Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Successful Enterprise Architecture Practice

Greetings from the CSIRO Discovery Centre in Canberra, where Christine Pitt from MXA Consulting is speaking on "Successful Enterprise Architecture Practice" at a meeting of the Australian Computer Society's Strategy & Architecture Special Interest Group (ACS-SASig).
Christine suggests using general purpose software tools and social media, rather than expensive EA tools. In answer to a question on frameworks, Christine mentioned TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework).

I teach a little on Enterprise Architecture  for ICT Sustainability in the course ICT Sustainability.

Monday, February 17, 2014

European Internet Will Not Stop Eavesdropping

I was interviewed on ABC News Radio Monday morning, about reports of the German Chancellor's proposal for a European Internet to stop US eavesdropping

I said a European Internet would be more expensive and ineffective. Those who traditionally spy on the Germans are the French. ;-)

More seriously, I pointed out that Europe tended to have higher data charges, so US services are used by Europeans. I suggested that individuals could help by encrypting their own data (which will slow down, but not stop eavesdropping) and check where the organisations they do business with store their data.
Some relevant documents:
  1. Australian Government Cloud Computing Policy: Maximising the Value of Cloud, version 2.1, AGIMO, July 2013
  2. Outsourcing and offshoring - Specific considerations when using cloud computing services", Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), 15 November 2010
  3. Advice on managing the recordkeeping risks associated with cloud computing, Cassie Findlay, Australasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative, Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities, 29 July 2010

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chinese Navy to Join Operation Sovereign Borders?

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Donald R Rothwell, Penelope Mathew, Clive Williams and David Letts are speaking on "Operation Sovereign Borders: Charting the legal issues". The Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) tasks the Australian Defence Force and civilian agencies to prevent asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia. Media reports indicate that a Chinese flotilla (two destroyers and a landing ship) is conducting an exercise in the waters to the north of Australia, in international waters near Indonesia. Perhaps the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are intending to assist with Operation Sovereign Borders and the Australian government has negotiated the "Beijing Solution"? ;-)

More seriously,  Professor Williams provided a brief history of OSB, concluding that it seemed to be effective, but it may be simply that there are fewer vessels at present due to the time of year.

Professor Rothwell outlined the Law of the Sea. He said Australia is entitled to stop and remove ships in territorial waters carrying people arriving contrary to the migration act. But he said it was not clear if this applied in Australian and Indonesian economic zones. It may be that as the people smuggling boats are not properly registered they may able to be stopped, but not returned to Indonesia, without Indonesia's approval. Australian naval vessels can legally enter Indonesian waters for "innocent passage" but not towing a people smuggling vessel. Professor Rothwell then discussed if the lifeboats which OSB is apparently forcing people into are seaworthy. He said Australia has "considerable" responsibility if there is an incident with a lifeboat.

Professor Mathew discussed the rights of refugees and the rights of Australians to know what is happening. She asserted that under Article 33 of the UN Refugee Convention, Australia cannot turn away a person at the border who is seeking asylum, with some form of hearing. Professor Mathew questioned if a lifeboat was a "place of safety" and if therefore Australia was acting lawfully by forcing asylum seekers into them. She also said Australia was bound to conduct an investigation into allegations that RAN personnel mistreated asylum seekers. Professor Mathew argued that the Australian people had the right to know what was happening with OSB.She gave the example of the symbolism of the German parliament building which has a glass roof, whereas the Australian parliament has a grass roof.More serious, she argued that there has to be a good reason for limiting information access.

Professor Letts said that OSB was clearly not an operation carried out during wartime. Loose talk of "war on asylum seekers", "enemy" and "war footing" unhelpfully inflames the situation. OSB is conducted under directions from the Australian government. Article 110 & 111 of the Law of the Sea refer to actions taken against a vessel to have it stop or turn about. This allows the vessel to be fired upon. The people on the vessel may be asylum seekers or crew. Professor Letts said their is a right for Australia to comply arrivals to comply with directions. Professor Letts said that the Australian migration act allows government aircraft and ships to  use necessary and reasonable force, including firing on the ship to stop and board it.


