Friday, February 29, 2008

Controlling Light by Photonic Crystals

The IEEE ACT chapter invited members to a talk on Controlling Light by Photonic Crystals, by Dr. Masaya Notomi, NTT, Japan at ANU. The topic sounded like science fiction, but turned out to be very down to earth. Dr. Notomi has been researching how to manipulate light in silicon microchips, much the way electrical signals are.

Photonic crystals have a regular lattice structure which effects the behavior of light in very specific ways. Examples in nature are the beautiful way light is reflected from butterfly wings and opals. However, much more regular structures are needed for practical applications. In place of the doping of silicon used for electronics, complex patterns of holes are etched in layers of the silicon. The arrangement of the holes gives different optical effects.

The simplest use for photonic crystals is to focus light, without the need for lenses. Light can be concentrated on a detector, or light from a LED source can be spread out. The light can be confined to a much smaller space than can be done with mirrors, or with refraction in a fiber optic cable. This could be used to transmit light from one point on a microchip to another.

Photonic Crystals can also be used to slow down light, by 50,000 times. This might be used in a light DRAM, which would have photons circulating slowly.

Injecting a second controlling light signal creates a light Flip Flop (bistable switch).

The wavelength of individual photons of light can also be changed, which might be used in quantum optical computers.


Digital Education Revolution

Part of the new Australian government's policy is to provide computers for school children. But there is more to the so called Digital Education Revolution of the part of the Australian Government Education Revolution policy. The plan is to spend $100 million by June 2008 and start planning for broadband connections. There is a mailing list for updates.

One billion dollars over four years is to be spent on
  1. National Secondary School Computer Fund: up to $1 million per school for ICT for secondary students in Years 9 – 12. While the priority is (including thin clients), the money can also be spent on data projectors, interactive whiteboards, digital cameras and other technology.
  2. Broadband connections to Australian schools: up to $100 million for high-speed fibre-to-the-school (FTTS)
  3. Online curriculum content development
  4. ICT Training for teachers
  5. Web portals for parents.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Copyright and the Internet Archive, Canberra, 3 April 2008

Matthew Rimmer will be giving a free talk in Canberra, 3 April 2008, in the National Library's Digital Culture talk series on copyright law and the Internet Archive . Recommended:
Back to the future: copyright law, Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine

Dr Matthew Rimmer

Internet Archive provides free 'universal access to human knowledge' to researchers, historians, scholars and the general public. Their delightfully named Wayback Machine provides access to websites that have been significantly altered or may no longer exist. Notwithstanding this altruistic endeavour, Internet Archive has been embroiled in a number of policy debates over copyright law over the extension of copyright term, 'orphan' works, take-down notices, digital locks and large-scale digitisation projects. The Internet Archive has also been involved in litigation as a plaintiff, a defendant, and an amicus curiae (a friend of the court). In the light of such policy debate and litigation, there is a need to reform digital copyright laws so that digital libraries such as Internet Archive can flourish - without fear of disruption from copyright owners.

Dr Matthew Rimmer is a senior lecturer and the director of Higher Degree Research at the ANU College of Law, and an associate director of the Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (ACIPA). He holds a BA (Hons) and a University Medal in literature, and a LLB (Hons) from the Australian National University, and a PhD in law from the University of New South Wales. Rimmer is a member of the Copyright and Intellectual Property Advisory Group of the Australian Library and Information Association, and a director of the Australian Digital Alliance.

Dr Rimmer will be introduced by Laura Simes, Copyright Advisor, National Library of Australia

Date: Thursday 3 April 2008
Time: 12.30 to 13.30
Venue: Library Theatre
This talk is free and open to everyone.

Bobby Graham
Web Content Manager
Web Publishing Branch, IT Division
National Library of Australia
Tel: +61 2 6262 1542

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Print on demand flat pack furniture

Laser cut tableOne of the revolutions now happening in publishing is print on demand books. You can now do the same thing with furniture: Up load your furniture design to Ponoko, and they will laser cut it from sheets of wood or plastic. You then assemble the parts.

At present Ponoko are only offering to do the cutting; you have to do the sales and distribution. But I expect it will not before such companies offer the additional services the print on demand companies do: they will also sell and distribute the items for you. With this you could design a table and upload the design. When a customer paid for a table, the laser would cut one out and ship it. You would then receive the payment, minus cutting, shipping and handling costs. You would not have to handle any wood, just bank the money.

Of course the catch with this is that the laser cutter is limited to smaller size sheets of thin wood and plastic. The items currently displayed by Ponoko all have a cardboard cutout look to them. Also on demand production is more expensive than mass production.

However, such a process can produce wonderful products in the hands of a skilled designer. The University of Tasmania Architecture students are trained to make designs using a Computer Numerical Control router. One graduate is Peter Walker, who makes wooden surfboards, when not teaching furniture design. prefabricated computer equipped classrooms could be made this way, including ones for remote indegnious communities.

It would be interesting to imagine a store like Ikea, but which make the furniture on demand. The store has no furniture in stock, just a large supply of designs, sheets of wood and a machine to cut it with. You try out the design in the store and then they make you one to take home.

Stewart Brand mentions laser cut plywood in his book The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility as does Alastair Fuad-Luke in ecoDesign: The Sourcebook.

See also:

HP Kitchen Computer

HP TouchSmart IQ770 19HP released their TouchSmart IQ770 PC in 2007. This has a a 19 inch wide LCD touch screen and built in digital TV tuner (for the North American market). It is the sort of computer you might have on the kitchen bench. But unlike the sub $1,000 Linux based TV/computers ASUS is planning to release this year, the HP is around $US1,500. This is because the Touchsmart has a disk drive and enough processing power to run Windows Vista.

Monday, February 25, 2008

ANU Flexible Learning Project

The ANU has a Flexible Learning Project to help staff with designing e-learning content. This is designed to allow students more flexibility with when they study and fit in with northern hemisphere institutions. This will also allow for assessment which is related to learning outcomes, and for more flexible assessment. It also will allow for a planned structure of postgraduate coursework programs and more students.

