letter from the editor
Welcome to another edition of iiNews.
As the January/February lull slides behind us, the IT industry moves into high gear in March with all the big announcements and arrivals.
It's a great month for gamers with the next new gaming console due on the 23rd - the Xbox360. It's the next big thing in living room gaming and you can be sure our resident gamer will be giving it the once over when it hits Aussie shores.
Microsoft have also been working hard behind the scenes on their hand held computing system cryptically called Origami (which I'm sure is just a front for my suggested name - MicroTab06 ). Check out the Origami site for some ambiguous hints on its capability.
And rounding out the new products horizon is Apple's new bundle of joy - the new Macbook Pro - which is the first Apple laptop to use an Intel processor (that's the stuff that normally goes in a PC).
Enjoy the ride.
New $15m DSLAM investment
We recently announced the next phase of our ADSL2+ iinetwork (DSLAM network) with a further $15 million investment. The next phase of the rollout will extend our coverage to more than 4 million households Australia-wide by January 2007.
The new investment sees an additional 150 iiNet DSLAMs installed into telephone exchanges - expanding our total network to more than 350 exchanges. That's the biggest yet in Australia and a massive leap forward for getting better broadband out to all Australians!
The new investment paves the way for more exciting products and services on the horizon including our Next Generation Telephony Network, and also moves us closer and closer to our Triple Play goal.
Triple Play will allow customers to use high speed Internet to watch movies and TV over the Internet, download pay-to-play music, participate in online gaming and experience the cost savings of voice over the Internet all through iiNet broadband.
This new investment in Australian broadband, which comes hot on the heels of the activation of the 200th DSLAM in Queanbeyan (NSW), demonstrates our commitment to the expansion of our ADSL2+ network and to offer the fastest broadband speeds possible to Australian households.
You can see the new proposed iinetwork sites on our DSLAM update page here.
PC User Top Buy Award
We were thrilled to find out that our new broadband plans were recently awarded Australian PC User magazine's "Top Buy" award in their April 06 edition.
From the magazine:
"[iiNet] has the highest availability of all ADSL2+ services, thanks to a huge number of DSLAMs. [...] The company's range of ADSL2+ plans is decent, with very competitive prices. All plans are flat rate. [...] The best of these is the 20GB/$49.95 plan. This should be ample bandwith for most people's needs, even factoring in video, music and game demos."
"This is a great choice for those who want super-fast broadband with all the trimmings."
February buddy bonus winners!
The winners for February were Jake Badger and Andrew Wilkinson - who are now enjoying sweet widescreen plasma goodness.
With the entries for the final draw now in, it's just a short wait till we announce the two winners of our last two plasma packs. Here's hoping someone close to my house wins...
support & services
customer service update
Our biggest focus at the moment is improving our customer service through various initiatives including the Virtual Contact Centre Project (VCC). We've had some challenges along the way so far, and we apologise to those customers affected by long waiting times over the past few weeks, but things are getting better with average call wait times half what they were two weeks ago!
This month's update spells out clearly what we are doing to overhaul our customer service experience - our roadmap to a world class Contact Centre. Our Contact Centre vision involves three main areas:
On the management front, a new General Manager of Customer Service will take up the torch for improving the overall customer experience. Previously split up over a number of Contact Centre managers, the new GM will provide a central point for all our Contact Centre initiatives.
This is the core of our VCC project. The VCC project has a number of phases which we are rolling out over 2006. So far we have completed phase 1A which includes:
- New technology to bring all our call centres onto a single compatible platform
- Takes advantage of the size of our network and improves efficiency
- Allows us to have limited "follow the sun" capacity for better rostering across time zones
- Gives us a single forecasting, rostering and reporting framework
The VCC is a $1.5m investment to improve our customers' experience with us. Further stages will exploit the management and forecasting capabilities in the coming months as well as skills based routing which will see customers automatically diverted to the Customer Service Representative with the most appropriate skills.
We are always recruiting as demand increases. We've put on 40 Contact Centre staff since Christmas and have another 98 being recruited & trained over the next 10 weeks.
human resource update
As part of iiNet's search for more iistaff members the HR team will be getting out and about over the next few weeks and attending career expos to attract top talent to the company. The big show coming up in early April is the National Careers and Employment Expo WA on the 7th and 8th. The exhibition will be held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition centre.
