Welcome reddit users

Server is getting slammed today due to a couple of links on reddit… I know lots of people use TimerResolution with Counter Strike and it seems that in the last 48 hours VAC decided that TimerResolution was a hack/cheat and automatically banned a bunch of users. They have seen the error of their ways and have now unblocked the users wrongly blocked. Good job Valve.

Technology Prediction – Local or Cloud – Part 1

With the upcoming release of Apple’s revised cloud solution I think it is best I get my prediction out in the world.

So will all our storage be now be in the cloud? Will my phone keep its contacts online? My iPod only downloads songs as a stream? My camera uploads instantly with no more SD cards?

Yes and No.

Bandwidth, access, cost, and privacy will mean that local storage will be around for a while to come. I think what will take off in the next couple of years is “Sync to the Cloud”

Yes “Sync to the cloud” has been around for a couple of years but no one has really executed it in a way that has changed how we work for the better. My hope is that with Apple’s track record and since this is not their first attempt that they might just get it right this time.

I look forward to never having to worry about backups, running out of space, transferring to a new phone, or worse a stolen camera with all my holiday memories. That day is coming.

The “Sync to the cloud” idea means that all my devices will have access to a common storage pool that is always up to date. My TV has access to the same photos and videos as my laptop and tablet, even it I’m out of the house no matter what operating system they run.

Twitter, the Internet, and the Victorian Bush Fires

First up my thoughts go out to those directly impacted by the fires.

I found myself in  a location that could have been at risk yesterday but thankfully we escaped with little more than some smoke and a glow on the horizon. We also has a near miss with some roof iron that fell from the smoke cloud meters from us but really compared to some of the stories it was nothing, a story for another day.

This post is to point out a problem I see with our emergency communication within Victoria and the growth of the real-time internet.

I’ve found that Twitter has been the best source of information for the fires. Two useful hashtag have been setup #vicfires and #bushfires. These two feeds have had the most up to date information. @774melbourne deserves a special mention as their tweets come from CFA and DSE and are very accurate.

The CFA and DSE sites haven’t handled the load, the following is the message on the DSE site

Please note – due to unprecedented demand on this website, DSE is requesting that people who do not need to access this information for reasons of personal safety, please refrain from doing so.

What this tells me is that the Victorian Government websites cannot handle an event that causes Victorians to go online looking for information in a large number. This concerns me, and it should concern all Victorians. How would the government infrastructure hold up if Victoria has an event that directly affects all of us? Where would we go for up to date information?

Due to the limited availability of the official communication channels others have set up their own. Google Australia has the best I’ve seen so far at http://mapvisage.appspot.com/fires/FireMap.html

Why are the DSE and CFA not using Google maps as part of their reporting? Why do we have two disparate reporting systems on fire locations and even naming conventions and categorisations?

A friend of mine was involved in the fires last week, he stayed to protect his property. At one point a CFA truck came up to his house to ask for directions, they were not local and only had paper maps and a compass! How can we send these guys out to fight fires in the 21st century without even giving them a basic GPS? Shouldn’t they be equipped with full 2 way GPS so the the fire controllers and command centres can see exactly where every resource is at any time? I know this costs money but really if Taxis and couriers can have it then why not our fire fighters! I’m certain that this would save lives.

Now that the internet is many people’s primary information source how does it fit within the Government’s emergency response plan? The call centres are overloaded, TV too slow to update, the radio stations do an OK job but the information is sometimes difficult to visualise, in my case I was in an unfamiliar part of the state so the points of reference like roads, towns, and mountains didn’t mean very much.

This is not a criticism of the fantastic work that the fire fighters have done and continue to do, I fully support them. I do believe that our State and Federal governments can do more to support them and use technology sensibly to provide the community and the emergency services with accurate and up to date information they need when dealing with these situations.

5th Highest Web Traffic of all time – President Obama

According to Akamai they deliver 20% of internet traffic so when a big event happens they know about it. In the last 24 hours Barack Obama became the President of the United States.

With 5.4 Million visitors per minute it makes this the 5th highest ranked news event. What is surprising is the events that hold positions 1 to 4.

Rank Date Peak Visitors News Event
1 Nov. 4,  2008 8,572,042 Barack Obama is victorious in   historic presidential election
2 June 22, 2006 7,283,584 U.S. eliminated by Ghana in  World Cup
3 Mar. 20,  2008 7,008,325 Day One of U.S. College  Basketball  2008 Playoffs Coverage
4 Mar. 16,  2006 5,489,918 Day One of U.S. College  Basketball  2006 Playoffs Coverage
5 Jan 20, 2009 5,401,250 President Obama

The data and the graph above comes from http://www.akamai.com/html/technology/nui/news/index.html

There is no such thing as bad publicity, except your own obituary

There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.

Brendan Behan

Irish author & dramatist (1923 – 1964)

This is surely what Cummins Nitro and Naked Communications are telling their clients. These agencies  are the ones behind the IslandReefJob and Man in the Jacket.

Both of these have now had bad press this week revolving around fake videos. Tourism Queensland have apologised for causing confusion and last night we got a video from “Heidi Clarke” coming clean on the hoax. See it here.

