Hard News by Russell Brown


Looks like I missed the loophole in the new Australian iTunes Store. Computerworld was reporting yesterday that New Zealanders were successfully buying tunes by listing New Zealand as their Australian city of residence - however much that might stick in the craw. I already have an ID and a billing relationship with the Apple Store in Australia, but by this morning, iTunes was rejecting both my credit cards as "not valid in Australia."

Yah boo sucks. And no word yet from Apple as to when - or whether - New Zealanders will be able to use iTunes. C'mon, get on with it.

The MPs who lost their seats last month are, of course, setting about finding something else to do. And the Act Party's tireless Muriel Newman is wasting no time. She has a website - modestly entitled The New Zealand Centre for Political Debate - from whence she issued a work of stunning intellectual virtuousity headed The March to Maori Sovereignty.

In it, she declares that "the mere existence of the Maori Party in Parliament is an abomination." Yes, I know, you thought that it was because people voted for them - twice as many people as voted Act, unfortunately for Muriel - but, for her, the new party's entry into Parliament is, wait for it, "another step towards apartheid."

And then she really gets rolling:

The Maori Party's strategy is based on indoctrinating the public - starting in the schools and imposing their propaganda on the public service. But some argue there are fatal flaws in the fundamental basis of their claims and dispute whether they are indeed the tangata whenua. They point to Moriori pre-dating Maori and a body of evidence suggesting the existence of people before them.

No Muriel, it's not "some people" who believe these things; it's some loonies. The Moriori did not "predate Maori", they were Maori, as anyone who has picked up a history book in the last two or three decades would know. The idea that some mysterious race inhabited these isles 2000 years ago - building the Kaimanawa Wall, among other things - is a crackpot new-age fantasy. And to use such factoids as a way of denying the rights of Maori under the Treaty they signed with the British Crown is basically … racist.

Christ. And people like Muriel say the Greens are weird?

Speaking of Green-o-phobia, feel free to enjoy Open source in government: A delusional cheer from the Greens, an unintentionally hilarious effort by Francis Till on the website of the National Business Review. He notes that "when the government released its rather woeful 'digital strategy,' Nandor had lamented the absence of any reference to open source products."

Till then bags Metiria Turei for expressing similar sentiments and goes on to damn such sentiments as "lamentably predictable", "utterly wrong-headed" and "naïve". He declares:

While it is certainly true that the open source movement has gained much ground in the last five years, revolutionising some practices, the tools it has produced tend to fill specialised, if not niche, needs - and not even those with universal success.

Oh, right. "niche" needs: like, say, serving web pages. Where a single OSS product, Apache, has only 70% of the market, or more than 53 million websites, including the New Zealand government website (Apache on Linux) and the New Zealand Department of Inland Revenue (Apache on Linux) and the Bank of New Zealand.

Sure, State Services has just bought a Novell solution based on SUSE Linux, but surely, he says, as any fule kno, "Novell is a company offering proprietary versions of OSS."

The problem, Till knowledgeably declares, is that local developers haven't really caught on to OSS, which is being pushed only by offshore corporates such as IBM and Sun. This would be why our developers, CactusLab, have built Public Address on Linux. And surely no one's advertising for Linux people in New Zealand? Er, yes they are.

And big corporations wouldn't ever switch from Windows to some flakey open source OS for mission-critical applications, would they? Ask this guy:

IT managers who want to deploy an open source solution but are worried about company politics should go ahead and do it without asking, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Japan IT manager Mark Uemura.
Faced with an unreliable network, Uemura went ahead and migrated systems from Windows to OpenBSD on the premise that management would trust his judgement.
"PricewaterhouseCoopers is a Windows shop but we were forced to use open source," he said. "I inherited a real nightmare with servers going up and down. There were e-mail outages and on top of that there was a bad relationship between our users and IT."

I could go on, but I have work to do. Suffice to say that Till's research appears to have consisted of intensive study of Microsoft marketing literature. Microsoft has every right to put its case in as persuasive a way as it can. But I think business journalists who regurgitate that case whole to try and make a misguided political point should be a bit careful about calling other people "naïve".