To help there is a three-year project, with a Flexible Learning Team and a Postgraduate Coursework Development Coordinator. They help the ANU academics create new courses or convert existing ones:
  1. Aligning learning outcomes with course goals and assessment criteria, by
    1. Developing learning outcomes
    2. Mapping assessment against outcomes
    3. Redeveloping course outlines
    4. Developing marking criteria/rubrics
  2. Improving flexibility of engagement by addressing issues associated with
    1. Learning and teaching activities
    2. Sequencing/modularisation
    3. Geographic location of students
    4. Delivery mode
    5. Timing of delivery
    6. Intensity/pace of delivery

What to use to run a Sig?

My attempt to use Moodle to set up a web site for a Green Technology Sig for the ACS has not been entirely successful. Moodle was designed for courses and not surprisingly, force fitting a special interest group into the format of a course doesn't quite work. Any suggestions on what yto use (or if anyone has a Moodle add-on for Sigs), would be welcome.

Some suggestions I have had are Drupal
, an open source content management platform. and Elgg an open source social networking platform.

Computers for schools more than hardware

Last week the Deputy Prime Minister gave a radio interview saying the Australian government is not going to make a bulk purchase of computers for schools. Different schools will have different requirements, some may have laptops, some desktops and some thin clients. This is the message I had been asked to pass on to the PM's office the day before. I don't know if the Deputy PM's office read the posted message , or this was a coincidence:
"... What is happening with our computers in schools policy and it was heralded well before the election, we weren't going to sit in Canberra and say, you must have this kind of computer, you must have an Apple Mac ... Some schools do want to put a computer ... on every child's desk. Some schools want to give their children laptops. ..."

From: Radio Interview, Transcript, ABC Adelaide,830am Thursday, 21 February 2008.
But someone needs to give her a better description of a thin client:
"Some schools are using innovative technology, things called would you believe, thin clients which are little key pads which then relate to a server which is located elsewhere in the school. ..."

From: Radio Interview, Transcript, ABC Adelaide,830am Thursday, 21 February 2008.
However, the political problem for the government is that the policy still translates in the journalists mind to each child having their own computer:

"MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Will every child have their own computer?

JULIA GILLARD: We are delivering this program to senior secondary students, so its years 9 to 12

DAVID BEVAN: Will every year 9 to 12 student have their own computer?

JULIA GILLARD: For years 9 to 12 there will be the equivalent to a one to one ratio but I am not telling them that they have to have it on the desk, they might have a laptop in the draw, they might have a thin client that is handed out to students to use for particular parts of the classes. They might have technology I don't even know the names of yet because it hasn't even been invented today but it is in regular distribution by four years time. ..."

From: Radio Interview, Transcript, ABC Adelaide,830am Thursday, 21 February 2008.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wireless electricity for the classroom?

underfloor wireless power transmission sheetPerhaps floors could be fitted to transmit wireless electricity through the legs of furniture for supply to desktop computers and other low power equipment. This could be useful in flexible classrooms where the furniture was movable.

MIT have been working on WiTricity (wireless electricity), to transmit small amounts of power safely over a few metres. But this requires carefully tuned antennas and electronic circuity.

The large round bases of the Jelly bean desks at RMIT Library reminded me of magnets. It occurred to me that if a non ferrous false floor was used, such as raised plastic interlocking tiles, then coils of wire could be placed under them. Matching coils could be placed under the base plates of the furniture. An alternating current in the floor would produce a magnetic field which would penetrate the floor and induce a current in the coil in the base of the desk. This current could be then carried by a wire up the column of the desk and delivered via a plug to a computer on the desktop.

As the two coils would be only about 10 mm apart (through the floor tile and carpet), the transmission would be much more efficient than with MIT's system. A magnet in the base of the table could be used to only switch on the coil, via a reed switch, when the table is present. Such a system may not need any electronics at all and simply operate at the mains frequency and voltage in the floors system. The desk system could be at a safe low voltage, with the coils acting as as step down transformer.

Inductive coupling is used for charging high capacity batteries in electric cars and can carry kilowatts of power. For low power desktop computers only about 150 Watts per computer is needed. The Dell energy calculator estimates that a Dell Optiplex 745, with a 20 inch LCD monitor uses 296 kW hours a year, or about 142 Watts.

There have been proposals for underfloor power transmission before, such as University of Tokyo's wireless power transmission plastic sheet. But like the MIT WiTricity, this uses complex electronic circuits and tries to cover the whole floor. Instead transmitters might be spaced in a grid pattern or only where tables are likely to be located. With floor tiles it would be possible to raise panels and move the transmitters if needed.

Jelly bean desks at RMIT Library firsthand

RMIT Librar - jelly bean -tablesWith a few hours spare after an ACS professional development broad meeting in Melbourne, I decided to see the RMIT Library's "Jelly Bean" desks first hand. These had been recommended to me, as being a more interesting and practical alternative to rectangular computer desks.

The jelly bean desks are installed in the RMIT Swanston library in the Melbourne CBD. The library is difficult to find, up a series of passageways which look like something from a neglected railway underpass.

First impression of the desks is how small they look, in comparison with those at the
Macquarie University Library's Learning Lounge. But the RMIT desks appear smaller than they are, due to the rounded corners and provide as much useful space as the Macquarie desks. The next impression is how unstable they are. The desks are supported by a single central column, with a small round base, about half the width of the desktop, make from a heavy steel plate. The extra height desks for short term us while standing, appear about to topple over. However, all but one of the desks I saw were clipped together in clusters, using an oval shaped bracket, making them much more secure than they fist appear.

I tried one of the few single desks, which had no PC on it. This seemed stable enough if used for its indented purpose with one person sitting at it. However, in a classroom, if a student sat on one of the wings of the desk it would be likely to tip up. The heavy base plate may well then may then be a hazard. Also the plate prevented a wheeled chair from being moved in close into the desk. Apart from that the desk was comfortable and had enough room for a laptop and papers.

The desks are mostly in clusters of four, around a pole for cables access from the ceiling. Some are in strings of seven, with two rows of desks facing each other. One end of the string of desks is against the wall, to provide power and data access.

There are power/data boxes clipped to each desk. This removes the usual tangle of cables from the desktop, but cables are apparent on closer inspection, hanging down in the spaces between the backs of the desks. The clusters of four have some perforated curved metal privacy screens fitted. The longer strings of desks have no screens.

