Lies, damned lies and nuances

After letting slip to Computerworld that three quarters of its broadband customers aren't using broadband, Telecom has now adopted the same policy the American government uses for nuclear ships - neither confirm nor deny.

After letting slip to Computerworld that three quarters of its broadband customers aren’t using broadband, Telecom has now adopted the same policy the American government uses for nuclear ships — neither confirm nor deny, to the frustration of other media. If the numbers were wrong we’re sure Telecom would have pointed that out to us by now, so we have to conclude instead that they're accurate and New Zealand is in dead last place on the OECD broadband uptake chart with only 13,000 Telecom residential broadband customers.

Telecom Xtra marketing director Chris Thompson told the New Zealand Herald that defining broadband was a matter of “nuances and words”. Telecom should know; by counting JetStream Starter subscribers as having broadband connections, while accepting they don’t have broadband service, the telco has shown it knows all about nuances and words.

Fatal crashes

You’ll be familiar with the car maker dig at the software industry that runs something like this: If cars were like computers, they’d crash two times a day for no reason; every time the lines were repainted on the road, you’d need to buy a new car; occasionally, executing a manoeuvre such as a right turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine, etc. We chuckle and say isn’t it a relief that, generally, our cars are better behaved than our PCs. But that could be about to change. IBM and BMW say they’re teaming up to “capitalise on [the] shift towards software and electronics-based vehicle innovation”. They estimate electronics and software will account for about 90% of all future car innovation and 40% of production costs by 2010. Ye gods – could be time to find another mode of transport.

Recalling the Segway

But perhaps the Segway isn’t quite the transport alternative we need just yet. The American invention that looks like a handmower and is controlled by leaning in the direction you want to move, has sent a few people flying (including George Bush, who apparently fell off when he forgot to switch his on). Six thousand Segways, which rely heavily on software to keep their balance, are being recalled after problems when operated with a low battery charge. At $10,000 a pop and with a top speed of 20km an hour, they were probably not about to make the car extinct anyway.


Dunedin software developer Ian Taylor is showing himself willing once again to put his body on the line for the telecommunications industry. Taylor, of Animation Research fame, a few years ago appeared shirtless in Telecom-sponsored spreads in business mag Unlimited. In the October issue of the same mag he appears in a Vodafone ad. This time his shirt’s on.

Don't say, even when everyone knows

Hush, hush — don't reveal the client's name. That’s standard practice in recruitment advertising and in most cases there is good reason for it. However, we struggle to understand why the secrecy in an ad placed by EDS on The ad reads “a communications contractor is required by EDS NZ to work on transition communications with a large New Zealand company with whom EDS is in IT outsourcing contract negotiations”. The ad was placed on September 26, a week after Fonterra issued a press statement announcing that EDS was the chosen candidate to continue outsourcing negotiations. We wonder how many people in the IT community would be unaware that the “large New Zealand company” in question is Fonterra.

Welcome to the real world

If the plot of The Matrix sounds at all plausible, it might be wise to give the fanboy flick The Fanimatrix a miss. If you thought you were caught in the Matrix now, a viewing of Fanimatrix will convince you that the cyber-Orwellian dreamworld is set right here in Godzone.

That’s because it’s shot entirely in NZ. Cast in that familiar green Matrix hue, Fanimatrix features the warehouses, alleyways, carparks and office blocks of Auckland. The 16-minute flick was shot on a Sony videocam and edited on a desktop PC, but the end result belies the $1000 budget. Fanimatrix has earned rave reviews on websites and newsgroups.

Far from a cheap knock-off, the film pays homage to the original Matrix flicks through its level of detail and observation. The makers describe it as “a fan-made, zero-budget short film set within the Matrix universe”. Fanimatrix can be downloaded here.

Web-quote of the week


Spam more comprehensible for monolingual Aussies

Planned Australian anti-spam law will attempt, by way of bilateral agreements, to get other countries' nationals to abide by a principle forbidding unsolicited commercial email from being sent to Australia. The bill proposes exempting senders who could not reasonably be supposed to have known that their message would end up in Aussie.

This sounds like a big incentive for Australians to stick to local domains rather than big-noting it in .com, net, .biz, and .info.

If New Zealand adopts a similar scheme, though, we should feel sorry for the poor geeks. A lot of people will know that the ground-breaking domain includes a large number of non-NZers, so spammers will be able to invoke the above excuse, and the geeks will get more spam than the rest of us.

On the other hand, if this country doesn't make a move, we could see a growing number of Kiwis getting .au domains to frighten the spammers off.

The first bilateral agreement, Aussie officials say, is likely to be with South Korea. That should at least remove some of the less readable junk.

Aren't we glad lawyers think of these... things?

From the Aussie spam bill, one of those nice legal definitions that seems obvious to the point of silliness, but we've no doubt in a legal sense it is essential to say it, in order to plug some gap foreseen by a devious lawyerly mind:

“Extended meaning of use

Unless the contrary intention appears, a reference in this Act to the use of a thing is a reference to the use of the thing either:

(a) in isolation; or

(b) in conjunction with one or more other things.”

Sometimes, though, we'd like a bit more explanation

At the other extreme, there's this rather truncated effort, from a prominent software maker.

"Depending on the speed of your connection, installation of these updates may take a minute."

Or 10 seconds? Or most of the morning? It'd be nice to know which end of the speed range that estimate lies.

Gee, thanks

"You asked a question last week, and I've just turned it up again at the bottom of my pile" — parliamentarian's press officer to one of our staffers.

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