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ISPs: Why are we waiting?


Vol. 2, No. 8, 14/3/2001


discover new sites and the secrets to web success

Vol. 2, No. 8 ISPs: Why are we waiting? March 14, 2001

Yvette Nielsen, Editor, yvette@brizcomm.com.au

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So much for high-speed (high-price) broadband Internet access.

Cable and ADSL customers of Australian ISP (Internet Service
Provider) BigPond might have more success sending their email
by carrier pigeon at the moment.

Faults happen, whether through flooding or hardware failures or
fishing boats snagging undersea cables. I'm sure the techies are
doing their best.

But at least Telstra could have the decency to admit delays a little
earlier and notify customers honestly instead of blaming the problem
on us or our system settings.

We're fed mouse droppings from hapless help staff such as:

"Your email client must be corrupted, Madam, you'll have to back up
all your email and reinstall your software." (Where do they recruit
these people - from the nearest backpackers' hostel?)

or the infuriating recorded voice every few seconds for half an hour:

"We apologise for the delay, your message is still in the queue and
will be answered shortly."

or directing us to their web site without any indication of the page:

"We are experiencing congestion. See the outages FAQs."

The BigPond service status page reports "no known problems".

Give us a break, not the runaround. Internet access is an essential
service for many of us who pay more than $70 a month for the
"privilege" of broadband.

I agree with ATUG (the Australian Telecommunications Users Group):
ISPs should be subjected to performance criteria under a Customer
Service Guarantee similar to that for telephone service providers.
See ATUG's site at http://www.atug.com.au/

In the meantime, demand a refund on your fees for the downtime
- or complain to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman at

If enough people speak out, the ISPs will have to lift their game.


PS Speaking of speaking out, I'll be a guest of ABC Radio host
Peter Gooch somewhere between 7pm and 10pm this week - well, as soon
as the cricket finishes - and possibly next Monday evening. You can
find your local ABC at http://abc.net.au/local/navigate.htm#map


1. Web content tip
2. New email workshop
3. The Y Files (Q&A)
4. Columns
5. Surf Club
6. Reader's choice
7. Weekly thought


1. Web content tip

What exactly is content anyway?

Fellow content consultant Amy Gahran sums it up well:


2. New email workshop

My first public E-newsletters Workshop will be in Brisbane on
Tuesday, March 27.

You'll learn how to structure, write, format, finance and promote
an email newsletter.

Numbers will be limited to 12 so get in early.

For details see http://www.brizcomm.com.au/f-wkshp.htm


3. The Y Files (Q&A)

This week's question is from Brisbane's Helen Jarvie, who picks up
a copy of Anne Bishop's new book, "Queen of the Darkness".

Q: "Can you explain how a database-driven web site actually works?
I've had a few people try to explain it, but I don't really think
they know themselves."

A: Helen, I don't want to get out of my depth here so will hand
this one over to an expert: 'Databases offer the ultimate expression
of structure and consistency. In a nutshell, a database is a formal
system designed to store, manage and retrieve data. Using a database
program to produce or serve your site forces you to think along
structural lines, and enforces strict consistency. Using a database
can also make your site a breeze to update, or renovate'."

Read the rest at http://www.forkinthehead.com/article.php?sid=20

If the jargon is too much, read this first:

Or discover the rules of database design for the web:


4. Columns

Pollyanna has this space to herself this week so here's a taster:

"The eyes have it. Or have they? Many wearers of spectacles will
recall that transition period, somewhere between the ages of 50
and 60, when the phone book print seemed smaller and fuzzier or
threading a needle begged for arms like a chimpanzee."

Read on at http://www.brizcomm.com.au/f-cyspk.htm


5. Surf Club

"Make the most of your sofa" with this Brisbane-based, non-commercial,
creatively named site offering free reviews and articles on movies,
TV, games, books and comics. The site's creators scour the city to
find undiscovered gems in video stores and bargain bins and are
proudly Brisbane-centric. All the ad banners are free links to other
Brisbane-based sites.
In a net shell: Shake it up, baby.

Flight Toys
If your idea of fun is throwing something into the air, follow the
links to a world of things that fly, from boomerangs and slings to
bolas and Aerobies. All of the aerodynamic devices listed have their
roots as primitive airborne missiles used by early humans for both
weaponry and sport.
In a net shell: Flights of fancy.

Crossword Center
A hot cuppa and a challenging crossword are just the thing to kick
start the day. Join Ms Terry Solver for your "daily dose of word
wizardry". See if you can beat the best time of the day or upgrade
to "expert" level. Follow Ms Solver's recommendations for more
amusement. (Registration is required but it's fast and free.)
In a net shell: Brain starter.

Ever have that eerie feeling that you're being watched? Visit
this site and you'll know why you can't escape.
In a net shell: Eye spy.

Become part of Internet history and enlist your PC in the search
for solutions to planet-wide problems. Entropia is free software
that activates your computer's idle resources to help find a cure
for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's and other diseases or to predict
changes in complex systems and protect the environment for future
generations. The screensaver is attractive to boot.
In a net shell: Good cause.


6. Reader's choice (see archives in Surf Club at www.brizcomm.com.au)

"I have found this site really helpful and interesting for women
who travel, either alone or with other women. It is dedicated to
encouraging women to travel by themselves."

Thanks to Mary-Lou Horner for this week's review. A copy of the new
hardback, "Guide Dogs - from puppies to partners", from Allen & Unwin
is on its way to you.


7. Weekly chuckle

Sherlock Holmes and Mr Watson went on a camping trip. After a good
meal and a bottle of wine they lay down in their tent for the night
and went to sleep.

Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend awake.

"Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."

Watson replied: "I see millions and millions of stars."

What does that tell you?" Holmes questioned.

Watson pondered for a minute.

"Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies
and potentially billions of planets.

"Astrologically, I observe Saturn is in Leo.

"Logically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past

"Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are
small and insignificant.

"Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day

"What does it tell you?"

Holmes was silent a moment, then spoke: "Watson, you ass.
Someone has stolen the tent."


Hang in there, fellow BigPond broadbanders. I know it's like surfing
with concrete flippers at the moment but it still beats dial-up -
doesn't it?


Yvette Nielsen, Editor
phone 61 (0)4 41 771 8683

brizcomm - online content consulting and training
PO Box 2026, Bardon, Queensland 4065, Australia

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(c) 2000 Brizcomm Pty Ltd

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liability for any incorrect information that may be contained
in any articles or events mentioned in this newsletter.

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