Luddites win battle – will lose war

I received a depressing little email last week from Orcon. After caving in to relentless legal pressure from the behemoths of yesterday’s technology – Sky, Mediaworks and Spark – their GlobalMode service will cease from September 1st. So, I will just have to damn well find another way to stream and pay for, quite legally, internet-based TV and film services.

I have no intention of going back on my decision to quit Sky. Too many outages due to ‘atmospheric conditions’ when there’s not a cloud in the, er, Sky. It seems that our dish is susceptible to high wind. In Wellington, that makes it the tech equivalent of a chocolate fireguard.

All of this nonsense is the result of geo-blocking – a desperate attempt to impose 20th century distribution channels on 21st century technology. Sky and others wrongly assume that those who pretend to live in Beverly Hills (90210, the only zip code we know!) in order to access US Netflix are cheapskates at best, and pirates at worst. They couldn’t be more wrong. NZ consumers are just tired of being told that they will have to wait, or pay more because of our isolation (a ridiculous argument in the internet age) – the same rubbish that was foisted on Kiwis back in the golden age of shit, limited TV.

Too bad about GlobalMode. In a spirit of defiance, here are links to a number of alternatives. As with most things the free ones are less secure and reliable than the ones which charge a monthly fee. The one to avoid is Hola, which is disingenuous about its levels of security: it allows other users to look as though they are accessing data through your account. Not a good thing if said users are into child porn, for instance.




or an impartial survey of the ‘5 best’

So, Round One to Big Bad Old Media. But this is a war they cannot win.

Generation Rent: what to do about the growing number of Kiwis who cannot get on to the property ladder? All sides of the political spectrum agree that the quality of public and private rental stock has to improve, but any further consensus ends there. The Labour-Green suggestion of a WOF, which it is estimated 90% of current rentals will fail, is probably too unpalatable for landlords and risks chaos if enforced. National’s watered-down alternative, on the other hand, is almost certainly too light and lax.

Here’s a radical idea: why not use the incentivist approach, beloved of liberal economists? Since landlords can offset losses on their rental properties and therefore gain a kind of tax relief, why not mandate that landlords wishing to be treated as a loss-making business ensure their properties meet certain standards? Slum landlords with no desire to change their shoddy habits will be unable to claim any of their losses back from their taxes. The standard should be decent but achievable. You could even have a sliding scale, whereby landlords are encouraged to improve the quality of their rental stock by being able to claim more tax relief the closer they get to, say, the Labour-Green WOF standard.

And finally, to the parking warden who decided not to fine me but just to give me a warning, as I apologised breathlessly for parking on a Clearway: thank you. You didn’t have to be nice, but you were. And with that, I’m off to the UK to visit family, so blogging might be even more sporadic than currently!

Not all officious, tin men jobsworths after all.
Not all officious, tin men jobsworths after all.