The Head Defence Export Unit (DEU) will manage a new area within Industry Division in the Defence Materiel Organisation which acts to assist Australian defence industry in their export efforts. In addition to directly assisting Industry, the DEU
will act as a centre of expert knowledge and a point of
departmental liaison between Defence and other government agencies such as Austrade and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources on defence export issues and policy. The position will provide a range of defence export advocacy, and
facilitation services and defence export policy advice to assist Defence, industry and other government agency stakeholders.
Details of employment note: Duration of engagement is three years.
From: Head DefenceExport Unit, Australian Public Service Gazette, No. PS 20, 24 May 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Defence Export Unit
Saturday, September 29, 2007
In praise of plastic shoes
Common designs, such as the Crocs Cayman, have holes for ventilation, but the "Crocs Endeavor" have no vents (holes) and the "Professional" only at the sides. The " Islander Crocs " are a lace up shoe with leather around the ankle, sealing the top, but still with ventilation at the front of the shoe. The "All Terrain Crocs" have a lace up leather top and no vents. The Crocs Mammoth has synthetic fur lining and ventilation holes on top (none at sides to prevent water entering).
Also there are Bistro Crocs, designed for the foodservice industry with an added tread, claimed to conforms to the slip-resistance standards. There have been safety concerns about nurses getting infections from wearing crocs, and discussion of the ones with no holes being too hot. Obviously they should not be worn were there is a risk of injury from dropping something on your foot.
But if you just want the ordinary style (with holes), there are much cheaper ones available than the "Crocks" brand. These shoes are not for heavy duty use, but better than walking around the house in your socks.
|Vents:||None||Side||Top and Side|
|One strap||Crocs Endeavor Shoe||Crocs Professional||Crocs Cayman|
|Lace-up||All Terrain Crocs||Islander Crocs|
Friday, September 28, 2007
Emissions Trading Standards
As SA point out, there are existing standards which could be used as part of a scheme for the benefit of business and policy implementations. In particular there is the ISO 14000 series of environmental management standards, including:
- ISO 14064-1:2006, Greenhouse gases – Part 1: Specification with guidance at the organization level for the quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals.
- ISO 14064-2:2006, Greenhouse gases – Part 2: Specification with guidance at the project level for the quantification, monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emission reductions and removal enhancements.
- ISO 14064-3:2006, Greenhouse gases – Part 3: Specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertion
For a carbon emissions exchange to operate effectively and efficiently it needs to be built on a solid, authoritative and harmonised system of international Standards and related technical infrastructure.See Books on:
Many of these Standards already exist and Standards Australia will hold forums in Sydney and Canberra to discuss how they can contribute to Australia's National Emissions Trading Scheme and where new Standards could play a role.
These forums are in response to growing concerns related to climate change and the Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading Report published a report on 31 May 2007 emphasising the critical importance of establishing an Emissions Trading Scheme in Australia by 2012.
The Sydney event will focus on opportunities and challenges for business and the Canberra event will concentrate on emerging emissions Standards and their policy implications. ...
We invite you to join us in discussing the opportunities, challenges and the introduction of these Standards. ...
From: Emissions Trading Standards Round-Table, Standards Australia, October 2007
Metadata for data processing
Essentially Roland created a portable layer between the Geographic Information System (GIS) which holds data and an environmental model which uses it. He defines "compound commands" which are a small scripting language to be able to take the data from the GIS and assemble it into something meaningful environmentally. The middle layer is written using Java.
This raises the question as to if this technique could be expanded beyond GISs and environmental applications. Could such scripting languages be used to allow large collections of data to be made understandable for specific groups of users. On the other hand could languages used to define software design, such as used for Shane Flint's Aspect-Oriented Thinking be used for environmental applications, or even language for business logic with ebXML.
Perhaps these techniques could be used to write mini-languages, using XML syntax, to define transformations. These transformations would then process the data. After many layers of transformation the result would be the one the user wanted.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Google Ads on Mobile Phones
Department of Computer Science, FEIT
The Australian National University
Date: Monday, 15 October 2007
Time: 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Venue: Room N101, CSIT Building 
Speaker: Tom Worthington
Title: Google Ads on Mobile Phones: accessibility, standards and implementation
Google's AdWords/AdSense system allows businesses to advertise on the web. This service was recently expanded to provide advertisements on mobile phones using XHTM/WAP 2.0, WML/WAP 1.0 and CHTML/iMode, implemented with PHP, CGI Perl or ASP. This is a brief overview of how the Google system is implemented and a demonstration. The differences between the system for desktop and hand held devices is discussed, as is Google's adherence (or lack of) to web standards. The accessibility of the ads, particularly for disabled will also be looked at.
Tom Worthington a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the Australian National University, where he teaches the design of web sites, e-commerce and professional ethics. Tom has been an expert witness in several court cases involving international patent, computer, web and Internet issues, as well as advising governments and companies on ICT problems. In 1999 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society for his contribution to the development of public Internet policy.
DCS Seminars: http://cs.anu.edu.au/seminars/
Image SPAM from National Archives of Australia?
Image spam is a kind of E-mail spam where the message text of the spam is presented as a picture in an image file. Since most modern graphical E-mail client software will render the image file by default, presenting the message image directly to the user, it is highly effective at circumventing normal E-mail filtering software.I contacted the NAA and found that what they had sent was an invitation to an event in the form of an image. When I looked closely at the image I found it did contain the details of an event in October. However, the text was difficult to read. I have suggested that the NAA include the text of such announcements in the body of the message as text, so that they will not be mistaken for a Spammer.