The clusters of four desks have Dell desktop PCs. These are relatively small desktop units, but even so there is only just enough room for the PC, keyboard and mouse, and some papers on the desk. The stings of seven desks have Apple iMac computers, which have the processors mounted in the LCD case. By eliminating the PC case from the desk, these free up considerable desktop space, but as they have bright white cases, they look larger than the black Dell computers.

The ceiling mounted florescent lighting has been supplemented by additional florescent lights on a bar suspended from the ceiling. The ceiling mounted posts for providing power and data cables to the desks are adjacent to the lighting bar, but not incorporated into it, which gives a visually cluttered look.

The "jelly bean desks" appear to have survived well the punishment they would get from constant student use. There interesting curved shape distracts from the fact they are made from very ordinary looking laminate with a gray plastic edge strip. Some areas which might be improved are the power/cable boxes and inter desk spaces.

The power/cable boxes are rectangular and do not fit in well aesthetically with the rounded desks. Also for computers semi-permanently installed, it is not clear why desktop outlets are needed. In addition as the desks are in clusters, a separate outlet should not be needed for each desk. Low cost multiple outlet power boards could have been fitted out of sight under the desks and shared by several computers. Ethernet cables could have been taken straight to the PCs with no desktop sockets needed. If sockets were needed these could be low cost units under the desk. For desks designed for student laptop use, standard power sockets could be used, which have rounded edges more fitting with the desks aesthetics.

The gaps between desks are mostly hidden in the clusters of four, by the perforated screens. The gaps also provide somewhere to hide the cables, simply hanging down between the desks. But the strings of seven desks have obvious voids between them. Perforated privacy screens are not fitted, nor needed, with the Apple iMac computers as the wide screen LCD monitors are large enough to visually separate the students.

At one point a flat bed scanner has been precariously placed between two desks with some of it suspended over the void. Some way of filling in the holes is needed. One way to visually fill the holes would be to place the desks so the LCD screens obscure them. This would require placing the desks in an alternating pattern, so they do not face each other, as they do now in pairs.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tactile Ground Surface Indicators

Tactile Ground Surface IndicatorsABC Radio National By Design program had a segment on Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI) today. The guest was Murray Mountain, Chairman, Australian Standards Technical Committee ME/64. TGSIs are bumps or ridges on the ground to help people with limited eyesight to find they way around. Australia leads the world in standards and design of TGSIs and you will see them at Australian railway stations on the edges of platforms, and at the bottom and tops of flights of stairs in public buildings.

As Murray described them, the most common indicators are truncated cones 4 to 5 mm high. They are arranged in a rectangular grid. The indicators are designed not only to be easily felt through the feet or with a cane, but also to be seen. Their design has been carefully researched to make them prominent enough to be noticeable, but not a tripping hazard. Also they have to be long lasting and easy to install.

The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) released Guidelines on access to buildings and services in 2007. This provides guidance to designers, builders, planners, certifiers, building managers and access consultants about access to buildings and services for people with disabilities, inlcuding use of TGSIs. This accompanied by The good, the bad and the ugly – design and construction for access which has examples of what can go wrong. The first problem covered is inappropriate use of TGSIs.

As well as the round knobs for warning of a hazard, there are directional tiles with ridges to steer people in a particular direction, such as to the entrance to a railway station. Usually the directional tiles end with the warning tiles, to indicate where to stop. I saw an unfortunate absence of warning tiles on the footpath outside the Beijing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games headquarters. Directional tiles had been laid down the center of the footpath with no warning tiles. So the path guided people into obstructions such as poles and off the high curb into six lanes of traffic. In contrast the Sydney Olympics had a clear policy for use of the paths and was praised for its efforts.

As Australia is the leader in TGSI standards, there would be an opportunity for training materials, planning an installation aids. These could be web based and include tests and checks. The would appear to be a large market for such support in China.

Standards and guides include:
  1. AS/NZS 1428.4:2002 Design for access and mobility - Tactile indicators
  2. TRAINING PROGRAM Tactile Ground Surface Indicators Workshop - 1428.4
  3. BS 7997:2003 Products for tactile paving surface indicators. Specification
  4. DR 04020 Design for access and mobility - Part 4.1: Tactile indicators
  5. JIS T 9251:2001 Dimensions and patterns of raised of parts of tactile ground surface indicators for blind persons
TGSIs are also known as tactile guide pathways and Tactile paving. US ones are known as Detectable Warnings and use truncated domes, rather than cones. The indicators need not be any particular color, but must have sufficient contrast to be easily seen. The international work is under Working Group ISO/TC 173/WG 7 - Provisions and Means for Orientation of Visually Impaired Persons in Pedestrian Areas.

In Japan, TGSIs are commonly known as
"Braille Blocks" (Tenji Block) , by analogy to Japanese braille (Tenji 点字). The paths (usually yellow) do not use braille, just the same grid of dots as used in Australia.

See also books:
  1. Americans with Disabilities Act

Friday, February 22, 2008

Technology to support learning

Audio Loop signI went along to the Australian National Unviersity briefing for lecturers and tutors on "TEACHING AT ANU IN 2008". Technology is used in lecture theaters, online accessible from home, from campus wireless and from workstations in libraries and other locations. This is particularly relevant to the ANU Graduate Studies Select Program which lets students mix and match subjects from different disciplines.

A lecture theater might just look like a room with seats and a white board, but they are packed with technology. Much of the technology in lecture theatres is almost invisible and so needs to be explained to the staff and students. Some seats have "Audio Loops", for those with suitably equipped hearing aids. There are fixed and wireless microphones, both to help people in the room hear and for the Digital Lecture Delivery (DLD) system (which can record the lecture and make it available within seconds on the web site and as a podcast). There is WiFi in some areas.

The lecturer's podium has a touch screen to control lights, screens, audio and video. There are one or more computers built into the bench, Ethernet and video sockets for laptops. Some standard software is provided.

There are also computers in some labs and libraries. Students have quotas for printing and data access. Those doing computer intensive courses may get an extra quota.

Staff receive official information and so they are required to be on some mailing lists. Spam filters block 96% of messages sent to the ANU. Anti-virus software is provided for staff computers. However, phishing is still a problem and staff are warned to be wary about clicking on links in messages.

Web CT is currently used to deliver course materials online. This will be phased out in 2009. The DLD records audio and recording of images is being considered for 2008.