Thursday, 13 February 2014 - 5:30pm - 7:00pm

Venue: The Australian National University Speaker:
Donald R Rothwell Professor of International Law and Head of School, ANU College of Law
Penelope Mathew Freilich Foundation Professor, ANU
Clive Williams Adjunct Professor, Centre for Military & Security Law, ANU
David Letts Associate Professor and Co-Director, Centre for Military & Security Law, ANU
The Centre for Military & Security Law will host an open forum to examine some of the key legal issues that have arisen so far under Operation Sovereign Borders.
This Forum will provide an opportunity to understand and discuss key legal issues including sovereignty (Australian and Indonesian), law of the sea, refugee/human rights law, and the law that governs the use of force in border protection operations. These issues have arisen as a result of the Federal Government’s decision, after winning the election last year, to establish Operation Sovereign Borders which is a “military-led, border security operation supported and assisted by a wide range of federal government agencies”. Shortly after Operation Sovereign Borders commenced on 18 September 2013, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection stated: “… those seeking to come on boats will not be getting what they have come for. They will be met by a broad chain of measures end to end that are designed to deter, to disrupt, to prevent their entry from Australia and certainly to ensure that they are not settled in Australia”.
Legal experts associated with the Centre for Military & Security Law, Professor Donald R. Rothwell, Professor Penelope Mathew, Adjunct Professor Clive Williams and Associate Professor David Letts, will lead the discussion for this open forum in an attempt to navigate through the legal complexities that have arisen under Operation Sovereign Borders.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lessons from WWII for US - Australian Military Relations

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Dr Peter J. Dean, Senior Lecturer at the Australian Command and Staff College, is speaking on "Allies of a kind: United States and Australian military relations in the South West Pacific, 1942-43". He related how US General Douglas MacArthur refused to set up a unified command with the Australian Army in WWII and had a largely US staffed HQ, with Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey having a separate Australian land HQ. Both US and Australian officers had little regard for the other. Dr Dean explained this as partly a matter of different culture.The lowest point was the "Battle of Brisbane", where US and Australian troops rioted in Brisbane in November 1942. However, Dr Dean argue that relationships at lower levels were good and improved overall from late 1942, as US and Australian forces trained and fought together. Australia first tried to adopt US amphibious doctrine, but this then had to be adapted to suit the available military resources, incorporating elements of UK doctrine. Rather than a frontal assault using overwhelming force, an indirect approach was used.

This lesson of training with allies is a less learned and I have seen it first hand at a joint military exercise. The amphibious warfare which the Australian military undertook in the later stages of WWII are very relevant to today. Australia has HMAS Choules (L100) a landing ship and ordered two Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock Ships. However, it will take considerable work for these to work effectively with the Australian army and RAAF helicopters. Australian forces will need to adopt the same indirect doctrine of WWII when operating on their own, but be able work with the US Marines direct assault approach when operating in collation.

One practice from WWII which may be useful are mobile training units. The usual custom is for military units to travel to a training centre, where a fixed staff conducted the training. As an alternative the trainers can go to where the troops are. IT can now be applied to this training, with simulator modes built into the equipment.

War Studies Seminar, No.3: Allies of a kind: United States and Australian military relations in the South West Pacific, 1942-43

Strategic & Defence Studies Centre

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM (EST)

