www.txtsurvey.co.nz - assessing the risks of text messaging

, posted: 19-Apr-2007 13:48

Technology is a good thing in terms of what it enables, however as with everything on this rock, everything that can be used for good can also be used for evil.

Text messaging is an example of this.  While it enables individuals to communicate across a room or across the world quickly and conveniently, it also enable people to send bad messages.

Today Text Bullying (as it is called) is a endemic problem in schools. Teachers are increasingly unable to address problems because where they once took place in the school yard, they are now taking place over invisible airwaves and they are almost invisible.

I'm trying to get my head around the issue, so I've put together a survey that asks questions to try and find out how big the problem is and think through a solution.

You can access the survey at www.txtsurvey.co.nz.  There are 37 questions in total, but some are optional.

If you have kids with mobile phones, please take 10 minutes to fill out the survey.  If you know of someone who has kids, please forward the URL or a link to www.txtsurvey.co.nz to them and ask them to fill it in.

Thanks for your help!



Xtra customers getting Peeved

, posted: 16-Dec-2006 11:36

My post on Xtra Broadband going seriously downhill has had a few comments on it now.  Mostly from Xtra customers on the Go-Large plan.

It seems to be that you get regular line speeds on any of the other plans but as soon as you switch to the Go-Large plan, you get seriously degraded service.  I cant help but think this has something to do with their traffic management plan being a little too aggressive, but there could be other reasons too.

Regardless.  This sort of customer experience (going for over a month now) is beyond a joke.  Telecom needs to sort this out now.  Its just not right.

The Go Large plan states has the following advantages:

Promise: Flat Rate - Unlimited Data (within the limits of the Fair Use Policy)
Reality: Consumers' Institute believes this "Fair Use Policy" effectively puts a limit of 700MB per eight hour peak period on Xtra's "unlimited Internet usage."

Promise: Maximum Speed - as fast as your line allows (traffic management applies)
Reality: Users can't download webpages without them timing out due to slow speeds (see story and comments here).  In addition traffic management specifically reduces speeds for certain types of usage - meaning you dont get maximum speeds where it doesn't suit Telecom.

The Consumers Institute complaint about the Go Large plan is here.  This complaint deals with the marketing aspect of the plan. The speed complaint above is both a marketing problem and a technical problem.

If you have performance problems, my advice is to switch to another provider.  It doesn't look like Telecom cares - of if they do they cant fix it.  Switching ISPs is as easy as filling in a web form and changing the account details on your DSL modem.

Telecom: This is pathetic.  You have some good network gurus - let them fix it!



Internet speeds & now it works!

, posted: 4-Dec-2006 11:11

The switch to orcon happened on Friday, so I have usable internet again.

I've spent the weekend doing a bunch of uploads that just didn't work before.  They were snappy as they should have been.

My modem reports a downstream speed of ~2Mb and upstream of 415kb.  I know that doesn't necessarily reflect what the performance really is, but it is noticably faster than before and things just work (as they should!).

The world is a happy place again!



Xtra customer no more

, posted: 28-Nov-2006 11:12

Further to the saga I posted about yesterday, I again tried uploading an updated website last night.

Again, trying to upload the same tiny files (1kb up to 48 kb) was constantly failing.  I literally spent hours trying to upload the files.  At one stage the winds seemed to be blowing right and I managed to upload eight or nine files without problems.  However I was completely unable to upload the other files using HTTP Post (through the hosts control panel) or FTP (commandline or not).

This morning I tried again, still no go, so I dumped the files onto a USB key and brought them into work.

I logged onto the control panel front end and selected multiple files to upload, clicked the submit button and viola!  IT JUST WORKS!

So what was the difference?  Simple - Here at work we DONT use Xtra broad(yeah right) band.

I'm not one for complaining much, I tend to live with little problems and work around them, and I'm not one for making dramatic announcements, but the Xtra Go Large plan has caused me to loose sleep (3 hours trying (unsuccessfully) to upload 80kb to a server??), get frustrated and eventually give up.

I'm switching to Orcon.  Bye bye Xtra.  I'm going where I can get the service I'm paying for.

Thanks to Brad for the suggestion!



Xtra Broadband - it now officially sucks!

, posted: 27-Nov-2006 07:59

I've used Xtra for yearas, their broadband hasn't been too bad for my purposes - sure it hasn't been as fast as Saturn/Telstra's cable connection, but its generally been quite useable.

