Voyager's journey; yet more virii news

Voyager journeys into the sunset; The attached file is a virus; New FryUp system under way

Voyager journeys into the sunset

It's an unsettling time to be a consumer. The major telcos don't want us, and now it seems the smaller ISPs are eager to give us the boot.

Following hot on the heels of Asia Online's liquidation and subsequent absorption by ISP collector Dresden Equities, Voyager has announced it will pull the plug on its residential users to focus on its true calling - the business market.

Personally, I blame the helpdesks. All those people ringing up whining about not being able to configure their own POP3 settings and asking annoying questions about proxy servers and viruses and passwords. Really it must have become all too much for so many ISP help staff and this is the result.

You see, businesses do two things: they tend to pay lots for services and they tend not to need as much support as consumer users. Why? Because they hire their own staff to do the job for them. I whine at the tech boys here rather than picking up the phone to wait on hold to whine to Asia Online or Voyager or any other helpdesk.

I guess in these times of harsh economic necessity it's better to have fewer high-value customers rather than thousands of low-value ones cluttering up the place, getting underfoot and generally making a nuisance of themselves. The worry is, of course, that the ISPs are giving away customers that are evolving and will at some point in the future become high-value broadband users, and that they'll cut their own throats in the process.

How many ISPs does a country the size of New Zealand need? Take a look in the back of any issue of iMag to see just how many we have -- I was surprised to see such a long list and have to wonder if there won't be more closures, lay offs, mergers and take overs before the day is done.

Unfortunately, most ISPs that are serious about making money are serious about the business sector and the business sector alone. Business confidence is down, business spending is lower than it was last year and we're entering a world-wide recessionary period that won't help. But consumer spending is up, the market is maturing quite quickly and if there's one word on the consumer user's wish list this Christmas it's "broadband". So why aren't we seeing more ISPs target this area rather than fleeing for the hills? I wish I knew.

Voyager dumps consumer customers, lays off staff - IDGNet

Corporate customers the 'winners' in Voyager changes - IDGNet

Musical chairs for ISP customers - IDGNet

The attached file is a virus

I wasn't going to tell you but I know how to avoid getting viruses. I was going to keep it to myself because if it catches on it will put a lot of people out of business not least of whom will be the anti-virus folk and frankly I know some and they're good people who should be employed.

But in the interests of the greater good I thought I would share it with you. It's simple to implement, can be completely free if done correctly and will mean you never get infected with a virus ever again.

It goes like this -- if you get an attachment don't open it. Ever. Never ever. Don't. Bad. Stop it. Send a return email to the sender and ask for the email to be sent back to you in plain text.

Of course, if the attachment is a file you've requested, you're probably safe to open it. Any and every other attachment should be deleted without reading.

Are you listening PR people? Good. No attachments will be opened unless they're spreadsheets or movie files or something non-text based, and I know about them in advance. The rest go in the trash.

To be doubly sure you won't get nailed with next week's foolishly-named virus, dump Outlook Express, or better still, keep it on but fill your address book and in box with the email addresses of people who've sent you attachments! That way when you get infected, THEY get infected.

Instead, install a non-Microsoft email package. I say this not to bash Microsoft because oddly enough I don't hold it responsible for viruses being written, but because variety in email software lessens the impact of any viral attack.

At the moment the vast majority of users have Microsoft's Outlook as their email client, making it very easy for a virus writing scumbag to target a large number of people. If we fragment the market with Eudora, Notes, GroupWise, Pegasus and so on, then it becomes harder to nail us all in one fell swoop.

It won't stop the plonkers writing the viruses in the first place but it will help lessen the destruction and I can get on with writing about something useful instead. Frankly, I've had enough of virus stories. It's the same thing each time - surge in traffic causes congestion; users complain about lack of protection; vendors describe virus as "worst since breakfast"; corporation X announces it was hit but not severely; mainstream media goes berserk trying to get the word "porn" into headline; writer falls asleep at keyboard.

Oh, and to the PR firm that sent out a lovely attachment (PDF I think) with a disclaimer about viruses at the bottom it's your responsibility to sort out viruses before you send an attachment, not mine. I can't tell you what the release was about because I deleted the damned thing unopened.

Goner worm spreads, tries to delete firewalls - IDGNet

'Goner' worm hits PCs, attacks anti-virus software - NZ Herald

'Goner' computer worm not a goner yet - NZ Herald

New FryUp system under way

I've left in the copy I carefully wrote on Friday about how the new system is in place and you shouldn't notice any changes. Oh the irony.

As you've probably noticed, today is Monday, not Friday, so we're a tad late. Eventually we'll come to realise the media is to blame. If you're still experiencing problems relating to the email drop us a line at the address listed below, and fingers crossed for next Friday -- the last of the year.

Hopefully you won't notice but the FryUp has been brought to you today by the letters S and T and the number 10. S for sweat, T for tears and I can't think of an explanation for the number, okay? It's late in the year and tempers are frayed here at FryUp HQ.

The new FryUp system will strip out those ugly, horrible, long URLs that don't wrap properly and make it difficult for you to follow the links and replace them with strange but short looking fellows. Click away to your heart's content because they will take you through to a real story (they simply re-route your call through a modem in Uzbekistan, thus cranking up toll calls for our lords and masters, hehehehe).

The best thing about the system is that we will be able to send you HTML newsletters that look funky as can be and have actually been designed. That's right, simply typing in Arial 12 and emailing it out is just not good enough for you lot. No expense has been spared (throw the cat another goldfish, as my father always says) and we may even spring for Times New Roman or perhaps Wingdings. Waddaya say? We'll set all that in motion next year. I'll keep you posted.

So hopefully you'll have seen the last of the horrible and obscure formatting errors that have plagued us these last few weeks and all will be well and dandy and rosy. If you do have any problems reading this or any subsequent FryUp let us know at:

info@idg.tx.co.nz

Of course, if you can't read this, you won't be able to read that, so just forget I said anything.

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