Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Sydney Technology and Innovation Precinct

The NSW Government has set up a panel of experts, headed by David Thodey, Jobs for NSW Chair, to produce a vision for a technology and innovation precinct in central Sydney. The Sydney Technology and Innovation Precinct will include Ultimo, Central Station, Redfern Station, Eveleigh Rail Yards, to Camperdown. This area includes University of Technology Sydney and the Australian Technology Park (ATP). This is a roughly rectangular area of about 7 square kilometers of the inner west of Sydney. The deadline for submissions is 10 September 2018.

In my closing address to the 1998 Information Industry Outlook Conference, in Canberra I proposed using the Cambridge model for Australian innovation precincts. This has now been done in Canberra, next to the ANU.

EduTECH Asia in Singapore 8 to 11 October

EduTECH Asia is on 8 to 11 October 2018 at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore. I am speaking on Decreasing Campus Energy Use With Flexible Classrooms and e-Learning in the new EduBuild stream on 9 October and the next day taking part in a discussion of "Learning to use new  tech-infused teaching spaces". There are also some free activities and exhibition.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

ACS President Calls for Expansion of Australian Defence Industry

Cutaway Diagram of HMAS Canberra LHD Ship Opening the Australian Computer Society conference at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra this morning, Mr Yohan Ramasundara, ACS President, called for an expansion of Australia's local defence industry. Mr Ramasundara pointed to Austal as Australia's only commercial company with the capability of designing and building warships locally. He suggested that Australia should aim to design and build locally warships on the scale of the Canberra Class LHDs, which were built in Spain and then transported to Melbourne for completion.

Following Mr Ramasundar, Dr Vikram Sharma, CEO of Quintessence Labs in Canberra, mentioned work being undertaken for the Australian Department of Defence on quantum key distribution for cryptography. 

I will be speaking at the conference at 1:15pm, in the security stream, on m-Learning from Canberra for the Indo-Pacific and how this can complement China's Belt and Road Initiative.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Unknown Unknowns of Computer Consulting

Andrea Parsons

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where computer consultant, Andrea Parsons is speaking to TechLauncher software engineering students on "The Unknown Unknowns of Computer Consulting". Andrea started with US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's famous quote: "... there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know ..." (US DoD Briefing, February 12, 2002).

Andrea undertakes engagements under a fixed price quotation. This starts with a scoping study to find the limits of the unknown unknowns. The quote includes an investigation and discovery step. The example given was of a new payroll system. The problem was, in essence, to get the client to understand how complex a problem this was.

Andrea emphasized the need to engage with stakeholders, avoiding "us" and "them". She pointed out the silliness of people sitting down the hall from each other, but communicating specifications by email.

What I found interesting about this is that many of the issues in software design are similar to those for educational design. In the courses MDDE 605: Planning and Management in Distance Education and MDDE 617 - Program Evaluation in DE, I had to plan a new educational initiative and in the latter prepare a quote for evaluation of an existing course. Presumably many other professions undertake these planning and estimation tasks.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Vale Brenda Aynsley

Brenda Aynsley,
Brenda Aynsley OAM FACS CP, a Past President of the Australian Computer Society (ACS), has passed away. As reported by Jan Whitaker:
"It's with deep sadness that I let the Link community know that our dear colleague and friend of many years, Brenda Aynsley, passed away quietly this morning in Adelaide, after a long illness. Many here will know Brenda from different paths in the IT community, and those of us who were lucky enough as a true friend. I will miss her more than I can tell. There is to be no funeral, but if I get word of other wishes, I will pass them along."
From: Sad news - Vale Brenda, Jan Whitaker, Link list on Australian network policy and communications, 12 August 2018, 12:49:51
As Brenda wrote on her LinkedIn entry, she was:
 "... totally absorbed by and committed to the Internet and technology, not because of the nature of the toys and tools, but because both provide the means of facilitating effective communication between citizens of the world. ..."
Her work was global, but I knew Brenda as a fellow member of many ACS committees, and one of my successors as ACS President. Brenda changed the direction of my professional work, as one of the team training myself, and others, to teach computer professionals (Lindley, Aynsley, Driver, Godfrey, Hart, Heinrich, Unhelkar & Wilkinson, 2013).

Brenda was most recently Chair on the ACS South Australia Branch, a relatively recent appointment from January 2018. She was also Convenor of the ACS SA PC Recycling Group, a position she had held for eighteen years. I visited her at the PC Recycling group and included this in my ICT Sustainability course.

Brenda Aynsley was as the first female President of the ACS, in 2013.

In 2015 Brenda gave evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security during an inquiry into metadata privacy 29 January 2015. She was also interviewed on the subject for the WSIS FORUM 2015.

Brenda was recognized for service to the information and communications technology sector in the 2014 Australia Day Honours list, with an Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). She was a Flinders University alumnus, being awarded a BA in 1982 and DipSocSc in 1984. 

