Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Wi-Fi must be banned!

November 21st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

Balclutha parent has resigned from her school’s board of trustees because she believes it is not taking her concerns about Wi-Fi in classrooms seriously. …

Many New Zealand schools operate Wi-Fi in classrooms, but former board member Julia Hunter said she had serious concerns the Government was not paying attention to the growing evidence of biological damage being caused by Wi-Fi, and instead continued to reassure boards everything was safe.

”Sadly, our New Zealand standard is 15 years old and was set on the thermal heating of a 90kg man after only six minutes of exposure.

”Our children . . . are being exposed to this equipment for six hours a day, five days a week.”

Sounds terrible! Except …

Ministry of Education student achievement head Graham Stoop said measurements in New Zealand and overseas showed exposures to radio frequency fields from Wi-Fi equipment were extremely low, amounting to tiny fractions of the limit allowed for the public in New Zealand.

A recent study of two New Zealand schools found the highest exposures were 4000 times below the limit, with typical exposures more than 10,000 times below the limit, he said.

If it was half the limit then maybe you’d get worried.

She also found:

Mrs Hunter said there had been no long-term scientific studies conducted on the harm the equipment was doing to children, and in 2011 the World Health Organisation re-classified Wi-Fi electromagnetic as 2B, a possible carcinogen.

They love that word carcinogen.

”Exposures from Wi-Fi are significantly lower than cellphones. The class 2B classification is also shared with everyday items such as coffee, pickled vegetables, talcum powder and sunblock.”

We must ban coffee and talcum powder in schools also!

 

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Netflix coming to NZ

November 20th, 2014 at 6:39 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Lightbox, the internet-based television service launched by Spark this year, has welcomed the competition from United States online streaming giant Netflix, which aims to start up in New Zealand in March.

Lightbox says it is “confident” it has enough to offer that Netflix will not have.

Netflix, an online TV and movie website with 53 million customers worldwide, will directly compete with both Sky TV and Lightbox.

It will be good to have Netflix here officially. It gets a bit tiring pretending to be American so they will take your money!

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Suppressed name

November 18th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A complaint has been lodged with police against a former politician who tweeted the name of a prominent Otago man who has permanent name suppression.

The man’s lawyer, Jonathan Eaton, QC, confirmed to the Otago Daily Times a “formal complaint was lodged with the NZ police last evening”.

That complaint related to a tweet by a former politician who named the man on Twitter.

The Herald have not named the former politician. It is not hard to guess though. I’m interested in where liability may lie if you do name the former politician who tweeted. Think through these scenarios.

  1. If I retweeted the tweet naming the prominent Otago man, then that would very likely mean I breached the supression order also
  2. If I did not retweet it, but provided a link on my blog to the tweet, would that make me liable? Probably.
  3. What if I do not link to the specific tweet, but did link to the twitter account. Would I be liable? Less clear cut.
  4. And what if I named the former politician who tweeted, but did not link to his twitter account. Is simply naming him something that could make me liable? I would hope not, but like the Herald won’t risk it.

The former politician still has the tweets up, and has repeated the name in a subsequent tweet, so I don’t think he cares if he gets prosecuted. Hard to imagine he won’t be, as the breach is deliberate and sustained. I have sympathy for what he did as I think name suppression should not have been granted, but think it is unwise for anyone to deliberately breach a legal order.

Any commenter who names (or hints at identity) of the tweeter (or the supressed) will get a strike.

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What is the Chief Censor up to?

November 14th, 2014 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

InternetNZ have said:

InternetNZ is surprised and bemused by recent comments from the Chief Censor that he is considering “prosecuting” Slingshot over its GlobalMode service that enabled Internet users to access sites that were otherwise blocked in New Zealand.

Whether Slingshot’s global mode does or does not breach copyright is a civil issue, not an issue for the Chief Censor.

Yes some people may use it to access material not classified for NZ, just as millions of NZers use You Tube to view videos not classified for NZ.

