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All Things Internet™ since 1999


Oracle & Autonomy: Fiddling while Rome burns

Don’t these people have anything better to do? (details here and here)

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Marc Andreesen thinks so, “”Ten years ago, it was a joke: you’d raise $20 million in venture capital and write a $4 or $5 million check to Oracle, Sun, BEA, and EMC….When it started, Salesforce looked like a toy compared with Siebel. Look ahead five years later, it’s obviously better. Not a single one of our startups uses Oracle.”


Is Rogers lying or just incompetent? Throttling response to CRTC full of inconsistencies

Read this for background

Either the regulatory wranglers at Rogers are completely clueless about deep packet inspection, or they are lying.

Rogers: “We don’t target specific groups of customers or content”. In fact, the letter describes in great detail about how they are targeting customers who are using P2P applications on their home networks. That sounds like a group of customers to me.

Rogers: “Gaming customers have only been affected when running P2P file sharing simultaneously with a misclassified game”. This statement makes no sense whatsoever. Parsing it, it seems to be saying “Traffic that we can’t classify, running alongside traffic we can classify, causes connections to be throttled”. Okay. Except in the previous paragraph, Rogers stated “Rogers ITMPs limit only P2P file sharing applications to a maximum of 80kpbs of upstream throughput”. Soooo… what? Both statements can’t be true. If Rogers is only throttling P2P *applications* as explicitly stated in the second statement, then it wouldn’t matter how misclassified traffic was as described in the first statement. If their policy is only to filter P2P, why are they also filtering misclassified traffic? Wouldn’t it just make sense to not throttle it until you can identify it? Oh, wait – is Rogers actually filtering the entire upstream throughput and not just that available to P2P?

Rogers: “In very rare situations, traffic that is not P2P file sharing, may be misclassified, such as was the case with World of Warcraft.” WoW is one of the most popular online games. Misclassifying this traffic is at best, totally incompetent. Doing so would affect thousands of Rogers customers and would be anything but an isolated case.

Finally, am I the only one disturbed by the fact that the guy writing the letter is Rogers expert in both Copyright and Broadband law? There are huge differences between content/media and networks. The very fact that Rogers is internally Is organized with a belief that the same hammer can be used to drive both both nails just shows how screwed Canada’s Internet users actually are.

(As an aside, the letter includes a really annoying typo in the first a paragraph after the numbered list. Not really relevant, but it drives me crazy every time I read that sentence. If I was paying a flack to write on my behalf to a government agency, I’d want them to run it through an editor first. I realize this blog is full of similar oversights, but I do this for fun…)


Life in the cloud….


Comments were broken on this blog. The fix wasn’t immediately apparent, so I opted instead to install Disqus. That meant I had to install a third-party plugin for WordPress. Installing the plugin meant getting an API key from Akismet. So here I am, three virtual services away from my blog, signing up for this and agreeing to that just so you can leave comments on my blog.

Pretty cool.

Ten years ago, we talked about an API for everything. Today we no longer talk about it, it just is. It also makes me think about how cutting edge we were when we launched OpenSRS.

Register a domain name via an API? Can I still register via email? (yes, son, in the olden days the only way to register a domain name was by sending an email). In retrospect, I think its safe to say, OpenSRS was the first commercial web service. 10 years later, its still the standard in the industry.

Also pretty cool.


How you could have won the CIRA election

The most obvious way of winning the CIRA election was completely (and arguably, appropriately) overlooked by all of the candidates.

There are some restrictions on who can vote. They have to be Canadian, they have to own a .ca domain name and they have to be a CIRA member. The first is tough to do anything about, but there are a lot of Canadians, so presumably a candidate could find a lot of people to vote for them. Problem is, most people that potential candidates know aren’t .ca domain owners, never mind being CIRA members. Even though it only costs (on average) about $15 to register a .ca domain name and a few minutes to authenticate as a member before the start of the Annual General Meeting in order to make the cut-off, the $$+process+timing issues are probably just enough to make it difficult to launch a general campaign targeted at the general public. Its much more productive to go after existing members and try and win their vote.

Except this year was different. Yola is giving away free .ca domain names at gybo.ca. *Anyone* could have become a CIRA member for free. Sure there were a few hoops to jump through, but I’m sure that candidates could have convinced a few people to sign up for free and vote for them.

Only a few hundred ballots separate winners in this election. A broader campaign bringing new members in could have carried the day. Definitely something for potential candidates to think about next year.

Also something for the CIRA Board to seriously consider in how they structure their governance and policy development activities.

Just saying’.


Amazon coming into its own…

Reading the stories about the Kindle Fire this morning, I think Amazon might have a real shot at capturing some real market share in the tablet segment.