From: Image spam, Wikipedia, 2007
Also this will allow who are blind, or otherwise can't seen the image, to read the message. I pointed out to the NAA that failing to do this may breech the Australia's Disability Discrimination Act, as well as government guidelines. The precedent was established for web pages, but most likely applies to email as well. Filing to include the text could cost the NAA $20,000.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Controlling a real robot from Second Life
Project 41: Use of Gaming Engines for TeleroboticsOf course this is not the first robot on the Internet. In 1994 Ken Taylor demonstrated control of a robot in Perth from Canberra. That robot is still online.
Location: Canberra ...
Skills: Experience with the Second Life Environment
Experience with scripting in Second Life, programming skills.
Prerequisite Criteria: Partially completed degree in Engineering or Computer Science.
Project description: Controlling the real world from Second Life
The aim of this project is to explore the use of Second Life as a platform for teleoperating real world devices. Second Life provides a sophisticated gaming environment that can be used for interacting with real world devices. You will control a robotic device by manipulating a model of the device you create in Second Life, then investigate the suitability of gaming environments for a teleoperating real world equipment. Your teleoperated device can remain as a permanent demonstration on the Second Life CSIRO island.
Within the telerobotics project there is a Mirror World activity and this vacation project is intended to be an integral part of this activity. Gaming environments provide sophisticated three dimensional worlds that could be much more effective for teleoperating equipment than existing alternatives. The use of gaming environments for teleoperation is a new idea that may expand the reach of teleoperation to applications where teleoperation is in its infancy. The application domain in which we are particularly interested is remote mining. Currently information services are outsourced to call centres and teleoperation provides the opportunity to extend the concept to physical services.
There will be a demonstrator developed that will reside permanently on the CSIRO island in Second Life. The student will apply their gaming skills to controlling a device in the real world from a virtual world. The student will evaluate the effectiveness of the teleoperating from a virtual world.
What is the vacation scholar going to learn through this project?
The student will learn about immersive environments, teleoperation and how to extend a gaming engine to teleoperate a device. They will develop programming skills and skills in evaluating usability.
From: ICT Centre 2007 Vacation Scholarship Program, CSIRO, 28/9/2007
Perhaps the student could get second life to work on the OpenMono Linux smart phone and control the robot from that. There is an alpha version of a Second Life client for Linux.
Some of the other projects look interesting as well:
1: Extending the VotApedia Audience Response System # 3
2: Rate Control of Video over IP Networks # 4
3: Security Exposure of Virtual Machines # 5
4: Development of a key management service on a portable Trust
Extension Device (TED) for trust enhanced SOA applications. # 6
5: Interference Study in Wireless Sensor Networks # 8
6: Visual mark-up and rapid prototyping of tailored information delivery systems # page .9
7: Intelligent support for ‘on-the-fly’ document tailoring # 11
8: Declarative program synthesis for the Web # 13
9: Semantic Security Views # 15
10: Change management in Composed Web Services # 16
11: Web Service Mining # 17
12: Bootstrapping Reputation in Web Service Environments # 18
13: Automatic creation of overview pages for science communicators 19
14: Improving search algorithms for better health information # 21
15: Correction of intensity inhomogeneity of Magnetic Resonance images in 3D # 23
16: Design of 3D Visualization tools for brain surface information analysis for Alzheimer's disease diagnosis # 24
17: Live-wire based semi-automatic segmentation of Medical images # 25
18: Building a case database for the Colonoscopy Simulation Project #27
19: Efficient visualization and multivariate analysis of multiple images # 28
20: Post processing techniques to derive and visualize clinically significant information from ambulatory monitoring data. # 29
21: A web based graphical viewer for biomedical time series signals and hierarchical activity profile visualisation # 31
22: Structured Pathology Reporting using Natural Language Input # 33
23: Digital Mammogram Class Library # 35
24: Digital Image Watermarking of Mammograms # 36
25: Statistical parameter estimators in modelling of high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) # 37
26: Characterization and electromagnetic modelling of board connectors for high speed digital applications # 39
27: Electromagnetic modelling of reconfigurable antenna arrays # 40
28: Modelling electromagnetic waves in millimetre-wave integrated circuits # 41
29: Super-resolution terahertz imaging # 42
30: Non-linear inverse scattering # 44
31: Steerable Antenna Design For Future Gigabit Wireless Networks # 46
32: Improving Performance of Radio Tracking # 48
33: Multi-user WLAN Downlink Implementation for Dense Networks # 50
34: GPS Reference for Radio Tracking System # 52
35: Sigma Delta D/A converter using Rocket I/O # 53
36: Communicating agents for self-repairing power grids # 54
37: Image processing and streaming over a wireless sensor network. # 56
38: Hardware Development of a Small Mobile Robot for Sensor Network Assisted Operations # 58
39: Software Development of a Small Mobile Robot for Sensor Network Assisted Operations # 60
40: Simulation and Visualization Optimization # 62
41: Use of Gaming Engines for Telerobotics # 63
42: Laser targeted positioning of a robotic manipulator # 64
43: Real-time hyper-spectral image processing and classification of marine micro-organisms # 65
44: Computer Controllable Power Switching Device for Avionics Systems # 67
45: Self-assembly Simulator # 68
46: Low power motion tracking in wireless sensor networks # 70
47: On the Reliable Data Transport Protocol in Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) # 72
48: Simulation of Self-repairing Modular Robots # 73
49: Benthic image analysis # 74
50: Power grid outages and PLC # 75
51: Online Food Frequency Questionnaire # 76
52: Sea Sentinel – Propulsion, Steering and Sensor Integration # 77
53: Sea Sentinel – Navigation and Control Systems # 78
54: Visualisation of multiple proteomic data sources # 79
55: Modelling Sensor/Observation Characteristics in SensorML # 80
56: An evaluation of spatial and temporal ontologies # 81
From: ICT Centre 2007 Vacation Scholarship Program, CSIRO, 28/9/2007
Linnaeus the blogger?