InternetNZ does not believe that an Internet Service Provider is responsible for what its customers do on the Internet and that to suggest otherwise creates a bizarre world where Internet providers are held up to a different standard to other utility suppliers.

InternetNZ CEO Jordan Carter says that CallPlus has every right to provide this service. “The courts have not decided that the service is illegal,” he says. Comments from the Censor would seem to single out ISPs for special treatment, and that isn’t good for the Internet or for Internet users.

 “I don’t recall the Censor making similar claims when NZ Post started YouShop, enabling customers to order items that were unavailable in NZ and have them delivered to a phoney address in the United States.

The Chief Censor is at risk of massively over-stepping his role. His role is not to act to protect the commercial business models of NZ distributors. It is not his role to promote regional geo-blocking.

If the Chief Censor does try to prosecute Slingshot, then I’ll happily donate to their legal fees.

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Obama backs net neutrality

November 12th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

US President Barack Obama has embraced a radical change in how the government treats Internet service, coming down on the side of consumer activists who fear slower download speeds and higher costs but angering Republicans and the nation’s cable giants who say the plan would kill jobs.

Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission to more heavily regulate Internet providers and treat broadband much as it would any other public utility. He said the FCC should explicitly prohibit Internet providers like Verizon and AT&T from charging data hogs like Netflix extra to move their content more quickly. The announcement sent cable stocks tumbling.

The FCC, an independent regulatory body led by political appointees, is nearing a decision on whether broadband providers should be allowed to cut deals with the content providers but is stumbling over the legal complexities.

“We are stunned the president would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet and calling for extreme” regulation, said Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the primary lobbying arm of the cable industry, which supplies much of the nation’s Internet access.

This “tectonic shift in national policy, should it be adopted, would create devastating results,” Powell added.

Netflix swung behind Obama, posting to its Facebook page that “consumers should pick winners and losers on the Internet, not broadband gatekeepers.”

“Net neutrality” is the idea that Internet service providers shouldn’t block, slow or manipulate data moving across its networks. As long as content isn’t against the law, such as child pornography or pirated music, a file or video posted on one site will load generally at the same speed as a similarly sized file or video on another site.

This will be interesting to see how it resolves. I back the principle that ISPs should not deliver some content to customers slower, unless the content host pays a surcharge.  But the Government should only intervene if there is a serious problem that the market doesn’t solve. The best solution is to have a competitive access market, so that if an access provider tries to charge more to speed up content, customers go elsewhere.

 

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Article on left wing blogosphere

November 3rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Philip Matthews has an article in Stuff on the left blogosphere., which is an interesting read. Slightly disappointed that he repeats an accusation that I get paid for blogging (if only!) and fails to mention for The Daily Blog editor was on the payroll of two political parties – neither of which he revealed until right blogs exposed it.

One extract:

“Right across the Left there are conversations,” says Asher Goldman, co-founder of the newly- launched blog On the Left. “We lost the election, what does that mean?”

Is it even possible that bloggers are part of the problem?

Goldman agrees that blogging and tweeting are no substitute for real-world political activity. It should be an extra not an end in itself.

“A successful blog for me is one that has good stuff to contribute, a community built around it that is participating in useful, productive discussion and a few visitors, hopefully,” Goldman says. …

Goldman is a Green Party member, co-founder Stephanie Rodgers is a Labour member and both believe their new blog should be broadly across the Left rather than overtly party-based. They also want it to be fun, which has not traditionally been a feature of Left-wing politics.

I wish Asher and Stephanie well. If they can make their blog fun, rather than a daily dose of hatred, then they should do very well. It is important to have strong voices from across the political spectrum online. The Internet is a wonderful medium that allows anyone to broadcast – and how influential and listened to they are, is mainly a function of how they conduct themselves.

They already have 13 authors, several of whom used to blog at The Daily Blog. I’ve added them to the blogroll on the left sidebar.

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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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