Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Applicaitons of Metadata and Electronic Document Management for Electronic Commerce

Each year I give lectures at the ANU on Metadata and Electronic Document Management for Electronic Commerce as part of Information Technology in Electronic Commerce ( COMP3410/COMP6341). While the principles don't change, and the technology does not change that much, each year I like to freshen up the course with some new examples. The area covered includes document representation, meta-data, data management, digital library, electronic document management and e-commerce.

It might seem surprising that the principles don't change, but e-publishing is much the same as publishing of books was, minus the paper. Similarly management of e-records is like managing paper files, without the paper. The difficult task with this is to convince computer scientists, software engineers and information systems students that it is worth worrying about the the details of policies and practices and that these are difficult topics.

Technologies have changed a little with XML being firmly established. This makes it important to point out to the students that there was a time before XML, HTML and the web and there will be a time after them.

One area worth looking at with recent developments are XML based office document formats. The controversy over ODF and OOXML as international standards has calmed down somewhat, and a detailed look at the similarities and differences, strengths and weaknesses of these (as well as alternatives) would be useful.

The examples used change most often. What last year was a complex challenge, such as how to build a global electronic publishing system for the world's ICT research has now largely been solved.

Some areas I was thinking of looking to for examples were:
  1. In flight E-publishing for the airline industry
  2. e-Courts
  3. e-enabling carbon trading and energy reduction systems

Australian electronic court system

eCourtThe Federal Court of Australia has introduced an electronic court system eCourt. An interesting aspect of this is that the system is available to litigants (that is people going to court), as well as their lawyers, the judges and their staff. Documents and case details are limited to the relevant parties.

The court has taken a relatively pragmatic and low-tech approach to the e-Court. As an example, e-documents must be "sent" via the Court's home page. Essentially the documents are just uploaded as files to the court web system. There is no provision for emailing documents. eDocuments must be capable of being printed: that is the court doesn't want exotic electronic only formats, just equivalents of paper formats. Those lodging are asked to keep paper copies of the documents (thus assuming paper copies are possible).

Document are not accepted automatically, but have to be checked by a person and are only checked during office hours (thouse after 4:30 pm are considered received the following business day).

Electronic forms supplied can't be filled in using the online system. They have to be downloaded and edited locally using additional software. Forms are provided in PDF and RTF and are not intelligent (needing to be filled in manually or by a program emulating a human operator). Documents can use RTF, PDF, TIF, GIF, JPEG and "any version" of Microsoft Word. Zipped (compressed) files are permitted. It appears that the contents of the documents are not automatically tagged for incorporation into legal workflow systems and must be manually processed when received.

Digital signatures are not used for the documents. Instead a digital image facsimile of the persons autograph is used as a signature. This technique obviously is of little value to authenticate a document. It must be assumed that the user ids and passwords used for the web lodgment system and the encryption used to protect the upload is sufficient. The Court uses SSL encryption (key length?). Apart from this no form of cryptography or other techniques appear to be used to check the integrity of documents against accidental damage or deliberate tampering with documents.

Affidavits are only accepted electronically as "... an image of the document in an appropriate format". This is presumably done on the assumption that it is harder to forge an image of a whole page, than a word processing document which has the image of an autograph pasted into it. While it is more difficult to fake a whole page, it is within the competencies of the average computer literate teenager.

What is incorrectly described as a " file size" has not been set for e-documents at 100 printed pages equivalent.

The Court Registry provides the person submitting the document with a "stamped" copy of the document by email in PDF format. It is not clear what security measures are applied to the emailed document and why the same web interface is not used for returning documents (given the Court does not accept them by email).

Also the Federal Court of Australia is revising its "Practice Note No. 17. Guidelines for the use of information technology in litigation in any civil matter".

By mid 2008, the following were available:

  1. eSearch: public to search of cases.
  2. eFiling: litigants and legal representatives can lodge Court documents , including applications, electronically. The web based system includes an online guide and credit card payment facilities.
  3. eCourtroom: virtual courtroom for pre-trial matters, such as directions and orders by a Judge, with parties and legal representatives participating online.
  4. eCase Administration: for legal practitioners and parties to communicate with court chamber staff securely.
  5. Commonwealth Courts Portal: Web-based services for judges, lawyers, litigants and court staff of the Federal, Family and Magistrates courts. This provides information on current cases before the courts, cases for particular judges, lawyers or litigants, documents filed and orders made.

Sustainable Design

Sustainable Design book coverSustainable Design: The Science of Sustainability and Green Engineering by Daniel A. Vallero and Chris Brasier looks like a useful text. However, it is a very general introduction and mostly for chemical and physical engineering. Software Engineers will find it of less use.

