antoniosk: Hard and Fast and FastenD-Link OMNA 180 HD CAM and Apple Homekit Kit! Good Kit!Wed, 18 Jul 2018 07:42:00 PDT<p>Home automation, the integrated house, control at your fingertips. In any modern house, you will find a plethora of ‘things’ that can be turned on and off, adjusted, set to a timer or other setting, or even to simulate a pattern. The first and second generation families of these concepts – from early 80’s kit to modern 00’s stuff – worked standalone, detached from any sort of computer network, with it’s own unique way of working, instruction set and operational syntax. </p> <p>Modern Family had a great take on this, with the family Dunphy struggling with Phil’s desire for swish kit, culminating in the TV being almost inaccessible without it’s own <a href="">Modern Family Remote Control</a>.</p> <p>Amazon, Google, Apple, and a range of smaller players have all been working on the Home Automation concept for some years, trying to build a framework and ecosystem for manufacturers to hook into and use, in an effort to sell more stuff. If you’re in the USA, the range and integration is becoming wide, but in the rest of the world development is still…. fragmented. In recent years, the concept of the universal control panel that users can tap away at on a screen is evolving into a voice-driven interface, with the big 3 all offering or developing voice gateways. Amazon Alexa leads in the voice control space, while Apple is only starting to approach using SIRI to offer something even remotely competitive by promising to open up their voice service with the launch of iOS12 in September this year.</p><p>It’s fair to say Apple has lagged way behind in the area of Home Automation, taking a very long time to even enter the market. It was first made available in iOS8 – 2014 – but struggled with adoption by vendors for several years, and only really started to hit it’s stride with iOS11 in 2017. The framework – a specification of how to connect, communicate, offer controls to users, move between profiles devices in a family and so on – has slowly grown in capability, and promised (as Apple always does) to simplify the use of gadgets with a common control set, in the background security, and their famous ‘it just works’ style of design.</p><p>For some part anyway. Indeed as of writing (8 hours ago), Apple appears to have dropped support for the current range of electronic doorbell/cams, notably the Ring range, which is a shame:</p><p><a href=""><img width="244" height="142" title="doorbell-category-missing" style="margin-right: auto; margin-left: auto; float: none; display: block; background-image: none;" alt="doorbell-category-missing" src="" border="0"></a></p><p>Last year, I was given the change to use and play with the D-Link OMNA 180, a homekit compatible security camera that promised to make things easy for the end user…. mainly because of my affinity for Apple kit (D-Link added Android support in September).</p><p>Homekit can operate standalone from your mobile, and connects to your kit when it’s on your local network. The OMNA connects to your home wifi network, and setup is via the OMNA app which also deposits it into your HOME app profile.</p><p><a href=""><img width="115" height="244" title="homekit" align="left" style="float: left; display: inline; background-image: none;" alt="homekit" src="" border="0"></a><a href=""><img width="115" height="244" title="detection" align="left" style="float: left; display: inline; background-image: none;" alt="detection" src="" border="0"></a>Within Apple’s Home app, you can get a live feed of what camera can see – it has a fish-eye lens that works really well with adequate light (ie Dawn to dusk is pretty good), and can save short 30-second clips to a micro-SD card (720p @ 15fps). Motion detection triggers recording, and it’s it possible to set a retrigger delay of up to 5 mins. A 4x4 grid allows you to fine-tune the trigger points in the camera’s view. You can also turn the LED off so the camera is not that visible at night, and night vision sends infrafred illumination to better record in dark, although I found this mode to be very hit and miss (supposedly up to 5m impact range). The device gets hot in continuous operation, with the top of the unit (the case is metal) acting as passive heat transfer. </p><p>The unit survived being in the window in the Wellington 2017/18 heatwave, so I’m quite impressed.</p><p><br></p><h1>Homekit</h1><p>Ok, so the reason for being – integration with Apple’s framework. Manually checking settings while you’re in the house is one thing, the real flexibility is when you are out of the house and want to stay in touch with ‘the house’. </p><p>For this, you need a hub of some sort that can act both as gateway and gatekeeper – and in Apples case, the device called in to service is a 4th and 5th generation Apple TV (or, an iPad capable of running iOS11). Using Apple TV is clever – it’s another device sale for Apple, but it’s also a unit that can do other things than just acting as a gateway consuming internet and power. Key for enabling this chain to ‘just work’ together is using the same iCloud account to register… two-factor authentication must also be enabled, which is good security practise but can also be a bit of work to activate and get going. </p><p>Once this is setup, you are able to use the Apple Home app to log in to the device… which allows for live view, live listen and if you’re that way wired, live voice (imagine being able to yell down the phone and have it broadcast via the Camera’s internal speaker). The microphone is very sensitive, and the speaker has punch for such a small device.</p><p>I can confirm I’ve been able to access the device while out of the house from a range of locations, so this aspect definetly works.</p><p>Of course, one person accessing a device is one thing, but what about the more common scenario of a family? This is where the wider framework slots in with Apple’s “Family Sharing” structure… up to 6 iCloud identities can be part of a Family structure (one family group, not multiple). If the members are part of your family, then it’s possible to invite them to access the Home group. It works very well, but is definetly a very Apple way of doing things.</p><h1>In the clouds</h1><p>In September, as part of adding Android support, D-Link added the ability to use an email address to connect to the device and via it ‘from the cloud’ if youre out and about… which kinda renders the above Homekit approach a little moot but also smells big time of the old ‘lash and dash’ approach to service. Registering an email address as the sole connection point and tunnelling back up the connection to provide Homekit-like function sounds like a classic poor security example of what many such devices used in the last few years. In that time we’ve seen large scale mass hacks, credentials stolen, peoples machines pwned… the list goes on.</p><p>Of course there is no discussion on the d-link website about android security, or the overall security of the above approach. It definetly works, but I have no confidence at all that my home network is safe at all, and above all that is the most critical piece all the big boys are chasing – CONFIDENCE. “TRUST US” say the facebooks and amazons of this world, and the simple point is I certainly don’t.</p><h1>Summary</h1><p>So… Homekit and the camera. The OMNA180 is an interesting first start, but I would not have paid $395 for it when it first came out (it’s now down to $249, and I still wouldn’t buy it). Homekit looks promising, especially once Siri is better integrated and opened to the developer community, but from here it’s Apple’s ability to court manufacturers in the way Amazon has with Alexa to build skill or instruction sets for their kit to use. I like the concept of smart technology that uses the WIFI network to hook everything together back to one point that also can do other useful things… less boxes, less powerplugs and less cabling all round.</p><p>But above all, what I look for is the confidence that whoever is selling me their vision appears to be genuinely looking out for the security of my home, my network and me. That means TRUST &amp; CONFIDENCE… which only Apple is at least pointing in the right direction.</p><p>AK</p><p>July 2018</p>Television, (re)enhanced: the Samsung QLED range Kit! Good Kit!Sat, 22 Apr 2017 01:11:00 PDT<span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Television. Been around since the 1930&rsquo;s, with an evolution that has been interesting and non stop. It wasn&rsquo;t that long ago we had a Philips K9 TV in the house (no remote &ndash; that was an extra $600 in 1984), and in recent years we&rsquo;ve had the rapid shift towards flat panels and high definition viewing, supported by the content industry. And yet the concept is still remarkably similar: a screen 1 or more gather around for knowledge, entertainment and disconnection with reality. I often wonder if &lsquo;TV&rsquo; will actually become more a personal viewing exercise, with viewers opting for a tablet or similar and the comfort of their own environment, rather than the shared experience of many people watching (and the inevitable commentary&hellip;. &ldquo;what is this cr*p&rdquo;?)</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">I had the privilege of being introduced to Samsung&rsquo;s new QLED range of Televisions a few days ago. These are due in the NZ market in May 2017 and continue the evolution of LED-LCD display technology, with colours and pictures that are strong, vibrant, bright and a joy to view. The current technology buzz in the TV display world is OLED, which is an early lifecycle technology that emits light (to assemble a display pictures) in a different fashion to the more mainstream LCD TV's.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">While it&rsquo;s fascinating to see the evolution of technology and the promises these improvements bring, I tend to focus on how these compare to the here and now. Television is a well penetrated product into most people&rsquo;s lives, and you&rsquo;ll find one in most homes and places of work around NZ and the world, and they continue to function day in and out without too much fuss. The switch from the older tube technology to Plasma and subsequently LCD came with the usual hallmarks of new methods; the old technology had better colours, was more fluid and better saturation (so pictures looked more natural and so on), while manufacturing quality of early technology often meant the lifespan of a TV was adjusted from 25 years down to 10, and even 5 for some types until common sense (and sales trends) kicked in.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">In the range below, the Samsung panels are an evolution of LED technology and not OLED. While that&rsquo;s interesting, how these panels perform and what they offer is more valuable than what's under the metal/plastic.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Declaration: I have 3 Samsung TV&rsquo;s, acquired between 2007-10. A 27&rdquo; that had it&rsquo;s screen die 1 day before the end of the warranty (on boxing day no less), but which Noel Leeming had repaired and is still going strong 10 years later (disappointingly, when you see so many flash new models these days). A 37&rdquo; with a bezel (the plastic edging around the screen) that has cracked from several house moves), and a little 22&rdquo; doing duty in the bedroom. All the TV's operate fine, and for me (and I expect a great many people) they will only be replaced when they stop working&hellip; meaning the market for Samsung&rsquo;s new models as always is somebody seeking a replacement for various reasons. The highpoint of features and functions for me is equipment that&rsquo;s 7-10 years old, meaning anything new will certainly be appealing. I am a researcher and make considered purchases, meaning features, form, function and most importantly for such a major appliance, ability to elegantly mount and position in the house.