Friday, 26 February 2010

Get over it [updated]

Is it just me, or does all the jubilant Telecom-bashing this week look like just another chance to bash a big business. 

After all, Telecom were hardly the only ones this week to have outages.  There were two that I know of:

  • Vodafone’s email server was out for much of Monday morning, meaning no Vodafone customers could send or receive emails—yet while bitching about Telecom filled the news wires I didn’t hear a peep about that.
  • And Orcon’s internet service was out for a good part of yesterday– and once again, not a word about this from any of the news services so excitedly bashing the big boy.

Bear in mind that these are just the outages that I know about—I’m sure there’d be many more to report—yet neither these nor any other problems attracted national attention, headlines, or press conferences with apologetic CEOs using carefully chosen words of apology. (Which is a pity, because I let loose a few carefully chosen words myself at both services during both outages that would have looked really good in their apologies.  Well, maybe not.)

No, only Telecom gets picked on.  It’s almost as if it’s personal.

UPDATE: Great comment below from Matt, who suggests you get some perspective:

    “From memory around 100 people a year needlessly die in NZ hospitals. So perhaps 2 died this week because somebody put the wrong drug in the drip. Rather more serious, one would have thought, that a phone network going down.”


  1. From memory around 100 people a year needlessly die in NZ hospitals. So perhaps 2 died this week because somebody put the wrong drug in the drip. Rather more serious, one would have thought, that a phone network going down.

  2. I agree PC and well said Matt.

    This is used as an opportunity to bash big business (and capitalism) and demand more government involvement in business.

    But they forget that government involvement in health care has resulted in people actually dying; that government education corrupts young minds thereby hobbling the young for life; and that government mandated minumum wages ensure that the weakest and most vulnerbale in society cannot get a job.

    As you say Matt, these issues are of a far more serious nature. But what do the masses cry out for? They use any opportunity to bash business, the one sector of society which actually raises our standard of living. And instead, they call for more government involvment, the one sector which destroys wealth and our standard of living.


  3. Amen to that, Julian. The costs of having the state dominate the health market are almost invisible because most people living today can't remember a time when things were different. We have just become used to a certain attrition rate among public hospital patients. If that many deaths occurred in private hospitals there would be newspaper headlines and the hospitals would be shut down. Not so in the public sector.

    In the days of the old P&T, it used to take 6-9 months in some cases to get a telephone connection. Again, it's been twenty-something years since the formation of Telecom, and people have forgotten - or never knew - how utterly inefficient the telephone service used to be

  4. The Telecom beatup is tiny compared to the Toyota beatup.

    I understand that there *are* some safety issues with Toyota cars.

    Which is not good.

    But if you look across the car market. Toyota has a superb safety record and have done more than any other manufacturer to get quality up and prices down.

    The congress in the U.S are using Toyota as a tool to capitalize on anti big company sentiment, help out GM, and take advantage of the xenophobia many people suffer from in a high unemployment environment.

    I'm stunned when I see how little the Toyota execs understand about handling the western media feeding frenzy and the parasites in congress.

  5. Congress's attacks on Toyota are just another example of government showing what anti-competitive behaviour really looks like.

    If you want to see anti-competitive behaviour (the govt protecting "its" business, GM) just see what it looks like when one competitor is holding a gun.

  6. Is there really a problem with Toyota cars?

    My suspicion is that there is nothing wrong with them.

    Toyota employs some of the World's leading experts in motor vehicle design and construction and safety and quality etc. etc. etc. etc. Toyota have not been able to locate a definative fault. The NHTSA didn't find anything either. Nevetheless Toyota decided to err on the side of caution, not so much for sound technical reasons, rather for marketing and public relations demands, to be seen to doing something (anything) rather than to be PERCEIVED to be a cruel heartless capitalist profit-driven corporation.

    There have been no unintended acceleration cases in Japan. So it is known that the Japanese built cars do not suffer from an in-built problem. In the USA and elsewhere Toyota is recalling anything which contains direct driver interface components which are non-Japanese sourced. Since the USA built cars contain parts provided by USA, Canadian, Brasilian and Mexican suppliers, they are being recalled for a component swap out. Will that solve a technical problem? Only if a real one exists in the first place. This is really about perception- perception if being seen to be "doing something."

    As for unintended runaway acceleration......well, sure! Here is an experiment you can do. Find a nice stretch of empty road. Accelerate to (say) 40 kph. Now, with your other foot apply maximum brakes. Try to maintain 40 kph WITHOUT RELEASING MAXIMUM BRAKES. You will find that no matter what accelerator setting you try (including 100%) the car will rapidly lose speed and come to a complete stop. The engine will not have sufficient power to overcome the brakes. So much for that problem.

    If a car accelerates, due to the accelerator pedal jamming, the brakes have more than sufficient ability to stop the car dead in its tracks. Of course, there is always the option of turning the key and shutting off the engine...

    This affair reminds me very much of the "unintended acceleration" allegations made against Audi in the USA many years ago. In the end the entire affair was demonstrated to be a combination of driver error (to stop one is supposed to press the brake pedal, not the accelerator pedal, to reverse the car one is supposed to select "reverse" and not "drive") and media hysteria. It cost VAG millions of dollars in investigations, frivolous law suits and in lost sales. The main difference between what VAG was dealing with and what Toyota is facing is that these days most of the USA car industry is a branch of government.

    Electronic controls are interesting. I am not favourably inclined towards relying on electronic systems for primary critical aspects of automobiles. Such items as "steer-by-wire" or "brake-by-wire" are not really a very good idea for introduction into the general automobile population. Not at this time anyhow ("steer-by-wire" is actually illegal in most jurisdictions). If anyone is interested why this is so I'm happy to explain in another post but right now I'm off to work.



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