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Lighten Up 24 May 2002 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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Another week gone already and once again it's time for a dose of online levity and lunacy to prepare you for the weekend.

If you thought the Net was a spooky place you were right. Here's a novel service that you can use to scare your friends and relatives by sending them haunting emails -- even after you're long dead.

Several readers sent me links to this site (or others with the same content) in which it's revealed that the attacks on the World Trade Center last year were predicted on a US $20 bill. If you think that's interesting, I can show you how to fold one of NZ's notes to display a picture of the Queen's bottom -- but I wont.

Other Recent Columns
If you've just discovered Aardvark, check out some of the earlier editions by viewing the archives or by clicking on one of this small selection:

The Connection Is Only Half The Story
As reported by all the papers and local news sites this morning, yesterday's budget saw the government announce its intention to have all schools equipped with a broadband internet connection within 18 months.

This is very good news for all concerned -- since it stands to reason that if true broadband is available to schools then others within the general area should then also be able to get their own hi-speed connections.

And what's more, we're not talking about the sloth-like 128Kbps Jetstream Starter service that Telecom seem keen to pass off as a broadband offering -- we're talking about true high-speed internet.

This will be a potential bonanza for those companies who are currently attempting to set up their own broadband networks around the country -- unless, that is, Telecom simply decide to spend up large and offer its own JetStream service only in those few strategic locations required to meet the government's RFP.

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If that were to happen then the final result could be exactly the opposite of that which the government is seeking to obtain. Sure, the schools would have fast Net access, but since we're talking DSL only those within a 4-5Km radius would also be able to receive broadband access. What's more, if you add the effect of electric fences and the fact that much of NZ's rural copper network is in a very sorry state of repair then DSL doesn't look likely to be widely available.

Of course there's always wireless -- but then again we have to consider that quite a few small country schools are tucked away in valleys and behind hills -- or simply a very long way from the nearest town or city. Providing these places with a reliable broadband wireless service will require a series of relay stations.

For the most remote schools it may be that they won't get the promised broadband at all -- they'll probably have to make do with a satellite down feed with dial-up modem based uplink at 33.3Kbps. While this technology is excellent for general web-browsing and downloading files, it can't really be used effectively for teleconferencing and many of the other applications which may be required in an educational environment.

However -- the biggest killer for rural broadband, and something the government appears to have overlooked, is the cost of bandwidth.

Providing the broadband transport system that connects a school to the Internet is one thing -- keeping the data flowing is another.

How many small rural schools will be able to afford the levels of traffic they're likely to find themselves pulling down when several classrooms filled with kids are all busy surfing the Net, watching streaming video or engaged in other bandwidth-hungry activities?

Perhaps the government is putting the horse before the cart. Maybe they ought to look into the price of bandwidth and find out whether the allegations which have been leveled on several occasions (that Telecom is running a lot of dark fibre just to keep the prices artificially high) are true.

There's little point in giving the schools an on-ramp to the fast-lane on the information superhighway if they can't afford to put fuel in their cyber-busses is there?

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Security Alerts
Microsoft warns of new debugger flaw (CNet - 22/05/2002)

Security flaw in Microsoft Office for Mac (CNet - 18/04/2002)

A trio of MS-Office security vulns (TheReg - 10/04/2002)

Two new "critical" bugs patched in IE (ZDNet - 01/04/2002)

Second Java hole poses Windows risk (CNet - 20/03/2002)

Virus Alerts
Teddy hoax virus looking to play Down Under (ZDNet - 19/05/2002)

New Klez worm squirms across Internet (CNet - 18/04/2002)

Aphex E-mail Worm Has A Way With IRC, Instant Messenger (NewsBytes - 11/04/2002)

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The Day's Top News
Open in New Window = open in new window
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Open in New Window Plan to give comunities access to broadband internet
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Open in New Window You can't hide behind your home page
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Open in New Window Give it away now
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Open in New Window "Myst" adds twist to online gaming
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