</span></p> <p><a href=""><img style="background-image: none; padding-top: 0px; padding-left: 0px; display: inline; padding-right: 0px; border: 0px;" title="clip_image002" src="" alt="clip_image002" width="279" height="214" border="0"></a> <a href=""><img style="background-image: none; padding-top: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin: 0px; display: inline; padding-right: 0px; border: 0px;" title="clip_image004" src="" alt="clip_image004" width="244" height="216" border="0"></a> <a href=""><img style="background-image: none; padding-top: 0px; padding-left: 0px; display: inline; padding-right: 0px; border: 0px;" title="clip_image006" src="" alt="clip_image006" width="282" height="216" border="0"></a></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 65&rdquo; glory &ndash; Q8C $7,999 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; 75&rdquo; of curve and style &ndash; Q8C $13,999&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 55&rdquo; of Smart Viewing &ndash; Q7F $5,199</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">In the pictures above are the mainstream models being shown, on a gloomy day in Te Papa in Wellington. I deliberately took photo&rsquo;s of the TV&rsquo;s against their bright background, so the performance of the display can be somewhat thought about. On display is a variation of flat-to-wall, and curved screen models. Retail pricing by model is typical of this type of new product, and I expect market pricing will differ somewhat by the end of the year (In the model distinction, F means Flat and C means Curved):</span></p> <table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"> <tbody> <tr> <td valign="top" width="158"> <p align="right"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Model</span></p> </td> <td valign="top" width="134"> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Q7F</span></p> </td> <td valign="top" width="134"> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Q8C</span></p> </td> <td valign="top" width="134"> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Q9F</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" width="158"> <p align="right"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Curved</span></p> </td> <td valign="top" width="134"> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">No</span></p> </td> <td valign="top" width="134"> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Yes</span></p> </td> <td valign="top" width="134"> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">No</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" width="158"> <p align="right"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Screen Sizes</span></p> </td> <td valign="top" width="134"> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">75&rdquo; - $12,499</span></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">65" - $7,199</span></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;"><strong>55" - $5,199</strong></span></p> </td> <td valign="top" width="134"> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;"><strong>75" &ndash; $13,999</strong></span></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;"><strong>65" &ndash; $7,999</strong></span></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">55" &ndash; $5,999</span></p> </td> <td valign="top" width="134"> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">88" - $34,999</span></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">75" &ndash; $17,999</span></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">65" - $9,999</span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">All panels are 4K displays with nearly no bezel at the edges, have superb clarity and brightness, downward firing speakers, beefed up user interface for control (with some good executions of control), a remote control that doesn&rsquo;t have 200 buttons and some good thoughts for wall mounting. The control software is based on Tizen, a linux alternative with it&rsquo;s roots in smartphone land, and has been driven by Samsung/Intel as an alternative to Android. A quick search of the web indicates it&rsquo;s had an ignominious introduction, which you&rsquo;d expect of anything new taking on established players, but on the TV's at least it functions smoothly and quickly.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">As usual, the downward firing speakers have limited ability to shift air meaning all the TV&rsquo;s would benefit from a separate speaker system just to have adequate sound; it&rsquo;s a shame all manufacturers have gone this way on premium models, as it feels just a little cheaty to expect all consumers to have a ready made home theatre setup to support a beautiful panel: I can&rsquo;t stand box speakers and their wires being on display just to support watching TV.</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;"><a href=""><img style="background-image: none; padding-top: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin: 0px; display: inline; padding-right: 0px; border: 0px;" title="clip_image008" src="" alt="clip_image008" width="184" height="244" border="0"></a> <a href=""><img style="background-image: none; padding-top: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin: 0px; display: inline; padding-right: 0px; border: 0px;" title="clip_image010" src="" alt="clip_image010" width="184" height="244" border="0"></a> <a href=""><img style="background-image: none; padding-top: 0px; padding-left: 0px; display: inline; padding-right: 0px; border: 0px;" title="clip_image012" src="" alt="clip_image012" width="318" height="243" border="0"></a> <a href=""><img style="background-image: none; padding-top: 0px; padding-left: 0px; display: inline; padding-right: 0px; border: 0px;" title="clip_image014" src="" alt="clip_image014" width="343" height="199" border="0"></a></span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">A significant point of interest for me was the connections on the back, and the very real questions around how to mount the TV nicely on a wall, connect the huge plethora of other devices one would reasonably expect to it, and keep it all nice and tidy. Samsung&rsquo;s answer, first introduced in some premium models last year, is the control box. This unit connects to the TV via a bundled 5m fibre cable (the white cable above), and has connections for HDMI x4, USB2 x3, Gigabit Ethernet x1, Optical out x1. 1x UHF tuner (with F-Connector). The control box is the brains of the whole package, and the fibre cable allows for an elegant way of mounting the telly and hiding the wires. A 15M cable option will be available, circa RRP$400.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">In the second picture, you can see a panel that pops off &ndash; on the whole range, this is where Samsung&rsquo;s mounting bracket is installed, and allows the TV to be mounted flush to the wall (curved or flat TVs). The bracket cost is up to $300 for the 55/65&rdquo; range, and $350 for the 75&rdquo;. The third picture gives an indication of the panel.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Finally, the remote control is a neat little affair that is channeling other simplified silver remote controls, and operates on both Bluetooth and IR. The unit has voice control (hence the need for Bluetooth) as well as standard TV functions (IR), which is interesting&hellip; I would have thought going for full Bluetooth the more elegant step but there you go. It works fine and has a decent range and function. There are also the Samsung Smart View apps for Android and iOS, which act as soft remote controls, and can also be used as alternatives to an Apple TV or Chromecast to transmitting from your phone to the screen (I didn&rsquo;t have a chance to try this out though, so not sure how well it works). Samsung also support Steamlink, meaning a PC can be connected over the home&rsquo;s LAN with gaming happening on the TVs, something which sounds quite promising and no doubt has a few details in its setup.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;"><strong>So, opinion</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">The screens perform beautifully, display and function is very good (as you would expect at this price range), sound is ok, there has been some decent thinking into wall mounting and addressing the explosion connecting different devices brings to the modern viewing experience.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">The interesting comment from me was on the evolution of apps; Netflix, Lightbox, Neon, Hulu, Amazon all had apps available. Notable absence was TV3 and TVNZ, to which the response was that these folks weren&rsquo;t developing for Smart TV anymore, focusing instead in channeling their effort into Freeview Plus and making their content available that way (which is a shrewd move: Having witnessed first-hand the level of work required to directly support Smart TV&rsquo;s with a media app, the investment in human power vs benefit is horrendously skewed. Far more productive to focus on one source). The Smart interface had some genuinely neat tricks around source handling (elegant swapping between an Xbox, Blu-ray player, streaming content from a connected USB stick and so on), and performance never felt like the unit was chugging along or working hard.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">I&rsquo;ve never been a fan of Smart TV&rsquo;s, historically because of the commitment of the manufacturers to keeping the OS supported, enhanced and feature rich, and I hope the launch of this range is a commitment from Samsung to keep supporting what they build for the reasonable life of the TV; after all, I expect my next TV to last another 10 years, and I would be disappointed with any brand that dropped support of its software quickly for the next big thing.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">I&rsquo;m keen to see where this range is at around October/November in the market, pricing and performance wise. Samsung have a real opportunity here to make some inroads, and judging by the Boxing Day sales in Dec 2016 have absolutely cleared the warehouses to support this new range.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Worth considering.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Antonios Karantze</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">Wellington, NZ</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">April 2017</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'trebuchet ms', geneva, sans-serif;">&nbsp;</span>Webstock 2017: think of others of happinessWed, 22 Feb 2017 12:07:00 PST<p>I had the good fortune to be allowed to attend Webstock 2017 this year, held in Wellington New Zealand from 13-17 February.</p> <p>This quirky event is growing in popularity and attendance, and this year featured a whole host of presenters covering many topics, from the origin of Emoji’s to empathetic design for the elderly. Nearly all the presenters were from the US, and there were two overwhelming themes that kept repeating and being referenced throughout the event:</p> <p>1. “We are sorry about what is happening is US Politics. This isn’t who we are”<br>2. “We need to think of everyone – old, young, able bodied, disabled, sight and mobility impaired, rich and poor – when creating for people</p> <p>Resonating in the back of my mind was the phrase ‘He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata’. It is the people, It is the people, It is the people. I may not be using the phrase in it’s correct setting, but it speaks to what I heard repeatedly throughout the days – by the people, about the people, and for the people.</p> <p>I observed an audience of old and young, multiple races and all genders, and was enthused by the sheer size and participation. This thing is big. REALLY BIG. And it continues to get bigger, which is great for Wellington and great for the design sector in New Zealand.</p> <p><strong>So what were my takeaways from the time?</strong></p> <p>Knowing your audience and being present to what they want to here is crucially important. I heard a few jokes fall flat, and some that were absolutely wrong to be used – a quick websearch if you are interested will reveal my abstract reference. A highlight was Marcin Wichary, a polish chap from Google, who covered topics from charles babbage to the work he did creating the Google Doodle that was Pacman in 2010, and the journey of discovery he went on to recreate this classic game. Warm, enthusiastic about his topic and a genuinely engaging fellow, he touched on a couple of rueful points about never assuming and not bothering to question ‘why’ – as well as not being satisfied until he was, and not giving up until the task was done.</p> <p>It’s a small item, but seeing through any commitment to completion in the modern world takes focus, and I often see failure because people just gave up or lost interest… because they just did.</p> <p>Significant reference was made to Apple’s design aesthetics and their efforts in designing for humans, by many of the presenters. Love or loathe that company, they have made their mark on the western world and continue to set a tone for modern digital experiences that we all live with and don’t appreciate we are. </p> <p>I met with Janine Gianfredi on Thursday night after the show, and caught her presentation on the Friday, about designing US Government services from a startup with the Executive (The White House under President Obama), and taking things to market. Born out of the chaos that was the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), Janine referred to the ‘mission’ of getting healthcare for people who historically could’nt. The Federal government set up the national exchange, but required insurance companies in every state to cooperate in creating products and offering to customers – not trivial, and a service that was born from a big government project (many contractors, little focus on end to end experience, and a desire to just ship software even if it sucked) had to be refactored by a smaller team who thought about the users, what they had to do, and how they could improve services.</p> <p>Again. It is the people. The presentation resonated with me, and in a separate session run earlier in the week, was well attended by representatives from our government agencies like Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and other folks looking to transform how things work today. Looking for ideas on how to be more effective in their roles, to make things ‘easier’ for people that need to be using them.</p> <p><strong>Well, duh</strong></p> <p>So far, so very boring right? nobody wakes up in the morning and decides ‘today I’m going to build a diabolical service and really piss people off!’, although I’m sure anyone who uses some government services must think that is what happens.</p> <p>Just today, a colleague outlined a problem he just had with Inland Revenue. This month IRD made a lot of noise about their updated ‘MyGST’ capability, designed to make GST payments easier for those that self manage. My colleague had the money ready to go, he emailed ird – Via the MyIRD secure messaging service – and was told he would receive a message explaining more. Nothing. Eventually he got a note saying he had been fined for not paying his GST… and after much work, he discovered that the MyGST secure messaging service is in NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM linked to the MyIRD secure messaging service… which has been in wide use for a while.