Weekly Wrap 209: Nostalgia as winter falls, with Apple

St Stephens Anglican Church, Newtown: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 2 to Sunday 8 June 2014, at least beyond immediate work commitments, was somewhat limited by certain cashflow issues, but that seems to always happen when there’s a long weekend early in the month.

Still, the ebook project progressed nicely — and that will be announced properly in approximately a week. It’s not that exciting, though, trust me.


Oddly enough, both of these were triggered by the announcements at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). I found it quite funny that some people, even some alleged technology journalists, said there was nothing interesting to report because there wasn’t any new hardware.

There’s also the blog posts I wrote for Blogjune, which you may find interesting. Or not.

Media Appearances


Not quite a full week this week, though Friday’s was a bumper edition to make up for the gap. Why don’t you subscribe to 5at5?


Corporate Largesse

  • On Friday I caught up with Michael McKinnon from AVG Technologies AU. We spoke about many interesting things, and he bought a couple of beers and dinner.

The Week Ahead

Monday is a public holiday for the Queen’s Birthday, but since she has neglected to invite me to her party — an administrative oversight I can accept, because she is a busy woman — I will be catching up with a friend instead. And then I shall return to Wentworth Falls.

Tuesday is a day of research and planning, unless a writing commission comes up. Wednesday is a day trip to Sydney for a lunchtime briefing by Brocade. Thursday is a day of writing. Wednesday and Thursday are days of writing. Friday onwards has yet to be allocated.

[Photo: St Stephens Anglican Church, Newtown, photographed from Camperdown Memorial Rest Park on 21 June 2003. I’ve decided that if I haven’t taken any decent photographs in the week covered by the Wrap, I’ll pick something from the same month in the past.]

[Update 10 June 2014, 1515 AEST: The Week Ahead edited to reflect a change of plans for Wednesday.]

Returning after computer grief

I hate these little “sorry I’m late with everything” notes, but I am late with everything — because I ended up in software upgrade hell over the weekend, and that took away two days of my life. But I’m back, and most of those problems have been dealt with.

What I can tell you quickly is that my Pozible campaign has been successful, and The 9pm Edict podcast will be returning. There’s funding committed for at least two episodes in May, but there’s still just under 11 hours left in the crowdfunding campaign so there may be more.

There will definitely be an update before lunchtime tomorrow, Tuesday.

Weekly Wrap 197: Leura, clouds, and other minor joys

Study in purple and grey, Leura: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 10 to Sunday 16 March 2014 has been a vast improvement, with plenty of signs of productivity returning.

The difficulties hinted at last week were more about continuing gastro-intestinal problems rather than stress and depression — though obviously such things interact — and I’m fairly sure that the third anti-depressant I’ve been trying has very much not been helping in this regard. But I won’t tangle that thread of thought into this Wrap.

While there might not seem to be that much more this week, that’s because I don’t include the various geek-for-hire things I still do from time to time for some legacy clients. A couple hours of relatively straightforward systems administration pays more than writing a typical column, which can reduce the stress remarkably. Such a thing happened this week.


By the time today (Sunday) ends, I should also have finished a piece for Crikey that’ll probably be published on Monday — though given the fascinating political news following the state elections in Tasmania and South Australia yesterday, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were held over until later in the week.

Media Appearances



We seem to have gotten back on track from Wednesday, and the coming week is looking good.

Corporate Largesse


The Week Ahead

On Monday and Tuesday I’ve got lunchtime briefings in Sydney, with Dell Australia and infosec company Imperva respectively, so that means I’ll almost certainly be in Sydney overnight too.

I haven’t locked in the exact order of play after that. It’ll depend on when payments arrive and when I feel in the mood for work, but obviously you can follow my Twitter stream to stay up to date.

[Photo: Study in purple and grey, Leura,14 March 2014, being a picture of the typical pre-storm cloudscapes we see up here in the Blue Mountains.]

Talking ATO e-tax for Mac on ABC Radio’s “PM”

ABC logoAfter 15 years, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) finally launched a Mac OS X version of its e-tax software for filing personal income tax returns — and it doesn’t work. Hah!

ATO bungles e-tax for Mac launch, wrote Ben Grubb at Fairfax. E-tax for Mac launch stumbles on developer certificate, wrote Josh Taylor at ZDNet. And so on.

I gave my feelpinion on ABC Radio’s PM program this evening. I was not complimentary. I mentioned steam trains. And sledgehammers.