Professor Sörlin showed an excerpt from Linné - An Ordered Mind a docudrama by Otto Fagerstedt, made to commenorate the 300th anniversary of Linnaeus' birth (a preview is available from Swedish TV). He suggested the ABC might like to broadcast the series, but perhaps it would suit SBS TV better.
Professor Sörlin was not completely positive about Linnaeus, suggesting he exploited his students by sending them on dangerous expeditions around the world (half the students did not return) with little or no pay and then taking credit for their research results. The question as to how much of their intellectual property students own, is still an issue in universities today. He commented that Linnaeus was as much interested in finding plants and other resources which Sweden could exploit, as in scientific knowledge. He suggested that Linnaeus' accounts of his journeys were somewhat exaggerated (like the average travel blog today). He also pointed out how Linnaeus artfully promoted expeditions to government and business. In a way Linnaeus was a prototype for the modern university Professor, who is more business person than academic.
One interesting point for Australia is that Dr. Daniel Solander, one of Linnaeus' estranged students, accompanied Joseph Banks on Cook's Endeavour voyage around the world.
On display outside the Museum was a biofuel Saab car, designed to run on alcohol.
ps: At the Web Standards Group Meeting in Canberra 26 July, 2007 on Social computing for government and business, one of the audience commented that creating taxonomies of information was not something newly invited for the web, but had been done by Linnaeus, 300 years before.
- Linnaeus 300 Web Site
- Books by and about Linnaeus including his Linnaeus' Philosophia Botanica
- Week in Stockholm (travelogue)
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Docking Station the Killer App for Thin Clients?
The Belkin High-Speed Docking Station connects to a laptop using an ExpressCard port. It provides USB, Audio In/Out, Ethernet and Video connections. Unlike docking stations made for specific models of computers, it is not just a cable adapter, the unit has its own video and Ethernet hardware. So essentially the unit is small computer programmed to relay data from the laptop (this is borne out be the difficulty some users are having getting it to work). With some reprogramming it should be possible to use it on its own as a thin client computer.
Alternatively it should be possible to program a thin client computer to display data from a laptop computer and relay keyboard and mouse input. The laptop could be connected by USB 2.0 or WiFi. The thin client would then be a docking station for the laptop, but with the advantage that it would be usable without the laptop connected.
This could provide very popular for homes and offices. The desktop computer would be replaced with a cheaper and easier to maintain thin client computer which would provide basic functions. Those who need more computing power would plug in their laptop. Others could plug in a USB flash disk, USB portable hard disk or their smartphone.
- Belkin High-Speed Docking Station
- Other docking stations
- Thin Client Hardware
- Books about Thin Clients
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Smart Grids and Water Heaters for Environmental Sustainability
Robin Eckermann is best known for his work as Chief Architect for TransACT Communications,which installed a broadband network in Canberra. He suggested such systems could be used for providing help to the elderly, to allow them to stay at home longer, saving health costs and providing a better quality of life. One of his examples of energy savings as for "smart grids", where computer communications are used to more efficiently use the electricity grid. The other example was a smart solar hot water system.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Want to run a railway?
The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a narrow gauge line using the Swiss Abt system to get it up steep hills. I my next trip to Tasmania, I hope to do a live Internet report from the train, wireless broadband permitting.
MANAGER - WEST COAST WILDERNESS RAILWAY
Source: The Australian
Job Code: 2151291
Location: Hobart, TAS Australia
Residency: Must have residency
Job Type: Permanent
WEST COAST WILDNERNESS RAILWAY
Manager - West Coast Wilderness Railway
Without a doubt, the West Coast Wilderness Railway (WCWR) is one of the best heritage railways in the world.
An opportunity now exists for a team-oriented leader with a passion for excellence to take responsibility for the day-to-day management of WCWR. This is a broad role including strategy, governance, safety, and product development. With a strong team supporting you, and as part of the senior management team for west coast operations, including the Strahan Village and Gordon River Cruises, you will be well positioned to drive the on-going growth of this premier tourism attraction.
An understanding of co-regulatory environments and a commitment to safety is sought. Essential is your strong team orientation, excellent problem solving skills, and an undeniable ability to achieve results. As part of Tasmania's largest employer of hospitality and tourism professionals, Pure Tasmania offers future career development opportunities across the State and generous employee benefits.
Please quote ref: PT24.
Want to know more?
Visit www.puretasmania.com.au/jobs or phone Juliet Casey on (03) 6221 1673 / 0448 300 252
Visit www.puretasmania.com.au/jobs or send your application to:
Pure Tasmania Recruitment,
PO Box 200,
fax (03) 6335 5796.
Applications close 21st September 2007.
Pure Tasmania Recruitment
Hobart, TAS Australia
Fax: (03) 6335 5796
From: Manager - West Coast Wilderness Railway, CareerOne Services Pty Limited, 2007
Original Griffin drawings of Canberra on Display
Ian Batterham has worked as a conservator at the National Archives of Australia for over 25 years, and is an expert on the Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin drawings of Canberra. He will be sharing the journey of these great works: their history, providence and conservation. ..