1-10 of 13 pages with references to computer:

Return to book

1. on Page 8:
"... with a dramatic shift away from further synthesis and innovation. Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), although a relatively new technology, has resulted in dramatic improvements in efficiency but has remained anchored ..."
2. on Page 25:
"... steely fibers woven spider-style, shatterproof ceramics drawn from mother- of-pearl, cancer cures complements of chimpanzees, perennial grains inspired by tallgrass, computers that signal like cells, and a closed-loop economy that takes its lessons from redwoods, coral reefs, and oak-hickory forests. ,14 ..."
3. on Page 28:
"... both architect and engineer to conceive and deliver design solutions in a more integrated manner. Building information modeling (BIM) uses computer technology to create a virtual multidimensional models of a build- ing as an integrated part of the design process, ..."
4. on Page 29:
"... resentation to create three-dimensional space models as found in other recent Figure 1.9 Building information modeling uses computer ..."
5. on Page 46:
"... traditional stepwise design process and the integrated green design process? How may the criteria be applied using computer models (e.g. BIM)? 2. ..."
6. on Page 49:
"... Also devices such as computers and medical implants must dissipate heat without harming the patient. At the planetary scale, the greenhouse effect involves conversion of ..."
7. on Page 55:
"... First Principles 55 and personal computers. Harmon argues that biomimicry is a "Gestalt shift of humanity." Gestalt does not translate well from German, but reflects that ..."
8. on Page 158:
"... Bayer, "Perspectives on lifecycle process modeling," in Foundations of Computer-Aided Process Design, M. F. Malone, J. A. Trainham, and B. Carnahan, Eds., AIChE Symposium Series 323, Vol. 96, 2000, pp. ..."
9. on Page 304:
"... 304 Sustainable Design facility, providing a solar power station rated at 162 watts, providing a low power 40 watt computer cluster composed of 2 Linux computers, furnishing the cluster with a digital library of 1500 books focused on appropriate technology, ..."
10. on Page 309:
"... BIM uses computer technology to create a virtual model of the design and is intended not only as a tool for documentation but ..."

11. on Page 318:
"... com/images/esd- turgo-cutaway.gif. Sidebar: Water Consumption sing The Internet is a good source for calculating water demand. For exam- ple, the Computer Support Group, Inc. (CSG) and the CSGNetwork. ..."
12. on Page 325:
"... g., white paper bins in dorms and computer labs adjacent to printers) was also recommended. Other aspects of the program's design included: • Letter to incoming freshman with ..."
13. from Index:
"... see Superfund) Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), 8 Consequentialism, 177-178 Couple, definition of, 60 Cousteau, Jacques, 221 Cradle to Cradle, 2 Cradle to ..."

See also other Sustainable design books:
  1. Accounting & Finance
  2. Architecture
  3. Business Management
  4. Education
  5. Engineering
  6. Law
  7. Computers & Internet

Perth transport spatial data available for download

Public Transport Authority, Transperth, is now offering spatial data for download. The data is available in Google Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) and ESRI Shapefile formats. Perhaps someone can use this to build a usable transit map for Perth CAT busses. Last time I visited, the supposedly real time reporting system did not match where the buses were.

A380 Airliner One Tonne Lighter with E-documents

According to Flight magazine ("Weight Loss Plan Shapes up", Flight, 29 July 208) the publications provided to passengers on an A380 airliner weigh 2 Kilograms per seat. Emirates Airline are therefore planning to replace the usual magazines with an "online channel" on the seat back entertainment screen. This will save 1,000 kg (1 Tonne) per aircraft.

The entertainment systems on the A380 are new and so are sophisticated enough for such information displays. The problem will then be if compatibility has to be maintained with the systems on older aircraft.

Some A380 aircraft have a Linux computer with Open Office for each seat.

Qantas has also been reported as reducing in-flight magazines to save fuel.

Computers at the new Unviersity of Sydney SciTech Library

The Unviersity of Sydney SciTech Library opened on Monday. So I went along yesterday to look at their computers for students. The library has an interesting design of modular hexagonal desk for computer users. But laptops are provided for group work in a closed room, which may not be such a good idea.

The Building

The library is on the Darlington Campus, with a pedestrian bridge across the road to the main campus. The SciTech Library combines the technology collections of the university, including architecture, engineering and mathematics.

The library is on Level 1 of the new Jane Foss Russell Building (160 City Road), which was previously the Sydney Central building. The building appears to be not quite finished, with the ground floor fenced off. There are two webcams showing progress: Webcam One and Webcam Two.

The only way I could find into the library, was through the ajcent student services building. While the building has striking colored panels on tdhe street side, it is a bit dull on the other and the library is discretely tucked in underneath.

The library appears to be on one floor, with most services at the front, books in the middle some student desks at the back and some glass walled teaching rooms along one side. It looks a lot smaller than I was expecting and there is the feeling of being in the basement (although the library is on the first floor).


