The week that was: Good vs Bad ICT Reporting, Layoffs in Telcos, and Dinosaur of the Week

Dr Jack
Dr Jack – ZX Spectrum Generation

Friday on my mind and little in the way of Tech News this week, which leaves me wondering, where does a boy go to actually get local ICT news? Bigger news though, sticking it’s head above the parapet, is layoffs at Vodafone and yet more upset at Spark (Telecom) also promising more Christmas sackings. Sliding into Dinosaur of the week we have the Chief Censor, in an ill-considered move that is up there with 1984 tactics of content control.

OK, so it will be a little bit ranty, it is Friday after all. I’ve just started a new customer engagement this week with a uber-government agency, that, oh my god, actually gets it. Can’t talk about it, but wow, it’s nice to a central agency that has its head screwed on, is passionate, mature, and seems to be heading in the right direction.

Enough of that, let’s start with Tech News in New Zealand. I wrote about this a while back now and nothing much has changed. Computer World New Zealand set me off. Of the last hundred news items, I didn’t go back any further, zero, that’s right, none, are about New Zealand. There is a scattering of “Editor’s Picks” on the splash page, three as of now, but the over riding content is mass produced overseas and Australian material.

Seriously Fairfax, there is a thriving ICT industry in New Zealand and you are doing a massive disservice to it. Can you just shut the domain down and retreat across the Tasman? Computer World New Zealand you are not.

Aside from Google, which has the international ICT news, I look to Bill Bennett and his often witty articles, opinion, reviews, and, oh good lord, actual reporting, for a good source of news. There is something there daily, it’s original content (as opposed to refurbished international press releases), and often interesting.

The National Business Review Tech Section, yes I write for them, is also good. A lot of local ICT content that is original and thought provoking. Sometimes you hit the evil pay wall, but rest assured, it all rolls out for you to see eventually.

Techday picks up where Computer World New Zealand has completely failed. A reasonable amount of local content that is worth reading.

The only thing left worth reading on Computer World New Zealand’s website appears to be by Randall Jackson. That Hunter S Thompson like leathery legend that is still churning out local news and commentary, like a, gasp, real reporter. Love or loathe him, he’s doing the business. I think Chris Keall should poach him immediately.

Meanwhile, listening to National Radio Business today, Spark is absolutely thrilled and over the moon about their fabulous re-branding. So why are they chopping more staff? I asked an employee how many restructures this makes and they ran out of fingers to count on. NBR reports that the average Spark employee generates $654,100.00 That’s right kids, each employee generates plus $600k, but they need to chop more employees.

Vodafone, having failed to integrate systems (billing) so far with Telstra, are also chopping staff. Their post layoff target revenue per employee is $728,400. That’s right, you get paid an average salary Voda employees and you need to be making plus $700k for the corp.

Word on the street is that their is yet another flood of people looking to leave. Do you blame them. While the shareholders are laughing up their, ever increasing, sleeves, the poor sods on the front-line are being treated like chaff.

And onto the dinosaur of the week.

Censor eyes “global mode” internet access

The very grim Doctor Andrew Jack, Chief Sensor, is “eyeing charges against Slingshot and Orcon, for allowing ‘global access’mode.”

This being, Global Access, the root of all evil as it allows citizens to access Netflix, which offer movies for viewing that have been banned in New Zealand.

Thus roared Dr Jack ze Dinosaur:

“Appropriate action will be taken against any company which disregards the law. I also note that there are many businesses distributing films online which care about their customers, their families and their community, and conduct themselves as responsible corporates. Consumers will no doubt bear that in mind when choosing where to source their entertainment,” Jack told the Herald this week.”

However, when pressed by The Herald, about Global Mode, a spokeswoman (obviously Dr Jack Dinosaur was off roaring in the jungle) said:

 “A range of charges are being contemplated. Given that this is a matter which may end up before the courts, it is not appropriate to comment further.” 


What Dr Jack Dinosaur hasn’t been advised of is the fact that half the country are already using VPN and other services to access overseas streaming content. Because the, overarching Dinosaur media companies, are still trying to control their stake in the quarter of a billion dollar content war for New Zealand, users have figured out for $15 a month, they can get what they want, on demand, rather then spending +$100 per month on static content.

What Dr Jack Dinosaur should be doing is starting to work with overseas content providers to ensure that when content land here it is either appropriately censored, or at the very least, has a warning on it.

True story. Maniac, the Elijah Wood movie sited in the article, was sitting in my playlist on Netflix. I like horror movies. Now, I had absolutely no idea that was a banned movie under New Zealand. My poor, innocent mind, could have been totally corrupted turning me into a knife wielding slasher, but for the New Zealand Herald article that warned me. Needless to say, while I enjoy a good horror movie, I am not into the disturbing end of content and it has now been deleted from my play list.

Shouldn’t Dr Jack Dinosaur be looking forward too, I don’t know, next year perhaps, to figure out ways of ensuring content is able to be censored rather than trying to take ISP’s to court at a gigantic waste of tax payer money for a result that will almost a) fail, or if it does, b) be completely un-enforceable? Seems to me that the Censor’s Office is falling behind the times and could take some advice on how the Interwebs actually work.

Point is, it’s uncontrollable. So throwing money at lawyers is about the same as burning it on a pyre. Can someone do an Official Information Request on the Censor’s Office asking for all correspondence from industry groups such as Murdoch’s might SKY network?

Let’s take that cash and educate people shall we so that they can make their own decisions?

PS As an aside, I tried to look up Dr Jack on LinkedIn, not there, says it all really.





  1. Ian, What do you expect from a man who plays the bagpipes and reads hieroglyphics? Seems a tad behind the times, what, old fruit? On the subject of Computer World, it’s obviously much cheaper to just regurgitate stuff published in their other (overseas) media, rather than (shock, horror) employ a reporter or two. I think you share my high (unfulflled) expectations of our media. Good Luck with the new gig.

  2. “Seriously Fairfax, there is a thriving ICT industry in New Zealand and you are doing a massive disservice to it. Can you just shut the domain down and retreat across the Tasman? Computer World New Zealand you are not.”

    Fairfax sold the rights to ComputerWorld New Zealand and CIO titles back to IDG a few months back. It’s all IDG now, Fairfax has nothing to do with those domains.

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