Acton, ACT

The War Studies Seminars are open to the public and are to showcase the latest research on the history, character, conduct and effects of war.
Coalition warfare, complicated as it is by different strategic priorities and cultural differences, is always fraught with difficulties. The interactions between the United States and Australia in the Southwest Pacific Area during the Second World War were no exception. Examinations of this have generally focused on the two senior military commanders in theatre, General Douglas MacArthur and General Sir Thomas Blamey.
Frequently overlooked are the relationships further down the chain, where commanders and their troops had to develop workable joint doctrine and procedures to conduct always difficult amphibious operations, as well as operate together on the battlefield.
This seminar will explore the nature of the Australian–US military relations during 1942 and early 1943, and investigate the extent to which these unexpected partners were able to forge an effective working relationship.
Dr Peter J. DeanGuest speaker
Peter Dean is a Fellow in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre as well as a Senior Lecturer at the Australian Command and Staff College, Australian National University.  In 2011 he was a Research Associate at the United States Studies Centre (Sydney University) and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre For Australian and New Zealand Studies (Georgetown University, Washington DC). His major research and teaching interests are in Australian military history and defence studies. Peter is the author of a biography of Australia’s most important operations staff officer, The Architect of Victory: The Military Career of Lieutenant-General Sir Frank Horton Berryman, 1894-1981, (Australian Army History Series, Cambridge University Press, 2011), editor of; Australia 1942: In the Shadow of War (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Australia 1943: The Liberation of New Guinea (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and Australia's Defence: A New Era? (Melbourne University Press, 2014).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fujitsu Australia ICT Sustainability Survey

Fujitsu Australia are conducting an "ICT Sustainability Survey". Lee Stewart, Head of Sustainability ANZ at Fujitsu Australia, would like to hear from CIOs and IT leaders about ICT energy efficiency and the role of ICT in reducing their organisation’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas footprint.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

ABC TV Clarke and Dawe Episode on "Start the Boats".

Suggested unsolicited script for the comedy show ABC TV Clarke and Dawe on "Start the Boats".
Dawe: Good evening Mr. X, what is your occupation?

{Clark appears with face apparently digitally blurred and voice digitally disguised.}

Clark: I am in the ocean cruse business.

Dawe: You are a people smuggler aren't you?

Clarke: No, I provide assisted passage for those wishing to visit foreign parts.

Dawe: This document says you ordered your staff to buy small boats, force people onto them and told them to sail to a country which had not authorized their entry.

Clarke: Hang, on I can't see.
{Clarke then wipes the blur away from his face. We see it was a fogged sheet of glass in front of him. His voice change was because he was speaking into a megaphone. He turns to the side and shouts into the megaphone:}

Stroke, stroke, stroke!

{He puts down the megaphone and talks in his normal voice.}

That's better, now what is the document?

Dawe: It is a cabinet paper on "Operation Sovereign Borders" leaked from your office, minister.

Clarke: A leaked document would make it an on-water matter. I can't comment on on-water matters. I am busy stopping people smugglers.

Dawe: What do people smugglers do?

Clarke: They buy small boats, force people on them and tell them to sail to a country which has not authorised their entry.

Dawe: Isn't that what you did?

Clarke: That is an on-water matter, so I have put a General in charge of it.

Dawe: If its on water, shouldn't you have put an admiral in charge?

Clarke: The navy is busy.

Dawe: Busy? What is more important than protecting our borders?

Clarke: Avoiding invading Indonesia by accident.
Dawe:  But surely your ships know where the border is?
Clarke: Yes, I believe is the correct nautical term is "astern".
Dawe: Minister, thank you for your time.


Retinex Effect to Allow the Blind to See

In 1971 by Edwin H. Land (inventor of instant photography) described formulated the "retinex theory" to explain an effect where people see colours consistently even why the colour of the light used to illuminate them changes. Hitachi claimed to have used this theory to develop an image processing algorithm which makes images appear brighter. They are able to increase the detail shown in dark areas of the image, without obvious distortion. I suggest if this works, the same process might be used to create images which can be seen by those with limited vision. To normally sighted people the images would look cartoon like (as discussed in "Video enhancement software for poor eyesight", ANU Project Code: CECS_686).