The Alliance collaborative environment is available for course use. This is an implementation of the Sakai learning management system.

Some of the technology is specifically provided for those with a disability, such as the audio loops, others such as digital lecture recording help.

The ANU uses MyDropBox plagiarism detection software. Students can check their work themselves before submitting it.

One online high technology service that many people overlook is the library. Unfortunately staff have to go to the ANU Library in person to register, even though they already have a staff card. Staff (and students) can log in off campus to access materials which are not publicly available. Copies of academic papers and book chapters are delivered electronically to remote staff. (with strict controls for copyright reasons).

ANU has a Flexible Learning Project to help staff with designing e-learning content.

The ANU also has an Emergency SMS System to send short text messages to registered staff and student mobile phones about urgent matters. Of course, technically speaking, this is not a cell broadcast system and so it might take many minutes for a message to be sent to everyone.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Garnaut Climate Change Interim Report

The interim Garnaut Climate Change Review, commissioned by Australian governments has been released. The suggested cuts in green house gas emissions are possible with minimal impact on our lifestyle and economy. Reducing energy use with computers, broadband and the Internet, could help. A further Draft Report will be released 30 June 2008 and a Final Report 30 September 2008.

Available are:
  1. Media release (353kb)
  2. Executive Summary (44kb)
  3. Full Report (634kb)
The full report is 64 pages long. All the documents appear to have been efficiently and carefully encoded in PDF, unlike many government reports. But the reports could do with shorter web addresses. They are about 150 characters long. Removing the duplicated text and "MicrosoftWord" would help, especially as the files are in PDF format, not Microsoft Word.

Here is the text of the executive summary:
This Interim Report seeks to provide a flavour of early findings from the work of the Review, to share ideas on work in progress as a basis for interaction with the Australian community, and to indicate the scope of the work programme through to the completion of the Review. There are some important areas of the Review’s work that are barely touched upon in the Interim Report, which will feature prominently in the final reports. Adaptation to climate change, energy efficiency and the distribution of the costs of climate change across households and regions are amongst the prominent omissions from this presentation.

Many views put forward in this Interim Report represent genuinely interim judgements. The Review looks forward to feedback from interested people before formulating recommendations for the final reports.

Developments in mainstream scientific opinion on the relationship between emissions accumulations and climate outcomes, and the Review’s own work on future “business as usual” global emissions, suggest that the world is moving towards high risks of dangerous climate change more rapidly than has generally been understood. This makes mitigation more urgent and more costly. At the same time, it makes the probable effects of unmitigated climate change more costly, for Australia and for the world.

The largest source of increased urgency is the unexpectedly high growth of the world economy in the early twenty-first century, combined with unexpectedly high energy intensity of that growth and continuing reliance on high-emissions fossil fuels as sources of energy. These developments are associated with strong economic growth in the developing world, first of all in China. The stronger growth has strong momentum and is likely to continue. It is neither desirable nor remotely feasible to seek to remove environmental pressures through diminution of the aspirations of the world’s people for higher material standards of living. The challenge is to end the linkage between economic growth and emissions of greenhouse gases.

Australia’s interest lies in the world adopting a strong and effective position on climate change mitigation. This interest is driven by two realities of Australia’s position relative to other developed countries: our exceptional sensitivity to climate change: and our exceptional opportunity to do well in a world of effective global mitigation. Australia playing its full part in international efforts on climate change can have a positive effect on global outcomes. The direct effects of Australia’s emissions reduction efforts are of secondary importance. Australia has an important role to play alongside its international partners in establishing a realistic approach to global mitigation. Australia can contribute to the development of clear international understandings on the four components of a successful framework for global mitigation: setting the right global objectives for reduction of the risk of dangerous climate change; converting this into a goal for stabilisation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a specified level; calculating the amount of additional emissions that can be emitted into the atmosphere over a specified number of years if stabilisation of atmospheric concentrations is to be achieved at the desired level; and developing principles for allocating a limited global emissions budget among countries.

Australia should make firm commitments in 2008, to 2020 and 2050 emissions targets that embody similar adjustment cost to that accepted by other developed countries. A lead has been provided by the European Union, and there are reasonable prospects that the United States will become part of the main international framework after the November 2008 elections. Some version of the current State and Federal targets of 60 per cent reduction by 2050, with appropriate interim targets, would meet these requirements.

Australia would need to go considerably further in reduction of emissions as part of an effective global agreement, with full participation by major developing countries, designed to reduce risks of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels. Australia should formulate a position on the contribution that it would be prepared make to an effective global agreement, and offer to implement that stronger position if an appropriately structured international agreement were reached.

The process of reaching an adequate global agreement will be long and difficult. Australia can help to keep the possibility of eventual agreement alive by efficient implementation of its own abatement policies, and through the development of exemplary working models of cooperation with developing countries in regional agreements, including with Papua New Guinea.

Australia must now put in place effective policies to achieve major reductions in emissions. The emissions trading scheme (ETS) is the centre-piece of a domestic mitigation strategy. To achieve effective mitigation at the lowest possible cost, the ETS will need to be supported by measures to correct market failures or weaknesses related to innovation, research and development, to information, and to network infrastructure.

Establishing an ETS with ambitious mitigation objectives will be difficult and will make heavy demands on scarce economic and finite political resources. The difficulty of the task makes it essential to use the most efficient means of achieving the mitigation objectives. That means efficiency both in minimising the economic costs, and in distributing the costs of the scheme across the Australian community in ways that are broadly seen as being fair.

To be effective in contributing as much as possible to an effective global effort to avoid unacceptably high risks of dangerous climate change, soundly based domestic and international policies will need to be sustained steadily over long periods. Policy-makers will need to eschew short-term responses that seem to deal with immediate problems but contribute to the building of pressures for future policy change. The Review aims to provide the basis for steady long-term policy at Commonwealth and State levels, and for productive long-term Australian interaction with the international community on climate change policy.

From: Executive Summary, Garnaut Climate Change Review Interim Report to the Commonwealth, State And Territory Governments of Australia, February 2008

Sustainable Living Festival

Melbourne held a Sustainable Living Festival 15 to 17 February 2008. I arrived a few minutes before it was due to close and had a look around as the displays were dismantled. Most prominent were the electric cars.

