iTWire - iTWire - Fuzzy Logic iTWire - Technology news, trends, reviews, jobs http://www.itwire.com Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:58:57 +1100 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb VIDEO: Apple’s ‘That Song’ ad will bring a tear to your eye http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66473-video-apple’s-‘that-song’-ad-will-bring-a-tear-to-your-eye http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66473-video-apple’s-‘that-song’-ad-will-bring-a-tear-to-your-eye VIDEO: Apple’s ‘That Song’ ad will bring a tear to your eye

Apple doesn’t just make the world’s best hardware, software and technology, it damn well makes the world’s best ads, too, with its latest sure to touch your heart and bring a tear to your eye.

Ok, so just as with its technologies, Apple doesn’t score a home run or in cricket parlance, a ton, with everything it does, but when it does good, it knocks it out of the park.

Last year’s ad, which was a tad misunderstood, was entitled Misunderstood, which you can see here on YouTube

This year’s ad features a young woman who finds a ‘voice-o-graph’, a record you could make yourself by stepping into what looks like one of those instant photo ‘boxes’ you still see in shopping centres where you can take passport photos or make funny faces with your friends.

Back then, in an era long before Walkmans or iPods, or even portable cassette tapes, you could sit in a box and have whatever you said recorded to a record, when you then played on an old-fashioned record player.

It was the height of technology at the time, and the young lady in Apple’s ad, embedded below, finds the record and plays it.

{loadposition alex08}There, she hears her grandmother professing her love for the young lady’s grandfather, with the grandmother-to-be at the time then breaking into song.

The granddaughter hears this, creates a duet of her singing with her grandmother, and sets up a beautiful surprise for her grandmother to experience.

Seeing the ad is definitely heartwarming - Apple knows how to pull our heartstrings, that’s for sure, in the same way that it did for me when watching the Misunderstood ad.

Apple’s many and varied copycats really don’t get the company and copy all the wrong things.

They just need to watch what Apple is doing and copy the right things - the insane attention to detail in its hardware and software (although iOS 8.x still has a few too many bugs for my liking), and the insane attention to detail Apple puts into its videos and ads.

I sometimes think Apple has put more attention to detail in its videos and advertising than many of its competitors put into crafting individual products or entire product ranges.

Take a look at the ad for yourself below and see if it pulls a string or two in your heart, too - and I won’t be surprised if you tear up a little even if you weren’t expecting to. I certainly did!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:43:54 +1100
Telstra’s $100,000 ACCC iPhone 6 penalty can be paid for in 15 minutes http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66472-telstra’s-$100000-accc-iphone-6-penalty-can-be-paid-for-in-15-minutes http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66472-telstra’s-$100000-accc-iphone-6-penalty-can-be-paid-for-in-15-minutes Telstra’s $100,000 ACCC iPhone 6 penalty can be paid for in 15 minutes

Telstra earns over $122,000 every fifteen minutes if you divide its $4.2 billion 2014 profit accordingly, making its $102,000 ACCC fine a drop in the iBucket.

The ACCC has fined Telstra for misrepresenting the monthly cost of the iPhone 6, with its previous A3-sized ad from 27 September 2014 noting a $70 monthly cost and an additional $11 handset repayment in fine print.

In a statement, which iTWire received and printed in full in an earlier story here, Telstra notes its ‘surprise’ at receiving the penalty.

It also notes that its ad ‘was displayed in a full newspaper page’, and then goes on to say ‘so all the text was much larger’.

Even so, ‘smaller’ text where a bigger headline price is listed is, at least in the ACCC’s eyes, misrepresenting things - and thus the penalty was issued, with Telstra now considering the matter ‘closed’.

In our previous article (linked above), we noted how Telstra could easily afford this penalty, and how it was good to see that Telstra had now committed to making the costs of products and services in its ads as clear as possible to avoid a similar situation.

Rod Sims, the ACCC Chair, ominously warned that businesses ‘must be careful about using attention grabbing headline prices’. Who can disagree with that?

{loadposition alex08}Especially when you’re trying to get as many iPhone sales through the door and not the doors of Vodafone or Optus.