From: What's on, NLA, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Mobile Advertising Guidelines
The Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA) – which represents the digital content industry, and its Mobile Industry Group (MIG), www.aimia.com.au/mobile – has been leading the discussion and development of mobile advertising formats in Australia. ...ps: AIMIA also have a Mobile Content Education Campaign.
It is the purpose of this document to recommend best practices for the creation and sizing of mobile display advertisements in Australia. The document adheres to the Mobile Marketing Association's (MMA) Mobile Advertising Guidelines: Mobile Web (WAP) Banners1 where possible. Some variations are noted with the rationale for differing. In the near future, this document will grow to include best practices for text-based sponsored listings, animated and video advertisements, mobile TV and other campaign types. ...
From: AIMIA Mobile Advertising Display Formats, Best Practices & Guidelines, August 2007
Web Content Management for Government
Greetings from the 4th Annual Web Content Management for Government in Canberra. After morning tea I am talking on Government services via the web in regional Australia. James Robertson is chairing and commented that the web content tools industry keeps growing but clients keep expecting to be able to use these tools for complex work flow (but can't).Jim Higgins, Chief Executive, New Zealand Local Government Online, talked about councils collaborating on common systems. This is a company owned by four local government organizations. He mentioned emergencies for floods and volcanic eruptions as a common problem for councils, but at a less extreme level, cooperation on local library catalogs. One example was the Taranaki Regional Xplorer,with local mapping data. The Taranaki Regional Council also has a useful emergency management site. This includes a section on Pandemic influenza.
The NZ Councils have the ReadyNet emergency management system to allow coordination between organizations and councils, including Tsunami warning.
Brendan Dalton, a/g Branch Manager, Information Management Branch, Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) talked about the FaCSIA Guides IIS Project. This is claimed to be Australia's largest web publishing project, with over 400,000 pages on Social Policy and Entitlements law. NetCat Biz company developed the SWIPE system to covert the content. However, I could find little about this on FaCSIA's own web site. But I did find an example: National Indigenous Housing Guide. This was very difficult to navigate, the content seems to be very fragmented and there appear to be major accessibility problems with the content.
Andrew Arch, Manager Online Accessibility Consulting, Vision Australia, talked on Accessible websites: designing and testing to benefit the whole community. He showed short videos of disabled people talking about trying to use web sites. One had a motor control problem (so could not use a mouse), the other was deaf.
Next I talked on Government services via the web in regional Australia.
Kerry Webb, Policy Officer, InTACT, ACT Government, Managing public sectors’ websites interface language and elements – do users and the public understand you? He pointed to the NT government as an example of a unified web design, even if a bit dull. He referred to the UK "Government on the Internet 2007" report and the "2007 Leadership in Customer Service: Delivering on the Promise". He pointed out that world "league tables" comparing government online may not be applicable, due to different government structures.
The UK has "DirectGov" to provide an integrated set of services. Kerry argues that this could cause problems as the agency with expertise will be remote from the web provider.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Satellite TV on Australian Domestic Flights
This has about a 5 inch standard format (4:3 aspect ratio) screen LCD and a credit card reader in the seat back in front of each passenger and provides 24 channels from Foxtel/Austar Pay TV. This costs $5 for flights up to 2 hours and $10 for those over 2 hours. During taxing a preview of the service is provided and then their user is prompted to swipe their credit card. There is a hump on the top fuselage of the aircraft over the wing, which presumably is the satellite antenna.
On the web site describing the service, Virgin Blue warn that the service might be interrupted during turbulence and banking of the aircraft. However, there were numerous interruptions while the aircraft while was still on the ground before takeoff. It may well be the service actually works better once the aircraft is airborne, in which case the preview on the ground may unnecessarily discourage users. Virgin Blue might be better off providing a prerecorded preview on the ground, before switching to the live service in mid air.
The quality of the image on the seat back screens was adequate and similar to that from pocket LCD TVs. The sound was good. It appears that the airline has replaced the previous recorded audio and video service with the satellite system. This would have the advantage that no maintenance of tapes or disks would be needed. However, the service is limited by the very narrow range of content available Foxtel. Those who are used to many channels of music and other audio entertainment on an aircraft will be disappointed. Also those who don't want to watch what is essentially American TV will be disappointed.
One problem is the misleading name of the system: Live2Air. The term "live to air" indicates that the content is not prerecorded. In fact most of the channels provided by "Live2Air" are prerecorded and not "live to air".
Overall this is an impressive technological accomplishment with limited usefulness, but which should improve with time. The black bezel around the LCD screen is large, indicating a larger screen could be installed in the future. Presumably a better selection of TV and audio content could be provided as the available bandwidth increases or compression of the signal is improved.
Airliner for Australian Maritime Patrol
The RAAF has already ordered the Boeing Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft (AEW&C) , which is also based on the 737. The P-8A requires more modifications for an internal weapons bay and under wing pylons (to carry about the same amount as an F-111).
It is likely the aircraft will also be used for electronic surveillance and signals interception (SIGINT and ELINT). The aircraft have a lot of room, compared to the typical military aircraft, to carry rack mounted supercomputers for real time processing of signals and to act as a flying web server to distribute information to other aircraft, ships and vehicles.
Web to reduce UAV bandwidth use
Reports such as "$10M to Utah State to Help Ease ISR Bandwidth Crunch" (11-Sep-2007 14:45 Watershed Publishing LLC), indicate that networking and image processing will be exploited to reduce bandwidth:
However, a better way to reduce data transmission is not to send the data in the first place. The typical UAV is really just a remote control airplane, like a larger version of a hobby plane. With a little more intelligence the camera can just transmit when there is something interesting to see and at a resolution the user requires. The images can be zoomed in on to provide a high resolution view of a small area. Progressive scanning schemes can be sued to give a low resolution preview and then add detail of the area of interest. The aircraft can store the data for later replay. These are all capabilities available in web image formats and with off the shelf open source web server technologies, rather than something needing millions of dollars in research.
