The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Facebook to revisit terms of use abuse

Good news that Facebook have responded quickly and wisely to withdraw new provisions claiming intellectual proprietorship over all who link there. Did you know that if Facebook was a country it would be the sixth most populous in the world? If you want input onto the new terms of use, get on over to Facebook Blog to find out how.

Filed under: Internet, Technology

Mismanaging IT systems

What is it with mega IT information system upgrades that cost unbelievable amounts of money and fail to deliver? The latest is a $320 million IT program to help streamline Victoria’s health system which is running late and over budget, a new report has found. Crickey! I would have taken it on for $32 million. It’s only databasing — not rocket science or brain surgery. It seems the larger the project, the less likely it is to work. We also have Victoria’s public transport ticketing system. They’ve been trying to build a successful one since the days of Jeff Kennett and still haven’t succeeded!! How hard can it be?

Other notable IT system failures include the recent opening of the new passenger terminal at Heathrow. The switch was flicked and 14,000 pieces of luggage was lost in three days and 100s of flights cancelled. Doesn’t anyone test these things or have a fail-safe fallback position (Information Systems 101)???

Of course we had our own Customs IT makeover a few years ago. The switch was thrown and it fell over. Shipping trade was disrupted for months afterwards while it was sorted out. And then there was the $40 million student enrollment system at RMIT that failed spectacularly. I reckon I could have whipped one up or $40k, certainly for a lazy $4 million.

Perhaps it’s a reflection of the general ignorance of management when it comes to IT. IT consultants may as well be talking in Sanskrit. In my own little IT world, my immediate employers really haven’t a clue. I could tell them anything and they have little choice but to have faith in my recommendations and purchasing decisions. I suspect this is magnified with the size of the budget. I guess sharp-dressing, smooth-talking, Porche driving IT salespeople is about all it takes to convince those responsible for the budget that they know what they’re talking about. Who wants to admit they haven’t a clue about assessing the merits of a major ICT program? At the federal level we still have Ministers talking about filtering the internet to block out undesirable content!

Unbelievable! All the more reason to invest in teaching ICT in schools. Maybe in a generation or so we will have a management class who even begin to have a clue about digital technology and information systems.

Filed under: Technology, ,

Computer says…No!

Third time lucky. Well so they say. Let’s hope so. A handful of sites I’ve built have been rendered useless by the major trials and tribulations of MDWebhosting. First, it was Russian cross-spripting hackers or something, and then on February 9 they had a major power malfunction which fried the power supply grid and then proceeded to cook the servers.

The perils of the webhosting business where punters want increasing amounts of more for less. In some cases corners get cut and uptime disasters occur. I wish MDWebhosting well, but I’ve had to move on in order to rebuild all my sites. Jumba is my new host. The only complaint I’ve had is that support service can be a bit slow, but hopefully that’s only because of the flood of MD Refugees pouring in and going nuts now that something’s working again and the first month is half price. Yay!

Now all I got to do is fix the darn thing.

Filed under: Blogging, Internet, Technology

The IPA and other fossil fuel fossils

skeptics.jpgJennifer Marohasey, environmental fellow for Liberal Party think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, has been ringing in the New Year with her list of climate change sceptics – the “400 dissenting scientists”. “If 2007 was the Year of Al Gore, with his movie, Academy Award and Nobel Prize, 2008 just might be the year the so-called scientific consensus that man is causing the Earth to warm begins to crack.”

Marohasey has small coterie of loyal fans on her website eager to battle with any who dissent from her campaign to prove that global warming is not caused by human activity and to argue that climate change is a plot by leftist academics and others keen to milk the tax payer’s purse to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an evil attempt to destroy our entire way of life and the future well-being of our grand children’s grand children. Long time contributor Luke, Jennifer’s token greenie who owns an ecotourism property in the Daintree, appears to have departed with a scathing assessment of Marohasey’s blog site.

It strikes me as incredulous that Marohasey could have a PhD, conducted field research for more than a decade and yet is now happy to push a denialist agenda in the employ of the IPA. I guess it pays better than field biology.

