Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Triple boot lectern in Tasmanian Oak

RSISE  lectern The Australian National University's Hitech RSISE presentation room has a new lectern. At a glance this looks like a piece of arts and crafts era antique furniture, perhaps something by Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin for Newman College. But under the elegant Tasmanian Oak top it has built in a triple boot Apple mac computer running Apple's Unix based OS X operating system, Ubuntu Linux and Microsoft Windows XP. iMac LecternThere are USB slots on the desktop for USB Flash Drives. There is a full step by step description of the construction of this unit by Matt Gray is available.

Hi-tech lecterns are not new. IBM sold one in 1954:
To meet the needs of public speakers in business and elsewhere, IBM's Time Equipment Division brought to market in 1954 a state-of-the-art multifunctional lectern. The lectern offered a number of useful features, including a clock with edge-lighted dial, a speech time warning light, indirect table lighting with control switch, a speech timer with edge-lighted dial, satin chrome side-mounts for microphones, push-button elevation of the lectern, push-button adjustment of the table's angle, and a removable console unit. ... The base section provided ample cabinet space for installing additional equipment, such as a tape recorder, amplifier, record player or TV monitor.

From: The IBM Lectern, IBM
One enhancement for then ANU lectern might be a screen of the front of the lectern. Often if I am sitting in front row of the audience I have trouble looking at the screen beside the presenter. Also it is embarrassing to not appear to be looking at them, but at the screen instead. A screen on the front of the lectern would allow the audience to look at the presenter and the presentation slides at the same time. For a small audience, it may be all that is needed, providing a self contained system.

The screen mounted behind a tinted sheet of plastic, so it is invisible when not in use. One of the wide screen LCD panels would do, or even an LCD TV (the resolution of the screen need not be very high as the audience will not be too close). For an Access Grid room, such as used by Grangenet, you could use three small LCD panels.

Perhaps I need to get Matt to build one for my Smart Apartment.

Credit card size USB Flash Drive

SanDisk Ultra II SD Plus with USBThe fashion in giving presentations now is to use a USB flash drive. But I don't like carrying around one on my key ring. An alternative I have found is the SanDisk Ultra II SD Plus with USB. This is an SD flash memory card which bends in the middle to reveal a USB plug. I got the 512MB model locally for $AU29 (also available with 1 GB and 2 GB).

Being a Secure Digital (SD) card, the device is about the size of a postage stamp and much thinner than a USB plug (about 2 mm).

I carry the SD card in my mobile phone, which has a SD socket. Alternatively it would fit easily in a wallet. The card comes with a small soft plastic carry case and a hard plastic keyfob (like a memory stick).

What would be more useful is a credit card sized carry case. This could hold four SD cards, slip in a wallet and hold 8 GB. Such cases exist as third party products (holding as many as eight SD cards), but are not cheap and a bit bulkier than they need be:
Memory Card Storage Wallet
This memory card wallet consists of a stiff plastic outer shell that is stuffed with thick, heavy rubber holders. The case is heavier than it looks and weighs a couple of ounces. It will support a lot of weight on it without damaging the cards. ...

From: SD Secure Digital Memory Card Storage Wallet, DMSPSD8 , HAKUBA USA INC, Amazon.com

UK Government e-Pay toolkit for Local Government

In looking at EasyBiz from Victorian Government to reduce paperwork for business, I noticed the UK government had an e-Pay toolkit:

e-Pay is a National Project funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and developed by the local authority partners ... It's aimed squarely at demystifying the complex world of e-Payments and providing an extensive information resource, in the form of this toolkit, to guide Councils through the steps necessary to effectively implement an e-payment solution. ...

From: About the e-Pay toolkit, Bristol City, Bath & NE Somerset, Hammersmith & Fulham, North Somerset, UK

This was part of the UK Local e-Gov project, which ended in April 2006. The UK seems to have replaced this with a Local t-Gov Project for 2006-07.

At the end of the local e-gov programme in March 2006 the brief to migrate this new-found 'community of interest' to the new Transformation agenda was assigned to the London Borough of Newham, with the aim of communicating how the outputs of the local e-gov National Projects could be used by English local authorities to deliver Transformational Local Government.

This website has been commissioned by the London Borough of Newham on behalf of the National Projects Programme.

From: About us, t-gov builds on e-gov
The UK seems to have a more fragmented and ad-hoc approach to this than Australian governments.

Monday, October 30, 2006

E-Books for Mobile Phones and PDAs

Mobipocket sells e-Books for mobile devices (mobile phones, smart phones and PDAs).

There are more than ten thousand free e-books listed, mostly out of copyright "classics" in English.

The books are not in the usual PDF or web format, but ".PRC". This requires a free reader, available for smartphones and PDAs: PalmOS Windows Mobile [PocketPC, Smartphone], SymbianOs [Series60, UIQ, Series80, Series 90] and Blackberry; as well as Apple Mac, Linux and Microsoft Widnows laptops and desktop PCs.
The Mobipocket e-book format based on the Open eBook standard using XHTML can include JavaScript and frames. It also supports native SQL queries to be used with embedded databases.

From: E-book, Wikipedia, 2006
There is also a free "creator" program to convert HTML Micrsoft Word and PDF files into the format (but only for Windows 2000/XP with Internet Explorer).

Most of the books seem to be around 1Mbyte in size. This may be a bit large for downloading direct to a mobile phone using the average account, but you can download to a PC and then transfer the book on a memory card.

Does anyone have any experience of producing any of these books?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Make Australian Government Publications Open Access by Christmas

In my talk for the Canberra Society of Editors on Wednesday I proposed that the Australian Government make its publications open access.

This would need just two phrases of six words removed from the Commonwealth Copyright notice used on Australian Government web pages. That would lift the restriction preventing copies of government documents being made (the restriction on selling copies could be retained).

To make this change clearer I also proposed the Australian Government adopt the Australian version of the Creative Commons license (developed by the QUT Law School and Blake Dawson Waldron Lawyers), with the options for "Attribution", "Non-Commercial" and "No Derivative Works.

This would give the Australian Government a competitive advantage when it comes to getting their policies widely known.

At the Web Standards Group meeting on Thursday, Tim Dale from the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), mentioned that revised government web guidelines would be released in December.

I suggested to Tim the new guidelines could include a revised Commonwealth Copyright notice incorporating a Creative Commons license. He seemed to like the idea and said it would be looked at.

It happens Tim was my predecessor as the September speaker at the Canberra Society of Editors.