Utah State University Research Foundation, North Logan, Utah, is being awarded $10M for cost-plus-fixed-fee completion task order #0007 under previously awarded contract (N00173-02-D-2003) for research in the area of Time Critical Sensor Image/Data Processing. Specifically, they will research advanced . ... massive bandwidth crunch being created by hundreds of video-equipped UAVs and networked airborne ISR systems sending video back to base. ... The Naval Research Laboratory, in Washington, DC issued the contract.
A hand launched UAV could use a small off the shelf computer such as the business card size Via Mobile-ITX which is intended for use in a smartphone.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Architectural preoccupations with site
had a lecture by architect Helen Norrie on what to do with public outdoor art entitled "Architectural preoccupations with site".
Helen talked about the Hobart Rivulet and its effect on the design of Hobart (there was a recent competition for the waterfront design). She pointed out that while most of the ruvilet is now covered over, it is still reflected in the location of arcades such as the Cat & Fiddle Arcade and some remaining open space.
Helen then moved on to the silhouettes of Edinburgh, the Maya Ying Lin designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, the Jewish Museum Berlin by Daniel Libeskind and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, by Peter Eisenman. In retrospect this was not a cheery collection of art works for a talk, especially two days after the 911 anniversary.
The Jewish Museum is in the shape of an abstraction of the Star of David, whereas the Holocaust Memorial by Eisenman is thousands of rectangular concrete blocks near Tiergarten in Berlin. These are part architecture and part sculpture. Helen was not impressed with the Potsdamer Platz, which seems to be a monument to corporate egos, rather than anything human. The subway entrance is five times larger than it needs to be.
Iannis Xenakis designed the Phillips Pavilion for the 1958 expo (sometimes attributed to le Corbsier). The building is conceived to be walked through with a specially composed piece of music "Metastasis".
Afterwards Helen provided a tour of the adjacent architecture school and I suggested they could design high technology broadband equipped modular classrooms, as mentioned at the end of my talk in Hobart.
ps: I don't seem to be able to go anywhere without coming across a railway workshop converted into an art center. The last one was the Carriage works Sydney ;-)
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Mildly Offensive and Mostly True
The pay consists of selected excerpts from the inquiry into payments to the Iraqi government by the Australian company AWB and the complicity, if any by Australian politicians and bureaucrats. While transcripts were used, there were selective and the playwright clearly was not happy with the outcome of the inquiry, which cleared the politicians, criticized the bureaucrats a little and the company people more.
A combination of acting acrobatics and multimedia are used on a large, mostly bare stage. There were two large screens dominating the room which showed documentary material to link the live material. TV displays showed an actor located out in the foyer at the bar playing the part of a slightly confused minister for foreign affairs (the best part of the performance).
There was a little too much of theater sports type improvisation for my liking. I would have preferred if the action had been grounded in a set designed like the courtroom like hearing room. (which was equipped with video screens and looked a lit like a set).
Some of the content was inexplicable, such as a cage with a mouse trap and an apparently real mouse (zoomed in on screen via a camera).
The action in the foyer of the CarriageWorks was more entertaining than the play. There were WiFi equipped people acting as characters in a video game being remotely controlled by players at flat screen displays, a performance of some sort of sculpture and a hole in the floor through which people kept appearing.
Supercapacitors for Joint Strike Fighter?
Lockheed are reported to be having problems providing enough power for the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter which CSIRO's supercapacitors might fix. The F35 uses large amounts of electrical power short periods for the electro-hydrostatic flight control actuators to steer the plane. Lockheed's solution is a bigger generator, which will be under-used most of the time. The supercapacitors were developed by CSIRO to supplement batteries in electric cars, as capacitors can absorb power much quicker than a battery can.
Government services via the web in regional Australia
At the 4th Annual Web Content Management for Government, Hyatt Hotel Canberra, on 17 September 2007 I will be talking about how to deliver government services via the web in regional Australia. This is one of a series on ICT for a Civil Society.
Several new wireless technologies are being introduced to regional areas of Australia. With a few small changes to their web sites, government agencies can optimise their service delivery over these new delivery chains. Smart phones are now readily available in agencies and companies, but are being used for little more than reading email. These can be effective tools to address rapidly emerging situations, such as influenza pandemic. Australian governments are addressing a critical issues in remote indigenous communities. Provision of government services, information and education via the web can supplement and support other delivery mechanisms.
- Optimising web sites for new wireless regional networks
- Smart phones for managing pandemics
- Services for remote indigenous communities online
- Using the web to reduce regional carbon emissions
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
St George Bank Annoying Queuing System
Unlike Google, who send checks in Australian dollars (and even do direct deposit to Australian banks), Amazon.com send paper cheques in US dollars. At least I think they are in US dollars, as the cheques do not identify the currency or the country they are from. The first time I tried to deposit one of these the teller looked at me suspiciously.
This time I did not manage to get to the teller at all. St. George Bank have introduced a "take a number" queuing system. I pressed "international transactions" and was issued number "D810". A screen showed that A240 was being served, as were some B and C numbers, but no Ds. So I had no idea when, or if, I would ever have a turn. After a while of standing around and seeing if there was any way to find out, I gave up and put the cheque in a deposit envelope in a slot.
