BP got pwned

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 22-May-2007 20:44


Following on from yesterday's post (BP raises fuel prices. Unsuspecting Kiwi customers ripped off) it's obvious today that BP's attempt to raise petrol prices forced them to back down yet again. Both Shell and Caltex raised prices to 157.9 this morning. Mobil only increased their price to 156.9 forcing BP to cut 4c per litre off their price and all other's to drop 1c and match the Mobil price.

It's interesting to read BP trying to get bragging rights about reducing petrol by 5c for the second weekend in a row. Maybe Peter Griffiths would like to explain why BP feel it necessary on both Monday mornings to increase petrol back to a point higher than the previous Friday? Your customers know you're scamming them.

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BP raises fuel prices. Unsuspecting Kiwi customers ripped off.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 21-May-2007 16:36

Yet again the wonderful folks at BP have lead the way in ripping off Kiwi's by raising their fuel prices by 8c per litre this afternoon.

Fuel prices dropped by 5c per litre of Friday from 157.9 for a litre of 91 to 152.9 over the weekend.

A completely unscientific survey on my way home today (driving past 9 petrol stations) indicates that while BP have raised their price to 160.9 all other companies have remained at 152.9

Don't support these idiots.  I wouldn't even buy a packet of chewing gum from them. They're the PPI (petrol price increase) leaders in the New Zealand marketplace.

UPDATE @ 22:00 Shell have moved their price to 157.9 which is the same as it was on Friday. My money is on BP dropping their price in the morning to match that and pretending this never happened. The problem is customers are a lot smarter than you think.





TVNZ bring V8 Supercars to Freeview

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 16-May-2007 16:12

If you're a V8 Supercars fan there's now a good reason to convince your wife or husband why you should be allowed to fork out for a Freeview box. TVNZ have announced today that they will be broadcasting the remainder of the 2007 V8 Supercars season live and interrupted on TVNZ Sports Extra, a Freeview only channel.

Full details http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411749/1121229



Why are NZ business's being ripped off by Telcos?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 6-May-2007 19:57

With all the discussions lately in regards to mobile pricing in NZ and the claims by numerous industry commentators and MP's that we're paying far too much in NZ to use a mobile phone it struck me as surprising that while we seem obsessed by the pricing of mobile calls and termination rates for landline to mobile calls nobody seems to be concerned about landline call prices as a whole.

TelstraClear have just launched a new Business product into the marketplace called BizLine which gives you the option of "flat rate" calling available on two of their plans.




These rates represent significant discounts over what many small to medium sized business users may already be paying. Why however should business users be paying such a huge premium compared to residential users?

Slingshot offers residential line rental for $42.95 per month and a $19.95 monthly charge on top of that gives you unlimited calling anywhere in New Zealand or Australia.

Telecom offers residential line rental for  $43.60 per month and a $25 monthly charge gives you Talk It Up Downunder which gives 6000 minutes per month to New Zealand or Australia.

ihug offers residential line rental for $41.00 per month and a $20 monthly charge gives you talk2 which offers unlimited calling anywhere in NZ or you can pay an extra $5 ($25 total) for talk2-nz+aus which gives unlimited calling to New Zealand or Australia.

It's obvious if you're a residential customer you're getting all the deals while anybody running a business (including those with a home business) are being ripped off for receiving exactly the same service.

Should business users be paying similair rates to home users for receiving exactly the same service? Why are business users not complaing about the high rates they are paying? Are business people making so much money they simply don't care about being ripped off? Why are TUANZ not raising this issue? Ernie Newman seems to love being in the media splotlight, I'm sure he could get some distance with this.

The move towards VoIP is going to seriously hurt telco's who being that price gouging is a perfectly acceptible business practice. Gone will be the days of paying inflated prices for line rental and calling. That can only be good for the economy.



AACS cracked.. yet again

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 5-May-2007 08:51

If you've been following the AACS copy protection hacks (the copy protection used on Blu Ray and HD-DVD) you'll know that since the first crack appear in early January there has been ongoing battles between the
h8x0rs and the Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator.

Several weeks ago it was announced that licence keys for several products  were being revocated as both WinDVD and PowerDVD has been cracked to originally break the AACS copy protection. Revoking these licences and forcing people to upgrade their software should have fixed the problem...

But the h8x0rs are smarter than that. The latest news on the Doom Forums details a firmware hack to the Microsoft external HD-DVD player which involved removing the drive's firmware chip, reading the contents and then soldering it back into the drive. It's something your average DIY consumer won't be doing but it's yet another serious setback for AACS and DRM as a whole.

  RIP AACS



Vodafone's new website - a lesson in how not to upgrade a corporate website.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 2-May-2007 20:45

Vodafone launched their new website this week.

Essentially they used their old content, added some flash new graphics and well.. they went live with it.

Therein lies the problem. If you employ monkeys and pay them peanuts you get a crap result.

Looking at some of the information on the Vodafone site it looks like this new website was ready to go live towards the end of March but was delayed. The problem is information that was updated on the old Vodafone site since then hasn't been updated on the new site.