There was a
Hyundai Getz converted to battery power by Blade Electric Vehicles (BEV). This looked very much like Shaun Williams' Electric Echo, even having the electrical outlet under the petrol filler cap. BEV's Getz conversion was claimed to have a range of 100 to 150 km, with a battery life of eight years. So presumably it was not using the lead acid batteries of the Electric Echo (which had only about a 40 km range). In reality town car only needs a range of 40 km to be practical, but a longer range is needed to convince a petrol car owner to change over.

Two solar cell ultra light weight streamlined cars were also displayed. These were not practical road cars, like the Getz, but built for solar races.

HRV Australia dispalyed their solar home heating system. This is different to other systems in that it filters and draws down hot air from the roof cavity of the house, using the existing roof as a solar collector. This approach has some merits but HRV make excessive claims for the system, including that it will remove toxic gasses and radon gas from the air. Even if the system includes a particle filter, such a filter will not be able to remove gases, only particles. It will therefore be ineffective in removing toxic gasses.

Unfortunately the festival suffered from being in the poorly designed Federation Square. This vast expanse of unshaded, undulating, uneven cobblestones is uncomfortable to stand in and difficult and dangerous to walk on. The Melbourne City Council should level and resurface the square, adding some shade. Whoever designed this should not be in the business of landscape architecture.

One pleasant discovery was that beyond the awful federation square, there is a pleasant shaded riverbank walk called "Northbank Promenade" and "Yarra Walk", part of the
Yarra River Trail. This looks out on the Yarra River, with the opposite riverbank lined with rowing club buildings and the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. There is the very comfortable looking Pub and a bridge to the tennis and football stadia.

There was also an "EchoEdge 2 " conference "Critical designs challenges in building sustainable cities" on in conjunction with the festival. Unfortunately I was unable to find any papers or presentations from the conference online.

Choice magazine test of folding bikes

Folded bicycleChoice magazine has published results of a test of seven folding bikes (plus a video). They tested the Birdy Orange, Brompton M3L, Dahon Boardwalk D7, Giatex Sport 6 speed BICI 660, Progear Cross Road, Strida V3.3 and Yeah YRA062. The Dahon Boardwalk D7 and Yeah YRA062 were rated best overall. I don't know the Yeah, but as a happy Boardwalk owner of some years, can agree with that recommendation, despite some problems.

Online learning systems and plagarism detection

In case I created the impression that all you needed was a web based e-learning system and then all the work was done, here are some of the announcements of what is being done to get the Australian National Unviersity set up for this semester:


Friday, 22 February, 2-3pm, Manning Clark 2 (near the Student Union)

Everything you need to know about teaching services and support in 60 minutes for all new and continuing ANU teaching and sessional staff. Covers: WebCT4 replacement, academic honesty and plagiarism detection software, Alliance (for online collaborative group projects and research), Flexible Learning Group and more. PROGRAM >>


Friday 22 February 2008, 3:15-4.45pm followed by drinks in the foyer

An info session for all new and continuing ANU sessional and teaching staff. Covers: ANU student profile for 2008, excellence in tutoring and teaching, HR issues, ANU & College support and ANU training opportunities, more. PROGRAM >>


Various times from Friday 15 February to 13 March or organise your own group session. Includes: WebCT for those who haven’t used it before, WebCT for those new to ANU, WebCT expanding your WebCT course site, Alliance for group assignments and research, How to use the plagiarism detection software. REGISTER FOR WORKSHOPS >>

Learning Management System (LMS)

Our current platform is WebCT 4.1. You can find more information and assistance with it on our WebCT support page. This platform will continue to be available and supported throughout 2008.

During 2007-08 the ANU is reviewing the LMS to make it a broader, more modern, and more flexible service for staff and students. The review processes are described in the ANU LMS enhancement process paper.

It starts with a set of requirements identified by teaching staff and by support staff. These will be taken to market in late 2007 or early 2008, to arrive at a shortlist of platforms. In early 2008 the shortlisted candidates will be evaluated in more detail. Shortly afterwards the new platform will be available for staff who are interested to become familiar with it. At the same time the university will start to build up support materials for the platform.

UPDATES: On 28 January a Request For Information (RFI) was sent to a range of vendors in the market. The process is being documented in a progress report document which will be updated as we proceed (current version 12 February)

All interested staff are invited to contribute to the process, at any time. The above papers will be updated as input is provided, and this page will be updated as the process goes forward. To provide any feedback please email and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Audio-Visual Services

Audio-visual equipment in teaching rooms, training and help with audio-visual equipment, audio-visual equipment hire, electronic workshop, video conferencing

Computers On Campus

The desktop in your office, PCs in lecture theatres, the location of Information Commons computers, applications on Information Commons computers, web traffic quotas on Information Commons computers

Library Services

Access the Library catalogue and find information on all Library services

Digital Teaching and Learning Resources

Electronic course material, Digital Lecture Delivery ...

From: Information Services for Teaching, ANU ,13 February, 2008

Tsunami Warning System worked for latest Indonesian Earthquake

Map of earthquake 20 Feb 2008 08:09 UTC Off W Coast of Northern Sumatra from Pacific Tsunami Warning CenterThe Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a local tsunami watch for Indonesia 0822Z 20 FEB 2008. The copy forwarded by the interim Indian Ocean Center is timed at one minute later 08:23:21 GMT. The watch was canceled at 0947Z 20 FEB 2008.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center's system provided a map and details of the earthquake.