Brenda held so many positions in the computer profession in Australia and internationally, it would be difficult to list them all. Here are a few:
  • Chair,  International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3), International Federation for Information Processing.
  • National Vice-President, Australian Computer Society, 2002-2003 and 2010-2011; Honorary Life Member, 2008.
  • Chair, ACS National Community Engagement Board, 2009-2010.
  • Chair, Ageism Task Force, 2010.
  • Lead Tutor and Academic Program Coordinator, ACS Professional Year Program.
  • Founding Member, Electronic Frontiers Australia, 1994.
  • Honorary Secretary, South Australian Branch, Australian Computer Society; Chairman, 1999-2001, 2004-2006 and 2018; ACS Member, since 1989; Founder and Manager, ACS PC Recycling Group, since 2000.
  • Chair, SA Committee, The Pearcey Foundation, 2006-2012.
  • Opened South Australia's first Internet Café, 1995.
    Founding Member, South Australian Internet Association, 1995.
  • Fellow, South Australian Branch, Australian Computer Society, 2003.
One of her more recent articles was on "Creating a Culture of Professionalism – the Board’s Role" (February 14, 2018).


Lindley, D., Aynsley, B., Driver, M., Godfrey, R., Hart, R., Heinrich, G., ... & Wilkinson, K. (2013). 11. Educating for professionalism in ICT: Is learning ethics professional development?. Professionalism in the information and communication technology industry, 211. URL http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p223541/html/ch11.xhtml?referer=37

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Will the NEG transform Australia's energy landscape?

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where a panel is speaking on "Will the NEG transform Australia's energy landscape?".

Shane Rattenbury
First up is Mr Shane Rattenbury, ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability.  Minister Rattenbury was one of the recipients of a letter today, from 23 energy researchers: "Call for Full Release of National Energy Guarantee Modelling". He pointed out that the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) will not reduce emissions significantly more than "business as usual". Also there will be a considerable number of coal plants reaching their design life just after 2030, requiring to be replaced.

Also to speak are Professor Frank Jotzo (Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU), Dr Hugh Saddler (energy consultant) and Ms Katharine Murphy (Political Editor, Guardian Australia).

ps:  Professor Jotzo and Dr Saddler agreed that the NEG was not a lot better than "business as usual". Katharine Murphy, looking at the political aspects, suggested the NEG could be useful, not because it achieves any fundamental reform, but primes the political process for something more ambitious.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Blockchain: What is it good for?

Greetings from the Australian Computer Society's new headquarters in Sydney. I am taking part in a workshop, as a member of the ACS Blockchain Committee. It is a little hard to focus on the details of what advice we should provide Australian government, industry and community on the how and why of blockchain, due to the view. The new ACS office is on the 27th floor of a building on the Sydney waterfront, with panoramic views all the way to the Blue Mountains.

Getting back to the workshop,  ACS has published a series of articles on blockchain. We have a mix of technologists, lawyers and industry people in the room, working out what the issues are. As an example, what are the issues in using blockchain in education?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Uluru Statement from the Heart on Wikipedia

Denise Bowden,
signing the Uluru Statement,
in Central Australia.
I was surprised that the "Uluru Statement from the Heart" did not have a page in the Wikipedia, so I have added it for NAIDOC Week.
"... We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. ...".

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Katharine Murphy On Disruption

Greetings from the Australian National University, where Michelle Grattan is asking Katharine Murphy about her new book "On Disruption".

This is a short 121 page, A6 size pocket book, which is very readable. This is a bit Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, being in part a personal reflection on becoming a journalist and part on the nature of political discourse in the age of the Internet. It starts "It was the fag end of summer and I was decked out in a new linen threepiece suit from Sportscraft."

Michelle Grattan asked about the story of the week with Senator Leyonhjelm's comments about Sarah Hanson-Young. Katharine Murphy commented that women have decided not to accept such comments any more.

One question from the audience is where does the money come from. Katharine Murphy replied that The Guardian has a membership scheme, rather than a pay-wall. This is curious as in effect, the for-profit company takes donations like the pay-what you can Lentil as Anything
restaurant in Sydney.

The thesis of the book is that the Internet has "disrupted" journalism, in the same way Uber disrupted taxis. The problem is not knowing where all the information "washing around" the Internet came from "... perhaps someone in a basement in Moldavia".

What I find surprising is that journalists did not realize the Internet was going to disrupt  their business until it happened. Hopefully the academics in the audience are listening, as the Internet is coming to disrupt them.

Last month the "Father of the Internet", Vint Cerf, talked at the Australian National University in Canberra. Australia has had Internet access for thirty years, about ten years after the US development.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

IT Changes Everything in Sri Lanka

I am scheduled to speak at the National IT Conference in Sri Lanka (NITC 2018), 2 to 4 October 2018, organized by the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL). The theme of the conference is: IT Changes Everything
To help me prepare a presentation, the conference organizers have provided some references as background, from which I have extracted some quotes:

Development of Sri Lanka’s digital economy strategy

"Work on the country’s digital economy strategy has begun with input from world-renowned consultancy firm McKinsey, the Prime Minister’s Policy Development Office said yesterday.  ..."
From:  "Work begins on Sri Lanka’s digital economy strategy with McKinsey input", Daily FT, 8 January 2018
 Sri Lanka’s Digital Economy Strategy

"... This initiative will strategize the promotion of the Digital Economy through the lens of three economic development thrust sectors, namely, agriculture sector, tourism sector and the manufacturing sector. It is expected that each of the sectors identified above will could develop at least one flagship programs to support this initial stage of Sri Lanka’s Digital Economy Strategy. ..."

