For the last few months (at least since a discussion on Geekzone was created around April 2015, but a couple of months before that) Vodafone customers on cable (the old TelstraClear network) have been trying really hard to keep calm.
At some point, after a few complaints Vodafone decided to put some work into the network and sent out a letter to customers promising things would be better by end of September.
Once the fastest thing around, with speeds of up to 130 Mbps before fibre was even a dream around the country, the Vodafone cable network (in Wellington, Kapiti and Christchurch) started showing signs of ageing. Things started going downhill with the launch of unlimited plans around end of 2014. People moved to unlimited plans with 100 and 130 Mbps options and soon things were really bad, from 7pm through midnight.
And that was even before Netflix opened its doors in New Zealand and the other ISPs started seeing similar performance problems. But it seems most ISPs were not affected or recovered quickly.
Here is one of my speedtest results:
This is on a 130 Mbps connection, over a wired connection, with a gigabit capable router, to Vodafone's own servers. This service would usually show 130 Mbps at any time of the day but now most of the time someone is at home (in the evenings), when we really want to use the service… it's unusable.
This is the performance for New Zealand ISPs according to the Truenet report August 2015. See the red line? That's the drop in speed for Vodafone cable, averaged during the month:
And the advertised speed vs actual:
The letter sent to customers back in May say work is being done and completion is expected by September. I understand this work involves changes in the core network infrastructure, changes to hardware in nodes, enable more channels, software updates.
Vodafone staff are doing a great job of updating the Geekzone discussion as works progresses, as well as keeping an update of work being done in their own Vodafone community site. I really hope this is not going to disappoint us. Fibre is just in front of our driveway now:
Up until recently it was pretty easy to use Microsoft Family Safety to manage your child's time and access on a Windows PC. Install the software, create a local account, manage the account online.
Things changed a bit with Windows 10 and I am now trying to get around configuring our daughter's access to our laptops at home but so far hitting a roadblock around Microsoft accounts.
There are many reasons why I want to do this. First is to make sure we have a set policy around screen time, and this is enforced. Second we want to monitor activities, websites, etc. And obviously filter out whatever is not desirable. I also wanted to be able to monitor her Microsoft Store account to make sure she is not installing anything she shouldn't and perhaps block in-app purchases (in case I put some money on her account to buy a game or two).
I tried adding "family" members through the Windows Settings, a feature that requires everyone in the family to have a Microsoft account (no surprise here) but the email invites never arrived and the accounts still show as "Pending".
Never mind, let's try this through the "Family " tab in the Microsoft Account website. I invited my daughter (who interestingly is listed as adult on her own account, despite the date of birth clearly showing she is not yet an adult). The email arrived but when I clicked the link it says she's already member of my family. I log into my own account and she's not listed. I tried the other way around - sending an "Adult" invite from her account to mine, and again the link doesn't work.
At the moment I am using Norton Family for Parental Control, which works well to monitor, block and filter activities (and on Android too) but I still want control on the Microsoft account itself.
It is time for the annual report on browser usage around Geekzone. At the bottom of this post you will find links to previous years so you can compare these numbers with previous years.
These charts are based on Google Analytics data collected during the 31 day period ending 31th March 2015. I realise part of our audience is more technically inclined, so our numbers are different from those presented by other more mainstream websites (such as Trade Me and news sites) but we have a huge number of non-tech visitors landing in our pages from search results seeking solutions for their problems.
Also this is for desktop visits only, which is 85% of the total recorded in our desktop website (we have a mobile version usable on smaller screens such as smartphones). I intended to post another entry with tablet/smartphone numbers.
Overall since last year we’ve seen a good increase on Chrome usage (53% up from 45%), Firefox remaining almost the same (23% compared to previous 22%) and another small drop on Internet Explorer usage (15% down from 18%).
New Zealand numbers again show a good jump up for Chrome, with Internet Explorer shedding some users:
And here is the split between New Zealand business and after hours. Note how people tend to use less Internet Explorer at home, and Safari usage increases:
This year Internet Explorer 6 and 7 almost disappeared from the scene (IE 6 has under 0.5% usage now):
Here is the OS distribution:
And Windows versions:
Previous posts for comparison:
A story on Stuff (“Netflix wants to make content the same worldwide”) says:
“CEO Reed Hastings told Gizmodo Australia the online media streaming service wants to stop subscribers pirating content because it is unavailable in their country” and later on the same article “However, he said VPN piracy played only a small part in piracy worldwide.”
Following a common trend in New Zealand press, using a VPN to circumvent geo-blocking is called “piracy”.
Note however these are not straight quotes, but second hand “reporting”, because the source article on Gizmodo actually quotes from Mr Reed Hastings:
“The VPN thing is a small little asterisk compared to piracy… Piracy is really the problem around the world. The VPN scenario is someone who wants to pay and can’t quite pay. The basic solution is for Netflix to get global and have its content be the same all around the world so there’s no incentive to [use a VPN]. Then we can work on the more important part which is piracy."
You see, the original article makes a distinction between a problem (content piracy) and someone who doesn’t want to be a part of the problem but has to use technology to unlock and PAY for the content to legal distributors (the VPN users). The alternative is true piracy – downloading content for free from illegal distribution on torrents. Obviously whoever wrote the article for Stuff (there is no byline) didn’t bother making the distinction.