Cardboard Eco-Coffins Not Permitted in Canberra

Along with energy/water efficient technologies, and building/transport options at the Canberra home and leisure show were cardboard coffins.

Janine Toscan and an Eco-Coffin

Janine Toscan from Toscan Dinn Funerals displayed the Life Art Eco-Coffin. These are essentially cardboard boxes, optionally decorated with your selection of painted art. Unfortunately the ACT Government will not permit you to be cremated in one of these at present (burying is okay). I signed the petition Janine had, asking for the rules to be changed. If you think this is a good idea, you might like to send a note to Mr John Hargreaves, ACT Minister for Territory and Municipal Services.

Fibreboard (another name for cardboard) is made from recycled paper and cardboard and is fully bio-degradable. The fibreboard used in all Enviroboard coffins is specially selected for its strength and suitability for burial as well as for cremation.

Enviroboard coffins are made from an extra thick toughwall: a patented design which provides the strength and carrying capacity of the coffin.

Other features

  • It has passed the regulatory requirements governing burials and cremations.
  • It can be carried by the 4 or 6 handles.
  • It can withstand rainfall.
  • It is fully assembled with quality drapery and handles.
  • It is available as part of the service offered by your funeral home.

From: Enviroboard story, LifeArt, 2005

Sliver Solar Cells for Military And Domestic Use

Andrew BlakersProfessor Andrew Blakers presented an inspirational talk today, on the Australian National University's sliver solar cell technology. But what is needed is more research funding to develop the technology into a usable product. Andrew sees the cells being cheap enough to be installed by individual householders and businesses, as well as for solar power stations.

At present solar cells are cost effective for remote locations off the grid, such as Illawong Lodge and Kings Canyon:
Illawong LodgeIllawong Ski Tourers manages Illawong Lodge, located at about 1600 metres altitude in Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales, Australia. Illawong is several kilometres from the nearest roads, power, gas, water, sewer, telephones, ski lifts, and other services. ...

The first hut built here in 1925-26 was called Pounds Creek. ... The lodge consists of four small rooms with a roof and walls of iron, floor of wood, lined. It includes an innovative high-country solar power system for lighting.

From: Illawong Ski Tourers
Kings Canyon Solar Power Station
Kings Canyon is a high-profile tourist resort in Central Australia's Watarrka National Park in the arid zone. The remote resort previously relied on a diesel-fuelled power station. ... Peak power demand in the Northern Territory closely matches solar availability, with the peak occurring early afternoon. The PV system provides peak load and is run in tandem with a smaller diesel engine. Battery storage is not required since the diesel engines supplement ...
From: Kings Canyon Solar Power Station, Australian Business Council - Sustainable Energy 2006
However, research funding is likely to come for more exotic applications first. The first uses for solar cells were military and remote uses in telecommucations.

Some which the sliver cells might be applied to are:
  1. Solar Building Panels for China: The usual location for solar collectors on buildings is the roof. However, high rise buildings have only limited roof space. An alternative would be to use the same micro-louver technology as for military vehicles (below) and build the cells in to wall and window panels. Sun facing vertical panels would have cells arranged horizontally facing up towards the sun. For windows, sufficient space would be left between the cells to allow the occupants to have a view out the window. The cells could be made in aluminum frames as a direct replacement for domestic and commercial cladding, balcony balistrades and windows. Such panels could be used by the million for Shanghai offices and apartment blocks.
  2. Lightweight solar panels for the F-35 Lightening II JSF: Sliver cell panels could be incorporated into the sun shields used to protect aircraft cockpits on the ground. This would have the dual function of cooling the cocpit and providing power to keep the aircraft batteries charged. The sliver cell shades would be light, flexible and compact enough to be stowed aboard the aircraft for deployment. Research for this could be funded under the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project.
  3. Solar generating windows for military vehicles: Military vehicles, such as the Australian ADI Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicle have difficulty keeping the occupants cool in desert regions and supplying sufficient electrical power for equipment. These vehicles have flat armored windows which could be fitted with sliver cell panels. The cells could be arranged as micro-louvers to shade the interior of the vehicle, while optimizing solar collection to power equipment. The silver cells have an anti-reflective coating which would enhance the situational awareness of the occupants of the vehicle, while reducing the visible and infrared signature. The ability to generate electricity would reduce the fuel consumption of the vehicle and its sound signature when stationary, as the diesel engine would not need to be run as much.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Engineering Software Outsouring

The Software Engineering students at the Australian National University showed off their group projects today. These are real projects producing real software for clients from government agencies and companies.

For CEA Technologies Pty Ltd, one team produced a system to manage software components of the radar systems the company builds for the Australian and US military. For The Distillery (a company producing software for the intelligence community to track terrorists) the students provided a system to more easily collect open source information.

Organisations interested in being clients in 2007 can contact Dr Shayne Flint at the ANU.

Third and fourth year students work together. The fourth year students studying project management oversee the projects while the third year ones produce the software.

The clients may also learn something from the proejcts, as the students apply the latest in software engineering methodoligies:
At the commencement of this course, students will be introduced to customers (from industry, government or other university entities)who require a software development project to be undertaken. The typical team size will be 3 to 5 students, the members of which will be required to form/analyse customer requirements and plan (define, estimate, schedule) the project to ultimately deliver and control a software project according to the customer requirements. The implementation part of the project will include monitoring, measuring, tracking, managing change and ultimately close out the project. All teams will be required to produce a minimum set of documents including:

* Software Development Plan (inclusive of other important plans)
* Software Requirements Specification
* Software Design Specification(s)
* Acceptance, System and Integration Test Cases and Procedures
* Source and Binary Code ...

From: Software Engineering Practice (COMP4500), ANU, 2006
While this is a hands on course, some of the text books include:

* The Project Manager's Guide to Software Engineering's Best Practices
* Software Engineering
* Information Technology Project Management: Providing measurable Organizational Value

ps: Next year some of the students may get experience with international outsourcing (offshoring) of software development. The ANU students may be collaborating with students in Indonesia. This came about after I arranged for some of the Indonesian students to undertake software development of a Disaster Management System for Jogjakarta Earthquake. This worked so well I suggested that the ANU and Indonesian students could gain experience in international software development this way.

Monday, October 23, 2006

EasyBiz from Victorian Government to reduce paperwork for business

EasyBiz is a web site to reduce government paper for small business. It is funded by the Australian Government's $50 million Regulation Reduction Incentive Fund, but is being piloted by local government in Victoria.

