Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Sunday, May 23, 2021

What your boss really knows about your internet usage

West Live Podcast
I was interviewed by Ben O'Shea for PerthNow's The West Live Podcast, on "What your boss really knows about your internet usage and why incognito mode won’t protect you" (West Australian Newspapers, May 21, 2021 2:35PM):

"It turns out your boss can see much more than you think when it comes to your internet usage at work, no matter how incognito you get.

Australian National University honorary lecturer and technology consultant Tom Worthington knows a thing or two about what you can and can’t get away with at work when it comes using the web."

Monday, May 17, 2021

Why Are the Federal & ACT COVID-19 Vaccination Booking Websites So Difficult to Use?

WHO Digital Vaccination Certificate
This is to suggest improvements in the COVID-19 vaccination websites of the Federal and ACT Governments. In contrast to those of a private medial provider, the government sites do not appear to have been designed to prioritize vaccination of the general public. It is suggested a booking link be added to the top of the federal and ACT pages, and the ACT use the same Medicare number format as other providers, and not limit online booking at its clinics to existing patients. This is based on my experience helping design emergency websites and teaching how to do this. 

Below I detail some changes, and why they are needed. Australia's vaccination rate is currently far below that needed to have everyone eligible offered at least one dose buy the end of the year. There are obvious flaws in the federal and ACT vaccination websites, including incorrect, and misleading formation. By making it harder for the public to get vaccinated, are placing lives, and the economy, at risk. It is suggested changing the government sites to make it easier for the bulk of the population to book a vaccination. It would also be useful to offer something tangible, such as a vaccination certificate, with a QR code.

Suggested Changes

1. Booking Link at Top of Page: Both federal and ACT governments should have a line at the top of their main COVID-19 web pages for booking:

  • Fifty or over? Book your COVID-19 vaccination now:  50+ Book! 

2. Show online booking sites first: The federal government page should display vaccination centers which have online booking first. Public high capacity clinics should be displayed first, followed by GP clinics, and GPs last.

3. Allow ACT residents to register online with ACT Health: The ACT Government should delete the map from their page until there are more ACT centers for the public to choose from. The Medicare number entry field on the MyDHR registration page should be changed to use the same format as federal government and private medical sites. The restriction that only existing patients can register should be lifted. 

Finding Where to Get Vaccinated

A web search using Google for "covid19 vaccine booking", has as the first four responses:

  1. COVID-19 Vaccine Booking - Book An Appointment (Ad) https://www.health.gov.au/
  2. COVID-19 vaccinations - Available now in Canberra (Ad) https://www.nhc.coop/
  3. How will I get my COVID-19 vaccine? | Australian Government ...www.health.gov.au 
  4. Booking your COVID-19 vaccination - COVID-19 - ACT Health www.covid19.act.gov.au

The first two of these are paid advertisements and the next two native responses. The first is to the federal health website, the next a private clinic in Canberra, then a different Federal Government page and lastly the ACT Government. That there are two different federal government pages resulting from the one search is confusing. 

Federal Health Website

The first Federal Government page says "... book an appointment if you are eligible ...", but this is below the fold, below the first screen of information, in the middle of a sentence and thus very difficult to see. 

From: COVID-19 vaccines, Australian Government Department of Health, 17 May 2021 (detail). https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines


The priority in the design of this page appears to be to educate the public as to who is eligible, so as not to overload the system. With the decision to permit all over 50s to book, I suggest this is misplaced. The priority should be on getting people vaccinated and saying "book vaccination".

After three screens the federal system displays the nearest vaccination centers. Here they are for O'Connor, ACT:

Vaccination centers suggested for O'Connor ACT.

The screen is headed with "Please use online appointments where available to reduce call volumes to clinics. If you can’t find an appointment or a clinic in your location, please check back in a week.". However, four of the five entries displays are for phone bookings only. Following the instructions given, the user would select the one and only clinic which takes online bookings.

The only entry which has a link for online booking is to the ACT Government clinic. However, this only accepts online booking from previous patents of ACT Heath (and I was unable to make a booking even though I had been a patient). 

National Health Co-op

National Health Co-op is a non-government, not-for-profit health service. The web link leads to a vaccinations page, with two buttons, for "Covid 19" and "Flu Shot". This then shows the six locations where a shot can be booked. The details of how to registered and book are left until later.

National Health Co-op COVID-19 Booking details

This is a good design, the user gets to see where they could go, without having to enter a lot of personal details first. However, the information presented contradicts that on the Federal Health web site. The Federal site lists the Co-op's ANU clinic as available for phone bookings only. That clinic is not listed by the Co-op's website and all of those listed can be booked online. It appears the Federal government site is incorrect, listing a clinic which is not available and also not listing those which are. 

