- Christmas is around the corner
- Domain slammer Rafferty bust
- BitTorrent killed the Triple Play star
Christmas is around the corner
You’re asking me what I would like for Christmas? How kind. Well, time off doing nothing in particular would be nice, but failing that, some material things would work too.
I wouldn’t mind a Gigabyte GA-8N-SLI Quad Royal (love those Taiwanese product names!) motherboard. You see, it has not one nor two but four PCI Express 16X slots. It’s not much use on its own of course, the board, so those four PCI Express 16X slots each need to be filled with four NVIDIA 7800 GTX 512MB video cards. Again, that’s not the final piece of the equation, but eight 23” LCD panels would round things off rather nicely. Not sure which panel to go for, but it would be nice to get a screen with a below-16ms response time.
Just imagine how productive I would be with a 1,920-by-9,600 pixel desktop. Oh, and I would need a bigger desk to fit all the monitors onto. The Archimedes aluminium PC desk from Lian-Li in all its “Nodic light silver” and “Sparker black” glory looks too small however. Hmm. Any suggestions?
Domain slammer Rafferty bust
The pigeons have come home to roost of Chesley Rafferty, of Domain Names Australia/America infamy. Rafferty sent out countless letters which looked like invoices to domain name holders, telling them that their registration was about to expire and asked for hundreds of dollars to renew them.
Nobody knows exactly how much money Rafferty made from the scam, but some reckon it’s millions. The Commerce Commission alone stopped over $500,000 worth of credit card transactions going into a Swiss bank account in Rafferty and fellow slammer Bradley Norrish’s names. The pair also raided the Nominet whois database for .uk, and hit British domain name holders with a mass mailout from Internet Registry UK, asking them for £175 fees.
Whereas our Commerce Commission didn’t take legal action against Rafferty, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission did, and also the Australian Domain Administration, which manages the .au namespace. They went after Rafferty in 2002 and last year, the Australian Federal Court found Rafferty guilty of breaching the Trade Practices Act, and ordered him to pay costs to the ACCC and auDA.
Both the ACCC and auDA petioned for Paul Chesley Rafferty, 26, to be made bankrupt, but it seems he beat them to it and fell on his own sword instead. Norrish meanwhile seems to be busy still through his Internet Registrations Worldwide company that has registered around 2,000 .us domains. He is also involved in a premium-rate SMS scheme whereby people are lured into entering a competition to win a plasma TV if they sign up for a horoscope service at A$2.50 per message.
Incidentally, Rafferty is not a friend of the FryUp. It appears he took umbrage to us describing him as a “scammer”. He was “embarrassed” for the FryUp that we didn’t bother to find out any factual detail and he threatened to sue unless we printed a retraction, as those without leg to stand on sometimes do. Check out the FryUp below for our response. Ah, good times. Good times.
BitTorrent killed the Triple Play star
Telcos talk about “Triple Play” in the hope that they’ll be the ones supplying voice, network content via portals, and movies. Maybe there was an opportunity for say Telecom and Telstra to supply that five years ago, but now, Triple Play is already here courtesy of Voice over IP, Google – and BitTorrent.
For those who haven’t encountered BitTorrent yet, it’s a way to distribute large files over the internet in a cooperative fashion, with lots of networked computers sending and receiving parts of the data instead of requesting it from a central server.
Disc images of open source operating systems and movie files are two examples of content distributed over BitTorrent. These are very large files, often several gigabytes in size but with BitTorrent, you don’t have to build a high-capacity network with powerful servers to distribute them and anyone who downloads the content is also helping to share it with others.
BitTorrent has become something of a nightmare for ISPs however, as it kills their business model of reselling shared bandwidth. Customers with BitTorrent (and other peer-to-peer clients) tend to keep them active for hours on end, thus using large dollops of data – estimates are that between a third and two-fifths of internet traffic currently is generated by BitTorrent activity.
The decentralised nature of BitTorrent means it’s hard to control and limit the traffic as well. Telcos try to do this by supplying steeply asymmetrical broadband connections that run much faster in the downstream direction than the upstream one. Generally, the more you share upstream, the faster your BitTorrent downloads will go, so having a choked upload pipe like the 128kbit/s one for NZ ADSL slows things down.
Much content on BitTorrent is pirated, and people have been convicted for distributing copyrighted material over it. However, in what’s probably the first nail in the Telco Triple Play coffin, the US movie studios umbrella organisation Moving Picture Association of America (MPAA) have struck a deal with BitTorrent developer Bram Cohen to limit piracy on the network. Whether that’ll work or not isn’t so much the issue as the fact that Cohen and MPAA are on friendly terms and likely to carry on cooperating.
For the studios, a legal BitTorrent network is hugely attractive. They can reach hundreds of millions of customers having to negotiate distribution deals with anyone, or even build anything apart from a site to host small torrent files for DRM-protected paid content.
Furthermore, integrating syndication feeds (RSS) with BitTorrent keeping track of radio and TV content has been in the works for the past two years, so that you can automatically download your favourite programmes as they appear on the network.
So, no pay-per-view movie distribution for telcos, and most likely, no IPTV deals either. Voice is already a goner, leaving telcos with only one thing to sell to customers: fixed network connections which are expensive to deliver and maintain. Even that business could disappear soon, if high-speed wireless technology that doesn’t require line-of-sight with the access point comes true.
If you ever wondered why a certain telecommunications incumbent is increasingly reluctant to invest in its network instead of doling out annual dividends and reaping other short-term gains, wonder no more. Soon there’ll be no more business left for it.