The pilot project will work with a subset of transactions for planning, building, health and local permits. EasyBiz plan to have 25 transactions online by March 2007.
EasyBiz will provide an online channel for small business to apply for council permits. This means they can discover the permits they need, prepare and submit applications 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. EasyBiz will make this process more efficient, by reducing re-work on forms, and re-using data across forms.

The vision is that EasyBiz will eventually allow small businesses to complete, save and submit all their Local Government compliance forms online. EasyBiz will provide for interconnection with State and Federal compliance forms systems to allow businesses to potentially manage all their government compliance requirements at a single web portal of their choice.
An interesting part of the process is that some of the corrdination for the project is being done on-line. The agenda, minutes and documents of some meetings are avialble on the Govdex system:
collaboration GovDex is a resource developed by government agencies to facilitate business process collaboration across policy portfolios (eg. Taxation, Human Services etc.) and administrative jurisdictions i.e. federal, state or local government levels.

GovDex promotes effective and efficient information sharing, which is core to achieving collaboration. It provides governance, tools, methods and re-usable technical components that government agencies can use to assemble and deploy information services on their different technology platforms. GovDex is a key enabler to a whole of government approach to IT service development and deployment.

GovDex is managed by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) in the Department of Finance & Administration. AGIMO ...

From: Welcome to GovDex
Some of the content:
Oakton identified gaps between existing VBMK functionality and EasyBiz requirements, including:

Forms platform is not established in either system. One key item to consider is the type of form (PDF v HTML) and the supplier (Adobe, IBM Workplace forms or XForms).
The main considerations will be sustainability and cost; Output Manager may need work in VBMK to meet EasyBiz requirements ...
Minutes, TDRG Meeting 2, Project No LA10854, 4 September 2006
Further work has been identified to progrress the design of the EasyBiz Portal. We estimate this work will take one month to complete by Jason and understand that this work needs to commence later this week. The work required is as follows:
  • Determining the Forms Platform solution
  • Determining the Payment Gateway solution
  • Mapping requirements to existing VBMK platform components within the scope of closing any perceived technical gaps
  • Architecting new EasyBiz components and data flows within the VBMK platform
  • Leveraging off the VBMK/BEP Smart Forms demonstration project to achieve the above goals
  • Identification and design of extensions to existing VBMK components
  • Identification and design of extensions to new VBMK components
Agenda, EasyBiz Technical Development Reference Group Meeting, 29 Sept 2006
This document provides a “broad” definition of each of the EasyBiz transactions and may
vary slightly for each council. ...

Application to build over easements (EB001)
This permit is required if a small/home based business intends to build over an existing
easement. eg sewerage and water connected to property. The permit must be applied for any new construction or enhancements to an existing building. This is a Building Services.

Builders Refuse Bins (EB002)
This permit is required by any small/home based business that intends to place a bin skip/bulk rubbish container onto a public road or public access area. In most instances this will relate to construction sites or large public events. The bulk rubbish bin may be placed on the road, on the nature strip. This is a Local Law permit.

Building Inspections (EB003)
This permit is required by any small/home based business that requires council to inspect a building that a building permit was granted for previously by Council. This is a Building Services permit. ...

From: EasyBiz Transaction Definitions
Some of the other GovDex supported projects are:
  1. Electronic Development and Assessment Forum Communication Protocol (eDAF)
  2. Grants Management Public (GrantsMgmtPublic)
  3. International Standards (INTLSTDS)
  4. National Name & Address Project (NameAddress)
  5. RRIF - National Electronic Development Assessment (NeDA)
  6. RRIF - Red Tape Blueprints Project (NSW) (RTB)
From: My GovDex Communities

An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth - Book Cover
The book "An Inconvenient Truth", by Al Gore, provides a lucid argument for action on global warming.

This "book of the film" is 328 pages long. But it is not an old fashioned academic book. It is more for a coffee table, with mostly large color photos, a few diagrams a minimum of very large text (much like a children's book). The last few pages provide a useful set of suggestions as to what the average person can do to save the planet.

There is no table of contents in the front and no index in the back of the book. About the only way to look for topics in the book is using Amazon's "look inside" feature. I used this to find there are six references to Australia and none to the Indian "Reva" electric car.
An Inconvenient Truth - DVD Cover
Al Gore probably has done more for the world by presenting this material than he was likely to do as President of the USA. It will be a better seller than previous books by Al Gore which were famously lampooned on "The Simpsons" for their dull earnestness. But still the DVD of the documentary film, directed by Davis Guggenheim, is likely to sell more than the book (you can also download the video).

There is also a web forum to discuss the issues.

Some other books on the topic:


Friday, October 20, 2006

Profit from Open Access Publishing for Research and Scholarship

The report "Research communication costs in Australia: Emerging opportunities and benefits" puts dollar figures on the benefits of open access electronic publishing. This is well worth reading for anyone interested in e-publishing for scholarly purposes and also has some insights for commercial publishers.
Estimating the benefits of a one-off increase in accessibility and efficiency we find that:
  • With public sector R&D expenditure at AUD 5,912 million in 2002-03 and a 25% rate of social return to R&D, a 5% increase in accessibility and efficiency would be worth AUD 150 million a year;
  • With higher education R&D expenditure at AUD 3,430 million and a 25% rate of social return to R&D, a 5% increase in accessibility and efficiency would be worth AUD 88 million a year; and
  • With ARC administered competitive grants funding at AUD 480 million and a 25% rate of social return to R&D, a 5% increase in accessibility and efficiency would be worth AUD 12 million a year.
They also look at the costs:
Scholarly research communication costs are significant. Summing the estimated costs associated with core scholarly communication activities in Australian higher education (including higher education related ARC and NHMRC research grant application and review, reading for those higher education staff producing HERDC compliant publications, writing HERDC publications, related peer review and editorial activities, and related publishing costs) gives an approximate estimate of overall system costs of between AUD 2.6 billion and AUD 4.6 billion (mean AUD 3.6 billion) per year.

This 132 page report was prepared for the Australian Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) and released in September 2006. It was prepared by John Houghton, Colin Steele & Peter Sheehan and details costs and benefits from open, scholarly communication:
  • The underlying economics of scholarly publication, distribution and access;
  • Understanding the various emerging alternative models for publication and access; and
  • Exploring the costs, benefits and implications for Australia at both the national and institutional levels.
The report is available in PDF (1.7 MB) and RTF (4.4 MB). This report is one of a number of recent Australian Government funded reports on electronic repositories, publishing and archives.

