Killer Katrina, Freeth rules Smales Farm

This week was marred by hurricane Katrina devastating much of southern United States. The disaster wrought by the storm appears to have caught the US authorities unawares, according to reports which describe the situation in New Orleans as chaotic with looting, raping and desperate people even shooting at emergency workers.

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- Killer Katrina

- Freeth rules Smales Farm

Killer Katrina

This week was marred by hurricane Katrina devastating much of southern United States. The disaster wrought by the storm appears to have caught the US authorities unawares, according to reports which describe the situation in New Orleans as chaotic with looting, raping and desperate people even shooting at emergency workers.

In the middle of all this human despair, it seems perhaps a bit strange that computers and networks are a priority for rescue operators, instead of food and putting up physical structures. It isn’t really that odd however, and only shows how mature IT is and the extent to which we depend on it. I’m curious if the Civil Defence here is thinking along the same lines, actually.

- 'Desperate SOS' for New Orleans

- US Red Cross looks to IT for post-Katrina recovery

The floggings will continue…

It’s been a while since Alan Freeth was anointed to replace Rosemary Howard as the head of TelstraClear. So what wondrous and remarkable things has Doc Freeth been up to? Sorted out the Depeering Disaster? Come up with a broadband alternative for long-suffering Telecom customers? Won lots and lots of new business? If he has, we haven’t been told here at the FryUp HQ.

I do hear, however, that Freeth’s rule at Smales Farm has started with a degree of, shall we say, micro-management. Newsletter transmitted diktats are raining hard and fast upon staff, setting out a dress code, clear desk policy (no, no, not CLEAR desk policy) and a firm request not to use email.

TelstraClear staff ware already scratching their heads as to how the above would help push New Zealand’s second telco into profitability, but were left reeling when another Freeth-o-gram arrived in their inboxes. This time around, it seems TelstraClear has monitored staff internet usage, and the higher ups don’t like the sites employees are looking at.

The sternly worded newsletter states that TelstraClear provides internet access as a work tool and that the monitoring has detected the excessive use of a number of websites that are, gasp unrelated to business activities.

If that wasn’t enough, the newsletter warns that heavy internet surfing of certain sites increases the risk of TelstraClear being hit by virus attacks. Not only that, however, but the heavy internet surfing also causes “down-loading of large volumes of data onto TelstraClear disks” which is limiting the telco’s storage capacity.

TelstraClear will block access to them for employees from now on. So what were the sites that raised TelstraClear’s hackles? The most evil MSN Messenger one and that scourge of productivity, Trade Me. Biggie.co.nz is also off limits for TCL staff from today.

Interestingly enough, three Xtra sites are on the banned list, including Xtramail. It appears that the reason TelstraClear employees use Xtramail is because “Paradise webmail is crap” which makes it less than attractive for staff.

Should TelstraClear staff attempt to circumvent the ban on visiting the above sites by manually changing their PC settings, it will, the newsletter says, be treated as a breach of company policy. Wonder what the punishment will be? To clear the cow pats off the management parking spaces?

However, Freeth recognises that staff needs some carrot and not just the stick. Employees are welcome to use the wonderful tool that is the internet at home, and TelstraClear has even increased the staff subsidy for that purpose. I’m sure that’ll boost morale no end.

Mathew Bolland, TelstraClear’s spokesman for prickly subjects, says it’s not out of the ordinary for a company to require its staff to actually do some work during working hours. If they’re surfing TradeMe or checking their personal email then they’re not likely to be helping customers or the business itself.

InternetNZ brings it to the masses

OK, insert “mass debate” jokes here.

Then add in a line or two about being able to tell when politicians are lying.

That should do nicely.

InternetNZ, with assistance from the Waikato Linux Users Group, The Telecommunications Users Association, the University of Auckland, the Computer Society, CityLink, R2, BusinessNZ, NBR and some trade press gutter rag called Computerworld, not to mention Scoop and countless others, put on an online election forum where speakers from Labour, National and the Green parties were quizzed by a panel of experts (OK, two journos) with added questions from the assembled masses.

Best of all, the masses weren’t actually forced to make the arduous journey to Auckland to partake – IRC Chat and a venue in Wellington meant nobody actually had to meet the candidates or the journalists. Cunning that.

A good time was had by all, some revelations were made about past behaviour and future intentions were made clear for all to see.

- InternetNZ’s archive of the debate

- InternetNZ IT ministers' debate breaks new ground – Computerworld

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