Second Federal Government Web Page

The second federal government page to appear in the web search results is "How will I get my COVID-19 vaccine?". This has a link for "Book or register for COVID-19 vaccination", but below the fold, so the user has to scroll down to find it. This then links to the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker, discussed above. Again the booking link is not prominent, and the page does not appear to be designed to have vaccination booking as a priority.

Federal how will I get my vaccine page.

This is not a good design, as the link for booking a vaccination is not prominent. 

ACT Health

The ACT Health Booking your COVID-19 vaccination page, has the link "How to book your COVID-19 vaccination" above the fold. 


ACT Health Booking your COVID-19 vaccination page

This then displays a map showing the clinics:

ACT clinics map

However, only one of three of the clinics shown are for the general public. As a result showing a map is misleading, not useful. The one clinic shown requires online booking via the ACT Government booking system "MyDHR". This system requires entry of the Medicare number in a format different to that used by the federal government and private providers, and the number is not displayed as it is entered. Also online registration is only available to those who are already patients in the ACT health system (and in some chases even not then). 

MyDHR Registration screen obscuring Medicare number.


Previously I provided some "Suggested Improvements to ACT Health COVID-19 Vaccination Booking System". Unfortunately so far the ACT Government has not made the suggested improvements. The only response received is a Tweet (3:01 PM · May 14, 2021) from ACT Health: 

"Hi, if you have any technical issues when using MyDHR, please call 02 5124 5000 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Please refer to our FAQ 'I'm having issues signing up to MyDHR' for other reasons you may be having issues"

While this doesn't address any of the issues, it at least indicates the suggestions have been received by the ACT Government.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Australia needs a plan to deescalate tensions in the region

In "China needs to make a plan to deter extreme forces of Australia",  Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, threatened the use of "...long-range missiles with conventional warheads that target military objectives in Australia ..." (May 07, 2021 11:35 PM). Such a threat is counterproductive and I suggest Australia develop plans to respond in a way which shows resolve, but does not escalate the situation.

In  2003 I was a guest of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) presenting ideas for the Beijing Olympics 2008. Present were local academics, government a business people, including from the People's Daily, who I considered very professional. I had an enjoyable tour of the People's Daily webcasting facility. It is regrettable that staff of the organisation are now issuing threats.

Air raid on Darwin.
During WWII, Australia suffered widespread and sustained attack from the air. However, this did not break the resolve of Australians to defend their country, quite the contrary. 

Conventionally armed ballistic missiles could inflict significant damage, and casualties, on Australian military infrastructure and civilians. The Australian government may wish to acquire anti-missile missiles, for the ships it has already acquired which are fitted-for-but-not-with these. But in any case, as in WWII, an attack on the Australian mainland would increase work with allies, not diminish it.

In the event Australia comes under ballistic missile attack, I suggest we show restraint, and ask our allies not to use the weapons at their disposal to respond in kind. A way to show resolve, without escalating the situation, would be to dismantle the artificial islands constructed by China in disputed territory

Personnel on the artificial islands could be given time to evacuate, with personal belongings. This could be facilitated by coast guard personnel of Australia and its allies. All infrastructure on the islands would then be removed, and the sea walls broken. This would allow currents to wash away the built up sand and return the reefs to their natural state.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Suggested Improvements to ACT Health COVID-19 Vaccination Booking System

To make an online booking at ACT Government COVID-19 vaccination clinics, clients are required to use the MyDHR system. However, the way the client enters their Medicare number is very confusing and only those who have already been clients of ACT Health can make a booking. I suggest the way the Medicare number is entered is made easier, in line with other online systems. Also I suggest the requirement that only existing clients can book be lifted.

The page with information on bookings has an explanation of how to enter the  number. However, this is down on the page, below where the user is invited to click to make a booking. As a result it is likely most users will never see the instructions on entering the Medicare number, particularly when using a smart phone. 

Medicare Number Problem

The ACT Government instructions on how to enter the Medicare number contradict those of the Federal government. The Federal government says:

"Enter your Medicare card number, followed by your Individual Reference Number"

But the ACT Government says: 

"When filling out the Medicare number, please note the format needs to be XXXXXXXXXX-X where the last digit (IRN) is what appears next to your first name on your Medicare card".

Compounding the problem is that the MyHDR registration screen does not display the Medicare number as it is entered.

I suggest the Medicare number be displayed and be entered in two parts: the Medicare number itself, and the IRN.

MyDHR Registration screen obscuring Medicare number.

Registration Problem

The MyDHR login page has a "Sign up for MyDHR" button. This then requested the client's name, date of birth and Medicare number.However, registration is not accepted from new clients. The person registering has to have already been to ACT Health. I suggest this be changed to accept registration for anyone with a Medicare card.

