Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cello, piano and violin concert in Sydney

Alistair SungSydney cellist Alistair Sung will be performing a Farewell Concert at the Hunter Baillie Church, Cnr Collins and Johnston Streets, Annandal on Sunday, July 18 at 3pm. This will also feature Jeremy Chan, piano, Liisa Pallandi, violin and special guest Cellist, Nathan Waks with works by Bach, Beethoven and Barriere.

Computers to help teach music

Greetings from the Australian National University, where Roger B. Dannenberg (Carnegie-Mellon University) is talking on "Music Understanding: Research and Applications". Roger is in Australia for the Australasian Computer Music Conference 2010 and dropped into the ANU School of Computer Science afterwards. He argues that computers can help with the understanding of music, allowing the performer to interact with the music in new and interesting ways. Computers can carry out an analysis of music, matching sequences, "parsing" the music and assisting with more expressive performances.

Roger played a early demonstration of a computer listening to a live performance of a trumpet and accompanying the performer. An early personal computer used a DSP chip to detect what was being played and matched that to the musical score, adjusting the accompaniment to suit. He pointed out this was much easier than accompanying the human voice.

What I found most interesting was that Roger has commercalised the technology, with a company marketing the product to bands and schools. It would be interesting to see how this could be integrated with online learning: the student could practice using the device and their remote human teacher could provide supervision and advice. The software might be augmented to give the student feedback on how well they did and this information could be shared online with the teacher.

In other research, Roger is modifying the Audacity audio editor so it will automatically align a MIDI audio file to a live musical performance. This would then be used for an intelligent audio editor. This would then allow the recorded performance to be adjusted to match the musical score (as represented by the MIDI file). This would be useful, for example to align several separate performances so they could be combined for a multi track composition. This could be very commercially valuable for popular music.

An obvious application for this technology is in video games, where music is needed to suit the action. Another use for the technology would be the Spicks and Specks (ABC TV) and similar music game shows. The software could be used for the manipulations of music on such shows. As an example, in one segment a contestant sings a song a-cappella, but using the words from an unrelated book. If the contestant had headphones playing an automatic accompaniment, that would assist, particularly for the less musically talented contestants.

Music Understanding: Research and Applications
Roger B. Dannenberg (Carnegie-Mellon University)
COMPUTER SCIENCE COLLOQUIUM SERIES

DATE: 2010-06-30
TIME: 11:00:00 - 12:15:00
LOCATION: CSIT Seminar Room, N101
CONTACT: Malcolm.Newey@anu.edu.au

ABSTRACT:
Music understanding is the automatic recognition of pattern and structure in music. Music understanding problems include (1) matching and searching symbolic and audio music sequences, (2) parsing music to discover musical objects such as sections, notes, and beats, and (3) the interpretation and generation of expressive music performance. I will discuss some results from the past, including computers that accompany live performers, as well as some current research.


BIO:
Roger B. Dannenberg is an Associate Research Professor in the Schools of Computer Science, Music and Art at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is also a fellow of the Studio for Creative Inquiry.

Dannenberg is well known for his computer music research, especially in programming language design and real-time interactive systems. In the language area, his chief contribution is the use of functional programming concepts to describe real-time behavior, an approach that forms the foundation for Nyquist, a widely used sound synthesis language. His pioneering work in computer accompaniment led to three patents and the SmartMusic system now used by over one hundred thousand music students. He also played a central role in the development of the Piano Tutor, an intelligent, interactive, automated multimedia tutor that enables a student to obtain first-year piano proficiency in less than 20 hours. Other innovations include the application of machine learning to music style classification and the automation of music structure analysis and the (co)design of the popular audio editor Audacity.

As a composer, Dannenberg's works have been performed by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and at many festivals. As a trumpet player, he has collaborated with musicians including Anthony Braxton, Eric Kloss, and Roger Humphries, and performed in concert halls ranging from the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem to the Espace de Projection at IRCAM. Dannenberg is active in performing jazz, classical, and new works.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Griffins creating a modern architecture for India

The Canberra Chapter of the Walter Burley Griffin Society has invited members and friends to a special presentation by Associate Professor Christopher Vernon, in Canberra:

'Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin: creating a modern architecture for India 1935-1937'

Wednesday 7 July 2010, 5.30 for 6 pm
Menzies Room, National Archives of Australia
Queen Victoria Terrace, BARTON

Light refreshments will be served.

To RSVP, please reply to Luke Wensing luke.wensing@optusnet.com.au

International Greening Education Event 2010 Germany

International Greening Education Event 2010 will be held October 27th to 29th, 2010 in Karlsruhe, Germany by the EU sponsored Etech Center for Applied Environmental Technologies.
The event aims to:
  • Examine climate change and discuss how it is reshaping education sector;
  • Analyze the role of education institutions in making the world cleaner, greener and more sustainable;
  • Share best practices, case studies, models, experiences, lessons learned and innovative methods to green education
  • Discuss about making sustainability an integral component of school and university life
  • Highlight skills and competencies that employers of the future will be increasingly seeking?
  • Examine latest trends and forecasts in reference to
  • green jobs market
  • Exchange information about knowledge, skills and values
  • required in a sustainable world
  • Deliberate on the business case for education institutions to go green
  • Present technologies that help create sustainable education facilities
  • Provide networking opportunities to the delegates that leads to "green" cooperation between institutions in Europe and globally.

Seminar on active learning in Canberra

Vicky Minderhout of Seattle University will give a free seminar on "Active learning in large lectures" at the ANU in Canberra, 12 July 2010. However, I remain skeptical of this approach. It appears to be a suboptimal teaching technique designed to make use of obsolete infrastructure. It would make more sense to start planning now to demolish large lecture theatres which are no longer needed and replace them with something more useful. ANU has previously had seminars on the MIT iCampus and others advocating large class interactive learning. However, even MIT's specially designed rooms do not look that suitable for modern education techniques. With the availability of online learning facilities there is very little reason to have large scale teaching rooms.
Seminar
'I already teach well, why should I change?: Active learning in large lectures.

The ALIUS project — Active learning in University Science — funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, is sponsoring the visit of noted American innovator in chemical education and teaching practice, Vicky Minderhout of Seattle University. Ms Minderhout is a respected researcher in biochemical education. She is a co-author of materials developed for guided inquiry and problem solving in a year-long biochemistry sequence for majors, and a member of the departmental team implementing similar activities in general chemistry. She has published papers on classroom activities and implementing active learning in college classrooms, including creating a facilitation plan for active learning.

Ms Minderhout will present a workshop for all university educators introducing Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) as an alternative instructional approach for university science and non-science instruction. The POGIL Project, funded for over seven year for more than US$3 million, is a professional development effort providing various types of support for university staff interested in implementing a more student-centered approach in their classrooms.
Speaker/Host: Vicki Minderhout, from Seattle University
Venue: BaMBi Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Peter Baume Building [42a]
Date: Monday, 12 July 2010
Time: 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Website: http://www.pogil.org
Enquiries: Susan Howitt on 6125 4356, Anna Wilson on 6125 2806

Green IT Requirements for Australian Government Data Centre Facilities

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has released a "Data Centre Facilities Statement of Requirements – Draft " (25 June 2010), which includes requirements for sustainable (Green) IT. The only firm requirement included is certification to the Environmental Management Systems (EMS) ISO14001 standard, or equivalent. There are no mandatory requirements for energy saving, materials recycling or reporting in the draft. This is despite requirements placed on government agencies to do so. As an example, modern data centres report the energy used by client equipment, so this can be included in mandatory government energy and greenhouse gas reporting. The draft AGIMO document includes no requirement for such reporting, so that Government CIOs would be unable to comply with reporting requirements.

