Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

ISP stats

October 25th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ has done its annual ISP survey. Some changes over time:

  • Dialup connections have dropped from 13% in 2011 to 3% in 2014
  • Fibre connections up from 13,000 in 2013 to 46,000 in 2014
  • Broadband download speeds of under 8 Mb/s down from 33% in 2011 to 14% in 2014
  • Broadband download speeds of over 24Mb/s up from 2% in 2011 to 16% in 2014
  • Broadband upload speeds of under 1.5 Mb/s down from 80% in 2011 to 38% in 2014
  • Broadband upload speeds of over 10Mb/s up from 0% in 2011 to 16% in 2014
  • Plans with no data caps up 2% to 8%
  • Plans with a data cap of over 50 GB up from 2% to 39%
  • Monthly PBs (million GBs) used up from 13.4 in 2011 to 53.1 in 2014
  • ISPs that are IPv6 capable up from 30% in 2011 to 52% in 2014

Really good to see the growth in plans with no data caps, and also the quite significant speed increases.

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Uber in NZ

October 16th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Controversial smartphone app Uber has struggling taxi drivers moonlighting for them, according to the New Zealand Taxi Federation.

Uber has its official launch in Wellington this afternoon even though it has been used in Wellington for the past couple of months. It was launched in Auckland earlier this year.

Uber allows registered drivers with their own cars to link up with customers through a smartphone app, with fares pre-agreed.

Federation executive director Roger Heale said they “were kind of enjoying” Uber being in New Zealand.

“The people who are driving for them are the taxi drivers who can’t get work anywhere else. They’re current taxi drivers who, if they get a job have to jump out, take the top sign off [the cab], and go around and do the job as an Uber driver.” …

Uber spokeswoman Katie Curran said they were “thrilled with the reception” they had received in Auckland and Wellington from riders and partner-drivers.

“We’re glad the Taxi Federation recognises that Uber is raising the standards of the for-hire transport industry.”

Good to see the NZ taxi industry not being hysterically opposed to new technology and business models, as some of their overseas counterparts have been.

 

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Google suggests

October 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A bit bored so typed some MPs names into Google to see what it suggested as common search terms. They include:

  • john key net worth
  • john key hotdog
  • david cunliffe polls
  • david cunliffe cat
  • russel norman katya paquin
  • metiria turei castle
  • metiria turei jacket
  • peter dunne animal testing
  • peter dunne hair
  • grant robertson real estate
  • david shearer fish
  • jacinda ardern twitter
  • jacinda ardern dj
  • nikki kaye husband
  • simon bridges emotional claptrap
  • judith collins brad pitt
  • judith collins assistant
  • chris hipkins partner
  • bill english siblings
  • julie anne genter partner

 

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You can now register .nz names directly

October 3rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

As of 1 pm Tuesday, you can register a domain name directly under .nz

You can check the status of any desired name at anyname.nz

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Otago Uni has every right to restrict the Internet on campus

October 2nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

The University of Otago’s ban on pornography in residential colleges is being slammed as an attack on student freedom.

Genetics student and former Toroa College resident Anton Hovius, 19, yesterday attacked what he called “draconian” alcohol and internet usage policies at Dunedin’s residential colleges.

Internet access at the colleges — most are university owned — runs through the university’s network.Certain websites, including file sharing and pornography sites, are blocked.

University student accommodation director James Lindsay rejected Mr Hovius’ concerns, saying the primary aim of colleges was to provide an environment where students could focus on their studies.

Mr Hovius, who recently unsuccessfully stood for OUSA’s colleges officer position, said he was not the only one who felt this was an unfair restriction on student freedom.

“I know a couple of friends who have been given warning notices from [Information Technology Services] down at the university, informing of their inappropriate use of university resources.”

As adults, students in halls should not be limited from using the internet as they saw fit, which included accessing pornography and file sharing sites.

