The flood is coming: will you swim or sink?
By Ian GRAYSON
Of all the challenges currently facing business, who would have thought one of the biggest would be having too much information?
Faced with a potential global recession, shrinking customer orders and rising operating costs, the average business leader has a lot to keep them awake at night. But it seems something else should be added to the list: dealing with a deluge of data.
I spent time recently with the chief information officer of data warehouse specialist Teradata, Todd Walter. An affable and highly intelligent guy, Walter speaks with genuine excitement about the challenges he and his R&D team are working to solve.
According to Walter, the overriding challenge is finding ways to deal with the exponentially rising amount of data that exists inside companies. If you don’t believe it’s a problem inside your business yet, just wait a while.
Think about it. There’s emails, presentations, customer records, inventories, transactional data and reports. Add to this the masses of external information that’s pouring in each day and the totals quickly start to rise.
According to Walter, it will be the companies that make best use of this information resource that will be the ones that enjoy future success. Just as being the first to automate their production lines gave certain manufacturers an advantage, so harnessing information will put today’s companies ahead of the pack.
Further down the track, things will get even more interesting. Walter says his team is grappling with the challenges that will be posed by another tidal wave of data that’s heading our way. This one will come from sensors (RDIF tags are one example) that will soon be attached to just about everything and spread like grains of sand over large areas.
As well as sending back basic details such as their location, these sensors will be able to report on everything from temperature and moisture to speed of movement and condition.
A manufacturer will be able to track goods from the moment of manufacture to the time they go home with a customer. A farmer will be able to monitor the condition of his soil, at a micro level, and know exactly when to plant or harvest for maximum results. A council will be able to monitor the condition of roads and other facilities, carefully targeting their maintenance efforts.
The amount information generated by such sensors is almost incomprehensible now, yet it’s something that must be planned for. Walter and his team are figuring out just how to build the giant data warehouses that will be needed to cope.
If you think you’ve already been through the information revolution in your business, think again – there’s another, bigger, one on the way.
|| Send feedback »||Permalink|
Stay tuned for Australia's digital TV switchover timetable
By Adam TURNER
A detailed timetable for killing off Australia's analogue television broadcasts, outlining region by region switch off windows, will be announced as early as Monday.
Almost a decade after Australians got their first taste of digital television, the Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, is expected to unveil his blueprint for pulling the plug on analogue broadcasts. He's previously said Australia will be digital-only by the end of 2013. The early focus will most likely be on regional areas, similar to the UK's trial in Whitehaven - which happens to be where Conroy's family comes from.
Along with the timetable, Conroy will most likely give us an update on his Digital Switchover Taskforce, unveiled early this year to replace Coonan the Librarian's Digital Australia program. Here's what the Digital Switchover Taskforce's agenda looked like in April;
* $8.5 million for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to undertake technical switchover-related projects, including an evaluation of digital TV transmission and reception throughout Australia.
* $4.8 million for a ‘Digital Tracker' to assess issues such as public awareness of digital switchover, intention of households to convert and actual conversion rates.
* $1 million over two years for research into digital reception problems in multi-unit dwellings with a shared TV antenna system.
* $6.7 million for a logo and labelling scheme to clearly indicate which products are digitally ready, ensuring Australian consumers can be informed and confident about which products will suit their needs.
* $16.9 million for the Digital Switchover Taskforce, which will coordinate the switchover program within the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
Lets hope some progress has been made, so we can finally get this show on the road.
|| Send feedback »||Permalink|
Apple Leaks – is there such a thing?
By Drew TURNEY
[Sitting in for Stephen Withers]
As any of us who deal directly with Apple for the purposes of testing or reviewing their products know, they’re a secretive lot.
In an increasingly crowded consumer technology market, other vendors are only too happy to comment and provide images or technical information. Anyone who’s worked in technology reporting has signed a few non-disclosure agreements in their time, but most companies in the tech industry are desperate for any coverage they can get.