From "Sri Lanka’s Digital Economy Strategy", Department of Government Information, Sri Lanka, 7 January 2018
 Sri Lanka Vision 2025
"The country needs to develop strategies that encourage the use of digital and other emergent technologies to become globally competitive and to drive the nation towards a digitally empowered economy. Enhanced digital ecosystems, through reduced transactions costs, will stimulate inclusive growth and job creation, especially by empowering the self-employed and SMEs.

...  Sri Lanka’s IT literacy rate was a meagre 27.5% in 2016, with only 15.1% of households with internet access. The technology service sector has long been dominated by ICT, and there is little focus on promoting disruptive innovation technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), data mining and other high-quality technological services. The economy needs a shift towards innovative, knowledge based business ventures.
  1. We will put in place a plan of action to encourage the transfer of appropriate foreign technologies into Sri Lanka. ...
  2. We will actively promote private sector investment in digital technology. Incentives to support emerging industries in robotics, cybernetics, and electronics will be provided. We will support development in advanced technology by encouraging education institutions to link up with the private sector. To improve market access for startups, we will facilitate the convergence of multiple technologies and integration with global startup networks. We will encourage the private sector to plan early for future workplaces, commerce, and manufacturing in the digital era. ...
  3. We will incentivise private sector investment in the ICT industry. ...
  4. We will integrate ICT literacy into school curricula. ...
  5. We will increase free Wi-Fi provision and increase incentives provided to widen internet access. ...
  6. We will continue the national digital identity initiative. ...
  7. We will increase digitalisation of Government operations. ...
  8. We will strengthen ICT based marketing interfaces. ...
  9. We will encourage innovations in mobile payment systems and peer-to-peer lending
    platforms with necessary oversight. ...
  10. We will strengthen Sri Lanka’s National Intellectual Property Office to manage
    registration exploitation, regulation and resolution more effectively. ...
  11. We will strengthen the legal framework for electronic transactions. ..."
From Chapter 9, Technology and Digitalization, "Vision 2025: A Country Enriched", Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, Sri Lanka, 31 August 2017 (numbering of proposals added).


I was then asked to:
"1. Outline your topic and it's relevancy in-line of the overall theme of "IT changes everything"
2. How do we drive a digital economy? What should be the key measurements? Timelines?
3. What changes are needed at different levels of the society? E.g. how do you propose we change the current education system?
4. What are you looking forward to during you planned visit to Sri Lanka during early October for NITC?
5. Any other info you think which is important."


Framing the digital strategy for a nation is too much for one conference presentation. As an educator, I will naturally focus on education. The area I have been looking at in Australia and for the Asian region in my graduate studies has been vocational education. How do we bridge upper schooling, vocational colleges and university?

What are you looking forward to?
The easiest question to answer is "What are you looking forward to during you planned visit to Sri Lanka...". On my previous visit I enjoyed meeting people from the local IT industry and educational institutions. Highlights were a visit to a higher education institution which has connections to Australia and a IT company campus (where I gave a talk on emergency management using the Internet).

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Australia’s Digital Pulse

Greetings from Parliament House in Canberra, where Michael Keenan, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation, launched the Australian Computer Society's Digital Pulse Report. Mr Keenan pointed out that IT was a global industry and taxes needed to be low or companies would move elsewhere. He also mentioned the government was changing IT procurement to allow smaller companies to tender. Interestingly, the report was prepared by Deloitte with help from LinkedIn:
"With domestic graduates from ICT degrees still below 5,000 a year, the only way we’ll reach workforce targets is by importing labour, much as we’ve done for the past five years. We need more ICT workers with skills in artificial intelligence,
data science, cyber and blockchain, and filling these positions with migrants suggests a missed opportunity to provide rewarding employment for the next generation of Australian workers. Further, our existing workforce has diversity issues: only 28% of ICT workers are women and only 12% are over 55, compared with 45% and 15% in all professional industries respectively."
From "ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse",  Deloitte and ACS, 27 June 2018
My colleagues at ANU are teaching artificial intelligence, data science, cyber security and blockchain. The diversity issue is one which will perhaps be addressed by changes in university programs generally, and STEM ones in particular, to include more work relevant skills. This sees computer professionals having to learn people skills, and as a byproduct makes the courses more inclusive.

ps: I was last at Parliament House on 4 June to speak to the Senate Committee on the Future of Work and Workers. I suggested changes to the education system to better address changes due to technology.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

False Alarm from Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre

Thursday morning I noticed a worrying message from the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre:
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2018 03:29:03 +0530 ...
"IOTWMS-TSP INDIA has detected an earthquake with the following preliminary information:
Magnitude  : 8.5  M
Depth      : 10  km                      
Date       : 20 JUN 2018
Origin Time: 2154UTC
... this earthquake may be capable of generating a tsunami affecting the Indian Ocean region."
This was alarming because an 8.5 magnitude earthquake is extremely large. But then I noticed the location was given as "TEST_TEST_CENTRAL CHILE".

