The Australian Next Broadband Network – Part 1 – Telstra out

If you have been watching/listening/reading the Australian news lately you may have noticed that Telstra has now decided to threaten the government with an $80 billion compensation claim due to the costs of letting whoever winds the Australian Next Broadband Network bid access to their infrastructure. This comes after Telstra attempted to bullshit the government and try to change the rules of the bidding process, getting kicked out of it in the process and that comes after over a year of threats to the government regarding, to put it in simple terms ‘get their own way’.

Sol Trujillo - Telstra CEO, without his hands in the air surprisingly
Sol Trujillo – Telstra CEO, without his hands in the air

Telstra is the only company that I have seen in the past few years act like a 5 year old child, Telstra must get everything that they wish otherwise they throw a tantrum, every time they do this they get shot down, mainly because of their ridiculous demands, but mostly because they just want to play by their own rules, now I don’t doubt that this works sometimes in business, but you sure as hell don’t act that way to the government, especially not one that had been fighting for the past 12 years against the previous government who let Telstra do anything they wanted.

It comes as no surprise that if I was a shareholder in the company I would be appalled. Telstra lost $12 Billion worth of shares due to being kicked out of the bidding process, the bidding process the government set up, it’s a formal bid that a multi-billion dollar business puts in to build a huge infrastructure project in this country, they made a mockery out of it. Even the local fish and chip shop knows that if they put in a formal bid such as this they should plan months ahead and make sure they had everything organised, instead Telstra strolled in and just assumed that they would get it because they are Telstra, it just doesn’t work that way and I cannot believe the board were stupid enough to think a risk like that would work, I hope that the shareholders do something about this because there is no way that they can spin this into something good.

Dodgy business practices aside, there are now 3 consortiums left in the bidding process: Optus, Axia and Acacia, out of those 3 my bet is on Optus, but if it was my choice, keep in mind I only know what they are proposing, not the details of whether they could do what they say, I would pick Axia. Now they are not an Australian company, which automatically gets a large amount of Xenophobic comments from those that would rather pick a dodgy Australian company over a competent Canadian company that actually know what they are doing.

Axia are proposing instead of building the FTTN (Fibre to the Node) network that the others including Telstra were planning on building and everybody really just assumed was the only network allowed to be built, they are instead proposing to build a FTTH (Fibre to the Home) or FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) as it is sometimes called network for metropolitan and some regional areas, introducing a mixture of equivalent wireless and fibre for other harder to reach areas. This is next generation technology, well rather, it is current generation technology however it’s the best we have, which is even better, the truth of the matter is, Fibre to the Node is the same technology we currently have, just in a slightly faster package and available to slightly more people, the clear type of network that we need to be able to actually say next generation broadband network is a fully fibre network.

FTTN is great, but it doesn’t stop my ADSL (or VDSL) connection going down due to water ingress and a whole host of other problems, fibre is not foolproof either but it certainly has less problems as long as it gets looked after properly. Pricing wise Axia believe that they can give it to us, or rather, give it to ISPs wholesale for much cheaper than is currently available with ADSL, that isn’t just a good thing now, but with the economic future uncertain people don’t want to be paying large amounts for their internet connection while they are trying to deal with arguably more important products and services.

No matter who wins the bid, it certainly will be a good thing for this country in general, I just hope that Telstra don’t get back into the bid through some more threatening and devious behaviour, perhaps they should try doing something a little more by the book next time they bid for something like the other companies that had no problem following the rules.

WordPress 2.7 RC1 update and a few tips

Today I upgraded Tech Gremlin to WordPress 2.7, it was pain free and I love what they have done with the admin section. I was expecting to have a bit of a learning curve with finding where everything is now however I am fairly surprised that everything is where I expect it to be.

A few issues of note, the Blogging Tips plugin is now situated in a spot that doesn’t look right, needs to be about 20 pixels lower.

Tip #1
If you are using the Google Sitemaps plugin and you experience php errors uploading the new sitemaps files after upgrading your WordPress version, this is a permissions issue and is fixed by deleting sitemaps.xml and the gzipped version of the file if you also use that and refreshing the page, posting the data you attempted to post before.

Tip #2
Try to just use the html version of the post add/editor as graphical post editors make a general mess of the html and make editing it later a slow and tortuous experience.

Tip #3
I know this seems pretty obvious to some however it is important to try to get a host situated physically closer to you, due to the latency it may take as much as an hour more to upgrade your blog via ftp than it would with a host that is situated in your country as each file is small, yet needs to be negotiated for on the connection each time, this ends up taking it much longer to upload than just one file of the same size, it is highly affected by latency. If however you cannot get around having a host a fair way away, uploading the wordpress zip file and using their admin panel (or the shell if you are familiar with it) to extract it into place is much faster even than the previous example, however not all hosts support this.

The Australian Web Filter

You may have noticed the new ad to the right above the sidebar that adblock isn’t blocking, i’ll explain.

Recently the Australian Government decided to introduce a form of government controlled web filtering similar to countries like China, this is in an attempt to block the viewing of certain illegal websites. This has upset a number of technical savvy people in the country and most notably Internet Providers mainly because it doesn’t work very well and also because it causes a remarkable slowdown in internet speeds due to the filtering.

The government has been told the technical facts regarding internet filtering, why it doesn’t work and why it causes problems time and time again but they insist on introducing it, the main driving forces of this have been parenting groups and certain religious organizations who love the idea of restricting certain content (Won’t somebody think of the children?) who unfortunately have been the current government’s key voters, and also unfortunately don’t know how the internet even works and quite simply wouldn’t care if it slowed down, certain legal and legitimate websites (sometimes up to 25% false positives in most cases) disappeared accidentally or even if it didn’t work very well at blocking the content it was meant to anyway.

Filtering of information is a slippery path, it would only take a few keystrokes for the government to decide that they don’t like certain websites that protest against them, or if their opposing party’s website should be silenced, a simple “it was an accident, the website is up now” explanation in our case and with our government’s technical abilities a few days later would be all the government would say about the matter. I’m not one for believing the government would be so evil, we live in a democratic country and I don’t see the current administration doing anything to upset that and quite frankly thinking we’re turning into some undemocratic (as some people seem to be saying communist) state is ridiculous, however once the infrastructure for this is in place who knows what future administrations would do with their sudden information controlling powers.

This ridiculous proposal should never have even been given a chance, if this was proposed in Britain or the USA it would have been laughed at, I feel that this is just another example of an Australian government that doesn’t know what they are talking about, just like the one we had 11 years before it, clearly they are taking their recommendations from the wrong people.

Up until now the Australian public either didn’t know about, or cared about this problem, hopefully now they know the truth and will help act against this stupidity, if you’re a current Australian resident, either permanent or temporary please sign the petition for GetUp! as soon as you get the chance, at the very least this will cause no harm, bring to light the problem and educate the rest of this country.

Site Issues

Starting this afternoon I’ve been experiencing a few issues between some WordPress code and using PHP5. It seems when I use PHP5, my default version for some time, I experience a rather large error that according to seems to be possibly related to Magic Quotes or a rogue plugin, however it is occurring on my theme test site as well so I’m not so sure about plugins being the cause. So in an effort to get some stability I have reverted to PHP4 and I’m about to upgrade WordPress and see if I can sort out this problem.

Problem Solved
As I have been noticing it appears to be related to magic quotes, I attempted to turn it off in .htaccess but this appeared to just make it angry, however adding


to my wp-config.php file fixed the problem.

By the way if you have this problem do not copy my code listed above as the quotes will turn into invalid characters, you’ll have to type it out yourself.