ISP Snap lays down the gauntlet

, posted: 20-Apr-2012 22:18

We love data.  Like a fat kid at your local KFC, we'll eat as much as we can, for as little dollars as we can get away with.

Vodafone lead the charge in July last year with doubling their data allowances on fixed line broadband.  This month finally saw NZ's largest ISP play catch-up, with Telecom increasing most of their Total Home packages by 2-3 times. Not to be outdone, Orcon announced boosts to their Genius (their bundled naked DSL + VoIP offering) plan this week, with the biggest being 1TB for $199.

In the unlimited space, Maxnet launched the "exclusive nightclub" of the ISPs - there's a queue and break the rules and the bouncers throw you out.  Slingshot is doing the same, but operating more of a country pub that's over capacity with some unlucky punters leaving due to poor performance (surprise, surprise).

In my mind, Snap is leading the charge with the data add-ons announced on Wednesday - $70 used to buy an extra 100GB, now it buys a ridiculous 550GB (that's $0.13/GB).  One could argue that their base naked-DSL offering of $60 for a paltry 10GB is pathetic, but combined with their biggest data add-on, 560GB for $130 isn't too bad.  I'm not so sure if Snap are proud of this announcement as it's buried deep within their site, on their news page (one would thing they'd be singing it from the mountain tops).

I am curious as to what's triggered all these big jumps in data all around the same time - have all the ISPs renegotiated their contracts with the Southern Cross cable or just a big strange coincidence? 

Absent in all of this is TelstraClear, with their camp being strangely silent - they are either working on something massive, or have nothing planned (I am confident of the latter).

For those of us on a diet, and care about our online carbon footprint, there's always pay-as-you-use provider Xnet - $1.30/GB - 10x more expensive than the fatties on Snap but better for the waistline.

Toll road disaster - time for a new provider.

, posted: 5-Apr-2012 15:16

Yesterday's NZ Herald outlines how 1,000 email addresses have been leaked by the NZTA - the data is motorist's personal email addresses who have had their credit cards fail when paying for tolls.

Initially reading the article, one would blame the NZTA.  I blame their Swedish supplier.

This isn't the first blunder with the tolls; it's been plagued with issues from day one.

January 09 had the payment section of the site shut down while "internet security flaws" were quickly fixed up - that same month, the kiosks broke down on the weekend, with the call-centre shut at the same time. In March, $200k was refunded to 424 motorists who were overcharged 23 times each.  A week later, 2,000 motorists were overcharged by $45k.  At that same time, it was discovered that the system didn't support overseas credit cards.

Sound ridiculous? It sure is.

NZTA gently encourages motorists to use their online system, as if you use their kiosk you are stung with a $0.40 admin fee - use the phone, and it's even higher: $3.70.

This mistake by a staff member really is gross incompetence from their provider.  Why would you even suggest for them to send an email to everyone who is overdue? Why does the software not handle this internally? Any developer with any clue would advise you that using BCC is just asking for trouble.

NZTA: fire the Swedes and find a local company who actually knows what they're doing.

IMPORTANT: Urgent Geekzone changes

, posted: 1-Apr-2012 01:00

As a moderator here, who is also an application developer, I sit on the Design and Usability for Members Board for Geekzone.  It's within this role that I announce an emergency change that will affect all members.

It was announced in this week's news that Huawei was banned from Australia under concerns that they were spying for the Chinese government.  It wasn't until we reflected on our own technology here that we found some alarming trends.

It seems Microsoft is also doing the same for the American government.  After reviewing the IIS logs we were seeing all sorts of requests going to the States, and we've decided to be extra cautious.

Shortly, Geekzone will change to a version which is far more secure than currently offered.  The current Microsoft set of technologies will be replaced with a more robust and secure ColdFusion platform, with the database, which is currently SQL Server, being replaced for flat files.  XML was going to be used, but this is also insecure.  CSV is better but is not as secure as plain text.

At lunch time today, the chairperson of the Sensible Technology Used by People for IDentification here at Geekzone will outline other security changes here which include:

  1. Replacing all instances of the letter 'e' with the far more secure and much less appreciated letter 'q'.
  2. Allowing people to post a letter to Geekzone's PO Box which will be scanned and included in threads as replies.  This will help anyone concerned about electronic interception.
  3. Allow users to share logins to save on expensive usernames.  We'll begin grouping members into 50 or so collective logins from Monday.
  4. Dial up only access - broadband is fast but also vulnerable to attacks - the final big change is only allowing access to Geekzone from dialup as this is far more secure, because as soon as you are finished browsing the forums you can physically unplug your modem and store is safely away in your underwear draw.

If you wish to learn more about the Microsoft vulnerabilities, search their Knowledge Base, issue ID: Apr1-LF00-15

UPDATE: Happy April Fools everyone!

Why are artists now more successful in music?

, posted: 22-Mar-2012 12:44

Stuff has an article about how One Direction have made music history:

One Direction have made music history by becoming the first British group to top the US charts with their debut album.

The boyband - comprising of Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson - have been making waves in America with their first album Up All Night, which recently claimed the top spot on iTunes in the country.

One Direction have now seen their popularity rise and have made musical history with their Billboard chart success.

(One Direction came about from X-Factor 2010)

This news, which was announced yesterday in the States, reminds me of the blog post 12 extremely disappointing facts about music - it outlines what some of today's artists have achieved when compared to artists from the past.  My favourites include:

  • Ke$ha's "Tik-Tok" sold more copies than ANY Beatles single
  • Flo Rida's "Low" has sold 8 million copies - the same as The Beatles' "Hey Jude"
  • The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song
  • Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album
  • The cast of Glee has had more songs chart than the Beatles

Depressing huh?

Why is it so easy for artists today to break music records?  I think it comes down to two main points:

  • Ease of distribution - never before have we had the internet on more devices (smart phones, iPads for example) and we are able to easily view, listen, buy and download music in more places (iTunes, YouTube).  Add to this, all the reality TV shows (X-Factor, American Idol, America's Got Talent) which are all advertising platforms for the music labels, you can reach a wider audience, and get music to them quicker.
  • Music formulas - labels know what makes a successful song, and they are now applying it harder than ever.  Don't believe me? Ask yourself, why do popular songs last around 3.5 minutes, only consist of four chords, and have the same basic structure (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge/rap, chorus).  Ever notice how popular dance/dub step is now? The labels do, and that's why it's being included (for example, see Nicki Minaj's latest song, Starships).

My test for a "real" artist is someone who sounds live exactly as they do on their recordings - very hard to apply digital tweaking (think airbrushing in Photoshop) in a live environment.

(Had to admit it, but I'll still happily rock out to one of these crappy pop song.)

Look forward to your thoughts in the comments below.

60 seconds in social media

, posted: 27-Feb-2012 12:27

Is social media relevant? If it's current popularity as anything to gauge it by, then the answer is yes.

A recent article on VentureBeat gives some fascinating insight into how popular the different social media platforms are.  In a mere 60 seconds the following happens:

  • 2 million videos viewed on YouTube
  • 700,000 messages sent on Facebook
  • 175,000 tweets on Twitter
  • 7,610 searches on LinkedIn
  • 2,000 check-ins on Foursquare

As a business, if you aren't getting your name out there socially, you really are missing out on a very cost effective advertising platform.

nate's profile

New Zealand

I'm Nate Dunn, and I work for 3Bit, and am a moderator here at Geekzone.

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The views and opinions represented on this blog are personal and belong solely to the blogger and do not represent in anyway those of 3Bit Solutions Limited or any other company.

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