Ironically, while detailing the benefits of Open Access in publishing, the report itself has a restrictive copyright notice, preventing wider distribution. The report also suffers from poor electronic formatting. It is unfortunate there isn't a good XHTML version of the report which could be used in education.

Also I would have liked to see alternative business models for e-publishing addressed. The authors seem to assume that the only way to pay for a journal is by subscription. They have not noticed that Science and Nature magazines are jam packed with paid advertising. They don't address the option of web based advertising for e-journals. I have proposed this for the Australian Computer Society's publishing.

In addition the report only looks at publishing from the point of view of the scholar; there is no discussion of creating a viable commercial research publishing industry for Australia. With a good reputation in academia, copyright laws and good Internet infrastructure, it would be quite possible for small Australian startups to compete world wide. DEST is pouring millions of dollars of public money into developing tools for e-publishing. It would good to see some of that money resulting in jobs and income for Australians, rather than the software produced being used to make products and services in other countries, which Australian researchers then have to pay to use (with ultimately DEST paying to use the products it funded to develop).

This is a brave attempt to put figures on a very difficult subject. Unlike many scholarly works on open access, this is not a collection of woolly wishful thinking. There are facts and figures, diagrams explainign the publishing process and lots of statistics on economic value. But some of the figures are a bit rubbery. Cost estimates are quoted from Roger Clarke's "The cost-profiles of alternative approaches to journal publishing", but he got some of those figures from me, so I wouldn't believe it. ;-)

The report also has a good list of references. Here are some of the better ones:
  1. Allen, J. (2005) Interdiciplinary differences in attitudes towards deposit in institutional repositories, Department of Information and Communications, Manchester Metropolitan University. http://eprints.rclis.org/archive/00005180/
  2. Anderson, C. (2004) 'The Long Tail,' Wired Magazine 12(10), October 2004. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html
  3. Antelman, K. (2004) 'Do open-access articles have a greater research impact?', College & Research Libraries News, 65(5), pp372-382. http://eprints.rclis.org/archive/00002309/
  4. AVCC (1996) University Research: Some Issues, AVCC Canberra. http://www.avcc.edu.au/documents/publications/policy/statements/urissues.pdf
  5. Bailey, C.W. (2005) Open Access and Libraries, Preprint 1/11/06. http://www.digital-scholarship.com/cwb/OALibraries2.pdf
  6. Banks, J. and Pracht, C. (2005) 'Movers and Shakers in the Library Publishing World Highlight their Roles: Interviews with Print and Electronic Journal Editors - A Comparison', Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship 6(3), Winter 2005. http://southernlibrarianship.icaap.org/content/v06n03/banks_j01.htm
  7. Bot, M., Burgemeester, J. and Roes, H. (1998) 'The Cost of Publishing an Electronic Journal: A general model and a case study,' D-Lib Magazine November 1998. http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november98/11roes.html
  8. Bowan, W.G. (1995) 'JSTOR and the economics of scholarly communication,' The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. http://www.mellon.org/jsesc.html
  9. Brody, T. and Harnad, S. (2004) 'Comparing the Impact of Open Access (OA) vs. Non-OA Articles in the Same Journals,' D-Lib Magazine 10(6). http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/10207/
  10. Brody, T., Harnad, S. and Carr, L. (2005) 'Earlier Web Usage Statistics as Predictors of Later Citation Impact,' Journal of the American Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST). http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/10713/
  11. Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A Study of the Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/10688/
  12. Chan, L., Kirsop, B. and Arunachalam, S. (2005) 'Open Access Archiving: the fast track to building research capacity in developing countries,' SciDevNet, November 2005. http://www.scidev.net/ms/openaccess/
  13. Clarke, R. (2005) ' The cost-profiles of alternative approaches to journal publishing,' Presentation at The Impact of Open Access on Publishers, Librarians and Academics, Fiesole Collection Retreat, No. 7, Melbourne, 29 April 2005. http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/EC/JP-CP.html
  14. Coleman, R. (2006) Sydney University Press - publication, business and digital library, presentation at VALA 2006, Melbourne, Australia. http://www.vala.org.au/vala2006/auth2006.htm
  15. David, P.A. and Uhlir, P.F. (2005) Creating the Global Information Commons for Science, CODATA. http://www.codata.org/wsis/GICSI-prospectus.html
  16. Davis, P., T. Ehling, O. Habicht, S. How, J.M. Saylor and K. Walker (2004) 'Report of the CUL Task Force on Open Access Publishing Presented to the Cornell University Library Management Team August 9, 2004'. http://dspace.library.cornell.edu/handle/1813/193
  17. Davis, P.M. and Fromerth, M.J. (2006) Does arXiv lead to higher citations and reduced publisher downloads for mathematics articles?, 14 March 2006. http://arxiv.org/abs/cs.DL/0603056
  18. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2006) Publishing Strategies in Transformation? Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. http://www.dfg.de/dfg_im_profil/zahlen_und_fakten/statistisches_berichtswesen/open_access/download/oa_report_eng.pdf
  19. Donovan, B. (1998) 'The truth about peer review,' ISCU Press Workshop, Oxford. http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/icsu/donovanppr.htm
  20. Elsevier (2004) Responses to questions posed by The Science and Technology Committee, Submission to The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into Scientific Publications, February 2004. http://www.biomedcentral.com/openaccess/inquiry/
  21. Esposito, J.J. (2004) 'The devil you don't know: the unexpected future of Open Access Publishing,' First Monday 9(8), August 2004. http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_8/esposito/index.html
  22. Frazier, K. (2001) 'The librarians' dilemma: Contemplating the costs of the Big Deal', D-Lib Magazine, 7(3), March 2001. http://www.dlib.org/dlib/march01/frazier/03frazier.html
  23. Friedlander, A. and Bessette, R.S. (2003) The Implications of Information Technology for Scientific Journal Publishing: A Literature Review, NSF 03-323, National Science Foundation, Arlington VA. http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/nsf03323/
  24. Gatten, J.N. and Sanville, T. (2004) 'An orderly retreat from the Big Deal', D-Lib Magazine, 10(10), October 2004. http://www.dlib.org/dlib/october04/gatten/10gatten.html
  25. Getz, M. (2005) Open Scholarship and Research Universities, Vanderbilt University. http://ideas.repec.org/p/van/wpaper/0517.html
  26. Hahn, K. (2006) The State of the Large Publisher Bundle: Findings from an ARL Member Survey, ARL Bimonthly Report 245, Washington DC. http://www.arl.org/newsltr/245/bundle.html
  27. Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) 'Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact,' IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin 28(4) pp39-47. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/11688/
  28. Harboe-Ree, C. (2005) Managing Australian Research Output for Increased Return on Investment: The Role of Open Access Institutional Repositories, Monash University, Melbourne. http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/6055F73D-B00F-42B2-8DC9-EFC0CBB27EAC/5550/paper.pdf
  29. Harnad, S. (1994) Scholarly journals at the crossroads: a subversive proposal for electronic publishing, Overture: The Subversive Proposal. http://www.arl.org/scomm/subversive/sub01.html
  30. Harnad, S. (2005) Maximising the Return on UK's Public Investment in Research. http://www.library.yale.edu/≈llicense/ListArchives/0509/msg00079.html
  31. Harnad, S. (2005) OA Impact Advantage = EA + (AA) + (QB) + QA + (CA) + UA. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/12085/
  32. Harnad, S. and Brody, T. (2004) 'Comparing the impact of open access (OA) vs. non-OA articles in thesame journals', D-Lib Magazine 10(6), June 2004. http://www.dlib.org/dlib/june04/harnad/06harnad.html
  33. Harnad, S., Brody, T., Vallieres, F., Carr, L., Hitchcock, S., Yves, G., Charles, O., Stamerjohanns, H. and Hilf, E. (2004) 'The Access/Impact Problem and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access,' Serials Review 30(4). http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/10209/
  34. Hatfield, M., Sonnenschein, H. and Rosenberg, L. (2000) Exceptional Returns: The Economic Value of America's Investment in Medical Research, Funding First, New York. http://www.laskerfoundation.org/reports/pdf/exceptional.pdf
  35. Hawley, J.B. (2004) 'JCI and Open Access,' Presented at Open Access Publishing, Society for Scholarly Publishing, Washington D.C. November 2004. http://www.sspnet.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3670
  36. HCSTC (House of Commons Science and Technology Committee) (2004a) Scientific Publications: Free for all? Tenth Report of Session 2003-04, The Stationery Office, London. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmsctech.htm
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  43. Key Perspectives (2004) Journal Authors Survey Report, JISC/OSI. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/JISCOAreport1.pdf
  44. King, D.W. (2004) 'Should Commercial Publishers Be Included in The Model for Open Access through Author Payment?' D-Lib Magazine 10(6), June 2004. http://www.dlib.org/dlib/june04/king/06king.html
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  82. Also from the Nature Access to the Literature Debate: http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/accessdebate