</p> <p>Guess where the emails had been going?</p> <p>So someone sat down and created this sequence, and didn’t think of the users or the learned behaviour of people. Or they did, and the above setup was deployed for time money and convenience, no doubt meeting a project milestone. Hurrah! who cares about the user?</p> <p><strong>Final Thoughts</strong></p> <p>So, Webstock has become a tech industry ‘thing’. It is up there with the air of ‘gotta be there’ like Microsoft’s tech-ed shows used to be, before they became not so interesting anymore. I don’t get the feel Webstock is there yet, and that says something given it’s current long run. The organisers Mike and Natasha did an awesome job with running the show, the venue, the food, facilities and overall execution. There were some parts that need and are getting attention, but this is a good show. Consider it for next year if you haven’t gone. Conversations are had that get people to think. It’s an event where people are open to meeting, greeting, freeforming and just being, and that is so important in a world that is currently being turned upside down by the return of fear, hate and despicable attitudes.</p> <p>- AK, 2017</p>The secret life of mobile batteries - UPDATED 6.10.2016, the Universe and EverythingMon, 19 Sep 2016 10:29:00 PDTSmartphone batteries have been in the news recently, in case you haven't been keeping up. On this mornings Jetstar flight the attendant took extra care to call out that Galaxy Note7 users would have to keep their device off - personally if I had one of these mobiles I would be utterly livid. Just not acceptable in 2016.</p> <p><img src="" alt="Hard choices" width="275" height="239"></p> <p>I've used iPhones in my line of work for the last few years as my primary device, and androids only as secondary units. The battery life on Apple phones is enough to drive you to despair at times, and as these things get bigger and pack more in, I can't the situation improving much.</p> <p>I'm not a fan of the bigger screen devices like the 6 and 7 - I think Apple hit the mark perfectly with the iPhone 5 screen size - but you have to use what is reasonably available, and for me that is an iPhone 6.</p> <p>Over the last year or so, the battery life on this device has become steadily more atrocious, but when I asked ServicePlus to have a look (Apple's agent in NZ), the diagnostics were that things were.... ok.... but perhaps remove the facebook app, which is a notorious hog. I did but that didn't really help..... and my experience continued to reflect that my battery must be munted.</p> <p>In the weekend I read an article in Forbes, and the author opined that users should skip the iPhone 7 and just replace the battery in their existing iPhones, waiting for 2018 when the iPhone 8 is released (2017 will bring the iPhone 7S). <a href="">Forbes article</a></p> <p>The application Battery Life was mentioned... so I downloaded it and what an interesting app to use. Even though IOS9/10 locked out many of the statistics about the battery that could be read, some elements are still discoverable. Here's what says about my phone tonight:</p> <p><img src="" alt="A munted model" width="269" height="480"></p> <p>When new, the phone had a battery capacity of 1750Mah. All rechargeable batteries degrade over time, but what is interesting is where mine is at - maximum capacity is now 1100Mah, 37% less than as new.</p> <p>Of course, the iPhone battery meter tells me how much charge is remaining - OF THE DECREASED CAPACITY - meaning the more I use this phone, the faster it appears my battery is draining, when in fact it has degraded seriously to the point of being nearly unusable.&nbsp;</p> <p>I double checked these readings using a Mac app called CoconutBattery, and it's reports are consistent with the above display. The battery has lost a lot of capacity.</p> <p>So, tricky.&nbsp;</p> <p>Technically the iPhone battery reading is correct - 396/1100 = 36% charge. But without an app on the iPhone telling me "your battery is screwed bro", I am left wondering. I don't think it should have degraded this rapidly - I used my other devices which are older, and they havent got anywhere near this level of degradation, some of them are 6 years old and constantly being used. I don't know if it's better to be told I only have 396/1750, given I can never recharge the battery back up to 1750.... but it would have been nice to know.</p> <p>The device is 2 years old. Arguing over reasonable life of a battery under CGA feels quite the uphill battle. I do wish Apple did make better tools available that acknowledge the limits of technology and help better manage - although if they did, I expect they would a truckload coming back at the 12 month mark as 'not fit'.</p> <p>Battery Life. CoconutBattery.</p> <p>You wouldn't think batteries are that interesting.... but it's amazing what you can discover.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>UPDATE: 6.10.16</p> <p>Serviceplus replaced the battery for me under warranty, as a precaution against imminent fail. Great outcome in the end, and excellent service from the wonderful Hilary!What do you do if you're in the CBD in an Earthquake?, the Universe and EverythingSun, 21 Jul 2013 08:06:00 PDT<span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;">Like many people today I have been watching the numerous videos on the various news websites - and so far the site for NZ Herald seems to have better quality content than Stuff in general - and it occurs to me there is a real absence of useful information about what to do if an Earthquake hits while you are in the streets of a CBD.</span><br><br><span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;">In many ways Wellington was lucky with this event - and I'm confident it's not over - and one of those was that it was a sunday evening (5.09pm to be precise) and most people were at home. I was cooking dinner in the kitchen.</span><br><br><span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">Of course, 5.09pm on a weekday would have been quite a different story - the streets would be full of people either scurrying to the railway station for a train or bus home, if not waiting on Lambton Quay for a bus.</span><br><br><span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">In this event - and if you rewatch footage of the Christchurch events - building facades broke off and windows shattered and fell. A friend of mine was caught on TV video jogging through CHCH just as a facade collapsed and barely missed him (thinking of you Dave....)</span><br><br><span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">The Governments 'Get Through' website -&nbsp;</span><a style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;" href="" target="_blank">Get Through</a><span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;- contains really good, genuine information on preparation and what to do but is </span><em style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;"><strong>really</strong> </em><span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">heavy on the presumption you will be at home when something big happens (as it did on Sunday). But there is next to nothing on what to do if you happen to be in a metro area surrounded by tall buildings, except for the line 'drop/cover/hold' with pictures indicating you get under a table.</span><br><br><span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">I walk to work frequently, which is one of the major benefits of Wellington, but occasionally do have to drive in and park because of weather or sheer time boundaries in the morning or evening. It's just the way it is.&nbsp;</span><br><br><span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">I also frequently walk along The Terrace, Bolton Street, Aurora Terrace, Lambton Quay and the 'Golden Mile' up to Manners Street. All area's which will turn into one epic zone of death from debris and glass in the event of a really strong shake.&nbsp;</span><br><br><span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">What exactly, is the suggested plan for people to do, if they happen to be caught out on the street? There is a distinct absence of handy tables on the street for one to duck under, and no real ideas I can find from an hour of googling on what to do. It's just so unexpected.</span><br><br><span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">The state described above is a uniquely Wellington problem with description to match. But Christchurch is being rebuilt with a new CBD and a permanent membership to the Earthquake club... and we all know New Zealand is on a number of active tectonic plates (meaning nowhere is free of earthquake risk - I'm looking at you Auckland)... given so many people work in the city and around so much risk potential, surely there must be good guidance on how to protect yourself, <em>somewhere</em>.<br><br>People do need to know this, more than ever now as so many of us are acutely tuned to what just happened. <br><br>Drop Cover Hold sounds great on a website and is really, really unhelpful if you happen to be in the street.&nbsp;<br><br>I expect the suggestions will be just as unsatisfying and very much along the lines of 'well.... there's not that much...', but my daughters sprang into action at home on Sunday as they had been trained. My youngest suggested I become a turtle in the middle of the street - and looking at The Terrace that filled me with utter dread.<br><br>This is not a complaint. It is a call for more information... because I'm certainly blinkin listening...!&nbsp;</span>Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi Kit! Good Kit!Tue, 26 Mar 2013 11:32:00 PDTA little while ago I finally surrendered to the inevitable and severed my ties to the mobile world of old. It was a forced parting, a changing of the circumstances, a focus on the new, supporting of the desire to show the mass market another way. Like my mighty Nokia E65 - for which there is still no adequate replacement - it was time for another favoured friend to be given a chance to rest, and be no more.<br /> 2007 called and asked for it's technology back. My BlackBerry was forcibly retired.<br /> For those who sneer at BlackBerry and it's users, dismissing them as relics of an age gone by, all I can say is Ignoramus. No-one who has ever used BlackBerry in anger would dismiss other users for being relics or diehards. Just like the Psion 3 and 5, which surrendered to the PDA in 2001, which eventually was surpassed by the connected smartphone before the age of the iPhone, it was a product of it's time and reflected that age. <br /> But boy, did it do it with a style that no-one has replicated well. The pretenders to the throne have gotten close in building a mobile email capability for corporates. They have not built an elegant, easy to use, well integrated communications app that extends the desktop to a mobile device, so well optimised and polished out of the box that using it becomes second nature.<br>I could compose an email without ever looking at the device. I knew exactly where the keys were, the right sequence, how to drive the address book from within an email, compose and send. <br /> Without ever looking at the screen, like an experienced touch typist on a QWERTY keyboard. And it worked. <br /> I found managing via this device just worked. One handed operation - sorted. The User Interface was massively intuitive and instinctive, the functions were driven to operate as real humans think, and not the technologists.<br /> Oddly enough, Windows Phone 8 is starting to approach the levels of capability that BlackBerry offers. But it's not there yet. The iPhone is good... But it's not there yet. And so on.<br /> So I've been spoiled. Blackberry did what it was supposed to. The voice quality - for those who go old school and actually talk to people - was absolutely sublime compared to current widgets, and the battery life was good.&nbsp; Of course, it didn't keep up with the best that the others could offer, and then RIM got horribly confused about who the competition was and what strategy they were executing to. Looking back I find it amusing Microsoft focused on RIM as the king to be taken down, when the real usurper Apple was toiling away to lead the revolution - which no-one ever believed possible (I first started getting notice of an Apple phone around 2003 while at O2). And of course, away in their secret volcano lair the Google minions created the monster that is Android, repeating the messy experience of Microsoft Windows (many vendors, inconsistent experiences, underpowered phones)<br /> All offer 'corporate mobile email'. And ALL have a compromised experience - it's there, but none comes close to being anywhere near the ease of RIM, and therein is the rub. If mobile email is only passable, will mobile email be used?<br /> It's pleasing to see large preorders for the new Blackberry 10 range - long overdue - and I sincerely hope this will put pressure on the device vendors to improve their onboard applications in the way only they can. I also hope they will focus on what made their solution so very powerful - excellent corporate IT management tools, the real secret jewel in a world of identical smartphones.<br /> Ok, perhaps it is a little bit of a whinge from a spoiled ex-user. I do like my smartphones and what they offer, but they aren't for emailing anything other than 3 word answers - just unusable.