So, is it true, is there no such thing as bad publicity?

Commentators seem to point out that “the man in the jacket” may not have worked the way it was originally intended but it did succeed in getting the brand name in the media. I would bet a large amount of money that hit on their web site have grown as well. Question is, will anyone now go and buy the jacket?

How to launch an internet based marketing campaign, badly… Part III (are you my man in the jacket?)

OK enough is enough. Australian ad agencies need to understand that just setting up a website and posting videos on YouTube isn’t going to get you a loyal following of customers. MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter aren’t going to help you either. The audience on these sites are not just going to believe whatever is put in front of them. Pretend to be something you’re not and unless you are very, very, very good you are going to get found out.

This brings me to the “are you my man in the jacket?” attempt at viral marketing. All the features of a campaign that would have worked 2 or 3 years ago are there but the audience has matured and evolved and this was quickly tagged as fake.

The suspect in this case is Witchery, a clothing company here in Australia. More discussion on this attempt can be found here, here, and here.

Wouldn’t it be nice if she finds her man in time for Valentines day.

How to launch an internet based marketing campaign, badly… Part II

Looks like I wasn’t the only one who noticed the less than perfect launch of www.islandreefjob.com. The Age had an article the same day about how the site was unable to cope with the number of hits.

This week the site is working and is now getting publicity but not for the reasons they had hoped. First comes the accusation of discrimination against vision-impaired users, the site does not cater for their needs.

It was also revealed this week that one of the videos listed as a applicant for the job is actually a fake – in 2 ways. The video showed a girl calling herself Tegan getting a tattoo of the Great Barrier Reef on her arm. YouTube users were onto the first part of the fake immediately, the tattoo had none of the redness of a real tattoo. I think that part can be excused, the video was original even if the subject wasn’t scared for life.

However the next revelation is less acceptable. It appears  that “Tegan” is not a genuine application. She works for the ad agency that created the campaign! Her video has now been removed but you can check out the other videos on YouTube.

How to launch an internet based marketing campaign, badly…

As we saw last week even the big internet aware companies sometimes struggle with the traffic and hype that a new site can create.

Now in this case it was Microsoft and the site was the Windows7 beta, the main Windows7 site remained operational but the page to sign up and the 2.5Gb and 3.5Gb iso images were a little on the slow side and even at one point completely unavailable.

What happens when an Australian state government launches a $1.7 million tourism campaign? Would you want to a least look at a website that offers a dream job living on a tropical island for 6 months and getting paid for it?


The Queensland government here in Australia has posted job ads in media all over the world looking for someone to live on Hamilton island for 6 months. The successful candidate will have to blog and use other internet services to talk about their experiences.

You might think that since that if the candidate is a success then the site they create will get a lot of traffic and therefore the people running the marketing campaign might have some scalable infrastructure behind their site. Well it seems they don’t, since launch the site has mostly been unavailable or incredibly slow.

It looks like they have used http://www.aussiehq.com.au/ for the hosting and the server is based in Melbourne and doing a reverse IP lookup shows that islandreefjob.com is the  only site on the IP address, so I guess that is better than a shared host. Looking at the details for the dedicated hosting packages it shows the the port speed is only 10Mbit, since they want people to send in videos as part of the application process, hmm looks like someone didn’t really think this through.

Who do you think sat in the meeting and said “Sure we’ve got $1.7 million to spend but lets just go with the cheap hosting and save the rest for the end of year Christmas party”

Things I wish I’d thought of – Geohash

I get lots of great ideas. Sometimes I do nothing with them, sometimes I get motivated enough to actually try and get them off the ground.

Over the holidays I was off to a friends wedding at a place I’d never been to before. They were nice enough to include the Melway reference on the invitation but our TomTom GPS doesn’t understand Melway references so we had to manually enter the address, it doesn’t take long but is still a bit fiddly and can be prone to errors when suburbs collide.

If only there was a human readable easy to enter code for a latitude and longitude like the G-Code system that was popular on VCRs in the 90’s. (just looked in my Sunday TV guide, looks like people must still use it!)

The solution would be pretty straight forward, just encode the two numbers as a base 16 number (hexadecimal). That should be easy to enter and would shorten the numbers somewhat. If I used more letters than just A to F then I could shorten the codes further. I would have to leave out letters like “I” and “O” as they could be confused with 1 and 0. I thought this over in my head for the full half hour the drive took then forgot about it was the wedding started and I enjoyed the day with my friends.

About a week later the thought came back to me but this time I was within reach of a computer. First I had better check that it didn’t already exist, onto Wikipedia and a bit of clicking later I cam across Geohash. Yes, it already exists, has since Feb 2008 which isn’t really that long.

It even has quite a useful website at www.geohash.org The site gave me the Geohash code of “r1r2f63rrw741” for my work address – still a bit of a mouth full but better than “-37.8232760 145.2962320”

You then get a nice ULR to your address http://geohash.org/r1r2f63rrw741

Now we just need the GPS makers to get on board with the idea!