The bank called the next day to say that I must come to the counter to deposit overseas cheques. However, by then I was interstate. The following week I turned up at the branch used the name of a teller to bypass the queuing system. This seems a bizarrely inefficient way to run a bank and is not good for the customer.
In the longer term I will see if I can find another bank which does not have this very customer unfriendly system, which seems to be designed to drive people away from St. George bank. Or perhaps Amazon.com will realize that not everyone in the world works in US currency and will have a direct deposit system in US dollars by the time of my next payment.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Web better than airport to find flights
My flight from Newcastle from Influence Forum 2007 was delayed by fog and rain and, more unusually, a power failure at the airport causing the arrestor cables used to stop military aircraft possibly being armed, so I missed the connection to get to give talks in Tasmania.
At Melbourne Airport, the check-in counter of the airline I was booked with could only tell me when their airline had the next flight, not which other airline flew there or when. Their primary concern seemed to be if I wanted a refund (which was not a priority as a room full of people were going to be waiting in Tasmania for a talk).
So I had to go from counter to counter asking each airline. Even finding an inquiry counter was difficult: I had to queue up just to be able to ask where to queue up to ask. By a process of elimination, walking from counter to counter, airline to airline, in two domestic terminals (separated by the international terminal), I found that several flights had closed. What I should have done was sit down and fire up the wireless web, then I could saved a walk and several queues, by checking each airlines web site. Also on the web there are consolidated travel services which will tell you which airlines fly to which cities. Perhaps Melbourne Airport should put in some kiosks for this.
Interlocking flooring meet educational safety standards?
The "hard" and "medium" refer to the stiffness of the plastic they are made from. Softer material is used for comfort where people have to stand for long periods. "Dry" refers to the material not having holes for drainage. For a classroom, hard and dry would be needed.
The material is available with different non-slip patterned on the surface. Tim mentioned a new finish with a random stippled pattern would be ready shortly, which should be good for a classroom. This should also be suitable for covering with carpet tiles if necessary (the non slip surface of other patterns would show through carpet). The stock color for the tiles is black (from recycled plastic) but other colors are available on order.
There is about 5mm clearance under the middle of the tiles and about 5mm at the edges. It is not clear if an electrical cable could be safely passed under the edges without damage. I have asked Tim if the design can be changed to provide more clearance.
Wireless Broadband in Regional Australia Now
The router is a NetComm N3G001W 3G Wireless Router. This looks much like any other domestic router, with an antenna for WiFi. But in addition it has a slot for a PC Card. The slot has a a wireless card for Telstra NextG broadband in it. The NextG card has two postage stamp size paddle antennas up. So far this is working very well.
Paul Twomey on the Future of the Internet
Paul was in Bangalore recently and mentioned how the outsourcing industry there was dependent on Internet addressing working (as provided by ICANN). The outsourcing industry depends on good communications and on there being one network everyone is on. He used the analogy of TCP/IP as a flatbed truck, with DNS as the addressing for deliveries. If had have made this a container truck, this would be an even better analogy, with the standard ISO containers moving from truck to ship to train, the way IP data packets move from network to network.
Paul mentioned that ICANN supported the use of multiple languages on the Internet. But the issue of multi-byte Asian languages is still contentious. This is an issue more generally with ICT standards.
Paul then gave his own personal view of where he saw the Internet going in the next ten years. One interesting comment was the innovation with the Internet happening from "the edge". Unlike the traditional telephone networks, where a few large companies decided the technical standards and the rate of introduction of innovations, with the Internet innovation can come from small developments out on the edges of the network.
Within ten years there may be 3 billion Internet users, the number perhaps exceeding those having electricity. Some Chinese provinces are already putting all villages on broadband (in my talk on broadband in Tasmania this week I will give examples from India).
Mobile wireless will be the normal mode of use in developing nations. Broadband will increase to provide 100 mbps to 1Gbps to home users.
Machine to machine will be a growth area for the Internet, with cars and planes having internal networks, utility monitoring, geo location and sensor networks. The last few of these are potential areas of growth in Australia and I will be suggesting them as growth areas for the Australian economy in Hobart on Wednesday.
Paul pointed out that as VoIP is used more, emergency location becomes an issue. The location of conventional phones are known, so the emergency services can know where to respond to a call for help. But VoIP and mobile locations are not known and some form of GPS or other geo location would be useful. Also VoIP implies free phone calls, which causes problems for telcos pricing phone services.
Voice operated computing is an option being investigated for illiterate rural users in India. Previously I looked at the Simputer, which has voice output. Such devices could also be of use in Australia.
In the future essentially all businesses will be online. One way they may differentiate their services is to use interactive games technology to the service industry. Paul used the example of the interface for the SIMS game.
At this point it struck me as odd that none of the audience had a laptop out and none seemed to be doing a "live" report to the Internet. If this was an academic IT event, there would be at least half a dozen of the audience (inlcuding me) at keyboards, reporting the event as it happened. It may be that professional journalists are not rewarded for "live" reporting, or want to do a properly researched job, or would just rather have lunch. ;-)
Paul pointed out that most TV which is broadcast is not live to air, but prerecorded. He predicted that this will be how most digital video will be provided over the Internet: not streamed live, but provided in advance for playback using a device like a TiVo. I thought this was going to happen years ago, but the intellectual property issues and business models are taking a long time to sort out.
Paul predicted more public key encryption to protect the Internet and the content on it. He predicted a continuing "arms race" between hackers and network protectors.
Paul called for the creation of a national wireless sensor network to measure environmental parameters, such as salinity and rainfall. This would be more useful than politicians and bureaucrats arguing about water and land use based on out of date information.