So, if you’re a company that is advertising anything, make sure you list the costs upfront, in big writing, and not in the fine print, or your fine words might end up the subject of a fine - and that would be a penalty you probably wouldn’t want to get but will have to pay - especially if the ACCC is watching!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:25:26 +1100
Telstra $102,000 ACCC iPhone 6 ’penalty’ less money than it makes in 15 minutes http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66470-telstra-$102000-accc-iphone-6-’penalty’-less-money-than-it-makes-in-15-minutes http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66470-telstra-$102000-accc-iphone-6-’penalty’-less-money-than-it-makes-in-15-minutes Telstra $102,000 ACCC iPhone 6 ’penalty’ less money than it makes in 15 minutes

After prominently advertising an iPhone 6 for $70 per month but only disclosing an additional $11 per month handset payment in the fine print, the ACCC has issued a $102,000 penalty to Telstra.

Two days after Telstra had been hailed and criticised for securing its revised NBN deal (see iTWire colleague Graeme Philipson’s original article here and his second article entitled ‘Telstra the big winner from NBN deal’ here), Telstra has felt the tiny sting of an ACCC fine.

Although $102,000 is less money than Telstra makes every 15 minutes, it is still a stain on the nation’s biggest telco at a time when it boasts of improved customer service.

I got to this figure by taking Telstra’s $4.28 billion profit and dividing this by 365, which is approximately $11,726,027 per day.

Divide that figure by 24 hours and you get $488,584 per hour.

Divide that by 4 for 15 minute chunks and you get $122,146 per 15 minutes.

So, a $102,000 fine isn’t much chop - Telstra might not pass water on this amount of money were in on fire.

However, the fine is good enough for Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission, the ACCC, which tends to add weight to criticisms that the ACCC is much more toothless than it wants us to believe.

Perhaps if Telstra were slapped with a $102,000,000 fine, it would think twice about making what the ACCC says is misrepresentative statements, although again, that’s less than 10 days worth of income for the big T, although having said that ridiculously large fines aren't really required and Telstra has been chastised and publicly called out by the ACCC, this article and others in the press today - so it is paying a price. 

{loadposition alex08}Then there's the issue of such massive profits making you wonder why the Federal Government that sold Telstra bothered to do so in the first place, seeing as the company could have been giving part of these profits yearly to the Government’s much-drained coffers (as was the case in the past), and could have been directed to build an NBN, but all of that is water long ago passed under the bridge, under which many piles of burning money have floated on by.

The ACCC’s notice points to an A3-sized Tesltra ad published in Victorian Fairfax newspaper ‘The Age’ on 27 September 2014.

The ad had $70 per month in big writing, but it was only in the fine print that an additional $11 per month handset repayment was listed, thus making the total monthly cost $81 instead of $70.

The ACCC said that it ‘considered that Telstra’s advertisement misrepresented the price of the phone and phone plan bundle to consumers’ and issued the notice ‘because the ACCC had reasonable grounds to believe that Telstra had made a false or misleading representation about the price of goods or services, in contravention of section 29(1)(i) of the Australian Consumer Law.’

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said, among other statements that: “Businesses must be careful about using attention grabbing headline prices to ensure that their advertisements do not mislead consumers about the actual price they will have to pay. This is especially the case for bundled goods and services like phones and plans.”

iTWire reached out to Telstra, which sent us a copy of a statement it has issued regarding the ACCC penalty.

Telstra said it was “surprised to receive the infringement notice, as our ads prominently stated the mobile plan cost, the handset cost and the total minimum cost as legally required, and were in line with the way many others in the industry advertise mobile plans with handsets.”

Telstra also somewhat incredulously states that: “The ad in question was displayed in a full newspaper page so all the text was much larger.”

I guess Telstra does have a point - fine print is much larger in a larger ad, but was what wrong with prominently noting the additional $11 handset repayment - which must be made if you are buying a phone on a plan - alongside the headline $70 monthly plan fee?

In this regard, Telstra’s statement states: “Even though we are strongly of the view our ads complied with the law, we have paid the notice. In addition, we’ve made some changes to our advertising to make it even clearer to customers what they will pay each month for a plan and handset. We now consider this matter closed.”

Well, once you pay a penalty, the matter is closed, but no doubt the ACCC, Telstra’s competitors, the press and its customers will be closely watching the content of Telstra’s ads in the future - as will, presumably going by the statement above, Telstra’s lawyers.

Finally, in a seeming attempt to stave off future penalties, Telstra’s statement states: “We think there is scope for these sorts of issues to be resolved in the future through constructive engagement between industry and the regulator, rather than through the use of formal enforcement mechanisms.”

