FryUp: Minimum counterfeit performance guarantees

Counterfeiting surprise plus oversubbed DSL

ARG! Are the ARGs advertising? Games? Never mind, they’re clever. Can we have one for Auckland or NZ soon? This Is My Milwaukee Wiki with mucho detail on the ARG Alternate Reality Gaming Quickstart ARGnet MSFT feeling a little less blue Arr! There be poiraytes in them there Trade Me intarweb waters. Since last year, a “Blue Edition” of Microsoft’s Office suite has been floating around on Trade Me and elsewhere; described in places as “only accessible to technicians of [sic] Microsoft” and never needing a serial number to activate, the Blue Edition is counterfeited and what’s worse, it doesn’t appear to work so people were complaining about it. That seems to be how Microsoft got onto the counterfeiters here in Auckland, by following up on the complaints of disappointed customers. I’m surprised actually that there is any software for sale on Trade Me, given how risky trading in computer programmes is for everyone involved. How far does caveat emptor go if customers buy counterfeited software like the Blue Edition in good faith, thinking the programmes are pukka Redmond-ware? Trade Me features in counterfeit software case Microsoft Office 2007 Enterprise Blue Edition EN Order Online

A little less caveat emptor for broadband Oversubscription and congestion. Those two terms are instantly recognised by anyone on shared bandwidth Internet connections. That’s just about all of us, in actual fact. What it means is that those DSL connections advertised as “full speed” quote often go at only half tilt or less. It all depends on how many people are active on your ISP, and what they’re doing. You think you’re buying say a 2Mbit/s connection, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get that speed. This is called a “best effort”, a concept that runs counter to all current consumer protection legislation that aims to ensure you get what you pay for. The nature of the internet means guaranteed performance would be very difficult and expensive to achieve, and besides, ISPs’ business depends on buying bandwidth wholesale and then reselling it with x amount of customers contending for space on the pipes. Isn’t there a case for a minimum performance guarantee of some kind though? UK seems to think so. The OFCOM ombudsman there says roughly a quarter of customers do no get the speed they expect from their broadband connections. So there’s a gap between what people think they’re getting and what they get when they buy broadband connections, and the OFCOM has signed up just about all of UK’s ISPs to a voluntary scheme that aims to remedy that. The code of conduct for ISPs requires them to provide new customers with an accurate estimate of the maximum speed their lines support and also explain the various factors that can affect performance. That’s common sense really but I like the promise to downgrade customers’ deals if line speeds are much lower than originally estimated. Something like that would go a long way towards keeping customers happy here too. Perhaps the ComCom should look at the UK scheme? Net speed rules come into force XKCD Terminology


Robert X Cringely Biggest turkeys of 2008

What has feathers, can't fly, and likes to stick its neck out at precisely the wrong moment? Cringely cries fowl by naming the biggest tech turkeys of the year. Last year around this time I introduced the Gobblers, my awards for those individuals in the tech field whose behavior most closely resembles a bird whose sole purpose is to be served on a platter. It was such a big hit I decided to do it again this year. Thus I present the 2008 Gobblers for biggest turkeys of the year, along with the special evolutionary niche each one fills. Axl Rose: After 17 years and more than $13 million, the aging axman for dinosaur rock band Guns N' Roses emerged with a new album. But not before siccing the feds on one of his fans, Kevin Cogill, for streaming cuts from “Chinese Democracy” on his blog. The 27-year-old Cogill plead down to reduced charges and is looking at probation. As for the album, the New York Times called it “a shipwreck, capsized by pretensions and top-heavy production... overwhelmed by countless layers of studio diddling and a tone of curdled self-pity... like a loud last gasp from the reign of the indulged pop star.” Maybe Rose should be giving it away for free. Avian breed: Old Buzzard Eliot Spitzer. A dalliance with a US$3,000-an-hour hooker left the former Governor of New York bereft of his reputation, his job, and probably his marriage. Somehow Spitzer forgot that, in the Post-Monica world, there is no such thing as privacy or discretion – especially for someone with the roster of enemies Spitzer had. Avian breed: Cooked Goose Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. This month he signed into law an RIAA-sponsored bill that spends nearly US$10 million in taxpayer money to police college networks for illegal music sharing. At the same time, Tennessee is facing a budget shortfall of around $45 million and is laying off teachers. Nice. Avian breed: Dodo Bird Chinese Premier Jen Waibao. Sure, he's got his own Facebook posse, and that's cute. What isn't cute is everything else the Chinese government does: walling off big chunks of the Net from its citizens, imprisoning dissidents, hacking U.S. government computers, even cheating at the Beijing Olympics. About the only thing they've done right is ban sales of “Chinese Democracy.” Somewhere Mao is smiling. Avian breed: Vulture Jerry Yang. Not quite a year ago, the former Chief Yahoo turned down an offer from Microsoft to buy his company for $33 a share. Yahoo's current stock price? $9. Then he negotiated a revenue sharing ad deal with Google that was supposed to save the company, only to have Google step away when the Feds smelled an antitrust rat. Now he wants Microsoft to come back. (Their response? As if.) Personally, I've never been a fan of the MicroHoo concept, but few corporate leaders have bungled quite so badly. Avian breed: Turkey of the Year, or possibly just a Dead Duck. Here's hoping they all get stuffed.

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