There are some walk up computers outside the library and some just inside the door. The user interface did not seem to have been quite worked out yet. Clicking on the catalog button first brought up a text terminal window, a warning that all you could get to was the catalog and only then the actual catalog.

The general use computers were HP Compaq units with the LCD screen sitting on top on the desk.

A sunken area has one long sit down computer desk made of hexagonal components. Each hexagon had sides of about 900mm, with two computers per hexagon. The hexagons form a meandering line down the middle of the room. Cabling appears to be run under the desks in a central fixed pedestal and run up through grommets in the desktop. The arrangement seems to work reasonably well, in some places forming niches where several students can work together. The desktops are finished in brightly colored laminate (similar in style to the panels on the outside of the building). While the desktops look modular, they appear to be fixed in place.

The hexagonal desk shape looks good and appears workable, but does not appear to make efficient use of space. The workspace for each student curves away from them. With about half of the 900 mm of space taken up by a keyboard and mouse, there is little space for paperwork. The space beyond the 900 mm bends away from them, making it of little use.

Learning Rooms

The far right wall of the library has several learning rooms. The wall is made of multicolored glass (similar in color and patter to the outside of the building). The glass is slightly textured (possibly be the use of a plastic coating to provide the color), but not sufficiently to provide privacy for classes.

The largest room is equipped with seven clusters, each made up of three tables, with two laptops on each table. The tables are the same size hexagons as outside, but are in plain white laminate and are freestanding with one central leg each. Three tables are pushed into a star pattern, but could be separated or make into fewer large arrangements. The cables from the laptops run down in a gap between the tree desks to floor sockets. The desks appear to have no provision for cabling and the gap needed for the cables spoils the aesthetics, but probably has no practical impact.

The room has non-adjustable white plastic chairs, not the height adjustable ones preferable for computer users.

There were no video projectors, white boards or other teaching equipment evident, but the walls of the room are painted mat white and could be projected onto. There is a movable partition wall one third the way down the room, allowing it to be divided in two.

The room is nearby the bookshelves and does not look very inviting. Also the door to enter was not apparent. The glass walls appear to be fixed and the room locked, so that the computers can't be used by library customers when a class is not booked. In addition the use of laptops would make casual use more difficult,. The laptops are different to the desktop computers in the rest of the library. Also laptops make a very desirable target for thieves making it difficult to provide them in an unsupervised room.

The room appears to be designed for group activities with three people per computer, two groups per table. As with the hexagonal desks outside, the desk layout doesn't appear to make good use of space. It is not clear exactly what the room is intended for and perhaps this has not yet been determined. The room is perhaps too large for many educational uses and perhaps a second movable wall, to divide it into three smaller areas would be useful.

The library might want to consider modifying the room to open it out for use when not needed for classes, using a design similar to the Ezones at University of Queensland.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Innovation and Technology Statistics

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released "8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update" 29/07/2008. This includes stats on ICT in Australia, R&D and "innovation" They also have an ICT Theme page.
  1. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Statistics
  2. Research & Experimental Development (R&D) Statistics
  3. Innovation Statistics
  4. Business Characteristics Statistics
  5. Other

Sustainability of Computers and Monitors

Some items on increasing the sustainability and energy efficiency of computer monitors, TVs and computers:

Monday, July 28, 2008

China's War on Terrorism

War on Terrorism: Counter-insurgency, Politics and Security by Martin I. WayneWith the Beijing Olympics about to open, "China's War on Terrorism: Counter-insurgency, Politics and Security" by Martin I. Wayne (Routledge, 2007) is a timely analysis of the Chinese government's response to Islamic terrorism in northwest China (Xinjiang). While not underplaying problems with the Chinese government's human right record, Wayne has respect for their multi-level response to terrorism. In contrast to the approach of the USA which is to go after high profile terrorists, China has tackled the problem at at all levels, with political and policing measures starting at the grass roots community level. This is a book which should be read by all those interested in dealing with insurgency.

Canberra Light Rail Proposals

Just had a call from a company asking if I knew who to talk to in Canberra about light rail proposals. The only people I know of with a serious proposal for trams in Canberra were the Federation Line. But there appears to have been no progress with that for several years.

This was a very modest proposal for a tourist tram in central Canberra, which seemed well thought out and would require the minimum of capital works. It would service some office staff and shoppers as well as tourists.

There is also ACT Light Rail. This seems to be a relatively recent group which has been active in late 2007. They do not appear to have a specific project proposal.

The ACT Government has proposed a light rail system linking Civic to the Airport, Parliamentary Triangle and major town centres, at a cost of "around $1 billion". They also proposed this could like to a future fast train to Sydney.

The ACT Government doesn't appear to have done a serious assessment of light rail, but instead is just putting in an ambit claim. The one billion dollars would be enough to run a line between two of Canberra's town centers, but not between them all.

One option might be to expand the Federation Line's proposal around Civic out to the Airport. This could service defence offices and offices at the airport itself.