Let’s hope Telstra’s competitors take note, too, so that consumers are fairly notified upfront of all fees, charges, handset repayments and anything else that is important to have in big letters, rather than the fine print, so we can all be free of as much legalese as possible and the entire industry can truly be making it easier for us - instead of making it easier to do us.

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:09:13 +1100
Actually, there is no Vodafone LTE-A in Melbourne (yet) http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66406-actually-there-is-no-vodafone-lte-a-in-melbourne-yet http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66406-actually-there-is-no-vodafone-lte-a-in-melbourne-yet Actually, there is no Vodafone LTE-A in Melbourne (yet)

A previous article I had written regarding Vodafone introducing LTE-A in Melbourne due to its introduction of ‘4G+’ was incorrect - here’s why I got it wrong.

Last month, Vodafone issued a press release noting it had switched on 4G+ coverage, and specifically noted in its press release that its 4G+ was like Telstra’s 4GX.

Telstra’s 4GX is an LTE-A network that bonds two frequencies together to deliver faster 4G LTE-A speeds than is possible on a ‘regular’ 4G network. LTE-A only works on the very latest smartphones such as the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, Note 4, Note Edge and others. 

I took Vodafone’s statement that its 4G+ was like 4GX and ran with it, and was wrong, and I happily admit it. That now amended article is here. 

A reader called ‘Lee’ noted this error in my story, but I had missed this comment, and upon writing Vodafone’s Perth 4G+ announcement today, I realised my error.

So, my apology is to you, dear readers, for stuffing this up. I am not perfect, and as a human being, I can make errors like anyone else.

{loadposition alex08}I have amended the original article to reflect the fact LTE-A is NOT available in Melbourne from Vodafone.

It would also have been nice of Vodafone to NOT indicate its 4G+ network was like Telstra’s 4GX when this wasn’t and isn't the case at all. 

What is available is 4G LTE on Vodafone’s 850MHz frequency, which like Telstra’s Next G 3G network on 850MHz, delivers better coverage indoors than 4G on 1800MHz or 3G on 2100MHz networks.

Also, surprisingly, no-one from Vodafone contacted me to notify me of my error, perhaps they were happy for the confusion.

Apologies, mea culpa, I’m sorry. As I did today with Vodafone’s Perth 850MHz 4G+ announcement, I will be checking a lot more thoroughly in the future.

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Tue, 09 Dec 2014 15:07:01 +1100
Sub $100 Samsung Tizen phone launching in India - what for? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66312-sub-$100-samsung-tizen-phone-launching-in-india-what-for? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66312-sub-$100-samsung-tizen-phone-launching-in-india-what-for? Sub $100 Samsung Tizen phone launching in India - what for?

With few apps for Samsung’s Tizen OS, and with the Indian people wanting technology to be as good as anywhere else in the world, what does Samsung hope to achieve by launching a Tizen phone?

Tizen. It’s Samsung’s open OS, billed as ‘the OS of Everything’, able to power mobiles, wearables, in-vehicle infotainment systems, TVs and more.

The Tizen Association, formerly the LiMo association, says much the same thing, and notes that Tizen ‘uses HTML5 as the main focus for application development, allowing developers to maintain a single codebase.’

It also notes that ‘the Tizen platform supports Web applications (HTML, Javascript, CSS) and provides a rich set of services that include the application framework, along with content, location, messaging, multimedia, network social and system services’, with more info available at the Tizen.org home page.

The thing is, while Tizen with Samsung’s TouchWiz skin famously used in its Android products, Tizen just doesn’t have the millions of apps you’ll find on Android or iOS, or even the hundreds of thousands you’ll find on Windows Phone.

Still, as an open OS backed by a range of partners, it does give Samsung the ability to use a platform that isn’t controlled by Google, Microsoft or someone else.

After a stalled launch that was supposed to happen earlier this year in Russia, with a device looking much like a Galaxy S4 or S5, it was mysteriously canned, with precious little news about the platform emerging until this week, when Reuters published a report suggesting an impending December launch for a sub-$100 Tizen phone in India.

{loadposition alex08}

With decent Android powered phones already available at the sub-$100 mark, the question is who precisely in India will want a phone with so few apps, given that apps are the currency that powers the smartphone world of today.

The launch is meant to happen on 10 December 2014, with the phone expected to be called the Z1.

It will be very interesting to see how Samsung launches the phone, what it says about apps, and what it says its expectations are for the Indian market - let alone the global market.