Friday, February 07, 2014

Build your Own $10 Virtual Reality Glasses

Marcus Hutter and Stephen Gould will speak on "Build your Own 3D Virtual Reality Glasses for 10$" at the Australian National University in Canberra, 4pm, 13 February 2014.The DIY 3D Virtual Reality Goggles are built using a smart phone and part of a Student Project.
It occurs to me that this is something which should work well with one of the new smart phones with curved display. The case to hold the phone could be manufactured with a 3D printer (with the design by the engineering students), the project crowd-funded and entered in the Innovation ACT start-up competition.
3D television and 3D cinema are becoming wide-spread, but 3D Virtual Reality goggles (or glasses), despite being a many decades old idea, are just receiving increased attention. The few commercial devices available don't sell well, in parts due to price, but a cheap alternative has emerged: A modern SmartPhone, two lenses for under 10$ and some cardboard and glue is all you need to build your own 3D-VR goggles. 
Marcus will bring his to the seminar for you to try out, and will share his experience in building and using them. Stephen will discuss potential computer vision applications and student projects. ...

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Solar Coal to Reduce Air Pollution in China

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra,where Professor David Y.H. Pui, from the University of Minnesota, in speaking on "PM2.5 in China: Sources, Effects, Mitigation, and Its Impact on Energy Industry". Professor . Pui related how the US Embassy in Beijing published air pollution readings, including 2.5 μm particles, much to the annoyance of the Chinese government. But readings for this are now published for major Chinese cities. A previous standard was PM10, that is 10 μm particles, based on what would be small enough to enter the lung. Much smaller particles, including engineered nano-particles, can enter all the way to the Alveoli. Also particles around 2.5 μm from combustion can remain suspended in the air for weeks.Particle density can be measured in real time by applying an electrical charge, or more simply by using a filter and air pump.The major sources of emissions in China are coal combustion and vehicle engines. As well as primary particles from combustion, there are particles created by the reaction of gas exposed to sunlight (photochemical smog).

Professor Pui pointed out that since the introduction of standards in the USA, air pollution and also death rates have dropped. Northern Chinese cites have pollution levels ten to hone hundred times the US standard.

Filters can be used to remove particles from coal combustion at power stations and vehicle engines. Baghouse filters can be sued in power plants to collect dust. Modern filters have a PTFE membrane on a fabric (like Gortext jacket). Diesel vehicle engines can use a ceramic filter which is cleaned by high temperatures periodically.

Professor Pui pointed out that the cabin air filter in a modern can can remove most of the air particles within three minutes, with air recirculating.

China will implement a standard for PM2.5 three time the US standard in 2016. It would take northern Chinese cities 20 years to meet the standards, without new measure, such as conversion of coal power stations to natural gas. But the higher cost of natural gas will limit this. Gasification of coal could be used as a lower cost alternative.  Concentrated solar power could be used for gasification of coal to produce synthetic gas could be a longer term solution.

I suggest it would be interesting to see if solar powered gasification of coal would be an option for Australia. This could provide a political solution for Australian governments which need to reduce carbon emissions,while not being seen to be cutting jobs in the coal mining industry. This could be particularly useful for Victoria, which has large reserves of low quality wet brown coal. This process could also be applied to garbage and biomass. See: "Biomass Gasification using Solar Thermal Energy" (Munzinger and Lovegrove, ANU, 2013).
PM2.5 (Particulate Matter less than 2.5 μm) was established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1997 as the standard method for sampling fine particles, because of concern over the health effects of fine particles in the ambient environment. The Particle Technology Laboratory (PTL) has developed many instruments and samplers to perform atmospheric measurements, which helped to establish the PM2.5 standard. The effects of PM2.5 pollutants on the atmospheric visibility and human health will be addressed. PM2.5 sources in China have been identified to come from pollutants from coal burning (approx. 40%) and from vehicle emissions (approx. 25%). The strategy for pollution control must be based on reducing the pollutants from these two primary sources. Filtration is one of the principal means to control PM2.5 pollutants. Baghouse filters are used to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants and Diesel and Gasoline Particulate Filters (DPF and GPF) are used to reduce vehicle emissions. The PM2.5 impact, both short-term and long-term, to the energy industry will also be addressed. An integrative approach, from collaboration among academia, government, and industries, can effectively manage and mitigate the PM2.5 pollutants in China.
David Y. H. Pui, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, is the L.M. Fingerson/TSI Inc Chair in Mechanical Engineering and the Director of the Particle Technology Laboratory and of the Center for Filtration Research, University of Minnesota. He has a broad range of research experience in aerosol science and technology and has over 230 journal papers and 22 patents. He has developed/co-developed several widely used commercial aerosol instruments. Dr. Pui is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and has received many awards, including the Max Planck Research Award (1993), the Humboldt Research Award for Senior U.S. Scientists (2000), the Fuchs Memorial Award (2010)--the highest disciplinary award conferred jointly by the American, German and Japanese Aerosol Associations, and the Einstein Professorship Award (2013) by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). He was a past President of the American Association for Aerosol Research (AAAR) and of the International Aerosol Research Assembly (IARA) consisting of 16 international aerosol associations.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Shared Services for the Australian Government