Recently I visited Turkey and Greece and saw their impressive public transport facilities. However, those depend on having densely packed apartment blocks. The same infrastructure would be prohibitively expensive in Canberra's suburbs. About the best which could be hoped for is more bus lanes and reserved ways waiting for newer technology.

Federal Court of Australia guidelines on electronic discovery

The Federal Court of Australia is revising and extensively expanding its guidelines on e-Discovery: "Document Management, Discovery and the use of Technology in the conduct of Litigation" . The new guidelines were due to come into effect 1 July 2008, but appears to have been delayed for more consultation (latest draft is Revision 7, 1 July 2008). Until then the guidelines issued 20 April 2000 are being used: "Guidelines for the use of information technology in litigation in any civil matter".

Discovery is the process by which parties to a civil court case look for relevant information the other party may have. This used to involve a visit to an office and lost of photocopying. With e-discovery the emphasis is on searching electronic record archives, email and other databases. Rules are needed to prevent the legal process being swamped with irrelevant detail.

As well as the "Practice Note" itself, there is a checklist, glossary and two document management protocols. The Advanced Document Management Protocol (ADMP) is intended for where there are more than 5000 Documents expected:
  1. PRACTICE NOTE 17 - As updated 30 June 2008
  2. PRE-DISCOVERY CHECKLIST - As updated 30 June 2008
  3. GLOSSARY - As Updated 30 June 2008

Publications by Kim Beazley

Professor Kim Beazley has been appointed Chancellor of The Australian National University. He is currently Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Western Australia, but is best known as a politician. An academic is judged by what they publish, so I ought I would do the same sort of quick check of Professor Beazley I would do of anyone else.

A search of the Political Science and International Relations site of UWA gives the bare minimum of information. Professor Beazley has a staff web page, but this just has his name and contact details, with no list of publications, research or courses. On the "Research Interests" page he is listed under Australian political institutions, Public affairs, Australian Government and Politics and Australian foreign policy and diplomatic history, Global and regional governance. But there are no details of research conducted.

The "Contact Us profile" page lists Research Interests as:
  • Defence policy
  • US alliance
  • Middle East
  • Foreign policy issues
  • Australian politics
  • Government
But again there is no actual research or courses detailed.

A Google Schollar search for Kim Beazley as an author produced 44 results (including some from another researcher of the same name in the conservation field). However, as he only took up his UWA position in 2007, there are no publications for that period. Also the list includes some references to Professor Beazley's father Kim Edward Beazley.

Excluding papers which are obviously from other "Beazley" leaves 26. These show a long term interest in defence and foreign policy and domestic public policy issues:

[CITATION] Education in Western Australia: Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Education in Western …
K Beazley - Education Department of Western Australia, 1984
Cited by 17 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] Arc of Instability
K Beazley - National Observer, 2003
Cited by 3 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] Address to the National Press Club
K Beazley - 2006 - Canberra
Cited by 3 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] Address to CEDA,‘
K Beazley - Pathways to the Future: A Labor Vision’, Melbourne, 1999
Cited by 2 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] The Defence of Australia 1987
K Beazley - 1987 - Ministerial Statement (Canberra: Australian Government
Cited by 2 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] The Politics of Intrusion: The Superpowers and the Indian Ocean
K Beazley, I Clark - 1979 - Sydney: Alternative Publishing Cooperative
Cited by 3 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] Unfinished Business
K Beazley - Essays on Australian Reconciliation
Cited by 2 - Related Articles - Web Search

K Beazley - cited in The Australian, 1966
Cited by 1 - Web Search

[CITATION] Labor’s Plan for Telstra and Telecommunications’
K Beazley - Media Statement, 2001
Cited by 1 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] Leader of the Opposition,‘Second reading speech: Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2005–2006’, House of …
K Beazley
Cited by 1 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] Leader of the Opposition
K Beazley - Address to the Global Foundation Luncheon, 1998
Cited by 1 - Related Articles - Web Search

Thinking defence: Key concepts in Australian defence planning
K Beazley - Australian Journal of International Affairs, 1988 -
this topic because I believe that fundamental misun- derstandings exist in the
community about the foundations of national defence planning. The community ...
Cited by 2 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] Labor’s Tax Credit for Working Families’, Labor Herald (June 1998)
K Beazley
Cited by 1 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] Australia and the Asia Pacific Region: A Strategy of Self-Reliance and Alliance
K Beazley - address to the Asia Society, Washington, 1988
Cited by 1 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] How May the People Be Heard-Planning for a New Republic Referendum-Process and Content
K Beazley - U. Notre Dame Austl. L. Rev., 2001 - HeinOnline
Web Search

K Beazley - SYDNEY PAPERS, 2000 -
It is always a pleasure to address the Sydney Institute. I’d like to begin
tonight by paying tribute to Gerard and Anne Henderson who have established the
Institute as a first class forum for economic and political debate in this ...
Web Search