Perhaps with a low-enough price, Samsung might entice a few developers in India to create apps, but with all the money being made on the iOS development side of the fence, as well as money being made by Android developers, who can truly be counted upon to create Tizen apps when richer ecosystems await?

Sure, Tizen promises an HTML5 web application framework, but that strategy seems to be flailing against a world of iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices, so it’s a bold bet to be sure.

That said, it’s the whole chicken and egg scenario. If Samsung doesn’t release a Tizen phone, apps will never be made, but if it does release a Tizen phone as predicted, and the apps don’t come, what happens then?

Clearly, it’s a gamble Samsung seems willing to take, even if it could try buying BlackBerry so it hits the ground running with an OS it controls alone and an existing app library that would be worth something.

Sadly Samsung seems to have lost out on the opportunity to Lenovo, although no official sale has been made to anyone as yet for BlackBerry, and it might not happen.

So, if Samsung does launch a Tizen phone, it will be yet another entrant into a world of Firefox phones, Jolla phones, Windows Phones, Android phones and iPhones.

Can the world truly support so many smartphone OS ecosystems?

We’ll just have to wait and see, but for now, the Tizen tease continues, with all to be stripped bare once an actual Tizen phone is released, reportedly in a few days time.

When it happens, it’ll be a case of ‘Tizen and the art of app store maintenance’, with all eyes on whether or not the launch can put ants in developers’ pants.

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Mon, 01 Dec 2014 22:53:52 +1100
NBN Co’s MTM rollout go-slow: Malcolm Turnbull’s Mistake? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66306-nbn-co’s-mtm-rollout-go-slow-malcolm-turnbull’s-mistake? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66306-nbn-co’s-mtm-rollout-go-slow-malcolm-turnbull’s-mistake? NBN Co’s MTM rollout go-slow: Malcolm Turnbull’s Mistake?

With the NBN Co having revised its figures from 2.7 million homes by June 2016 before the 2013 election to just 1.9 million homes now the Coalition is in power, has the NBN become as big a shemozzle under the LNP as it was under Labor?

When the Federal Coalition, also colloquially known as the LNP for the ‘Liberal National Party’ was in opposition, it promised that its use of exiting copper and HFC networks in conjunction with a fibre rollout would see the NBN rolled out much faster to Australians than Labor’s all fibre, all the time network was going to deliver.

Then once various cost benefit analyses and reviews and whatnot were done, the consensus ended up being that the LNP’s plan was going to cost almost as much as Labor’s FTTP of fibre to the premises plan.

Given that much of the complaint, from me included, was that Labor’s FTTP plan was too expensive, what is the point of a separate plan that touches up older infrastructure that will need replacing anyway that is going to cost almost as much as a full fibre plan?

It seems the NBN and the MTM has been another monumental stuff up from a government that promised to hit the ground running but has instead delivered cuts to organisations it promised not to, has made life hell for our defence forces (who put their lives on the line to keep slimy politicians safe), has scared the living daylights out of poor people and pensioners with a $7 GP tax, and has made Joe Hockey look like a cigar smoking economic girlie man out to screw the country.

I mean, with Labor always accusing the LNP of ripping off the poor, why does the LNP have to then actually go out and do that, when it could have instead closed the corporate tax loopholes of multi-national companies, wiped out the multi-billion parental leave scheme, clamped down on massive union workplace waste, cut 10 times more government red tape than it already has, LOWERED taxes so that it actually INCREASED its tax take (as always happens historically because people don't bother with the hassle of trying to avoid low tax rates, but always hate high ones and put in the effort to avoid them) and done other things that didn’t actually involve stabbing people in the wallet?

{loadposition alex08}After all, it wasn’t the people that spent all the money, it was the previous Labor government, and yet, the current LNP lot has made itself out to be fools, even more so now with this ridiculous slow down in NBN progress when the very opposite was promised. Must have been another ‘non-core promise’ from the Libs.

Still, we do have the NBN Co’s media release from today, which talks up its lack of progress and makes no mention of the other MTM, the other Malcolm Turnbull Mistake - no signed deals with Telstra or Optus on HFC cable infrastructure yet, let alone whatever deal middling in the Malcolm is supposed to be doing with Telstra for all that copper.

