— Mean Greenie — Format War Flare Up — The Great SMS Rip-Off Mean Greenie What's badly spelt, ill-informed and hawked in various electorates around our nation? Sue Kedgley's statement "intrusive telecommunications equipment" being installed on "power poles" of course. I never had Kedgley down as a die-hard NIMBY, but she really seems to be one. Concerned about the aesthetic effects of telco equipment on power poles, Kedgley doesn't stop there. Not content with the NIMBY angle, Kedgley resorts to scare tactics about the "potentially significant health risks" of "untested technologies". Please. There's a huge amount of research into electro-magnetic radiation, most of it readily available to the public. What's wrong with reading at least some of this? The money shot in Kedgley's missive to voters isn't the NIMBY-ism or concern about their health. No, it seems to be about money: “There is no obligation under the proposed national standard for the companies to pay rentals for the usage of power poles, which in many cases are owned by state-owned enterprises." Right, so as long as the telcos stump up, it's OK to stick the gear up the power poles? Where should they send the Czech then? Perhaps a suggestion on how else to do deploy said telco equipment would've been in order, especially from the allegedly tech-savvy greenies. How very disappointing. — Greens seek to stop telco rollout on power poles Format War Flare Up No, not the HD stuff. This is the Open Office eXtended Mark-up Language or OOXML versus the present International Standards Organisation document format, Open Document Format or ODF. Microsoft lost the vote at ISO last year, but the Redmondians ain't giving up. A second vote is coming up in March, and opponents are girdling their loins in preparation. I'd be surprised if the vote swung in Microsoft's favour this time, but less so if the flames that poured in last time when I wrote about the OOXML voting controversy don't arrive after this Fry Up goes out. — Format war erupts again as international vote nears — ISO votes to reject Microsoft's OOXML as standard — GNOME Foundation defends OOXML involvement The Great SMS Rip-Off It is heartening to see that Vodafone's phone charges are going down when the cost of just about everything else is going up. While some may say that the publicity around this is just a sop to the Commerce Commission, to stave off regulation, you would have to be churlish to not to give Vodafone a nod for reducing costs instead of jacking them up, being a duopoly operator together with Telecom. That said, you have to wonder why it's taken so long for charges to drop and also, how much less they'd be if we had more competition in the mobile phone market. Those are imponderables, but I am as always struck by how expensive the Short Messaging Service or SMS text messages are. FryUp has already looked at how expensive per byte SMS is, but it's nice to see others have struck on the same thought. GThing's calculations on how much it would cost to send data across SMS are mind-boggling in their own right, but the quote in the post is even more interesting: namely, it doesn't actually cost mobile providers anything to transmit SMS texts. Instead of 10, 20, 30 or 50 cents, mobile providers could still make a massive profit with prices a tenth of the current ones. As it is, however, SMS is a gold mine for providers so without effective regulation that introduces competition, prices ain't gonna move. ALso, it does make you wonder how high the profit margins are for voice ... — GThing: The True Cost of SMS Messages XKCD
Cartoon from www.xkcd.com Robert X. Cringely
Happy birthday Vista?
It hardly seems possible, but it was one year ago that Microsoft foisted Windows Vista onto a wary world. (OK — OEMs and enterprises had Vista foisted on them in November 2006, but January was the "big launch" for most of us). But instead of the "Wow Starts Now," January 30, 2007, was more like the "When Started Then": When will drivers be available for legacy hardware? When will compatible software show up? When is Microsoft planning to release SP1 to fix all the things it got wrong? When will PC makers stop selling XP machines, and can I buy some now before it's too late? Not surprisingly, Redmond is taking the occasion to mark Vista's success. For example, Microsoft gives itself high marks for Vista security. Of course, it's grading on a curve compared to XP's first year. "The highest quality, most secure Windows operating system ever" (per Sir Ballmer of Redmond) had only 30 major security flaws patched (with another 36 waiting to be fixed), or about half as many as XP did in its first year. That's a little like saying I may be fat, but that other guy is fatter, so that makes me thin. (Now pass the cream puffs.) Over at the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Todd Bishop quotes Neil Charney, a Windows general manager spouting the usual Microsoft line: "We're really pleased at what we're seeing....We know that it's an ongoing effort to make sure that our customers are happy and satisfied and enjoying that experience." What Charney probably meant was that users are enjoying an eXPerience. If Vista did anything in the last year, it was to boost XP's sagging reputation. Microsoft reports that it sold 100 million Vista licenses in 2007, which means that roughly 4 out of 10 new machines shipped with Vista on them. By comparison, nearly 70 percent of PCs shipped with XP in its first year. According to NetApplications, about 11% of installed machines use Vista, compared to 75 percent running XP [PDF]. So far, some 70,000 Windows sufferers have signed InfoWorld's Save XP petition to keep support for the aging OS going after its scheduled June 30 pull date. Microsoft has finally figured out what it takes to earn respect for one of its operating systems: release a new one that sucks harder than the last. Perhaps the real birthday we should celebrate is Oct. 25, 2001 — the date of XP's initial release. By the time Windows 7 appears (in 2009, 2010, or 2011, depending on which source you believe), it's possible we may be offering a "Save Vista" petition. But at this point it seems rather doubtful. Happy birthday, Vista. Try not to set yourself on fire as you blow out the candle.