Archive for October 2005
I have to send a lot of mails to customers out over the next few weeks telling them about changes to our shared hosting platform. Obviously, I’m writing a script to handle the heavy working for me. Previously, I’ve been using a smarthost but it means I don’t get a lot of the errors. I thought I’d change to resolving the MX record for each domain myself and then e-mailing the customers SMTP mailserver directly. First thing I’ve run into is that Python doesn’t seem to have a DNS resolver built in as a standard module. I found the ADNS module but it doesn’t have very good documentation – shouldn’t moan but I wish module writers would do decent documentation! At the moment it’s not clear how you’re supposed to handle failures or how you get exceptions.
Sky has announced a 211 million GBP takeover of Easynet the alternative telecoms provider. This deal would give them the infrastructure for a triple play and position them for IPTV (Internet Protocol Television).
Sky has been doing well in the UK but changes in the landscape mean it can’t rest on its’ laurels. The Sky+ DVR (Digital Video Recorder) service has driven growth, but future innovation for advanced services will depend on a two way network connection. The merger of NTL and Telewest means that there will be increased competition in the consumer media consumption space. Finally, the manner in which users consume media is changing; the method such as the Internet is taking a large slice; the format such as the mobile phone will have an impact and we’ve yet to see if the manner in the form of blogs and Web 2.0 will have an influence the mainstream. Consequently, buying Easynets broadband LLU experience and network is a good fit. The media coverage in the Times, Business Week and Guardian are all positive.
I’ve always admired Easynets strategy, they took a risk by entering into LLU early but have made it pay-off. It’s reported that 98% of Easynets customers are businesses, who could be impacted by any shift in strategic focus. Sky will aim to expand the broadband side of the network which will mean considerable investment and change. And whether they have the strategic intent, or the capability to continue servicing business customers is an interesting question. I imagine that there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for the UK business Service Providers.
What do you think, is Sky’s buyout good for business customers and consumers?
ID cards passed their third reading and have been sent to the House of Lords. While there was a reduced majority, the final outcome is a victory for the government. This legislation enables the government to set-up the ID card system, although a great deal of the detail of how they work and be used is missing. It’s worth skimming some of the debate along with this overview, and for balance the governments view.
I find the reasoning for identity cards wholly unconvincing, even the Government seems unsure, constantly chopping and changing. Nonetheless, the opposition hasn’t managed to make any substantial progress, it looks like they’ll pass. I’ve been surprised that by the lack of interest that the UK public has shown.
I don’t think the arguments against ID cards are reaching the general public. I had dinner with a group of intelligent, informed and articulate solicitors a few months ago who seemed completely unaware of what you can do with the technology that underpins ID cards. If these people don’t understand the consequences of what’s happening what hope is there for the man of the clapham omnibus. This lack of interest is reflected by the media coverage; the BBC homepage doesn’t even mention that ID cards passed to the Lords, instead leading with Clarke dropping out of the conservative leadership race – yet of the two ID cards will impact our daily lives far more.
Why do you think there’s been such a subdued reaction to ID cards?
Lawrence Lessig believes that we are in a war between a future of proprietary culture or a free culture. A digital world is enabling previously unparallelled ways of regulating how we use content in our every day lives. He believes that those who support a cultural commons are losing the war partially because the terms of the argument are being framed by the opposition and partially because of a lack of action.
This is a wide-ranging roll back of existing freedoms, or the prevention of freedoms that should exist in a world of digitized content. For where this could lead he references an insightful (and I hope inciteful) comment from Bill Gates about one arena of this conflict:
“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”
And in a chilling view of where we could go Gates continues:
“The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.”
Take the 30 minutes or so and listen to the whole presentation. I hope it leave you wanting to do something, and you can quickly and easily!
In the US there is the EFF but in the UK there hasn’t been an equivalent. Danny O’Brien, who you might know from NTK, is workng on the Open Rights Group which will cover digital rights issues such as onerous data retention and restrictive copyright law. Sue Charmman has some great material on her blog about their proposal, check it out and then sign the pledge to support them.
How do you think normal UK citizens can protect their rights?