Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Uncivil Serpents Win Again

Gillard Gushes, Abbott Has No Costello

Julia Gillard has agreed to the demands of a group of three independents, in order to form a government. Tony Abbott, on the other hand, rejected them outright, displaying a nonchalance that tells me he thinks he knows something.

Accept that the Coalition is completely owned by the Public Service. Accept that Labor follows Public Service advice with no question, because it knows it can be ruined and lose power if it upsets its mandarins.

Then it all makes sense.

The promises made to the independents, although the specifics are not revealed yet, pretty much folllow Labor stated policy (except for the mining superprofits tax).

The public servants have shown the ability to only recommend policy they think should be done, and provide cogent arguments against policy they don't like. The same public servants have been very willing to administer government policy in such a way to minimise benefits to the electorate while maximising embarrassment to the government.

Perhaps Abbott has been promised that Labor will be put in such a damaging position by faulty Public Service advice that it will be forced to renege on its promises to the independents. Only one independent MP has to change his side in a crucial vote and we are heading for a new election.

If Gillard is dumped by Labor, as most predict, that could also provide an impetus for instability. The keeping of promises, even if in name only, is tied closely to the power of the leader of the government.

We will be heading for a general election well short of the three years we are guaranteed. That is certain. What are unknown are the twin answers of when and how.

A confusing issue concerns honesty. This concept is ignored by party politicians, not if they want to keep their seats. But independents must keep their electorates happy. The independents' electorates show a preference for their members to side with the Coalition. Abbott might be counting on this. The problem for the independents is that they choose which government is best for their electorate, and this may not be the choice of the electorate (although they did vote for independent representation).

ISPs and Asps

I've Been Filtered!

I had a few problems with this account, taking unnamed people to task for failing to do their jobs, and then they doing disturbing things when they were challenged.

It took five weeks to get my account running. I must have upset people more, since I found that while I could access overseas sites OK, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook overseas servers could not send me anything except bare text. The IMs worked OK, but nothing else. When I found that I could not even update Windows, I complained.

Bigpond's Helpdesk responded incredibly quickly. Incredibly quickly, as if it was waiting for me. It suggested I had corrupted IE's cache, and detailed how I was to fix it. I spent two hours doing this and testing it, and found that clearing the cache actually made things worse. So I complained again about 2am Tuesday morning, commenting that the same problem occurred with Firefox (my default browser), and then quit.

About 9am, I opened up again, but after about three access doing my mail (using Firefox), suddenly I was getting timeout mesages that could have only been caused by my ISP intercepting my requests and blocking my access to these servers by sending a notification back that the connection had timed out.

Basically, a version of the proposed Internet filter, but applied to requests from my account.

I tried IE8, and everything worked (but with a little initial delay on the requests). Even the sites I could not receive from previously talked to me. But despite repeated attempts to use Firefox, it never worked again.

It is now Thursday morning, and Firefox still doesn't work. Repeated communications with Bigpond show that it is not treating the request seriously (or the last person to e-mail me is literally challenged). I was finally advised to pay for help from a third-party service

Basically, in revenge for being a pain in the arse, Bigpond stopped three US sites from sending me information, but in such a way as to suggest the problem was at my end. Before I could hook up another machine to show my hardware was not at fault, Bigpond changed its assault by simply blocking all communication if I used Firefox. The ultimate answer they can give now is that it has to be something in the browser, since IE8 works.

I have tried another laptop on my account, one which worked well on another account for three years. It has the same problem, so the issue is with elements within Bigpond fucking up my account.

And with other elements either refusing to repair it or too incompetent to see that there is a problem. My past history with Bigpond argues that either is likely.

I have followed my son's advice and installed Opera. It works well, so far.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What Farce?

We just had a federal election, and no one won. The electorate lost, but that is nothing unusual.

None of the candidates attempted to blame the Public Service misadministration of government policies for any of the problems raised in very negative campaigns. So nothing has been done, except to show that ALL the politicians are running scared from Public Service displeasure.

I'd rather deregulation and be at the mercy of market forces. At least the financial sector knows that consumers must consume to ensure that the market maintains existence.

My experience shows that it takes only a few low-level types to cause incredible trouble.

I needed to replace my naked DSL service in June. No provider would treat with me, because I had moved to a new residence that did not have a landline installed. I had to pay for one to be installed, even though I would never use it, in order to purchase a service that didn't require a landline.

I finally went with Telstra on July 6th. I applied online from a friend's connection, and was told it might take as long as three weeks, but I would be contacted within a few days.

On the 12th, with no contact, I used a friend's telephone to apply for priority assistance for a connection. I was told I could not get it until I had a connection!!!!!