[CITATION] speech to Labor delegates
K Beazley - ALP national conference, Hobart, 2000
Web Search

K Beazley - SYDNEY PAPERS, 2005 -
Against a global backdrop of increasing concern about terrorism and national
security, Australia’s Labor Opposi- tion continues to call for the
establishment of a Department for Homeland Security. Labor leader Kim ...
Web Search

[CITATION] Australia and Asia
K Beazley - 1989 - Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific, University of …
Web Search

Make Room for Pre-Schools and Child-Care Centers.
K Beazley - Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 1980 -
EJ234865 - Make Room for Pre-Schools and Child-Care Centers.
Cached - Web Search

[CITATION] Sydney, 11 December 1999, reported in John Cleary,‘Millennial Visions’
K Beazley, AU Church - The Religion Report
Web Search

MP Costello, MK Beazley, MM Latham -
3. It may be asked why writers, painters and musicians should be subsidized at
all by taxpayers? Such subsidies have not produced any Australian Beethovens or
Mozarts, Haydns or Bachs, Dickens or Trollopes, or Tolstoys or ...
Web Search

Whither the San Francisco alliance system? - all 3 versions »
K Beazley - Australian Journal of International Affairs, 2003 -
Fifty years on, the system of American-led alliances negotiated in San Francisco
survives. The focal points of the treaty making process were: (1) signing the
Japanese Peace Treaty and accompanying security arrangements to preclude ...
Related Articles - Web Search - BL Direct

More lies on
F Sullivan, AOLK Beazley - LAMP, 2005 -
T he Howard government has broken a ‘rock-solid, iron-clad’ election promise
by raising Medicare’s safety net thresholds. Between 300,000 and 400,000
Australians will miss out on a rebate over the next year due to the ...
Web Search

K Beazley - SYDNEY PAPERS, 2006 -
In an important address to The Sydney Institute on Wednesday 24 July 2006,
federal Labor leader the Hon Kim Beazley announced that he would seek an
historic change to his Party’s uranium “no new mines” policy. As he ...
Web Search

KCB MP - Australian Journal of Public Administration, 1995 - Blackwell Synergy
When he was appointed the Commonwealth of Australia’s first public servant,
Sir Robert Garran was asked to perform a vital duty. The people of Australia had
made a major decision to draw together and become one nation. His role was ...
Related Articles - Web Search

Key authors: K Beazley

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Energy Star Program

US EPA Energy Star LogoThe Energy Star Program from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy is designed to encourage energy efficient products and practices. The program was started in 1992 by the US EPA as a voluntary labeling program for computers and monitors. Other office equipment was added in 1995. The program was expanded in 1996, with the US Department of Energy. It now covers major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, new homes, commercial and industrial buildings.

As well as an extensive web site, there are ENERGY STAR Podcasts.

Products Covered
  1. Appliances
  2. Heating & Cooling
  3. Home Envelope
  4. Home Electronics
  5. Office Equipment
  6. Lighting
  7. Other Commercial Products
New Product Specifications in Development

New Product Specifications are in development include:
  1. enterprise servers.
  2. solid state lighting luminaires (led lights)
  3. residential water heaters
  4. commercial griddles
  5. laboratory grade refrigerators and freezers
Revisions have also been made to products including:
  1. Computers
  2. Computer monitors
  3. External power adapters
  4. TVs
  5. set-top boxes
  6. VCRs
  7. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)
  8. residential light fixtures
  9. Imaging equipment
  10. programmable thermostats
  11. clothes washers
  12. residential ventilating fans
  13. windows, doors and skylights
  14. Furnaces
  15. commercial solid door refrigerators and freezers
Office Equipment

It should be noted that many of the products listed under "Office Equipment" are also used in the home:
  1. Computers
  2. Notebook Computers/Tablet PCs
  3. Monitors
  4. External Power Adapters
  5. Printer, Scanners, and All-in-Ones

Computers must meet energy use guidelines in: standby, active, and sleep modes. Computers must also have an efficient internal power supply. Power management features are required for a low-power “sleep mode” after a designated period of inactivity.

Energy Star standards are volintary, but have been made mandatory for some US Government purchasing:

Computer monitors requirements include On, Sleep, and Off Modes :
  • On Mode: the maximum allowed power according to resolution.
  • Sleep Mode: 2 watts or less.
  • Off Mode: 1 watt or less.

Energy Efficiency for Desktop computers, laptops and monitors

On 26 October 2004, a series of Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) proposals that were released by the Australian Government, in conjunction with state regulators and NZ (NAEEEC reports 2004/06 to 2004/17 ). One of these was a "MEPS Profile - Computers & Computer Monitors", with proposals for the regulatory proposal for minimum energy use by computer monitors, desktop computers and laptops. The proposal was based on the US Energy Star system, with some less stringent criteria, however going beyond a voluntary system to make it mandatory.

Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS)

MEPS programs are Australian/NZ Standards made mandatory by state and NZ government legislation and regulations. Locally manufactured and imported products for which MEPS is mandatory include: refrigerators and freezers, electric water heaters (from 1 October 1999), air conditioners , fluorescent lamps. Products for which MEPS is being considered include: Air compressors, Home Electronics and Office Equipment, Lighting, Standby, , Stoves and cooktops, and Water heaters.

Home Electronics and Office Equipment

MEPS proposals for Home electronics (TVs, VCR, audio and related entertainment equipment) and office equipment (computers and related equipment, copiers, faxes) were released in October 2004. This was in addition to the "standby strategy", where the power is consumed to maintain a device ready use. Initial reports were released, followed by later analysis and stakeholder forums. It should be noted that some reports refer to "home computers", but later reports do not distinguish between desktop computers and notebooks used for home or office. Those related to computers include:

  • Final Report on Community Attitudes to the Possibility of Energy Efficiency Labelling of Television Sets and Home Computers. Report No 2007/05, April 2007.
  • Ministerial media release November 2006, announcing a mandatory limit of 1 Watt in standby for all products by 2012.
  • MEPS Profile - External Power Supplies - This report proposes MEPS and marking for external power supplies. Report 2004/07, October 2004.
  • MEPS Profile - Computers & Computer Monitors: Report 2004/06 , October 2004.
  • A Study of Office Equipment Operational Energy Use Issues. Report 2003/07 , February 2003.

MEPS for Computers 2004

The initial measures proposed in"Minimum Energy Performance Standards Computers and Computer Monitors", (by Mark Ellis & Associates, for the National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Committee (NAEEEC), October 2004) were for:

  • External power supplies for laptops and monitors (MEPS profile 2004/07)
  • Computer monitors
  • Internal computer power supplies

The plan was for NAEEEC to develop an Australia/New Zealand standard, based on the US Energy Star system (2004 version). It was anticipated this would be similar to that to be mandated in California in 2008.

The standard was to include requirements for power consumption at no-load and in active mode, to be in effect by 2007.

The mandatory levels were likely to be less stringent than the Energy Star criteria, but possibly with a "high efficiency" category, equivalent to Energy Star.

It was also anticipated the standard would require PCs be shipped with standby enabled and minimum default times set (as per Energy Star requirements). This was to overcome the situation where customers would not enable the features.

MEPS For External Power Supplies 2004

- This report proposes MEPS and marking for external power supplies. Report 2004/07, October 2004.


This report is one of a series of 12 MEPS proposals that were released on 26 October 2004. The full list of these reports can be found in the list of 2004 Publications (NAEEEC reports 2004/06 to 2004/17 inclusive). Each of the proposals includes a government summary which outlines the regulatory proposal and a detailed technical report which provides background information on the product and proposals.

Summary: External Power Supplies

Minimum Energy Performance Standards EXTERNAL POWER SUPPLIES, was prepared by Mark Ellis & Associates fpr the the National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Committee October 2004. Unlike many appliances, the report points out that external power supplies usually have no switch and so consume power while plugged in. They usually have two modes of operation: with and without the end-use appliance drawing load. The report points out that such devices spend much of their time under part load conditions.

The first part of the document outlines:

  • some background about the product including stock numbers and energy consumption;
  • steps towards international harmonisation;
  • the NAEEEC plan for this product including MEPS proposals;
  • the impact of MEPS.

The technical report covers:

  • Product description
  • Power Modes
  • Energy consumption, greenhouse emissions and potential savings
  • Australian and international policies for this product.
California Energy Commission Programs
In addition to regulations, the California Energy Commission has an education program , including "Professor Questor Saving Energy" (for children), and the
Bright School Program.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Australian Robotic Weapon Platform

FireStorm Weapon System on iRobot Vehicle Metal Storm have displayed their high speed mortar on a military PacBot robot from an iRobot. The Metal Storm gun is electrically fired, with a minimum of moving parts, making it a good match for a robot. However, a cluster of off the shelf single shot, electrically primed mortars would be almost as effective, a lot cheaper and able to be fielded without years of development.

MetalStorm's FireStorm four barrel 40mm system has four rounds in each barrel , giving 14 shots total. The platform has electric motors to rotated and elevate the system. However, the iRobot itself can rotate using differential steering of the tracks and and elevate using a scissor action of the “flippers” (axillary tracks). So a much simpler arrangement would be possible using sixteen one shot 40mm grenade barrels fixed on the robot platform, using ammunition of the M203, or similar and aimed using the tracks.

Also the MetalStorm people need to keep in mind that they are just a programing change away from breaching the land mine treaty. A robotic mortar which fires automatically, without human intervention, would technically be a land mine and so illegal.

