The culture of technology in Australia.

EA Shuts Down Maxis

Maxis, the developers of classic games like SimCity and the Sims has been shuttered by parent company EA. Sim-related games may still be developed by EA, but Maxis as a studio, is no longer. RIP Maxis.

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iiNet & Netflix: I Don’t Like Where This Is Going

Here’s a line from iiNet’s Media Release on the announcement that they’re going quota-free on Netflix:

iiNet fixed line broadband customers, across all brands, will have access to hours of the latest television and movie content, quota-free, after the Internet Service Provider today announced a partnership with Netflix.

I saw lot of people read this announcement and go “yay! I like this!” — but frankly, I’m not one of them.

I’ve never been a fan of this approach by Australian ISPs about using quotas and content as a carrot to dangle in front of customers. I wrote about it back in 2012, when Telstra and Foxtel were launching unmetered catch-up TV:

I’m really a big believer in small players challenging big ones in all areas of technology. These kinds of insidious rules make it really difficult for disruptive innovation to happen, especially in Australia. In North America, where there are media conglomerates far bigger than our own, there’s a hyper-vigilance to maintain net neutrality; these kinds of shenanigans wouldn’t fly (yet).

Fast-forward to 2015, and the US has gotten their shit together. They just had their net neutrality rules strengthened by the FCC, much to the dismay of the big US carriers (Verizon, Comcast etc).

Meanwhile, Australia is going down the opposite path, but instead of ‘internet fast lanes’ (of which we have very little), the battle wages instead over ‘unmetered’ or ‘quota-free’ content.

It blurs the line on what an ISP means to you as a consumer. Could you see someone who’d normally consider switching away from iiNet stick around regardless because they were a heavy Netflix user?

I would say yes, that’s definitely a possibility.

The key to maintaining a competitive ISP landscape in Australia (which is good for consumers) is not ‘quota-free’ services which fiddle with our right to freely choose ISP services and content independent of one another.

The key is better service, faster speeds, more download quota and cheaper prices. If only we had some kind of nationally available broadband network of some kind, which would allow ISPs to compete on these terms alone. An ‘NBN’ if you will.

Nah, that’s crazy.

The Artiphon Instrument 1

Mike Butera on Kickstarter:

A guitar is designed to be strummed; piano keys are pressed; drum pads are tapped; violins are bowed. But what if a single instrument could be played with any of these techniques? That’s exactly what we’re creating – one instrument that lets you be the whole band.

This looks pretty amazing. I know I said I don’t like technology hardware Kickstarters, but I’m sorely tempted to put down the cash for this weird little thing. It just looks incredibly versatile, and fun.

Vodafone Australia Still Losing Customers, But Slower

Vodafone are doing ok these days in the network area, but not so much in retaining customers. Unfortunately they still lost 46,000 customers in the last financial year ending Dec 2014. Good news is that the 2nd half of the year actually saw them win back customers and the total number of Vodafone customers seems to be stabilising at around 5.3 million. Tiny compared to Telstra’s 16 million and Optus’s 9.43 million services.