A "Whole-of-Government ICT Sustainability Plan" was to be developed by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) in conjunction with the Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance) by December 2009. However, the plan has not yet been released. In the interim, suitable standards and applicable laws are detailed in my book "Green Technology Strategies: Using computers and telecommunications to reduce carbon emissions". Several students undertaking my courses in Green IT have written green ICT reports for their agencies as course assignments. The courses are available through the Australian Computer Society, the Australian national University and Open Universities Australia. Currently I have students studying Green ICT, including several preparing reports for major government agencies The next course starts at ANU in a few weeks time and enrolments are now open. The course will be updated when the Whole-of-Government ICT Sustainability Plan is available. Also sustainable IT is one of the topics for the World Computer Congress 2010, to be held in Brisbane in September. Several of the architects of Australian green IT plans and training will be speaking there (I will be talking about green IT training for professionals).

A Request for Tender (RFT) is planned to be issued for a panel of suppliers for the bulk of data centre facilities to the Australian Government agencies. However, as the ICT sustainability plan is now six months late, it is not clear when the RFT may be issued.

There are several interesting aspects to the draft document: apart from the large scale of the services required, the way the draft was released is of interest.

The draft requirements was announced online by Kayelle Wiltshire, Assistant Secretary of the Central Facilities Branch,AGIMO, in what is essentially a first person blog, without the usual third person, hard to understand official bureaucratic language. Comments are invited to the blog.

AGIMO are acknowledging and referencing a previous Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) "Whole-of-Government Data Centre Strategy: Industry Best Practice Principles" (AIIA, 29 May 2010). It is unusual for an agency to acknowledge the input of an industry body so directly.

What also makes the AGIMO data centre initiative different is the use of HTML. Usually government reports are provided in large, hard to download, hard to read PDF documents. In the case AGIMO have provided web page versions of not only its own documents, but the AIIA report as well (the documents are also offered in PDF and RTF formats. One improvement AGIMO could make would be to list the HTML version first, rather than last. May people are likely to click on the first link they see and end up with a PDF file download they did not really want.

Green IT for Australian Government Data Centres

The AIIA report cited by AGIO includes a section on "Green IT':

Government should be clear on its commitment to ‘Green’ technologies and encourage innovation and commitment from industry in this area. Climate factors of a location that enable efficiency should be included in the consideration.

The AIIA report cites:
  1. "Data Centre Certification Ramps Up", Bianca Wirth, GreenITStrategy.com, 6 April 2010
  2. Data Centre Design Guide, Presentation by Jon Haas and Tony Pierce, The Green Grid, 4 February 2009

The draft statement of requirements includes a section on "Sustainability":

8.28 The Australian Government encourages “Green IT” and other environmental initiatives where possible, such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, use of fossil fuel energy, use of water and e-waste.

8.29 The Tenderer should provide details of any Green Power (from renewable sources) used in data centre facilities.

8.30 The Tenderer should be certified to Environmental Management Systems (EMS) ISO14001 or to an equivalent environmental management standard, such as the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). If the Tenderer is not certified, the Tenderer should commit to be certified within 12 months of joining the panel of data centre Providers.

8.31 The Tenderer should provide the current greenhouse gas emission baseline for data centre facilities and plans, if any, for upgrades to infrastructure to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint.

8.32 It is desirable that the data centre operation minimises the use of water and power. The Tenderer should detail how this can be achieved.

Green issues are also mentioned in the section on Un-interruptable Power Supplies (UPS):

8.16 The Tenderer should provide evidence of green initiatives in UPS design that demonstrates the use of non-chemical based UPS systems and the reduction in the use of harmful chemicals in the UPS.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Green Certified Websites

Enernetics, Inc. is offering "CO2Stats" an "easy-to-use service that makes your website carbon neutral and energy-efficient, and that provides certification that you have taken steps to make your site environmentally friendly". The logic behind this is that websites are provided by web servers which run on electricity. If the electricity is generated by burning fossil fuel (as for example in Australia where most electricity is from burning coal), the the web server, and therefore indirectly the web site, is is causing carbon emissions. CO2Stats monitor web pages served and from that claim estimate the carbon emissions for the web site.

As I teach a course in Green IT, including estimating carbon emissions from computers, I was curious how CO2Stats make their calculations. So I signed up my web site for the service, to see how it works. After entering my web site and email address I was sent a link to a "Green Friendly Site" certification at Trustmarker. That site then issued me with some code to put on my web site to allow tracking (I put it just on the web pages to do with my Green IT course). As of today 1,256 other sites has so far signed up for the mark. It should be noted that the "Green Friendly Site" does not require any more than self certification and does not indicate any particular level of energy saving or any independent certification.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Amazon Kindle 3G e-Book Reader

Amazon Kindle e-Book Readers are now offered with worldwide 3G wireless coverage in both size units (6 Inch and 9.7 inch screen models). The price of the smaller model has been reduced to US$189 (larger unit US$489).

The units have a
HSDPA modem (3G) with a fallback to EDGE/GPRS (GPS). In the USA they use the AT&T network. Outside of the USA a range of providers are used.

With the previous International version of the Kindle, Australian users where charged $2 extra per book, to cover the wireless access cost. It is not clear if this is still the case.

Also Australian users were blocked from using the Kindle's limited web browser (available in the USA). It is not clear if this is still the case with the new model.

The lack of web access must have being driving readers of the Kindle version of my book "Green Technology Strategies" nuts. I peppered the text with hypertext links, on the assumption the average e-book reader would have Internet access.

In addition, the file size of an e-book is not that large, so having 3G access will not make a significant difference to the process of buying a book. The difficulty in getting content into the Kinde from anywhere else than from the Amazon store (compared to other e-book readers) seems a bigger issue. The limited support for multimedia, particularity video, makes 3G less of an issue (a problem common to most e-book readers).

Compared to a paper book, a Kindle is a magical device. But compared to the Apple iPad (or the average $400 netbook), the Kindle reader is a clunky information appliance, with a slow refreshing dull monochrome screen and tiny clicky keys.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New PM Gift to Satirists

The New Theatre (Sydney) presented a satirical show "Howard's End" on Election Night, Saturday 24 November 2007. This featured a brilliant impersonation of Julia Gillard from Alice Livingstone. With the promotion of Ms. Gillard to Prime Minister, they will now presumably will have regular work, at least until the next election. ;-)

Better Place Electric Cars System not suitable for Canberra

Sali Torgoman from Better Place talked about their electric car charging technology in "Why do Electric Vehicles make so much sense?" at Engineers Australia in Canberra, this evening. Unfortunately, Sali appeared to be using a set of standard marketing slides from Better Place, which were not suitable for a technical engineering audience. Despite this Sali dealt well with the technical issues raised.

Some points I found of interest were that Better Place plan to give used batteries which no longer hold sufficient charge for cars a "second life" as stationary power stores on the grid. Sali described a typical new battery pack as costing $12,000, providing 20 kWHr, weighing 200 kg and providing a 160 km range in a vehicle.

However, even with Better Place's technology, electric vehicles do not appear to make environmental or financial sense for Australia. Electric vehicles will remain much more expensive than internal combustion engine vehicles for the foreseeable future. Electric vehicles are only environmentally beneficial where clean electricity is available.

