FryUp: Spam Scam: Barrel o'monkeys: Stop the pain

Top Stories: - Wham bam no thank you spam scam - Roll out the (broadband) barrel - SciTech at the Webbys

Top Stories:

- Wham bam no thank you spam scam

- Roll out the (broadband) barrel

- SciTech at the Webbys

- Wham bam no thank you spam scam

You have no idea the fight I've had to get that headline accepted. Honestly, the forces of darkness and mediocrity abound in the editing world. Remind me to tell you the joke about how many subeditors it takes to screw in a lightbulb.

Spam is of course a nasty word. It clogs up the arteries of the internet like so much cholesterol and creates no end of unpleasantness. When you add a touch of larceny about the spam, you've got yourselves a bona fide scam and that's exactly what seems to be going on here.

Two different Australian companies have been spamming domain name holders warning them that they don't own the .com equivalent of their existing domain name. For a small fee, usually many times what you could expect to pay for a domain name, they will register it for you, assuming it's still available. If it's not, watch out--you'll be hit with an administration fee.

This is spam (unsolicited email), which is banned under the rules set up by Domainz, which runs the .nz name space. In the case of one of the two companies, Internet Name Group (ING), faxes it is sending also possibly breach the Fair Trading Act because they look remarkably like invoices.

ING was first off the starter's block a few months ago when it sent out thousands of letters to domain name holders. Domainz suspended its ability to register names in the .nz space because that breached its terms and conditions. ING grumbled a bit, threatened to sue Aardvark's Bruce Simpson for writing nasty things about it and then went back to Australia. ING director Mark Spektor (no, really) claimed it was a legitimate marketing tool and wasn't in the least bit repentant. He also claimed it was quite okay to trawl the Domainz whois database - the online point of access for the register so you can check whether a name has been registered or not – despite that also being a breach of Domainz rules.

Consequently, ING popped up again under a different name and upset even more people by doing the same thing via another domain name provider's automated service. The Commerce Commission has warned against doing business with the company and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has successfully taken the company to court, demanding that it stop sending out fake invoices.

That doesn't seem to have deterred Spektor or ING. A fake invoice we've seen sent to one New Zealand organisation said it had asked ING to register .com equivalent domain names. The organisation concerned says it never did. All this for a fee of $125 when you could do the same thing yourself through Pdom, for example, for $US14 for a year's registration.

The other outfit having fun at the end user's expense is Internet Registry. Also Australian (both companies are based in Melbourne--what is it about that place?), Internet Registry has had its New Zealand website shut down by Domainz although the emails are still getting through. They have a huge warning at the top in big red letters and talk about ongoing confusion between .com and, which is nonsense. The Commerce Commission has been talking to Domainz and the ACCC over this company's activities as well.

If you do get an email from either of these companies I would suggest you ignore it or, if you're concerned, talk to whoever sorted out your original domain name for you. You can lay a complaint with the Commerce Commission (about anything at all, not just this) by calling 0800 943 600 and I'd recommend you do that as it can't act unless it has someone on file with a problem.

Thanks to Bruce at Aardvark for sending me the latest faxed version of ING's scheme.

ING switches to fax spam - IDGNet

Commission talks with Aussie counterpart over registration spam - IDGNet

Commerce Commission tackles domain name registrar - IDGNet

ING strikes again - IDGNet

Aardvark's website

- Roll out the (broadband) barrel

If you work in central Auckland or Wellington or better still if you live in the right suburb of Wellington you get to have your pick of broadband providers. For the rest of us it's less than impressive - it's either Telecom's DSL or Ihug's wireless or forget it.

Fortunately with the latest budget round the government has signalled its intention to correct that. Now there are five regional trials under way (there were six: South Waikato pulled out for some reason) and although it's early days yet for all except the Otago project the signs are good that broadband will be delivered beyond the fibre loop of the CBDs.

I wonder if we won't end up with a curious situation where the country's main CBDs are catered for with fibre and the regions and rural sectors are using wireless and those in the middle (suburbs dwellers) are left to their own devices. Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

The budget's promise of money for regional broadband development is good, don't get me wrong, but what about the home user? When will we see competition and some reduction in pricing for this kind of service? Without broadband in the home you can roll out any barrel you like but you won't have any customers to use your shiny new B2C services (remember B2C? Vaguely, I bet).

Still, it is good to see all parties agreeing finally that yes, it's a good idea and no, it's not impossible because of the electric fences.

Cautious enthusiasm for regional broadband plan - IDGNet

Ring of fibre lighting up around mountain - NZ Herald

Attention to broadband gets welcome nod - Stuff

- SciTech at the Webbys

If they don't win for best website they certainly should win for hardest fought marketing campaign. Honestly, not a day goes by when we don't get an email from SciTech telling us about how excited it is to be nominated and how much it would really like to win.

It's so sweet.

For those who haven't received the emails, faxes, balloons, letters and courier packs, SciTech is the sister site to Arts and Letters Daily (also in the awards, also needing your vote as it's currently beating out the BBC in the news section) and is run out of Christchurch. It's a finalist in the science and technology category and if we all vote it might actually fend off NASA's page (boo hiss).

So for crying out loud won't you all go and sign up at the Webbys (link below) and vote for them so we can all get some rest? Please? If not for yourselves then for me?

Webby Awards - This is the registration page

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