Fast internet arrives — slowly

Well, better late than never, as they say. Telecom has finally brought its JetStream broadband service to Piha, where several years ago a TV ad was shot, showing a woman videoconferencing to Auckland while her partner paints her toenails.

Well, better late than never, as they say. Telecom has finally brought its JetStream broadband service to Piha, where several years ago a TV ad was shot, showing a woman videoconferencing to Auckland while her partner paints her toenails and hums a love song loudly enough to be heard over the link. And a strong link it must have been too, to support a teleconference. The only problem was that at the time, Piha was poorly off for internet and telephony services and a videoconference from the Auckland west coast community would have been impossible. Perhaps Telecom hadn't thought about Piha's absence of such services when the ad was presented to them by their agency. Now, according to Telecom, 77% of Piha residents can get JetStream. Get that toenail polish out lads!

More telco tardiness

Just to prove it’s an equal opportunity telco cop, the Commerce Commission has fined TelstraClear for misleading advertising. It’s questionable, though, whether Telecom will consider the rap over its rival’s knuckles as painful as having to unbundle the local loop. The telecomms commissioner, who inhabits the Commerce Commission office, was due to hand down his unbundling decision last week. Telecom has fought unbundling tooth and nail, which suggests it could seriously hit the corporate pocket. TelstraClear, meantime, pleaded guilty to breaching the Fair Trading Act by advertising its Chat 'n Surf promotion as offering 30 hours' free internet access per month to any customer spending $30 or more a month. Good deal, but 53,000 of TelstraClear's customers were ineligible. TelstraClear pointed that out, but only in small print and four seconds before the ad finished. In the commission's eyes, that was inadequate disclosure, unlikely to be seen by most viewers, and TelstraClear was fined $3000 — a little under six cents per affected customer, according to the E-tales calculator.

Another perler

Scan quickly: A stduy this mntoh syas we hnamus read mnaily the fsirt and lsat lrttees of each wrod. A ceevlr wee prel sirpct, called scrmable, ltes you tset the idea for yuesrolf. Cehck out the lneisce! http://www.jwz.org/hacks/scrmable.pl

Actually, we think that licence is exactly what a Perl licence should look like…

Duelling memos

Who’s the clever one then? Symantec, not Microsoft, was first off the mark with an email message on September 11 warning of the latest crop of critical flaws found in Windows. Or should we say Symantec’s PR outfit, Botica Butler Raudon Partners, beat August One, Microsoft’s present publicists to the punch -- by about three hours. BBRP used to be known as Botica Conroy, when it counted Microsoft as a client. Perhaps we’ll see Bot-Con (as it’s still fondly referred to in the Computerworld newsroom) pitching to get the account back.

Conspiracy theory

Four months after Oracle launched its hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft, animosity between the two is as high as ever. PeopleSoft even excluded Oracle from its Connect Conference, held in Anaheim, California earlier this month. Oracle PR man Jim Finn, at an online forum held by Oracle to address PeopleSoft customers' concerns, said of the exclusion "for those PeopleSoft customers joining us today that are running the Oracle database, we will unfortunately not be able to provide you with information on our latest technology products during the upcoming PeopleSoft conference". He extended a warm invitation to such PeopleSoft users to attend Oracle’s own OracleWorld conference, held upstate in San Francisco around the same time. We don't know how many PeopleSoft users took up the offer, but if they did, they would have had to exit the conference hall in San Francisco on September 10 when a bomb scare necessitated the evacuation of the facilities. So who caused the bomb scare? Overactive minds want to know.

Less lust at trade shows

Computerworld's US sister publication Network World published a column recently which shows that while the American spelling of words of French origin — such as "center" instead of "centre" — has benefits in terms of matching a word's spelling with its pronunciation, it can also have unfortunate consequences. The column, about how large trade shows aren’t what they used to be, appeared under the heading "Big trade shows have lost luster." That one would be better kept in the original French form of lustre, we think.

WWWhat's their new name?

Walker Wireless has changed its name to Woosh Wireless after launching its new broadband service earlier this month. The service uses wideband CDMA technology and offerings vary from the entry-level 250Kbit/s plan to services of over 1Mbit/s. Compared to dial-up, those speeds are wooshingly fast. The offering has been in the pipeline for some time, with extensive trials conducted over the past few months. We got thinking about the change in name that accompanied the launch, and couldn't help paraphrasing the old saying that you have to walk before you can run to “you have to walk before you can woosh”. However, with all the confusion a name change can cause in terms of changing business cards, signage and so on, Walker Wireless may woosh it'd kept the old name.

Perhaps, one of our staffers suggests, the new Woosh thought “Walker” sounded a bit, well, pedestrian. He was reminded of the Frenchman who told an English colleague that Continental life was not really as laid back as it seemed to those offshore. “But,” he conceded, “when you listen to a machine and it is making the right noise, you say ‘It is running’ — we say ‘Il marche’, it is walking.”

Misguided angels

The Recording Industry Association of America moved quickly this month when news broke that one of the 261 alleged file traders it sued was a 12-year-old. Not willing to back down and not wanting the story to drag out, the RIAA quickly announced the preteen trader’s mum had agreed to pay $US2000 and apologise.

A lobby group representing P2P software companies promptly stepped in to announce it would pay the fine. The RIAA gets its money from the strangest sources these days …

Spamdammit

The real issue with spam, as with so many other things, is PEBKAC — Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair. If there weren’t so many gullible idiots responding to spam and scams, there wouldn’t be so many greedy swindlers sending the stuff out.

Take the experience of software developer Steven Franks, who also runs the disturbingauctions.com website, listing some of the strangest items to be auctioned on eBay and its ilk. On his weblog, stevenf.com, Franks says traffic to the auction site started going through the roof when people started responding to a “free DVD” scam.

The scammer displayed Franks’ website in one frame, with another frame asking people to provide friends’ email addresses to send them the site details (with friends like those …). It’s a straightforward scam: get the email addresses, send everybody spam for eternity, and never ever send out a free DVD. Even after Franks put a warning in the website alerting visitors to the scam, still the links came.

“Here they all come,” he writes, “1 to 2 per second, all from different IPs. Honestly expecting free DVDs? It's easy to say, ‘Well, people in general are kind of gullible,’ but when you actually see it quantified like this, it's terrifying. If you want to know why spammers keep spamming, well, here it is, in raw numbers. People click on this crap. They click on it in droves.”

Edited by Mark Broatch.

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