As confirmed later, this was a test message which escaped from the internal system, out to the public:
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2018 05:33:31 +0530

This is not a real event. This event was issued due to an operator error during an internal test. ..."
It took two hours to issue the correction, which is an unacceptably long time.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

August Osage County at the New Theater Newton Sydney

The play August: Osage County at the New Theater, Newton Sydney, last night was like many family gatherings you have been to, combined with The Big Chill. Adult children gather at the family home after many years, due to a family tragedy. They argue with each other, and their partners, over the same old things, with long buried secrets emerging. At more than three hours, with two intervals, this is a long play, but worth staying to the end.

The Australian cast did a good job with mid-western US accents. Alice Livingstone had fun with the role of slightly mad matriarch.

I did not understand why playwright Tracy Letts inserted a native American into the middle of this play.  Emilia Stubbs Grigoriou, gave a credible performance with little dialogue to work with, but passing comment on all happening around her through expression.

The set design by Sallyanne Facer was a little bare for a lived in family home. Also I found the red LED displays on the theater lighted overhead a little distracting.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Australia Declares Cyberwar

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Australian Computer Society (ACS) today released a national cyberwarfare deterrence policy paper (Painter, 2018). The policy advocates unilateral reciprocity for cyber-attacks on Australia.

The report quotes Australia’s International Cyber Engagement Strategy:
"[h]aving established a firm foundation of international law and norms, the international community must now ensure there are effective consequences for those who act contrary to this consensus."
However, the Painter doctrine is more in line with the US strategy of promising "swift and costly consequences", saying:
"... every country has the right to act to defend itself, but, if possible, acting together, with each country leveraging its capabilities as appropriate, is better. Collective action doesn’t require any particular organised group ...". 
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has issued a draft learning design standard, detailing the knowledge required for government cyber security specialists. Civilian specialists working for government may well find themselves involved in offensive operations. The ANU offers a course in Cyber Offensive Security Operations as part of a Master of Cyber Security, Strategy and Risk Management. To address the ethical issues with being involved in such operations I have run students through a hypothetical on Cyberwar over the South China Sea.


Deterrence in cyberspace - Spare the costs, spoil the bad state actor: Deterrence in cyberspace requires consequences, Chris Painter, Australian Strategic Policy Institute Limited, 1 June 2018.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Green ICT in the Mauritius Declaration on Digitalisation and Sustainable Tourism

The "Mauritius Declaration on Digitalisation and Sustainable Tourism", adopted last week, includes a section on "Green ICT".
"7. to consider the rigorous application of “Green ICT” techniques to ensure minimal environmental impact being given that a connected world together managing the resulting data will in itself impose an environmental load;"
Nations are welcome to make use of my "ICT Sustainability" course materials. I would be delighted to have an excuse to visit tropical islands to discuss it. ;-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Green Climate Fund for Development

Greetings from the Australian national University in Canberra, where Howard Bamsey, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund is speaking on "The Green Climate Fund, climate finance, and the imperatives and pathways for global transformation". He started by pointing out the developed nations committed to "mobilize" $100B a year for developing nations actions on climate change by 2020. What "mobilize" means I am not sure. The DFAT "Roadmap to US$100 Billion" (2016) says "effectively mobilize private finance".
reetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where

Ambassador Bamsey pointed out that the cost of PV solar power had dropped making it economic for use in developing nations. Also he pointed out that green bonds had taken off and the link to Islamic Finance. In 2008 I attended the Malaysian Corporate Governance Conference at the Securities Commission, Kuala Lumpur, the regulator for Islamic capital markets in Malaysia and noticed this link.

The IEA has a "Tracking Clean Energy Progress" page, which Ambassador Bamsey pointed to. He used the example of technology incubators as one initiative (but I am not sure who's or for what). He suggested that most investments are on mitigation and more is needed on adaption for the most vulnerable.

Ambassador Bamsey suggested that China has taken an engineering approach to climate change as the government is full of engineers (whereas the Australian Government is full of lawyers and economists).

This all seemed very general, so I asked for examples of investments and how much carbon emission, or other benefits resulted. This was perhaps because I spent the morning marking ICT Sustainability assignments from my students, where they had to say what improvement their proposals were expected to make.

Unfortunately while promising to get specific, Ambassador Bamsey would not say how much the Green Climate Fund had invested or how much mitigation and adaption this was expected to produce. Not everything can be reduced to a few numbers, but if the world is investing $100B a year, then it would be good to have some idea it was effectively spent. Also worrying is that fund is expected to run out money to invest by the end of the year. Interestingly the ACT Government is working on channeling private investment to the fund, however as a potential investor I would want to know what environmental and social return on investment I will get.

The current Ambassador for the Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Patrick Suckling, spoke next. He pointed to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as a successful investment activity.  Ambassador Suckling then talked about having an investment bank rather than aid. I assume this was a metaphor, not the Australian government was going to have a bank to invest in development programs in the region and earn a return on investment.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Father of the Internet in Canberra

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, will speak on "The future of the Internet" at the Australian National University in Canberra, 26 June 2018. For an understanding of the way the Internet was envisioned, I recommend Carl Malamud's 1992 book "Exploring the Internet: A Technical Travelogue", in which he reports on discussion with Vint Cerf and Australian Internet pioneer Geoff Huston.