Maybe Malcolm should have joined the Labor party after all, he would have wiped Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard off the scene with his business brilliance long before either of those two buffoons could have even sniffed the seat of power, but instead he is Malcolm in the middle of a big pile of LNPoor work.

So, back to the NBN Co. It says it will have ‘fast broadband’ to 1.9 million homes and businesses by June 2016. Not super fast broadband, not ultrafast broadband. Just fast broadband.

As many have noted, we are talking 400 cities, towns and suburbs, but very little action in the cities. At least the bush and regional areas are getting some love, even if half of the places on offer are going to get wireless rather than any kind of actual wired connectivity.

My colleague Graeme Philipson pointed out that the 'NBN's construction bypasses cities' in his take on the subject this morning. 

The NBN then waffles on about ‘its goal of 8 million connections to the NBN by 2020’. There’ll probably be more households by then but in the meantime most of us are still on hold trying to get a decent broadband connection - talk about ‘house hold’.

Then we get to NBN Co’s Bill Morrow, the man who did such an amazing job with Vodafail. I mean, it didn’t start under his watch, and while Vodafone has done a heck of a lot to improve its network and deliver superfast 4G speeds, it’s never a good look when your CEO ditches the company to head up a government run organisation.

Anyhoo, it was Morrow’s sorrow to spin away the NBN Co’s go slow with the usual kind of Sir Humphrey Applebee buzz we expect from an episode of ‘Yes, Minister Turnbull’: “We’re committed to bringing fast broadband to all Australians as quickly as possible. The new multi-technology approach enables us to do just that.

“Over the past year, we have carried out successful trials of a range of new technologies, revised our build processes and are renegotiating our partner agreements. As a result of this work, we are able to provide forecasts that reflect the next phase of our network build.

“It is these forecasts that will enable our customers, the telephone and internet service providers, to be able to start planning the delivery of services over the NBN to these communities.

“Of course, the longer the forecast, the greater the likelihood that changes will occur. That’s only to be expected in a project of this magnitude.

“Naturally some people will be disappointed that they are not included in today’s schedule but ultimately no-one misses out as the NBN will be made available to every Australian family and business by 2020.”

Blah Blah Blah.

Look, I know this is a bit of a rant, and that the HFC network will add 3 million customers to the NBN Co’s total when the deal is done - supposedly by the end of 2014, but does anyone truly believe that?

But is anyone going to get the promised 25Mbps minimum? Is the FTTN rollout going to have had any major rollout before the next election?

Sure, we’re going to get 3 monthly updates.

But if the NBN Co and Malcolm Turnbull keep this up, the pain of a blank cheque from PM Tanya Plibersek is going to be the reward for Labor fans and the next mess the LNP will be promising to clean up.

Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turbull, Joe Hockey, Bill Morrow - you’ve not got much time left to keep your jobs. If this is the best you can do, fiddling with defence pay scales and cuts to the ABC which already hates your guts - then I hope you have some nice retirement plans in place, because the next 600+ days is all you’ve got before it’s once again back into the political and corporate wilderness.

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Mon, 01 Dec 2014 12:34:33 +1100
A-G George Brandis: getting to the heart of the meta http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66279-a-g-george-brandis-getting-to-the-heart-of-the-meta http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66279-a-g-george-brandis-getting-to-the-heart-of-the-meta A-G George Brandis: getting to the heart of the meta

Australia’s Attorney-General, George Brandis, seeks to impose metadata collection on the citizens of Australia, but doesn’t want his own metadata seen by Australians as it is ‘not relevant to democracy’.

Do as I say, not as I do. It’s a statement used to call out hypocrites, and stretches back as far as biblical times, according to the Historically Speaking site

Sadly for Australia’s chief legal eagle, Attorney-General George Brandis, he is setting a terrible example whereby he wishes the Government to force telcos to collect metadata on all Australians, yet baulks when his own information is sought.

This was brought starkly to attention by Josh Taylor at ZDNet, whose detailed report and Freedom of Information request  unveiled a letter and a Telstra phone bill replete with so many greyed out sections you might have thought Brandis was a prisoner of war having his communications censored before being released to the outside world.

Taylor’s detailed article quotes Brandis’ Chief of Staff, Paul O’Sullivan, stating among many other things that “I am not persuaded that the personal information is of any demonstrable relevance to the affairs of government. Indeed, I contend disclosure of the personal information may cause stress or harm to a number of third parties.”