ISSUED AT 0822Z 20 FEB 2008








ORIGIN TIME - 0809Z 20 FEB 2008






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Fast response from State Library of Victoria

While in Melbourne for a meeting, I visited the State Library of Victoria. I was checking if their computer desks are big enough (which is another story), and so typed my name into their catalog. Up came the entry for my book Net traveller : exploring the networked nation. I noticed a space for a web link, which was blank. So I filled in an "ask the librarian" form and today there is a link to the web site for the book. I wish I got get this fast and efficient service from the webmasters I have to deal with. ;-)

Free e-learning events in Canberra

Last week I took part in a free workshop on"How to write a business case for e-learning", sponsored by the Australian Government. This was so popular, it will be repeated March 2008. I found this out from the very useful e-mail newsletter put out by Kerry Manikis, ACT E-learning Coordinator (contact Kerry to be put on the list or subscribe to the national Australian Flexible Learning Framework news RSS feed which includes ACT events):
Flexible Learning Toolboxes Series 10 Breakfast Launch - Tuesday 25 March
The Series 10 Toolboxes address competencies in the General Construction, Water, Competitive Manufacturing, Retail and Community Services Training Packages. These will be of interest to a range of RTO's in the ACT. Flexible Learning Toolboxes represent excellence in harnessing online instructional design strategies and multi media interactivity to develop online learning resources that are engaging, comprehensive and fully customisable.
> more information from the Flexible Learning Toolboxes website
> register by email to by Tuesday 18 March

Funding opportunities for ACT RTOs - applications close on Friday 4 April 2008.
Don't forget that funding is available for ACT RTOs*, through the Framework's ACT E-learning Innovations grants. The funding two categories in 2008:
1. business-training provider partnerships - (strategies to address workforce development needs)
2. empowering learners - (strategies to address the specific needs of learner groups)
You may submit applications which address either one or both categories.
> the 2008 ACT funding guidelines and application form are available from the ACT Framework webpage (

After you've read through this documentation, please liaise with your director/senior manager to ensure that this project funding is in line with your RTO's strategic goals and directions. If so then please contact me about your project idea so that I can assist you in determining if your concept fits within the 2008 guidelines for an ACT E-learning Innovations grant. ...

Internet and Mobile rights for Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been negotiating agreements for distribution of content from Olympic games for the Internet and on mobile phones, separate from the traditional TV broadcasting rights.

The IOC launched a tender process for Internet and Mobile Rights in China in early 2007. For the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, internet and mobile platform exhibition rights within China have been awarded to, who also happen to have the "over-the-air" (that is broadcast) rights.

i-CABLE Sports Limited won the tender for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, as well as for London in 2012 within Hong Kong.

It may not appear to make sense in the age of the global Internet to have specific geographic territories allocated for Internet rights. The reasoning is outlined in the Olympic Marketing Fact File:
The IOC is the owner of the broadcast rights, including television, mobile and internet, for the Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games. The IOC is responsible for allocating Olympic broadcast rights to media companies throughout the world through the negotiation of rights agreements. The IOC manages Olympic broadcast partnerships to ensure that the long-term interests of the Olympic Movement are protected. ...

Increased host broadcast coverage has afforded the Olympic broadcast partners greater programming opportunities in more sports and enabled the broadcast partners to deliver more complete Olympic coverage to their audiences around the world. The IOC works in partnership with its broadcasters to ensure that an increasing amount of live coverage is available, and that the latest technologies, inclduding HDTV, live coverage on the internet and coverage on mobile phones is available in as many territories as possible. ...

2004 Athens ... Live coverage is also available on the internet in several territories for the first time. ...

2006 Turin ... The Olympic broadcasters also maximised opportunities in new media technology, providing viewers with more access and greater choice through the Internet, mobile phones and multiple television channels. Telvision coverage is offered for the first time in HDTV and coverage is available for the first time on the mobile phone. ...

The TV Rights and New Media Commission is responsible for preparing and implementing the overall IOC strategy for future broadcast
rights negotiations.

To this end, the Commission collects marketing intelligence and consults with experts, determines the rights and benefits packages to be sold, and organises the tender and negotiation process. The Commission also deals with issues pertaining to the current broadcast rights agreements. The IOC has signed long-term broadcast agreements for the Olympic Games in all major markets, up to 2008. ...

From: Olympic Marketing Fact File, IOC, 2008

UK Educational Laptop for $200

 Elonex ONE £100 educational laptopUK company Elonex have announced they will launch the Elonex ONE, a £99 laptop (less than $US200) at the UK Education Show 2008 on 28 February 2008. There are few details of the product, apart from it using Linux and having WiFi. Other reports indicate it has 1Gb of Flash memory and a seven-inch screen.

From the photo, the processor board appears to be built in behind the screen, as with the OLPC, rather than under the keyboard, as with the ASUS Eee PC. The screen would appear to be the same type of low cost 7 inch wide screen LCD used for DVD players, as on the Eee PC.

Having only 1 Gb of flash memory will limit the usefulness of the unit, but it is likely that uses will supplement this with a USB flash drive (assuming the unit has a USB socket).

The media release for the unit has a lot of rhetoric about commitment to improving learning for children with one-to-one access to laptops, with quotes from UK government sources. The danger with this is that government authorities, teachers and parents may get the false impression that they need to spend just £99 per student to get all these benefits. Even if the Elonex One is made available for the announced price and works as claimed, infrastructure and training costs for the education system would be at least twice the cost of the laptop per student, not including ongoing support costs and the cost of developing course ware.

Elonex claims to have conducted research and development to produce their laptop. It seems more likely that Elonex have simply selected one of the many sub-notebook PCs made and sold in Asia. These units have been made and sold for decades, but not proved popular in western countries. The success of the Eee PC has seen some of these now being offered more widely. Also the availability of Linux, low cost flash memory, low power processors and low cost LCD screens made for DVD players has made these more feasible. OLPC have tried to incorporate R&D in their computer, but this is proving problematic. It is more likely that generic computers using off the shelf components will be more successful.

The claims for education using computers made by Elonex may well prove true, but they will cost more than £99 per student.

The use of quotes in the Elonex media release is interesting. The one on "Technology has revolutionised the way we work and is now set to transform education. ..." is quoted from a Department for Education and Skills, report in 1997, Connecting the Learning Society. What Elonex don't mention is that the quote is from then UK PM Tony Blair and he went on to talk about the information superhighway and a National Grid for Learning.

The quote on "One-to-one access to a laptop computer promoted independence and had positively influenced other aspects of their work and their learning." is from a teacher, Danny Doyle: Perspectives of One-to-One Laptop Access (2004).
The vision of the ONE project is to help develop computer literacy in children in order to cultivate skills for the 21st century and enable them to make a more valued contribution to the future economy and society. Proficiency at ICT has never been so important, and fluency and familiarity with computers is essential to nurture the future digital generation. The importance of IT in education has been recognized right from the early days of the internet and personal computers:
Technology has revolutionised the way we work and is now set to transform education. Children cannot be effective in tomorrow’s world if they are trained in yesterday’s skills.
(Department for Education and Skills, 1997)

One-to-one access to a laptop computer promoted independence and had positively influenced other aspects of their work and their learning. The children were aware of their expertise and believed their current skills were transferable to new hardware and software, future education and employment.
(National Teacher Research Panel, 2004)
Computer based technology is at the heart of the DCSF's (Department for Children, Schools and Families) commitment to improving learning for all children. One-to-one access to a laptop has been a dream that until now has been cost-prohibitive. The research and development by Elonex that has lead to the ONE has allowed this dream to become a reality.

