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Brislen on Tech

Paul Brislen, Editor. 25 January 2019, 4:40 pm

Whither Huawei

The next phase for Huawei in New Zealand is going to be difficult.

The company, which has been told it can't build the core network assets for Spark's new 5G network (and presumably would get similar pushback regarding any 2Degrees requirements as well) because of concerns from the GCSB from its review of Huawei and Spark's proposal.

The next step is to resubmit its network design with those issues addressed so GCSB can then say "yes, that's fine" or "no, you still haven't quite got it".

That is going to be doubly difficult because so far the GCSB hasn't publicly said what the issues are and, if recent media reports are accurate, Huawei hasn't been told either.

How then is the company to fix the issues? Clearly, it's not supposed to.

These aren't technical flaws, or security issues relating to a particular design feature that can be re-worked or remedied. No, the flaw I presume is that the company in question is Chinese and the government security agency has fallen in line with its international partners who are all expressing concerns about Huawei's potential entanglement with the Chinese government.

Real or not, in the spook world much as in public relations, perception is often more important than reality and so Huawei is in a bit of a bind.

Nokia is, of course, in the driving seat in any future negotiations for network deployment. As the last of the big names from the early 2000s still standing (Nokia, Lucent, Ericsson), Nokia still retains the contract to build Vodafone's networks and if it's suddenly called upon to build Spark's (and possibly 2Degrees') networks as well that will put a strain on the whole company that will of course mean the price goes up.

But there is another.

Samsung has been touting its abilities in this area and we could see the (politically safe) South Korean company make a move to solve this problem. If that's the case then Spark might still make its self-directed deadline of offering 5G services in time for the America's Cup.

Huawei will need to figure out where to from here but given the problem extends to several jurisdictions, any solution is going to be very difficult to get across the line, at least in the short to medium term.

Reseller News - PM: NZ is not discriminating against Huawei

Stuff - Let us into 5G and we could pay millions for NZ cyber lab, says Huawei

Stuff - Show us what we've done wrong, says Huawei (November 2018)

Stuff - Warnings on Huawei are flawed


Face palm at Facebook

Not content with being the biggest publishing house in the world, with destroying publishing and taking over almost all advertising ("And we would have got away with it too if it weren't for that pesky Google"), not content with making every company in the world (seemingly) set up a Facebook page to interact with their customers and then charging everyone for the privilege, Facebook has decided to go after the kids.

Yep, kids have money, so let's help take it off them.

A US federal judge (motto: we keep working no matter what) says Facebook must hand over hundreds of pages of documents relating to a 2012 class-action lawsuit against the company that claims it "inappropriately profited from business transactions" with children.

The case was based on the problems parents had in securing refunds after children had inadvertently charged hundreds and even thousands of dollars in charges through playing games. While other companies, Apple and Google in particular, have enacted processes where children cannot simply keep racking up charges against their parents' credit cards without the parent's consent, Facebook not only didn't do much to stop this happening, it didn't have a robust process in place to handle parents asking for refunds.

The children were known as "whales" (a term borrowed from the casino industry where it describes big spenders) and some were as young as five years old.

While some at Facebook were alarmed by this, others felt no remorse, as this excerpt of a conversation between two Facebook staffers reveals:


Gillian: Would you refund this whale ticket? User is disputing ALL charges…

Michael: What's the users total lifetime spend?

Gillian: It's $6,545 - but card was just added on Sept. 2. They are disputing all of it I believe. That user looks underage as well. Well, maybe not under 13.

Michael: Is the user writing in a parent, or is this user a 13ish year old

Gillian: It's a 13ish yr old. says its 15. looks a bit younger. she* not its. Lol.

Michael: … I wouldn't refund

Gillian: Oh that's fine. cool. agreed. just double checking


The case was settled in 2016 but US-based activist group Reveal has continued to push for the documents relating to Facebook's activities to be unsealed and a judge has agreed.

Meanwhile, Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg is at Davos with the world's leaders and says Facebook will need to win back public trust. Apparently the company underestimated just how much connecting lots of people together and then selling access to that data would upset people. Go figure.

Reveal - Judge unseals trove of internal Facebook documents following our legal action

Reuters - Sandberg says Facebook must earn back trust


Business Model.jpg


Rob Hosking

Journalists can be a prickly bunch.

They are used to robust discussions about issues, about stories. They have to defend their copy in the face of that foul-breathed blast of halitosis that came from sub-editors hellbent on making sense of the nonsense before them. They're typically cynical about anything new, having seen it all before, and even the youngest reporter fresh out of polytech will display an air of world-weariness designed to convince you they know what they're doing.

So finding a reporter who was none of those things was something of an eye opener, at least for one junior reporter back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Rob Hosking was never jaded, never terribly cynical, always optimistic and always unfailingly kind. His days reporting for Computerworld are almost entirely wiped from the internet's memory now (way back in the heady days of the late 1990s and early 2000s) but some of his stories remain: I've linked to them below.

Recently Rob has worked for the National Business Review covering politics and he always managed to get himself on camera in the most unlikely of places - book launches, stand-up speeches, if the news was breaking, Rob would invariably be there with his phone thrust in front of a talking head.

Rob died over the weekend after a year-long fight with the pernicious cancer that he'd hoped to see off.

It's always amazed me how well Rob got on with everyone. He took to social media like a duck to water and would discuss issues politely and reasonably with the most bonkers mad swivel-eyed trolls just as readily as he would cricket scores with old friends and colleagues. His love of atrocious 80s Kiwi music notwithstanding, Rob was unerringly a gentleman and supportive to all those around him.

That politicians and reporters of all colours can write warmly says a lot about his character and I, along with everyone who worked with him it seems, will miss him dearly.

Sending thoughts and love to his family.

The Spin Off - Formidable reporter, wry commentator, dear friend: a tribute to Rob Hosking

NBR - Vale Rob Hosking

RNZ - Rob Hosking remembered (if you click on only one link, make it this one)

Computerworld - Column: Mondex smart cash card looks promising (October 1996)

Computerworld - INCIS bits for sale (February 2000)

Computerworld - R&D, e-commerce get nod in Budget (June 2000)


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