<br /> So I've gone back to a much, much more powerful way of communicating. I know it's radical, and it might just catch on.<br /> I call it MAKING A PHONE CALL AND TALKING TO PEOPLE. No read receipts are required. You always know whether the other end got the message, but like everything in life not whether they understood it.<br />Being connected... of happinessFri, 18 Jan 2013 07:28:00 PSTI've stopped being surprised at the penetration of smart devices in the lives of people in NZ. I can't recall the last feature phone I saw in active use - you know, the old nokia's which just made calls and texted - and every widget I see now is a shipping, youtubing, app fuelled smart monster slurping data like its so much calling airtime.<br /><br />It's really clear that the widget is king, and how you connect is becoming so much a simple rate war, with little in the way to differentiate providers. Such is competition I guess.<br /><br />The fragmented nature of android can't be good. Samsung has nailed the experience, and can premium charge as a result - undercutting Apple but well over LG, HTC and the other dwarves. Meanwhile smartphones are morphing into mega tablets and getting ever bigger.<br /><br />2013 should be fun, for this part of life anyway!<br /><br />- Posted using BlogPress<br />iOS6. Why the noise? Kit! Good Kit!Fri, 21 Sep 2012 10:35:00 PDTFor anyone who follows the Apple industry, the noise around iOS6 and the relative 'yawns' it has introduced compared to previous releases, is odd.<br /><br />I agree with many observers that the onboard maps app is utter rubbish compared to Google - I'm guessing the USA has got a nice service but the rest of the world? I'm stunned the NZ maps look like low-res ones circa 2004. Good potential there I guess, but shameful. The shot of my place looks like there is dirt on the lens.<br /><br />But as for the everything else? well, I rather like it. Allow me to explain.<br /><br />My Ipad2 has been deteriorating over the last 6 months, getting slower and slower, as if an app had a memory leak somewhere. I've always been suspicious of devices which have non-volatile ram in them, as my experience has been that they get slower over time and less responsive. Indeed, I managed to utterly destroy an early Nokia 7650 when I pushed it's onboard email to the limit, filling the memory and killing any opportunity to perform a hard restore - at a time when I worked for O2 and they had the Nokia tools to reflash the phone.<br /><br />So, I downloaded iOS6 direct to widget - took 4 attempts as the download kept stalling because the huge demand globally had a huge impact on Apples' akamai feeds - but 2GB later it was installing merrily away. And my iPad was restored to factory fresh performance, but with all my content onboard safe. Not one dropped file, not one misconfigured app. This is backup and restore as it should be.<br /><br />Have I got any other new capabilities? none that really drive me - but I have noticed the WIFI performance and responsiveness of the applications is more inline with the advertising. Visit a URL and it comes up pretty quickly - there is no lag between user action and device reaction. Of course TelstraClear Cable Internet helps.<br /><br />If maps is important - don't upgrade.<br /><br />But overall - I've seen nothing but upside in installation.<br><br><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="background-color: #ffff00;">EDIT</span></span><br><br>Of course, the missing YouTube app leaves a LOT to be desired and smacks of the pettiness others have commented on regarding Apple vs Google. The app was actually rather good - and I have found nothing similar yet for an iPad that replicates it.<br><br><br />There is an end to everything, to good things as well of happinessSun, 22 Jul 2012 13:28:00 PDTOn Sunday night, I went to see the The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final film in the Batman reboot that started with the awesome Batman Begins.<br /><br />Review of the movie have been mixed and the third movie suffers by virtue of not being able to delight and surprise; expectations from the audience are elevated, and the bar was already set pretty high with the first two movies.<br /><br />Nonetheless, I highly recommend you discard the negative reviews and the marred launch from the truly awful Colorado tragedy - tell me gun control is not required now - and GO SEE THE MOVIE. Make up your own mind. As a movie experience it's pretty fantastic and well worth slogging through the nearly 3 hour running time; you don't want to have to go the toilet as you'll miss key elements of the third act.<br /><br />I don't intend this commentary to be a spoiler, but you should stop now in case you think I give away any of the movie.<br /><br />So in summary, after the events of the first movie - the swell of the criminal world in Begins; the surge and eventual becalming of crime in The Dark Knight, the 3rd movie opens with a city that is calm and at peace and on the rise. Inequity in rife but present, and the city is almost screaming out that it's all about to end, yet no-one is really listening. And into this. Batman emerges as (much) older, mourning and burdened with a worn-down body. He's not the man he used to be - in the first act, it's easy to see how he is both drawn back into the world and seduced at the same time by the stunning Anne Hathaway, playing the role of a 'catwoman' without ever been called that.<br /><br />The rise of the criminal Bane is breathtaking to behold, and the easy collapse of the calm world without much effort - a poor nod to the effects of finance and banking blandly executed - as is the humbling of our hero and the shattering of everything he thought he was. It hurts to watch - not only from the physical torment, which is pretty brutal - but also the mental shattering that goes with it. Unlike real people who's mind breaks though, Mr Bat recovers quickly enough with lots of press-ups and grim determination.. if only life were really that easy!<br /><br />Unfortunately, the third act has both some fantastic twists worthy of this movie and carries on the dark vision of the world.. and then ends with the most Disney of endings I never expected to see. All the buildup, all the pain, all the reality about the fragility of life and the futility of men's deep plans.. has such a happy ending I walked out feeling like I'd eaten too many lollies (which I had).<br /><br />Ah well. Work past that ending, and focus on the events leading up to it, and you have gritty truths on what it means to plan, to age, and to see what you thought was something different, actually unravel quickly and be shown to be nothing more than folly.<br /><br />Mr Batman speaks to those who have hit 40, and presents a view that is very sharp and very familiar to anyone who's been there and come back. It's a stark reminder for the career minded who focus so much on what they are doing that they are lost inside the monster they create; Batman in his alter-ego, for most folk I would guess their work, business, stage persona or other 'this is me' activity.<br /><br />Batmans denouement is not his realisation that he is mortal; that's easy. It's the revelation that in the moment he makes all the difference, moments later that difference is gone and the world has moved on, leaving him with breakages that cannot be repaired. He has to do his piece, but he has to step aside and let other's do the same and more. In creating the symbol of hope, in creating the persona to rally around and nurture, he needs to exit and let others carry on.<br /><br />It's humbling. It's a solid parable for anyone too wrapped in what they do so much they can't get past it.<br /><br />GO SEE THE MOVIE.<br /><br />&nbsp;<br /><br />&nbsp;<br /><br />&nbsp;<br /><br />2Degrees prepay price change NZ telecommunications industryFri, 20 Jul 2012 11:13:00 PDTI noticed on a tweet (from Steve Biddle, of Biddlecorp) that 2Degrees had changed it's pricing for texting between 2D mobiles.... see here....<br /><br /><a href=""><br /><br /></a>The key sentence being:<br /><em><strong>**From 6th August 2012 our standard 9 cent text rate will apply to all 2degrees to 2degrees texts.</strong></em><br /><br />Fair enough: 2c is an attractive rate but not really one to make profit on, and 9c is still a good rate anyway. With the continuing massive shift towards Mobile Data and WIFI Offload (where you use wifi instead of the carriers mobile network), the use of Apps to communicate means that texting will be going the way of Voice over the next 3 years.<br /><br />That you get 300 texts bundled in when you make a $30 topup means that most people will never see a charge for texting anyway.<br /><br />While the 'topup and get' offer remains, and this is the rub for me.<br /><br />My grumpy moment comes from how I learned of the change. A tweet, from someone I happened to have connected to. Hardly the most common channel of communication.<br /><br />2Degrees of course are entitled to make changes; they need to make money after all, and it's covered in their T's and C's:<br /><br />"Notices and Changes to this Agreement and our Plans<br />(a) We may change this Agreement and/or vary any Service at any time.<br />(b) Changes will be published on Please check regularly for updates as continuing to use the Services after changes have been published will mean that you agree to this Agreement as amended.<br />(c) We will give you at least 10 working days prior notice, and where possible we will try and give you 30 days prior notice, if any changes we make materially increase our charges or materially reduce the elements of a Service you are using or change this Agreement so that it has a material detrimental effect on you. We will notify you of these changes by publishing them on <a href="">"<br /><br /></a>Good on them for stating what their policy is, and how they will do it.&nbsp;<br /><br />Of course, publishing price changes to the website and classing that as 'giving me notice' is a bit on the nose; if any other service provider like Telecom, Vodafone or TelstraClear, bank, power company or Council took that approach they would feel customer wrath pretty quickly.<br /><br />I'm guessing there's a bulk email to the customer base coming in the next 5 days (I hope so) from 2Degrees, where they standup and &nbsp;state 'we've changed the price, and it's gone up'. I really hope that 'we published on the website' doesn't become a way of working, because it's a pretty naff way of treating your customer.<br /><br />I'm fully expecting that the bundle pricing will change again and continue to become less generous; that's a common market strategy (low prices to attract, end the offer and replace with one that's not so good and hope switching inertia does the rest) I've seen and executed before.<br /><br />The consolidation and change in the NZ telco industry has only just started; more price changes are coming across the board, and not always downward.<br /><br /><strong>EDIT: Forgot to add, I am a 2Degrees subscriber for voice and data, hence my personal interest!</strong>Apple Airport Express v2 Kit! Good Kit!Sat, 16 Jun 2012 05:41:00 PDT<p>Last week Apple launched the updated version of the <a href="" target="_blank">Airport Express</a>, updating the original model launched about 3-4 years ago. I've been waiting for this for a while now, and ordered one as soon as I could. Available immediately from Sydney, it shipped quickly but also was damaged in transit by TNT Couriers - which I only discovered because I hit the 'Track Shipment' button in the email I received confirming the order. One quick call to Apple - and a 5 minute wait - and the lovely girl in the contact centre not only dispatched another toot suite, but she also called me back 3 times to let me the replacement was coming, when it would arrive (which is important - I am not always the same place every day, so need to know when packages are arriving) and was I happy when it had arrived. Pretty cool - may not sound like much, or that every consumer company should do that. but the reality is they don't.</p> <p>I use <a href="" target="_blank">TelstraClear Cable Internet</a> at home, and for a while have been using an Apple Airport Extreme, with a couple of Airport Express v1 range extenders, to try and provide some semblance of coverage in the house, to all the widgets that need it. This meant that there were more wires, more power bricks and more awkwardly placed devices in the house, all connected together using wireless bridging - which came at the cost of overall performance, and made wireless VOIP a bit more clunkier than it needed to be (the best experience for anything wireless is your device to the wireless router, then out to internet modem. Going device to wireless to wireless to internet modem means performance is affected - things run that much slower.