Australia has minimal supplies of renewable electricity and abundant supplies of LPG and natural gas. In terns of energy planning, it would make more sense to invest in renewable energy to replace coal on the grid. Rather than electric cars, gas powered vehicles can be used.

Better Place's automatic batter swap technology is an ingenious idea, but requires a widespread infrastructure to be usable. Even with large numbers of swap stations, long distance driving on Australia's very extensive road network would not be convenient.

Sali gave the figure of 20 km or less as the typical distance driven each day by an urban commuter. With a 20 kWHr battery providing 160 km range, the typical commuter would not have to use a swap station and could use a home charger. However, that commuter could instead have a hybrid rechargeable car with a 2.5 kWHr could make the same journey on battery power and also make longer using its internal combustion engine. A useful alternative to petrol powered hybrid vehicles are natural gas powered ones, now being mass produced in Korea, which could use the existing natural gas grid in Australia, requiring little infrastructure investment.

Better Place plans to provide a pilot program in Canberra. provided this is done as a purely private venture, then the experiment is worthwhile. However, this technology does not appear to suit Australian conditions and the ACT and Federal governments should not provide funding for this program.
A better alternative for government attention would be alternative fuel vehicles, car-share schemes and advanced public transport systems using IT.

Australian E-business up 52%

According to "Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business", released today by the ABS, Australian businesses income from orders placed via the Internet increased by 52% to $123B over the last financial year. Just over a quarter of businesses took orders via the Internet. Just under half (42%) of businesses had a web site, with most large businesses (95%) having one. Micro businesses are lagging with less than a third (31%) having a web site.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Moodle 2.0 New Features

The ANU is testing the new version of the Moodle Learning Management System, Moodle 2.0. Some of the new features are New Features are Community hubs, Repository support, Portfolio support, Completion, Conditional activities, Cohorts, Web services support, and IMS Common Cartridge.

The community hubs provide a way for course designers to share their courses. Repository support allows content from external repositories to be accessed, such as Flickr, Google Docs, Mahara, Picasa, Remote Moodle sites and Wikimedia. Portfolio support allows Moodle data, such as a student's assignments, to be exported to portfolio management systems such as Mahara. Conditional activities could allow the course content to be made visible after the student completes activities or after a particualr date (such as "the work for this week..."). Web services support provides a programming interface via SOAP, XML-RPC and the like, for functions such as the student records system extracting results automatically from Moodle. The IMS Common Cartridge format can be sued to import course content to Moodle.

There are also some minor New blocks and upgrades to existing features. One I am looking forward to is cleaner XHTML output. But perhaps it is time to look at HTML 5 to support mobile devices and tablets. There are significant improvements to the Quiz module and SCORM Module.

Electric Vehicles in Canberra

Sali Torgoman from Better Place will talk about their electric car charging technology in "Why do Electric Vehicles make so much sense?" at Engineers Australia in Canberra, 24 June 2010. I do not share Sali's view, having test driven the Mitsubishi i MiEV electric car and looked at the cost, I decided a petrol Suzuki Alto was cheaper and better for the environment.

Short Description
Venue 11 National Crct, Barton, ACT
Date Thursday, 24 June - 5.30 for 6pm
Event Contact Colleen Mays
Contact Email cmays@engineersaustralia.org.au
Hosted By SSEE

Sali Torgoman's B E. ELEC(Hons), MIL&B.
as well as development of engineering requirements for the Australian market. Prior to joining Better Place, Sali was a Power Engineer in distribution construction at Energy Australia. She was the former v/chair for Australian Institute of Energy Sydney YEP division as well as the former treasurer of the South Sydney Youth Services until 2009. She is founder and director of Sydney French Theatre and is reading for a Juris Doctors in Laws focusing on energy policy.

Abstract: This presentation focuses on the need to deliver a network and services that will make an electric car affordable to buy, easy to use, and amazing to own. It will also share the ripple effect of building a new industry in our economy and the role Electric Vehicles play in shaping the future of our nation using the example of its capital city: Canberra.
Short Description Why do Electric Vehicles make so much sense? How can a start-up accelerate the global transition to sustainable transportation.
Venue Engineers Australia 11 National Crct, Barton, ACT
Date Thursday, 24 June - 5.30 for 6pm
Event Contact Colleen Mays
Contact Email cmays@engineersaustralia.org.au
Hosted By SSEE

Sali Torgoman's B E. ELEC(Hons), MIL&B.

Sali Torgoman's responsibilities at Better Place include the deployment of Charge Spot infrastructure, as well as development of engineering requirements for the Australian market. Prior to joining Better Place, Sali was a Power Engineer in distribution construction at Energy Australia. She was the former v/chair for Australian Institute of Energy Sydney YEP division as well as the former treasurer of the South Sydney Youth Services until 2009. She is founder and director of Sydney French Theatre and is reading for a Juris Doctors in Laws focusing on energy policy.

Abstract: This presentation focuses on the need to deliver a network and services that will make an electric car affordable to buy, easy to use, and amazing to own. It will also share the ripple effect of building a new industry in our economy and the role Electric Vehicles play in shaping the future of our nation using the example of its capital city: Canberra.

University building smart apartments

3D rendering of a modular apartment atLaurus Wing, Ursula Hall, ANU by Quicksmart HomesThe Australian National University has announced it will build 1023 new units for students over the next two years, with funding from the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS). What the announcement did not mention was that these will be digitally equipped smart apartments and some will use modular construction.

The number of apartments to be built is also interesting: 1023, being one less than 1024, as significant number in computing. The photo of an apartment used in some of the media reports is of one of the modular apartments in Laurus Wing of Ursula Hall. These are built in shipping container sized modules and each have a flat screen display linked to the university network.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tackling the Problem of Cyber Crime

The Australian Parliament has released "Hackers, Fraudsters and Botnets: Tackling the Problem of Cyber Crime". The report does not take into account Internet and security functions already in place in government. The report recommends assigning existing functions to agencies which do not have experience while ignoring those with expertise and a role assigned by existing legislation.

The major recommendation of the report is to establish an "Office of Online Security" in the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet. It is not clear how this role would differ from the Internet security related bodies already formed, or why it should be in the Prime Minister's department, rather than one of the agencies which has expertise in the Internet security.

The report also recommends the Australian Communications and Media Authority detect malware compromised computers. It is not clear why ACMA is recommended for this role, over agencies which have expertise in Internet security. The report further recommends ACMA support emergency response functions of government, although this function is already assigned to the Department of Defence in the Telecommunications Act.

The 294 page report is available in PDF, as one 4204Kb file and as separate chapters. A HTML version is "coming soon".
List of recommendations

3 Research and Data Collection

Recommendation 1

That the Australian Government nominate an appropriate agency(s) to:

  • conduct a stock take of current sources of data and research on cyber crime;
  • develop clear national definitions and procedures for the collection of data on cyber crime; and
  • negotiate clear agreements between government agencies and industry on the sharing and protection of information for research purposes.

Recommendation 2

That the Australian Government nominate an appropriate agency(s) to collect and analyse data, and to publish an annual or bi-annual report on cyber crime in Australia.

5 Domestic and International Coordination

Recommendation 3

That the Australian Government establish an Office of Online Security headed by a Cyber Security Coordinator with expertise in cyber crime and e-security located in the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet, with responsibility for whole of Government coordination. The Office is to take a national perspective and work with State and Territory governments, as well as federal regulators, departments, industry and consumers.That the Australian Government establish a National Cyber Crime Advisory Committee with representation from both the public and private sector to provide expert advice to Government.