Credible, easy to use booking system needed

Talking on web for Pandemics 
On Monday morning I attempted to use the MyDHR system to book a vaccination. I was unable to do so. This was surprising as I have been a client of ACT Health, so should be in their system. It was also surprising how difficult the system was to use (I have given talks around the world on the design of web systems for pandemics).  Instead I booked at a GP clinic, using their working online booking system. 

To ensure as many are vaccinated, as quickly as possible, we need easy to use, functioning vaccination booking systems. I suggest the ACT Government make urgent changes to their system to ensure public safety. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Gigworker's Shelters to Reduce Energy USe

Cabmen's shelter,
by Andy Scott, 2019, CC BY-SA 4.0
 Recently I have noticed quite a few people sitting in vans and utes, parked with the engine running. They appear to be on-call workers, prepositioned around the city, waiting to be called to fix something. Also I noticed an electric car charger which can also be used to return power to the grid. Perhaps parking spaces could be distributed around the city, equipped with charging, for service vehicles. The drivers could either wait in the vehicle, or in the modern equivalent of a Cabmen's Shelter, nearby. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Australian Fast UAV Carrier with Onboard Additive Manufacturing of Aircraft

Fast UAV Carrier.
Artists impression by
Tom Worthington CC-BY 2021
The Australian Government is reported to be considering investing billions of dollars in a complex guided weapons manufacturing  sovereign capability. However, just having a local subsidiary of an offshore company build an imported product under licence is not a real sovereign capability (as was shown by billions wasted on subsidizing foreign car companies to manufacture in Australia).

Any scheme has to have a strong investment in local capability. I suggest Australia should invest in new technological capabilities, for example, being able to rapidly manufacture custom guided weapons and UAVs for a particular mission. This could include the capability to do this aboard ship and on land at forward bases.

As an example, imagine a miniature aircraft carrier build by one of Australia's multi-hull fast ferry shipyards, with a flight deck for launching UAVs and a factory below to 3D print the jet engines, fuselages and avionics for them. Rather than a commander to have to wait weeks, or years for new weapons to be delivered, they would be manufactured on-board in a few hours, custom designed for the next mission.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Virtual Tour of Borobudur

Travelxism, who ran the tour of Borobudur Temple I went on in 2019, at TALE 2019, are now offering virtual group tours, with a local guide using Zoom. They offer tours also to other Yogyakarta sites. This can be for a group of friends, a workplace, club or conference. Of course. it is not quite the same as the real thing, but you do get to ask questions.

I have suggested the tour organizers offer virtual tours of the the Taman Pintar science park, the shopping center and a ride in a local bus as to the visitor these are also fascinating.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Live Your Life, But Take Precautions

Over Christmas, I left Canberra for a holiday in Queensland, but never got there. The Queensland boarders were closed due to COVID-19, so I stayed in Sydney. Then the Canberra boarder closed and I could not go home. But then, if you have to be stuck somewhere, Sydney is a nice place to be. ;-)

From Sydney, I could still work online, with the help of a mattress (my next webinar for Canada is 11am, Wednesday, all welcome). My doctor faxed scrips for essential medicines to a Sydney pharmacy (there is still a use for fax).

In Sydney, I decided to avoid indoor venues. It became a challenge to find somewhere to shop and be entertained without an enclosed air-conditioned space and within walking distance. When mandatory mask wearing was introduced for Sydney, this was in some ways a relief. I did try going to a concert once, but an hour in a mask, even with an intermission outside, was not a pleasant experience.

Last week the Canberra boarder opened, and I was able to return. This was an anti-climax: I was expecting someone in a hazmat suit to stick something up my nose, but there was no border checkpoint. What I did find confronting was going to a shopping center. As I entered there were people with no masks. I found this shocking and a little frightening. I wanted to shout "What are you doing, don't you know we are in a pandemic!" and run from the building. But I calmed down, and did my shopping.

Canberra Food Truck
Usually I would have lunch in the center, but could not face spending any longer in a enclosed space with hundreds of people. So I dined on the top level of the car-park, at a  food van. It was a bright sunny pleasant day. 

Smoke over Canberra, 18 January 2003I went home in a better frame of mind, thinking my fears irrational and expecting they would have receded after a few days. This would be similar to 18 January 2003, when at the same shopping center car-park, I was confronted by smoke from a firestorm destroying part of Canberra.

However, the next morning, it was reported there were COVID-19 viral fragments detected in Belconnen wastewater. My fears were not entirely irrational after all.

There is a need to get on with life, but also take precautions.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Salvos Store set up like the apartment in Big Bang Theory

Part of the Salvos Store Leichhardt (NSW), has been set up like the apartment in the TV series The Big Bang Theory


There is a bookcase with Star Wars and Star Trek collectibles, rack of computer games, couch and TV with a game playing. But Sheldon would not doubt point that the replica Phaser on display is "Original Series", while the model star-ship is from a later series. ;-)