Sunday, September 12, 2021

Wollies Direct to Boot Worked Better Than Coles but there is Room for Innovation

Woolworths Direct to Boot Bay,
Tom Worthington CC-BY 12 September 2021
My second attempt to order groceries online from Coles failed, so I switched to Woolworths. The online ordering was much the same, but the collection process was much quicker, easier, and more pleasant. I received a text message telling me my order was ready for collection, to click when I departed, and click again when I arrived. As with Coles, I got lost in the car-park trying to find the collection bays. But this was in the open air, not an underground car park so much easier to see my way around, and it felt less oppressive (at the wonderfully named Spitfire Avenue, next to Canberra Airport). 

The bays were clearly marked, and the staff already on hand, so I was out in a couple of minutes (rather than 20 at Coles). They had a hand card with crates which fitted to it, rather than the wobbly trolley  Coles was using. All my order was there and the fresh items excellent quality. There seemed to be more plastic bags, but this may be because I had ordered frozen, and chilled food, with each category in a separate bag.

For me Woolworths wins hands down over Coles, assuming the ordering system keeps working. If not, is there a third alternative in Canberra? 

Perhaps the team at the Canberra Innovation Network, Innovation ACT and ANU TechLauncher could design an independent home shopping system. This might use a just in time picking system: when you told the system you were on your way, the picker would quickly go around the isles in a discount supermarket, picking the items, and be ready just as you pulled up outside. The picking service doesn't need to be owned by, or affiliated with, the supermarket.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

My Phone Survived a Trip Through a Washing Machine

In July 2020, I purchased a Unihertz Atom L Rugged Smartphone
Unihretz Atom L Smartphone
case worn by washing machine
. I did not realise how rugged it was until today. My washing machine was making some banging sounds, but I did not think much of it. When I opened the door after 45 minutes, one wash cycle, two rinses and a spin dry, I found my phone in among the clothes. The phone was covered with a black grease and there was a spot warn shiny on the brushed aluminum case. But it was still turned on and working. 

The sound was a bit muffled due to water in the speaker vent, but with that out it worked fine. The grease appears to be part of the rubber coating, which was worn off when the phone became wedged between the rotating drum of the machine and a rubber seal.

Phone in a plastic box, with a fan
and water absorbing sachets to dry out
I rinsed the phone in clean water and have left it in a plastic box with a low voltage fan and water absorbing sachets to dry out. I did not want to risk taking the phone apart, as being a rugged model has a lot of screws and gaskets.


Thursday, September 09, 2021

The Wheels Fell Off My Virtual Shopping Trolley in the Pandemic

The Coles error screen. 
It has taken me 18 months to get around to sign up for online grocery shopping. This is to avoid the Russian Roulette of stepping into a store. It is not so much fear of catching COVID-19 (I am fully vaccinated), as the inconvenience, if I have to isolate and be tested. I have been purchasing complex electronic devices online for a decade, but it has proved surprisingly difficult to buy basic groceries online.

Who?

My first thought was IGA, the small local supermarket, only 30 m from my door. Unfortunately, while it is part of a national chain, they don't offer online shopping. I did sign up for the IGA catalog, but they sent me so much spam I cancelled it. Unfortunately Aldi doesn't offer this service either (apart for buying Aldi gadgets). I am surprised no one has offered a third party delivery service, offering to buy items in Aldi then charging a premium but still "less than Coles & Woolworths" for similar items.

When? 

The next option was Coles, as recommended by a friend. It was reasonably easy to sign up and select items to purchase. I liked the option to list goods by unit price (so you get the cheapest apples per Kg first). However, when I went to select a delivery time I was shocked to find the first was not for a week and had to bid for a slot.

The popular times cost more, and like booking airlines seats. This created the anxiety that if I did not take one now, it would be gone. Going for the click and collect in store option was not much use, as the object of the exercise was not to enter a store. So I selected the option to have goods delivered to my car boot. But there are only a limited range of stores with this option. Curiously these were the larger ones. I would have thought any store with click and collect, would be able to do this.

Where?

The address given for pickup at my nearest Coles store was in a middle pedestrian mall. Detailed instructions to navigate to a special bay in the car-park were emailed to me, but only after I placed the order. In the interim I posted a query with the online, who replied they did not know. The instructions when they arrived were clear and detailed. 

How? 

Then there was the no bags dilemma. Coles ordering has an option for no disposable shopping bags. But this said I had to pack my own. If the shopping is being placed directly in the car boot: how is this done without bags? So I posted another query and was told to call. The help line said to pack your own was a "problem" and so I should select the bags option. That makes sense, but then why offer a no bags option (Woolworths doesn't)? 

