Now all the kids will be doing it.

Was it poor judgement on Friedman's part? Obviously. But I have an idea why he did it. I think he was trying to keep up. He was getting his a** kicked by amateur online reviewers and wanted to at least try to keep some skin in the game. Because the web rewards speed and reach above everything else — accuracy, quality, even legality. And — I can speak from firsthand knowledge here — it's changing the journalism trade in particular, not generally for the better.

He's also an easy target, and Hollywood loves to pick on easy targets. The real culprits here are the employees and/or contractors of 20th Century Fox who leaked the pirated movie in the first place. It's odd we don't hear a lot about what the studios are doing to solve that problem.

Hollywood spends millions trying to create online buzz for a movie to boost the first weekend box office. There's no cheaper or more effective way than to leak stuff online and let the fans do the heavy lifting (unless, of course, the movie totally blows). The end result: 20th Century Fox rakes in oodles of free publicity in front of the audience most likely to respond: Net mutants, who'll watch it online and then come back and see it on the big screen, over and over (unless, of course, the movie totally blows).

So it's a win-win for everybody, as long as you're not named Roger Friedman.

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