For Australia Paul called for "proper" broadband. He gave the example of South Korea with 1gbps to homes. He argued the debate should change to one about the services which could be provided and how to use it to reduce costs, rather than the technical details of what sort of broadband. Examples provided were video for health and aged services, particularly for rural communities.
During this part of Paul's talk a heavy rainstorm started to make it hard to hear in the tent the talk was held in. This happened at the last Influence event I attended shortly before the last election, when the Minister for Communications continued an uninterrupted speech in the middle of a thunderstorm in a tent, even when water started flowing under the walls and across the floor.
Paul used the example of Estonia, which suffered a large scale and sustained cyber attack on government and business systems. Such attacks may be made by disaffected individuals, criminal gangs or governments. Australian corporations, as well as governments, need plans prepared and tested for what to do when such attacks happen. He argued that Australian governments and the financial sector were relatively well prepared, but other business sectors were not. Organizations and sectors needed to conduct "war games" using scenarios , with political and business leaders taking part, so they know what to do.
I will be talking about some of this in Hobart, with wireless devices being used for dealing with an Influenza Pandemic. It also occoured to me that one thing organsiations and governments need to do is ensure there are online outlets for legitimate dissent and discussion available. If the community feels they are not being listened to, that will legitimize protests. For the next election Online Opinion is having a new forum.
IPV4 to IPV6
Paul pointed out that IP addresses will run out in the next thre3 to six years. Some IPV4 addresses are being reallocated, but this is being addressed by moving from IPV4 to IPV6. China will have essentially moved to IPV6 for the 2008 Olympics. Australian need to plan the move now, or be left behind.
Keeping with the green theme, the event is remarkably free of the usual brochures and handouts. The media room is equipped with rows of low power laptops. There is also a podcast room for digital audio and a digital video room. Out every window you can see a golf course, which is less green. ;-)
Labels: alternative energy, Green IT, NSW
Influencing Climate Change with ICT
Keeping with the green theme, the event is remarkably free of the usual brochures and handouts. The media room is equipped with rows of low power laptops. There is also a podcast room for digital audio and a digital video room. Out every window you can see a golf course, which is less green. ;-)
Friday, September 07, 2007
Thai Prime Minister at APEC in Sydney visiting Buddhist temple in Annadale
The scene involved security people in ill fitting suits and wrap around sunglasses talking into the cuffs of their coats, and even someone going past on a Segway.
Later on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the Kingdom of Thailand provided an official photo on their web site:
ps: BBQ Kangaroo: Take one de-boned leg of kangaroo, place on a very hot BBQ plate with sunflour oil. Sear both sides. Add garlic, pepper and two cups of red wine. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for ten minutes.
After the meeting, the Prime Minister along with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Commerce visited Wat Buddharangsee at Annandale in order to perform religious practices and met with more than 300 Thai people who are living in the vicinity areas. In this occasion, the Prime Minister talked to those who came to welcome him about current political and economic situations in Thailand. ...
From: Prime Minister of Thailand arrives in Sydney for APEC Summit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the Kingdom of Thailand, September 8, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Canberra IT Pioneer Looks at Payments Again
Towards the end he talked about the work of NICTA which he is on the board of. He mentioned NICTA have licensed their "OKAY" embedded operating system for use in smart phones.
Also Brand put up an advertisement for a programmer to work on a micro payments system. This appears to be for a system with some of the features of the Snap payments system he was involved with some years ago. It could be a good time to do this with industry speculation about a Google patent for a payments system and smart phones creating interest in the area. From a quick look the Google idea does not look that different to Snap.
OOXML Misses ISO Adoption
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Sustainable Housing Ideas
The bathroom section had Caroma's Smartflush toilet on display with Integrated Hand Basin. This has a handbasin built into the top of water cistern. When you push the button water flows through the spout allowing you to wash your hands. That water is then collected in the tank to flush the toilet. Caroma claim this meets plumbing standards. The unit is water efficient even without the handbasin, using 4.5/3 litre on their dual flush (typical dual flush toilets use 6l for a full flush).
The bookstore had a limited but good selection of sustainable building books, as well as more general ones and technical standards for builders.
There was also an interesting use of polystyrene and corrugated steel sandwich panels to build a roof. This consisted of stow sheeted of curved corrugated steel with about 200 mm of polystyrene between. The polystyrene had been molded to have a corrugated surface to match the steel. The result when finished would look like a traditional Australian steel roof, but have very good insulating properties. There are numerous such systems using structural insulated panels, but these are usually used for industrial buildings.
See also: Energy and Water Saving.
Greenhouse Challenge Plus
The process is that the organization joins the program, with the help of an adviser. The organisation commits to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. Industry associations and consultants are catered for with a "Facilitative Agreement", where they help members and clients. The organisation then reports results via the environment web site.
Current members include Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers, IBM Australia Limited and the Australian National University. There is also a Greenhouse Challenge Plus - Conference And Awards in Canberra 17-18 September 2007.
Standards Australia abstains in OOXML vote
Standards Australia has cast a vote to abstain from the ISO/IEC JTC1 ballot to adopt the DIS 29500 Office Open XML format draft standard as an International Standard.There is an article on this: Australian apathy results in OOXML abstain vote by Liam Tung, ZDNet Australia, 03 September 2007. Also there is a map showing votes cast (note that the usual color convention is reversed: red shows for and green against).
The decision to cast an abstain vote from the current ballot follows months of consultation and a clear lack of consensus in Australia on this issue by stakeholders. ...
