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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bmag Nov 6th 2012 - Slow news day, neighbourly wifi names

If there’s one expression I wish the 1990s ABC TV show Frontline had not taught people, it’s “Slow News Day”. Research tells us people want light and shade in their news reporting, not just serious analysis or world politics, yet you spend just two minutes on radio discussing a fun topic like the direction people like to cut their sandwiches (I prefer mine triangular, my wife likes hers in rectangles) and someone will pipe up with: “Slow News Day?”

I’ve kept quiet about this until now. I understand that some people want deadly serious topics all day, every day; others, incidentally, demand more good-news stories from the media, so you can never please everyone all the time! But something happened that has caused me to break my silence! Discussing road safety last week, I asked listeners to remind me which way you should look when crossing the road (was it left-rightleft or right-left-right?). That was enough to see Petros tweeting “Slow News Day?”

Well no, Petros, it’s very simple. I didn’t want anyone, especially children, getting the wrong information and putting themselves in danger. So you can put away your convenient threeword cover-all media critique. And just in case you’re wondering, in Australia you should look right, then left, then right again.

Rental register feedback

In the last issue of bmag I asked you what you thought of a register for rental properties and their agents. The suggestion was made by 612 listener Steve who had an issue with overhanging branches from the rental property next door. Unable to find out from the tenants, Steve struggled to identify the property manager to discuss chopping back the trees.

In response, Alicia Wright emailed: “I couldn’t help but feel sometimes renters get a bad rap. We’ve had plenty of neighbour problems in the past but the main offenders were people who owned houses in the street. Who do you complain to when the problem is the owner?” I want to be clear about this. I wasn’t having a go at renters and I don’t think Steve was either. It’s just that sometimes – when it’s about trees, fences, development applications and the like – you need to contact the owner or their agent.

Matt Troughton offered a tenant’s perspective: “We rent and had a neighbour complain directly to our agent about our dog barking. The agent would give us no info, no times or dates, due to ‘privacy issues’. It would have been easier to solve the issue if [the complainant] had come straight to us!”

Don’t steal my internet

Still on the subject of neighbours, I hear the latest way to send a passive-aggressive shot over the fence is to hide messages in the name of your wireless internet network. Some people never allocate a name but it can be handy if you have several networks within your home, perhaps one for guests and one for your family.

Technology commentator Peter Black mentioned the phenomenon on my radio show, citing overseas examples like “Stop Stealing My Paper” and “Your Music is Too Loud”, but it took very little prompting to gather similar WiFi names from around Brisbane.

Emma Gunders told me: “We’ve got ‘Don’t Steal My Internet’ somewhere around us. We think it might be the new people across the road.” In Sam Eeles’s street there’s “Get Your Own WiFi”. And Ian Harper’s computer picks up the very pointed “B*gger off”.

Thankfully, from what I can gather, many of the creative WiFi monikers in Brisbane are merely aimed at soliciting a laugh. Around Guy Law’s place, there’s “Your Mum” and “Free Willy”, Jen Hansen picks up the groanworthy “PEN15”, Alexandra Nash’s neighbours have “Boobies (.)(.)”,

Cath Allen says there’s “Surveillance Van 4” somewhere near her and Sarah Margrath’s devices pick up “Where are my pants?”

James Kennedy is someone who has a message hidden in his WiFi name. He told me: “Spencer, the kids named my network ‘Furious Dad’. As a result the neighbours are very well behaved! LOL.”

And Susan Hetherington recalls: “Ours used to be called VirusVault. The IT man who set it up said it would deter people.” Okay, I know you want to do it. Go ahead, put the magazine down for a moment and see what WiFi names your phone or tablet can pick up where you are right now!

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