26 August 1996
Other good Reads:
WORTH A LOOK
If you've got a site that you think is "worth a look", drop me an email and if I think you're right, I'll mention it here.
If you like this page, tell your friends, relatives, associates and mother. They'll love you for it!
A weekly E-zine about the NZ internet industry|
POLITICS ON THE WEB
Generally speaking, most of the major parties seem to be using the web to promote their propoganda to those who use the internet. I hope that the parties concerned realise that (as Dave Blyth is always keen to point out) "you only get one chance to make a first impression" because as you'll see, there's some pretty sad stuff out there! I'm not about to bore you all with my own political views but instead have decided to look at the various sites with a view to the way in which they've harnessed and embraced the internet as a vehicle for liaising with the electorate. I'll give a brief rundown on those I could find (in no particular order):
ACT have a little site which is decidedly light on content and instead promises us that despite the fact the election is rapidly drawing closer "the official web pages of Act NZ will be launched soon". This is politic-speak for "Under Construction" I guess - one of the biggest web-page sins of all time! If it's not ready - don't put it up!
Just about all you'll find on ACT's site are some promo's for Richard
Prebble's book - wrappered under the description of a "sneak preview"
and a warning not to mailbomb the site. I wonder if this is a
pre-emptive move or whether the more juvenile net-users have already
decided to display their stupidity.
United New Zealand is a shallow
attempt to use the web as a marketing tool. There is no feedback form,
email address or any other type of net-based contact mechanism
associated with this site. In fact the one and only way to contact
this party seems to be to send a donation or sign up as a member by
sending money to a postal address. Sounds like a "Make Money Fast"
page to me.
Christian Coalition - oh dear,
this site is a masterpiece of procrastination. The front page is
promising to offer essential information such as biographies and other
information on party candidates, a summary of party policies and a
piece on victims rights - it all falls a bit flat when you keep encountering
the "Under Construction" virus. Just like so many other of these
anemic sites, there's no email address, feedback mechamism or other
signs of intelligent life behind this thin veneer.
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
have a site which is best described (to be kind) as "concise". A
single page outlining their stance on the legalisation issue. But..
it's another sop to the internet community, offering only a phone number
for contact and a solicitation for money.
The Green Party is a breath of
fresh air. Whether you agree with their political policies or not,
you have to admire their commitment to using the internet as an effective
tool. Their site is clean, well designed, graphically balanced and
(most importantly), contains a wealth of information to sate the
needs of any intelligent voter. As if all that wasn't enough.. they
even give email addresses for the majority of their candidates!
The Natural Law Party is a
paradoxical site. While it offers a contact email address on the
front page - there's also a page that promises
but which actually turns out to be a form you must print and put in the
post - erk! Go figure! Still, like the Greens page, there are links
to other interesting(?) sites associated with the party. Perhaps the
most glowing omission was a "karmic resonance link" :-)
Labour have put up a site which shows
good web design skills and provides good party information. I'll even
overlook the fact that they can't spell "succeed" on
this page - but maybe it's
a froidian slip - who knows?. Surprisingly this site lists the home
phone numbers of all candidates - but there's not a single candidate's
email address to be seen. Take a leaf from the Green's book guys and
don't patronise us by just paying lip service to the internet - USE IT!
In all my ferreting around, I could find no "official" web site for the National party - outside of www.govt.nz. If there *is* an official national party site, could someone give me the URL.
ISP INDUSTRY PLANS RESPONSE STRATEGY (follow-up)
This story even made National Radio (but I've not heard a whisper about it on TV yet) where Clive Litt from Telecom did an excellent job of denying claims of foul play and proffering "facts" which he was not asked to substantiate in anyway. Bad interviewing by Nat Rad, I suggest that they get Kim Hill onto the issue!
IBM have announced that they're dropping their own internet rates in response to Xtra's agressive pricing. Under their new schedule, IBM can offer internet access for well under $2/hr, undercutting even Xtra's new pricing. The catch of course is that to qualify for IBM's lowest prices you need to commit to quite a hefty minimum monthly usage. Xtra still has the benefit that there's *NO* minimum monthly.
Where to from here? I have a sinking feeling that some ISPs will drop prices to match or better Xtra's rates - but at the cost of service levels. It's well known that any ISP could offer flat-rate access for what-ever price you'd care to nominate - BUT, as the price drops, so must the modem/user ratio and the average data throughput; in order to maintain even a small margin for profit.
Is this what internet users really want? I regularly get complaints from users of flat-rate services who are annoyed at the frustrations associated with getting online or being able to download large files in a reasonable amount of time. If a price-war errupts within the ISP industry I fear that this may become endemic.
Again... my own suggestion is that the only way to address this problem is to have two ISP accounts. One with "the cheapest" and another with "the best". That way you can choose which ever is most suitable for the time of day and type of use you're trying to undertake. Xtra's "no use - no pay" pricing makes this practical for most people who'd rather stick with their existing ISP for most of their internet access.
INTERNET EXPLORER 3.0 - More Bugs! We all expected them and now reports of bugs in MSIE 3.0 are starting to come out thick and fast.
So far the most important is the discovery of a potentially dangerous security flaw which would allow any malicious site-builder to do whatever they chose to your PC - including reformatting its hard drive! Next up are the continued hassles with the way MSIE caches pages and graphics, seemingly not recognising when their content has changed and thus causing grief with some sites, even search engines and other CGI-based systems.
Microsoft has announced the availability of bug-fix patches at www.microsoft.com/msdownload/iepatch.htm - it's a shame that www.microsoft.co.nz doesn't have this patch on-line. In fact BOO HISS!! to Microsoft NZ, they're still making the original MSIE3.0 download available from their local mirror site but there's no mention of the patch or the fact that a major security flaw exists! It appears that MS NZ are still suffering from the "I don't understand the internet" disease that afflicted MS USA for so long. Come on guys - get with the program, to be effective your site must be always up to date!
RIGHT OF REPLY
So You Don't Forget!
CONFIDENTIALITY: Note that your email address will be kept totally confidential and not released to any third parties for any reason. Aardvark values the patronage of its readers and won't be compromising that patronage for the sake of a quick buck! (besides which it's probably illegal under the privacy act :-)
Feel free to drop me a line if you have any comments on this publication or interesting news you think might appeal to Aardvark readers.. I'm always keen to receive criticism (constructive or otherwise).
The entire contents of this publication are copyright 1996 to Bruce Simpson, all rights reserved. Don't copy it without my permission - just ask, I'm unlikely to refuse any reasonable request.