From: "Australia abstains on Office Open XML vote", Media Release, Standards Australia, 3 September 2007
The decisions for XML and web standards are likely to get harder in the coming years and I have suggested some ways the process could be made easier.
First experiences Neo 1973 open source Linux smart phone
The materials and manufacture of the phone case look good, it feels solid and well made. But the design of the phone looks more like a prototype than a finished product.
The phone has curves where it should be flat and flat where it should be curved. The semicircular top and bottom corners make the phone bit harder to pick up than it need be and also make it difficult to see and feel if the phone is the right way up. The flat back makes it hard to pick up off a flat surface. A case with a more rectangular top and bottom would be easier to hold. A different shape to the top and bottom would make it easer to tell you had the phone the right way up. A curved back would make the phone easier to pick up and also easier to fit in the hand.
I have proposed that engineering students at ANU design a ruggedized replacement case for the phone, similar to those produced by the Australian company OpenTec for military and outdoor applications. Industrial designers around the world might also like to design alternate cases. Apart from making the phone easier to hold, there might be provision for a larger battery or for accessories, such as a keyboard combined with a protective screen cover.
The phone with prerelease "pre-alpha" software took an unacceptable 90 seconds to booth Linux. No doubt this will reduce with later versions. During the boot, the phone shows typical Linux text logs. But the text is so small I could not read it. The screen's VGA resolution makes this problem worse. FIC may have been better off installing a lower resolution, lower power and lower cost, QVGA screen.
The screen can be operated using a finger or stylus and works well. The graphical user interface added over Linux provides big button for dialing and a contacts database. To enter names in the contacts diary a screen keyboard is displayed, this is too small to use a finger on but works well with a pointed object. In the absence of the clumsy stylist which came with the unit, I found the end of the arm of my spectacles worked well (I have to take my glasses off to read the screen anyway).
The Neo has one standard USB socket, used to charge the battery as well as provide commucnations. When I connected this to my Windows XP laptop, the Neo was recognized as a "RNDIS/Ethernet Gadget", but Windows XP was unable to find suitable software to drive it.
First impressions are that the physical design of the unit needs to be improved to compete with other phones. The Linux software is close to being usable as a phone and the potential of being able to run standard applications is enticing enough for early adopters to be willing to put up with the glitches which will still be there when the first commercial units are released in October.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Interlocking flooring for flexible learning centre?
The mats I found are LokMat "Hard Dry (no Holes), from Pulsar Pacific Corp in Victoria. These are 500 x 500 x 20 mm and cost about $27 each retail. The material is 5 mm thick black plastic. The underside of the mat has a matrix of 15 mm high posts, much like columns in a building holding up a roof. At the edges, where the mats clip together, there is about 5 mm clearance.
The mats are designed for industrial use, including being driven over, so presumably withstand walking chairs and tables of a classroom. One problem is that the standard material is black plastic with a non slip surface. What would be better is a carpet like spotted and stippled colored surface. If that is not possible, it might be necessary to cover the mats with carpet tiles, increasing the cost.
There is sufficient clearance to place cables under the mat. It might be necessary to cut a section of the edge of the mat. What is not clear is if cables could be laid bare under the mat or would need to be placed in a conduit for protection and if this would meet safety regulations. A 10 x 15 mm conduit should fit comfortably under the mats.
I have written to a couple of the suppliers to ask if their products are suitable. If anyone has experience of this, please let me know.
eduroam global wireless network for education
There is a brochure from AARnet explaining the system. One point is that individuals can't apply to use the system, it is only available via their organization.
So far EduRoam is being deployed in Europe and Australia. In Canberra so far the Australian Catholic University and AARNet's offices have deployed the system. It is in development at CSIRO and ANU.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
ICT Standards for Civil Society, Commerce and Government
- Reducing Australian ICT Carbon Emissions, 9 September 3:30pm at Influence 2007, Hunter Valley Crowne Plaza, NSW.
- Why Max? Demystifying Broadband options for Tasmania: For the ACS Tasmanian Branch, at Burnie, Tasmania 1:00PM , Devonport 4:00PM on 10 September 2007, Hobart, 12:30PM 12 September 2007 and Lanceston, 4:00PM 13 September 2007.
- Locating Tasmania in the Global Information Economy, address to the Annual General Meeting of the ACS Tasmanian Branch, Hobart, 12 September 2007, 5:30PM.
- Government services via the web in regional Australia, for the 4th Annual Web Content Management for Government, marcus evans, Hyatt Hotel, Canberra 17 Sep 2007, 11am
- Metadata and Electronic Document Management for Electronic Commerce, for COMP3410, ANU, 19 Sep 2007
- Standards for eCommerce, for COMP3410, ANU, 20 Sep 2007
- The Digital Library, for COMP3410, ANU, 10am to 11am 26 Sep 2007
- Electronic Publishing, for COMP3410, ANU, 27 Sep 2007
- Electronic Document Management, for ANU Centre for Science and Engineering of Materials.
ICT Standards for Civil Society, Commerce and Government
What are we trying to accomplish with the Internet, web and broadband? In a series of talks and training courses over the next few months I will discuss how to reduce carbon emissions, sell goods, publish and preserve information using ICT. The Internet now provides a common wired and wireless platform for communications and the web a platform for publishing and, increasingly, for data applications.
Increasingly computer systems are using a common set of Internet and web based standards for publishing, commerce, government business and personal communications. What these have in common is that it is to allow people to work together more efficiently and creatively. The application might require a commercial business plan, a government policy, a communial agreement, or just an nod from friends having lunch, but they will all use similar technology with similar ways of working and aims.