Recommendation 4

That the Australian Government, in consultation with the State and Territory governments and key IT, banking and other industry and consumer stakeholders, develop a national online cyber crime reporting facility geared toward consumers and small and medium sized businesses. This model should include the following features:

  • a single portal for standardised online receipt of cyber crime
  • reports across a wide range of cyber crime types (e.g. malware,
  • spam, phishing, scams, identity theft and fraud);
  • a 24/7 reporting and helpline;
  • no financial minimum to be applied to cyber crime reports;
  • systematic data collection that allows data to be aggregated;
  • referral to appropriate authorities and cooperation on the disruption of cyber crime and targeted prosecutions;
  • free access to scanning software to detect malware;
  • public information about cyber crime types and preventative
  • measures to increase online personal security;
  • e-security alerts tailored to the needs of ordinary consumers and
  • small and medium sized businesses; and
  • analysis of cyber crime methodologies and trends or cooperation with another body to perform that analysis.

Recommendation 5

That the Federal, State and Territory police forces establish an E Crime Managers Group to facilitate the sharing of information and cross jurisdiction cooperation.

Recommendation 6

That the Australian Government, in consultation with the State and Territory governments, industry and consumer organisations, develop a national law enforcement training facility for the investigation of cyber crime.

Recommendation 7

That the Australian Government consult with major IT security vendors, academia and key industry stakeholders to develop:

  • options for establishing a coordinated public-private capacity to provide real time operational information on a wider range of
  • cyber crime types that impact on Australian consumers;
  • an ‘intelligence hub’ that facilitates information sharing within and across industry sectors and provides:
  • longer term analysis on cyber crime methodologies across a range of cyber crime types;
  • education on the preservation of digital evidence; and
  • support to law enforcement agencies for targeted prosecutions in Australia and overseas.

6 Criminal and Law Enforcement Framework

Recommendation 8

That the Federal, State and Territory Attorneys-General review the existing computer and identity fraud provisions and, if necessary, introduce or amend provisions to ensure consistency across all Australian jurisdictions.

Recommendation 9

That the Federal Attorney-General, in consultation with State and Territory counterparts, give priority to the review of Australian law and practice and move expeditiously to accede to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

Recommendation 10

That Australia’s cyber crime policy strategically target the underground economy in malicious IT tools and personal financial information; the disruption of botnets and the identification and prosecution of botherders.

Recommendation 11

That the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments establish a national working group on cyber crime to maintain an ongoing, dedicated mechanism for the review and development of legislative responses to cyber crime. That the working group take a whole of cyberspace perspective and consider relevant IT industry, consumer protection and privacy issues as well as the criminal law.

7 Protecting the Integrity of the Internet

Recommendation 12

That the Australian Communications and Media Authority further increase its access to network data for the purpose of detecting malware compromised computers. This should include active consideration of how to increase access to network data held by global IT security companies and, in consultation with relevant departments, whether legal protections to address commercial, regulatory and privacy concerns are desirable.

Recommendation 13

That the Australian Communications and Media Authority consider how best the Australian Internet Security Initiative network data might be used to support the threat assessment and emergency response functions of government.

Recommendation 14

That the Australian Communications and Media Authority take the lead role and work with the Internet Industry Association to immediately elaborate a detailed e-security code of practice to be registered under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth). That the code of practice include:

  • an obligation that the Internet Service Provider provides basic security advice when an account is set up to assist the end user to
  • protect themselves from hacking and malware infections;
  • a mandatory obligation to inform end users when their IP address has been identified as linked to an infected machine(s);
  • a clear policy on graduated access restrictions and, if necessary, disconnection until the infected machine is remediated;
  • the provision of basic advice and referral for technical assistance for remediation; and a requirement that acceptable use policies include contractual obligations that require a subscriber to:
    • install anti-virus software and firewalls before the Internet connection is activated;
    • endeavour to keep e-security software protections up to date; and
    • take reasonable steps to remediate their computer(s) when notified of suspected malware compromise.

Recommendation 15

That the Australian Government, in consultation with the Internet industry, review the scope and adequacy of s.313 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) to promote Internet Service Provider action to combat the problem of malware infected machines operating across the Internet.

Recommendation 16

That a more integrated model for the detection and removal of malware, built on the Australian Internet Security Initiative, be implemented. The new scheme should involve the Australian Communications and Media Authority, Internet Service Providers, IT security specialists, and end users in a more tightly coordinated scheme to detect and clean malware infected computers.

Recommendation 17

That the Australian Communications and Media Authority be funded to develop a system that can obtain data on compromised web pages from various sources (including developing an internal capability). This data be collated and provided as daily aggregated reports to Internet Service Providers identifying infected web pages residing on their networks. That in addition to Internet Service Providers, domain owners and hosting companies also be included in the new scheme.Recommendation 18

That the system for reporting and detecting compromised web pages proposed in recommendation 17 be supported by a registered industry code that outlines industry procedures for dealing with infected websites. That the Australian Communications and Media Authority be empowered to enforce the provisions of the registered code, including, for example, where there is a need to direct a service provider to remove malicious content. That Internet Service Providers and hosting companies who act on reports of infected websites be indemnified against claims for losses. Recommendation 19 That the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Internet Industry Association review the Spam Code of Practice to assess the effectiveness of current industry standards for the reporting of spam. That serious consideration be given to obliging Internet Service Providers to include the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s SpamMatters program as part of their email service to subscribers.

Recommendation 20

That the Australian domain name registration industry be subject to a code of conduct that is consistent with the Anti-Phishing Working Group Best Practices Recommendations for Registrars. The code of conduct should:

  • enumerate the type of information that should be collected during the domain name registration process by the registrar, that would
  • help to preserve evidence and assist law enforcement authorities;
  • identify processes that should be put in place to identify fraudulent activity before the domain name registration takes effect; and
  • provide clear procedures for responding to requests for rapid take down of fraudulent sites and sites that host malware.

Recommendation 21

That the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy make a reference to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications to inquire into the regulation, standards and practices of the domain name registration industry in Australia.

8 Consumer Protection

Recommendation 22

That the Australian Government ensure that:

  • remedies available under the new Australian Consumer Law can be effectively asserted against perpetrators outside Australia; and
  • xxix the Foreign Judgments Act 1991 (Cth) be amended to allow for the reciprocal registration and enforcement of non-money judgments made under the Australian Consumer Law.

    Recommendation 23

    That the Treasurer amend the Australian Consumer Law to include specific protections against the unauthorised installation of software programs: the reform should target the unauthorised installation of programs that monitor, collect, and disclose information about end users’

  • Internet purchasing and Internet browsing activity;
  • the authority to install a software program must be based on informed consent; and
  • to obtain informed consent the licence/agreement must require clear accessible and unambiguous language.

Recommendation 24

That the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, in consultation with manufacturers and distributors of personal computers, mobile phones and related IT devices such as modems and routers, develop information standards to:

  • address the e-security vulnerabilities of these products and the provision of e-security information to consumers at the point of sale; and
  • require that the information is presented in a manner that is clear and accessible to a non-IT literate person.

Recommendation 25

That the Treasurer direct the Productivity Commission to conduct an in depth investigation and analysis of the economic and social costs of the lack of security in the IT hardware and software products market, and its impact on the efficient functioning of the Australian economy. That, as part of its inquiry, the Productivity Commission address the merits of an industry specific regulation under the Australian Consumer Law, including a scheme for the compulsory independent testing and evaluation of IT products and a product labelling scheme.

