Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Monday, March 30, 2009

Free stuff

This week I’d like to talk about free stuff on the radio. That’s free as in beer – I won’t be worrying about the ideology, just about what sort of software and services that ordinary people can use without paying money.

Please feel free to put suggestions in the comments!

posted by colin at 9:12 am  

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MobileMe – what was the problem, again?

The biggest single thing I wanted MobileMe for, it won’t do – and it’s not clear in advance that it won’t. That thing is using MM email with your own domain name. I was hoping to move my email into it from a another provider, but I won’t be doing that now. So, for my money, the email provided with MM is useless because you can only reply from your address. Google have got this right – why can’t Apple?

Now I’ve got that off my chest, there are some things to like in MM. I like the way it syncs my calendars and contacts lists wirelessly with the ones on my iPhone. Critics might say that the iPhone should do that anyway, but let’s just accept that it doesn’t. MM is a welcome addition, then, to someone who has a Mac and an iPhone.

The iDisk looks cool. It’s 10-20 Gigs of storage which is always kept replicated onto and Apple server somewhere. In theory, you can recover your files onto a new machine or use it for sharing. I haven’t quite figured out yet how to use it to keep a permanent copy of my favourite document folders in the cloud without manually copying them or setting up an rsync, but there’s probably a way. And it will let you do a photo gallery online, along with various kinds of website. But, then, I am already well-supplied in that department.

There are a few other pieces of goodness I haven’t tried yet, such as getting into my Mac at home when I’m out and about, or getting remote access to my Time Capsule drive. But I already do these things without MM.

All in all, I suppose it’s okay for $140 NZ per annum.

You may have gathered that I’m not taken with MobileMe as much as some other products from the same stable. It strikes me as, well, too little, and surprisingly hard to set up. I expected more. I hope Apple will continue developing it into something a bit less underwhelming.

posted by colin at 5:00 pm  

Monday, March 23, 2009

S92A is toast

The NBR is saying that the government has scrapped the appalling S92A of the Copyright Act – the Guilt upon Accusation law. That’s fantastic news! Well done to everyone who has campaigned for this, and particularly well done to John Key and his government for realising just how wrong this was and having the guts to stop it.

Now to work out what should go in its place. Politicians need to talk to people apart from a few organizations that represent some of the rights-holders. There’s a lot more views to consider when trying to figure out the right way to approach copyright in the Internet age.

I’ve been invited to a meeting tomorrow about this by Clare Curran MP of the Labour party. I’m more than happy to talk to any of the other parties as well.

Let’s get it right this time!

posted by colin at 4:48 pm  

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today on the radio

Today on Radio New Zealand National I’ll talk about a whole list of things – not sure if I’ll get time for them all. I’m going to mention the rumours that IBM will buy Sun, talk about why you can’t use your mobile on the London Underground, how you can tell if your computer is infected, and about where the value lies in software, which is based on a blog post I made a few days ago. I’ll put some of my speaker notes and the links for the program behind the “more…” below.

Listen live at 11:05 or download the audio as ogg or mp3. (more…)

posted by colin at 9:00 am  

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Anatomy of a smear

I’ve been involved in the campaign against Section 92A of the Copyright Act since before the election. On at least two occasions I’ve heard from journalists that someone they wouldn’t name was trying to plant stories linking anti-S92A activists with, of all things, child pornography. We gritted our teeth and ignored it.

Last weekend this all broke wide open. Video rental shops in the larger chains tried to get their customers to sign a petition demanding that S92A be retained. In one of the United Video shops around Hamilton, at least, video shop staff were telling customers that this petition was all about stopping child pornography. They were told to say that, they said, by their manager. (more…)

posted by colin at 3:09 pm  

Monday, March 16, 2009

What makes software valuable?

A short essay about value in software. Conclusion: CIOs and government need to take a very good look at free software for desktops and other generic software.

posted by colin at 11:36 am  

Thursday, March 12, 2009

RIANZ: Your Internet connection belongs to us

Campbell Smith of the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand, a body that represents some copyright holders in New Zealand, has written a column in the Herald saying that requiring people’s Internet providers to cut them off if they are accused of copyright infringement is a reasonable way to protect artists’ rights.

posted by colin at 11:22 am  

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