Telecom New Zealand’s free summer Wi-Fi

Hotel Ethernet

Hotel Ethernet – notice the old school Telecom logo from the days when 256kbps was high-speed Internet

Telecom’s Christmas gift to New Zealanders and overseas travellers is a summer-only network of free Wi-Fi hotspots.

The hotspots are mainly based on payphones in tourists places. That’s mainly towns, but the first one I found was in tiny Momorangi Bay off Queen Charlotte Sound between Picton and Nelson.

Before taking my Nokia Lumia 920 on a summer road trip I made a note of hotspots for when I ran short of data on my phone while away from home.

Free data, what’s not to like?

In the event, I didn’t use Telecom’s free Wi-Fi. Although I saw plenty of hotspots and my phone found more, the service was mainly available in places where I didn’t need it. That’s not a strike against Telecom, more a big tick in favour of savvy tourism operators.

We rented an apartment in Nelson that came with free Wi-Fi. I found it easier to use that for bulky data – like sending photographs. If I needed data while moving about, I could always dip into the 500MB included with my monthly mobile plan.

Apart from downloading road maps, the Lumia only sipped data while I was on the move.

Hotel disappointments

Our Wellington and Taupo hotels both had in-room broadband – delivered through an Ethernet cable, how retro. And they had paid-for Wi-Fi, but the price wasn’t right. In Wellington the Ibis allowed some free Wi-Fi access, but you needed to do everything quickly before charges kicked in. Ethernet cables were no use to me. I was also disappointed that the Ibis didn’t find the Nokia charger – luckily not the wireless charger – that I left in the room. Poor form.

Wellington has plenty of free Wi-Fi. Interestingly we had difficulty logging on to the free CityNet from just about every spot we tried, even though the phone could ‘see’ the hotspots. On the other hand, the free Te Papa Wi-Fi expended for some distance around the museum and worked well.

The Bayview hotel at Wairakei wanted a whopping $8 for 30 minutes internet access, which seems excessive and far more expensive than Telecom 3G data. Likewise the Interislander advertised 40MB, that’s not a misprint, for $7. Mind you, it was fun watching our position using the phone’s GPS while on board.

Chasing Facebook

Craig McGill makes a good case for social media strategists not putting all their digital eggs in the Facebook basket at the Contently Managed website. His In Social Media strategy, should you put all your digital eggs in the Facebook basket? wisely warns that Facebook could go the way of sites like Friends Reunited, MySpace and Bebo,

McGill says old-fashioned websites should stay the mainstay of any strategy – because that’s where people buy things and learn more information.

Kim Dotcom’s cloud cuckoo land cable

Kim Dotcom put the idea of a fresh submarine cable linking New Zealand to the West Coast of the USA back in the news last week. Chris Keall reports on Dotcom’s plans at the NBR.

Dotcom’s plan simply isn’t going to happen. At least not in the form he proposes. The reason is simple, rightly or wrongly Dotcom’s name is poison with at least two of the groups that hold the keys to a trans-Pacific cable:

  • The US government hates Dotcom. It needs to give landing rights permission. Given many American officials still want to throw Dotcom in jail, this isn’t going to happen so long as Dotcom’s name is attached to the project. They will see the cable as a pipe designed to suck all the profits and eventually the lifeblood, out of the US film and music industries.
  • Few Institutional Investors will touch Dotcom. They thought Pacific Fibre too risky. Dotcom is worse.

Is the New Zealand government on this list. Dotcom is something of a folk hero, that doesn’t mean government likes or wants him. In a minor way he threatens our trade relationships. Dotcom needs government permission for local landing rights, he also needs government departments to commit to buying fibre capacity.

Pacific Fibre couldn’t make a compelling business case to build a fresh cable. At least not one that investors would buy. That project has some of the country’s best business brains. They are well-connected and wealthy. There aren’t question marks hanging over them.

If Pacific Fibre couldn’t do it, it is unlikely anyone else can.

Dotcom’s plan to build a giant server farm using hydro electricity is clever. It could generate the traffic needed to make a cable viable. Branding it with New Zealand’s clean, green image could work as a lure. Keeping it outside the ambit of US Patriot Act legislation that allows spooks to pry into data at the drop of the hat is also a big plus. There’s also a case for backing up data in a small. democratic country in a tucked away part of the world.

But we’re back to risk. Putting data in a small, remote country with only a handful of fibre links may not look attractive to big corporations – especially if that server is associated with someone like Dotcom.

This isn’t about whether I think Dotcom is guilty or flaky – until he has had his day in court we won’t know how to judge the man. This about how others see him. When it comes to dealing with business risk perception can be as important as reality.

How a geek writes better emails

Adarsh Pandi is a developer who knows how to write great emails. He explains his technique in the curiously headlined Using Writing Smells to Refactor Your Email.

Pandi treats crafting emails like writing a piece of code. He starts by looking at the goals of an email which he says are:

  • Get the reader to read the most important thing
  • Get them to respond quickly or do something quickly

Then works to make them simple, easier to respond to and more likely to trigger an action.

He then works through a few details, such as keeping sentences short and simple What’s amazing is how he effectively develops a simple version of what us old hands teach every young journalist when they first start writing.

Are email greetings and salutations redundant?

NZ guide to managing on-line reputation risk

A good reputation can be destroyed in minutes.  Thanks to the internet and social media, there are now not just more ways to damage reputations, but the bad news will travel faster and further.

The easiest way not to damage a reputation is to not be evil or stupid and to think before going public. It may pay not to tweet when drunk or tired and, in any case, to pause before hitting the send button. Don’t even attempt to tell off-colour jokes in front of people you don’t know and, never, ever do that kind of thing on broadcast television or radio.

You can find more comprehensive advice on the legal aspects of how not to look like a complete bastard or a stupid prat in Tracey Walker‘s book Reputation Matters.

I was at the launch last night at Simpson Grierson and managed to have a quick read of a few pages. Three things impressed me:

First, the book is bang up to date. The News Limited phone hacking scandal is a case study. It is also bang up to date in covering the latest social media technologies.

Second, Walker may be a lawyer and this may be a legal guide, but she writes in plain English. The parts I read could even be described as engaging. That’s not how I remember law books.  More to the point, its non-intimidating approach makes it a must-have title for every company communications department and public relations professional.

Third, it isn’t about theory, this book is about practice. There are flow charts, lists and diagrams to help you get quickly to the most important points. That’s something you may need to do in a hurry once the reputation. You’ll probably need to call a lawyer too.

At $110 plus GST the book isn’t cheap, but nor is losing your reputation.