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Juha Saarinen 's Opinion

Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen: Country fibre and Black Hats

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Tech blogger Juha Saarinen takes a look at rural broadband, the Black Hat hacking conference and he reviews the Nomadkey USB cable.
A new Telecom tower at All Day Bay Road, Maheno, being installed as part of the Government's rural broadband initiative. Photo / Janice Donnelly
A new Telecom tower at All Day Bay Road, Maheno, being installed as part of the Government's rural broadband initiative. Photo / Janice Donnelly

I've had a few gentle nudges about being a little too city-centric in the Telecom vs Chorus blog entry.

More specifically, saying that Chorus roadside cabinets are connected with gigabit Ethernet circuits isn't true everywhere in New Zealand.

Out of town, there are a number of cabinets that house ye olde Conklin DSLAMs that are connected to the ISP handover point with one or two 2 megabit/s links. That's not a typo, the Conklins have been around since the original ADSL, and that was considered broadband back then.

How many of the Conklins there are still is a question that the Commerce Commission did not know the answer to. Chorus tells me that of the 2,200 Conklin cabinets a year-and-a-half ago, 600 are now fibre-fed which is good news.

A further 1,600 are still copper fed, and this Chorus says is about five per cent of lines, with no more Nokia Redback ADSL DSLAMs on the network.

Looking at Chorus's Network Upgrade Map, there are quite a few areas marked as having 1 to 5Mbps copper broadband. One is Coatesville, home of Kim Dotcom. Can see why he spent big bucks on getting fibre installed with that kind of DSL available.

With all the noise recently around the taxpayer funded RBI, it'd be interesting to know how it actually performs. Feel free to tell me in the comments.


Black Hat season starts

It's a bad time of the year for paranoid IT folks, with security researchers congregating to show off just how easy (well, for them it is) to hack into just about everything.

The annual Black Hat hacking conference starts in a couple of days, and to give you something to worry about ahead of it, here's why USB devices - keyboards, memory sticks and even computer mice - can get around existing security precautions.

That's just one of very many vulnerabilities lately that have popped up, seemingly everywhere. Looking at news of the "Internet of Things" (read: networked home automation and similar devices) basically being utterly insecure before the concept's even taken off, you're left wondering if vendors care about security and privacy.

It'll be interesting to see what scary stuff the Black Hatters will come up over the next few days. Having covered security more than usual lately, I am starting to see why some acquaintances who consult in that area drive old, very manual cars and don't use mobile phones if they can help it.

Oh, and Black Hat 2014 in the US is followed by the DefCon 22 hacking convention for good measure.


Gear: Nomadkey USB cable for iPhone 5

Here's an attempt at solving the first-world problem of people forgetting the charging and communications cable for iPhones: the Nomadkey.

It's a dead simple concept too: make a short, bendable cable with a Lightning connector that can go onto your keyring, because you're less likely to forget your house keys.

Nomadkey is a handy little thing by dint of always being with you (and there's an Android phone suitable version too with a mini-USB connector), and reasonable value at US$29/NZ$34.

It's not suitable for wall-chargers though, and the first Nomadkey sent to me had a weak spot, namely the loop for the keyring. This was too thin and didn't last long before it broke.

The replacement version seems sturdier and has so far survived in my pocket.
Nomadkey will ship in September, the Kickstarter-funded company behind it, Nomad says.

- NZ Herald

Juha Saarinen

Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen is a technology journalist and writer living in Auckland. Apart from contributing to the New Zealand Herald over the years, he has written for the Guardian, Wired, PC World, Computerworld and ITnews Australia, covering networking, hardware, software, enterprise IT as well as the business and social aspects of computing. A firm believer in the principle that trying stuff out makes you understand things better, he spends way too much time wondering why things just don’t work.

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