“It doesn’t make sense when you are paying $340 bucks a week [which covers full board and food], to have the university interfering with what you are doing in your private time.”

 

The Government should not restrict what sites you can access, but Otago University has every right to say they will not provide access to porn and file sharing sites. They are not greatly different to an employer providing Internet. They do have a duty to not block sites which students need for research, and hopefully their blocking is done in a way which has minimal false positives.

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Cellphone use now ruled safe on flights

October 1st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Making phonecalls and sending text messages on planes could soon be commonplace after international aviation authorities deemed cellphone “flight mode” unnecessary.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) issued guidelines over the weekend permitting European airlines to allow passengers to use electronic transmitting devices, such as cellphones and tablets, at all times – including take-off and landing.

A similar change on New Zealand flights would need to be given the green light by the Civil Aviation Authority.

It’s been obvious for years there is no measurable risk.

Personally I would not allow phone calls on flights as they are disruptive to other passengers (unless maybe airlines offer a section you can book where calls are okay). But if passengers can get a signal, they should be able to text and access the Internet.

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Labour MP vs former candidate

September 29th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Beveridge blogs an an extraordinary series of tweets between Labour MP Clare Curran and former Labour candidate Tat Loo. Basically Curran claims Loo has no standing in Labour and that his branch is not constitutionally recognised. That may or may not be the case, but having ths dispute in public on Twitter dismayed many Labour supporters.

 

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Cato praises NZ patent law

September 25th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Eli Dourado at Cato writes:

Libertarians intuitively understand the case for patents: just as other property rights internalize the social benefits of improvements to land, automobile maintenance, or business investment, patents incentivize the creation of new inventions, which might otherwise be undersupplied.

So far, so good. But it is important to recognize that the laws that govern property, intellectual or otherwise, do not arise out of thin air. Rather, our political institutions, with all their virtues and foibles, determine the contours of property—the exact bundle of rights that property holders possess, their extent, and their limitations.

Intellectual property rights are very important, but they are a balance between rewarding innovation and allowing further innovation.

In defining the limits of patent rights, our political institutions have gotten an analogous question badly wrong. A single, politically captured circuit court with exclusive jurisdiction over patent appeals has consistently expanded the scope of patentable subject matter. This expansion has resulted in an explosion of both patents and patent litigation, with destructive consequences. …

In patent politics, the romance has been gone for at least three decades. Here’s why. In most areas of law, the loser in a federal trial appeals to the circuit court corresponding to the federal judicial district in which the trial was held. But in 1982, at the urging of the patent bar, Congress consolidated appellate review of all patent cases in a newly created Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

And get this – the Federal Circuit Court basically is a law to itself, and ignores the Supreme Court.

Observers on all sides widely recognize that the Federal Circuit routinely undermines Supreme Court precedent. …

Supreme Court justices also recognize the Federal Circuit’s insubordination. In oral arguments inCarlsbad Technology v. HIF Bio (2009), Chief Justice John Roberts joked openly about it:

Mr. Rhodes: I can’t suggest what the Court might finally decide other than to say that—that, again, the circuit courts of appeal have uniformly applied this. They seem to be—

Chief Justice Roberts: Well, they don’t have a choice, right? They can’t say, I don’t like the Supreme Court rule so I’m not going to apply it, other than the Federal Circuit.

So what can be done?

Another helpful reform would be for Congress to limit the scope of patentable subject matter via statute. New Zealand has done just that, declaring that software is “not an invention” to get around WTO obligations to respect intellectual property. Congress should do the same with respect to both software and business methods.

Nice to see our law held up as a model.

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Project Speargun was the ditched cyber security project

September 25th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

story from last week worth highlighting:

The Government Communications Security Bureau has tightened its defence over claims of mass surveillance by confirming the term “Project Speargun” was used to describe an abandoned element of a proposed cyber defence system.

American journalist Glenn Greenwald had accused the New Zealand Government of conflating Project Speargun, which he believed was evidence of mass surveillance, with Project Cortex, a project to defend New Zealand institutions from cyber attack.