Where?

Approaching Canberra's city center by car was a strange experience. I had not driven my car for weeks. I was now driving through almost deserted streets, to an almost deserted shopping center. There was a barrier across the street just in front of the entrance (like something used to keep out the Zombie Apocalypse). I went down, down, down into the car park. Then I had to take a ticket (giving 20 minutes free parking). 

I had envisaged waiting for my shopping in an outside carpark in the fresh air and sunshine. Instead it was now in a subbasement, with all my windows rolled up, looking around in fear in case someone approach, like an extra in a dawn of the dead movie. I parked in the designed spot. Then the vehicle nearby pulled out, and re-parked boot to curb. That made sense so I did the same.

There was a phone number on the wall, which I called, and got an answering service. So I left a message. Five minutes later the other car got its groceries, then another, so after ten minutes I called again. This time a person answered and I gave my name, then again, then spelled it. Five minutes later my groceries arrived. I had expected some sort of automated electric golf cart, but it was a person pushing an ordinary shopping trolley.

They asked my name, but could not hear me, as I had the window up, as per the instructions. So they held the bag with my name on it up and I nodded. I pulled the lever to open the boot, they put the shopping in and I was off. This had taken twenty minutes. I appreciate that there are workers doing this job under difficult conditions, but this took longer than if I had gone into the store and picked the items off the shelves myself. 

Goods?

Getting home, I found I had everything ordered and the quality of the fresh produce was excellent. There was one substitute: I had ordered a bag of limes and instead received the same number loose (which I preferred anyway). One item was much more expensive than expected: I thought it was on special but it was not (I probably picked the wrong one by mistake from the very long list of similar items). But there were also two extra jars. Where I had ordered two jars I got four, and only paid for two. So I came out about even overall.

Fluke?

Having managed one successful online shop, I thought I would try next for frozen goods and fresh meat. But my second attempt to order from Coles resulted in an error message. I called the help line, as instructed, but was told it was a technical problem, and I would have to call back the next day after 9am. When I called the next day I was offered text chat help, so I tried that, but it did not fix the problem. Coles has a cute error screen, depicting shopping spilled from a trolley. This was amusing the first time I saw it, but I got tired seeing it over and over again. So I gave up on Coles, and tried Woolworths.

Again

Woolworths was just as easy to sign up for and select goods as Coles. Despite Woolworths charging more for shopping bags than Coles, the same bundle of items from Coles cost less from Wollworths.

This time I did not even consider home delivery, and instead selected to-boot. Like Coles, there was a three day delay before I could collect. The time slots were one hour, rather than Coles' two. Also the deadline for changing my order before collection was a half hour shorter (five and a half hours, instead of Coles' six). This deadline is useful: you can add items to the order for days before collection, and keep your collection time booking. It is a few days to collection time and I will report how it goes then.

What Might Be Better?

The applications from Coles and Woolworths work much as I would expect my teams of computer students to built. There is nothing which standards out as particularly innovative, but these shopping application work much better than, for example, government COVID-129 vaccination booking applications.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Fixed my Digital Camera With a Bicycle Pump

I sprayed air between the lens and body of the camera
Months ago, before Canberra's latest lock-down, I purchased a second hand Cannon Powershot S3 IS,  digital camera from Vinnies Dickson charity shop. It was a bargain at $30 (cost $799, new, 15 years ago). It just needed 4 AA batteries ($10 rechargeable) and a memory card ($5). 

At 6 megapixels, this camera is far lower resolution than my smart phone. But I normally have the phone set for 1 or 2 Megapixel photos anyway. 

It is much easier to take a photo with a camera, such as this, which has a viewfinder you can hold up to your eye, than with a smart phone, or a digital camera with a screen on the back. The camera also has a screen which swivels out and around, so you can take a close up at an odd angle.

The only problem was the camera would switch off every time I zoomed the lens out to the full extent. A web search sowed this was a very common problem. Suggestions ranged from the, not very useful "It appears a fault, you need to have it repaired", to the complicated "Here is how to disassemble the camera".  One tip was that there could be dust on the switch which detects when the zoom is fully extended. 