Recommendation 26

That the Treasurer consult with State and Territory counterparts with a view to amending the Australian Consumer Law to provide a cause ofxxx action for compensation against a manufacturer who releases an IT product onto the Australian market with known vulnerabilities that causes losses that could not have reasonably been avoided. Recommendation 27 That the manufacturers of IT products adopt a best practice approach that ensures products are designed to prompt and guide end users to adopt more secure settings. That the Australian Government monitor industry practice in this regard, and promote international standards that put a higher priority on security through product design.

9 Privacy Measures to Combat Cyber Crime

Recommendation 28

That the Office of the Privacy Commissioner use the full extent of its powers to ensure that overseas organisations that handle the personal information of Australian citizens and residents are aware of, and adhere to, their obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

Recommendation 29

That the Office of the Privacy Commissioner expedite the adoption of an approved privacy code of practice for members of the Australian Internet industry, including smaller Internet Service Providers. Recommendation 30 That the Office of the Privacy Commissioner encourage government agencies and commercial organisations to undertake regular audits to identify risks to personal information in both new and existing projects and policies.

10 Community Awareness and Education Initiatives

Recommendation 31

That the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, in consultation with relevant agencies, industry and community organisations, develop a nationally coordinated strategy for the education of consumers:

  • that the strategy cover all aspects of cyber crime including
  • malware, identity theft, identity fraud and scams; and includes clear benchmarks against which the effectiveness of education initiatives can be clearly evaluated and publicly reported on to Parliament.

Recommendation 32

That the Stay Smart Online and SCAMwatch websites be linked to the national cyber crime reporting centre referred to in recommendation 4.

Recommendation 33

That the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy implement a public health style campaign that uses a wide range of media to deliver messages on cyber security issues, technical precautions and appropriate user behaviours.

Recommendation 34

That the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy support the development of IT literacy training that includes cyber security and is available to the community as a whole. ...


From: Hackers, Fraudsters and Botnets: Tackling the Problem of Cyber Crime, Crime, Standing Committee on Communications, House of Representatives, The Australian Parliament, Report of the Inquiry into Cyber Crime, Parliament of Australia, 21 June 2010

Google Ad Review Center Can Block Politics, Sex and Religion

One of the problems with having third party advertisements on my web site is the embarrassment from inappropriate content. Google has introduced the "Google Ad Review Center", which allows publishers to block classes of AdSense advertisements from their pages. Rather than just provide a list of categories to block, Google reports how many times such ads have appeared on the publisher's web site and the proportion of overall revenue they provide. This useful, as it is apparent that many ads take up space on the page, without providing much revenue. These classes of ads make up almost 6% of those on my web pages, but only provide 4.6% of the revenue.

However, it creates interesting moral dilemma for the publisher, who has to decide if they can afford to give up revenue from ads they do not like. In my case I decided to ban everything except, drugs, politics and religion. The blocked ads made up 3% of those displayed, but only provided 0.4% of the revenue.

Category % Recent Earnings % Recent Ad Impressions
Cosmetic Procedures & Body Modification0.0%0.2%
Dating0.0%0.3%
Drugs & Supplements2.4%0.8%
Get Rich Quick0.3%1.1%
Politics0.7%1.5%
References to Sex & Sexuality0.0%0.3%
Religion1.1%0.4%
Ringtones & Downloadables0.1%0.4%
Sexual & Reproductive Health0.0%0.1%
Video Games (Casual & Online)0.0%0.5%
Weight Loss0.0%0.1%

Internet Can Change Disadvantage

Recent media reports of a US study suggest that computers and broadband at home are increasing the digital divide. The bluntest media report on this is "Giving poor kids computers, internet makes them stupider" (by Lewis Page, The Register, 21 June 2010). The research "Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement", (Jacob L. Vigdor, Helen F. Ladd, NBER Working Paper No. 16078, June 2010) is more measured in its conclusions.
Abstract: "Does differential access to computer technology at home compound the educational disparities between rich and poor? Would a program of government provision of computers to secondary students reduce these disparities? We use administrative data on North Carolina public school students to corroborate earlier surveys which document broad racial and socioeconomic gaps in home computer access and use.

Using within-student variation in home computer access, and across-ZIP code variation in the timing of the introduction of high-speed internet service, we also demonstrate that the introduction of home computer technology is associated with modest but statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores.

Further evidence suggests that providing universal access to home computers and high-speed internet access would broaden, rather than narrow, math and reading achievement gaps."

From: "Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement", (Jacob L. Vigdor, Helen F. Ladd, NBER Working Paper No. 16078, June 2010)
As I discussed in "Social inclusion and cooperative education with ICT" at University of Sydney, in August 2009d, the computer needs to be put to a useful educational purpose at home. The Federal government digital education revolution is helping with this by providing wider computer access in an educational context.

Dr. John Worthington (my brother) did a a longitudinal study of children's literacy which included the effect of a computer in the household. What was was most interesting was the disconnect John found between what the teachers did with computers at school and what the children did at home, with the home use far more sophisticated and wide ranging than at school. Hopefully the federally funded programs to educate teachers in computer use are helping correct this.
Abstract: "The data presented was derived from a longitudinal study which examined a range of issues linked to early literacy development.

This data included the use by children of technology at home and school, and parent and teacher perceptions of what was happening.

The results show significant differences in how young children access technology at home and school and that parents and teachers hold differing perspectives. Typically teacher knowledge of the computer related skills of young learners lags behind that of the parents. Teachers are often unaware of the advanced computer related skills used by young learners at home.

There were systematic differences between the perceptions of parents and teachers which suggest teachers views are ‘refreshed’ each year where as parent perceptions are based on a longer time frame. When there is a purposeful effort by teachers to understand the use of technologies in homes links can be made to ensure a commonality between what actually happens with technology at home and school.

At this point the systematic collection of the outcomes and processes of learning through digital portfolios can be implemented."

From: "Perceptions of Young Children’s Learning and Computer Use", John Worthington, ANU seminar:12 March 2002

Monday, June 21, 2010

Green data centres in Canberra

Greg Boorer, Managing Director of Canberra Data Centres (CDC) will be speaking on the “Pod Architecture” for greener data centre facilities, at ACS Young IT in the Pub, 25 June 2010. I had a tour of Canberra Data Centres last year.

Kogan Internet Filter Spoof

Kogan have produced a video about a fictional product, the "PORTECTOR Internet Portal Filter". This uses humour to point up problems with Senator Conroy's proposals for internet filtering.

There are real security appliances which are designed to protect homes, businesses and schools from unwanted content. Perhaps Kogan should source some of these and offer them for sale.

Green IT Fundamentals Foundation Certification Training

Plus GreenIT Pty Limited are offering "Green IT Fundamentals Foundation Certification Training" in Australia, starting with Canberra in mid July. The three day course costs AU$2,800.00 and is in association with the British Computer Society (BCS).

Professional Green IT courses were introduced to Australia in 2009 by the Australian Computer Society (one semester $1500) and are now also offered by Execom (2 days $2,295), the Australian National University (one semester $2400), Box Hill TAFE (short course $360.01) and Open Universities Australia (one semester $1,500.00).

The ACS, ANU and OUA are offering online e-learning courses (which I designed and teach) available worldwide, whereas the others are face-to-face small group classes. ACS, ANU and, to some extent Box Hill TAFE, share the same course content from my book "Green Technology Strategies: Using computers and telecommunications to reduce carbon emissions" (2009).

