Posts by Andre Alessi

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  • Cracker: Lundy and Me.,

    I know this is carrying on along an odd tangent to the main issues, but I can't help thinking of Meursault, convicted of murder because he didn't cry at his mother's funeral (even though he was guilty.) For the record, 13 year old me didn't cry at my father's funeral either, and I am certainly not a murderer.

    Anyway, I think the Lundy case interests the public, in part, for the same reason the Bain case does: not simply because of the nature of the crime, but because of the efforts of individuals to draw attention to the details of the cases in the years afterwards. I don't think it's a purely academic question to wonder how different our justice system would be if every criminal conviction (or even just every murder conviction) was given as much attention after the fact.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The Strange Tax on Your Internet, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    There's just been no sense to the roll-out

    Absolutely. It's been a shambles. In the course of my day job, I've looked at the Chorus records of about 300 Auckland addresses in the last month to see which services (ADSL, VDSL, UFB) are available, and probably three quarters don't have the option to even order UFB yet. And don't get me started on the added complexity with CFH entities that aren't Chorus in Tauranga and Hamilton.

    Part of this has been caused by retailers, who were slow to offer fibre plans. Many of the smaller retailers don't buy services directly from Chorus, they buy from the wholesale departments of the big guys: Telecom, Vodafone, Call Plus, etc. These small providers couldn't offer anything UFB related until their wholesale provider developed and rolled out a UFB product for them to sell. Additionally, late last year and for the early part of this year, many ISPs had a big push on new ADSL plans with increased data caps , 24 month terms and large early termination charges, meaning that it just won't be economic for many people to make the switch to UFB until next year or the year after, even if this means they won't be included in the initial UFB rollout in each area.

    This is a definite problem, because Chorus' initial business plan included an expectation that most customers would sign up with a UFB product at the time Chorus rolled fibre out to their street. That's been one of the major causes of the low uptake Chorus is now using to justify increased UBA pricing.

    Then again, Chorus is also gaming the numbers themselves here. Earlier this year their costings for the UFB rollout skyrocketed by nearly $300 million IIRC (after they'd already won most of the contracts based on their lower initial costing, naturally.). Their justification for this-that "compliance costs" involved with digging up roads and footpaths and the requisite council consents-is absolute bullshit. There is no difference in the compliance cost of digging up a road to lay fibre than there is to lay copper, and they do the latter every day, so there's no conceivable way they could underestimate how much the process would cost to this degree.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The Strange Tax on Your Internet,

    I'm fully in favour of the entire project. A government minister ignoring the Commerce Commission on a decision with such wide-ranging implications is beyond worrying.

    It's also worth noting that Chorus (and its previous incarnation of Telecom Wholesale) has self-interest built into its entire culture. Regulation is often only part of the solution, although an important part. In addition, outcomes need to be monitored closely to ensure Chorus is not finding other ways to claw back money from end customers and other providers. (An example: changing the back-end ordering process for broadband connections to require additional work, and thus additional costs, for customers requesting new connections.)

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The shaky ground of…, in reply to Danielle,

    The point is not how honestly you represent yourself, but how well you tailor your own representation to fit whatever the HR department is looking for.

    And often HR is just the conduit. The bottom line here is that management see these tests as a way to validate things they think they already know about their employees and the business. If they don't get the answers they want, they see the "wrong" answers as a problem to be fixed. There's nothing perfidious about employees trying to avoid the entire painful process by responding in a way that keeps the higher ups happy.

    We can't all be Jean Luc Picard, insisting, "There are FOUR lights!"

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The shaky ground of…, in reply to DeepRed,

    True story: a team I belonged to, which had rock bottom morale after a series of restructurings, made the mistake of answering honestly on an engagement survey where we were asked for our opinion on the performance of the executive team. When our supposedly "anonymous" results were received, we were all bundled into a stuffy meeting room and subjected to a two hour PowerPoint presentation about how great the CEO and each of the members of the leadership team actually were. We were then "asked" to resubmit our answers to the survey.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The shaky ground of…, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    A logical way for an organisation to proceed when income falls and it can't afford current staff costs would be to look at which employees are giving the least value for money and get rid of them.

    Speaking from experience: it isn't always easy to do this. Many companies that you would expect to have robust internal quantitative reporting on productivity don't, both because of the limited statistical knowledge of many managers, and because making these kinds of numbers available is often seen as painting a target on yourself and your staff if none of your peers within the business start producing their own quantitative analysis. ("Oh, you've experienced a 3% drop in productivity this month? Well no other departments have reported anything like that, so start looking for 'efficiencies'.")

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The shaky ground of…,

    I work in the same industry as Gilbert, and I've seen this trend towards more quantifiable testing in action. When I first applied for a call centre role back in the early 2000s, I was required to complete what was, effectively, a reasonably well- administered IQ test by the recruitment company. The results were never disclosed to me, and almost everyone in my testing group was offered a job, so I doubt the test itself was seen as critical, but what I found worrying was that the test results were apparently kept in my HR file and were available to be viewed by whoever my team leader was that week.

    After I moved to a different company within the same industry, personality-typing tests became more common. They were generally administered in a completely unprofessional manner (emailed questions, answers typed into an Excel spreadsheet and interpreted by people with no training beyond a couple of PowerPoint slides.) Employees tended to answer these based on what they thought they were expected to say, and the tests themselves weren't sophisticated enough to account for this behaviour. The results were usually ignored except as ticks in a box for management to show how "sophisticated" their management style was.

    Interestingly, I got the impression that the dreaded "employee engagement surveys" filled a similar role: less about good management than about quantifying things that generally didn't need to be quantified.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Game Lorde,

    It's been educational for me to see this kind of thing build. I'm usually a little behind the curve on new music, so seeing people I usually rely on referencing "Royals" lyrics in their tweets, or posting that Billboard shoot on their Tumblrs, months after I'd first heard the tracks on Soundcloud...well it's been an impressively smooth run. Folks (not least of all the lady herself) have obviously been thinking and working very hard to make all this seem so effortless and natural.

    (Brainfart deleted.)

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fluency, ease of manner - and…,

    Telecommunications users can encrypt content easily enough, but not so much network activity, which is likely to play an important part in any surveillance activity. And (as so often with this debate) the discussion around "encryption" really only applies to internet activity, not standard voice or SMS activity.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Community standards, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think we're all in the same boat then! Jill Pantozzi over at The Mary Sue has a crack at summarizing what happened, along with Tumblr's official response.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

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