The HR team will man a stand at Australia's largest Careers and Employment exhibition with more than 150,000 people expected to attend nationally. As part of the event, iiNet will have a 1/2 page publication in BURST; a lifestyle and career magazine and will have an organisational profile published on CareerChick; a website specifically focused on connecting organisations and women.
From Renee in NSW:
"Hi, I've just joined up for broadband and I'm very impressed with your service so far, and I haven't even used the connection yet! Your customer service personnel were very helpful during the initial application, the emails I've received during the processing of my account has kept me up to date with what is going on, and the whole process seems to have taken less than a week (my router has been dispatched today)!
Great service! Just a quick question, I was told that the Newtown exchange ADSL2 ports have all been allocated, I'm wondering when you're looking at upgrading the number of ports there?"
Hi Renee. You'll be happy to know that we recently expanded the Newtown exchange in early March and it now has free places available. Run your phone number back through our broadband2+ checker on the DSLAM rollout page at http://www.iinet.net.au/dslams/updates/ to see if you're eligible.
This from Murray in NSW:
"Hiya. As a new addition to the iiNet fold I am pleasantly surprised by the ease of transition to your service from my previous provider. My experience has on the whole been painless and I am definitely appreciative of the faster (and seemingly more stable) connection we now experience at home. There are a couple of things I'd like to offer as suggestions:
- Reduce the wait times for inbound calls for support or offer a call-back feature.
- Things on the website are hard to find. Like, I still can't find information on accessing the "personal webspace" I have with my account.
- iiNetPhone Call tracking doesn't update very promptly. Calls show up about a week and a half after being made.
- I know you guys have radio just like Internode, it's been discussed on the forums at "whirlpool", why isn't there any information on the iiNet site about it? Where can I find what radio stations you peer?"
In answer to your questions Murray:
- We apologise for the delay on the phones. The queues of late haven't been up to our standards but are getting better (see above). In addition, numerous new staff are in training now so we can assure you that the long wait times will not continue.
- Regarding the web site, this is about to be revamped to resolve these problems. You can find information setting up the web space here: http://archive.iinet.net.au/support/homepages/
- The current delay on the call tracker is about 48 hours. This generally doesn't get any longer than this, but of late we have had some isolated incidents of further delays. You should not expect this to be a recurring problem.
- With the trance radio streams, these are unsupported streams that are available to all of our subscribers. There is an unofficial page about them here: http://members.iinet.net.au/~pproud/trance/
From Penni in the ACT:
"How about including the winter Paralympic Games in your newsletter? We stand a far better chance of medals there than the Olympics and it is Michael Milton's fifth and last Games. He's a legend. One of our highest profile winter athletes and definitely our most successful. The Paras website is http://www.paralympic.org/"
top 5 viruses reported to sophos in february
List provided by Sophos.
DSLAM expansion news
We now have more than 85,000 customers on the iinetwork (our DSLAM network) with more than 200 live exchanges Australia-wide. The iinetwork is only getting bigger and better with the recent $15M investment to build in another 150 exchanges. You can see the new proposed sites on the DSLAM update page at http://www.iinet.net.au/dslams/updates/
- web accelerator
Did you know that if you're on our unlimited dialup plan , you can increase the speed of your connection by up to five times? Well, now you can simply by downloading our exclusive, free software - Web Accelerator.
This tool monitors and adapts to your web surfing to increase the speed at which web pages load, meaning you can surf your favourite sites up to five times faster! So, pages that previously took around 30 seconds to load can now be viewed in less than 7 seconds.
How does it work?
- It requires NO new hardware
- It's easy to install - just a few clicks will download it to your PC
- It is available anywhere there is a telephone line
- It works seamlessly with your dialup service
Name: Leo Savaliya
Title: Customer Service Representative
How long have you been with iiNet and what roles have you had?
I have been with iiNet for just over 4 iiThrilled Months. I am part of a Customer Support Team called The iiNvicibles at the Sydney Contact Centre.
What does your current role involve?