</p> <p>The new Airport Express is class - it looks like the older Airport Extreme model, except it's shrunk by about 40%, and has amazing range and performance compared to it's bigger brother. Admittedly the Extreme is an older model and has a poorer performing wireless chip, but even so the wider surface area of the older unit led me to reasonably expect it would have better performance. The aerial is bigger I thought - shows what I know. The new unit gives me the same range and performance that required the use of extenders on the older model. </p> <p><a href=""><img style="background-image: none; border-right-width: 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: block; float: none; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; margin-left: auto; border-left-width: 0px; margin-right: auto; padding-top: 0px" title="20120616_152404" border="0" alt="20120616_152404" src="" width="750" height="421"></a></p> <p align="center"><em>Picture one: Airport Express v2 just above the black Apple TV. The older Airport Express model is to the right of the Apple TV. <br>The Airport Extreme is the big unit to the left of everything, along with it's power brick</em></p> <p>The new Express has a simple power cable, separate 10/100 WAN and LAN ports, simultaneous dual-band Wifi (up to 802.11n), a USB port for attaching a printer and a 3.5mm headphone jack for connection to a sound system, for streaming audio over AirPlay. I have no idea how much power it draws - but the Extreme draws 20w when running, whereas I suspect this new device draws about 6w, the same as Apple TV, about a quarter of an energy efficient lightbulb. It may not sound like much, but every little helps. </p> <p>This unit perfectly suits the Cable Internet world and the forthcoming Ultra Fast Broadband network - both of those technologies supply an Ethernet connection into the home, so will plug straight into this great router. Those on DSL connections will need to bridge the router into their modems and do some jiggering around with DHCP settings - the Airport software is pretty good at leading you through what you need to do, but you do need to be familiar with the terminology it uses. This new device reportedly supports up to 50 connected devices - performance seems pretty good, although this sort of test is a bit misleading:</p> <p><a href=""><img style="background-image: none; border-right-width: 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: block; float: none; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; margin-left: auto; border-left-width: 0px; margin-right: auto; padding-top: 0px" title="Speedtest" border="0" alt="Speedtest" src="" width="715" height="448"></a></p> <p>And that's as much as I've experienced so far. The lack of a Gigabit WAN port is interesting but not really that limiting for the next 3 years, and I do wish the Apple software would allow you to configure QOS and other Application level settings, but on the whole it looks good.</p> <p>I'm still an ardent believer that wireless is the way to providing the better inhome and inpremises experience, and avoiding the need to haul wiring through the building, and as the turnover of WIFI chipsets continued to increase - the next round is 802.11ac, which eventually will be able to hit gigabit speeds - combined with improving aerial design mean that wireless really is a great way to go.</p> <p></p>Consolidation (&ldquo;and then there were fewer&rdquo;) NZ telecommunications industryWed, 13 Jun 2012 10:57:00 PDT<p>Last week brought the surprise announcement, forced by the power of Twitter (some folks generating themselves some activity) that Vodafone was in talks with Telstra, to acquire TelstraClear. I found the coverage at <a href="" target="_blank">National Business Review</a> fairly balanced, with the a different take on the move coming from <a href="" target="_blank">The Dominion Post</a>. I certainly won't forget the events of that Tuesday - confirmation of the many rumours that swirl the industry, combined with interesting timing of calls and texts before and afterwards.</p> <p>Regardless of what happens, the move signals the beginning of another consolidation round, where the biggest companies move to acquire some of the smaller ones (directly or indirectly in the industry), and so seek to gain some advantage for the next 5 years and make some money. Certainly the ISP landscape has fragmented, and the small ones are busy trying to create ways of standing out from the crowd, although most of the activity is price related rather than much genuine improvement over what's on offer. The most interesting recent move was <a href="" target="_blank">Maxnet</a> and their "Global Mode" feature, trying to overcome the technology around geolocation preventing users from accessing foreign content, with BBC iPlayer standing out in my mind. That barely got off the ground before being shuttered, and I was left wondering at the overally legality of offering a commercial service that actively assisted in circumventing media rights barriers.. guess we'll never know. </p> <p>Consolidation happens where a market has too many competitors, and the opportunity for new sales is replaced with one company taking the customer's of the other. The NZ broadband is in this place now, with many players all contesting for the same customer base - there aren't that many new broadband sales to be had - using the levers of price, or increased elements inside a bundle ("$99 for 1TB of Internet data, knock your socks off!!!"). This creates a lot of choice, but as the growth comes from ever decreasing prices, or ever increasing costs for no new revenue - well, something has got to give. Inevitably this leads to Merger &amp; Acquisition, where one company acquires or merges with another, pools it's new resources (technology, infrastructure, people, plant), combines it's increased customer base and seeks to gain new revenue from somewhere else.</p> <p>I'm often amazed at how much speculation there has been around the future of 2Degrees, and that acquisition is almost certainly it's future - that's a pretty damning pronouncement on the future of a business and the energy that has gone into creating it. Yet fundamentally even the 2D folks know they can't keep spending money indefinetly trying to keep up with Telecom and Vodafone, on pricing that is dropping every 6 months. The cost of new technology is not dropping - it keeps going up - and the cost of your overheads (people, plant, machinery) does'nt go down either. </p> <p>TelstraClear was born from an earlier amalgam of TelstraSaturn, which was born from Telstra acquiring Saturn. Vodafone acquired iHug a few years ago. Quicksilver was acquired by Woosh. Kordia acquired Orcon. Orcon acquired Bizo. On it goes. For a small country, NZ technology sees a fair share of acquisition and merger activity, and is going to see a lot more in the next 3 years, as the industry grapples with a world where - almost - everybody has to use the same fibre network to deliver voice, internet and entertainment, but where the innovation disappears from the plumbing and is replaced with the quality of the call centre, the capability of the consulting staff, the physical reach of regional offices and local people, and how to generate new revenues to stay in business.</p> <p>Fundamentally, NZ will still have about 4,5m people. The global economy and the debt levels of the western world will still loom over everything we do. Numpties will continue to operate in whatever government is in charge and create fleeting, media sensation. People will still complain that Internet is too expensive, and that it should be just a monthly charge so they don't have to worry about unexpected big bills - or even regulate their own activity, consuming as much as they possibly can. Big NZ companies will be accused of gouging customers and making too much money. New entrants will enter the market again and seek to undercut the big players, winning a little business by virtue of being someone new and not encumbered with the investments of the past.</p> <p>And in another 5 years, we will look on in amazement when the next consolidation round occurs. </p>Introducing the Hot New Social Network (updated!) NZ telecommunications industryTue, 22 May 2012 23:55:00 PDT<strong>PhoneBook</strong> (<span id="LabelSubTitle">Allows User to Call Friends, Speak to Them)<br /><br /></span><img src="" alt="PhoneBook" width="240" height="176" />&nbsp; <img src="" alt="" width="342" height="175" /><br /><br />SILICON VALLEY (<strong><strong><strong><a title="Borowitz Report" href="" target="_blank">The Borowitz Report</a></strong></strong></strong>) &ndash; A new social network is about to alter the playing field of the social media world, and it&rsquo;s called PhoneBook.<br /><br />According to its creators, who invented the network in their dorm room at Berkeley, PhoneBook is the game-changer that will leave Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare in a cloud of dust.<br /><br />&ldquo;With PhoneBook, you have a book that has a list of all your friends in the city, plus everyone else who lives there,&rdquo; says Danny Fruber, one of PhoneBook&rsquo;s creators.<br /><br />&ldquo;When you want to chat with a friend, you look them up in PhoneBook, and find their unique PhoneBook number,&rdquo; Fruber explains.&nbsp; &ldquo;Then you enter that number into your phone and it connects you directly to them.&rdquo;<br /><br />Another breakout utility of PhoneBook allows the user to arrange face-to-face meetings with his or her friends at restaurants, bars, and other &ldquo;places,&rdquo; as Fruber calls them.<br /><br />&ldquo;You will be sitting right across from your friend and seeing them in 3-D,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp; &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like Skype, only without the headset.&rdquo;<br /><br />PhoneBook will enable friends to play many games as well, such as charades, cards, and a game Fruber believes will be a breakout: Farm.<br />&ldquo;In Farm, you have an actual farm where you raise real crops and livestock,&rdquo; he says.&nbsp; &ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard work, but it&rsquo;s more fun than Mafia, where you actually get killed.&rdquo;<br /><br />Original article posted at <a title="Borowitz Report" href="">Borowitz Report</a>. This guys stuff is funny....<br /><br />And I added the picture from the latest Simpsons episode, 'How I Wet Your Mother'. Sharp as a sharp thing<br /><br />&nbsp;<br />Support NZ telecommunications industryTue, 03 Jan 2012 12:14:00 PST<p>For some time now, I've been working through in my mind how the NZ market will change as a result of UFB. In this case, UFB being used as a proxy word for a high-quality, widely available and reliable carriage network for data service - Voice, Video, Internet, Connection - and not the grand project being sponsored by Government. The closest to this definition NZ has had is the TelstraClear cable network in Kapiti, Wellington and Christchurch (not exactly 'widely' available), and to a lesser degree the fibre network FX Networks have been aggressively pushing out until recently (mainly supplied to high value Business and Wholesale customers, with some residential connections). </p> <p>I've been doing this, because top of my mind is how the service experience will change for all consumers. The old concept of a phone 'master socket' on which sat your telephone, and possibly a broadband connection in another room near the computer, becomes one where everyone will have at least ONE router-like device - complete with detached power brick of a sort - to which your phone and other widgets must connect. I recently wrote an article about this in November, when I had the opportunity to upgrade the electrical wiring in the <a href="" target="_blank">house</a>, and chose instead to go the wireless route. Much of the comment I got was how useless wireless is for streaming 1080p content, which I find funny as even as recently as 3 years ago it would not have been easy to get even 100mbps around the house before 802.11n came out. For the 100mbps trial I was on last year, <a href="" target="_blank">equipment</a> was required to go that fast across a wide range of devices.</p> <p>All of this really got me thinking about the absolutely fundamental role CPE - Premises Equipment - plays in getting a good quality experience. CPE is a jargon term the telco industry uses for the kit you use at your place - either on loan (like T-Box, Sky Box, Cable Modems), sold or given to you (so many DSL modems) or independently purchased (Apple Extreme wifi routers). All have to connect and support what you want to do. It's here that your opinion is ultimately formed on how good or bad something is, and the level of support you get in resolution and stability.</p> <p>The mobile world has been set alight by Samsung's decision to not release Android 4.0 for anything other than their most recent devices - the Galaxy S2 but not the original - for basic performance reasons. Galaxy S doesn't have the technical chops for the job - but I suspect it's more to do with the burden of future support. For those with long memories, when Apple released iOS4 for the older iPhone 3 and 3GS, the iPhone3 ran so slow it appeared to stop. It was a mistake to release for that device, but I guess folks didn't want to make a large part of the base feel unloved. Unfortunately the software was so rubbish, the base DID feel unloved. </p> <p>Such is the march of technology - been here before with Windows, where each release requires a machine with 4x the power of what you have now just to look and feel ok. Except of course, for most people a PC isn't that personal, and very few people actually upgrade a PC with a new OS, preferring a new PC - something which is trickier with mobiles, which are usually tied to 2-year carrier contracts.