Saturday, May 06, 2006

ARL vs Kiwi's League Test

Okay - I need to vent my spleen on this one - that was the worst display of Rugby League officiating I have seen. Ever.
Of course I should accede out that the Kiwi's were thoroughly outplayed - but only after the bad decisions had taken their toll.

Number 1 on my list - and really the main prompt for the post - Frank Pritchards "high" tackle on Karmichael Hunt:
Realistically what was FP supposed to do - step out of his way? FP goes for shoulder tackle and KH lowers his head and runs into his shoulder. If this is upheld as a genuinely high tackle then it says that an attacker can run his own head into a defender and claim a penalty as a result.
Turnaround from this madness: Nigel Vagana called back from scoring an under the posts try, Kangaroos penalty from which they score, and a free interchange for the kangas.

Number 2 - the from the ground pass leading to a try:
Okay - I accept that within the letter of the law that pass was legal - but then the officials shouldn't have penalised Cayless at the far end of the field for a "flop" - same situation player had not touched the ground with the ball carrying arm but would normally be considered "tackled". And that is what it is about - if they are going to allow the passing from the ground they need to accept that the defending team has the right to continue a tackle until the guy is either flat on the ground or tackle is called. Okay - this one is more a bitch than genuinely bad reffing.

Number 3 - bundle together (because I don't want to spend all day on this post) "that" missing offside call (how could you miss that?), how were no forward passes called (maybe the officials forgot about that rule?), and after admirably setting the standard of clearing the ruck (costing the Kiwi's 2 penalties - no issue with that) spectacularly failing to enforce that standard.

Now please note - I'm actually not blaming the ref on this one - most of the worst calls (and absent calls) were touch judge calls. And this is an area of League that does not get enought focus - sure we roast the ref's for their high profile mistakes but it is the cold reality that the touchies are the bane of the games progression. They are not fit enough, do not know the rules well enough and are generally incompetent.

I would really welcome a move to a 4 touch judge system both in the NRL and for international tests - one for each half of each sideline and think that the quality of the officiating would improve drastically as a result.

Hopefully next time these two sides meet it can be a 13 on 13 match.

Friday, May 05, 2006

IRD miscalculations - does that surprise anyone?

So can anyone spot the (obvious) mistake? Hint - you really don't need a calculator for this one...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Telecom Local Loop unbundling - who actually expects to benefit?

Much of the public relations mantra about why we need to do the LLU of Telecom revolves around the fact that we need this faster / cheaper broadband in businesses and schools to take advantage of the new business models available; and teaching opportunities available.
What I find interesting is how many people buy into that.
LLU only stands to improve dialup and DSL access / prices - what other broadband would run across Telecom owned copper?  Ignoring the former - I'm sure everyone agrees that this was never about lowering the price of dialup access further (although that may act as a further broadband disincentive for the home) - ask yourself how appropriate DSL is for businesses and schools?
DSL has been the best price performance choice for quite some time now - even in the business world - and yet relatively few businesses use it, why?  Because the underlying TECHNOLOGY is relatively inappropriate for business use - restrictions on IP address assignments / latency / jitter / high attenuation loss of signal / high packet loss / etc.
This is why initiatives like CityLink in Auckland and Wellington have thrived (and tell me how even an 8MB DSL line with its PPPOA overhead is going to compete with a direct Gigabit Ethernet connection?).  Why businesses still have ISDN lines, why frame-relay still exists.  More importantly why direct to business fiber connections are becoming increasingly common; because DSL just doesn't cut it in most cases.
Back to the schools - same thing applies.  In fact most schools I know have Telecom falling over itself to get direct fiber in there - why?  Because they can reap far better returns from that where there is a reasonable number of computers connected than over a shared DSL connection.  And they don't want schools dealing with the instability of a DSL solution.

So your home stands to benefit - right? WRONG (in most cases).  This will just lead to a further compartmentalization of pricing like we see now in phone lines where Wellington gets its phone rental cheaper because TelstraSaturn happens to compete in that one place.  Competition with LLU will still only occur on an Exchange by Exchange basis - and unless you happen to be linked to an exchange that can be cherry picked it is unlikely to affect you.  Which will probably mean HIGHER prices for those people linked to Exchanges that the other ISPs don't want to compete over.
Good luck seeing broadband in those rural exchanges now this century...
Tags: , , , , , ,

Tsunami warning

For about an hour this morning there was an active Tsunami warning for New Zealand - as reported on NewsTalk ZB at 5 o'clock this morning (when we happen to be getting up for work).  For us this really was no undue concern - evaluating our risks:
Tsunami from the north - would have to cross Auckland city and about 10km of ground to reach us
Tsunami from the west - would be really impressive having crossed 40km of ground and bypassed a couple of small volcanoes.
Tsunami from the east - more impressive, with the entire Coromandel peninsula having acted as a buffer...

However I am pretty sure some people wouldn't be able to think quite that rationally through their own risks and I wonder what undue panic was caused out there by this being broadcast repeatedly on a nationwide radio station.
Later on after the alert was cancelled Paul Holmes was patting themselves on the back and asking "where Civil Defence was after NewsTalk ZB had to wake everyone up to the news." I would suggest possibly only in the towns actually at risk (Gisbourne etc); and probably assessing the fact that the warning was still that there was a possibility of a Tsunami heading somewhere from off our East Coast - rather than alarming the whole nation about a vague and (for most people) non-existent threat.