Key Learning Outcomes
At the end of the course, you will learn:

  • What is Green IT
  • What is Green IT Policy
  • Benefits of Green IT Policy
  • Goals, scope and key activities in Green IT Management
  • Roles and responsibilities of process owners
  • How to bridge the gap between IT and business

Who should attend?

This course is suitable for all levels of personnel within your IT Service Delivery Organisation and will form a key component of your Green IT Policy.

How this course delivers value?

  • You will learn how to bridge the gap between IT and business.
  • They synergy between your Service Management processes and Green IT
  • Introduce the technology to support the Green IT Policy

Course fees includes refreshments, lunch, exam fees, course materials, mock exams ...

From: "Green IT Fundamentals Founcation Certification Training", Plus GreenIT Pty Limited, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Scorpène class submarine for Australia

Four stretched Scorpène class submarines are being built for Brazil. These have a 9 metre hull stretch for longer range. The submarines are a French design in conjunction with and Spanish Navantia . This is the same company making Australian warships, providing the possibility of work on a further expanded Australian submarine.

Robot Vehicles for Military Convoys

The US Department of Defense funds the DARPA Grand Challenge where driverless vehicles, have to negotiate a course of about 96 km. However, far simpler systems could be almost as useful. The Lockheed Martin Convoy Active Safety Technology (CAST) system allows some of the driving to be done automatically, while the driver is busy on other tasks. This has now been enhanced to allow a lead vehicle in a convoy to be driven from the vehicle behind. This would be useful in reducing causalities from roadside bombs.

While the Lockheed Martin system uses advanced sensors to automate some of the driving, a simpler system might just use cameras on the lead vehicle with a dedicated human operator in the following vehicle to do the driving remotely. It might be feasible to have the one driver operate both vehicles, providing a vehicle interface and response similar to an articulated vehicle. The driver would normally look at a screen showing the scene from the vehicle in front and steer that vehicle, with the one they are actually in following behind as towed trailer would.

A further enhancement would be to have the tail vehicle in the convoy to be automated, simply following the vehicle in front, simulating a trailer. This would be of added value as a typical ambush technique is to disable the lead and tail vehicles. It would also allow three vehicles to be driven by one operator. It should be noted that unlike a real articulated vehicle, these would not need to be similar in size or configuration. In particular the control vehicle could be a small unit designed for carrying and protecting personnel, while the lead and training vehicles could be lightly protected cargo carriers.

The AutoMateTM sensor and actuator kit enables CAST to be an agile,
versatile and survivable sustainment system of multi-vehicle convoys which are
ready, reliable and secure. With the need for a low-cost multi- vehicle
autonomous convoy capability, our goal is to design, demonstrate and deploy a
system that is capable of both lateral and longitudinal control of various
tactical wheeled vehicles relative to a lead vehicle in order to improve convoy
safety, security, survivability and sustainment. Our system has been shown to
significantly reduce crew fatigue, eliminate rear-end collisions, enhance
operator situational awareness and enable a more effective response to attack. ...

A Kit-Based, Platform-Independent and Cost-Effective Convoy Automation System

  • Five-Vehicle Convoys
  • Integrated FMTV & M915
  • POV Incursion Handling
  • Dynamic Obstacle Detection
  • Governed Column Intervals
  • Limited Visibility Operation
  • Night-Vision Driving Ready
  • Split and Rejoin Handling
  • 50 mph on Paved Roads
  • 35 mph on Dirt Roads
  • Single Button Operation
  • 25% More Targets Identified and 10m Further Away
  • 85% Improvement in Emergency Brake Response
  • 87% Reduction in Governed Interval Distance Error ...

From: Convoy
Active Safety Technology
(CAST), Lockheed Martin, 2009

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Suzuki Alto Glovebox or God Optional Extras

Suzuki Alto, Glove Box, Part Number: 990J0M68KP3-010When ordering a Suzuki Alto car I was asked about accessories. The car has no covered storage in the front, so I joked I would like an ashtray and a glove box as accessories, which the sales person found amusing. It turns out that Suzuki Alto Accessories include a glove box (Part Number: 990J0M68KP3-010) and an ash tray (Part Number: 99000-99012-83H).

Suzuki Alto, Ash Tray, Part Number: 99000-99012-83HRather than just providing a lid for the storage slot in the dashboard, the glove box is a whole new replacement unit. In contrast the ash tray appears to be designed to simply drop into one of the slots on the centre console.

As a customer I would have preferred the glove box and ash tray as standard, in place of the tachometer, fog lights and alloy wheels, which came with the Alto GLX model.

Maruti Suzuki Ganesha Car Accessory 99000M99573The Alto is made in India, where it is sold as the Maruti Suzuki A-star (the Indian Maruti Alto is a different car). There are Maruti accessories for the A Star, including leather seat covers and an "Exquisite range of coloured images of Gods on 24 ct. gold plated foils". Gods available include Ganesha and Jesus of Nazareth (as featured in many Indian vehicles).

The Australian model Alto has an air bag fitted to the dashboard passenger side and no objects should be placed on it. The seats also contain air bags, making fitting seat covers more difficult. Some seat covers are designed to split along the side to release an air bag, but the Alto seats have a plastic panel on the side which covers the air bag and may be blocked by the seat cover. As an alternative I purchased $45 sheep skin seat covers, cut a cross at the location of each air bag and folded the cover back behind the air bag surround. This ensures the cover does not impeded the air bag and looks tidy.

The Alto has limited space for back seat passengers, so a useful accessory might be removal of the storage shelf under the dashboard (or glove box). This would provide about 100 mm more space for the front passenger. It may allow them to put their seat further forward, providing more room for the rear passenger. This layout is used in the Toyota iQ micro-car (and the Aston Martin Cygnet derived from it). In the Also covered storage space could be provided in the centre console and with a drawer under the front passenger seat.

Friday, June 18, 2010

US Government e-Record Management

The United States Government Accountability Office gave evidence to the US House of Representatives on "The Challenges of
Managing Electronic Records
". The conclusion was that more needs to be done on e-record management in the US Government. GAO found almost 80 percent of agencies were at moderate to high risk of improper disposition of records. The situation in Australia is likely to better, as the Australian Government has more sophisticated policy and technical systems for handling e-records than the USA.
Why GAO Did This Study
Federal agencies are increasingly using electronic means to create, exchange, and store information, and in doing so, they frequently create federal records: that is, information, in whatever form, that documents government functions, activities, decisions, and other
important transactions. As the volume of electronic information grows, so does the challenge of managing electronic records. Both federal agency heads and the
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have responsibilities for managing federal records. ...

From: "The Challenges of Managing Electronic Records", Statement of Valerie C. Melvin, Director, Information Management and Human Capital Issues, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and National Archives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives, Government Accountability Office, United States, June 17, 2010


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Teaching Green IT at World Computer Congress 2010

The World Computer Congress 2010 has invited me to talk on "Teaching Sustainable ICT Competencies with Tablet Computers: My first year's experience setting the global standard for professional education" (as featured in my book Green Technology Strategies), in Brisbane in September. This should be a more relaxed experience than WCC 1996, when I was President of the Australian Computer Society, hosting the event in Canberra.