New Benchmark for Java, XML and Web Applications

Steve Blackburn gave a preview of the talk he is giving in the USA next week at OOPSLA. It is about a new set of benchmarks for assessing modern computer architectures and applications, using Java. This is important for XML applications typically used for the web. He argues that tests from the days of Fortran are not good enough. The benchmarks are available as free open source.

One problem I can see with this is that this is not just an academic exercise; benchmarks can make a particular product look good or bad. This will upset some people and some process to handle complaints and make decisions is needed. The benchmarks will need someone promoting them like a product, which costs money.
Since benchmarks drive computer science research and industry product development, which ones we use and how we evaluate them are key questions for the community. Despite complex runtime tradeoffs due to dynamic compilation and garbage collection required for Java programs, many evaluations still use methodologies developed for C, C+ +, and Fortran. SPEC, the dominant purveyor of benchmarks, compounded this problem by institutionalizing these methodologies for their Java benchmark suite. This paper recommends benchmarking selection and evaluation methodologies, and introduces the DaCapo benchmarks, a set of open source, client-side Java benchmarks.

We demonstrate that the complex interactions of (1) architecture, (2) compiler, (3) virtual machine, (4) memory management, and (5) application require more extensive evaluation than C, C++, and Fortran which stress (4) much less, and do not require (3). We use and introduce new value, time-series, and statistical metrics for static and dynamic properties such as code complexity, code size, heap composition, and pointer mutations. No benchmark suite is definitive, but these metrics show that DaCapo improves over SPEC Java in a variety of ways, including more complex code, richer object behaviors, and more demanding memory system requirements. This paper takes a step towards improving methodologies for choosing and evaluating benchmarks to foster innovation in system design and implementation for Java and other managed languages.

BIO: Steve Blackburn is a Research Fellow at ANU. His interest lies in the intersection of modern object oriented languages and modern architectures. He designed and maintains the MMTk memory management toolkit with Perry Cheng and Kathryn McKinley, and is on the steering committee and core team of the Jikes RVM research JVM. In addition to active involvement in the academic research community, he maintains strong pragmatic focus through collaborations with IBM Research and Microsoft Research.

From: The DaCapo Benchmarks: Java Benchmarking Development and Analysis, Steve Blackburn , DCS SEMINAR SERIES, ANU, 2006-10-20

Electronic Data Repositories for Research

Related to e-publishing and e-archiving are repositories for e-research. The idea is that after your read the electronic copy of their paper it would be handy to get your hand on the data they used to produce it. High speed networks are allowing researchers to share large amounts of data on-line, but will the data still be there is a few years time, after the funding for the original research as run out?

Markus Buchhorn and Paul McNamara from The Australian National University have produced a report for the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories about it. Unfortunately, the report is a bit hard to find and read on-line so below is the executive summary. The report also has a very good set of references. I have picked out the best of these and sorted them below, with links.
The Australian e-Research Sustainability Survey (AERES) project was undertaken by the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR) and the Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC) to survey the sustainability issues for data-intensive research projects, including the capabilities and demands of research groups and institutions for the storage, access, and long-term management of research data. The immediate and critical issue for the stewardship of research data in Australia is the lack of administrative responsibility for the task.

The current policy framework for research data in Australia is provided by the funding rules of the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), by Records and Archives legislation and by the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice1, currently under revision. This framework is currently lacking guidelines for clear administrative responsibility for data stewardship.

The survey found that researchers are both providers and consumers of data and have a broad range of needs for research data and its management. There are strong disincentives for researchers to engage with long-term data management. There is little recognition for good data management. Researchers do not see a national data management system with which they can work.

The current data management infrastructure is in general decentralised and uncoordinated. This data management infrastructure needs to be more closely aligned and coupled with the evolving policy framework for data stewardship. Moreover, this infrastructure would benefit from greater systematic recognition in the policies of institutions, government and funding agencies.

