Weekly Wrap 255: A new dawn occluded by storms

The storm approaches: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 20 to Sunday 26 April 2015 was rather dismal, and not just because of the severe storms that hit New South Wales.

The storms were big. A month’s worth of rain fell on the first day, and then there was more rain. Ausgrid had to deal with more than 6000 power line failures, most of them because of trees. The State Emergency Service had more than 11,000 jobs to deal with, and again most of them were because of trees. People were killed. Houses were washed away.

Fortunately, I was at the periphery of all that. It was more the weather’s side effect, the fact that I was trapped indoors for the latter part of the week, which led to further introspection along the lines that I explained last week.

That new dawn was occluded by a stormy week, which culminated in the Anzac Day weekend and the personal reflections that brings. It’s all a lot to deal with, really.

Podcasts

Articles

5at5

There were only two editions of 5at5 this week, on Monday and Tuesday. To save me having to tell you this, you could just subscribe.

Media Appearances

None. A planned spot on Tuesday to talk about tech news on ABC 702 Sydney was cancelled because they needed to focus on their storm coverage.

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

Well it’s almost over now. Today, or was we call it, Thursday, I’ll be writing for ZDNet Australia, doing some blog posts including this one, running errands, and returning to Wentworth Falls after a couple days in Sydney. On Friday, I’ll be focusing on my legacy IT business, Prussia.Net, which now bears little relationship to how the website describes it, and which much change. The weekend will include whatever things I feel like at the time, because it’s the weekend.

[Photo: The storm approaches. The first of several days of heavy rainstorms hit New South Wales on Monday 20 April 2015. This shot was taken from a taxi driving down the Great Western Highway, somewhere between Leura and Wentworth Falls.]

Talking Netflix for Australia on ABC 891 Adelaide

ABC logoToday the US-based video streaming service announced that will launch in Australia in March 2015. I spoke about the implications earlier this evening on ABC 891 Adelaide.

While Netflix already has 200,000-odd customers in Australia, using various methods to get around the geoblocking. Will they move across when the Australian service, given that the selection won’t be the same? Will Australia’s broadband cope?

The presenter is Michael Smyth.

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The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Talking geoblocking and copyright on ABC Gold Coast

ABC logoThe government’s discussion paper on online copyright infringement came out just over a month ago, the submissions period closed on Monday, and now the debate is really kicking off — including on the complicated legal issue of geoblocking.

Now I’ve already given my opinion on the political spin in the discussion paper itself. But the specific issue of geoblocking came up on ABC Gold Coast, and this morning I spoke with breakfast presenter Bern Young.

Legally it’s a grey area. By signing up for a Netflix account from Australia, for example, you may be breaking the terms and conditions of their service. But you’re still paying for the content, and money is passed on the the actual producers.

The only people missing out are the local Australian distributors who’ve inserted themselves between the content producers and the audience. What value are they adding, exactly? The whole point of the internet is to enable people to connect globally.

CHOICE sees it as a consumer issue. Doesn’t geoblocking, the restriction of content availability by location, restrict competition? They’ve just launched a TV campaign making that point. Even the government’s own inquiry into IT pricing recommended that geoblocking be outlawed.

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The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Talking digital copyright on ABC 105.7 Darwin

ABC logoThe third radio spot I did about Attorney-General George Brandis’ comments on digital copyright was with ABC 105.7 Darwin on Wednesday 19 February. Here it is.

(“Third” you ask? There’s only been one other posted so far. That’s true. The second spot was with Dom Knight on ABC 702 Sydney on Tuesday 18 February. But I don’t have a recording for you. Sorry.)

This is roughly the same discussion I had on Spoke on Tuesday, but with presenter Kate O’Toole and after I’d drank a bottle of Sangiovese Barbera after I got angrier about the issues. So the concept of graduated response is a thing again, I allude to the iiTrial and so on. And yes I mentioned Rebecca Giblin’s research.

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The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Talking geoblocking on The Project

Screenshot from The ProjectI am continually intrigued by the choices of stories that I end up talking about on Channel TEN’s The Project — like bouncing off the release of a parliamentary report on IT pricing to discuss how to avoid geoblocking.

It’s nearly two weeks since we recorded some sound bites at the foot of Sydney Harbour Bridge. The story was originally scheduled to air the following night. But on the day there was a far better yarn to tell — the anniversary of MMS, which could lead to some fun sexting jokes — and then the prime minister called the election. I was starting to assume that the story had been spiked.

But no, it went to air on Monday night, and it turned out to be quite a good explanation of the issue and how to get around the geoblocks — as well as the risks.

The video of the three-minute segment, including comments fore and aft by the presenters, is over the fold.

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