I see the skies come out tonight — Laurel and Hardy and Iggy Pop: The Passenger
Scoop: Biddle Telecommunications launches And, the plans are fantastic, despite their self-deprecating names. For no reason at all, they remind me of this excerpt from a 1996 British Airways Memorandum: "The Landing Pilot is the Non-Handling Pilot until the decision altitude call, when the Handling Non-Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Non-Handling Landing Pilot, unless the latter calls go around, in which case the Handling Non-Landing Pilot continues handling and the Non-Handling Landing Pilot continues non-handling until the next call of land or go around as appropriate. In view of recent confusions over these rules, it was deemed necessary to restate them clearly." — Biddle Telecommunications launches fantastic new mobile plans
BIF biffed already? On November 6, Labour minister for communications and IT, David Cunliffe, announced that the Broadband Investment Fund or BIF, had been oversubscribed with 56 expressions of interest. Of these, 36 were successful. A week after, with the election over, the BIF has been suspended pending the formation of a new government. That doesn’t mean it’ll be canned, although the word on the street is that National will indeed do so, in favour of its own broadband plan. How many of the projects based on the 36 successful EOIs that will survive the unspecified suspension period remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: this is exactly the kind of dithering that we don’t need if we want to get ahead and accomplish at least part of our pretty basic broadband ambitions. Labour and National both get a D- for this, the former for being late and the latter for putting politics ahead of practicalities. Why is this so hard? Everyone agrees that we need faster network connections and that we need those now. There is no shortage of networks nationwide that could supply this, and there’s ample international and national capacity for our traffic. With determination, we could make this social issue go away completely. There needs to be some fresh thinking here, rather than Lucy-like bureaucrats drawing up overly complicated and slow plans, with Charlie Brown providers trying to kick the ball only to fall over each time. We could look at some fresher ideas, like what Tim Wu of Columbia Law School and Derek Slater of Google propose, namely that consumers own their internet connections. That is, the bit of fibre that runs into our houses belongs to us, and we then select providers as needed. It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds, and could help kick-start the broadband rollout. — BIF on hold — New America Foundation: Homes with tails
Bloggers save world from spam, financial ruin, and believe everything on the ‘Net
Much as everyone hates bloggers, they can sometimes be useful. Take Brian Krebs who writes the Security Fix at the WaPo for instance. He got on spam-hoster McColo’s case and what do you know? Four months later, the McColo’n spam sewer is stitched up tight by Global Crossing and Hurricane Electric, its connectivity providers.
That seems to have calmed down the typhoon of penis-extension solicitations somewhat, with monitoring organisations reporting that global spam volumes are down two-thirds.
Not for long though: watch out for an avalanche of odd emailed attachments and malicious websites trying to plant Trojan horses on our computers in order to build new botnets. This morning, I had an email from “American Airlines” claiming I had ordered a ticket and paid for it, with a ZIP’ed executable attached, masquerading as a Word document. Naughty.
The New Zealand Stock Exchange is rightly concerned about the state of the economy, and it is indeed something of a heavyweight player in that area. So, when CEO Weldon and New Zealand Institute financial guru David Skilling joined forces to write a report on how get the country out of dire financial straits, the blogosphere took notice.
So much so, that Weldon and Skilling felt compelled to substantially revise the original report. A quick squiz through the blogs indicate that “SwanBelly” Mk II is an improvement on its predecessor, but only within its rather narrow business focus. In order words, it’s not sufficiently broad, conceptually, to do what it says it will and indeed, you couldn’t expect businesspeople and economists to come up with such a thing.
Weldon and Skilling are, of course, silly to take bloggers seriously. These self-published internet pundits are the favourite targets of hoaxers everywhere, who know that silly stuff “Sarah Palin doesn’t know that Africa is a continent” will spread like wildfire. Not that mainstream media is any better.
Robert X. Cringely
Windows 7: it's not you, it's us. Really.
Are journalists to blame for Vista's failure to catch on? Will Windows 7 suffer a similar fate? Cringely tosses more gasoline on the OS fire. CNET blogger Don Reisinger has an interesting take on the biggest threat to the success of Windows 7: Journalists. His reason? "Regardless of whether you believe in the greatness of Steve Jobs or you choose to use only Velocity Micro machines out of your hatred for Apple, one thing remains: the vast majority of journalists use Macs to write their stories and have a deep-seeded [sic] love for Apple products." Unless Steve Jobs has been secretly planting pods in the offices of News.com, I think he really means "deep seated." But the bigger point is that he's got it completely back-asswards. Every journalist I've ever known uses Windows and/or Windows and a Mac. I don't know anyone who's never used Windows, even if they are now All Mac All The Time. So if anything, it's excessive familiarity with Windows that causes all that negative press. The cognitive dissonance between what Microsoft tells the world and what we deal with every day eventually bubbles up into any story, regardless how balanced we try to make it. (Not that I'm busting ligaments trying to be balanced here — this blog is mostly rumour and humour, not news and reviews.) On the other hand, Reisinger is right about Apple fanboys acting like teenage girls at a Jonas Brothers concert, tossing their undergarments on stage whenever Steve Jobs appears. But it's not like Microsoft ever does anything worth getting excited about. Apple changes every market it enters or it creates new ones. Microsoft enters existing markets and tries to dominate them — though it seems to be less and less successful at it. Jobs' "one more thing" is simply more compelling than Ballmer's bluster. Reisinger also notes: "Was Windows Vista an ideal operating system? Not a chance. But without the constant bashing on the part of major technology and business journalists, I doubt too many of those issues would have seeped into the public psyche. And if we believe Microsoft's internal research, most consumers didn't have the kind of trouble that's been highlighted so many times on pages across the web." As someone who gets a lot of reader mail (not all safe for publication) I can tell you average consumers and super-geeks alike have had plenty of problems with Vista. Not everyone, but enough to be noteworthy. It's not the journalists, dude, it's the OS. Will Windows 7 get a fair shake, regardless of what OS the reviewer uses every day? I think so. And so far, the early reviews are mixed. Computerworld's Preston Gralla isn't doing back flips over the new OS, but he gives it a solid thumbs-up: "Anyone looking for massive changes or some kind of paradigm shift will be disappointed. But those who want a better-working Vista with the kinks ironed out and some nifty new features introduced will be very pleased." Infoworld's Randall C Kennedy says not so fast, kemosabe. After testing a pre-beta version, Kennedy says: "Windows 7 appeared to suck memory like Vista, to consume CPU like Vista, and to have the same consumer focus....the more I dug into Windows 7, the more I saw an OS that looked and felt like a slightly tweaked version of Windows Vista." Is Gralla in the pocket of Redmond? Is Kennedy harbouring a secret crush on Steve Jobs? Hardly. They're just approaching the same OS with different expectations. Reviewers are human, after all, and so are the people using the products. Your mileage may vary. But ultimately, it's the quality of the product that drives its success, not the quality of the reviewer.