Government Strategy for Digital Technology

The significance of ICT can be seen in the DCSF e-Strategy, the government’s current strategy towards the use of digital technologies within the Education System:
“Teaching institutions ought to be advancing beyond the traditional formats that are still so prevalent. Independent research has shown that children using ICT effectively in lessons get better results, and Ofsted has confirmed that “Pupils respond very positively to the use of ICT, they engage well with lessons, their behaviour is good and their attitudes to learning are very good”

“With more flexible e-learning resources available online, teachers can adapt the curriculum to their learners’ needs and interests. Technology is the key to personalised learning and we must make sure that everyone has access to this technology. As we continue to embed e-learning across the whole learning process, it will blend more easily with life and work, bridging the boundaries between formal and informal learning.” “It is our goal to work towards ICT as a universal utility, creating more flexible learning opportunities for everyone.”

(Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families)
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced the plan to raise spending on IT in education, and to this end Jim Knight MP recently announced on 9 Jan 2008 a £30 million investment to provide the education system with improved ICT equipment and a safe internet connection. Jim Knight commented “we know from the research the difference that Information Technology can make.” “ICT has the power to transform young people's learning — both at school and beyond the school gate.”

Benefits Benefits of the ONE for Children:
  • Improved ICT literacy and fluency
  • Increased empowerment and motivation
  • More engaging way of learning – learning can be fun!
  • More flexible study
  • Access to a wider range of resources
  • Provides a link between learning at home and learning at school
  • Improved contact between the child and their school, family and friends Stimulates creativity and greater scope for problem solving
  • Opens up potential for blogging, podcasting, social networking, online clubs & societies and pupil support groups.
Benefits of the ONE for Teachers:

  • The majority of teachers feel that the use of ICT in the classroom positively impacts on the engagement, motivation and achievement of their learners.
  • Teachers' ICT skills have developed significantly over the years, as well as their acceptance to utilise the technology, leading to better lessons and a reduction in teachers' workloads.
  • Makes available a wider range teaching methods, including assigning web based research, increased interactivity, paperless homework and use of the child’s online personal webspace.
  • Opens the option for digital teaching materials, increased autonomy and improved out of classroom activities.
From: Elone One Press Release, Elonex , 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wireless solar powered red light cameras for railway level crossings?

Warning lights on the Level Crossing Protection System from GNS Associates Pty LtdA report by the Victorian Government's Chief Investigator, Transport and Marine Safety Investigations, on the "Level crossing collision V/Line Passenger Train 8042 and a truck near Kerang" (5 June 2007), was released 15 February 2008 . The Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Lynne Kosky, announced 22 July 2007 than two red-light cameras would be trailed at level crossings and 200 crossings would have "rumble strips" installed. But by using advanced wireless technology and integrating the cameras into the red lights, it should be possible to get the cost of the far more effective red light cameras down to that of the rumble strips.

The two red light cameras were announced to cost $1.8 million, or $900,000 each, whereas the "rumble strips" were $11.7 million for 200, or about $59,000 each. Rumble strips are simply lumps on the road to give the driver an auditory and physical warning that they are approaching a level crossing. They do not warn of a train approaching and do not report a vehicle which fails to stop. This is far less effective than a set of lights and bells, activated by a grade crossing predictor, which warn of a train or a camera which records a vehicle illegally crossing so a fine can be issued.

The difficulty with warning lights and cameras is the high cost of installation. Power has to be supplied to the crossing for the equipment. Detectors need to be fitted to the track to signal a train approaching and wires run to the signals. Underground cabling has to be used near the road to connect the equipment. Cameras with film have to be regularly checked to have their film changed.

However, the cost of this installation could be lowered by integrating the equipment, making it solar powered and connected by wireless. Solar powered detectors could be placed by the track where required and signal to the crossing of an approaching train. Each signals could be self contained on its own pole, simply planted in the ground. The red light camera and car detectors would similarly be on the same or other poles.

The equipment could be assembled and tested in a factory, so that there would be the minimum of work needed on site. After installation of the poles, the installation staff would simply switch on the equipment. The system could then be tested by the factory technicians via the wireless link. The installation staff would then walk and drive across the crossing while the remote technicians tested operation. In this way installation for simple crossings could be reduced from days, to less than an hour, with just two on site staff.

The wireless system would regularly check that each component was functioning by exchanging test signals. Failure of a component would be signaled to a maintenance depot. Digital photos of vehicles failing to stop at the crossing would be transmitted to the appropriate authority by wireless. Vehicles stopped on the crossing would be signaled to the railway operator, to warn oncoming trains. Similarly any collision at the crossing would be signaled to the emergency services.

To remove the need for wires, short range digital wireless signals would be used for communication between the local components of the system and long range wireless to the train control network. These signals could be encrypted and use other techniques to prevent deliberate or accidental interference. The equipment would be solar powered to eliminate connection cables. To lower the power and maintenance requirements, warning lights would be LEDs.

Wireless Announcer Emergency Warning and Intercommunication alert pole mounted unit from Open AccessTo reduce installation costs, all the equipment would be installed on the poles, with no track side cabinets needed. An example of such a wireless pole mounted safety application is the Sydney CBD's Emergency Warning and Intercommunication System (EWIS), by Sydney based company Open Access.

In addition to detecting vehicle crossings against the lights, the system could also detect pedestrian and livestock crossing. While it would be infeasible to issue automatic fines to pedestrians, the system could issue an additional warning to the pedestrians via a synthetic speech or a recording: "train approaching; get off the track NOW!". They could also be used to assess where further safety measures were needed.

Components of such a system are already offered by various suppliers, such as the ELSIE Level Crossing Protection System (Type ELS-6007) from Victorian based GNS Associates Pty Ltd.