I stumbled across Vint and Geoff in Stockholm during the Internet Society 2001 Conference. I went through the wrong door and interrupted a meeting deciding global domain name services. Geoff looked up and said "Hi Tom", when I saw Vint and just about everyone else running the Internet in the world, I turned and fled. ;-)
"Vint Cerf will explore areas where serious technical and policy efforts are needed to reinforce the utility of the Internet and diminish some of the harmful behaviors we are seeing. Some of the work will require transnational cooperation. Some solutions have much to do with educating users about protecting themselves when online and thinking critically about content. Technical improvements in software production will help, as will better security tools and practices. Vint will finish up with some speculations about the arc of the Internet as we get to the mid-2000s.
Vint will be coming to Australia as a featured speaker at the ANU Crawford Leadership Forum, 24-26 June 2018."

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Making Canberra a Mobile Place

Dickson LibraryGreetings from the Canberra Wine House, where I am taking part in the "Ideas and Actions for Dickson: Community Workshop". This is hosted by a team of planners contracted to the ACT Government. I booked for this event, thinking it was about master-planning for the Dickson shopping center and surround, as it is developed in conjunction with the new light rail and bus hub. However,  it was instead about how to get more sense  of community in the area.

In the late 1990s I chaired the Dickson Precinct Community Group, to provide advice to the ACT Government on planning the area. The Draft Master Plan, and Community Consultation and Cultural Profile Report from 1998, may be of interest.I was a little disappointed that the 2018 activity did not seem as organized as that twenty years ago.

We were asked to come up with ideas which could be implemented relatively quickly. My serious one was to issue planter boxes to the local primary schools and kindergartens and then place these around the library. A less serious one was an "uber-park": build a shallow planter box on Eclipse Engineering's Container Roll-Out Warehousing System (CROWS™), and stack these in a shipping container to create a relocatable pocket park.

The container would be transported by truck to a location, the pallets slid out and arranged to form a grassed area. The empty container would then be used as a kiosk. I was surprised when one of the other participants also suggested a relocatable "pop-up" park, so perhaps it is not such a silly idea.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Data Driving the Smart City in Canberra

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Future of the Web: Data drives the Smart City, just started. This is in conjunction with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This will be repeated Thursday 10 May in Sydney. I consider the "Smart City" to be like the smart home: mostly marketing hype. It will be interesting to see if today's speakers can change my view.

The first speaker was Dr Ole Nielsen, Deputy Chief Digital Officer and Director of Digital Transformation, ACT Government. I asked Dr Nielsen if the ACT Government was securing system sufficiently against cyber attack. He replied that data should not be stored on drives connected to people's email and data stored in the basement of offices is no more secure than on Amazon Web Services.

9.35am Industry Keynote  Dr Mukesh Mohania (IBM Distinguished Engineer in IBM Research)


 Ubiquitous sensing, located Dr Kerry Taylor (Chair, W3C Spatial Data on the Web)
 10.35am  Break
 10.50am  Smart Grid Dr Lachlan Blackhall (Head of the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program, ANU)
Dr Armin Haller (W3C Office Manager, ANU)
 11.30am Power to the People:
Privacy in the smart city

(in Melbourne) Dr David Hyland-Wood (Blockchain Protocol Architect, Consensys)
(in Canberra) Dr Peter Christen (Professor, Data Mining and Matching, ANU)
(in Sydney) Christine Cowper (Principal Consultant, Information Integrity Solutions)
12.00pm Panel:
“How do we best enable smart cities?”
round-up of W3C activities and value proposition
capacity building – what skills do we need?
what issues should we consider? How do we solve them?
Discussion with all earlier speakers

chaired by  J. Alan Bird (W3C Global Business Development Lead)
All above speakers as participants
Interactive audience

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Container Roll-Out Solar System

ECLIPS Engineering demonstrated their Container Roll-Out Solar System (CROSS) in Canberra today. These are standard solar panels attached to a hinged framework mounted on a shipping container compatible platform. This can be sued to reduce military fuel use.

The demonstration was held at the Canberra drag-strip, normally used for Street Machine Summernats Car Festival. In place of high speed cars there was a forklift which unloaded the solar panels from a shipping container. 

The system is designed to provide power for military forward bases and mining camps. A stack of platforms is transported to the site in a standard 20 or 40 foot shipping container. The container is stacked with platforms, each fitted with 5 or 10 solar modules. Each platform is slid out, placed on the ground and then the panels hinged up to face the sun.

The panels are standard domestic units, mourned to an aluminum frame with standard brackets. While made of glass, the panels are reasonably robust. The steel platform they are mounted on appears heavy enough to keep the panels in place in the strongest wind.

