Regional broadband gets underway
In the week that Telecom tells us if farmers want broadband they'll have to pay lots more the government has announced its regional broadband initiative and Clear Communications has announced an upgrade to its network to better service Whangarei, Nelson and Whakatane.
The government's plan is simple and cheap - $300,000 to six community-based pilot schemes to encourage the development of broadband initiatives. The money isn't for buying hardware or infrastructure, but to buy the services of a facilitator who will encourage local businesses and the community to work together with the telcos on the matter.
This is a good thing - the central business districts of our major cities are becoming choked with fibre optic cable and you can practically cut the air with a knife it's so thick with wireless transmissions these days. But step outside the city centre and you rapidly step back in time to dial up ("the horror, the horror").
The problem is, of course, that the short-term money is to be made from business rather than home users, so none of the major carriers are really all that fussed about providing broadband for the home. Only Telecom and Ihug have high-speed national offerings but cost and quality of service issues mean most home users won't bother. Clear has a DSL offering as part of its Tempest package that could compete with Telecom's JetStream service, but it's only available to businesses. TelstraSaturn is happily rolling out its fibre optic service but even it agrees it makes its money from business not consumer users.
That's why this programme is important. If we can get more users demanding broadband beyond the city limits we can have a more economic base for our telcos to work from - then we can demand broadband in our homes.
Govt shows broadband hand at last - IDGNet
One community's answer to the problem. By comparison, JetStream runs up to 4 Mbit/s on a good day with a tail wind.
Microsoft round up - Pockets, Viruses and being certifiable
Microsoft has had a busy week of it as well. First out of the traps came the news that Microsoft thinks viruses are a bad idea and that it will beef up its security efforts and (get this) start shipping some products with all the security switched on, leaving it up to the systems administrators to switch off what they don't want.
All I can say is, well, unprintable. But well done Microsoft. Welcome to the 21st Century.
On top of that, Microsoft also released the latest version of its PocketPC operating system, PocketPC 2002.
Those of you with long memories will recall Microsoft's first attempts at tackling the handheld market - Windows CE. Abbreviated, rather amusingly I thought, to WinCE, the operating system resolutely failed to shift Palm's market dominance. Some would say it even helped by showing the world what a good job Palm was doing.
Things have changed quite a bit since then. Palm got complacent and is currently trying to decide whether it's a hardware company or a software company. Its market share is now down to around 80% and its offerings haven't changed that much all year. More memory, colour screens but nothing revolutionary.
That's been left to Handspring, a company that licenses the Palm OS, and Compaq with its PocketPC based iPaq range. Both of these platforms boast expandability with sleeves or expansion ports that add things like GPS locators, cellphones and the like. Need an MP3 player? Buy a handheld. Need a digital camera? Buy a handheld. Need a locator beacon, cellphone, map of the world, restaurant guide, drug chart, sales automation package or game console? Buy a handheld.
Microsoft is now touting PocketPC as the perfect platform for communication for the corporate player on the move. With wireless cards, cellphone sleeves and so on, PocketPC powered devices keep the user as part of the corporate network where before they were an outsider tapping on the window. If Palm doesn't get its act together soon, and by soon I mean three months ago, it will fall by the wayside and five years from now we'll be remembering the good old days.
Microsoft has also been forced to make a U-turn on its decision to stop accreditation for MCSE (Microsoft Certified Software Engineer) holders who hadn't taken the exams for Windows 2000.
In an effort to push more and more system administrators onto the Windows 2000 platform, Microsoft had said any engineer with only MCSE to Windows NT4 standard would no longer be certified. This meant a number of companies would lose their "Gold Partner" status. MCSE holders were given until the end of December this year to sit the exams or lose their certification.
Many IT managers have resisted the push and instead decided to continue with NT4-based networks. Without upgrading to W2K or to Windows XP they saw no need to upgrade their skill sets and finally Microsoft has caved in. Holders of MCSE based on NT4 get to keep their certification until the OS
is no longer present in the market. They can take the exam for the new OS as and when they want.
Don't even mention the Department of Justice - Microsoft has been knocked back in its attempt to get the Supreme Court to throw out the entire case and start again.
Supreme Court rejects Microsoft's appeal - NZ Herald
And don't read this Microsoft story unless you have a stiff drink in your hand.
MS security glitch allowed access to customer records on web - The Register