One video showed blasting the lens with an air-compressor. That seemed a little extreme, especially when the whole camera is shown sliding along from the air pressure. My own little air compressor, had no effect. But I found a bicycle pump, with the adapter for inflating an airbed worked fine. I extended the camera lens, and placed the nozzle between the lens and camera body, working all the way around, blowing in air. The zoom now works fine.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Australia Needs Self-serve Quarantine Centers

Purpose built Quarantine Centers are being constructed in Australia. I suggest that these be, in the main, low tech, self serve facilities. This will increase the speed with which they can be built, lower the cost of construction and operation, provide lower risk of disease transmission, and be better for the welfare of the guests.

The Building 4.0 Cooperative Research Centre, has submitted an unsolicited high tech "Q_Smart" design for the Victorian quarantine center. This has some good ideas, but is more high tech than needed, The designers have shown a multi-story design, suited to limited land next to airports, as well as single story ones, where space allows. The designers criticize the current "conventional bricks and mortar, or mining camp, approach". However, I suggest this is misplaced. Rapid construction is a priority, and the prefabricated techniques used for mining camps are appropriate. Also mining camp accommodation must be robust, as it is intensively used, by a rapid turnover of guests, which also applies in a quarantine center. 

The use of high technology solutions is not a good approach for a quarantine center which is to be constructed rapidly and have only a limited lifetime. As an example, the airlocks, and UV light sterilization suggested for Q_Smart are not be needed, if there is sufficient space and natural ventilation. Touch-less entry to buildings will also not be needed, if guests each have their own door to their accommodation. The guest will be the only one to touch their door during their stay, and it will be cleaned by staff when vacated.

Containerised apartment module ready to be lifted into position at ANU
 Laurus Wing of ANU Ursula Hall
 under construction.
Photo by Tom Worthington CC BY 2009

The Q_Smart designers suggest stack-able building modules, built in a factory. This approach is already in use for buildings made in shipping container modules, such as ANU  Ursula Hall (2009). However, this approach requires more expensive construction techniques, than if buildings are single story, and where a flatpack approach can be taken. I a multistory building is needed, then pre-cut structural panels, as applied at ANU Fenner Hall, can be used.

Also while stairs can be quickly built, lifts require complex installation and maintenance by specialists. If a multi-story building is required, it can be built with an external open air stairway, and no lifts, but with ground floor accommodation reserved for those with limited mobility, as is the case for City Edge Canberra.

The designers suggest delivery of good direct to rooms, via dumb waiters. However, simple manual and electric dumb waiters, essentially smalls goods elevators, can only travel vertically. There would need to be one such waiter for each building. With a shaft connecting every apartment, this would pose a major cross-contamination risk. A far safer, simpler approach would be to provide guests with enough supplies of sheets, towels, personal hygiene products, and non-perishable food, for the duration of their stay, so there would be no need for regular deliveries. For occasional deliveries a simple, safe, low tech approach would be to place the delivery outside the guest's door, and then invite them to open the door a few minutes later, after any aerosols have dispersed in the open air.

While Q_Smart suggests the use of the Internet of Things, with smart devices deployed around the center for monitoring of systems and the guests, I suggest relying on the guests own smart phones. Just as QR codes have proved a success for checking people into venues, these can be used, with the gusts own phones, for monitoring movement in the center. This requires only low cost QR code signs, not a computerized network requiring installation and maintenance.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Canberrans Queuing Around the Block for a COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 Testing Queue in Canberra,
by Tom Worthington CC BY 17 August 2021
Came back from my bicycle ride yesterday (allowed under Canberra's lock-down rules) to find a line of people standing in the street outside my front door. First I thought it might be a Le Mans start for a car rally: but during a lock-down? Then I thought it might be a socially distanced protest: but against what? Then everyone moved one place to the right and I saw it was a queue snaking around the corner to the pathology lab, for COVID-19 tests. 

COVID-19 Marshall at Testing Queue in Canberra, 
by Tom Worthington CC BY 17 August 2021 
There was a marshal in a yellow vest going along the line checking details. It was very orderly and gone in an hour. The line was back this morning on a very cold winter's day. I was proud to see my fellow citizens responding to an emergency with quiet determination. It was also to see one of the local cafes was offering to deliver food and drink to those in the queue.

Monday, August 09, 2021

Vaccinated at Clinic on the Edge for Many Possible Futures

Today I had my second AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination at the
Tom Worthington after vaccination at the Casey Medical Center in Canberra, CC BY 9 August 2021.
Casey Medical Center in Canberra. I arrived five minutes early and was immediately ushered in for my shot, so that even with the 15 minute period after I was out the door by my original booking time. This was a fast and efficient process. 