We also see Sullivan stating: “I consider that personal information from an individual minister's telephone bill is unlikely to contribute significantly to promotion of Australia's representative democracy."

The glaring hypocrisy of it all whacks you in the face like a 2 x 4 plank of wood - clearly what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.

{loadposition alex08}It’s very unlikely that Australians whose metadata is being collected will have any say whatsoever in who is able to request this information or have it blacked out in a similar manner.

It is sad to see Australia’s current Liberal/National Federal Government having railed so hard against the previous Labor Federal Government’s ham-fisted attempts at Internet filters and other attacks against the freedom of the press, yet when the new lot get into power, they seek to play silly power games of their own.

Quite why ‘we the people’ put up with this nonsense is one heck of a question. Unlike in former Soviet states, I doubt there’ll be a new and coloured ‘Eureka Revolution’ any time soon, but politicians always seem to forget they are public servants and not public masters.

It is no wonder that libertarians always seek smaller government, for big government of any flavour lusts after power - and as we all know, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It is nice to see George Brandis being subjected to some of his own medicine, although whether it will cause Brandis to wake up to himself as it should, or whether he will arrogantly double down to keep the rest of us down is yet to be seen, but so far, George Brandis and the Federal Government have, on so many levels, been one big fat meta disappointment.

Privacy? Ah, don’t worry about it, it doesn’t ‘meta’. Unless you’re George Brandis.

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:43:25 +1100
Google’s ‘Contribution’ to new ways to fund web publishing http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66217-google’s-‘contribution’-to-new-ways-to-fund-web-publishing http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66217-google’s-‘contribution’-to-new-ways-to-fund-web-publishing Google’s ‘Contribution’ to new ways to fund web publishing

With Google being the world’s biggest ad engine fuelled by the world’s biggest search engine, you wouldn’t think Google would be the company to come up with a way for end-users to deliver themselves a reading experience free of Google’s ads - but its new experiment does just that.

Is Google trying to prove that end-users simply don’t want to pay for content, thus cementing Google’s position as the world’s leading ad server?

Or is it truly trying to help publishers find new ways to get funding directly from end-users while enjoying the side benefit of no Google ads appearing on screen?

Google normally does things that suit itself first, given it is the big data money making machine of super successful proportions, so Google’s true intentions behind its intriguing new ‘experiment’ are yet to be truly determined, but it surely is an interesting development.

It’s called ‘Contributor by Google’, with the company asking both end-users and publishers a question: “What if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?”.

The system works by choosing a monthly contribution you’d like to make - of between $1 and $3 per month. You then visit participating sites, and then instead of seeing Google’s ads, you see a ‘pixel pattern’ instead, or even a ‘thank you’ message.

{loadposition alex08}Those sites then share in the monthly contributions, presumably based on readership, and are thus earning money not from ad-serving but from people’s ‘contributions’.

Just a few of the sites already participating in the experiment are the Urban Dictionary, The Onion, Science Daily, WikiHow, Mashable and Imgur.

Google invites other content creators and publishers to join the waitlist for an invitation.

And really, that’s it. Google presumably gets some kind of cut as well, 

It isn’t the first time someone out there has tried to come up with a payments system that allows publishers a different way of getting paid for content, with the ABC’s Technology Editor, Nick Ross, trying to get his own micro-payments system for viewing content up and running. 

But none of these ‘smaller’ experiments have the backing or power of Google, which is tweaking the model slightly.

We also don’t know whether other ads from other ad-serving companies would be pixelated out or replaced by a thank you message, so you might contribute but still see ads.

Either way, even if Google’s intentions aren’t pure, it is seemingly a genuine experiment in new ways for end-users to fund content, so how it evolves and what happens next will certainly be fascinating to watch!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Fri, 21 Nov 2014 23:00:41 +1100
UPDATED: Appalling WA Govt WASTE in copying iKoast’s shark sighting app http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66208-appalling-wa-govt-waste-in-copying-ikoast’s-shark-sighting-app http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66208-appalling-wa-govt-waste-in-copying-ikoast’s-shark-sighting-app UPDATED: Appalling WA Govt WASTE in copying iKoast’s shark sighting app

The WA Dept of Fisheries has shamelessly copied a real-time shark sighting app from iKoast, spending $370,000 dollars to duplicate an app that a local WA startup had fruitlessly tried partnering on Government with.

Who knew the WASTE stood for West Australian Shark Theft Exercise?