A mature data stewardship system, interlinking policy and infrastructure could address the needs of researchers and improve the quality and efficiency of Australian innovation and research. A successful data stewardship system needs to:
  • identify administrative responsibility;
  • address disincentives for researchers to manage data for the future;
  • strengthen the engagement of researchers, universities and funding agencies; and
  • encourage the development and sharing of skills
The technological challenges of data management are also significant and ongoing. Work funded by initiatives such as Backing Australia’s Ability has begun to address some of these challenges. The potential of these technological solutions can best be realised within an appropriate policy environment.

Government, policy-creators, funding bodies, and research institutions have an opportunity, and perhaps an obligation, to assist in the development of a coherent data stewardship system.

Executive Summary, Sustainability Issues for Australian Research Data - The Report of the Australian e-Research Sustainability Survey Project, Dr. Marcus Buchhorn and Paul McNamara (The Australian National University), Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories, October 2006 http://www.apsr.edu.au/publications/aeres_report.pdf
Some references:

Arts and Humanities Research Council 2006, Research Grants
Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (2005)
Australian Research Council
Department of Education, Science and Training (2005)
Department of Education, Science and Training (2006), Backing Australia’s Ability

Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 2006, Evaluation criteria

Houghton, John and Sheehan, Peter (2006), The economic impact of enhanced access to research findings, CSES Working Paper 23

Medical Research Council 2006
National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (2006)
National Health and Medical Research Council
National Institutes of Health 2003, NIH Data Sharing Policy and Implementation Guidance

National Science Board 2006, NSB-05-40, Long-Lived Digital Data Collections Enabling Research and Education in the 21st Century

National Science Foundation (2006)
Natural Environment Research Council 2006, NERC Data Policy Handbook

OECD 2006, Draft OECD recommendation concerning access to research data from public funding

Research Councils UK 2006
Research Libraries Group (2006)
UCISA (2005), UCISA top concerns 2004/2005

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Australian solar cell technology, 27 October 2006

Andrew Blakers
Back in March I mentioned an inspirational talk by Professor Andrew Blakers on Australian solar cell technology. He is giving another talk in Canberra next week.

Press reports, from as far as Turkey, indicate the technology will be developed offshore:
Origin Energy has confirmed commercial manufacture of ANU's solar sliver cell technology is poised to go offshore, possibly to Germany or the United States, to capitalise on government investment incentives for solar energy in those countries. ...

From Journal of Turkish Weekly, 3 Oct 2006
I don't see this as a bad thing, as long as Australia gets a reasonable payment for licensing the technology. Perhaps Professor McKibbin's "Architecture for International Cooperation on Climate Change" would make it cost effective to manufacture the cells in Australia. The cells could be used to charge our electric cars and run our houses.

INFOENG SEMINAR SERIES Colloquium series

Photovoltaics
Professor Andrew Blakers (Director, Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems & ARC Centre of Excellence for Solar Energy Systems, ANU.)

DATE: 2006-10-27
TIME: 11:00:00 - 12:00:00
LOCATION: RSISE Seminar Room, ground floor, building 115, cnr. North and Daley Roads, ANU

ABSTRACT:
The worldwide solar energy industry is doubling in size every 18 months, driven by concerns about global warming. Photovoltaic technology is likely to be a substantial component of future electricity supply. About 95% of solar cells are manufactured on crystalline silicon substrates. However, the current shortage of hyperpure silicon is constraining the industry. Possible solutions include thin crystalline silicon solar cells, non-silicon materials and solar concentrator systems. The talk will describe the technological and commercial problems and opportunities of the PV industry, and will include a survey of Australia's position.

Photovoltaic research and commercialisation in the Australian National University will be described. Recent work shows that Sliver solar cell technology is capable of cost reductions of three quarters compared with current photovoltaic technology. Standard materials and techniques are used in novel ways to create 20% efficient thin single crystalline solar cells with superior performance and sharply reduced cost. Sliver technology is a disruptive technology within a well-established conventional industry. PV and hybrid PV/thermal solar concentrator systems are also under development at ANU. This is a multidisciplinary endeavour, and brings together solar cell physics & technology with materials, mechanical, electrical and control engineering. Solar concentrators have good economic prospects in Australia and elsewhere once the cost of carbon emissions is internalised into fossil fuel costs.

BIO:
Professor Andrew Blakers is the Foundation Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems at the Australian National University and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Solar Energy Systems. His research interests are photovoltaics, solar energy systems and energy policy. Particular interests are Sliver solar cell technology (which he co-invented with Klaus Weber) and solar concentrators. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering, the Institute of Energy and the Institute of Physics, and has published approximately 200 papers and 10 patents.

Management of Electronic Records in the Australian Government

On 12 October 2006 the Australian National Audit Office released a report on "Recordkeeping including the Management of Electronic Records" at the Attorney-General's Department, the Australian Electoral Commission and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The report found problems, particularly with electronic records. I have written a brief summary and guide to the latest report and what might be done to improve electronic record keeping in agencies.

The problem seems to be that National Archives of Australia can only provide guidance to agencies; they cannot compel compliance. NAA has to assume agencies hire competent professionals to do look after record management systems. But as paper file systems have been replaced by computers, the standard or record keeping has tended to decline, with staff assuming the information is in the computer somewhere.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Electronic Voting in Australia for Military Personnel and the Disabled

Scytl e-voting terminal
In August the Federal Government announced trials by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) of electronic voting for the vision impaired and military personnel.

The AEC hasn't said much about their plans to implement these. The not-so-obvious approach would be to use the one electronic voting system for disabled users, military personnel and the general public. Building a voting system for the ADF would not seem to have much in common with one for the disabled. But in my work on web based systems for the Department of Defence I noted similarities. For the Beijing Olympics 2008 I suggested the use of one common web interface for kiosks, disabled users and ordinary web users.

A report on "Electronic Voting and Electronic Counting of Votes" (report 1) was prepared by staff of the Victorian and Australian Electoral Commissions in March 2001. This report suffers from being very out of date and having concentrated on US voting technology. The USA is behind much of the world, including the third world, when it comes to e-voting technology. A second, better report "eVolution not revolution - Electronic Voting" was issued September 2002 with more on UK and other European systems.

The leader in e-voting in Australia is the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) which has used it Linux based EVACS system, developed by the local company Software Improvements. I have used this system to vote in two local government elections. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Library issued a Research Note "Electronic Voting in the 2001 ACT Election" (no 46) about it in 2002.