To to get to this suburb on the north western edge of Canberra, I had to drive past a major public vaccination center which is much closer to home. Unfortunately when I went to book 12 weeks ago for my first jab the federal and ACT web systems were not working well. As a result I booked at a private clinic, as that was the only place I could get the booking system to work for. As it was sop difficult to get an appointment, I decide not to change my booking for the second dose, which as made 12 weeks ago at the same time as the first (to make it simple I booked both the same day of the week at the same time).

The suburb of Casey reminds me of the dystopian future depicted in the  "Nosedive" episode of the Black Mirror science fiction TV series: rows of neat houses, all built at the same time from the same materials, in the same muted colors. The Casey Medical Center is made of corrugated steel panels and looks like a temporary building quickly erected for a pandemic emergency (or something prefabricated for Antarctica, or Mars). But it is comfortable enough inside.

We have had it easy so far, so get vaccinated now, in case things get worse, a lot worse

For those hesitating about vaccination, please consult your doctor, and if they okay it, go ahead ASAP. Australia has been able to use measures to control the virus under relatively benign national and international conditions, but that may not continue. Natural disasters may require medical and emergency staff currently handling the pandemic to be instead saving lives in floods or fires. Rescue and recovery will then take priority, with hospital beds not available for COVID-19 patients.

It is also possible the Australian Defence Force may be needed in its primary role and so personnel would not be available to aid the civil infrastructure. Also some civilian medical personnel and other specialists are military reserve personnel who would be called to duty, so not available for for pandemic duties.

In addition, there could be cyber attacks on our infrastructure which directly limit medical and vaccination facilities. These could interrupt power supplies long enough for vaccine stocks to be destroyed and stop distribution and booking.

Also it is possible that information warfare could be used to undermine confidence in the authorities and ferment civil unrest. This could see fake information used to discredit officials and the community against each other. This would reduce vaccination rates, and may also case people to stop social distancing, spreading the virus and even attacking the infrastructure used to keep them safe. 

One of Australia's major international customers may decide to limit purchases of Australian goods and services, limiting the nations's ability to pay for imports of essential medical supplies. 

Any or all of these could happen without warning at any time. While these may sound far fetched, would you have believed a warning about a pandemic 19 months ago? In 2009 the assignment I set my web students at the Australian National University was to design a pandemic web site for Australia. Some of my colleagues thought this a little odd: when would those skills ever be needed?

Monday, July 26, 2021

The digital Estonian

Greetings from the ANU where Ms Kersti Eesmaa, the Estonian Ambassador is giving an entertaining talk on how her country became the most digital. This includes e-voting, e-tax, e-health and just about e-verything. They have backed up the country's records in Luxembourg and are considering Canberra. The ambassador complemented Australia's online services but suggested it was tie for one national ID  At qesttion time I asked about e-residency and the ambassador asked when I would drop in to get my card.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Provide Online Informed Consent for COVID-19 Vaccination

The ABS reports that only 73% of Australians would get a COVID-19 vaccination. Of the others, 52% were worried about side-effects and 15% effectiveness. In response, I suggest that Australia's National Cabinet approve the use of online informed consent using multimedia in multiple languages, to streamline COVID-19 vaccination, using any of the vaccines approved for use in Australia for any adult of any age.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised

"... AstraZeneca vaccine can be used in adults aged under 60 years where the benefits clearly outweigh the risk for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits".

And 

"Noting the current constrained supply of the Pfizer vaccine, ATAGI also recommends adults under the age of 60 who do not have immediate access to the Pfizer vaccine should consider the benefits and risks of earlier protection through the AstraZeneca vaccine. "

However, that advice has been implemented in a way which makes it very difficult for anyone who does not have a GP with supplies of AstraZeneca, from being vaccinated. 

The Australian Government provides a document "Weighing up the potential benefits against risk of harm from COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca" to assist with informed consent. But, this is intended for doctors to help explain to patients. As a result those who don't have a GP to explain it to them cannot give informed consent and so cannot be vaccinated at mass vaccination center. 

I suggest National Cabinet decide that a standard audio-visual package in multiple languages be prepared. This would be added to online booking systems, allowing any adult to give informed consent to an AstraZeneca vaccination online. Any adult should be able to walk into any vaccination center at the booked time, show ID and be vaccinated immediately, without the need to speak to anyone, or fill in any paperwork.

Individuals would still have to option to visit their doctor to discuss vaccination. However, I suggest our leaders now need to ask every Australian to accept that the risk, in the interests of their family and the community to get vaccinated now.

