Tim Cook: 'I'd call what's going on in fondleslabs a speed bump'
Plus: 'Another sh*t feature of Word that's driving me to distraction...'
QuoTW Time Warner Cable did not have a good week this week. A number of folks came out over the week to tell the Federal Communications Commission that they don’t like the idea of the company merging with Comcast. And in the middle of all that, the firm suffered a massive outage that downed a number of big cities on both the East and West Coasts of the US.
Folks woke up on Wednesday to find that the network was out on its ear after routine maintenance apparently crippled the service. A spokesman said:
An issue with our internet backbone created disruption with our internet and on demand services.
The outage was particularly poor timing as the FCC is currently looking into its proposed merger with fellow cable giant Comcast. Netflix was one of a number of entities this week to say that it really wasn’t sure about this whole mega-merger:
The proposed merger of Comcast and TWC presents serious public interest harms stemming from the combined entity's increased ability and incentive to harm providers of Internet content.
The public interest harm cannot be balanced by any cognisable public interest benefit in this transaction.
While the mayors of both New York and Los Angeles told the US watchdog that they were concerned about the deal. NYC’s Bill de Blasio said:
The limits of the Internet Essentials program, the record of its implementation in other cities and the lack of affordable options beyond the program all suggest that low-income residents of New York City and the nation more broadly may not be effectively served by the contemplated merger.
And LA’s Eric Garcetti wants to know why TWC has failed to get the deals with local carriers that it needs to show Los Angeles Dodgers' baseball games across the city:
As part of its investigation as to whether the merger and increased concentration will serve the public interest, we ask the Commission to examine these types of programming disputes, determine why the problem has not been resolved already, and then ask Comcast to show that the merger would alleviate, and not exacerbate, problems of this sort.
Comcast told El Reg:
We look forward to working with the mayors of New York and Los Angeles as the regulatory review process proceeds.
With our transaction with Time Warner Cable, we look forward to continuing to invest in both cities and to bring our best-in-class video product, higher internet speeds, and low income broadband programs to LA and NY.
Following the outage, things were looking even more grim for the merger when the governor of New York Andrew Cuomo said that the downtime would have to be looked at in light of the proposal:
I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner. The Department will also review whether the outage affected Time Warner's provision of telephone service in any way.
In addition, the Department will include its analysis of this event in its ongoing study of the telecom industry, which is exploring potential changes to the regulatory landscape pertaining to telephone, internet and cable.
Today's widespread internet outage that has apparently impacted more than 11 million customers at Time Warner – which is based in New York – is a stark reminder that our economy is increasingly dependent on a reliable broadband network.
That is one of the reasons why I pushed for a stronger standard of review for cable company mergers earlier this year.
Also this week, software analysis firm CAST had the cheery news that a huge 70 per cent of retail firms and 69 per cent of financial services apps are vulnerable to data breaches. According to its analysis of 705 million lines of code used by 1,316 enterprise apps, a growing number of breaches and security incidents are down to poor code quality. CAST’s e-veep Lev Lesokhin said:
So long as IT organisations sacrifice software quality and security for the sake of meeting unrealistic schedules, we can expect to see more high-profile attacks leading to the exposure and exploitation of sensitive customer data.
Businesses handling customer financial information have a responsibility to improve software quality and reduce the operational risk of their applications – not only to protect their businesses, but ultimately their customers.
In Apple land, Tim Cook dismissed the idea that the slowdown in sales of fondleslabs were a sign of the company’s doom and/or peak Apple. Rather, this shortfall in interest should be seen as a mere blip on the screen for the famous fruity firm, its chief exec said:
We couldn’t be happier with how we’ve done with the first four years of the iPad. I’d call what’s going on recently a speed bump, and I’ve seen that in every category.
Phone firm EE has also been dismissive this week, brushing off claims that its social media staff are busily deleting negative comments about the company from its Facebook feed.
The mobile operator is known to ask folks with grievances to take their complaints into private messages, rather than dealing with them on public feeds, and it doesn’t look like its users are too happy about it:
On Twitter, where posts can't easily be deleted, EE appears to be encouraging folks to take their criticisms into direct messages or chats:
So @EE Is it now your policy to take network complaints offline from public Twitter...?— Chris Shaw (@The_ChrisShaw) August 26, 2014
.@EE Intriguing... What's your purpose then, other than as a gateway to your Customer Service portal?— Chris Shaw (@The_ChrisShaw) August 26, 2014
Well @EE, it WAS a basic query. My suspicion is that your policy has changed to reduce the incidence public customer complaints...— Chris Shaw (@The_ChrisShaw) August 26, 2014
EE told The Reg it was wrong for subscribers to accuse it of removing negative feedback from social media. A spokesman said:
At the moment we're not number one for service. What we're doing [to fix this] is very real, these aren't just empty words.
He also agreed that EE could do better on social media:
Yes, we are a communication company and we completely take that on board.
And finally, another Brit sci-fi author has said that they hate Microsoft Word. Last year, one-time sysadmin and writer Charles Stross said that the ubiquitous word processing program was a “tyrant of the imagination”:
Major publishers have been browbeaten into believing that Word is the sine qua non of document production systems. And they expect me to integrate myself into a Word-centric workflow, even though it's an inappropriate, damaging, and laborious tool for the job. It is, quite simply, unavoidable.
Now fellow Brit author Alastair Reynolds has tweeted separately that he also has trouble with the mighty Word:
Another shit feature of Word that's driving me to distraction: http://t.co/wqnxB2sLbl— Alastair Reynolds (@AquilaRift) August 24, 2014
Holy crap - how hard is it for a company to fix a 100% repeatable problem?— Alastair Reynolds (@AquilaRift) August 24, 2014
Unfortunately the editing/marking-up chain of publishing is still very much tied to Word, so hard to break away from it.— Alastair Reynolds (@AquilaRift) August 24, 2014
Reynolds was complaining about an issue with scrolling in Word 2013 and also answered Twitter banter on Word by explaining that he couldn’t ditch the software because it was necessary for “handling collaborative mark-up” - even if “it’s no good for the later stages”. ®