Issue #29
7 October 1996
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Aardvark

Edition #29

WHAT'S NEW WITH THE BIG-BOYS?
What's happening with the big-boys in the NZ Telco businesses?

In an email to subscribers, Xtra has announced that there will soon be "a new look to Xtra" including "a fresh new content look and new categories". The same email contained notification that some billing problems could be expected with access to usage details unavailable until next Sunday and many people not being billed until November for their Xtra charges.

Rumours have been circulating about Clear's readiness to launch into the ISP market - but so far nothing concrete has come to hand. Pricing rumours vary with some claiming that existing Clear customers will get 5hrs free net-access for every $50 worth of toll calls made and other rumours placing Clear's launch-day pricing at just under $2/hr.

PASSING OFF - IS IT ON THE INCREASE?
What is 'passing off'? One definition is that it describes the act pretending to be someone or some product that you're not - usually for financial gain.

If I were to manufacture a cola soft drink and try to call it Coca Cola or use packaging that made it look identical to Coca Cola I'd be 'passing off' my product as "the real thing(tm)".

How does this affect the internet? Well the recent decision of the courts in respect to The Domain Name Company is one example. There could be no reason for anyone to hold domain-names that represent a trademark such as Sanyo or Cadbury unless they intended to trade-off on that brand's success.

Of course who would possibly try and do such a thing? Why would anyone seek to ride so blatantly on the back of someone else's hard work and success?

Well here are couple of examples The Aardvark found recently which must be at least a little "suspicious". Follow these links and see if what you find is what you expected...

www.yahoo.co.nz   www.60minutes.co.nz
Surprised? Will the situation get worse as we see the introduction of independent domain name registries to the NZ marketplace? See this story for info on NZ's first independent registry.

YOU THINK WE'VE GOT IT BAD?
Xtra has pulled the naughty newsgroups and the whole issue of cyberporn has hit the headlines yet again as the IAD does its best to crack down on NZers who dabble in offensive material over the net.

Depending upon your perspective, any kind of net control or monitoring might seem to be bad news, but take a moment to consider the plught of poor Burmese...

Under new powers created by "The Computer Science Development Law", it is now illegal to own, use, borrow or import a modem or fax machine without government permission. To flout the law can result in a term of imprisonment of up to 15 years. They're not kidding either - in July, a diplomat died in prison after being sentanced to a lengthy term for illegal possesion of fax machines. It sort of makes even Singapore and China's controls look almost liberal doesn't it?

LOOK-OUT TELCOS
I had a dabble with Intel's latest Internet Phone technology the other day and was quite impressed at the audio quality, even over a 14.4K modem. This stuff is getting good. However it is pretty disappointing to find that there are only handful of other users registered as on-line at any given time and this sort of turns the technology into a novelty rather than a practical tool.

However.... an innovative group of individuals have gotten together to create a system called Free World Dialup, a voice equivalent to the TPC international free-faxing network. If this takes off it could significantly enhance the utility of internet-telephone systems to the point where even I might be tempted to use them as practical alternative to a real toll-call.

But of course this article places a somewhat different perspective on the issue of internet telephony.

Now I wonder if Xtra is planning to offer an internet-phone dial-out facility for its subscribers or would the parent company (Telecom) simply veto such a proposition?

HOW IMPORTANT IS SECURITY?
Believe it or not, 9 out of 10 British firms are reported to have fallen victim to electronic security breaches and theft for a total loss of almost 5 billion NZ dollars a year! Makes even the worst NZ ISP look like a veritable fortress doesn't it?

AND YOU THOUGHT AARDVARK WAS BLUNT!
Sometimes people complain that Aardvark Weekly is a bit mean or harsh when highlighting the folly or botch-ups in this industry.

Well this page from David Dix of KCBBS makes Aardvark look like a girl's blouse!

RIGHT OF REPLY
Anyone mentioned by Aardvark who feels that they have been misrepresented or who wish a "right of reply" are invited to send email to me at ror@aardvark.co.nz and the contents of that email will be printed verbatim for all to read.

RIGHT OF REPLY
Nothing this week

FROM THE "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S TRUE" DEPARTMENT:

Not a web-page this week but a quote from Bryan Rowe of Telecom about Xtra's recent problems - a quote which must surely qualify for the understatement of the week:

"you may have been experiencing difficulties logging onto Xtra over the last few weeks"

So You Don't Forget!
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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).


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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.


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