Until it was unleashed.

The service Xtra broadband has offered since it was unleashed is nothing short of appalling. 

For two days in the week after the "unleashed" it was unusable.  The connection was so slow that it was literally unusable.  Enter a URL wait and it would time out with a DNS error.  On occaission I'd be able to resolve the DNS name but the site would time out having only retrieved the header of the web page.

This was particularly frustrating when you are trying to work from home.  I called the help desk and they told me that the engineers knew about the problem and would contact me via email when it was resolved (yeah right).  A couple of days later and it came back again to a useable state.

I've also been testing a website I've been building lately.  I've had a couple of people testing the work I've done via a DDNS based connection - problem is that the upstream connection speed is at best of variable quality.  Often the page just times out, and on occaision people can actually connect.

Fine - I'm not supposed to be able to run a webserver anyway (although its not like its public).

Yesterday I tried uploading pages for a site up to the production web server (from home to the internet) and the connection again became a problem. One file which was slightly larger (48kb) continually kept timing out.  The other files (varying between 5-7kb) were very slow.

I also want to upload a 10Mb file to the site - but could I do that over Xtra broadband? Not a chance!  Multiple attempts, from a couple of machines failed.  Watching the file upload on the server is like watching grass growing.  After 5 minutes it has uploaded a whopping 32kb to the server!!!

I see that the Consumers institute has some issues with Xtra's traffic management.  I agree completely.  I think that in addition to limiting the upload speed via the router settings, I suspect that they are packet shaping P2P technologies (Foldershare is awful at the moment) and the type of upstream connections (i.e. HTTP GET/Post are fine, but FTP is not).  This quote seems to ring particularly true...
"The Consumers' Institute was also concerned that Xtra's traffic management negated its claims of maximum speeds."

Telecom - I'm over your broad(not) band. 

TELSTRA - I really need a real internet connection - PLEASE PUT COAX TO MY HOUSE!  I'd almost pay for it myself!

If I can't get a decent upstream connection soon, I'll consider switching to a VODEM with HSDPA and ditching my  home phone altogether.

I'm off to find a cafenet connection to upload my files through....



NZ$100 gets you Windows Aero

, posted: 20-Nov-2006 19:48

I've had the RTM release of Vista installed on my home computer for two weeks now. 

It's been running really well, but my computer had an old Radeon 9200SE based video card which only offered DirectX 8.1 support and thus prevented me from getting Windows Aero running on the computer.  So over the weekend I decided to do something about it.  Actually, I'd been thinking about it for a while...

So I had a look around on some of the local sites for something that supported DirectX9 and thus Aero.  Prices are actually not too bad - unless you are a gamer.  For something basic that does work with Aero, you can get them new starting at around NZ$120 (US$65).

Wanting to be cheap, I headed off to TradeMe, where I found a ATI Radeon 9550 with a buy now of $100 (the auction start price was the same as the buy now price), so I bought it.

Today I picked it up and installed it.  Windows Vista detected the card and installed the drivers for it automatically, after a reboot, I increased the screen resolution and turned on Aero.

My Windows Experience rating was sitting at 1.0 due to the gaming graphics of the old card.  The Windows Aero rating was 1.9.  After the upgrade it jumped to 3.3 and 3.5 respectively.  Not stellar, but enough for Aero!

So - if your computer doesn't support Windows Aero, chances are that you are only $100 away from fixing it.  Not only that, but it could be an easy way to increase the Windows Experience rating too.

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Securing your mobile enterprise with Credant

, posted: 31-May-2006 07:05

I've written a review of Credant Mobile Guardians Enterprise security product.  CMG offers a unified secure environment across Windows Mobile, Palm, Blackberry, Windows desktops and servers.
The article will be published in the August edition of Smartphone and PocketPC Magazine.  If you want to read it, either buy the mag or check out the online version published on Geekzone.



Tableting

, posted: 12-May-2006 23:00

I've got a nice new shiny Toshiba M400...

It arrived about a week ago, but I've only just had a chance to play with it in the last day or so.  I started by installing Windows Vista on it - a late internal build.  Very nice.  Quite quick too.

I've got Aero going, although the WDDM drivers are pre-alpha, so they are far from perfect.

Most things are working - WiFi is, which is great.  Got to install 2007 Office System next - not going with 2003 at all (although I have OneNote installed at the moment). 

Its not a UMPC, but its here and the battery lasts well Wink

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Darryl Burling
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