Susan Monkley, Group Manager, Technology Solutions Group, Department of Education
Greetings form the Australian Computer Society Canberra meeting, where Susan Monkley, Group Manager, Technology Solutions Group, Department of Education is speaking on "Merging IT in government (and de-merging)". The Australian Government underwent significant changes, with mergers and de-mergers of departments, after the last election and a new government. But as Susan pointed put, this can happen at any time. She referred to them by what sounded like "moggs", but turned out to be "MoGs" (Machinery of Government changes). The Australian Public Service Commission has details of what happens with staff as well as more general advice during a MoG.

In IT terms Susan pointed out that previous MOGs  took about seven years for split agencies to completely separate their IT systems. Similarly mergers resulted in duplicated functions, until this could be rationalised. As Susan pointed out this is not just a matter of technical standards, but also work styles. Some changes are just too hard to make and agencies can have other agencies continue to run systems for them.

Susan pointed out it was not just a matter of transferring people from one agency’s system to another. Staff may need access to their old agency's systems for weeks or years after the change. Different security policies may impose large burdens on agencies when staff need to be cleared. She mentioned single sign-on as an aim for the future fpr all of government (at the start of my public service career several decades ago we used second hand equipment left over from ManData, a failed whole-of-government project).

Susan mentioned at the end of her talk that the newly demerged  Departments of Education and Employment will have a shared services centre to deliver services to both (not just ICT services). This is an interesting idea which could be expanded to other like agencies. However, as Susan pointed out when I asked about it, the temptation to expand this to agencies which have very different tasks should be avoided. The ACT Government has Shared Services for ICT, Human Resources and Finance. The Shared Services SA provides shared services for the South Australian Government, The APSC has some notes on shared services.
Susan will discuss the transformation journey of the Department of Education’s IT operations including the challenges specific to IT operations in federal government.
Machinery of Government changes significantly impact the operations of government business. Department’s may merge, new department’s may be created, and functions can be transferred from one agency to another. People working in government IT operations are impacted in two key ways. Firstly they have a significant role supporting business areas and people move between departments. Secondly, Machinery of Government changes sometimes result in significant changes to the size, structure, client base and nature of the IT operation. The Department of Education has recent experience of such a change and Susan will discuss the approaches and outcomes of managing transformational change.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

How Do I Stop Spam from the Palmer United Party?

Today I received seventeen copies of a "New Year Greetings"  email from the Palmer United Party. I am happy to receive the occasional newsletter from my elected representatives, but Clive Palmer MP is not one of them.

I have forwarded all the messages to the ACMA Spam Intelligence Database. Any suggestions on how to stop this? There is an unsubscribe offer at the end of the message, but a posting to Whirlpool indicates that a request to be removed from the mailing list resulted in more email.

The  Palmer United Party appears to use the IT company, Alacrity Technology, based in Mitchell ACT. The company also promotes mobile gambling technology.