The IPA receives support from corporations and corporate interest groups (including Gunns Limited, Monsanto and tobacco, mining and oil companies) and provides regular op-ed fodder for the MSM pushing the Liberal Party line. As the Liberal Party struggles to establish what it stands for I’d argue that the IPA also needs to look at what it believes in. Corporate Australia wants action on climate change, if for no other reason than needing to stay competitive in a changing global political economy. Yet the IPA is still pushing the denialist agenda, as if they can somehow reverse overwhelming global political sentiment. They would server their masters better, and advance the quality of public debate, by turning its attention to how Australian businesses and corporations might best respond the forthcoming carbon emission limitation mechanisms.

Regardless of the dissenting opinions of climate sceptics there is no sound scientific argument for continuing increasing global CO2 emissions at an exponential rate into a closed system. Sceptics are simply motivated by the desire to avoid the financial inconvenience that curbing CO2 emissions might entail. If, as the sceptics would argue, the science is far from clear, then the precautionary principle should apply. Curbing CO2 emissions is sensible and prudent precisely because we don’t exactly what the long term ramifications might be. In the meantime, it will encourage more efficient and sustainable energy usage and consumption which will have real long-term benefits for our grand-children’s grand-children.

Filed under: Big Picture, Environment, Media, Politics, Science, Technology, Wingnuttery

Solar now cheaper than coal

NanosolarWhile Jennifer Marohasey is making a list of Climate Change Skeptics and Santa is making a list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, a ‘Silicon Valley start-up called Nanosolar shipped its first solar panels – priced at $1 a watt. That’s the price at which solar energy gets cheaper than coal. Curious that this story is not on every front page.’

The environmental scientist in me says it is simply untenable that we keep pumping ever-increasing hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

A century ago most people could see no problem with using waterways and oceans to dispose of industrial waste. Nowadays no-one is advocating that we continue to do so. Like it or not we need to regard atmospheric pollution with similar urgency.

Perhaps the real motivation of the Climate Sceptic is that it is more convenient to continue as we are than actually doing something about it?

Filed under: Big Picture, Environment, Science, Technology

Microsoft Word is bloggy evil

MS Word is a great application for writing and editing but when it comes to pasting your latest masterpiece into your blog it will add in all kinds of hidden Microsoft tags and code that can play havoc with formatting RSS feeds. Some blogging platfoms such as WordPress have advanced editing options such as ‘Paste from Word’ which will remove these mutant gremlins.

For example, while cleaning up a feed item I found this <span class=”blsp-spelling-error” id=”SPELLING_ERROR_4″>. WTF? Apparently it’s no longer sufficient to identify possible spelling errors – MS wants evidence stored within the document. Another favorite is <span style=”font-family:trebuchet ms;”>. HTML has default font-settings and hardly benefits from MS requiring the use of a Windows font. Word adds a bewildering amount of MS-specific HTML tags such that 1Kb of text content can turn into 100Kb of superfluous padding, just in case it might come in handy. As any web developer will tell you, MS has its own take on HTML and CSS standards which adds to the cost of creating and maintaining web sites.

A couple of years ago I experimented with my new Nokia mobile’s Bluetooth feature to talk to my Windows XP laptop. As you would know, Bluetooth is a universal communication protocol. Only problem is that MS XP Bluetooth driver was incompatible with Nokia. Again, WTF??

Partly it is a result of MS always seeking commercial advantage by locking consumers into only being able to use MS products, and also from what I regard as MS’s design priority of being all things to all people under all circumstances – which manifests as a typically American desire to be overly helpful. ‘You look like you’re trying to do this, but that can’t possibly be correct. MS thinks you’re trying to something else, so we’ll do that for you instead!’

At school, my Ubuntu webserver completes system updates in around 45 seconds without any need to reboot. Our Windows 2003 Servers can take around 10 minutes to complete updates and almost always requires a system reboot which can take up to 20 minutes while they ‘establish network connections’. What the hell is it doing all that time?? I imagine that the OS is examining all 300 possible scenarios of what you might be wanting to do – setting up conferences between 528 dlls which then proceed to discuss, negotiate and arrive at a consensus before agreeing to connect to the router!

I’ve been a big fan of The Evil Empire over many years – without Microsoft’s monopolistic stranglehold on the the world of computing creating consistent design standards for developers we would not have advanced to where we are now. But MS has outlived its usefulness and I suspect it will gradually become just a marginal corporate player over the next decade in the way that IBM did after being synonymous with computing back in the 70s. The way of the future lies with open source and web distributed applications. I watch the development of the open source Google Phone application platform with interest.