Saturday, July 03, 2021

Make Getting a Vaccination Should be as Easy as Ordering a Pizza

It is more than a year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency in Australia. Federal and state governments have spent billions of dollars on health measures, but are still unable to field an easy to use online vaccination booking system. I suggest modelling this on the ease of use, and sophistication, of a pizza ordering system. Some years ago I ordered a pizza online for collection. The system took my details and presented pizza options. It then listed the nearest places I could collect it. What was impressive was the system then asked my means of transport and estimated when I should leave to get there just in time. I left at the time suggested, and as I walked through the door of the pizza parlor, my order popped on an electronic display indicating it was ready. I picked it up and was out the door in under a minute. It should be possible to do something similar for vaccinations.

A responsive online vaccination booking system would instill confidence in the public and increase the efficiency and safety of the vaccination process. Removing long queues at vaccination centers will decrease staffing to manage the crowd and also reduce the risk of spread of infection. All of the information the patient needs should be able to collected online and them arrive with a QR code ready to be scanned and jabbed.

An efficient online vaccination system could prevent tens of thousands of deaths, by speeding up vaccination and preventing mass breakouts of COVID-19. This could also decrease the risk of mental illness and death, due to the suffering brought about by lock-downs and unemployment, particularly of younger people. This places such systems in the category of "safety critical", requiring a higher level of care in design, testing and deployment by computer professionals.

Improved 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. Previously when I tried to register I found the process confusing and was not able to register. When I tried today, I found the process had improved and I was able to register, but it appears it is still not possible to use this system to book a vaccination online. This differs from private vaccinations clinics, where the patient is shown dates and times they can select from, online, as soon as they are registered in the system. 

Medicare Number Format

A problem still exists with the way the patient has to enter the Medicare number on the ACT Government system. This differs from the format used by Federal Government and private providers. It will only be a problem the first time the patient registers with the system. For someone who will regularly attend a clinic for medical treatments, that is not a major problem. But for an emergency vaccination campaign, where each patient will attend only two or three times, difficulties in initially registering are more significant. 

Registration 

The ACT Government page on vaccinations has a link for patients to register. However, that link doesn't take the patient to the registration screen, but to the login screen. The patient is then asked for their user ID and password they have not yet been issued with, which is confusing. There is a link for registering, but patients are may be confused at this point and never see the link.


MyDHR One Time Security Code,
ACT Health, 3 July 2021
Once the link is found, registering is not too complex. The patient is asked to enter a code sent by email or SMS. This is described as a "one time security code". If this process only applies during signup it is not clear how this authenticates the person, as neither the email address or telephone number have been separately authenticated (unless perhaps this information is obtained from Medicare). 

Secure Username?

MyDHR Choose User name,
ACT Health, 3 July 2021
After entering the security code (which arrived promptly by SMS), I was asked to create a user name. Confusingly, the instructions were to "think of one that is secure and easy to remember". It is not clear why the user name has to be "secure", as there is a separate password to be entered. The instruction to make the user name secure contradicts the one to have it easy to remember. Also the indication that this username
can never be changed would add to the stress for the patient. Also it is a flaw in the security of the system to have a code which must be secure and cannot be regularly changed.

MyDHR Main Screen

MyDHR Main Screen,
ACT Health, 3 July 2021

After choosing a username and password, I was presented with a reasonably easy to read main screen. However, the first item listed was not booking a COVID-19 Vaccination, but checking eligibility. I suggest this be changed, s the purpose of the exercise is to book a vaccination

MyDHR Vaccine Eligibility,
ACT Health, 3 July 2021
After answering a short list of questions about eligibility, I expected to be told I was eligible. However, instead the message was that if I was eligible, I would be contacted withing 24 hours to let me know when an appointment was available.  This is not a good systems design, as first of all the patient has to wait 24 hours, for no good reason. Secondly, a patient who hears nothing doesn't know if they have been placed in a lower priority category, or missed the message. Thirdly, it is not clear to the patient how they actually book a vaccination.

No Medical Records on System

The ACT Government system is intended to provide a comprehensive system for patients of ACT Health, not just vaccinations. So I looked to see what records were recorded. There was not record of my ever being a patient, although I had spent a night in the ICU and received numerous tests. It may be my treatment was too long ago to be worth loading into the new system, but patients will not feel reassured about receiving further treatment, if there is no record of their previous treatment.

Confusing Email

After registering, I received an email with the subject line "Please check your MyDHR account". However, the body of the message said "... you have new information in MyChart.". But what is MyChart? There was no signature block to indicate this message was from the ACT Government, and no contact details to reassure the patient this was a genuine message and help the patient seek further information (the message had a "no reply" address). 

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. ;-)