Payload weight, reliability and the ability to render the weapon harmless are critical requirements when arming unmanned robotic platforms and systems. In addition to meeting weight restrictions, the weapon system cannot be permitted to jam or need manual intervention or the mission may be jeopardised. Also if the weapon is captured it should not be capable of being fired back at friendly forces.

Metal Storm has unique characteristics that make it ideally suited to unmanned air or ground robotic platforms. In particular it has the following features:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • No moving parts (no jamming)
  • Precision firing rates - single shot to rapid burst automatic
  • Selectable munitions; lethal, non lethal, marker rounds
  • Low velocity or medium velocity mitigating recoil for smaller lightweight UAVs or platforms
  • High velocity for larger UAVs or robotic platforms
  • Electronic fire control and sighting integrates with UAV or robotic platform electronics
  • Weapon is rendered harmless if captured as fire control system is locked out.

Small robotic platforms can carry single or multi-barrel Metal Storm weapons that can be attached to existing structures (such as a robotic arm or wing), or can be integrated with specialised mounts that can target independently of the movement and direction of travel of the robotic platform.

Metal Storm has already conducted live firings from several robotic platforms including the Dragonfly rotary wing UAV, the iRobot Warrior UGV and the Talon UGV. ...

From: Unmanned Systems/Robotic Platforms, Metal Storm

FireStorm is a lightweight multi barrel 40mm electronic weapon system that brings cutting edge solutions to the Defence, Security and Law Enforcement communities.

The system can be mounted to fixed or mobile platforms to provide mission support for operations to include:

  • Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT)
  • Reconnaissance Patrol
  • Border Patrol
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Crowd Control

FireStorm has successfully demonstrated its capabilities under separate contracts for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. Recent demonstrations have proven the system capable of delivering High Explosive (HE) and a range of less lethal munitions. FireStorm brings the operational community a total force continuum application.

  • No Moving Parts - All Metal Storm guns have no moving parts for high reliability.
  • Safe Operation - FireStorm features a number of mechanical and electrical interlocks making it one of the safest guns to operate.
  • Cost Effective - FireStorm is inexpensive to acquire, use and maintain.
  • Plug & Play Operation - FireStorm requires only DC power and an ethernet connection for operations.
  • Unattended All Weather Operation - FireStorm is environmentally sealed allowing for all-weather operations for extended periods without continuing maintenance requirements.
From: FireStorm, Metal Storm

Friday, July 25, 2008

Using Semantics at Middleware, Web Services and Business Levels

Dr. Amit P. ShethAmit Sheth, from Wright State University (USA) will talk on "Using Semantics at Middleware, Web Services and Business Levels" at the CSIRO in the ANU CSIT Seminar Room, in Canberra, 11 August 2008:


Using Semantics at Middleware, Web Services and Business Levels

Amit Sheth (Wright State University)

DATE: 2008-08-11
TIME: 15:00:00 - 16:00:00
LOCATION: CSIT Seminar Room, N101

Services are pervasive in today's economic landscape, and services-based architectures are rapidly being adopted for enterprises as well as for Web applications. The need for a broad perspective on services that takes in people and organizational descriptions in addition to technical interface descriptions has already been recognized as part of the overall vision of services science. To this mix, we add the middleware (including distributed and cloud computing) that improves the implementation and interoperability of service oriented architecture (SOA). In this context, we present the semantic services science (3S) modeling framework to support service descriptions that capture system/technical, human, organizational, and business value/requirements aspects. We believe that a combination of Web2.0 and semantic technology can be used to energize services across the broad service spectrum. We describe how the 3S approach could be used along four points in this spectrum: (1) semantic descriptions of standard Web services (with the help of SAWSDL and semantic policy descriptions); (2) semantic descriptions of lightweight Web services (with the help of semantic annotation of REST services and WebAPIs�SAREST) and semantic or smart mashups (smashups) using Web 2.0 technologies (e.g., REST, AJAX) and microformats; (3) semantics at the middleware (communication, configuration, and adaptation); and (4) ontology-based profiling of people and organizational aspects of the assets associated with business and knowledge services, as well as semantic analysis of business requirements. Such processes would be critical to the agile businesses and innovative Web applications that are part of our global and networked economy.

Amit Sheth is an educator, researcher, and entrepreneur. He is the LexisNexis Ohio Eminent Scholar for Advanced Data Management and Analysis at Wright State University, where he directs the HYPERLINK "" Kno.e.sis center for Knowledge enabled Information & Services Science (

Earlier, he was a professor at the University of Georgia, where he founded and directed the LSDIS lab, widely recognized as a leading international research group in the areas of semantic Web, SOA and workflows. Before that, he served in R&D groups at Bellcore, Unisys, and Honeywell. His research has led to several commercial products and two successful companies in the areas of Workflow Management and Semantic Web, which he founded and managed in various executive roles.