A GCSB spokesman told Fairfax that Speargun was a code that referred to “a core component of the cyber defence project in its earlier iterations” and which comprised part of an option set out in a Cabinet paper released by Prime Minister John Key on Monday.

“The prime minister decided the Speargun component specifically would not be taken forward,” he said.

Confirmation that Speargun was a term used by the bureau to describe an abandoned element of its cyber defence system is important for two reasons.

On the one hand, it confirms the authenticity of slides presented by Greenwald at the Internet Party’s “moment of truth” event on Monday, which were the first public reference to Project Speargun.

But it provides a relatively innocuous explanation for the seemingly explosive statements those slides contained.

The most intriguing statement in the slides read: “GCSB’s cable access programme SPEARGUN phase 1; awaiting new GCSB Act expected July 2013; first meta data probe mid 2013.”

The terms “cable access” and “probe” suggest mass surveillance, but the slides could be describing the progress of a cyber defence system.

Detecting malware would necessitate inspecting the metadata of incoming packets of internet traffic. In other words, Greenwald’s smoking gun could be a cigarette lighter that looked quite like a gun.

So the moment of truth was a forged e-mail and a cyber-security initiative that was never implemented.

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Smart work by Spark

September 23rd, 2014 at 10:32 pm by David Farrar

Cameron Slater blogged on Saturday about problems with cellphone coverage and how he was considering swapping telcos to get better coverage.

Cameron blogs how soon after that he got a call from the CE of Spark Home, Mobile and Business (Chris Quin) asking if they can help find a solution. And Quin phoned him from Singapore!

The following day, a solution had been installed.

Obviously Cameron got preferential service, as he has the most read blog in NZ. But that makes the response even smarter. A phone call from the CE has led to great publicity for Spark, and shows their senior management to actually be in touch.

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Berners-Lee on net neutrality

September 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A quarter-century ago, Timothy Berners-Lee designed the world’s first Web browser and server, kicking off a thing that people started calling the World Wide Web.

In a visit to The Washington Post, on Thursday, Berners-Lee said that system is now in danger from Internet service providers (ISPs) who stand to amass too much power over what was intentionally built as a decentralised network – one where no single actor could dictate outcomes to everyone else.

Berners-Lee pushed back against opponents of net neutrality regulation who argue that applying new rules on ISPs is tantamount to regulating the Internet.

There’s a difference between regulating providers of broadband and the services that run on top of it, said Berners-Lee. Strong net neutrality rules would help preserve that line dividing the two and limit the incentive of ISPs to meddle in the market for services.

I agree with Sir Tim..

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Southern Cross Cable on the Dotcom allegations

September 15th, 2014 at 5:11 pm by David Farrar

A press release from Southern Cross Cable:

Claims of cable access total nonsense

The claims made today by journalist Glenn Greenwald that the Southern Cross undersea cables have been tapped into or accessed are total nonsense said the CEO Anthony Briscoe today.

The cables, which link New Zealand to Australia, the Pacific and the United States, are untouched, Mr Briscoe noted.

“I can tell you quite categorically there is no facility by the NSA, the GCSB or anyone else on the Southern Cross cable network.”

“Let’s be quite blunt. To do this, we would have to take the cable out of service and I can assure you there’s no way we are going to do that.

“It is a physical impossibility to do it without us knowing. There is just no way it can be done. I can give you absolute assurances from Southern Cross – and me as a Kiwi – that there are no sites anywhere on the Southern Cross network that have to do with interception or anything else the NSA or GCSB might want to do.”

He added, any breach of the cable would require temporarily shutting down its transmission for hours. Southern Cross has monitoring systems built into its computers watching for any such break and they would be triggered as soon as any attempt was made.

“There isn’t a technology in the world, as far as I am aware, that can splice into an undersea fibre optic cable without causing a serious outage and sending alarms back to our network operation centre, that something’s wrong.”