This appears a workable system for military use, but may be over-engineered for civilian applications. The platform used is derived from one used for transporting tens of tonnes of supplies. The 20 foot unit weighs more than 1,350 kg, of which less than one quarter would be the panels and their frame. A much lighter platform might be developed to hold the few hundred kilos of solar panels. This would particularly useful for transport by air.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Australian Energy Security Board Not On Track to Deliver Affordable Energy

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Clare Savage, Deputy Chair of the Energy Security Board is speaking on the National Energy Guarantee. Clare said that the board would not be proposing technical reliability measures, be included in energy suppliers contracts, as this would be too complex. However, financial markets have far more complex traded commodities, so I can't see why this can't be done for energy. If reliability measures are not being provided as part of the market based energy system, then I can't see how they can be provided cost-effectively. If reliability is just a requirement imposed on providers we are likely to see a similar situation as with wires and poles, where companies overbuilt the system in the name of reliability, to push up prices to the consumer and thus increase profits. The Australian Energy Security Board is going down a path which will deliver reliable power, but it will be expensive power, with high carbon emissions.

The Australian Energy Security Board has to work within the constraints set by government. However, it should still be possible to design a system which will reward innovations in new technology which can deliver reliability, along with low emissions at an afford able price.  I suggest the Board change their approach to explore those options.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Information Awareness Month 2018 off to a Bad Start by NAA

May's Information Awareness Month 2018 got off to a bad start with the National Archives of Australia (NAA) emailing out an invitation to the launch in the form of an image. Those who have difficulties seeing images could click on the included link, but NAA should have included the details of the event as text. This is a matter of common courtesy and also helps comply with Australian anti-discrimination law. Ironically, David Fricker, Director-General of the National Archives of Australia, will be presenting the National Archives Awards for Digital Excellence at the event.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Silent Disco Loud on Teen Angst

The play "Silent Disco" opened at the New Theater in Sydney on Saturday. Set in a typical Australian city suburban school, teenagers come to terms with relationships and a bleak future working at the local supermarket checkout. At the same time their teacher exhausted from caring about their charges reminisces over their teen years.

This performance suffered from a number of handicaps. The play, by Australian Lachlan Philpott, was first presented in 2011, but already sounds a little dated. References to iPods and SMS do not match contemporary teen language. The actors playing the teens are too old to be believable. A teenager having to go all the way to Kings Cross to buy drugs seems old fashioned.

Set designer Ester Karuso-Thurn has produced a suitably bleak representation of a school classroom (reminding me of a demountable I spent many hours in). Sound designer Jessica Dunn uses loud brash music for raging teens.

"Silent Disco" is at the New Theater, Newtown, Sydney until 14 April 2018.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Women in Design Wikipedia-edit-a-thon at Sydenham Library in Sydney

Greetings from the Hack the Canon: Women in Design Wikipedia-edit-a-thon at Sydenham Library in the Sydney Inner-west. Speakers are Olivia Hyde, Director of Design Excellence, NSW Government Architect; Zoë Sadokierski, senior lecturer, School of Design at the , University of Technology Sydney; and  Cathy Lockhart industrial designer and academic. Thee will be wikipedia editing to follow and the event goes until 4pm, so come along.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Climate mitigation and adaptation in the ACT

Greetings from the Canberra Renewables Innovation Hub, where the ACT Government is holding a workshop on the Climate mitigation and adaptation in the ACT: costs, benefits and implications report (22 February 2018). It is going to be a difficult exercise, as this is a sixty eight page technical economic report, presented to a general audience.

ps: It turned out to go well, but this wasn't really a general audience, but a self selected group of experts and enthusiasts.  

My suggestions were:
  1. Public-private pocket parks: These would be modeled on the private part at the center of the City-edge development at O'Connor. This looks like a public park but is owned by the bodies corporate of the surrounding apartments. 
  2. Pop-up Community Groups: ACT Government would provide a website where a group of residents could register a community group. When enough people had joined, this would be a legally constituted group and receive government support to run a community garden and the like.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Federal Regulation Needed to Stop Financial Institutions Placing Customers at Risk of Scammers

Had a call from someone claiming to be from NIB Health Insurance. They wanted to discuss my policy and asked me for personal details to verify who I was. However, when I asked the caller to verify who they were, they could not. They provided a telephone number and suggested I call. I explained that as they gave me the number, I could not use it for verification. They then gave me a web address to check the number, but again, as they gave me that I could not rely on it being genuine.

The caller did not seem to grasp the fact that because I get so many scam calls, I have to assume anyone calling is a scammer, until they can prove otherwise. Assuming this caller really was from NIB, the company appears to not understand that they should not call customers in this way. By doing so they make it easier for scammers. I suggest a mandatory code of conduct needs to be put in place for insurance companies, and other financial institutions, to stop this practice.

Monday, March 05, 2018

4th Age of War with 3D Printed Pizza Drone Delivered to Battlefield

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Dr Albert Palazzo, Director of War Studies at the Australian Army Research Centre is speaking on "Transition Point: Embracing the 4th Age of War". He started with 3D printing (additive manufacturing), which is already being used to produce replacement parts on-board US warships at sea. A more amusing example was the US Army experimenting with 3D printed pizza drone delivered to the battlefield.

Dr Palazzo then drew a contrast between a traditional trade route map of the world and a data transmission map. Current main routes are trans-Atlantic and he suggests this is where wealth will be created.