Professor Sheth is an IEEE Fellow and has received recognitions such as the IBM Faculty award. He has published over 250 papers and articles many of which are highly cited (current h-index = 54, 24 with over 100 citations each), given over 200 invited talks and colloquia including 30 keynotes, (co)-organized/chaired 45 conferences/workshops, and served on around 120 program committees. He is on several journal editorial boards, is the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of the International Journal on Semantic Web and Information Systems (IJSWIS), joint EIC of Distributed & Parallel Databases Journal, and co-editor of two Springer Book Series.

From: "Using Semantics at Middleware, Web Services and Business Levels", CSIRO, 2008:

IBM Green IT

Suzanne KerwanLast night (24th July 2008) Suzanne Kerwan from IBM Australia talked on "The Future of Green IT" at the ACS Young IT forum in Sydney. Suzanne emphasized that IBM is not new to green issues and had been doing it for business reasons, as well as to be a good corporate citizen.

The presentation started with a statement that it was assumed the audience knew about climate change. Suzanne then illustrated the problem with satellite photos of the arctic ice cap and vegetation around Sydney. She then outlined the Greenhouse Gas Reporting, Carbon Pollution Reductions Scheme and the Garnaut Change Report. It was pointed out that the Greenhouse Gas Reporting program has already come into effect with major emitters having to report. The impact of the Carbon Pollution Reductions Scheme in increasing the cost of products which produce CO2 was discussed.

IBM was a charter member of the Energy Star program in 1992. IBM claims to have reduced CO2 emissions by 44% from 1990 to 2005, due to energy savings. IBM is also a founding member of the Green Grid.

It was pointed out that IT accounts for about 2% of CO2 emissions, similar to aviation (as found in the ACS ICT Carbon Audit). Suzanne asserted that IT can also be used to reduce emissions in other industries.

IBM puts an emphasis on data centre energy use. IBM doesn't make desktop and laptop computers any more, having sold off this business to Lenovo. IBM is using low power devices, including thin clients. The data centre energy use started out being a concern over capacity, with building air conditioning not being able to cope with more computers. It is the air conditioning which consumes much of the power. Suzanne claimed that it is the fans in the servers consuming most of the power. Water cooling can be used to make the process more efficient. I am skeptical that the fans consume a lot of the power and that water cooling is a solution. Water cooling is useful in very high density installations, but here more exotic technologies can be sued, such as carbon dioxide colling as proposed for the Canberra data center. But such high densities for data centers are not necessarily a good idea and air colling with more space may a better solution.

can be used to reduce energy use by combining the functions of several computers into one. In addition IBM consolidated its data centres and also the management of them globally. Between 1997 and 2008 the number of data centres was reduced from 155 to 7, web hosting centres from 80 to 5, network technologies from 31 to 1 and from 15,000 applications to 4,700. Presumably the one networking technology used is IP with Ethernet. This is ironic as I recall IBM strongly recommending not using IP or Ethernet to its customers in the 1990s.

Some technologies for others to use are:

Intelligent Utility Networks. "GridWise Project". in the USA (may be done with Country Energy in NSW). This can be used to smooth out the peak energy use by 15%.

Stockholm Congestion Tax Project used to charge for car use in the city. This reduced car use. Brisbane is looking at using something similar.

Advanced Water Management: The IBM Australian Development Labs are working on sensor systems for Victorian water catchments.

Some simple solutions Suzanne suggested:
  1. Remove Desktop Printers: Reduces consumables and energy use.
  2. Shut laptop when not in use.
  3. Stands for laptop screens in place of desktop screens.
  4. Laptops in place of desktops: This was the only suggestion I disagreed with. It was claimed that desktop computers use more energy than laptops, which is the case for the average desktop. But laptop computers use less energy because they have smaller screens and lower performance processors than desktop computers and cost more. Also laptops have batteries which use more materials and increase the price. If willing to lower the performance of the desktop, then its power consumption can be reduced to that of a laptop, at a lower price.
IBM looking at location based green groups. This might be something which ACS could help with, via its Green ICT groups.

The ACS announced this week that it would be developing accrediting for green ICT. So I asked if this would be of use to IBM. The answer was that green ICT should be part of the training for the various professionals, such as those doing data centres, rather than a specific specialization. Perhaps the ACS should include this in the core body of knowledge required for all ICT professionals, just as ethics training is. There then could be small modules for the various specializations.

Another questioner raised the issue of carbon neural energy sources. This raises the possibility that organizations would be tempted to take the easy option and just buy green power to run its computers. But reducing the energy use would reduce the energy cost as well as CO2 emissions.

Telecommuting also came up as an option to save energy.

Another questioner asked about tools for calculating an organization's carbon footprint. IBM partners with another organization to do that.