The next most advanced in Australia is the Victorian Parliament, who had an inquiry on Electronic Democracy in 2005 and invited me to give evidence. The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) submission suggested a e-voting kiosk pilot. This was only intended for the disabled and those with limited English. The Victorian Electoral and Parliamentary Committees Legislation (Amendment) Act 2006 restricts electronic voting to these voters. This seems an unnecessary with any ACT voters being able to use the electronic kiosks in the Canberra system.

The VEC is planning to conduct the pilot at six "E Centres" at November's state election. This appears to be about the same size as the ACT system. Unlike the ACT system, the Victorian system is only an electronic front end to the paper based count. After the voter casts their ballot electronically, a paper ballot is printed and processed as for the manual system. In contrast the ACT put in place the opposite of this: paper ballots are entered into an electronic back end along with the electronic ballots. This greatly speeds up vote counting and reduces problems with disputed ballots. It also makes the ACT's Hare-Clark electoral system, where casual vacancies are filled by a count back of votes, much quicker.

The Victorian system was produced by Hewlett Packard in conjunction with Spanish company Scytl, who have produced several systems for European e-voting.
Scytl and Hewlett Packard will supply poll-site electronic voting terminals (DREs) in the State of Victoria (Australia) for the November 2006 parliamentary elections. The electronic voting terminals will be based on HP PCs with Scytl Pnyx.DRE ™software to provide these terminals with the highest levels of security and with accessibility for blind and visually impaired voters.

From: Scytl wins e-voting contract in Australia, Scytl, 2006
Scytl and Hewlett Packard will provide poll-site electronic voting terminals (DREs) in the State of Victoria (Australia) for the November 2006 parliamentary elections. The electronic voting terminals are based on HP PCs with Scytl Pnyx.DRE™ software to provide these terminals with the highest levels of security and with accessibility for blind and visually impaired voters. These e-voting terminals are designed to be accessible for people with physical disabilities and have an audio system that allows blind and visually impaired voters to navigate through the ballot options and to make their selection without assistance. Furthermore, these e-voting terminals warn voters of unintentional "“over-voting"” and "“under-voting"” mistakes, allowing voters to make the appropriate corrections before casting their votes. Finally, the e-voting terminals designed by Scytl support twelve different languages to allow people with poor English skills to vote with total privacy.

From: Scytl Clients, Scytl, 2006
The Scytl system did not get a good review in "A STUDY OF VOTE VERIFICATION TECHNOLOGY" by University of Maryland in January 2006.

Free Open Office word processor does encrypted PDF and LaTex

The new version of OpenOffice.org 2.0.4 has more features for producing documents in PDF and LaTex.

You can put a password on a PDF document to limit access to it. You can also restrict printing or editing of the PDF. But keep in mind that the security of these features is limited and should not be used for very sensitive documents. The PDF generation is quick, even with all the options turned on.

Also OOO has a LaTex export option. You can open a Microsoft Word document in OOO and export it as LaTex. This uses OOO's plugin XML filter function, making it relatively slow. The LaTex produced is limited. The system is supposed to also export BibTex bibliographic entries, but I didn't have any to try it on:
Feature list for the latex export filter
Note: We can not establish any further contact to the developer so I write this Changes mail on basis of the features I found while testing. The filter enables us to export (not too complex) Openoffice.org Writer files into the latex format. The filter enables us to export bibliography entries into the tex docbook format. The latex filter is able to export the following content - Tables - Indexes - Headers - Lists (just numbered list bullet list will be transformed into numbered lists) - Sub- and superscript - Header - Footer - Foot-/Endnotes - Italic and bold text (underlines will not be exported) - By tex supported Fonts (Font sizes will be set to a default size) - Content of sections and frames (not the frames and sections themselves) - Math-Ole objects (formulas) Note: Because pictures are not exported, there will be a text information („missing link to picture“) at the respective position.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Using eBay for PM's Center at Parliament House, NLA, 31 October 2006

Recommended free talk at NLA. No need to book, just turn up (the last talk on Wikipedia at NLA was good):

---
Digital Culture Series at the National Library of Australia

Speaker: Michael Richards, Senior Historian, Old Parliament House
Topic: New ways of collecting at Old Parliament House
Time: 12.30 to 13.30 on Tuesday, 31 October 2006
Place: Library Theatre, National Library of Australia

Michael Richards talks about Old Parliament House’s collecting interests and how eBay is relevant to the institution in the current environment, particularly with the development of the Prime Minister’s Centre.

Michael Richards is a historian, librarian and keen student of theology (in his spare time). He curated many exhibitions during a twelve year stint at the National Library, beginning in 1988 with ‘People, Print & Paper’, the Library’s touring bicentennial exhibition. Michael has also worked in Manuscripts and as a cataloguer at the Library.

Since 1998 Michael has worked at Old Parliament House (OPH) in a variety of roles, and is currently Senior Historian, with responsibility for collection development. He also manages a small research centre and the oral history program at OPH.

Michael studied at the University of Queensland and James Cook University, where he wrote an MA thesis on the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Michael will be introduced by Linda Groom, Curator of Pictures, National Library of Australia
This is a free public event
---

Monday, October 16, 2006

Throwing Cameras

Short Range Throwing Camera
What to know what is going on around the corner? Then you can use a "throwing camera". This is a weighted ball containing a video camera, a motor and a radio transmitter. You throw the ball into a room and it rights itself so the camera points horizontally. The motor then rotates the camera so that it takes a panorama of the room and transmits the picture back to you.

These units seem to be little more than a low cost security camera, motor and an analog radio transmitter. Something better could be built from a web camera and WiFi digital transmitter, but perhaps not at a throwaway price.

These are made for the military and for law enforcement by MACROSWISS (Short Range Throwing Camera) and the Remington (i Eye Ball R1):
The Short Range Throwing Camera (SRTC) is a hand-thrown remote observation system and has been designed to continuously broadcast a panoramic view of the surrounding area to a remote receiver.

This product is able to sustain the impact when thrown or launched from a significant distance. ...

The unit is roughly the shape of a ball and is split into two halves. When deployed the top half rotates with respect to the base.

The bottom of the unit is flat. The weight of the unit has been specifically distributed so that it will automatically right itself so that the flat base is on the ground, regardless of the starting position.

The upper part of the unit contains a camera and a motor. When turned on, the motor causes the upper part of the SRTC to rotate, giving the camera a panoramic view of the surrounding area. A micro-transmitter then broadcasts the video signal up to 300m.

