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Commentary for: 2 March 1998
Last Week's edition

Are classified ads the holy grail?
award logo You only have to take a look at the average Saturday edition of your favourite newspaper to realise that there's a whole lot of money in classified advertising.

Let's face it, for most papers, classifieds are money for jam. Line up some phones, someone to answer them and key the data plus a couple of fax machines and you're making money. No doubt some newspaper publisher will write to me and say that I've got it all wrong but I'd like to see any news-daily survive without their classifieds.

So, if there's anything that excites the newspaper industry about the Net its the chance to get their classifieds out to a wider audience at very low cost. There's also the potential to save costs by allowing classified ads to be placed over the Net, saving the costs of data keying and even including a secure-payment system using credit cards or electronic payment.

Okay, now take a look at a decent daily and see just how much money is being spent in the Situations Vacant columns. Most of the head-hunters buy quite large amounts of space and executive positions often get very expensive placements.

Can you imagine therefore how pee'd off the newspapers must have been when a new Employment site opened recently at www.nzjobs.co.nz? Just to rub salt in the would it appears that the operators of the site flew a big banner with the URL over the top of one of NZ's larger dailies to promote the site.

The site itself is ergonomic and functional. Nothing flash but then again, not much to complain about. One point very much in their favour though is that they have a link to Aardvark, clever move guys!

Giz a job mista!
This new employment site isn't the first, JobNet has been operating for quite some time now, specialising in jobs in the IT sector and a number of other employment agencies have woken up to the immense value that a Web site can represent.

So... I thought I'd give the online employment scene a bit of an Aardvark "once-over".

First up is Qube Associates who have a simple web site which claims to be updated daily. There certainly appears to be a reasonable range of jobs on offer but for some reason they don't appear to have any candidates on offer.

Next up, JobBank, a rather unremarkable site that suffers from the "Under Construction" syndrome and includes an HTML file that thinks it's a GIF and very few positions (although this one appears to have been hanging around since mid-October of last year).

APS Personnel is just a "brochureware" site with no online listings - hey guys, at least fork out $90 and get yourself a real domain name if you want to convince potential customers that you're serious. Oh yea, and lose the ad on the front page - why are you trying to lead people off your own site to someone else's? Either you're in the recruitment market or the ad market - make up your mind.

Lacey Lee Simpson (no relation) specialise in IT positions and they seem to have a few online. The Web site is simple and easy to navigate - but perhaps it's a little too simple. For example, each job has a description but I didn't see any mention of which town or city these jobs were in. Perhaps this is a ploy to get people to contact them, perhaps it's an oversight, either way maybe they should fix that. Oh yea guys - if you're going to use Corel Draw, turn on the anti-aliasing for your graphics, it'll make a world of difference!

Compuforce, well, what can I say about a site that uses nearly 100Kbytes of graphics on the front page? They even use stupid tricks such as scaling the graphic in the top frame to fit your browser width with the result that at some sizes the text on the yellow band looks really BAD!. And you're forgiven if you thought that was a menu - it just looks like one.

Once you get past that front page however you'll find that this site is really quite good. There's lots of extra information online and it's very nicely laid out. My only complaint would be that perhaps some of the factoids are a little skimpy - but hey, this isn't an online encyclopedia.

NBR's Job Finder appears to be well stocked with vacancies and worthy of consideration by anyone looking for a job. Perhaps the limited number of vacancies doesn't really justify that complex search form but there's nothing like planning for growth!

So, where's the NZ Herald? where's Trade & Exchange? Where's The Press On-Line's classified advertising?

Seems we've got some room to grow here!

Spoilt for choice?

The faster I connect the slower it goes
Will increased speed kill the Net in NZ?
Just about everyone's planning for faster connections to the Net. Telecom are trialing their ADSL technology in Wellington, IHUG are offering wireless Net access with throughputs of up to 500Kbps and you are regarded with contempt in some circles if you aren't already using a 56Kbps modem. But what's this going to do to the Net here in NZ?

First of all, what about the smaller ISPs such as Web World, Actrix and a host of others? How are they going to compete?

Already they're paying through the nose for connectivity to the NZ backbone and have probably purchased just enough bandwidth to cope with the load that a fist-full of 33.6Kbps modems represents. How do they remain profitable when everyone wants 56Kbps for the same price?

If they don't buy more bandwidth then customers will complain that they are still only downloading at 3K per second instead of 5K as expected. Then there's the capital cost of that new gear they need just to offer 56K access. Clear and Xtra appear to be happy to provide 56K at the same price as 33.6K so how can the little guys compete?

And what about the links into NZ. If just 50% of people upgrade to 56K over the next 6 months, that's going to require an extra 25% increase in the bandwidth into NZ just to retain the status quo. Add to this the chance that (say) 10% of NZers may have access to ADSL or StarNet by year's end and you've got even more demands on these international connections.

International bandwidth isn't cheap so how are the ISPs going to pay for it? IHUG has a flat-rate so they're not going to get more money from the increased traffic that a high-bandwidth connection offers the user. Likewise, ClearNet and Xtra charge by the hour so a customer with a 56K modem costs more to service than one with a 33.6K modem. As for the economics of Telecom's flat-rate ADSL service, I can't see how they'll retain that after the trials.

The bottom line is that sooner or later we're probably going to have to pay more for our Internet access or put up with fast connections that provide the little improvement over today's 33.6K modems.

Have Your Say What do you think about high speed Net connections? Should 56K or ADSL users pay more? How will ISPs afford the extra bandwidth? Why not have your say in the Aardvark Forums.

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The I.C.B.I.T Award
I Can't Believe It's True!

What a bargain!

We all know how much property prices have risen in the past decade - you can't buy a cardboard box in Auckland for less than quarter of a million dollars. Imagine my surprise therefore when I found a very nice rural property just north of Auckland that is being given away on the Net.

Your horses will love this!

Hey, give David a ring about this and tell him Aardvark sent you. You never know, I might just get a 10% finders fee on that asking price!

Right of Reply.

Last week I suggested that Diane Blackmore of Web Innovations was a domain name speculator. What's worse - I mis-read the name while scanning the Domainz site and used "Dane" instead of Diane - producing an instant and unintentional gender reassignment.

I apologise for the typo and the sex-change. I also publish her Right of Reply.

Diane Blackmore's Right of Reply

Do you find it strange that someone would pay for a domain name and to have a Web site built so as to promote their company and its wares to the millions of Internet users, and then figure that they need "privacy"? I also question the ethics of having a client's domain name registered in your own name - this has been the cause of problems in the past and is not common practice amongst most established Web designers. If it's done to guarantee payment then the domain should be transferred into the client's name immediately on receipt of that payment.

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