I e-mailed my local (Federal) member (Jason Clare) and the Federal Minister with my complaint about Telstra's web site offering a Catch-22 solution. I copied my State local member (Joe Tripodi) as a matter of course. On the 15th, my local member's office (Robyn) called me to say my local member was taking up the issue.

On July 21st, Telstra e-mailed me to say my application was stalled because I had not supplied enough ID (a damn lie), and I should apply again. I bet there were staff waiting for my name to appear, so they could show how efficient was Telstra!

Unfortunately, I did not get online to receive this reply until late July 25th. I sent an angry answer (I had earned the nickname "aggro" while in the Federal Public Service), and then applied online to a different marketing section for a relocation of a non-existent service to a new residence (yes, that was an option the web site allowed me).

On the 27th, after three calls from this section (starting with Dale), and in response to my interminable struggle with Telstra, I was given a new telephone number, a broadband account (with equipment for self-installation to be supplied in 6-8 days), and promised a speedy connection for my phone/broadband bundle. I had to delay the telephone connection until the 29th, because I was at my friend's, being taken care of.

On the 28th, though, some Telstra twit vindictively cancelled both my telephone and broadband accounts. The technician who arrived on the morning of the 29th hadn't been told of the cancellation, and connected me to the best of the poor lines available. He found that the number I had been assigned was now naturally unavailable, and gave me a new number.

On the 30th, I was contacted by a more senior Telstra official (Peter Alford(?), from an unhidden Sydney number), replying to a Ministerial request to investigate my complaint. He was surprised I had a telephone connection, and promised to get back to me. He didn't.

On the 6th August, my Federal member's office (Robyn again) called me to say that Telstra's Customer Service (a chap named Max) had replied that my complaint of July 12th had no substance, because I had a telephone connection and had cancelled my broadband connection. I explained how this was untrue.

On August 9th, Max called me to have me reapply for broadband. What he offered was not what I had agreed to on July 27th, and I said so. He agreed to continue with the original offer, including the original broadband account name. On August 10th, I received another call from Telstra (a Melbourne number, again not hidden), referring to the calls made by Peter and Max, offering me the July 27th deal (with a few changes to accommodate re-bundling the bundle). On August 11th, Peter from Telstra called again, confirming the order, but telling me the original broadband user name was not available (of course, it had been cancelled and was therefore reserved for three years LOL), and we agreed to a new user name.

The "modem" arrived early the next morning, and I installed it. I then began to rebuild my system, to use the software upgrades that had occurred in the previous two months.

On August 20th, Peter from Telstra called again, but rung off before I could answer him (I was napping). About 30 minutes later, Robyn from my Federal member's office rang, to see how things were progressing. I explained it seemed to be worked out, and I had sent an e-mail to that effect to the office (on the 18th). Robyn explained how Jason Clare worked tirelessly for his electorate. That afternoon I received a reply to my earlier e-mail, not referring to the telephone conversation.

Interestingly, the header on the August 20th reply indicated that my e-mail of August 18th had automatically been sent to the spam folder. I wonder if my e-mail of the 12th July had been also sent there, and only acted on because Joe Tripodi's office had accidentally sent my copy to it to Jason Clare?

That day I also received a letter from the Ombudsman's Office saying that my complaint had been forwarded by the Federal Minister, and after the election it would be acted on. Fat chance: public servants love to ignore politicians unless it is to their benefit.

This explains a lot of things. Except for e-mails sent to my previous Federal (Chris Bowen) and State (Ninos Koshaba) members, the only political action I ever received was when my local members had sent my e-mails on to other politicians. Maybe that's the way to ensure I don't get treated as a spammer?

The Ombudsman will have a lot to examine. From the time I installed my broadband equipment, and activated my account, I have had problems. Firstly, any page that had a connection to Facebook was slow to load, stalling at the Facebook link. If I attempted to log into Facebook, all I got was a minimal text page. Then my Yahoo home page would not load, and if I tried to load my Yahoo Mail page, again all I got was minimal text.

At least I got that diminished text. When I tried for Live Mail, I didn't even get that!

Someone has attached a filter to my Bigpond account, to stop me getting image downloads from overseas sites run by Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft (at least the Yahoo and Microsoft messenger sites still work, as well as the "ninemsn" home page, since the images are local). Looks like the Telstra twits are at it again. The problem only occurs only with my Bigpond account, and both of my laptops.

I wrote that being censored like this was a possibility of the proposed internet filter. My only pain is not getting updates from Microsoft for Windows 7. I have complained formally to Bigpond. I hope it doesn't get worse before it gets repaired.