TECHNICAL DATA
- Size: Sphere diameter 100 mm
- Weight (with battery): 430 g
- Power supply: 1 x 9V standard battery, type HR22 non-rechargeable
- Power consumption: 110 mA (indicative: depends on the motor load)
- Battery life: 2-5 hours (indicative: depends on the kind of battery in
use and on the motor load)
- Rotation speed: Approximately 12 rpm

CMOS PINHOLE CAMERA
- Black & White (Color on demand)
- Video system: PAL (NTSC on demand)
- Effective Pixels: 628X582 (PAL) / 510X492 (NTSC)
- Electronic shutter: 1/60 - 1/15000
- Minimum Illumination: 0,3 Lux @ F1.2
- S/N ratio: >48 dB
- Pinhole lens: 5,6mm / F2.0 (P-type)
- Lens angle: 5,6mm / 60 deg
- Working temperature: -10 °C, +45 °C
- 2,4 GHz VIDEO TRANSMITTER
- Channel: One channel in the 2.4 GHz frequency band
- RF output power: EC R&TTE compliant
- Transmission range: 300 m (line of sight)
- Antenna: Omni-directional antenna
From: Short Range Throwing Camera (SRTC), MACROSWISS S.A.

Remington’s Eye Ball R1 is a compact wireless 360° mobile display system, designed to be used in tactical operations where law enforcement personnel need to see the situation before entering a building, floor or room. The Eye Ball R1 is rugged allowing officers to roll, toss, lower or throw it as applications demand:

• Entry Teams
• Search & Rescue
• Surveillance Operations
• Ceiling & Attic Investigation
• Corner, Stairwell & Hallway Clearing

The Eye Ball R1 transmits streaming video and audio to a Personal Display Unit (PDU). ...
From: Remington’s Eye Ball R1, Remington Arms Company

e-Publishing For Knowledge and Profit

This week and next I am talking about IT and Publishing:

Quality e-Publishing Support for the ICT Profession

This is for the ACS Software Quality Assurance Sig at the Australian National University this Wednesday. I will be talking about the digital library for free open source publishing by the ACS. This uses existing open source software for the mechanics of the publishing. What breaks new ground is trying to do scholarly publishing with web advertisements to cover the cost.

Electronic publishing for Editors

Wednesday next week I am talking to the Canberra Society of Editors at the National Library of Australia on free and low cost computer tools and services to research, produce, publish, distribute and sell books on-line. The editors produce government publications as well as private fiction and non-fiction works. The NLA is an apt place to talk about this as they are one of the world leaders in e-publishing. One of my claims is that you can walk into the NLA with nothing and walk out having published a book. NLA provide everything you need, from reference materials to on-line computer access.

ps: One new development this week is that Open Office Org have released version 2.0.4 of their free word processor with limited LaTex support and better PDF. OO is commonly used as part of publishing systems as it is free and allows conversion of Microsoft Word documents to an XML format which can be typeset.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Energy and Water Efficient Houses in Canberra

Eco-living Exhibition
Three energy and water efficient homes are on display in Canberra from February 2006 to May 2007 in the "Eco-living Exhibition". The houses are at North Watson, in Canberra's inner north, near the main road to Sydney. The general public can visit during opening hours and school groups can book a tour. As well as be showcases for the particular products and designers, the display homes are GreenSmart certified, and intended to educate the public about an integrated approach to sustainable design for energy and water conservation. Designers of the houses, gardens and water systems will be on hand to answer questions at set times.

In April I looked at one of the houses, at 13 Roma Mitchell Crescent, and talked to the designer. In October I went back and talked to one of the suppliers of the energy and water saving equipment and at some of the other houses.

The Eco-living display is impressive, but limited to detached houses on suburban blocks. What is needed is an example of environmentally sustainable cluster housing. Most Australian homes now have only one, two or three people in them. It is very expensive to install a heat pump in a one bedroom apartment and difficult to find the room for it. An alternative is to share one heater between several apartments, but then some way to share the cost is needed.

National and International Cooperation on Climate Change

Professor Warwick McKibbin presented "An Architecture for International Cooperation on Climate Change" at the ANU-Toyota Public Lecture Series, on Thursday:
... Warwick McKibbin will argue that major countries must respond to the issue of climate change, taking into account the enormous uncertainties that are involved. He will discuss the key features of the climate change policy problem and will outline a policy framework that would allow an effective but flexible response to what may be the major issue of our time.
Professor McKibbin is an economist at ANU, a member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia and a member of the Prime MinisterÂ’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. He argues the Australian Government can cooperate with other nations on climate change while maintaining its own sovereignty. He argues that a more flexible trading system is possible. The details are in his ANU paper:
To succeed in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, a climate policy must establish credible long-term incentives for investments in new energy-sector capital and in research and development. We argue that credibility implies that international agreements should focus on enhancing coordination and collaboration between countries, rather than on coercion. At the national level, credibility requires political and economic incentives that can be provided by long-term tradable emissions permits, but it needs more flexibility than can be provided by a conventional permit system. We argue that the best mechanism for providing credible long-term incentives is a hybrid system of long and short term emissions permits. Key aspects of the system would be coordinated across countries but the permits would be issued and traded solely within national borders.

From: A Credible Foundation For Long Term International Cooperation On Climate Change,The Lowy Institute for International Policy and The Brookings Institution), Peter J. Wilcoxen (Syracuse University), CAMA Working Paper Series, 15/2006, June, ANU, 2006 Warwick J. McKibbin, (The Australian National University,
The policy proposal sounds very politically palatable, being flexible enough to accommodate different national views. But perhaps so flexible there is a risk it may not achieve its aims.

Coincidentally the talk series is sponsored by Toyota, who make low emission hybrid vehicles.

Professor McKibbin appears to be a person of many talents, having his own company, McKibbin Software Group Pty Ltd, providing numerical algorithms for research and policy analysis. He has also published the book Climate Change Policy After Kyoto: Blueprint for a Realistic Approach with Peter J. Wilcoxen. Curiously the book has only two references to China and one to India:
  1. on Page 14: "... 537 1,776 29 16 Australia 77 94 2 22 China 668 669 11 0 India 176 243 4 38 Japan 286 307 5 7 Other 330 463 8 40 World ..."
  2. from Back Matter: "... Tingsong. 2001. "Economic Instruments of Pollution Control in an Imperfect World: Theory and Implications for Carbon Dioxide Emissions Control in China,"