The list of confirmed industry and plenary speakers so far has some familiar names:

WCC 2010 confirmed industry and plenary speakers

Plenary

  • Nicholas Carr, Author of The Big Switch
  • Prof Penny Sanderson, University of Queensland & NICTA
  • Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation
  • John Suffolk, CIO, British Government

LearnIT

  • Sir John Daniel, President & CEO, Commonwealth of Learning, Computers for Secondary Schoolchildren: A Busted Flush? New book: http://www.col.org/mega-schools/
  • Mr Nick Weidemann, CIO, Education Services Australia, Aligning existing digital learning resources and systems with the Australian Curriculum
  • Steve Hargadon, Elluminate's Social Learning Consultant & founder of the Classroom 2.0 social network http://www.classroom20.com, Web 2.0 in Action
  • Dr Marcus Bowles, Director, Institute of Working Futures, ICT Competencies
  • Mike Collett & Jenny Hunt with Prof Phil Candy, USQ, Principal Consultants, Schemeta, United Kingdom, E-Learning Readiness Toolkit
  • Prof James Dalziel, Director, Macquarie E-Learning Centre Of Excellence (MELCOE) http://www.melcoe.mq.edu.au , Web 2.0 Meets Lesson Plans: Sharing Good eTeaching Ideas
  • Dr Yong-Sang Cho, Director, Korea Education & Research Information Service (KERIS) which is a government institution of the Ministry of Education & Science Technology (MEST), e-Books & e-Learning The Korean Open Digital Publication Forum
  • Simon Brown, http://simonbrown.wikispaces.com, Success Factors in Online Teaching
  • Carol Skyring , Founder and CEO, LearnTel Pty Ltd, Visual communication: From zoopraxiscope to YouTube
  • Adrian Janson, Director, ICT Melbourne High School, The National ICT Curriculum Controversy
  • Allyn Radford, Director, Learnilities Pty Ltd, Lessons from an Open World
  • Mark Keough, Principal, M2 Consulting, Toward Learning Utility with Ultra Fast Broadband
  • Steve Sudgen, Editor, Spreadsheets in Education, Spreadsheets in Mathematics Education

TreatIT

  • Bill Vargas, CIO, Children’s Hospital - Westmead, eHealth - Beyond a Hospital's Electronic Medical Record, what we do need from a consumer's perspective?
  • Adam Powick, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, eHealth in Australia - The Way Forward
  • John Neville, CEO, Data Agility
  • Peter Grant, Consultant, Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS); Professor Information Systems, QUT & UQ
  • Denis Tebbutt, Managing Director, iSOFT
  • Phil Gurney, Australian e-Health Research Centre

TrustIT

  • Marcus Sachs, Executive Director - Government Affairs for National Security Policy, Verizon, Cyber-espionage and Cyber-warfare
  • Paul Ducklin, Head of Technology, Sophos, Asia Pacific, Malware analysis and detection
  • Dr Peter Gutmann, Researcher - Department of Computer Science, University of Auckland, Unsolveable problems in computer security (TBC)
  • Dr Wietse Venema, Research staff member, IBM T.J. Watson researchcenter in the USA, Software security and secure programming

ValueIT

  • Dr Eva Hopper, European Patent Office http://www.epo.org, Intersection between protecting IP and making innovation happen – in time!
  • Mr Ralf Abbing, European Patent Office http://www.epo.org, What are the “big” issues in IP in relation to computing technology?
  • Lachlan James, Business Director, NICTA’s Queensland Laboratory, Innovation processes in Commercialization of ICT
  • Robert Hillard, Partner, Consulting, Enterprise Information Management, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu , Information-Driven Business http://www.infodrivenbusiness.com
  • Peter Nevin, Executive General Manager - Business Processes, Sedgman Limited (previously CIO Apac, Sinclair Knight Merz)
  • Vince Gill, Director, Capability Consulting, IT is not about me
  • Guido Governatori, Business Process Compliance Project Leader, NICTA’s Queensland Laboratory, IT role in business process compliance
  • Stephen Kowal, General Manager - Finance, CSC, TBA

  • Dharmender Kapoor, Associate Vice President, HCL

GovernIT

  • Peter Harrison, IBM, Value Governance
  • Peter Carr, Longhaus
  • Peter Green, University of Queensland, TBA

  • Tony Hayes, Director, ISACA
  • Carsten Larsen, CIO, Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  • Rimas Skeivys, Principal, Ugovern, Governance of IT - the role of the project sponsor

SustainIT

  • Bianca Wirth, CEO, Computers Off, The global "Computers Off" campaign
  • Graeme Philipson, Research Director, Connection Research, Australia’s IT Carbon Footprint
  • Bob Hayward, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, CSC Australia & Asia, Data Centre and Cloud Computing innovation
  • Glenn Gore, CTO, MelbourneIT, Enterprise virtualisation automation and green computing
  • Dr Paul Campbell, Principal Consultant, Cogentia, Control Modelling and Energy efficiency in Software Engineering
  • Josh Millen, Corporate Social Responsibility, AIIA, A national approach to eWaste management
  • Tom Worthington, Australian National University, Green ICT Education of ICT professionals
  • Phillip Nyssen, Delivering sustainable business benefits through GreenIT
  • Turlough Guerin, General Manager - Sustainability, Telstra, The Australian NBN enabling sustainable workforces
  • Craig Roussac, General Manager, Sustainability, Safety and Environment Investa Property Group, Buildings come clean: it’s time to see the data!

DeliverIT

  • Ashley Goldsworthy, Director, Unidap Solutions; Chairman, CertainEdge, Business Models of the Future - Certain Edge / Unidap Solutions
  • Ben Patey, CIO, CSC Australia, Leveraging Social Networking
  • Brett Hooker, MD Roarz
  • Clarence Tan, Qld Technologist in residence, Enabling mobile transactions with information assurance
  • Craig Batty, CTO, Fujitsu, Changing Needs of Data Centres and use of Clouds (TBA)
  • Damian Hickey, CEO, Zac-Ware, Profits and pitfalls of segmenting web presences on a regionalised basis
  • Dharmender Kapoor, Associate Vice President, HCL Australia
  • Dr Kelvin Ross, Managing Director, How does Australian Industry Measure Up for Software Testing and Quality
  • Ian Dennis, Chairman, Whitehorse Strategic, Changing structure of ICT occupations and the ICT industry in the Digital Economy
  • Jackie Korhonen, CEO, Infosys Australia
  • John Puttick, Chairman, GBST Holdings, If IT is to be…
  • M. Rosemann and Stephen Goodwin from BAC, Professor, Airport of the Future
  • Nick Brandt, CIO, Brisbane City Council, Virtualisation and Clouds (TBC)
  • Peter Effeney, CEO, Sparq Solutions, Electricity Utility related presentation
  • Peter Grant, Consultant, Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS); Professor Information Systems, QUT & UQ, Influencing Industry and Government Technology Decisions and Alliancing
  • Prof Reg Coutts, Principal, Coutts Communications, Network of the Future
  • Prof Simon Kaplan, Executive Dean, QUT - Science and Technology, Socio-Technical Networks - Panel Discussion
  • Robert Hillard, Partner, Consulting, Enterprise Information Management, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Information-Driven Business http://www.infodrivenbusiness.com
  • Rob Livingstone, CIO, Ricoh, Is your organization instrument-rated to fly in the cloud?
  • Rohit Gandhi, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific, Satyam
  • Scott Stewart, CIO, Wilson HTM, Convergent roles of IT and Business
  • Stephen Kowal, CSC General Manager Financial Services; Past Vice President, ACS
  • Stuart Guest Smith, Thoughtworks, Agile delivery and unique models
  • Todd McGregor, Commercial Director, Any3 connectivity – Anywhere, Any place, Any time
  • Max Jennings, Director, Wireless Engineering Telstra, Mobile / comms network design, embedded systems
  • ACS Award Nominee, Student, Super Performance Database Web Grid (with Locked Record update)
  • Aileen Cater-Steele, CS Award Nominee, IT Service Management
  • Les Williamson, Vice President, Cisco Australia & New Zealand
  • Phil Mumford, CEO, QLD Motorways, Free Flow Tolling
  • Baden Sharples, CIO, Qsuper, Transformation Change