Dr Palazzo suggested that we don't know who makes the rules about trans-national data communications. This clearly is not true. There was a well established international governance framework for telecommunications before the Internet. This was supplemented with new bodies and rules with the advent of the Internet. I helped establish this structure and stumbled into one of the meetings of the people who ran the Internet one day in Stockholm.

Dr Palazzo then claimed that AI can't come up with quirky original actions and may result in predictability on the battlefield. My experience is that AI comes up with anticipated results, as it is not possible for the human, even the one who programmed it, to anticipate how the data will interact.

One area not addressed by Dr Palazzo were information warfare and irregular warfare techniques enhanced by the Internet. Examples of this are the use of sophisticated social media by terrorists, high quality videos by the Russian military in Syria and "Little green men" deployed in the Ukraine. Western military forces have had difficulty in countering these due in part to a lack of suitable training and doctrine.

That these new forms of warfare are now here was brought home to me when ANU started offering a course in "Offensive Cyber Security Operations" (COMP3702).

One point I agreed with Dr Palazzo on was that the barriers to entry with some new technologies is low. This just needs engineers.

ps: My nephew, Sam Worthington, is an engineer and just set up Rapid 3d Printing.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

ACT Virtual Big Battery Proposed

Greetings from the Renewables Innovation Hub, in Canberra, where I have been attended a workshop on the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS). This is a suite of measures to reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions. One proposal is to provide incentives for  Demand Response (DRM) capable air-conditioners. Some participants pointed out that while there were many DRM capable units already installed, few were activated. So I suggested the ACT implement a DRM controller and require all units under the scheme to be connected to it, unless they were connected to an alternative DRM controller. This would provide the ACT with a virtual (and much cheaper) alternative to South Australia's big battery.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Upgrade Your Computer with Stuff from the Tip

I was amused to read in John Davidson's "Three gadgets to give your computer the facelift you so richly deserve" (AFR, 18 February), that I could upgrade my computer with a new keyboard and mouse for less than $450. My computer only cost $298, so it would seem a false economy to upgrade it with peripherals costing 50% more than the computer. I did upgrade my computer with a wide-screen LCD desktop display. This cost nothing at all, as I found it on the roadside on rubbish collection day. For those not willing to try a road-side upgrade, I recommend the tip-shop or charity. There are peripherals in abundance for a few dollars. If you want to refresh a very old computer, then an upgrade to Linux will breath new life into it. I am reluctant to but a second hand laptop, but even a new one is not going to cost around $500.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love Letter to the Libraries of Canberra

I walked into the UNSW Canberra Library at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), as I have done every few weeks for many years. But this is the first time someone has rushed up, handed me two heart-shaped chocolates and asked me to write them a love letter. Well, not to them, but to the library. So here it is, to Canberra's academic libraries.

Libraries Like Airport Business Lounges

Wynnum Library by Deluca.
Photo by Carole Margand (2016)
Wynnum Library by Deluca.
Photo by Carole Margand (2016)
This love of libraries was not one which started early. At school, the library was more of a chore, than a pleasure (except for the forbidden books locked away). The local public library was too far away and intimidating to enter (looking like a courthouse). Recently I visited where I grew up, and there is a new "Wynnum Library", very welcoming and accessible. I spent an hour browsing and recharging my laptop. It was controversial, being built on top of a supermarket, but I like it, because it looked like an airport business lounge, not a courthouse.

My love of libraries came later in life, first as somewhere to sleep at university, before the next party. Then much, much, later, somewhere to find knowledge.

One of the wonders of Canberra's (and most of Australia's) public and academic libraries is that they are open for anyone to walk in. In some countries, you have to show your ID to enter a public library and the public is not admitted to university libraries at all.

NLA and the Internet Revolution

Canberra's libraries give generously of their facilities. This does not involve just keeping copies of other people's books. Along with having an excellent cafe and bookstore, the National Library of Australia (NLA) had a central role in getting the Australian Government on the web. In the 1990s a cabal of politicians, public servants, academics and industry people were working on making government information freely available online. At the time this was contrary to government policy: the government sold information, on paper, in its bookstores. It was decided each government agency would create a website. But there would need to be a central index and none of the central agencies wanted to do it. So the National Library of Australia stepped in and created the Australian Government's first home page. This was so successful that government policy was changed.

ANU and the Innovation Revolution

In my closing address for the 1998 Information Industry Outlook Conference in Canberra, I argued that Australia could emulate Cambridge (England) as a high technology industry center. I could put this confidently, not only because I had been and talked to the people doing it in Cambridge, but because I had read a book. Not really read the book, so much as devoured it. In the ANU's Hancock Library I found Segal Quince & Partners 1985 report on "The Cambridge phenomenon: the growth of high technology industry in a university town" (still in the ANU library). Over several days I made notes, appropriately, on a Cambridge Computer Z88. I included that Summary in a book, which is mentioned occasionally by Cambridge scholars (who apparently had difficulty finding a copy of their report). Technology companies are now springing up in Canberra, next to the ANU campus.