Southern Cross is obligated to comply with the well-established and public lawful surveillance requirements in the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act and related laws in the United States. However there is no equipment installed in the New Zealand or United States landing stations, or on the cable itself, which could result in mass interception of communications.

We are very disturbed that such unfounded allegations have been made and feel that it’s important for all New Zealanders to understand that this outrageous claim is totally untrue.

The so called moment of truth is turning into a moment of farce.

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Australian copyright reform fails

September 13th, 2014 at 7:01 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

“Unanimous” opposition to the Australian government’s proposed copyright law changes will force it back to the drawing board to tackle online piracy, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull says.

Representatives from both sides of the online piracy debate – including the telecommunications companies and rights holders – have warned the changes to copyright law outlined in the government’s discussion paper on online piracy are too broad and could have negative unintended consequences. 

Turnbull hosted a lively public forum in Sydney on Tuesday night that included panellists from the film and television sectors, internet service providers and consumer groups.

The government has proposed creating a new legal framework – known as “extended authorisation liability” – to make internet service providers more accountable for their customers’ illicit downloading.

A stupid idea.

Australian Performing Rights Association CEO Brett Cottle said that despite the availability of affordable online music streaming services such as Spotify an estimated 3 to 3.5 million Australians use torrent services at least once a month to download music without authorisation. 

But a study commissioned by Spotify, released on Tuesday, found music piracy had declined by 20 per cent in Australia thanks largely to the availability of legal streamings services. 

Good – heading in the right direction.

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iPhone 6

September 10th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Apple have announced details of their new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+. The 6 has a 4.7 inch display and the iPhone 6+ a 5.5 inch display. The iPhone 4 by comparison is 3.5″ and iPhone 5 is 4.0″

Features include:

  • Thinner (6.9 mm and 7.1 mm)
  • Higher Res (1920 x 1080 for the 6+)
  • 64 bit A8 chip
  • An M8 co-processor that can calculate elevation, number of steps climbed etc and also be a barometer
  • 8 megapixel camera
  • A near range wireless chip which can be used to make small purchases – very exciting
  • Battery life of 11 or 14 hours
  • Handoff to allow you to switch between Apple devices

I’m definitely buying one. Not just for the new features – but mainly because my 4s battery only lasts around four hours now before draining!

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A cool school app

September 6th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Keeping up with the kids’ school activities just got easier for some Hamilton parents thanks to a mobile phone app.

Parents can notify absences, check upcoming events and get notices and more through Southwell School’s app.

It has been up and running for around two weeks and is so far on about 500 phones.

The free app runs on iPhone and Android and was developed by Snapp Mobile in about six weeks, Helm said.

Southwell would have spent less than $5000 on the app, which came with a “back end” website so the school can make minor modifications.

Snapp Mobile director Joshua Woodham said more and more schools were choosing to communicate with parents through apps.

School parents were on the go and found it helpful to receive updates and alerts on their mobile devices wherever they were, he said.

Functions of the Southwell app include checking out upcoming events and copying them to personal calendars, linking parents to ticket purchasing, quick access to staff contact details, and alerts straight to mobile.

That’s a very worthwhile investment. Good initiative.

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35 more towns to get fibre under National

September 4th, 2014 at 2:31 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A further 5 per cent of New Zealanders will get ultrafast broadband if National is re-elected, the Government has announced.

National communications spokeswoman Amy Adams said the footprint of the fibre-optic cable network would be extended from the original target of 75 per cent of the country to a new target of 80 per cent at a cost of between $152 million and $210m.

The extended programme would be funded from the Future Investment Fund.

Adams listed 35 towns she said would be “strong contenders” to join the existing 33 cities and towns getting UFB. They included some large towns such as Westport and Picton.

The UFB programme was the “most ambitious communications infrastructure programme in the world, given our low population density”, Adams said.