</p> <p>In a world where fibre comes from Chorus and has uniform performance - and will usually cost from $40/month before performance, CPI and other 'innovations' start increasing the monthly cost - how does a service provider differentiate themselves? </p> <p>Internet pricing - well, more web things are going 'unmetered', and pricing continues to drop to the point where a monthly price approaches a flat monthly fee. <br>Voice pricing - how much lower can these get across fixed and mobile? people don't talk much these days - they use the Internet, and so many phones have onboard WIFI that they can auto-switch to your home wireless and not use the pricy 'mobile data' rates. </p> <p>That leaves what you are going to use these cool new things for. The CPE you attach and your interaction with it and the fundamental importance not only of getting stuff out, but supporting it, debugging it and improving it. </p> <p>It's what your mobile device will or already connects to via WIFI. It's what your PC, your PS3 or Xbox will connect to, it's where your computer and probably your TV will connect to. The CPE that is your 'gateway' to the world.</p> <p>Orcon found this out with the '<a href="" target="_blank">Genius'</a> - Geekzone has numerous threads of complaint from non-working services, to services working a different way, to disappointment at the kit not being man enough to do more. The noise appears to be going down but it's still happening. TelstraClear <a href=";topicid=80730" target="_blank">T-Box</a> has taken a very long time to go from functional to mostly stable and even then there are random pockets where the experience isn't acceptable. I have no knowledge on Vodafone's 'EasyOffice' - although I expect for some it's been anything but Easy - and for many customers on UCLL in general, they probably aren't getting the best they could (See Mr Biddle's excellent article <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>). I still see people lodging basic comments on not knowing which type of modem to get for DSL, how to configure basic settings for wireless access as well as locking down the firewall - and it's 2012, 6 years after the NZ broadband market heated up.</p> <p>CPE support - and how it works with the service providers - has to change, and it has to do so for the whole market. What this means is that support has to cover the ubergeeks - those who rip and replace software on devices with their own (a bit like car enthusiasts changing the engine of a car to get better performance - which means you're off the grid for support), to geeks (those who fiddle at the edges and go for minor enhancements here and there), to disinterested users (the bulk of the country), to completely uninterested users (for example, those still using the CDMA phone they purchased in 2003 and won't upgrade until the network is off.).</p> <p>Support as the next big thing that will emerge very quickly when the first fibre connections are made, and people suddenly REALLY discover what UFB means. </p> <p>And I think only Apple is even remotely in a position to be able to talk to the public at large with ready, friendly solutions. </p>Go Wireless! End Copper NZ telecommunications industryMon, 21 Nov 2011 11:20:00 PSTWell, I was faced with an interesting conundrum last week.<br /><br />My internet is with TelstraClear, and it comes in downstairs. The network is attached to the house at the corner closest to the street pole. which means I have limited option for upstairs internet service, where the most demand comes from. Today it's served by WIFI, with varying results.<br /><br />So I had the opportunity to put in high quality wiring from downstairs to upstairs, in that some renovations are going on and the floorboards are up. What better possible time, right?<br /><br />Except for the quote, which came back at about $1.2k. Seriously. From 2 electricians. 2x 75m CAT6 runs.<br /><br />I could endeavour to do it myself, but I genuinely don't have the time or the useful tools to achieve that without scrapped knuckles and banged head (time in roof space is required). which forced me to stop and reconsider.<br /><br />Why do I need this?<br /><br />$1200 would buy a very nice set of wireless equipment - if I knew what had the best punch/performance and so on. I don't, which means either taking brand risks (Apple's gotta be good, right?) or lots of time googling different kit. The reason I ask is because nearly every widget in the house - except tellingly, my PSTN line and TV services - have wifi built-in. Every 6 months is an improvement in chip performance and technology in market.<br /><br />Why do I need premises wiring?<br /><br />UFB is going to bring fibre and powered IAD into everyone's house. As part of my job, I've been thinking through the inhome experience UFB brings, and how to get quality internet out there for all to use. It boils down to 3 simple things:<br /><br />1. Tidy and effective termination of fibre/iad. Hope Chorus and co spend some of the $1,4bn on on this item!<br /><br />2. Quality testing and recommendation of high-performance wireless gear for in premises. Caveat Emptor need not be the case - any SP worth their salt should recommend quality over cheap.<br /><br />3. Services for this modern environment - which means PSTN de-coupled from the line or jackpoint. Sometimes known as VOIP, but giving ME the option to control, not the SP determining a POTS port on an IAD is <em>acceptable</em>.<br /><br />The technology fraternity 'kindof' gets this - but what's the point if this technology is the preserve of the interested? the elements above need to be ready for the mass market, who don't care about solution elegance but that it works - and technologists frequently forget that when they spout off about something being easy or old tech. If it were easy - your mum could tell you how to do it.<br /><br />So roll on wireless - roll on the reduction of trailing wiring, of endless house work, in favour of the beauty of the ethereal.. wireless...<br />A better class of service NZ telecommunications industrySun, 14 Aug 2011 12:02:00 PDT<p>Well, the wild weather extremes over the last couple of months has certainly had me thinking.</p> <p>For some time now, I've been working through in my mind how I expect to see NZ communications change over the next ten years, and what needs to be put into place by the service provider(s) to make that happen. While some of these points may seem amusing or absolute common sense to the lay observer, or geek, what needs to be recognised by the reader is that NOTHING is to be taken for granted, or that 'of course it will happen'.</p> <p>Anyone who spends time writing business cases or convincing others around them of the importance of pursuing an action will be familiar with this. For example, to provide fibre for the purpose of faster networking seems common sense. After all, the technology is suited to it and has been proven in other countries. Of course the Government should provide it, after all its for the good of the country, right?</p> <p>The sums involved are tiny in the great scheme of countries and time. Of course, for those who live in the <strong><em>here</em></strong> and <strong><em>now</em></strong>, that's money not available for anything else sensible or useful. Like upgrading basic power generation, transmission, distribution and storage. </p> <p>Tonight, the power at home has been fluctuating wildly. My technology has been reset and spiked so many times I'm amazed nothing has shorted out. I am grateful the heating is still running - grateful that the bods at the electricity company are doing their best.</p> <p>But what has become abundantly clear, once it has been taken away, is the absolute and unremitting reliance on Internet. Should the weather prevail tomorrow, I may not be at work - and neither will the people I work with. Meetings disrupted, critical information unavailable or severely restricted. Sure, my POTS line continues to work, but as I don't suffer an emergency every other day it's redundant unless I pair it with the Remote Office functions of my VOIP line - after all, people call me at my work number, not at home.</p> <p>And before the mobile zealots jump in - where I live is utterly atrocious performance for Vodafone. I have lodged faults complaining of basic performance and coverage and been met with the immortal line of the disconnected, "coverage is the best we can make it, function of technology and topology, adverse terrain blah blah blah". Twaddle of course - had the techs ACTUALLY driven my route and surveyed it themselves, they would see that the network has lost it's tuning and is performing poorly. The devices I use are highly capable of running applications <strong><em>independent</em></strong> of the mobile network. 2degrees, vodafone, telecom - welcome to that world where you really are replaceable but for the specials you provide on DEVICES.</p> <p>Even if it where running well - well, I don't want a microwave next to my head anymore. I have no need for it. I dislike using my DECT gear, but I prefer the low-power of that to the happiness that is a 3G mobile. Good for email and texting.</p> <p>But where i work, it's the Internet. Always the Internet. The mobiles I use are internet connected - for email and applications. Using 3G is a painful, uninspiring chore. I'm pleased the widgets have gotten to the point of being so capable, and this is the first of my 2 points in this blog:</p> <p>1. The device <strong>IS</strong> the experience<br>As we know the selection on the market is astronomic. Which one is the right one to use?</p> <p>Tonight I had to get Skype going, for the <em>very</em> real <strong>actual</strong> purpose of communicating face to face. I gave up on my PC gear and used the Mac - and it worked first time, very well, even with a low-grade camera. My wife, many of my colleagues and acquaintance's - they do ask my view/opinion of gear, as 'someone' who will&nbsp; know and have a view - and they know I have a view.</p> <p>But as my wife points out, there is no way she would talk to the boys in Dick Smith, Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman etc - the atmosphere is intimidating, the techniques for selling visible and shameful, the actual help in many cases just utter rubbish. It reminds of dodgy car salesmen at times. </p> <p>Yet. in the UFB world, DEVICES are KING. In the UFB world, who cares really about who provides the POTS line or Internet? the fibre after all comes from one company. The weakest link in today's industry (Telecom Copper) will be the only game in town soon enough (TeleChorus Fibre). After that, the differentiator is internet and call plans, and the quality of customer service/service reliability. What's left, except the widgets with which you use your ufb?</p> <p>Which then leads to the 2nd and last point. </p> <p>2. POWER.<br>An interesting point I heard from a Chorus chappie after the Feb 22nd earthquake was their absolute drive to restore Mobile for basic comms only, and Internet primarily - because most people wanted to visit the Civil Defence website, and NOT disrupt the work the humans were doing. Internet was more important - and many people struggled with the lack of power, as we know, for a great many basic necessities, like heating and communication. </p> <p>Fibre is connected to your property at a termination point, then connected to a device referred to as a NID (Network Interface Device), NTU (Network Terminating Unit), IAD (Integrated Access Device), ONT (Optical Network Terminator) or other such acronym. They all do roughly the same thing: turn the light signals on fibre into electrical signals for use by your equipment. This device needs power - not a lot, but it does need it. And it needs to come from you, unless somebody has managed to convert the light to useful energy... So there is link 1, needing a feed.</p> <p>Link 2: Highly likely you will have some unit from your service provider, which will supply you options of WIFI, VOICE, IPTV or similar content, Internet. whatever innovation emerges. Another feed point needing power.</p> <p>As these 2 units provide critical services, they should get support power - both to protect against outage and provide respectable runtime - 3-7 hours in my view.</p> <p>And that's it. </p> <p>DEVICES<br>POWER</p> <p>Both replacing the PSTN as a the base network, with Internet as the base upon which which all else is built. And that is where everyone must strive to succeed - securing the internet end to end, so that it all. just works.</p>Org charts&hellip; Silicon Valley style, the Universe and EverythingWed, 29 Jun 2011 11:01:00 PDT<p>I would argue that this doesn't just equate to Silicon Valley. Who's willing to play "plug in NZ companies into the chart below"?</p> <p><a href=""><img style="background-image: none; border-right-width: 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; padding-top: 0px" title="org-chart" border="0" alt="org-chart" src="" width="549" height="542"></a></p>Innovation, the Universe and EverythingSat, 04 Jun 2011 23:03:00 PDT<p>Original weblink: <a href="" target="_blank">PWC on Innovation</a></p> <p>A friend of mine reposted this article on his <a href="" target="_blank">LinkedIn</a> profile, which is on Innovation, and is something I found quite interesting. I'm posting it here, because it holds very true for the ICT industry in New Zealand, especially now that the UFB project is about to get going (more on my views in a coming post).</p> <p>The main points:</p> <p><em>"Demystifying Innovation: take down the barriers to new growth," the drive for innovation must arise from the CEO and other executive leadership by creating a culture that is open to new ideas and systematic in its approach to their development. The innovation process generally has four phases:</em> <ul> <li><em><strong>Discovery</strong>: Identifying and sourcing ideas and problems that are the basis for future innovation. Sources may include employees as well as customers, suppliers, partners and other external organisations.