Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh Yes - about the Arab thing

I have been meaning to say something about the Arab uprising thing - My spin was that it is exciting and unpredictable, and that the "dictators dillemma" is definitely in play in those Arab countries that have dictators (most of them?).

This article explains to me at any rate the relationship of modern technology with why the uprisings have gotten so much momentum.

My view is that at this point, international "judgement" is quite moot, especially as there is no such thing as international law, at least that can be enforced. All there is is a kind of multilateral pragmatism, with perhaps some belated justice being meted out by citizens on their former oppressors, and perhaps sanctioned in hindsight by various countries and groupings. There is absolutely no point in supporting a tyrant when they look like they are going to lose no matter what. It is in a sense "victor's justice"

Chris Fellows says:
(BTW Marco, if you mind me posting an off-topic diatribe, just delete it and tell me to get my own blog already!)

Too bad - Until you get a new blog I'll keep the conversation going here.

It leaves a sour taste in my mouth that the one time the UN can get together it is to kick a man when he's down...surely the time for sanctions against Qaddafi was when he invaded Chad, or blew up that passenger plane, or fomented Tuareg rebellions in neigbouring countries, or killed thousands of unarmed prisoners, or had Sadat assassinated for making peace with Israel (the last not proven, but as proven as some of the allegations being used as justification now)?

If I was part of a mob burning down a police station and calling for the violent overthrow of the government, I would consider that I had crossed some red line between being a 'civilian' and an 'insurgent' and that it would be pretty much justifiable self-defence if the government used deadly force against me. And if there were people all over the country burning down police stations, I would think the government was pretty much justified in imposing a curfew and shooting me if I broke it. And if my whole town was in the control of police-station-burning hooligans, I would think the government would have a pretty good case for sending the air force against us. The hypocrisy of the UN condemning Qaddafi for doing what almost every UN member state would do if they were in his shoe is kind of icky

Not many journalists have taken this line at all. "Groupthink" seems to have taken over and the new good guys can do what they need to do to extinguish the bad guys, who have been happily doing bad things for decades. The double standards argument makes no sense to the groupthink.

Monday, February 21, 2011

NBN vs alternatives, again

I don't really want to offer a counter anecdote at this stage, because there is something more fundamental about the NBN plan than the simple "Cost for Cost - speed for speed" rationalisations of the argument between the plans broadly outlined by the Government and opposition.

The fundamental thing for me is the experience Australia had with the privatisation of Telstra in the first place, and whether the mistakes made then can be made up with a new plan.
The rationalisation of privatisation at that point and generally was that investments formerly provided by the Government would be made by private enterprise, and that costs would be borne by the end consumers who were most willing to pay for the services provided.
The main unexpected downsides was that voters even in cities were not happy with the disparity between country and city services, so a regimen of regulation was built up so high, Government became a virtual "owner" of Telstra's minimum service, but in a much more inefficient way than *actually* owning the associated infrastructure.

A second downside was the inefficient duplication of things like mobile phone towers, which provided neither more coverage, nor extra reliability.

A third issue can be illustrated with an anecdote. When a *Telstra* Fibre cable was accidentally cut, all services *other* than Telstra, including mobile phones stopped working for huge swathes of regional areas, including many which ostensibly should not have even relied on that connection. Ironically many Telstra services continued working at a slightly lowered reliability.

The ownership structure of the NBN is the real key to why it will resolve the failures of privatisation without harming its successes.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

4G and new technologies a serious threat to fibre broadband

If you are not already convinced that wireless is the new future and that FTTP broadband is a white elephant you MUST read this.

Not only will 4G kill NBN but as an added bonus will boost personal insect repellant sprays in this country :-O

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ok. I admit it . the Economist is privatisation biased

Having read the Economist Intelligence Unit's brief accessible summary on broadband plans compared among dozens of countries, it has become obvious to me. Australia's broadband plans have been scored low because of the high comparative cost and mediocre quoted speed.

The issue I have (as I had with their take on university privatisation) is how the length of term of investment is never even considered as an issue. Wireless (Next G as oposed to Wi-Fi) has excellent returns on investment in the short term, but is in no way future-proof.

The real crux of the issue - Who should pay for and/or own infrastructure as opposed to running costs and retail sale of bandwidth etc, is never mentioned. It wouldn't be an issue to me, if the alternative suggestion was the government owning and spending money on a much reduced infrastructure - That would be a reasonable alternative, but in the long run, it wouldn't actually be cheaper. To me it is like Mr Windsor said - "You do it once, and you do it with fibre".

The biggest returns will happen once Moore's law catches up with the capacity of the network. Memory capacity still doubles every 18 months, but data generation and traffic on the internet is doubling quicker than that, about every 12 months. Therefore, given that if you build it, the traffic will eventually fill it - it makes sense to optimise the cost of the end-point infrastructure, rather than requiring a shorter timeframe to gain a payoff with something that will need to be upgraded again, duplicating a lot of the initial work.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Post Yasi De-brief

Quite a few interesting points to make on the wash-up with regards to this monster cyclone. It is quite amazing how many people went into such a panic that they flew or drove out of Townsville at great personal expense, on Wednesday (3/2/11) at which point we were ruled out of both very destructive winds and the worst of the tidal surges. Fear is contagious, and most of my time on Wednesday was spent calming friends and family down and busting the various rumours circling around - like these Some of the major problem was that uncertainty of where the cyclone was going to land as of Monday and early Tuesday was passed on by word of mouth, and gave the wholly wrong impression to a lot of people that Armageddon in Townsville was still possible when they were making decisions early Wednesday. This was contradicted by the facts, and it is a tribute to Anna Bligh and her team that each press conference had the utmost up to date facts and correct specific instructions to everyone concerned. It appears several important lessons were learned from each recent cyclone to the effect that I couldn't fault the "official" response in any way whatsoever.

The aftermath response is a little bit the other way. The same sort of people that had their families unnecessarily huddled inside wardrobes overnight, were out there the next day thinking it had been way overblown. Bitter disappointment and resentment about power being out for so long gave way to surprise about how much monetary assistance would come their way. So much money has been doled out by Centrelink that Townsville is under a stimulus induced spending spree. One-offs like disaster relief have little of the economic ill-effects of other kinds of government spending, as the money filters back as taxes from those companies that did well servicing peoples needs in this area. The net result might even be more growth for Australia.