Not because of the hardware configuration – better options exist elsewhere. Not because of the software and features – again, both exist in better form elsewhere.

Distribution and Operations.

Apple has been successful with the iPad not because they invented the iPad, but because they have the right business model. Design + Technology + Manufacture + Distribution + Sales + Marketing. And they are great with each.

Amazon already very nearly does many of these things. They already have awesome Distribution + Sales and their Marketing is quickly coming up the curve. They are weak in the area of Design + Technology + Manufacture, but not nearly as bad as what we’ve seen from RIM, DELL and others. Amazon can definitely improve in these areas, and press reports lead me to believe that they are worried about the right things – learning the lessons they need to learn quickly to be competitive in the right time frame. Amazon’s track record with distribution and operations is nearly as outstanding as Apple’s.

Here’s a crazy thought. Amazon has a market cap double HP and nearly quadruple DELL. If Amazon can make a dent in the tablet market, I wonder what they could do in the mobile market with the assets of either of those two companies. Google buying Motorola might just well set the stage for a round of dizzying mega-consolidations.

Never underestimate the power of distribution.


Handicapping the CIRA Election

Every year around this time, I start to get the question “Who do you think will win the board election?”. Normally I’ll defer answering, or answering candidly in quiet circles after a glass of wine or two but as a sitting director, it was just uncool and not that politically bright to publicly lay odds on the incoming directors. After all, being wrong meant that I’d be upsetting someone that I’d be working with in the coming years.

This year with my departure from the Board, I can pretty safely answer the question – and I love watching the election develop, so I thought it would be fun to layout who I think will be elected to the board this year. Not who did I vote for or who did I support, but just laying down a bet as to who I think has the best chance of winning.

The Nominating Committee slate is always tough to pick. They always have a small number of candidates and a large number of seats. Generally, if you make the Nominating Committee slate, you have a pretty good shot at winning a board seat in the election.

My gut says that we might see some surprises this year. Incumbent Kerry Brown has had a pretty visible campaign on the twitters, but it remains to be seen if he still has the connection to the base of members that got him elected in the first place. He faces some pretty stiff competition – the nomination committee picked a solid slate this year, and the inclusion of a candidate from Quebec could split the ballot up pretty broadly. I’m also hearing good things about the efforts of Bill St. Arnaud, Gary Evans and Bill Gibson to get their seat. My picks?

Kerry Brown, Eric Boehm and Bill St. Arnaud.

The member side of the ballot is a lot tougher to call. 9 candidates, 1 seat up for grabs.

These candidates from the grassroots come from a variety of backgrounds. During the campaign, a few have risen to the top – Kevin Mcarthur, Frank Michlick, Rob Villeneuve, Marita Moll and Tom Williams were all extremely active in and around the Annual General Meeting, and to varying extents, in social media leading up to the election. Rob Villeneuve carries the backing of a substantial portion of the registrar community, while Marita Moll and Kevin McArthur carry endorsements from the public interest and in Kevin’s case, the techno-activism community. Frank Michlick, who carries respectable technical credentials has good standing in the Toronto internet community and the backing of the domain portfolio investor community. Tom Williams, the incumbent, is a bit of a dark horse who carries strong credentials, but may not be able to rise up above the noise in this campaign.

Unless there is some serious vote splitting of the various stakeholder groups, I suspect the real race will be between Frank Michlick and Kevin McArthur. With Kevin’s endorsement by OpenMedia.ca, I suspect he may have the slight edge. This one is really too close to call, but if pressed, my favourite to win would be Kevin McArthur.

With the election just a few hours away from closing, it still might be anyone’s game to take. Who knows – the election always has a few surprises in it. I really do wish all of the candidates the best of luck – it is quite remarkable that our Internet community still cares enough to participate, as voters and candidates, after all of these years. Without this participation, it is almost impossible for CIRA to uphold its mandate as the steward of Canada’s top-level domain. Thanks to all of you for the part you play in this.


Adventures with Customer Service, chapter 23 – Getting VISA to Pay Up

This afternoon I discovered that I was getting double-charged by my bank for my credit cards. $24.50 a month & $170 a year. The $24.50/month fee was supposed to include two credit cards, one for me and one for Amanda which would normally cost $170 per year in fees. Looking closely at my statements, I realized that they were charging both – and guessed that they had been for quite some time. A quick check of my 2010 statements showed that they nicked me last year too.

Guessing about how long I’d had the credit card and chequing account, I figured that they owed me at least $500 in extra charges.

I called the CIBC customer service line and after navigating their voicemail tree, pressing “1″ and “5″ and entering my account number in followed by the pound sign, as instructed, I finally got to talk to a real person. Who promptly informed me that he couldn’t help me and that I should visit my local branch.