PlayIT

  • Fergus Carroll, General Manager, Krome Studios
  • Morgan Jaffitt, Impossible Changing Brain Foundation, Casual Game Development in Australia
  • John Passfield, Chief Creative Bloke 3 Blokes Studios, Social Games
  • George Fidler, Business side of Casual Game Start-Ups
  • Eve Penford-Dennis, FreePlay, Creative Side of Games

YoungIT

  • Rangan Srikhanta, Executive Director, OLPC, One Laptop Per Child Program
  • Anastasia Govan, ACS NT Branch Chair and the First YIT Board Director. Anastasia won the 2006 Young Professional of the Year Award, How I made a Business out of Information Management
  • Jill Noble, Pivotal HR Resume Professionals, Communication with a focus on speaking and elocution for Young ICT Professionals
  • AJ Kulatunga, Darwin-based entrepreneur
  • John Ridge AM, Executive Director, ACS Foundation, Accelerating Your Career
  • Kate Southam, TBA

Pearcey Roundtable

  • Dr David Skellern, NICTA
  • Dr Alex Zelinsky, CSIRO
  • Dr Arun Sharma, QUT
  • Dr Rohan Gilmore, AIC
  • David Waldie, Allegro Networks

Energy proportional computing

The concept of "Energy-Proportional Computing" has the aim of reducing the energy use of the computer system in proportion to the useful work it is doing. Usually applied to servers, including web servers, the idea is that a lightly loaded server should use less power than a heavily loaded one. This is an alternative to the strategy of virtual servers, when the real server is loaded with many tasks to keep it busy and thus running efficiently.

Some papers on this are:

Suzuki Alto Works Well

Suzuki AltoDespite my complaint that "Buying a car should not be so hard" I went ahead and bought a Suzuki Alto from National Capital Motors. The the GoGet Share Car scheme offers these cars for short term hire, but does not yet have any in Canberra.

The best features of the car, apart from the very low price, are the very small turning circle, the high (for a small car) driving position and the high safety levels (with 6 air-bags and complement of electronic safety aids).

The poorest features of the car are the lack of a lid for the glove box and the silly tachometer stuck on the dashboard. Apart from the tacho, the dashboard and instruments are well laid out. There are a minimum of switches and those there are are well marked.

The car is equipped well and mostly sensibly. I purchased the up market Alto GLX model, for the added electronic stability control. Unfortunately as a result I was also required to have mag wheels, fog lights and a tachometer, in the package. The mag wheels look silly on such a small low performance car and prevent the spare wheel being used easily (it is a full size spare tyre, but on a steel wheel). The tachometer serves no useful purpose and looks silly tacked on top of the dashboard. The fog lams are inconspicuous, but serve no useful purpose.

The Alto is smaller than my previous Daihatsu Sirion but has more room for the front passengers, trading back seat and luggage space. This is a reasonable compromise. But I could fit a folding bicycle in the Sirion, but can't in the Alto.

The vehicle seems very solid and well put together. The driving position is higher than many much larger cars, giving a good view of the road.

There are some curious omissions: there is no lid on the glove box allowing the contents to be visible from outside the car. This may be a security feature, as those in high crime areas have to leave their glove box open to show there is nothing worth breaking into the car to steal. Similarly there is no enclosed storage in the dashboard for coins.

ps: The lack of storage in the Alto may have advantages for fuel economy. When I emptied the Daihatsu I had 16 kg of material in the car, which would have increased fuel consumption:

Water: 4 kg
Street directory, torch, several pairs of glasses: 1 kg
Fire extinguisher, first aid kit, tow rope: 4 kg
Picnic rug, waterproof coat: 2 kg
Survival kit: 4 kg
Rubbish: 1 kg
Total: 16 kg

Purple Pickle Cafe Website

Purple Pickle Cafe, Australian National University, CanberraThe Purple Pickle Cafe is located at the sports centre of the Australian National University. As I teach web design at the ANU I was asked to do a quick check of the web site:
  • W3C Markup Validation Service: 7 Errors. These are minor errors, which can be easily fixed. They would not stop the web site from being viewed, but might cause problems with some mobile browsers.
  • W3C mobileOK Checker: 21% This is a reasonable result for a web page not specifically designed for display on a mobile phone. However, given that there is a high use of mobile devices on campus (and free WiFi provided over much of the campus), it would be worth increasing mobile compatibility. Some problems reported by the test are also no mobile specific, such as "The CSS style sheet is not syntactically valid CSS".
  • Accessibility test: The TAW accessibility test reported one Priority 1, One Priority 2 and no Priority automatically detected problems. This is a good result. The two problems are easily fixed, by adding ALT text to the logo and correcting the nesting order of the headings.
  • Without styles: With styles turned off the page displayed as one column of text and was still usable.
  • Message conveyed: The web page clearly states what it is about: a cafe located at a university in Canberra. The page is clearly aimed at catering for events, not casual diners. But it would be useful to include the street address of the cafe and a link to a map. While the page mentions "Australia" it would be useful to include the word "Australia" in the address, to clearly indicate where it is.
  • Products: The first item on the menu is "Morning and afternoon tea". Clicking this displays "There are no products in this group". This is a confusing message. It is suggested that there be something offered here or the customer is likely to think the cafe doesn't do morning or afternoon tea.
  • Checkout: The web site offers a reasonable shopping cart facility for ordering catering. While I did not try all functions, this looks usable. The option for creating a purchase order is a useful addition for those ordering corporate catering.
  • Contact: The page lacks a contact section. The telephone number is provided at the bottom of the page, but a place where other contact details are provided would be useful. An email address or text query form would be useful.
  • ABN: The web page should display at the bottom the full legal name of the business and the Australian Business Number (ANB) should be provided with the contact details.
  • Visability: A Google search for "cafe ANU" returned the Purple Pickle Cafe web site ninth in the list. This uis a good re4ault as there are several other cafes on campus. In addition, the first page was the ANU Sport & Recreation Association mentioning the cafe with a link. It is suggested the association be offered a better photo of the cafe, which looks stark and deserted on their page. The fourth link was to my own travelogue "National Museum of Australia by Bicycle".
ps: The Purple Pickle Cafe opened shortly after I joined the ANU and is across the road from my office, so I have lunch there most days when at the University. The Cafe has outdoor dining under trees at the collocated entrance to the Gym, which I was reminded of when visiting Delphi, seeing the ancient gymnasium where the philosophers discussed education, under a tree by the Stoa. But the modern cafe, like the modern university, is partly online.

Smartq V7 Tablet Computer

According to Grant Muir, the prototype $200 7 inch screen tablet computer which was demonstrated by Australian electronics importer Kogan is actually a production model of the Smartq V7 from Smart Devices. Kogan Technologies later explained that their unit will have more advanced features, including a better touchscreen and more memory. This is consistent with Kogan's approach to their Kogan Agora Linux netbook, where they took a generic unit and added more memory and battery capacity than the base model. Link