For the simplest level crossings it may be possible to install all the equipment for a warning system on just two poles: one on each side of the crossing. Detectors on each pole would sense oncoming trains, vehicles and pedestrians, signaling as appropriate.

One way to fund the development of such a system would be to discontinue the Victorian Government's Don’t risk it! marketing campaign. Issuing of an educational CD-ROM for schools and public advertising would be ineffective in improving safety at level crossings, even if it contained dramatic footage, such as the train smash video from Top Gear.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Open Journal, Conference and Book Publishing

Kevin Stranack from the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), talked at the National Library of Australia today on open publishing. PKP are best known for their free open source Open Journal System (OJS) publishing software. But Kevin pointed out that they have produced other free software and do research on help academics communicate their work.

OJS is used around the world by universities, scientific societies and some commercial companies for producing academic journals (I used to set up the Australian Computer Society digital library). PKP have subsequently produced Open Conference Systems (OPCS) for doing the same thing for conferences and the Open Archives Harvester to collect together the indexes from such systems.

Most recently PKP have released an early beta of Lemon8-XML for converting Word Processing documents into neat XML formatted documents for publishing. This is more ambitious than systems such as the ANU Digital Scholars Workbench and USQ's Integrated Content Environment. Those systems will convert a word processing document which has been prepared using a supplied template which provides a preset structure for the document. PKP are aiming to be able to be able to work out the structure from the content of the document with no preset template. This would be very useful, if it could be done, but may prove impossible.

PKP are also planning to produce a system similar to OJS, but for the production of books. I asked Kevin about incorporating social networking for academic authors and he said there may be a small element of this in the book system. This would provide an author's workbench where the person preparing the book could keep their notes and involve collaborators.

Kevin showed some examples of OJS and OCS based publications, including some Australian ones. One which stood out is the The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning . Apart from the topic being of interest, the publishers practice what they advocate by providing the journal in audio format and a more accessible HTML, as well as the usual PDF. The audio appears to have been produced using text to speech software, but is of a much higher quality than the usual PC generated speech.

One area where it might be worth PKP applying their skills is to e-learning materials. There are some attempts to provide online directories of such materials, for example the Australian Government funded Learning Object Repository Network. However, these are isolated in their own separate repositories and mired in intellectual property issues. Using the open publishing approach to learning objects could make the much more widely used and turn e-learning from a hand crafting cottage industry into a real online innovation.

Another area for future research is to bring together the different types of publishing: journal papers, conferences, books and e-learning into one coherent whole. Ideally, the one tool should be able to be used to publish the same content, to suit these different formats.

PKP stand out by providing usable software backed by research and sustaining it over a long period. If you are thinking about doing academic publishing, or even commercial publishing, online then you should look at PKP's free tools.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Research Instruments: Driving e-Science?

Recommended free seminar in Canberra at ANU by a researcher on e-Science from Oxford University:
Title: Research Instruments: Driving e-Science?

Speaker: Dr Ralph Schroeder

Oxford Internet Institute
University of Oxford

12.30pm Friday 22nd February, The Australian Demographic and Social
Research Institute (ADSRI) Seminar Series, Seminar Room A, Coombs
Building #9, The Australian National University.

e-Science (also known as cyberinfrastructure or e-research), has
been driven by a variety of factors, including national policy
initiatives, the needs of different scientific domains to cope with
the 'data deluge', or needs for specific tools such as high-end
visualization and data processing. This paper will present some of
the research currently ongoing for the 'Oxford e-Social Science
project: Ethical, Legal and Institutional Dynamics of e-Sciences'.
It will also present an argument within the sociology of science
and technology that suggests that knowledge production is
increasingly being driven by research technologies. This argument
will be illustrated with a number of examples from e-Science
projects, placed in the larger context of research policy for
e-Infrastructures, and a typology developed of the different kinds
of research technologies and how their uses can be conceptualized.


Ralph Schroeder is a James Martin research fellow at the Oxford
Internet Institute at Oxford University. He is an investigator on
the Oxford e-Social Science (OeSS) Project. His publications
include the Rethinking Science, Technology and Social Change
(Stanford: Stanford University Press), Possible Worlds: The Social
Dynamic of Virtual Reality Technology (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996)
and Being There Together: Social Interaction in Virtual
Environments (forthcoming, OUP).


Dr Robert Ackland
Fellow, Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute
College of Arts and Social Sciences
The Australian National University

project site:

Tag Cloud for the Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples by the Australian Parliament

The motion by Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister, in the Parliament at 9.00 am, Wednesday, 13 February 2008 contained the word "Sorry" three times. It contains 344 words, with 173 different words. Here is a concordance index of the words in the speech (on the web, such an index is commonly referred to as a tag cloud). This is an alphabetical list of the number of times each word occurs in the text:

173 types (different words, minus some stop words):


This links to the words in context. The concordance was created using the User Text Concordance, by Tom Cobb, Universite du Quebec a Montreal (UQAM).

Sorting these words in descending order of accordance and then taking the first alphabetically for each occurrence, the statement can be reduced to: "We for their history Australians all sorry apologise aboriginal."

The text is from the House of Representatives Hansard:

Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples by the Australian Parliament

That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment.
We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations—this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.
The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.
A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.
A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.
A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

From: Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples,

Motion by Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister, House of Representatives Hansard, 13 February 2008
It might be interesting to compare this with the Apology to the Aboriginal People by John Howard, to see how similar they are:
"Good evening. My name is John Howard and I'm speaking to you from Sydney, Australia, host city of the year 2000 Olympic Games. ...

At this important time, and in an atmosphere of international goodwill and national pride, we here in Australia - all of us - would like to make a statement before all nations. Australia, like many countries in the new world, is intensely proud of what it has achieved in the past 200 years. ...

However, these achievements have come at great cost. We have been here for 200 years but before that, there was a people living here. For 40,000 years they lived in a perfect balance with the land. ...

I speak for all Australians in expressing a profound sorrow to the Aboriginal people. I am sorry. We are sorry. Let the world know and understand, that it is with this sorrow, that we as a nation will grow and seek a better, a fairer and a wiser future. Thank you."

John Howard, (the Actor), in the ABC TV comedy "The Games" <> July 3, 2000, quoted at <> and video.