The journalist was Johanna Jarvis. The presenter, Peter Lloyd. Here’s the audio.

The audio is of course ©2013 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and over at the ABC website you can find their audio and a transcript.

cPanel reconsiders EULA acceptance process

Earlier this month I was less than impressed with cPanel, who sprung a new end user license agreement (EULA) on me and expected me to agree on the spot. I’m pleased with their response.

The other day I received a formal reply from their vice president of operations, Aaron Phillips, which I’m only posting today because I’ve been distracted:

I have been in discussions with our admin and legal teams today about your concerns. Currently, we are considering changes to the deployment procedures that should allow clients and owners of cPanel licenses more time to review updated agreements prior to their releases. The technical details have not been worked out, however, we are discussing solutions that will increase the amount of notice that will be given without a significant increase in administrative overhead for our customers.

We apologize if you have incurred any problems from cPanel’s procedures. While we do not have any immediate solutions to your particular situation, your comments and suggestions are taken very seriously and a new protocol will be developed to make the process easier for everyone in the future.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions or comments.

And my response to Mr Phillips is simple. Thank you very much. I completely understand that procedures and the software that implements them can’t be changed overnight, and it’s pleasing to see that the matter was taken seriously — rather than an angry rant from a crank.

If only more software vendors took the same attitude, rather than dictating terms to their users…

cPanel’s new EULA: more software industry arrogance?

[Update 16 April 2012: Early communications with cPanel indicated that their EULA may in fact have been unchanged, just presented again as part of the license activation — which would put a very different perspective on things. I added a question mark at the end of the headline at that time. Either way, their eventual official response indicates that this process might well be changed. That’s a win for us all.]

What is it with software companies that shove a multi-page contract in your face and expect you to click “I Agree” on the spot? Seriously, what level of ignorant arrogance does that require? cPanel Inc, creators of a popular web hosting management system, are just the latest in this conga line of suckholes.

(Note to fragile American readers: that’s a literary reference. Grow up and deal with it.)

This morning the shared web server I provide for clients had updated its cPanel/WHM software overnight. As it should. But I had to agree to a new end user license agreement (EULA) before I could even start to address an urgent maintenance matter.

I was far from impressed. If you want to change the rules, cPanel, you’ll bloody well give me the chance to consider those changes and decide whether I agree.

I just fired off this email. I await their reply.

Dear cPanel Inc,

I take serious issue with the way you have just handled the change to your end user license agreement (EULA) that came with the new version of cPanel/WHM installed automatically overnight.

There is no warning of an impending change to the EULA that I can immediately see in either the news or blog sections of your website, nor was there any notice that I saw in the cPanel/WHM interface. You simply popped up the new EULA in front of people once the new software had been installed, giving them no choice but to agree or be unable to maintain their servers.

Forcing people to agree to a new contract on the spot?

This is appalling!

cPanel/WHM is not consumer entertainment software. This is operational internet-facing software used by businesses. The EULA sets out all manner of terms and conditions with operational, risk and security implications — not only for your direct customers but for their customers in turn.

To pick just two examples, you grant yourself the right to “access to any facilities in which the Software is used or stored, including without limitation the facilities which house the Licensed Server”, and to “copy, access, store, disclose and use cPanel Data indefinitely in its sole discretion”.

While there are phrases limiting those rights in some cases, you have not given your users a reasonable time in which to assess the changes, decide whether they will accept them and, if they are unhappy with them, to make other arrangements — let alone discuss them with their customers.

Maybe the changes are minimal. Maybe not. Did you provide us with a clear list of changes, explaining the implications? No, you did not.

Your customers face a true dilemma today. Do they roll back to the previous version of the software, knowing that it doubtless contains security flaws that have been patched in the new version? Or do they blindly accept your new EULA without being able to think through the implications for their business and their customers?

Your new EULA will not have been written overnight. Your lawyers will have taken time to consider it, and it will have gone through an approval process within your own company. Why did you not have the simple, basic courtesy to extend the same opportunity to your customers?

Not impressed.

I have pressed “I Agree” because I needed to perform an urgent maintenance task on my server. However I wish to make it clear that I have not, in fact, agreed to your new EULA because I have not been given a reasonable opportunity to consider it.

Your once-happy but now extremely unhappy customer,


Of course cPanel are far from the only example of this arsehattery. Who have you had to deal with lately?