UNSW Canberra and the Education Revolution

Two decades later, I became almost by accident a mature age graduate university student. My studies were in online education and mostly conducted online, at institutions 1,000 km and 13,000 km away. But I found e-books not ideal for intensive study and was delighted to discover that all of Canberra's university libraries would let me borrow books. Most useful for education studies were the small and friendly Australian Catholic University library and UNSW Canberra. UNSW Canberra had a collection of books published decades ago by Open University UK (OUUK) on how to design, plan, budget and deliver distance education. These books had been overlooked in a rush to MOOCs as a new form of education, but many of the problems and solutions discovered with MOOCs has already been addressed decades ago by OUUK.

I left the Department of Defence in 1999, but DoD have now followed me to the ANU (paying for an extra floor in the new ANU Computer Science building). So its back to UNSW Library to brush up on cybersecurity.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Global Financial Crisis Risk from Renewable Power Technology

Greetings from the ANU Climate Update 2018 at the Australian National University in Canberra. Professor John Hewson from the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy warned that advances in renewable power technology could precipitate a global financial crisis. The concern, as I understand it, was that wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and batteries are dropping in cost. The problem then existing fossil fuel investments could become suddenly financial nonviable, disrupting financial markets.

I was reminded about sudden changes in technology yesterday, with the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy reusable launch vehicle. This has been under development for at least ten years, but the success makes it a viable option for launching satellites at about one third the current cost.

It is similarly easy to overlook incremental improvements in renewable energy technology, until it is packaged in an understandable form. An example South Australia's 100MW battery and batteries for 50,000 homes.

ANU Climate Update 2018

Greetings from the ANU Climate Update 2018 at the Australian National University in Canberra. The opening address was by Shane Rattenbury, MLA, Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, ACT Legislative Assembly. He invited community comment on the ACT Climate Strategy to a Net Zero Emissions Territory.

The Minister surprisingly admitted that the Australian Capital Territory (where Canberra is) was easily able to become carbon neutral. This could be done as the ACT doesn't have a lot of coal fired power stations to replace.

ps: I am just finishing updating the notes for my course "ICT Sustainability" being offered by ANU in First Semester, starting online 19 February.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

U.S. Tsunami Warning System Problem

Tsunami Warning after an earthquake
near Alaska at 01-23-2018 09:35:57 UTC
The U.S. Tsunami Warning System issued a warning after an earthquake near Alaska at 01-23-2018 09:35:57 UTC.

However, when I checked the home page at 11:15 UTC the map did not show the earthquake location and instead said "Earthquake Layer failed to load" and "Alerts/Threats Layer failed to load". This would appear to be because the system was overloaded. I then canceled the page request, not wishing to make the situation worse.

The NWS Tsunami Alerts Twitter feed was working at the time. However, the twitter alerts contained a link to the same non-functioning web page:
    NWS Tsunami Alerts
‏    Verified account @NWS_NTWC
    2m2 minutes ago

    TSUNAMI WARNING 4: See http://tsunami.gov  for alert areas.
    M7.9 175mi SE Kodiak City, Alaska 0032AKST Jan 23:
There were some maps provided direct in the twitter feed, which did display:

Tsunami Travel Time Map, from
U.S. Tsunami Warning System

    NWS Tsunami Alerts
    ‏Verified account @NWS_NTWC
    1m1 minute ago

    Tue Jan 23 11:18:49 UTC 2018  event picture

However, these maps are difficult to interpret, as they showed a series of predicted arrival times as colored lines, with no scale as to the size of the wave. The waves were shown reaching Australia in 11 hours, although no warning had been issued by the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre. 

Colored dots on the map indicated the location of tidal gauges and "DART". Not explained on the map, DART is a system of "Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis" detectors. 

Fortunately in this case the tsunami was only 6 inches high (as reported at Old Harbor Alaska 0256  PST Jan 23). However, I suggest revising the design to use simple static map images on the web site, using a few colors, so the file is small. Also the use of extensive JavaScript should be avoided to allow the page to load quickly. At present the HTML file is only 61 kBytes, but the other files are 3.4 Mbytes, including a 1.2 Mbyte JavaScript file.

The tidal gauge and DART locations are not of use to someone who wants to know when, when and how large a tsunami to expect. These should be omitted from the map, unless they show a reading. The predicted arrival time should be limited to a few hours, until the existence of a significantly sized tsunami is confirmed.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Fix for Blank Screen at Grub/Linux Login: VGA Dummy Plug

VGA Dummy PlugMy a Leader Companion 220 has been running well since 2014 with Linux Mint. However, it has developed the annoying habit of displaying a black screen when booting, unless a VGA (or HDMI) external monitor is plugged in. The LCD screen then works fine (even when the computer is suspended and resumed without the external monitor), but a cold boot with an external monitor gives a blank screen.

I found hundreds of queries on the web about this problem, with any conclusive software fix. What solved the problem was a "VGA Dummy Plug". When inserted in the computer's VGA socket this tricks the system into thinking a monitor is installed and allows the boot.

Apparently such plugs were used in some bitcoin mining computers. A PC chassis was used with multiple graphics cards. But to for Microsoft Windows to recognize the graphics card , each required either a monitor plugged in, or a dummy. Thus there are many VGA Dummy Plugs offered on Amazon.com.

However, I made my own using the instructions provided by . I used 86 Ohm resistors soldered to a DB15HD plug (as used for VGA) for about AU$5.