Hard News by Russell Brown

Just to be on the safe side

There are cops everywhere around our way at the moment - and rightly so. The attempted kidnappings of two Western Springs College students have everyone on alert, and there are police cars quietly cruising the local back streets during daytime.

As serious as it is, the situation has its funny side. A relatively minor traffic accident on Great North Road yesterday was swarmed by three uniformed cars and an ambulance, and the scene as the college came out yesterday was bedlam. Concerned parents descended on the place to pick up their kids, just to be on the safe side. You had to be a bit careful not to crash into someone. And, of course, there were photographers, camera crews and dear old Bob McNeill there to get the story. I wish I had something to report, but I've seen nothing untoward and I suspect the perpetrators are either lying low or prowling around another school. Creepy.

If you missed Webstock - or just want to relive four days of peace, love and web standards - all the video and audio recordings are now online, thanks to the people at CityLink.. The video is high-quality and the file sizes consequently fairly heroic, but that shouldn't be a problem - unless you're connecting from TelstraClear's network, in which case you will probably struggle to download anything (things seem okay from Telecom's network). And this is the reality of de-peering: good-quality local content that some New Zealanders can't reach because a certain company declines to peer locally.

Redmer Yska at MCH kindly got in touch with a few interesting deeplinks into the new Earth, Sea and Sky release of Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand online. They include …

The research behind the fact that left-foot jandals are more than twice as likely to be found washed up on New Zealand beaches than right-foot jandals. The West Coast's short-lived uranium prospecting boom. A picture of the multivirile flatworm. And more on Matariki, the Maori New Year.

Speaking of which, Tim Selwyn reiterates his call for Queen's Birthday to be replaced by a new, indigenous holiday to coincide with Matariki. I'd vote for that.

Kiwi Herald has a rather quirky take on Radio New Zealand's Defining Moments project.

MacOS Rumors is continuing to claim that the next major MacOS X release (10.5/Leopard) will ship with a system-level implementation of BitTorrent, with the idea being that users earn incentives for chipping in their upstream bandwidth to ease Apple's Internet bill. So Apple has clearly thought about things a bit more than the chumps at Warner Video, who plan to release movies via BitTorrent - but at the same price as retail DVDs and with DRM that allows the movies to be played only on the computer on which they were downloaded. So Warner uses your bandwidth for distribution and makes a big margin on a product that's considerably less useful than an ordinary DVD. Duh.

And, finally, the Auckland Great Blend filled up in under four hours yesterday (we may be able to free up a few more places once it all shakes out), but there is still a little room in Wellington if you're quick.