</em> <li><em><strong>Incubation</strong>: Refining, developing and testing good ideas to see if they are technically feasible and make business sense.</em> <li><em><strong>Acceleration</strong>: Establishing pilot programs to test commercial feasibility.</em> <li><em><strong>Scale</strong>: Integrating the innovation into the company; commercialisation and mass marketing.</em></li></ul> <p><em>The study also identifies seven misconceptions about the innovation process:</em> <ul> <li><em><strong>Innovation can be delegated</strong>. Not so. The drive to innovate begins at the top. If the CEO doesn't protect and reward the process, it will fail.</em> <li><em><strong>Middle Management is the ally of innovation</strong>. Managers are not natural champions of innovation. They to reject new ideas in favor of efficiency.</em> <li><em><strong>Innovative people work for the money</strong>. Establishing a culture that embeds innovation in the organisation will attract and retain creative talent.</em> <li><em><strong>Innovation is a lucky accident</strong>. Successful innovation most often results from a disciplined process that sorts through many ideas.</em> <li><em><strong>The more open the innovation process, the less disciplined</strong>. Advances in collaborative tools, like social networking, are accelerating open innovation.</em> <li><em><strong>Businesses know how much innovation they need</strong>. Leaders must calculate their potential for inorganic growth to determine their need to innovate.</em> <li><em><strong>Innovation can't be measured</strong>. Leadership needs to identify its ROII--Return on Innovation Investment.</em></li></ul> <p>ICT is a capital intensive business; that means LOTS of cash spent by companies is classified a certain way and can be depreciated over future years, much like any other asset can be. If I spend $1m developing a new product, it means I can take a charge to the business accounts over the life of the product, rather than realise all costs up front. This might sound boring and a little dry, but it's a fundamental tenet of how investment works and the behaviour it drives in a company. Put another way, if you spend $1m buying a business, you expect returns over the life of the investment, like any other investment. The more the better.</p> <p>The interesting conundrum though is the last point; <em><u>Innovation can't be measured</u></em>. At least, not with significant accuracy in advance of the investment. Any investment carries risk, which can only be reduced by understanding more about the nature of the investment as well as the people making the promise.</p> <p>The significance of the last point is that Innovation involves Research &amp; Development - words that drive cold sweat into investment folk. Simple statements like 'Online Ordering', 'It all just works', 'It shouldn't be this hard' - well, Simple is difficult to engineer and takes a lot of effort. Folks have marvelled at how easy the Apple iPhone is to use - but prior to this, the industry threw GOBS of Innovation money at the concept. Apple did it better - and I bet they went down a lot of dead ends and wasted efforts in the process. </p> <p>That's a hard business case to write - 'The estimate is $4m, but about 15-30% of the project involves stuff we've never done before'. </p> <p>UFB has been pitched as $1.35bn public money investment, matched by at least equal private sector investment. The industry has thrown out estimates of $3-6bn of their investment over that time. Personally I believe it will be even more than this - but that is not a bad thing.</p> <p>Innovation doesn't occur just in technology - it can and should happen with distribution, delivery, user experience, billing and so on.</p> <p>But each change requires commitment and reason, and an element of risk. Some changes don't deliver new revenue - but they improve how a service is used and what customers experience.</p> <p>One of the best I have seen is with 2degress, on their Pay Monthly plans:</p> <p>I can set a billing threshold for my account, so I don't get billshock. For example, $250. At 80%, or $200, I get a warning text. At $250 my account gets suspended until I unlock it. It's a simple set and forget procedure, avoids opportunity to blow my bill (a BIG problem with Pay Later services), and gives me huge confidence to use it.</p> <p>Where the innovation is required: unlocking it. I have to go online, or make a call to the call centre.</p> <p>Why can't I just send a text back to a service number to say 'thanks for saving me, please unlock my account now'?</p>The race to 100mb Internet (part 3): All Good Things.... NZ telecommunications industryMon, 24 Jan 2011 09:39:00 PSTSo, I've been notified that the 100mb trial that TelstraClear has running in Wellington is due to finish at the end of January 2011, and I have given some feedback around what I thought the service was good for:<br /><br />1. iTunes<br />2. YouTube HD Video<br />3. The ever-present Microsoft and Apple patchs, regular and clockwork and flippin enormous every time<br />4. Virtual working (Citrix, VMWare and so on), due to the need for LOW latency.<br /><br />I also found a useful&nbsp;extra&nbsp;which I thought were quite good:<br /><br />Plays For Sure content. Over xmas, my kids got some DVD's they wanted to watch on dad's iPod. These DVD's came with the option to get a digital version that works across a number of widgets.<br /><br />Each DVD has a unique 500-number key, but once entered correctly you get to DOWNLOAD a new file that gets deposited in your library (iTunes in my case). Each movie is high-qual, scales from iPod to 24" monitor without artifacting. and is 1.25GB in size. <br /><br />In my previous article, I discussed 'Always On' - the concept whereby you can always get what you want, with blistering speed (<a href=""></a>). This was one of those times that speed mattered - and the movies just flew down. I have also downloaded a few hefty album CD's, which come replete with Video Singles - fantastic, beautifally encoded content that looks the biz. And boy does it burn the GB's.<br /><br />I don't really care that&nbsp;this doesn't have 'GEEK' appeal;&nbsp;I am well capable of finding filched content like most people, but I choose not to, because the experience&nbsp;is just so poor - and to what end? I've got friends that try to get the latest movies which have been camcorded from the&nbsp;theatre and sent out on the torrents... oooo,&nbsp;now there's&nbsp;something I'd like to share, dodgy video with people coughing&nbsp;in the background. Fun.<br /><br />It reminds me of watching the cricket at the basin by climbing the trees; sure, you got away without a ticket, but it was a pain in the bum (literally) and ultimately not that enjoyable.<br /><br />100mb&nbsp;is not fibre. fibre is a technology that could be used&nbsp;to deliver high speed connections, of which internet&nbsp;is one possibility, but which&nbsp;also allows&nbsp;high-grade video,&nbsp;high quality voice, multiple call lines into a premises and so on. But fibre means new powered equipment in the premises, video-capable devices (do YOU see a camera on your TV?), new computers, and upgrades. <br /><br />Yet on the whole, this is becoming more frequent. Mobiles turnover pretty fast, and they come with a huge range of built-in capability. My mobile is 4 years old (really), and if I ever get another I know it's replacement will be 10x better than what it can do now. It will be replaced when it finally dies, by necessity, like nearly all mobiles (and judging by performance, that's about 5 weeks away). My computer is also 4 years old - an eternity in technology lifecycle. The next generation of consoles - Playstation 4, Wii 2, Xbox 720, whatever -&nbsp;will all be wifi'd to an inch of their life, ready for high-speed internet in the home. <br /><br />Yet we wring our hands over what a change in network technology will do. Therein lies the rub, and it's not the show-stopper people make it out to be. Sure, as a world we got used to having landlines that were powered from the exchange, meaning we could make a 111 call in a power outage. Many of these folks will also&nbsp;have DECT phones which need mains to run, and even more people in younger demographics go mobile only - battery powered. So what we actually got used to was ALWAYS ON; the comfort that came with <em>knowing </em>you could make an emergency call, should you need to. THAT is what needs to be worked on - not what can go wrong, but how we turn the change into opportunity, and just get on with it.<br /><br />Thankfully, some companies are. Others are working towards getting on with it. But get on with it we should. Where there are services already, people should sell. The metro areas of the main cities I believe are pretty well served, even if many&nbsp;the telco's have a poor to abysmal public record of delivery. It is for those areas that don't have choice where there are lots of people that next energies should go: Greater Auckland and Waikato. Hawkes Bay certainly. Taranaki too. Manawatu seems to have some choice. Greater Canterbury certainly needs some now. Otago/Queenstown and Southland. <br /><br />I read a great quote the other day:<br />Amateurs talk about&nbsp;making change. The achievers just get on and do it, day by day.<br /><br />Roll on!The Race to 100 Mbps (part 2): Always On NZ telecommunications industryWed, 22 Dec 2010 05:44:00 PSTIn the late 90's the telco industry was going through another round of uber-investment to install GPRS networks for Mobile Data, ahead of forthcoming torrent of money that would be unleashed when 3G finally rolled round. An over-used term at the time was 'Always-On', which was meant to be a soundbite summarising why mobile data is important. Today we would never question the concept: a mobile without access to the internet? Oh yeah, it's only $1/mb etc, doesn't feel like my prepay goes down that fast.<br /><br />Way back when, these concepts were analysed in depth, at length, and serious money was spent verifying whether always-on was relevant, and would the public at large comprehend the whole MB charging concept???<br /><br />At the time, the only application that was 'Always-on' was your voice and text messaging service. The voice and text 'app' were embedded in the phone, were a core part of how it worked, and were not considered an 'app' at all, as it just came with the phone.<br /><br />I bring this up in terms of context for the High Speed Internet service I am using, on TelstraClear's cable network, in Wellington. The speed is running at 100mbps download and 10mbps upload, maximum. See earlier comments here <a title="Race to 100mb part 1" href=""> </a><br /><br />A while ago I was asked what 100mbps was good for. And just like those early days of GPRS, I thought about finding an application or use case expression... and failed dismally, because that's not the way to view the opportunity.<br /><br />The pace in the western world is accelerating. Information is more readily available, in more forms, quicker than ever before. Perhaps it is hard to digest. Or perhaps we just to expand how we use our brains and learn to filter more effectively, or listen to others and get their view. But, it's not going to slow down. Information will not decrease. Live with it.<br /><br />So to quote an overused expression, we have to 'suck it up'.<br /><br />And in that respect: i don't want to wait, and I don't want to compromise what I do get. A 15mbps connection on TelstraClear cable is pretty good. You can download an average quality YouTube clip in semi reasonable time.<br /><br />But what brought 100mbps home for me, was watching my daughters explore YouTube and download High Definition content as the default, not the fallback. I hate grainy movies and poor quality audio - I don't have time for it. Huge downloads are a pain when your link is slow, and irrelevant when it only takes seconds. <br /><br />'Glee' gets a good amount of airtime here. If you can tolerate the stageshow nature of the programme - I enjoy musicals, so no problem for me - the different is amazing (720 vs 360) when you upscale and go fullscreen, especially to a large TV. <br /><br /><img src="" alt="360p" width="560" height="341" /><br /><br /><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="" alt="720" width="560" height="341" /><br /><br />It also veritably FLIES down, starting to exercise the Youtube cache that TelstraClear put in a little while ago.<br /><br />Hardly stuff that's going to add another $100bn or so to the NZ economy. Parking the hyperbole, faster speed does lead to new experiences, and that's what it's about at the end of the day. <br /><br />With speeds like this becoming widely available, paired with a high-qaulity wireless router (like an Airport Extreme, which I think works brilliantly), the 'concept' of always-on for wireless widget (ipods, smartphones, ipads) as well as streaming content&nbsp;to a TV from the web - well it's all just there. You STOP having to make a cup of tea wanting for the content. <br /><br />You just get on with it.<br /><br />More coming after the xmas break... have a good holiday, wonderful surfing and enjoy the sun....<br />The race to 100 meg Internet (part 1) NZ telecommunications industrySat, 11 Dec 2010 11:48:00 PST<p>Disclosure: I <strong>work</strong> for TelstraClear, in product development and strategy.