I would have less derision if they had actually specified the direction / place of the Tsunami with each broadcast of the warning - but there was only one that specified that it "would hit Gisbourne first", the others were for a Tsunami warning for "New Zealand"
Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ill-educated privacy fears around RFID

Hattip: Wired
Wired is reporting on how IBM has released a "new" RFID tag that allows a consumer to rip off part of the antennae to reduce the range of the device while retaining the tags usability. I love the quote from Robert Atkinson (president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation):
"The Clipped Tag shows that IBM is addressing privacy concerns, even those that are unreasonable" basically showing the derision of the industry towards privacy groups such as Caspian - who provide information like:
"While highly useful, some critics worry that RFID tags could expose individuals to privacy risks. For example, information sent wirelessly could be intercepted and deciphered by someone with the appropriate tools and skills, with little chance of detection. Since the unique RFID serial numbers on purchased goods -- called electronic product codes -- will be matched with credit card and customer loyalty card numbers in databases, the RFID tags could be used by marketers and spies to track individual consumers"

However this completely ignores the fact that the intercepting person needs access to the database with that relationship in to know it. Ignores the fact that RFID tags rely on their antennae not only for the transmission / receipt of signal, but also to induct the power to make the response.  IE they are very sensitive and something like washing your clothes is likely to destroy most of the tags.  And that even ignoring that - the tracking of an individual by their Credit Card / Loyalty Card does not need RFID - and is already done.

And the privacy advocates also conveniently ignore that most organisations are still finding it difficult to justify the cost of RFID tags at the pallet level - let alone the individual item.  Furthermore the types of large stores (Walmart / Toys R Us / etc) that could be realistically assumed to have datacentres able to process this type of information - are already struggling under the load of processing their sales orders and purchase orders.  Adding the data-mining complexity of  terrabytes of data that someone has come into the store wearing something they MAY have bought here before just is not that likely.

But personally - when it is possible - I welcome the possibility that I will only get approached by a store salesperson that is only going to bug me about things that I might be remotely interested in...
Tags: , ,

Bad Weather Cycling

OK - I was dreading today as the first actually bad weather that I was going to bike to work in.  However I've found that at the end of it all you actually feel better for the exercise in the cr*p weather - than having wrapped yourself all snug in the car anyway.  Admittedly if it was further to my work I might feel differently...

I have decided that my cycling road code is a little rusty however - and I'm somewhat perplexed as to where a cyclist is supposed to go in certain intersections without drastically reducing their life expectancy.  Can anyone tell me the best way to negotiate an intersection with 3 lanes (when I need to turn right):
* left hand lane dedicated to left turning traffic
* center lane for straight ahead AND right turning traffic
* right hand lane dedicated to right turning traffic
So far contemplating the options has led to me dismounting and crossing with the pedestrian signals...
Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Opposition to Wayne Mapp's bill shows its necessity

Through my partner I frequent a place of employment with a high proportion of staff receiving youth rates, minimum wage and rates just above the minimum wage.  The interesting thing that I have found recently since the introduction of Wayne Mapp's bill  (Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment Bill) to parliament is who is in support or opposition to it.

Almost universally the "workers" are in support, while the "employees" are not.  My differentiation really just being on the basis of my observation of who actually works and who just turn up do the hours and go home.  In the latter category are those that I can tell my wife were absent from her work without having been there that day - just by what day of week it was.  It is those that when she is telling me of a staff stuff up (and consequent customer complaint), I can accurately guess who it was by the nature of the mistakes.  It is that recently departed staff member who was fired because of time clock fraud.  It is the staff member that was attempted to be fired for job abandonment - but was saved by a procedural mistake (but incidentally is back to their second written warning within 2 weeks of that).

From this place of "employment" I see widespread opposition to Wayne Mapp's proposed provisional period - and the opposition only makes me more determined that it is absolutely required.
Tags: , , , ,

Monday, May 01, 2006

Oil companies not necessarily the profiteers they are made out to be

Ces't Moi has a good run down on the state of the blame game from a US perspective:
but most importantly raises the following point:
"profits for the oil companies are sure up in the 2006 first quarter but before you draw your sword, would you be surprised to find out that Yahoo first quarter earnings are more than double the oil company's earnings?"
From a New Zealand perspective would you be surprised to know that BP only makes double the NZRU's earnings?
That really does not show Oligopolistic profiteering to me from the oil companies over a fungible commodity.
Tags: , , , , , ,  

[Update]  I even forgot to mention that Ces't Moi is a typically left wing environmentalist blog - so in defending the oil companies is showing more sense than normal ;-)

Surprise, Surprise - making the pipe into the home bigger doesn't lead to faster access

Hattip: Computerworld
"High contention rates (or the number of customers sharing the available bandwidth) have been cited as the major reason for current discontent, since they cause peak-time congestion, with severely degraded performance."

I seem to recall saying before that increasing the pipe into the home wouldn't do anything until the backbone speeds were increased.  And what incentive does Telecom have to increase the backbone speeds at the moment - none.  With the "kiwishare" and calls for nationalization of the local loop acting as a huge disincentive towards any kind of infra structural investment I really don't see this changing any time soon.

And to repeat - forcing Telecom to release the local loop and/or give "faster, cheaper broadband" to the home is not going to make anyone's Internet access move any faster.
Tags: , , , ,

Worriers lose but show why I watch them again ;-)

OK - so we got caned by the doggies on the final score line - but despite the Warriors playing atrociously for most of the game they still looked like they could pull it off for most of the time.  Which makes for an exciting game.  Which  oddly enough in the New Zealand psyche is better than a won game.
Still while it was nice to have one doggie (finally) sent off for repeated infringements - it would be even nicer to see the bins keep coming when the infringing continues...

Meanwhile it appears my soccer team had a better result over the weekend beating top of the table Three Kings United 2 Inter with 4 goals to nil ;-)  In a way it's kind of depressing to get a great result like that when you're not there though...  Gets us to 3rd on the ladder (Auckland Mens Div 2, University-Mt Wellington 2 Warriors for anyone interested).
Tags: , , , ,