It's a bit rough when even the TUANZ website has a hangover today. The Telecommunication Users Association annual Innovation Awards were held last night in Auckland and a good time was had by all. I'd tell you who won what but unfortunately the website was feeling a bit poorly when I looked earlier. Follow the link below if you're keen - hopefully it'll be up and running by the time you get this.
Computerworld won the voted media award as best technology publication and Peter Griffin from the Herald won the judged award, telecommunications journalist of the year. Apart from that, the night was a blur. Paul Swain nearly won the best line of the night (he spent quite some time discussing the fart tax) but was pipped at the post by a chap from one of the schools who said he'd not heard of "unbundling the local loop" before and was it something to do with vasectomies? Even the celebrity MCs for the night, John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld, seemed to enjoy themselves, which is nice. They don't get out much.
I suggest you all rush out and sign up as members immediately so that next year when I enter the FryUp as best IT publication we can storm the podium and upset the apple cart. I'd pay good money to see that.
Congratulations to all this year's winners, whoever you are.
I've been thinking a lot about Microsoft this past week. It's not something I do typically - thankfully - but between the viruses and the security patches it's been on my mind. My advice: if you've got a head cold don't go on the telly.
I did patch my system, by the way. It took half the afternoon, about six reboots and a lot of sitting around staring. The first thing the auto update did was to install Outlook Express on my machine. I already have Lotus Notes and Outlook and really I can't see the point of having Express as well, but there was no option to not get it. In fact, I didn't even ask for it, but there it is, regardless.
After getting stuck into MS last week I was roundly taken to task about it not by the PR agencies or by MS itself but by a colleague who, I thought, would have been the last person to defend the software giant.
Apparently it's not Microsoft's fault that virus writers target its software. Other operating systems also have just as many flaws, just as many patches and just as many problems. The choices are simple: patch your machine, lobby Microsoft or change to another operating system.
It's all true, of course. MS is number one in just about every software category you care to name and that means it's the largest target. MS did release a patch and does have an automated patching process in place, which apparently may be made compulsory following the Blaster and Nachi viruses.
But at the same time, MS is number one and so should BE number one. Terry Pratchett does a good line in this in his books. The price you pay for being the best is that you be the best. You should expect more from yourself, you should demand more from yourself and you should deliver more.
Microsoft is number one in the industry. It has cash reserves that boggle the mind. It is constantly bringing out new products and constantly winning the commercial battle on whatever front you look. Whether you agree with its tactics or not, it's a behemoth and can't be ignored.
That's why I expect more from Microsoft. Issuing the odd security patch is fine and par for the course. Having more than one critical security patch a month is astonishing. Today I see there's a flaw in Internet Explorer that could potentially wreak havoc on users' machines. As Microsoft ties all its products into one giant bundle of interconnectivity a flaw like that could shut down your PC, your network or your company in a flash, and that's just not good enough.
The PC market is mature now - practically everyone who's going to get a PC has one. If Microsoft is going to remain number one it's going to have to ensure all those people who are now comfortable with owning a PC stay comfortable, and that's just not happening. Microsoft will start to shed customers to the competition once users realise there's a choice to be made unless it addresses these issues. PC ownership shouldn't be this hard. There are other options out there and between patches, viruses and licences Microsoft isn't doing itself any favours.
By the time you read this Telecom should have announced its new JetStream pricing schedule. It's due out this afternoon some time so check back to Computerworld Online later in the day.
It's been a long time coming, this review. JetStream has been around for four years and hasn't had a full refresh in all that time.
The question really is: how serious is Telecom about this re-positioning. It's about to get serious competition in some centres from the likes of Walker Wireless and it faces the vexing issue of unbundling the local loop. If Telecom is seen to be offering a competitive wholesale regime today that may take some of the emphasis off unbundling at the commissioner's office.
It's the wholesale side of JetStream that's always been the big issue for me. While the retail price is high - too high in most cases - the wholesale regime has seen ISPs reselling the service without any real desire to have it at all. None of the ISPs make much money on JetStream because of the way Telecom charges for bandwidth and the JetStream Starter package is the worst offender. Originally an uncapped service, the ISPs were forced to pay Telecom for bandwidth used by the customer even though they weren't passing that charge on to the end user.
If all Telecom does is shift price points and increase download limits, that will be a big step. But it won't be enough, I feel, to make a dent in the market. It would take a complete rethink of the pricing model itself to do that, but I'm not sure Telecom's about to go that far.
What can we expect this afternoon? I would say an increase in speed for JetStream Starter to 256Kbit/s for no extra cost would be the bare minimum (JSS runs at a woeful 128Kbit/s as I write). I would increase the traffic caps to around double their current levels for the same price, and drop the price of excess bandwidth use from 20 cents a megabyte to two cents. Perhaps we could see a differentiation between national and international traffic - national for free?
I'll let you know as soon as we find out.