- CMANZ - what's the point?
- CMANZ - what's the point?
Well that's interesting. CMANZ, the Computer Manufacturers Association, has decided to stop offering its warranty assurance scheme for PCs built in New Zealand.
CMANZ was set up in 1999 after a string of local assemblers fell over, leaving warranties uncovered and customers out in the cold. Colin Brown, founder of The PC Company, was the founding chair and for some time the organisation wasn't needed by customers for anything more than peace of mind.
However, in September last year Brown's company itself fell over and the fund was called on to honour warranties for the first time.
That seems to have cost quite a bit - CMANZ has decided it can't offer the service any longer. Declining membership - there are now about six members - means there just isn't the backing should something go awry.
Customers with PCs bought before April 1 are still covered but PCs sold from today onward won't have the CMANZ sticker, so aren't covered.
Which really leaves PC users in New Zealand with a quandary: to buy locally made or not. It also begs the question: what will CMANZ do now?
CMANZ's present chair, Peter Shirley, tells me the body will become an industry association that is more a place where local assemblers can meet to discuss issues. Fair enough, but what about the warranty assurance scheme which was, I always thought, a good idea? Won't its demise just discourage New Zealanders from buying locally assembled machines?
Of course, the really big question is what happens if another CMANZ member company goes to the wall before next April? Will the fund cope with another pay out? What will happen if it doesn't?
Ah the joys of spam. Spam spam spam I am. I'm happy with spam these days because we've got a spam filter at work that knocks most of it out for me. That's fun. I thought it would be a chore, tweaking the settings, but I get an insane amount of pleasure knowing I'm making it harder on the little twerps to send me their rubbish.
However, spam has its serious side as well. Take UBD, for example. UBD produces a business directory which is invaluable. You can look up company names, what they do, where they're based, what their phone number is, what their web address is and, not surprisingly, what their email address is.
Yeah, you can see where this is going, right? UBD used to put together a CD with email addresses in and sell it to companies looking for new prospects. UBD sold between 6000 and 10,000 of these puppies before someone twigged that it was a bad thing to do. The CD contract contained a clause that said "thou shalt not spam", but oddly, spammers are disinclined to read the fine print when they're given thousands of email addresses.
UBD says it's done nothing wrong, really, except not ensuring its customers don't send spam to the list. The Direct Marketing Association (of which UBD is a member) says differently and may well give UBD the hard word. UBD's already stopped selling the CDs and won't be doing it again. That's probably a good thing when you think about it.
Ah Google. Fancy launching a flash new service on April 1. Or did it? As the FryUp goes to press half the world's media seems hell bent on pointing out that Gmail isn't an April Fool's Joke while the other half cleans up after itself by hiding its stories.
Still, it's interesting if it is true. Gmail is a free online email service, similar to Hotmail but with a truckload more space. Instead of the paltry 5MB or so that most web-mail services offer, this is a whopping 1GB of searchable space. The idea being you'll use Gmail as a searchable archive of your email correspondence, and it's all free.
The whole Microsoft-Google dance is proving to be entertaining as the two circle each other. Microsoft has declared war by saying it'll build searching in to its next operating system, so this is Google's counter-strike. It pays never to underestimate Microsoft when it sets its sights on a market; but fortunately, in this case I don't think Google's going to be caught being complacent. It's launched a raft of services of late including the useful shopping site Froogle (great name) as well as the news service, which is invaluable.
Users of the news service who aren't opposed to a bit of Flash animation might like to check out Newsmap below - it's a graphical representation of the news feed that displays stories in a colour-coded, larger-means-more-important fashion that is seriously cool. It looks like one of those computer screens you see on movies that never appears in the real world. Best of all, it's useful.