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What About Wayne's World? 18 December 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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Yesterday's column set an all-time record for the amount of feedback received (Sky TV please take note!).

Just as importantly, not a single reader said they found the extra features offered by the new software to be worth the performance trade-off. If Sky TV really do believe that there are still 199,950 satisfied users out there then they are fooling nobody but themselves!

The NZ Herald is carrying a short piece on the issue in today's edition which contains a clear indicator that things aren't going to get any better. Terry O'Brien told the Herald that it was unlikely the service would be as fast as the one it replaced because of the additional information it provided.

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What a crock! I see no more information available on the electronic programme guide -- the main area of complaint for most people. And what extra information do you seen when changing channels at the newly forced snail's pace?

No, come on Sky, fess-up. You've goofed big-time on this one. Your greed has overpowered your commonsense and someone needs their backside kicked big-time. No more excuses -- give us back the usability we used to have and put your "improvements" where the sun don't shine -- or at least give users the option of having the old or new system.

So, what can you do if you've been frustrated to death by Sky's couldn't-care-less attitude to its customers? Where can you go to get something other than free-to-air TV, or movies on video and DVD?

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • ADSL charges... - David
  • Move To Wellington... - James
  • NZ's domestic bandwidth... - Matthew
  • ADSL Charges... - Simon
  • Move to Wellington?... - Allister
  • ADSL Alternatives?... - Joe
  • Saturn Cable... - J

    From Yesterday...

  • Sky's new firmware... - James
  • Sky TV... - Ian
  • Sky Guide... - Michael
  • Sky Interactive... - Sam
  • Sky TV... - Blair
  • Sky TV Menu etc... - Neil
  • Sky Interactive... - Tony
  • Sky Digital... - Andy
  • Sky... - Richard
  • The new Menu System... - Cameron
  • Sky TV... - DeeDee
  • The upgrade... - Dylan
  • sky or any other tv... - Nick
  • Slow Sky... - Kane
  • SKY 'Upgrade'... - Jamie
  • SKY 'downgrade'... - Shelby
  • Sky Set-Top Boxes... - Vik
  • Sky TV... - Paul
  • Sky Digital... - Andrew
  • Add one more user... - Stan
  • Sky TV... - Steve
  • Sky /TVNZ FTA... - Craig
  • ahahahahahah... - UHFBoy
  • I think it's great... - Grant
  • Crashing... - Chad
  • I Agree... - Ripping
  • Sky lose two more customers... - Glenn
  • Solution to Sky upgrade?... - Ian
  • Oh my this is an upgrade?... - Shane
  • Have Your Say

    In the USA, cable TV is the answer -- a service that is so cheap for broadcasters it has created a whole culture of community, special-interest and "Wayne's World" type content. Unfortunately, here in New Zealand only an extremely tiny portion of the population is serviced by cable -- and even then it's too expensive for anyone other than the mainstream broadcasters to use.

    But hang on -- what about this Internet thing? What ever happened to the promise that the Internet would enable anyone and everyone who wanted to -- the freedom to become an independent radio or TV broadcaster?

    What's wrong with fostering some of our great (and not so great) local talent with a view to creating more streamed video content on the web?

    Okay -- I'll admit that watching a jerky, grainy, postage-stamp-sized picture streaming at 33Kbps on your TV screen is not really entertainment and it's no match for Sky TV in terms of technical quality. But isn't this what broadband is for?

    Oh hang on -- I forgot -- broadband will send you bankrupt if you use it to watch any significant amount of quality streaming video -- but why should it?

    When I ran my piece last week on XTRA's JetStart service -- I was told by several readers that the main reason we don't have a true flat-rate broadband service in NZ, and the reason that you end up paying by the megabyte is because the cost of international bandwidth is still incredibly high.

    Okay -- maybe this is true -- but why then are most broadband providers charging the same steep volume rates for local traffic? -- data that never passes over that expensive new cable.

    Why can't they provide flat-rate broadband access for local (served from within New Zealand) content?

    If accessing local streaming media through broadband was charged at a flat rate then I think we'd have a win-win situation.

    Wannabe kiwi broadcasters would suddenly find it economically feasible to start producing and streaming content for a local audience.

    Net users would suddenly have some broadband content they could access without worrying about a ten thousand dollar Internet bill at the end of the month.

    The broadband providers would find that the combination of flat-rate pricing for local data and the growing availability of local broadband content would be incentive for more people to switch from dial-up to faster offerings.

    Quite frankly, I can't see any downside in such a setup.

    Of course we'd likely end up with a huge percentage of atrociously amateur material streaming to the masses -- but that's the nature of such a medium -- and for every dozen or so really bad offerings, there's bound to be a gem or two as well. (Does anyone remember Crunchie The Clown from the ill-fated MaxTV? What about the Grocer-E episode? Hillarious local content produced on a shoestring).

    Long-time Aardvark readers will recall that several years ago, I was involved in the presenting of NZ Net-News, a locally produced weekly Internet News streaming video programme produced by former TV3 reporter Scott Mathias. This is the type of content that I'm sure we could revive if local broadband wasn't hog-tied by volume charging.

    Imagine it -- flat rate local DSL offering you ability to tune in an ever-increasing range of local near-VHS-quality streams. That sounds like a pretty damned good alternative to throwing the Sky TV remote against the wall, yet again.

    Even Helen Clark might be interested in this idea -- after all, it would allow a significant area of the performing arts (including garage bands, amateur film/video artists, etc) to deliver their content to a good sized audience at a very low cost. Who knows, perhaps NZ On Air might finally have to acknowledge that audio and video over the Net is worthy of its funding.

    Of course this simply won't fly until the broadband suppliers take the bold step of realising that local DSL should be flat rate and that the streaming of such content should be fostered rather than seen as yet another cash-cow.

    Unfortunately, I don't see Telecom opting to make local traffic free on their DSL service any time soon -- after all, who else are you going to buy your DSL service from?

    Just like Sky -- they don't have to worry about whether the customer is getting a good deal, or even happy with the service -- because they're the only game in town.

    However, if Telecom are interested in reassessing their broadband charges and fostering the growth of local broadband content -- I invite them to drop me a line. I've been speaking to someone who'd just love to get such an initiative started.

    The Globe.Net.nz Hack
    As reported yesterday in the breaking-news section, Globe.net.nz's website was hacked yesterday.

    It seems they were using a very old version of Linux which probably made the hackers job a whole lot easier.

    According to information I've received, the hacker was a local, from Timaru, and the Police are showing a strong interest in his activities. Stay tuned.

    Hey, Christmas Is The Time For Giving
    Every month, Aardvark scores over half a million hits, at least 150K page views and delivers more than 6GB of data to visitors.

    All this traffic has meant that I've had to shift the site to a new server to ensure that your daily dose is always fresh and delivered to your browser with minimal delays.

    I also invest over 300 hours per year writing the daily column and compiling the day's news index -- all for your illumination and entertainment.

    If you haven't sent any money to help offset the costs of running this ad-free, 100% Kiwi, always fresh, often controversial site then you can give yourself the warm-fuzzies this Christmas by doing so now.

    Just drop by, click on the Aardvark, and hand over your loot.


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