Who knew that the WA Govt was blowing money up the wazoo, duplicating apps that private enterprise had been able to successfully create and having running for months at a third of the cost?

UPDATE 5.49pm AEDT: A reponse from the WA Department of Fisheries is at the end of this article. 

iKoast, a local West Australian startup, says it had been trying to engage the WA Fisheries Department for 24 months, without success, only to recently discover that the same department had outrageously made a copycat site over the past 18 months.

At $370,000, an amount that disgustingly wasteful governments worldwide wouldn’t piddle on if it were on fire (as it isn’t their money but yours and mine), we see government actively working against private enterprise.

{loadposition alex08}So much for public ‘service’.

iKoast’s app soft-launched on the App Store in February 2014, and launched proper in March 2014 during a Channel 9 news segment.

iTWire covered the free app’s launch here. But what does iKoast do?

It’s a “free, lifestyle mobile app that encourages the WA coastal community to pin real-time shark sightings and coastal warnings to help keep our beaches safe. Alerts are user-generated and regulated through rating, review and in-app messaging features. Users can also pin and share their favourite locations, events, activities and facilities along the coast.”

iKoast was created by Perth startup entrepreneur, Paul Holliday, who was dismayed to discover the Dept of Fisheries’ app entitled the ‘SharkSmart Internet Shark Tracker’ is virtually identical to his app.

Clearly, Paul needs to put a shark sighting on his app at the address of the WA Department of Fisheries, because it sounds like he’s found a new school of sharks ready to rip apart free enterprise businesses - even though the WA Government is supposed to be of the friendly-to-business conservative kind.

Holliday says he tried for 24 months with what ended up being several failed attempts to get any kind of support from Fisheries WA and Surf Lifesaving WA.

Then, in 2012, Holliday began developing the concept of iKoast, which as we noted before is also a ‘free mobile app that encourages the WA coastal community to pin real-time shark sightings and coastal warnings to keep our beaches safe.’

Instead of the disappointing and ridiculous $370,000 the WA Dept of Fisheries spent, which seems a rort for some seriously overpaid programmer or series of public servants with nothing better to do than rip off other people’s ideas, Holliyday has spent $140,000 of his own money - not Government money - building the app.

The app was released to the App Store in February 2014, and since then, iKoast has been ‘actively alerting WA beachgoers via the iKoast app, also avaiable for Android, and via Twitter feeds, of the real-time location of over 250 shark sightings, without support nor acknowledgement from the WA government.’ 

Holliday probably feels like he needs a holiday when he justifiably vents and says: “I am appalled that our government has wasted $370,000 of taxpayer’s money to copy iKoast instead of collaborating with us to improve safety on our beaches. This was a perfect opportunity for them to engage with a local startup to show their support for innovation and entrepreneurship in WA, and they blew it.”

Holliday and his PR company say the WA Department of Fishers are yet to issue a public statement, which if true, appears to be quite fishy.

I have attempted to contact the WA Department of Fisheries for a comment and will update the story as soon as (or if) I get a reply.

UPDATE: 5.49pm AEDT, a reponse from the WA Department of Fisheries has arrived in my inbox. 

It states: 

“The Department of Fisheries understands from the information published in The West Australian today (21 October) that the developers of the iKoast app are contemplating legal action. In these circumstances the department will not be making any further comment“. Bruno Mezzatesta, ED Regional Services, Department of Fisheries WA.

UPDATE 2: 6.00pm AEDT, iKoast's PR firm made the observation that "Fisheries can't even get today's date right!". I didn't see it at the time but once I it was pointed out to me I had a chuckle. I double checked the email and October was definitely listed instead of November. It was presumably completely accidental. 

UPDATE 3: 9.49PM AEDT: In the interests of fairness, the WA Dept of Fisheries spokesperson emailed me to apologise that 21 October was indeed a typo which should have been 21 November. In the further interests of fairness, he wanted me to point out that I had made a typo of my own, which I had corrected after originally publishing, which was to have listed Holliday's name as Halliday in a couple of places. 

Original story conclusion continues:

One wonders if Colin Barnett, Premier of Western Australia and chief complainer of budget issues, is aware his Department of Fisheries has been going on a fishing expedition and hauling up large catches of cash for all the wrong people, and all the wrong reasons.

Although the WA Government has been caught short with no support for iKoast, iKoast has managed to get some key supporters, including ‘No WA Shark Cull, Sea Shepherd, WA Kitesurfing Association and SharkShield, among others.’