I’d like to know how these writers on Stuff see buying books or DVDs on Amazon and having these items shipped to New Zealand? Perhaps they don’t quite see that as “piracy” even though these actions are actually just the real world equivalent of buying digital content in different markets from legal distributors?
What do you think?
Received the email confirming that I am, once again, a judge in the New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards, a traditional technology award sponsored by the likes of Callaghan Innovation, Cisco, Duncan Cotterill, Emulex Endace, Fronde, PWC, IBM, NZ Trade & Enterprise and others.
This year's gala dinner awards ceremony is in Wellington, so I am pretty excited about this coming back to our city.
Looking forward to finding out more about the entries in the [secret] category I am judging with other three New Zealanders and an overseas judge.
I just came home and found a print copy of "Trackers - How technology is helping us monitor and improve our health", a book by Richard MacManus (Wellington-based technologist, founder of ReadWriteWeb and later an author since he sold the blog).
The book will be available 1st January 2015, $29.99... Already available as a Kindle eBook (Trackers - How technology is helping us monitor and improve our health eBook).
Self-tracking is the practice of measuring and monitoring your health, activities or diet through technologies such as smartphone apps, wearables and personal genomics, empowering you to take control of your day to day health. Richard MacManus explains the benefits and risks of self-tracking and looks at:
- What exactly is being tracked
- The tools and techniques being used
- The best practices of early adopters
- How self-tracking is revolutionizing the health and wellness industries
- How the medical establishment is adapting to these new trends
Unfortunately I couldn’t be in Auckland this year, but Nate represented us at the ceremony at the Hilton Hotel.
Once again, thank you for your support and to the entire Geekzone community!
There’s a long discussion on Geekzone on why won’t you try Windows Phone. Interestingly a lot is talked about the apps (or lack of them). Also there’s a lot of talk about the user interface on these apps. Some people don’t like the way Windows Phone apps look, but I’ve found that most of the apps actually look the same as in other platforms – the main difference is really on the “home screen”.
I’d say that most of the people will find the apps they use are available in all mobile platforms. Few people will find that the app they want is not available on Windows Phone. For example, I have come to really like Authy, simply because I try to use two factor authentication wherever I can and really dislike the idea of having to recreate all those tokens every time I changed devices. Authy makes those tokens portable so you can simply swap a device, load the app and re-authenticate to load everything. It is probably the only app keeping me away from Windows Phone today (after using a Windows mobile platform since its beginning back in the early 2000).
Based on that Geekzone discussion I decided to go around taking screenshots in apps I can find in both Android and Windows Phone and see if they are that different – I don’t think so. Below you will find a series of apps on Android (left) and Windows Phone (right) to compare their interfaces:
It looks like the New Zealand goverment doesn’t know its TLAs. What part of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) are they duplicating?
Also, Hon Steven Joyce is Minister Responsible for Novopay. Only in New Zealand there is need for a minister to manage software projects gone bad.
If you have a home theatre, or run a small business you likely have a Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices around. Or even if you just have a huge collection of photos and share the storage with other computers at home.
Over time these devices evolved from simple storage that you could access through your network to full computers, running web services, streaming, databases, even virtual machines (just check the TS-451 I had here for a while).
Obviously being a full computer we have to treat these endpoints as potential weak links – and the recently disclosed GNU Bash vulnerability is affecting at least one NAS vendor, according to an email just received. I would believe other vendors are also impacted but I have not seen any documentation yet.
If you have a NAS at home (or run any UNIX-like operating systems including Linux, BSD, and Mac OS X) then you should really look for a patch/update for your system and get this fixed.
Here’s the email QNAP sent to their customers:
QNAP Systems, Inc. has been looking into the recent concerns over potential Bash code injection (CVE-2014-6271) that can lead to security vulnerabilities on the Turbo NAS and other Unix/Linux-based systems. A partial solution for CVE-2014-6271 exists but may result in another security vulnerability (CVE-2014-7169). QNAP is actively working on a solution for this issue, but in the meantime encourages all Turbo NAS users to take the following immediate actions to avoid any possible exploitation of their system.
As a temporary measure until a solution is released for this issue, please ensure that the following services of the Turbo NAS are disconnected from the Internet:
Normally the local network is not accessible from the Internet easily, users can still use their Turbo NAS safely. If users still worry about the security of their local network, they can follow the steps to disable the QTS web UI completely, and only turn it on when necessary:
- Web administration
- Web server
- Photo Station, Music Station, File Station, and any other NAS app that uses a web-based interface
Note: The NAS web administration will become unavailable after taking the above steps. To restore it:
- Login to QTS and disable the Web Server in Applications
- Login to QTS and disable the secure connection (SSL) in General Settings
- Disable NAS web administration using a SSH utility (such as putty):
- Connect to the Turbo NAS with admin username and password
- Type the following command and hit the "Enter" key: /etc/init.d/thttpd.sh stop
- Restart the Turbo NAS, or
- Manually start the web administration via SSH by typing the following command: /etc/init.d/thttpd.sh start
QNAP will keep users updated with the latest information as addressing this issue. If users would like further assistance, please contact QNAP Technical Support at http://helpdesk.qnap.com.
UPDATE: Here’s Synology’s page on affected NAS models.