Excellent. A few shares in Air New Zealand or some power stations in exchange for another 5% of the population gaining fibre. A great move, and very welcome I am sure by the 200,000 extra New Zealanders who will now get fibre under this plan.

The towns named by Adams as strong contenders for UFB are: Te Puke, Motueka, Morrinsville, Kerikeri, Huntly, Thames, Matamata, Otaki, Kawerau, Waitara, Kaitaia, Dannevirke, Alexandra, Stratford, Whitianga, Cromwell, Taumarunui, Picton, Foxton, Kaikohe, Marton, Te Kuiti, Katikati, Temuka, Waihi, Waipukurau, Warkworth, Carterton, Dargaville, Opotiki, Snells Beach, Te Aroha, Wairoa, Paeroa and Westport.

National has led the way on having a fibre connected country. In 2008 all Labour was promising was VDSL to more of NZ. National promised and is delivering fibre to 75% of NZ, and now 80% of NZ. On top of that a big investment in rural broadband.

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Google Drones are coming

September 1st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Google has made a big bet developing airborne drones capable of delivering anything from candy to medicine – and has been testing the flying vehicles on a Queensland farm on the Darling Downs.

Google X, a division of the US-based technology company dedicated to making major technological advancements, tested Project Wing near Warwick earlier this month, the first time “non-Googlers” had been involved.

Google X director Astro Teller said Project Wing’s goal was ultimately to build a system for delivering small and medium sized packages within minutes to anyone, using self-flying vehicles.

Bring it on.

“There’s no reason we should all have a power drill in our garage when, at any one time, the world is using one hundredth of a per cent of its power drills,” he said from the company’s headquarters in California.

“Also, there are situations like emergency response after a flood, or an earthquake, or a tornado, where bringing medicine or other supplies to people who are in need can be very valuable and time can be of the essence.

“We’re looking at the whole spectrum of value that can be delivered using self-flying vehicles.”

The prototype drone used in Queensland was a “tailsitter”, which allowed for vertical take-offs and landings and high speeds during flight – up to about 90km/h.

Very cool.

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Should rural broadband be funded by taxpayers or telcos?

August 29th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

National announced this week a further $100 million for regional broadband. I certainly welcome the investment, as I have welcomed the investment in fibre to 75% of NZ. I think there are overall benefits to NZ by having a fast connected country.

But there is one part of National’s policy I am not so comfortable with. The fibre to the home initiative is funded by the NZ Government, ie taxpayers. As I said, confortable to have some taxpayer investment in infrastructure.

But the $100 million for rural broadband will be funded by extending a levy on telecommunications companies. And this money will go from them, to possibly their competitors. I’m not so keen on this.

If there is a case for better rural broadband (and there is), then it should be funded by the Government (taxpayers), not by a levy on telcos.

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Greens are advertising on Whale Oil!!

August 28th, 2014 at 3:52 pm by David Farrar

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Stuff has this screenshot of Whale Oil, with Green Party advertising on it. That’s very very funny.

It’s very nice of the Greens to help boost the income of Whale Oil.

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$100 million for rural broadband

August 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

InternetNZ has welcomed a move by ICT Minister Amy Adams to top up the six-year, $300 million Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) with $100 million more in contestable funding if National is re-elected.

Ms Adams has also promised $50 million to boost mobile phone coverage in remote areas.

The policy would be funded by extending the Telecommunications Development Levy, currently due to expire in 2016, for another three years.

The Levy (successor to the old Kiwi Share Levy that used to go straight into Telecom’s pocket) extracts $50 million a year from telecommunications companies, proportionate to their revenue (see Commerce Commission table right).

As the law stands, the levy will reduce to $10 million a year after 2016.

Funds from the levy go toward the RBI build, which is being carried out by contract winners Vodafone (building new cell towers fixed wireless broadband leg) and Chorus (fibre). Unlike the $1.35 billion the Crown is investing in various companies involved in the urban Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) rollout, the money does not have to be paid back, and Chorus and Vodafone get to operate RBI infrastructure on a commercial basis (with the proviso they give all retailers equal access). 