Lets have a look at Google's cache of the Vodafone website last week here detailing You Choose. Now look at the new site here

If I was to read this I'd believe that TXT2000 is no longer a Vodafone product on You Choose. TXT1000 is now back! Yippee that respresents great value for money. But hang on here you say it is available. What's the deal?


How about this page here compared to the old cached page here?
According to Vodafone you can now send TXT's to 021/029 numbers as part of your monthy included TXT's. What a shame that's not the case and you'll be charged 20c if you send a TXT to a 021 or 029 number ported to Telecom. Where's the Commerce Commission when you need them? You finally edited the old site to reflect portability, did you run out of peanuts to feed the monkeys to get them to stay and update the new one before you cut over to it?

We can then go and have a look at the rest of the "new" site.

How about Push to Talk? Don't worry the pricing plan expired in 2005 or was that 2006? It's just sooooooo confusing.

Want to download some music? $3.50 sounds expensive for a music download but that's what the site says so it must be true... Or maybe it's the $1.99 listed on this page? I'm getting confused. Are you?

How about looking at roaming? This page links to this URL but unfortunately you get an HTTP/405 if you try it.

I'd list a few more but then I'm about to head off and watch last night's Boston Legal on my PVR.

How can a big multi national telco have such a poor website? These mistakes aren't anything new, the Vodafone website has been a disgrace for a long time. I've posted numerous blog posts in the past and despite Vodafone actually reading them (because mistakes I have pointed out have been fixed very quickly) it's obvious nobody in the company really cares which is a shame really. I'd even offered to proof read the site and look for errors in return for a month's free calling which is a bargain considering my bill is only around $100 but you're obviously not interested. Peanuts must be on special at Pak 'N Save this week. 



Cheap petrol today

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 1-May-2007 08:02

Gull this morning announced a 5c reduction for 12 hours. Not to be outdone Shell have bettered this with 6c per litre off fuel for 12 hours.

Driving past several BP stations on the way to work today I notice they're not interested in offering their customers a better deal which is hardly surprising considering they're always the first to put their prices up and the last to drop them.

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Earthquake hits Kent, United Kingdom.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 28-Apr-2007 20:20

Reports of large scale earth tremors approximately 0820 local time have been confirmed as an earthquake registering 4.7 in the richter scale as reported by the USGS.

Sitting here watching Sky News I can't believe how this is turning into the news event of the year in the UK here's a list of the last 30 earthquakes to hit New Zealand over the past few weeks!



Why do Vodafone cripple handsets?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 25-Apr-2007 07:57

Over the past few years most mobile operators have tried to increase their ARPU by offering nice "walled gardens" portals that are easily accessible from their operator branded handsets. Vodafone have probably put the most effort into this and have heavily tied their Vodafone Live! portal into a large range of Live! branded handsets. Over the years this has caused no end of problems with handsets running slower than the original handset firmware, full of bugs (I had 2 x SE T610's replaced until Vodafone admitted their firmware was so buggy they upgraded the firmware) and using up valuable phone memory with useless files and graphics that can't be deleted.

This has been taken a step further with the recent release of the Nokia E65 and N95 - two awesome new Nokia handsets with WiFI and integrated VoIP through a native SIP stack. Vodafone have crippled the N95 firmware and removed the VoIP function from Vodafone branded handsets meaning you lose an important feature of the phone. With the E65 Vodafone have restricted the SIP client so it will always default to the 3G data connection for VoIP meaning you can't use VoIP over the WiFi connection.

Vodafone NZ are yet to release either of these handsets into the local market so we'll have to wait and see what happens here. In the UK there is a huge backlash occuring against Vodafone and the UK Trading Standards are also encouraging users who have a crippled handset to contact them and Nokia service centres are being flooded with users wanting to have their phones flashed with original Nokia firmware. There are also numerous reports

Rather than admitting they have crippled the handset to stop people using cheap VoIP calling using their handsets Vodafone have responded by saying they have removed VoIP "because it doesn't believe it's a mature technology" ... Yeah right!
 
If you're after one of these handsets do your homework before you have over your money. I purchased an unbranded parallel imported E65 last week and absolutely love it. I would certainly not be giving Vodafone any of my hard earned money for a handset that is crippled with buggy firmware.



Fedex just delivered my Nokia E65

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 20-Apr-2007 13:42

No work for me this afternoon.. The nice Fedex man just delivered my new toy.

Review coming when I've had a few days to play with it!



sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
Wellington
New Zealand


I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl trixbox, PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix and AsteriskNOW)
  -Polycom
  -Cisco
  -Linksys
  -Patton
  -Zyxel
  -Snom
  -Sangoma
  -Audiocodes

*Telecommunications/Broadband
  -xDSL deployments
  -WiMAX
  -GSM/WCDMA

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
   
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.


+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.


You can contact me here or by email at [email protected]

twitter.com/stevebiddle










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