I would even argue that there are sound economic and environmental reasons in support of open source computing platforms. An adequately provisioned Windows Vista PC requires a more powerful CPU, greater RAM, and power to run it all – all at greater economic and environmental cost. For ordinary computing purposes a three year old PC running Linux and web apps will out-perform the latest Vista equipped PC.

The State of Victoria spends countless $millions on Microsoft products and tech support to keep them up to date and running. In my own work environment, at least 30 percent of our tech support is spent on dealing with Microsoft issues – the frustrating kind where everything is setup how it should be, but it still doesn’t work properly because the MS behemoth has other ideas like shutting down your wireless service because you haven’t used it for 20 minutes or repeatedly changing your proxy settings, etc, etc, etc.

I think the French had the right idea some years back when they eschewed Microsoft in the public sector in favour of open source. Bring it on.

Filed under: Blogging, Technology

GM Choice is Buckley’s Choice

Chris KellyWhich would you choose? A sustainable long term future for Australian agriculture as the world’s most sought after GM Free food products or a quick short term cash bonus for signing up to Monsanto’s franchise before the bottom falls out of the global GM canola market?

It’s a no-brainer, of course. Take the money and run! What other choice is there for a nation of clever coupon-clippers?

Filed under: Ass Hattery, Economics, Environment, Politics, Technology

Australia losing IT competitiveness

BoradbandYet another savage indictment of the Howard government’s neglect of the Australian Information Technology industry (ooh.. they have the intertubes on computers now??) with claims by Leith Campbell, principal consultant in Australia for British telecommuunications analyst firm Ovum, that Australia has ll but lost the race to develop really fast broadband in the Asia-Pacific area.

Mr Campbell says that by the end of 2009 the world will have about 13.8 million households directly connected to the internet by optical fibre cables and the number will be accelerating.

Of that total, 82 per cent will be in the Asia-Pacific region, mainly Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, with similar development now under way in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and in some places more than 500 mbps will be general, he says.

The broadband speed available to Australian home owners can be as low as 256 kilobits per second although 1 mbps or so is becoming more common for users within a few kilometres of Telstra telephone exchanges.

“If we all want the line rates currently delivered to office desktops — namely, 100-1000 mbps, then a fibre to the home (FTTH) network will be required,” Mr Campbell says.

Meantime, while Asian countries are burning up the telecommunications roads, Australia appears to be fiddling.

Filed under: Economics, Politics, Technology

Helen Caldicott on nuclear waste for the NT

“In light of the fact that the railway line between Adelaide and Darwin was constructed by the Halliburton Corporation and has subsequently been bought by Serco Asia Pacific, a company involved in the transport and management of British nuclear waste, I have three questions:

  1. Will the Prime Minister publicly pledge (in a core promise) that none of the Aboriginal land his government is expropriating in the Northern Territory will be used (with or without the consent of its traditional owners) as a nuclear waste repository?
  2. Will the Prime Minister publicly pledge (in a core promise) that neither he nor any of his ministers will have any association – direct or indirect – with any company, corporation, or other entity involved in the nuclear power or nuclear waste industry for ten years after he and/or they leave office?
  3. Will the Prime Minister direct his Minister for Health to publicly cite where in the medical literature it states that land dispossession is a valid treatment for child sexual abuse?”

Helen Caldicott.

Filed under: Economics, Environment, Indigenous, Politics, Technology

Australian Technical Colleges a ‘catastrophic waste’

State and territory education ministers have launched an attack on the Federal Government’s Australian Technical Colleges (ATC) system. New South Wales Education Minister John Della Bosca says “The Australian Technical Colleges are a catastrophic waste of money and they’re a policy failure, an unnecessary duplication of bureaucracy, a mass of red tape and an ideologically driven stunt.” Western Australia Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan says “the Federal Government is being secretive about the colleges’ attrition rates and costs per student because the program has been an embarrassing failure”.

Anyone with even half an idea of how technical education works in Australia could have seen that one coming. Oh wait…I did already. From my Howard’s ‘vision’ for Technical Training post last year. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Economics, Education, Politics, Technology

The Dog’s Bollocks

What they say

The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

This is the person who tried to analyse Hayek. This is actually a person who needs a shrink. – JC

Shut up slim. You’re an idiot.
Just you stay honest and keep that thinking cap on. – GMB

Insightful perspectives on politics and discussion of matters epistemological? I’m sold! - Bruce

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