Friday, 8 July 2005

Newsletter Issue 99, July 2005

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 99, July 2005
Hi guys,
What happens when you have an optic fibre cable out and then drill a hole in another one? Read on in Telecom's Faulty Network below.
Be careful about links in Utah & Michigan in Privacy Laws Gone Mad
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Telecom's Faulty Network

Do you remember Telecom's 'five-nines' (99.999%) reliability promise in their advertising last year? Well, to meet that claim, Telecom's core network can only be down for five minutes & 26 seconds annually. So Telecom's nationwide four hour and 20 minute network outage last month means that Telecom will now have to run without any further outages for just under 50 years to achieve five nines.
Computer World at the time reported that "The outage begun on Monday at 10.48am when a post-hole borer working in south Taranaki severed the single functional optical fibre cable in Telecom's national network backbone. Prior to that, Telecom's other backbone optical fibre circuit in the Rimutaka area had failed. Unconfirmed reports say that the Rimutaka circuit had been out of action for two days before the Taranaki cable was cut. Customers nationwide experienced severe service disruptions throughout the day as data and voice communications between cities went offline. Trading services such as Eftpos and bank payments were inoperable and the New Zealand Stock Exchange had to close for much of the day. Government departments such as the IRD were also affected, and Auckland police were unable to access their email. Service was restored fully at 3.18pm, but there are currently no estimates of the financial damage caused by the outage."
Telecom said that this was a one in a million outage (no mention of five nines), and David Cunliffe, the Communications Minister, also appeared unworried, apparently sharing Telecom's view that this was a freak occurrence. Interestingly, the international media, including the BBC, have compared Telecom's performance with the "embarrassing" Auckland power cuts. The implication is that this is not freakish, but results from poor management.
Telecom said it would seek compensation from the post diggers, Powerco, for the outage; for not following correct procedure and checking where the cable ran before digging. But it looks like no-one is going to be questioning Telecom hard for having had the Rimutaka circuit down for two days before that particular turn of the screw.
Telecom not being able to handle a two-cable cut is something that local and national businesses should be taking very seriously and following up on. One earthquake centering in a key location and New Zealand's comms could be out for hours, days or weeks. Not a nice thought.
So, as a result, our Kiwi telcos are currently in talks to form a joint-venture working arrangement to avoid outages in the future, spending quite some time over the past fortnight debating how best to avoid an outage repeat. Triple redundancy is the bare minimum required, according to industry specialists, unless geography is really too difficult (such as Kaikoura, where the two lines run on either side of the road). In difficult circumstances, alternate networks, such as BCL's digital microwave relay service are the best option, but have only the capacity for emergency calls.
Network operators overseas regularly engage in trade; a pair of fibres on one network for a pair on another’s. Apparently, a number of years ago, Clear approached Telecom offering this, but Telecom weren't interested at that time. It sounds as though Telecom have now changed their mind.

Privacy Laws Gone Mad

Some US states have recently passed laws which will effectively prohibit most organisations from emailing newsletters to many of their readers in those states.
Why? Because Michigan and Utah have introduced legislation which protects citizens who have listed their names on 'watch lists' saying they don't want to receive junk mail.
That doesn't sound dangerous though, does it? Well, apparently it is, and here's why.
Brian Livingston, editor of Windows Secrets Newsletter says that from July 1 that "prohibits us from mailing to any address on certain watch lists. We would be guilty of a felony if we violated certain sections of these laws. Any individual in those states can sue us for any violation, with penalties including imprisonment, making the laws a very serious legal threat.
"The Michigan law, for example, makes it a felony to send an e-mail message to any Do Not Contact address if the e-mail contains a link to a site with information on, or ads about, any product that a young person under 18 'is prohibited by law from purchasing... [or] possessing.'
"These laws regulate much more than just adult entertainment content. They actually make it a crime for our newsletter to link to any site containing ads for alcohol, tobacco, credit-card and financial accounts, mortgages, car rentals, gambling, and the myriad other things that minors aren't supposed to have. Since we can't predict what ads or subjects might appear on all of the sites we link to, don't sign up for these Do Not Contact lists or we may have to write a future issue from a cellblock."
While I am sure that is not what the law makers were intending, it appears to be a quite possible outcome. So, this is also a warning for all New Zealanders sending e-news with links into Michigan or Utah. Check first to find out if any of your clients have signed up for the watch lists before sending anything containing a link.

Internet Explorer Page Refresh

For those of you who are having problems with webpages not refreshing when you return to websites that you have visited before, there is an easy solution.
The problem is that you are seeing a cached page that is sitting in your PC's temp file, not the actual webpage. You can turn this off in Internet Explorer by going to;
  • Tools Menu | Internet Options | General | Temporary Internet Files | Settings.
  • Ensure under "Check for newer versions of stored pages" that "Every visit to the page" is ticked, click OK
  • Click Apply & OK on the main box.
You may have to shut down & restart for the changes to take effect, but webpages will renew each time you go back to them.

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • PCO, Parliamentary Counsel Office at Parliament in Wllg
  • PAL, Public Access to Legislation system, currently being developed by the PCO, aimed at producing formatted acts of Parliament, bills, regulations and other documents to be used during the Parliamentary process, and to be relied on as official statements of the law.

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
Over the next few newsletters, we are going to look at all you can do with hotkeys in Outlook. This time we look at punctuation marks and Alt, Shift, Ctrl;
  • Outlook "Previous item (with item open)" Ctrl & , (Comma)
  • Outlook "Go to next item (with item open) when working within Outlook" Ctrl & . (Full Stop)
  • Outlook "Decrease font size of selected text by 1 point" Ctrl & [ (Open Square Bracket)
  • Outlook "Increase font size of selected text by 1 point" Ctrl & ] (Close Square Bracket)

Hot Linx
If you want to check out all sorts of bumpf about your birthdate, according to a chap called Paul Sadowski anyway, check out The other thing you could try is 'this day in history' at
And if you want an easy currency converter, enter your currency in this format "5.00 GBP in USD" at this Google page;
Check out the Don't Click site for a new idea of how to navigate using our mice at
60s / 70s baby wanting to indulge in a bit of nostalgia? Check out Cream's top ten films at or website at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here