Being in a Customer Support Team, the majority of my work is involved at the front-end. Interacting with the customers, and assisting them with their queries. It involves billing, sales and technical support skillsets, which makes it very interesting from call to call. Especially with the new VCC System gone live, any call from the above skillset can be put through to me randomly, which allows variety in my job.
What do you think has been the biggest change while you've been here?
The biggest change...I have to award that to the Genesys System (Virtual Contact Centre). This project has been a significant step to upgrade our Contact Centre. I have to admit it provided the management with a better view of the service we were providing to our customers and what we can do to improve it.
All new systems require tweaking, which will take time but management and the team involved with the VCC Project have certainly worked hard to achieve the benefits from the VCC. The rewards of which we seem to be reaping this month, we have seen the call wait times drop dramatically, and the real pleasure is derived when the customer is the one who validates that when they call now.
What are you looking forward to in the future at iiNet?
I think ADSL2+ is just the beginning of what iiNet can offer to their customers, there is plenty more to come. We are building our own Next Generation Telephony Network which will be arriving soon. So hold your breath and enjoy the iiRide for what is yet to come...
Name: Lifeplan Recreation and Leisure - Co-ordinator Phil Benedetti
Account Type: broadband2+ with iiphone
Location: Victoria Park, WA
Customer Since: January 2004
What do you use the Internet for most?
Through our organisation Lifeplan, we use the Internet to keep in touch with our clients and to advertise our services through our webpage( http://lifeplan.iinet.net.au ). We do a lot of research into what things are happening in the community and the cheapest and easiest way to do this is by accessing online databases, keeping in contact via email and trawling popular event sites such as whatson.com.au and westernaustralia.com. We also have a computer set up here so our clients can become more accustomed to how the Internet works.
Tell us a bit about what Lifeplan does?
Lifeplan is a not-for-profit organisation that takes people with disabilities out for recreation and leisure pursuits. In essence, we are a kind of life training organisation, helping people who find it difficult to get out, to develop social skills and have fun at the same time. We organise a variety of activities, ie we might go and pick someone up and take them for a swim, and everything is based in local community centres.
What are the best aspects of your broadband connection?
Compared to when we had dialup, the best thing about broadband is the always on connection. Being on a DSLAM and bundled with iiphone the speed is just so much quicker as well. When our accountant experienced it for the first time he was blown away by how fast Internet banking worked. Afterwards, he went home and applied for iiNet himself.
But it's also the economy of it. We are a not-for-profit organisation so cutting costs is an essential practice. We worked out that after 18 months the broadband connection paid for itself when we compared it to the cost of connecting with dialup.
Are there any upcoming Internet technologies that you are looking forward to?
Personally I'm excited about VoIP with all the cost saving possibilities.
Interested in being in next month's customer profile? Email your details to email@example.com.
Ever had the urge to get your thoughts online? To spread your pearls of wisdom across the infinite digital space of the world wide web? The idea of gaining a world audience from the comfort of your computer chair really seems to attract people - but how do you do it? Who has the time or skills necessary to design and build a website these days?
The good news is that there are now loads of ways to get your voice heard online, and many don't require you to know any kind of HTML or have web design skills at all.
Traditionally a web site is a set of "pages" stored in a specific location. A web server is the online folder you store these pages on that allows other people to view your content at any time of the day.
For example, new broadband plans with iiNet receive 30MB free space (excludes budget plans) on our webserver. This space can be used to upload pictures to or to build your own web site on.
More serious users will go the extra mile and request their own customised Internet domain like http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com. You can register a domain at connectwest.net.au and then have iiNet host the site for a yearly cost (see our domains page for more info).
Of course, a webserver is only one option you can go for, there are other options available for casual users (see below).
HTML is a common programming language used to create a web page. To the novice, HTML makes little sense, but there are plenty of resources available online to teach you the language - but be warned, trying to learn HTML can quickly ruin any predictable sleep patterns. Check out htmlcodetutorial.com or w3schools.com for a range of tutorials and basic terminology.
Many cheat and save time by using a web page template that has most of the code already worked out. Check out freelayouts.com for a whole range of free web templates ready to use and bravenet.com for ready to go web tools like counters etc.
WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) Editors
If you're like me, then you'll want to skip straight to the bit where you start moving pretty pictures around the screen and making things change colour when you roll over them. Sure you can do this in code, but I'm lazy, and I like looking at something that resembles a webpage, not a set decoration from the Matrix. There are free programs such as NVU that allow you to create your webpage using an interface similar to Word - the program then converts what you do into html code.
A more common option for many is Macromedia Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage , both of which aren't free unfortunately, but are very user friendly for less complex jobs. A warning though, once you use these programs it's difficult to go back - these editors are HTML translators, and each has their own quirky interpretations.
All this talk of code and WYSIWIG is probably getting you down if all you want to do is have people read your daily ramblings. Well perhaps all you need is a blog. Blogs are easy to manage, available for free and don't require any software or coding to build or update - though are limited in scope.
A blog is the equivalent of an online diary and somewhere like blogger.com allows you to set up a one for free and upload pictures and words through a web based update system - meaning you can update from wherever you are. You'll literally be online in minutes.
Those that are serious about creating a regularly updated website should check in with one of my favourite programs: Joomla. Joomla is one of those fantastic open source programs that gets created out of sheer user enthusiasm (also check out Apache ) - meaning it's available for nothing.
Setting it up does take time, and Joomla's support forums are essential for first timers. Basically Joomla has a different way of creating a web site than your traditional "create a page and link to it" build process. By dividing content up into "categories" and not "pages", Joomla simulates an online filing cabinet - you write content, assign it a "category", and Joomla does the rest.
The key to a good Joomla page is making sure you map out how you want your site to be organised before you start creating content. Once you've set it up, you can upload content from wherever you are just by logging in to your web server. Some great examples of Joomla sites are available at joomla.org.
What doesn't Google do these days? For those with a gmail account, try googlepages.com which requires no technical knowledge, you edit your pages right in your browser and your pages will live on your own site inside the Google empire.
I hope that's given you some starting points to leap off at. There is heaps to talk about in this area, and it's very easy to overwhelm those new to the craft with too many options. My best advice would be start off by realistically mapping out what you're going to put on your website, how much time you'll devote to it and how often you'll update it. This way you can quickly eliminate the options that either require too much or too little involvement.
V for Vendetta tickets giveaway
To celebrate the release of the new Wachowski brothers penned flick, " V for Vendetta ", Roadshow Films have kindly provided us with 35 in-season double passes to the film to give away to our readers.
To be in the running for this prize, please email competitions with "Vendetta Competition" in the subject line, and provide your iiNet username, full name, and address by 5pm WST, April 1, 2006, along with the answer to this question: How many extra exchanges are we installing our DSLAMs into as part of the new rollout? (hint: you'll find the answer in the general news section).
Winners with the correct answer will be drawn at random and prizes sent by mail.
rebel sport giveaway
It's Commonwealth Games time so to get everyone into the sporting spirit, we're giving away 20 Rebel Sport vouchers this month to 20 lucky readers. To be in the draw, just name your favourite Commonwealth Games moment and send it through to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Rebel Sport Competition" in the subject line, and provide your username, full name, and address by 5pm WST, April 1, 2006.
Winners will be drawn at random and prizes sent by mail.
2 minute review - Black
Violence eh? Never solves anything. But it's a huge shining pile of fun, innit.
Shake hands with Black , the latest pimpery from Criterion , the developers who gaffa-tape hilarity and carnage together so well it makes Rockstar Games look like an edutainment house.
Black is an FPS without any frills. No multiplayer, no character depth, no wildly inventive weaponry with which to strut your ub3rl33t pwnage. What it does do, however, is polish the simple stuff so nicely you can't help but giggle with girlish delight.
It's vanilla addiction at its very best - stalk streets and fields in present-day conflict settings, pulling various triggers whilst pointing at various nasty types. The beauty isn't in the storyline or innovation, more in the fine-tuning of immersive atmospherics and gameplay.
In short, Black hasn't got much going on upstairs, but you'll be gagging to show it off in front of your mates regardless.