 

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:52:22 +1100
VIDEO: Sydney’s Luna Park undergoes major tech transformation http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66149-video-sydney’s-luna-park-undergoes-major-tech-transformation http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/66149-video-sydney’s-luna-park-undergoes-major-tech-transformation VIDEO: Sydney’s Luna Park undergoes major tech transformation

Sydney’s Luna Park is 80 years old, yet successfully hosts a range of cutting edge events like last week’s top-notch VMware vForum 2014, with the Park implementing the fastest and latest broadband and Wi-Fi along with biometrics coming soon to make experiencing the park’s magic and fun smoother and better than ever!

Last week I visited Sydney’s Luna Park for VMware’s excellent vForum 2014 event, and what a great event it was, set in the wonderfully carnival-like atmosphere of one of Sydney’s major institutions.

The Park has been a mainstay of fun and excitement for decades, and has always hosted an extremely wide range of corporate events, functions, dinners and exhibitions, but ever since the closure of Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre for renovations, events at the Park have taken off.

Sure, there’s Homebush as an event alternative, or even the temporary convention centre at Glebe Island, but with Luna Park’s multi-zillion dollar views, its undeniable charm, its evoking of wonderful childhood memories for so many and now its cutting edge connectivity and event hosting capabilities, it’s no surprise to see events like VMware’s vForum being a smashing success.

Luna Park invited iTWire to learn about the Park’s massively upgraded comms capabilities, and so we spoke to Warwick Doughty, one of the Park’s forward thinking and technologically astute Directors on video yesterday afternoon, which you can see directly below the next couple of sentences.

Doughty explained the Park’s connectivity, which is a 100Mbps TPG fibre link and a BigAir wireless link (first switched on way back in 2005 at a then whopping 10Mbps) which can be upgraded to a huge 200Mbps of pure, electrifying speed as desired per customer needs. The BigAir link was upgraded at BigAir's backend to an amazing 1Gbps, with 200Mbps put aside as a backup for the VMware vFocus 2014 conference and is now set at 60Mbps, but as noted can be upgraded to up to 1Gbps when needed. 

Doughty also spoke about the fact that the Park can support a huge 10,000 simultaneous Wi-Fi connections with ease and more - please enjoy our conversation! There’s more after the video, too - please read on.

James Granter, Luna Park’s GM of Sales, said: “We were absolutely thrilled to host the vForum 2014 - No Limits this year. The content, training and networking opportunities at this event are always incredible. But being the ten year celebration [of Luna Park’s current owners], it was also rewarding for our team to work with VMWare in our capacity as host venue, and utilise our huge capabilities.”

“Particularly exciting and popular was the unique sponsor activations throughout the Park that delivered a memorable experience - alongside a world class IT infrastructure."

Granter also explained that many top IT companies in Australia regularly hold events at Luna Park Sydney, with the example that two of 2014’s largest IT events were the VMware vForum and the YouTube FanFest.

When it comes to Wi-Fi connectivity, the Park augmented its existing Cisco access points with an entire suite of new industrial-strength Ruckus devices, each able to simultaneously connect several hundred Wi-Fi connections in each venue location.

Wi-Fi is also available free of charge to Luna Park’s fun-seeking visitors, an important consideration in this day and age where free Wi-Fi is always appreciated, especially by patrons who love to share their experiences with social networks, family and friends.

But it’s not just Wi-Fi, each venue is naturally ready for Ethernet connections, right down to exhibition booths as required.

Some stats on the corporate activities at Luna Park Sydney include 1600 venue bookings in FY 13/14, including 400 exhibition functions.

There’s 100Mbps Fibre Internet connectivity with a whopping 200Mbps BigAir wireless connectivity available.

An onsite IT department and maintenance teams are available to ensure big events requiring connectivity are a success.

All tech upgrades of the Big Top auditorium and plenary rooms are complete.

For those needing catering, there is an in-house executive chef catering team, gold licensed with HACCP certification.

And, of course Luna Park is a fun park! Midway Rides and Games Activations available throughout Park.

So it should come as no surprise to see that Luna Park is much more than ‘just’ an iconic fun park, but it’s a business, exhibition, conference, convention and event park too - all things that ensure Sydney's Luna Park will be in business for at least the next 80 years yet!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Wed, 19 Nov 2014 00:54:45 +1100