</p> <p>In marketing &amp; management vernacular this would be the familiar terms of 'early adopter', 'leading edge' and 'pioneer'. I particularly like 'pioneer' - it conjures the image of a hard man in a strange place, almost alone, and making things work because they have to. The number 8 fencing wire myth of how New Zealand was made in particular resonates with the image. Ringing in my mind to this day though, is a quote I heard while studying at University, about why IBM were never pioneers in a technology.</p> <p>The quip that came back was that 'pioneers were the one's with arrows in their ar*e', and that IBM chose to follow in the early footsteps of pioneers so they could make things 'go large' to use another term familiar to New Zealanders about success.</p> <p>I like to think I'm a man of firsts. If not in carving out raw wilderness - my house has a wild enough section to keep me occupied for some time - then certainly in the area of technology and communication services. That's Mobile, VOIP, Internet, TVoverIP and so on, in common terms. And if not a pioneer - I look for help as much as the next person - then certainly someone focused on moving from the old to the new, in a very large way.</p> <p>So the Governments' first announcements for UFB were interesting; Northpower and WEL. I worked on an early TCL project to use Northpower's fibre network, the first services of which went to market in November 2008.&nbsp; These guys are definitely focused on more fibre, so was an easy first win for the crown. The next was watching the announcements on bandwidth and the art of the possible, for residential and business customers. and the more mundane first products CFH has announced (30/10, 100/50 and 1/1Gbps), all with a min bandwidth of 2.5CIR.</p> <p>I recently joined the 100/10 mb/s trial service that TCL is running, for those with access to the HFC network. I changed from the Lightspeed40g 15/2 package, which most HFC customers got in the price change implemented on October 1. The data cap is set at 120gb, and so far I have used. 6GB. Some weeks prior I was asked what 100mb is actually good for; what does it enable that the current speeds don't; and what are people likely to ask for? Being able to say 'I have tried; I have researched; I have discovered; I can comment' based on the real-world, rather than the lab, is invaluable. To use a sporting metaphor, it's easy to read the theory on playing football, but at some point you need to get in the field and kick the ball.</p> <p>So first things first: getting connected, which was easy. I replaced the old Motorola standup surfboard modem with the new Cisco DPC3010, which is a lay flat, and quite tiny by comparison (15x14x3cm). It comes with 1 GigE WAN port, USB2 data port and of course the F-Connector to connect to the cable network. The unit is in an 'entertainment' cabinet but has about 20cm of ventilation above it - and it needs it. The heat from the unit is noticeable, like most Cisco gear I've ever used.</p> <p><a href=""><img style="background-image: none; border-right-width: 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: block; float: none; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; margin-left: auto; border-left-width: 0px; margin-right: auto; padding-top: 0px" title="IMG_1369" border="0" alt="IMG_1369" src="" width="442" height="130"></a></p> <p>This unit is connected to a modern 802.11n wireless router. The router/switch equipment is HUGELY important when it comes to high speed internet - not least of which, the wireless device you use. The configuration of WIFI+Internet can't be ignored - and the way WIFI works doesn't easily matchup with how wired Internet works.</p> <p>The main issue is error correction and speed. 802.11g router's are sold as "up to 54mbps", which is technically accurate. But this is 54mbps for the wireless link, and most of that bandwidth is chewed up in error correction - so you'll get about 20mbps clear to your computer by the time you're done. </p> <p>802.11n increases this threshold to about 150mbps in the air - but of course, both device and access point need to be compatible, and you need to be sure they aren't too far apart. The further apart devices are, the weaker the signal, the greater the error correction and reprocessing. we haven't moved that far away from the basic principles of radio: poor signal = poor quality. Running a speedtest here, I get consistent reports of 90mbps wired, and between 30-50mbps over WIFI 802.11n.</p> <p>So far I haven't said a word about what 100mb would be good for. When I was asked my opinion way back when, here's what I said:</p> <p>1. Big-draw items, like iTunes, Skype HD Video, Torrent websites and other streaming media like Youtube or IPTV like Ziln, although pipe speed is just one factor<br>2. Point to multipoint video<br>3. Any work involving large file transfers (Microsoft Patch Tuesday anyone??)<br>4. Hosted work involving Citrix, VMWare and other machines within machines. Not because of the bandwidth, but because of improved latency - a 100mb connection will almost certainly operate with very low latency, on high-grunt infrastructure.<br><br>and of course the old stalwart of the technology industry. 'applications we've yet to imagine but for which 100mb will be great'. or 'build it and the apps will come'.</p> <p>So what have I found?</p> <p>1/ My iTunes does download content faster. Purchased music just sounds better to me - the audio levels are balanced, the albums are complete, and the format works brilliantly for my iPod. Of course, my 4-year old PC still takes an age to churn through what I've downloaded and present it to me - my 100mb internet hasn't made my computer any faster!</p> <p>2/ Citrix and VMWare run a lot more snappily for me.</p> <p>3/ The web runs as fast as it ever did, although Microsoft and Apple patchfiles do get delivered faster. </p> <p>I'm keen to better see where this capability leads. A burst speed of 100mb in isolation is interesting but a little early - the Interweb's services are not scaled or dimensioned for a general population wanting to communicate at 100mb (more like 1mb). Sustained speed and latency would be intriguing - watching Apple movie trailers at 1080p was actually possible tonight (these files are around 200mb in size and take an age to download even on good quality low-speed).</p> <p>When the plumbing layer gets to the point where the speed is not an issue. great, not before time. Moving to the next step - turning over solid, reliable and consistent services - now that will be a good move. </p> <p>Comments welcome. I don't know where this technology will take us - but I'm interested to hear what others have to say.</p>Telecom sells Consumer part of AAPT NZ telecommunications industryThu, 29 Jul 2010 07:21:00 PDTTelecom has announced the sale of part of Australian unit AAPT to rival iiNet for A$60 million ($75 million), confirming speculation it was unable to conclude its preferred deal to sell the whole company.<br /> As well as selling AAPT's consumer division, Telecom said it had sold AAPT's 18.2 per cent stake in iiNet to institutional investors for A$70 million, A$11 million less than its carrying value as at June 30.<br /> Combined with the proceeds from its sale of 10.1 per cent of Macquarie Telecom announced yesterday, the deals will realise about A$140 million.<br /> Telecom had reportedly been seeking more than $400 million for AAPT as a going concern.<br /> It will now concentrate on running AAPT's fibre network and the wholesale and business divisions, it said.<br /> The sale of the consumer unit will reduce 2011 forecast earnings for AAPT by A$10 million, Telecom said.<br /> AAPT was expecting earnings of A$101.3 million for the year to June.<br /> Telecom CEO, Paul Reynolds, said: "Together these transactions rationalise non-core assets, strengthen Telecom's financial position, and help reposition AAPT's operations into a focused, network-centric wholesale and corporate business that is well-positioned for future growth."<br /> A Telecom spokesman said the company was now ''taking stock''.<br /> ''We're happy with the transactions we've made,'' he said.<br /> ''That's not to say if a good offer [for the rest of the business] was put in front of us we wouldn't look at it seriously. But having done these transactions, which we're pleased with, we'll take stock.''<br /> The buyer of AAPT's consumer business, listed Australian telco iiNet, said it expected the acquisition to boost earnings by A$20 million in the first full year.<br /> AAPT's 113,000 broadband subscribers and 251,000 other connections would bring its broadband customers to 652,000 and total active services to 1.3 million, it said.<br /> iiNet will continue to buy wholesale services from AAPT.<br /> The transaction requires approval of iiNet shareholders and an extraordinary general meeting is expected to be held in September.<br />The click of death. Or not. A use for UFB? the pain!Sun, 11 Jul 2010 11:29:00 PDTWell, it happened. Not overnight... and without warning.<br /><br />My 500GB main disk died. No click of death. No warning from SMART. Nothing. <br /><br />The disk had been running a little poorly for the last few months - an unfortunate fight between ACPI and APM meant it's XP partition was never the same again.<br /><br />But this morning - nothing. Not even a parting goodbye.<br /><br />The darn thing won't register. I doubt it's even spinning up. <br /><br />Now, it wasn't <em>completely </em>unexpected.... I have a new 1TB drive with Vista Ultimate on it (and please don't start on why not Win7... I did not have $400 spare) that I was progressively moving to, at a speed the wife would accept. <br /><br />So now we're on Vista, I have a dead HD I'm wondering to do with, and a lot of stuff to migrate very quickly.<br /><br />But it got me thinking about the cloud, for the first time in a long time (especially given it's my job to have my head in the clouds).<br /><br />I've lost no email. My precious media of the children is on a seperate HD (which is about to be backed up AGAIN!). But I would love to be able to have a safe store for what is important to me and my family.<br /><br />With my TelstraClear Cable Internet, I can restore my email and any PC pretty easily - although getting Vista and the apps patched up again came to about 3GB in a day - but for real content? forget it. WHo can offer me 1TB of storage? and what Internet service can I use to upload that amount of info?<br /><br />A home server might be the answer... but that also has a hard disk that will eventually die. On the story goes.<br /><br />I've been struggling to think about what use a fast fibre network could be. This is one of the uses.<br /><br />But then economic reality steps in... my wife says she'd pay $30/month to back our data. That's real world consumer expectation, and she doesn't care what's involved in making it happen.<br /><br />SO who will be first with a 100Mbps Internet service and unmetered 1TB in the sky.&nbsp;$30 a month up for grabs.....<br />BP Spills Coffee, the Universe and EverythingSun, 27 Jun 2010 11:53:00 PDTEx Stuff website, but STILL very funny<br /><br /> <object width="425" height="350" data=";hd" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"> <param name="src" value=";hd" /> </object> <br /><br /><br />And streams _very_ well at HD on my cable connection at home...<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Telstra and NBN Co sign a Heads of Agreement - a portent of what's to come for NZ? NZ telecommunications industrySat, 19 Jun 2010 08:24:00 PDTTelstra has come to terms with NBN Co in a deal valued at $11 billion which will see the carrier <strong>decommission both copper and HFC telephone &amp; broadband services</strong>.<br /> Under the heads of agreement announced this afternoon, Telstra would provide access to Telstra facilities and progressively migrate Telstra traffic onto the National Broadband Network, subject to regulatory approval. The agreement for these terms will have an approximate value of $9 billion.<br /> Separately, the Federal Government has agreed to progress &ldquo;public policy reforms&rdquo; with an attributed value of approximately $2 billion. These basically involve changes to Telstra&rsquo;s current universal service obligations with the establishment of a new Commonwealth entity &ndash; USO Co &ndash; which will deliver unprofitable services. USO Co will receive a maximimum of $100m in annual taxpayer contributions with the rest to be funded by presumably increased industry contributions. It will take over Telstra&rsquo;s USO obligations from 2011.<br /> Telstra also said it has received a written agreement from the government that it will be able to participate in LTE spectrum auctions under the deal.<br /> &ldquo;This is a sound outcome for NBN Co because when finalised it can maximise the use of existing infrastructure and accelerate the roll out of its network,&rdquo; NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said in a press release.<br /> NBN Co added that Telstra would likely become its largest customer. NBN Co will pay Telstra for migration of traffic on to the NBN and the decommissioning of its network.<br /> The Heads of Agreement also provides for NBN Co&rsquo;s use of Telstra&rsquo;s &ldquo;existing fit-for-use infrastructure, such as ducts, pits and conduit and a right to acquire Telstra backhaul services and space in Telstra exchanges. While there is a considerable amount of negotiation and contractual work to go, we believe this agreement is a significant step forward to creating a more competitive telecommunications industry,&rdquo; Quigley said.<br /> Telstra expects to be able to place the deal to a shareholder vote in the first half of next year. The deal is subject to both that vote and ACCC approval.<br /><br />-------------------<br /><br />Wow.<br /><br />AK<br />