The opening scenes see your military strongman bust out on streetside gunplay, moving against a wave of uppity hostiles. The immediate sound of bullets flitting past your face puts trouser integrity at a premium, and you'll find the 'guns blazin' approach ceases to be a brilliant idea shortly thereafter.
Realistic sound and motion will have you ducking and bobbing in your chair as the nasties chatter and plot to smoke you out of hiding, as such Black instills a severe case of "just one more hour" through it's crisp realisation of all that makes you combat-antsy.
Then there's the coup de grace. Everything explodes.
Can't get the guy behind the barrel? Blow the barrel up. Or the car to his left. Or the innocent looking tank of flammable gas just off his right shoulder. Anything that isn't firmly bolted down seems to be explosive. In fact, so regularly does stuff ignite, I was disappointed when the fridge in my apartment didn't explode as I went to grab a beer.
There's not much intelligent substance to this month's review, as there's not much intelligent substance to
. Play it once, and you'll agree that you wouldn't want it any other way. Purchase!
ii flicks & tunes
album of the month
State of Emergency - The Living End
Australian rock trio The Living End have been making a name for themselves for years with their energetic live shows and consistently catchy records. "State of Emergency" sees them back in the studio again with a new drummer (but same rockabilly sound) for more riff laden tunes and politically charged lyrics.
These guys will never be accused of straying from their roots and while some of the songs do at times bring a sense of deja vu, it's what The Living End do, and do it well.
movie of the month
V for Vendetta - Rated MA
The first film back from Matrix maestros, V for Vendetta presents what's being called an "uncompromising vision of the future" where World War 3 has come and gone, left the world in a mix of chaos and brutal totalitarian rule.
Insurgent groups use fear, force and "faith" to subdue an entire nation, forging a new, "Greater" Britain. It is in this brave new world that V (Hugo Weaving), a mysterious, masked, swashbuckling figure, saves the young Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) from unspeakable tortures, and takes her under his wing.
Apparently V stands up for individuality and freedom for the people - but at what cost? Adapted from the graphic novel "England Prevails" by Alan Moore, V for Vendetta promises an interesting mix of stylised action and orwellian dystopia.
A History of Violence - Rated MA
The hardest review is always the one that falls in between the good and bad category. A fantastic movie is easy, because you're excited and find it easy to choose highlights that made it for you. An awful movie is an absolute joy to review - as it's far easier and often much more interesting to criticise than to praise. But a movie like A History of Violence - which I sat down, watched, walked out of the cinema, went home, ate fruit salad, and went to bed after - is difficult.
Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) enjoys the American dream - a beautiful wife (Maria Bello), two straight-up kids, life in an idealic mid-western town and a diner with his name on the window. But when two fugitives come to town to make trouble, Tom finds himself with their blood on his hands and his face on every TV in America - catapulting himself into the limelight as an all American hero.
With your face on every TV, it follows that someone from your past is going to come look you up, though when mob boss Carl Fogary (Ed Harris) comes calling, he recognises Tom by a different name - Joey Cusack; a name with a history of violence.
As the saying goes, history often repeats itself. Whether Tom is actually Joey or not is irrelevant - the past is in other people's memories - and Fogarty is convinced that Tom is Joey.
Director David Cronenberg ( eXistenZ, Spider ) goes to great lengths to create Tom's American dream - so much so that I found the first half of the film sickly sweet - the child actors irritated me with their cornball lines and sugar coated smiles. This is of course deliberate, as we see this dream infected when Joey's violent past seeps back in.
The film is a slow moving experience, with understated direction, minimal music and quiet dialogue (mostly because Viggo likes to mumble all his lines). Except for the occasional touch of graphic violence (which is very graphic by the way so be warned) the film for me felt empty. It has such a simple premise that all the film needed was an engaging style (either with music, direction or dialogue) to make it really stand out. Sadly, I felt nothing at all.
Perhaps aware that the film needed something to keep it going near the end, Cronenberg takes a sidestep for 20 minutes to introduce Joey's trash talking brother Richie (William hurt). Unfortunately these scenes are poorly realised; Richie comes across as a comical mobster and Tom skips from tortured father to action hero as he elbows, kicks and shoots his way out of trouble.
A History of Violence didn't quite hit either mark.