And here I thought that my $24.50/month included telephone banking privileges.

Pressing him a little bit further, I managed to get him to transfer me to the CIBC Card Services group (which I later learned is really just a hotline to the VISA call centre).

When the next agent came on the line, I explained my issue to her for the second time. Her response was pretty surprising. In summary, she questioned why I hadn’t noticed sooner and indicated that at best, the most they would be able to refund me was $170 from the most recent statement, but only if I could get them proof in the next few days. And then she threw her colleagues at CIBC under the bus and said that they had neglected to file some important form way back when I first established the account. Somehow she intended that this would all make sense to me and that I would feel responsible for their lack of paperwork and accept the fact that VISA wasn’t going to refund me the fee’s they overcharged me.

My response, if I remember correctly, went something like…


Or maybe I just mumbled something about closing all my accounts…

Hanging up the phone, I realized that my only chance to fix this would be at the local branch. Face-to-face is always easier to get things fixed, and I have the added bonus of being out in the middle of nowhere which increases my chance that whomever I talk to will be small-town friendly.

Walking into the local CIBC branch, my fortune immediately changed. Within minutes, the teller whom I had explained the whole story to was ushering me into the branch manager’s office. I sat and waited while she made a few phone calls to VISA, shared a few puzzled glances with me while they put her on hold, and then politely explained to them why they would be immediately crediting my account $170 per year for each year I’d had the card dating back to 2004! When she finished with her phone call, she handed me her card and told me to call her if my account hadn’t been credited within 30 days, and if not, she would personally credit my account the extra fees!

I left very impressed that I had found someone who knew the difference between following policy and doing the right thing. And pretty impressed that my credit card would soon be the recipient of a nice $1400 credit!


On remembering 9/11 – 9 years ago….

Here’s a link to the decaying archives of byte.org recounting my thoughts on September 11, 2001 on the 1 year anniversary.


Email is hard

Email is hard. We get a lot of it, and if your like me, you might have a tendency to want to use it in ways that just aren’t productive.

Over the years I’ve found that less is more, although I still have a long way to go before I master this. I also try really hard not to broach new subjects via email or attempt to deal with something in its entirety. Email is good for updates, reminders, organizing and small questions. Email is really bad for conversations, debates, collaboration and relationships.

I have a tendency to think I’m a really bad emailer, and once in a while I’m pleasantly surprised to learn that other people are much worse.

Take this email written by Sarah Palin for example. It breaks pretty much all the rules. I would have thought she would be a bit more savvy and avoiding sending something like this.

From: Sarah 

To: Scott Heyworth Cc: Todd Palin 

Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 10:19 AM 

Subject: Todd’s son 


Todd just told me you had spoken with him awhile back and reported that some law enforcement friends of yours claimed some dumbass lie about Track not being Todd’s son? This really, really disgusts me and ticks me off. 

I want to know right now who said it, who would ever lie about such a thing this is the type of bullshit lie about family that WILL keep me from running for Governor. I hate this kind of crap. I thought it was bad enough that my kids have been lied about recently regarding illegal activities that they had NO part in whatsoever. But a stupid claim like one of our kids isn’t fathered by Todd? 

I want to know NOW what this latest b.s. is all about because I want to get to the bottom of this garbage rumor mill. People who lie like this may know me well enough to KNOW THAT I WILL ALWAYS PUT FAMILY FIRST, AND IF UGLY LIES LIKE THIS ARE BELIEVED BY ANYONE AND ADVERSELY AFFECT MY HUSBAND AND KIDS I WILL PULL OUT OF THE RACE BECAUSE IT’S NOT WORTH IT—AT ALL—TO LET MY FAMILY BE VICTIMS OF DARK, UGLY POLITICS LIKE THIS. 


If you ever find yourself writing something like this, do yourself a favour and never send it.


A tie is a tie…

Reading an interview with Noel Gallagher, formerly of Oasis, I’m reminded of a very important (and obvious) and difficult to practice, lesson.

State of mind is so important.

Noel uses the example of a tie game in football…

“Let’s say you’re behind with two minutes to go and you come back to tie the game. It almost feels like you’ve won. Right? But let’s say you’ve been ahead the whole game and you allow the opponent to tie things up in the final two minutes. Then it feels like you’ve lost. But the fact of the matter is it’s still a fucking tie. The only difference is perception.”

- Noel Gallagher, Oasis

In practice, this means knowing the difference between the past and the future. In the past, you may have been leading the game, or losing the game. Now, all that matters is that the score is tied. The only thing you can change is what happens in the future.

Whether you win or lose is very much up to you.