FryUp: Tweeting Pollies

Tweeting up, stepping down and plucky Paula

NZ politicians invade Twitter

Oh no oh no… first, they discovered blogging and now they’re spreading to Twitter like a bleeding cancer. Microblogging suits them just great. Means they can just churn out messages without any thought or insight. The fake ones are quite funny though.

Resignations, we’ve had a few

Seems Steve Browning voted with his feet, and left for the simpler shores of Hybrid TV, the TiVo company, rather than remaining at Freeview and attempting to live with the TVNZ and SkyTV deal. And who can blame him? TVNZ seems to be inextricably linked to SkyTV, looking at the rather recent history of the two. Fighting that linkage is probably an exercise in futility. The chairman of Freeview, Mediaworks’ Rick Friesen, assures me that Browning leaving isn’t the beginning of the digital broadcaster falling apart. The TiVo box is planned to carry all the Freeview signals, Friesen says, and thus it’ll be just another device to receive them. I’d hope so, because Freeview despite the hugely marked up set-top boxes – they should be $99 at the most – is good stuff, and it’s somehow reassuring to have a free-to-air broadcaster. Interestingly enough, the TVNZ HD channels won’t be free-to-air as such over SkyTV. They’ll be encrypted. I hear that Sky offers cheapo deals for those who cancel the subscriptions due to money being tight. There’s your new TV licence then. Oh well. We watch too much TV as it is. This week also saw the ousting of the Deputy State Services Commissioner and government CIO, Laurence Millar. That does seem rather a shame, because Millar spoke a great deal of sense during his tenure managing the government IT. Openness, adherence to standards, delivering government services to people the way they use other things on the internet, and trusting the citizenry: those were all great concepts that Millar saw and tried to squeeze into the bureaucratic machine. That said, Millar probably had no option but to walk the plank over a design and planning contract for the Government Shared Network that was costed at $200,000 originally, but which grew to $700,000. The consultancy awarded the contract, Voco, ended up earning more than $8 million in five years. With that sort of spending, the GSN should’ve been great and good. Instead, it got shut down in February, after being declared “financially unsustainable”. Steve Browning: Sky’s stranglehold cuts viewer choices How Freeview, TiVo, Browning and Telecom fit together NZ government CIO resigns after Voco report

Plucky Paula postpones Patterson?

There is a rumour flying around that certain large companies were fed up with Commerce Commission’s Paula Rebstock for being too active, and basically decided to work towards getting rid of her. Some of the large telcos here were asked to join in on the campaign, but refused apparently. It’ll be interesting to see if the telcos think their decision was wise, now that Rebstock has been asked to remain on board, to complete a bunch of telecommunications determinations. There are mobile termination rates to be worked through, ditto the TSO rubbish, sub-local loop unbundling, and what to do with the Next Generation Network. A scurrilous informer tells us that Rebstock was in fact asked to stay on to keep the Telco Commissioner, Dr Patterson, on leave for a bit longer. Surely not? What this perhaps points to is the usual, rather small pool of people involved in all the key decision-making in this country. Not the pool available though. Rebstock returns at ComCom Patterson stands down with “alcohol-related” illness

XKCD Lithium batteries


Robert X Cringely Conficker worm ends life as we know it; film at 11

Yes the Worm of the Century has struck — and our lives will never be the same. Right? As you probably know by now, the Conficker worm is rampaging through computer networks like a debutante through daddy's liquor cabinet. Scheduled to wreak havoc on April 1, it has proven true to its timetable. The Washington Post's Brian Krebs reports that Conficker has broken London's Big Ben, restored Iceland's bankrupt economy, and nearly caused a nuclear missile launch in Alaska. As CBS's 60 Minutes news show calmly noted a few days ago: The internet is infected. Malicious computer hackers have been creating more and more weapons that they plant on the internet. They call their weapons viruses and worms — they're creepy, crawly toxic software that contaminate our computers without our ever knowing it. You can be infected by simply visiting your favourite website, or just by leaving your computer on, overnight while you're asleep. But that's only the beginning. Reports are streaming in across the net of the damage inflicted by the most virulent worm attack since MyDoom. At Microsoft, the Conficker worm chewed through all of its RAID drives, wiping out some 80TB of data related to the company's next-generation operating system, Windows 8 (Codename: Manatee). Total damage inflicted is estimated to be in the thousands of dollars. When a prankster yelled "Conficker!" into a room full of Yahoo engineers on the company's Sunnyvale campus, a near riot ensued as employees rushed to call their brokers and short their company's stock. (Wait, sorry, they were doing that already. My bad.) Preparations for the worm apparently interrupted Google's plans to assume the national debt and take over distributing funds for the federal bailout. There are even rumours that the worm infected former vice president Dick Cheney's cybernetic brain implants, causing ... no damage whatsoever. This can only mean one thing: Happy April Fools. In fact, Conficker is probably the biggest April Fools Day joke of the year. So far, reports of the Net's death from Confickeritis have been slightly exaggerated.The whole Conficker build-up reminds me of that scene in Austin Powers where Mike Myers runs over the security guard with a steamroller. It takes a while. Anyone without enough sense to get out of the way probably deserves to be flattened.

More likely the "it's hitting on April 1" is a misdirection — a pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain kind of deal. Because these days no self-respecting worm author would actually tell you when his baby was planning to strike. They've moved well beyond the ego phase of malware development. Just show me the money, honey. So while the "Conficker Cabal" is busy cooking up defenses, the real action is happening elsewhere. But where, exactly? If I knew I might be there too, scooping up some of the proceeds. Hey, this journalism gig barely keeps me in dog food, let alone securing my retirement. A man's gotta watch out for number one.

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Tags Commerce CommissiontvnzFryUpsteve browningpaula rebstockTivo freeview

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