The fact the new funding is contestable is a blow for Chorus, which had been feeding off rumours that National will put more money toward public-private broadband. 

I think it is a good thing that the funding will be contestable, so rural regions get the best bang for the buck.

Today’s policy announcement has also put Labour on the backfoot. 

National has already comprehensively out-spent the previous Labour government on broadband; Labour’s ICT policy promised new spending in the region of $21 million.

Again, David Cunliffe and Clare Curran find themselves out-Laboured by Steven Joyce and Amy Adams.

Labour need all the spare money to pay families on welfare more money for staying on welfare.

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Studying Simon Lusk

August 24th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Geoffrey Miller has gone back through Simon Lusk’s Master’s thesis on Ecampaigning, and makes some observations.

 

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If you want to follow the 100 recommended on Twitter

August 18th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar


Geoffrey Miller (who co-authored the list) has set up a Tweet list of the 100 accounts to fllow for the election, for those interested.

Actually the list only has 99 members on it, because for some reason Martyn Bradbury has blocked him!

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Smart lights

August 18th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington wants to be the first city in the southern hemisphere with street lights that track runaway dogs, flash when someone is in danger and dim when there is no one around.

A city council committee will this week consider whether to upgrade the capital’s 18,000 street lights with brighter LED bulbs and digital technology that interacts with smartphones, tablet computers and GPS satellites.

They would also be fitted with infra-red sensors so they can dim to about 10 per cent of full power when no-one is around and illuminate whenever someone walks by.

Paul Glennie, the city council’s team leader of strategic planning, said all sorts of services could be delivered once the capital’s street lights were all “talking to each other” across a wireless connection.

Wellingtonians could use their smartphones or tablets to tap into the lights and track how far away a rubbish truck was or see which lamppost their microchipped dog was sniffing around.

Motorists could be directed to available parking spaces via their GPS devices.

City officials could also adjust light levels via their smart-devices or a text message whenever heavy rain or snow hit the city, or when emergency services required.

“It could be that street lights actually flash outside a property that has called for an ambulance,” Glennie said.

LED lights use less power but produce better light, and illuminate to 100 per cent without the need for a warm-up period.

That means there would be no danger to public safety but energy use could drop by up to 95 per cent, Glennie said.

“Currently we leave the lights on all night whether there’s people around or not. But if we can turn them down when no one is around then no one should really be affected.”

Creating the southern hemisphere’s first “smart” light network could cost between $10 million and $20m but save capital ratepayers about $2.1m each year in energy savings.

Sounds a good investment to me.

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100 people to follow on Twitter

August 17th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Bryce Edwards in the NZ Herald gives a list of 100 people to follow on Twitter for the election.

Redbaiter will be delighted to have made the list. Well done Red!

The slightly sad thing is I think I was already following 99 of the 100 people listed (can’t follow myself!)

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Dotcom has another go at Xero

August 16th, 2014 at 5:53 am by David Farrar

Chris Keall reports:

Not content with trolling over the Hager book, Kim Dotcom decided to pick another fight with business icon Rod Drury, baiting him over Xero’s share price.

Get off the grass, Kim.

The political party Dotcom founded is campaigning for cheaper and better broadband connectivity, domestically and internationally. Drury has pushed hard on both those issues. So you’d think he’d be someone Dotcom would respect. …

Dotcom is claiming credit for Xero’s share price dropping 20%, as if this is a proud achievement.

Xero has 330,000 small businesses as customers, and has created 900 jobs – mainly in New Zealand.  They are our our most successful Internet based company. Rod personally has also been a huge champion for Internet issues.

Yet the founder of the Internet Party denigrates him, for he won’t worship at the Dotcom altar. So again do we think Doctom put $4 million into the Internet Party because he is passionate about Internet issues, or because he wants utu?

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