Not so Apple. As the only tech company whose products are anticipated as much as a blockbuster movie or video game, it can afford to be secretive, and its modus operandi not to comment is legendary. Apple doesn’t speculate, comment or advise on anything until the Cupertino High Council has decreed it.
Or does it?
The old chestnut about there being no such thing as bad publicity is truer all the time. If you believe the stories, Paula Yates was the one who tipped the London tabloids off about her affair with Michael Hutchence. Film director Michael Bay was only too happy to tell reporters at his July 2007 Sydney publicity junket that the servers rendering the CGI of his hit Transformers repelled 40,000 hack attempts.
Most of us would be excited enough that 40,000 people were that interested in what we were doing. In Apple’s case, tens of millions are waiting on every move the company makes. Never before had there been so much anticipation of a mobile phone than when the iPhone arrived in Australia, a scene much the same across the world.
Any company that sells stuff people are interested in leaks about is in an enviable position. When was the last time you went looking for pictures of the latest NAS or LCD monitor? With such a thirst for information, any other company might be delighted at the fanboys slavering for any morsel.
Not Apple – not when we remember the high profile case where blogger Nicholas Ciarelli was famously sued by the company after his blog Think Secret leaked photos of the Mac Mini two weeks before the official announcement.
The Ciarelli case was just one in a long line of legal threats and cease-and-desists launched by Apple. Most of them were not only fruitless (Ciarelli settled out of court) but merely convinced everyone the leaks Apple were upset about must be genuine.
Since then, some commentators have claimed Apple’s learned its lesson and gone soft on thought crime. Ciarelli himself thinks it’s because the blogopshere – once a loose fraternity of independent, vocal and passionate tech watchers – has evolved into an arm of the mainstream media that are harder to go after in court and can argue back a lot harder.
Maybe Macrumours.com founder Arnold Kim has it right when he points out that any attention – leaked or otherwise – is generating interest in Apple products.
Because there’s only one thing better than free advertising, and that’s free advertising people are desperate to seek out and discover before their friends. You can’t buy that sort of demand.
So is Apple going soft, or seeing the world the way it is and embracing the ‘unofficial leak’ as a legitimate part of the marketing effort?
|| Send feedback »||Permalink|
The Eee PC and Ubuntu
By Anthony CARUANA
Some weeks ago I set off a small firestorm of comments when I panned the Linux implementation that comes with the Eee PC. The Debian fork is OK but in an attempt to make the Eee PC as user friendly as possible it's been dumbed down a little too much.
There's a Windows XP version of the Eee PC and it's OK but my experience is that it crawls to a standstill once a few extra apps, like anti-virus, are installed. hence my look for an alternative.
One of my friends is a big Linux fan so I decided to try another distribution so I've gone for an Eee PC specific version of Ubuntu.
I must say that the GUI is very nice. Given the limited screen real estate, the desktop manager makes excellent use of the display area. It comes with Open Office, Firefox 3 and a bunch of other software. Installation was easy as the Eee PC can boot from an SD card.
It'll take a couple more weeks for me to get the hang of what's what and where stuff is but it looks promising.
|| 1 feedback »||Permalink|
Arrr me hearties!
By David HAGUE
This week will be short and sweet,but covers an area I am passionate about. Copyright. And the violation thereof.
It simply amazes me how many are either not aware of the laws at all, or worse, simply choose to ignore it.
Let's put this up front; if someone creates a piece of work, be it a song, film, documentary, poem, photograph, computer program... whatever... unless it is specifically stated as being in the public domain, you have NO right to copy it, distribute it or play or show it to a public audience or on-sell it.
You have a right by the terms of the licence (usually) to use it for personal use only. The laws at present even say you cannot copy say, a DVD to an iPod! Nor can you, technically, for example, use Celine Dion or any other soundtrack as background music to a wedding video you have created. In fact,also technically, you cannot even play the CD at the wedding! Without paying a licence fee anyway.
Now I am not attempting to be a wowser here.I personally think these laws are inflexible in real life, But what I do think needs to happen is that they are changed.
Not to benefit you,but to benefit the artist! He or she or they has spent considerable amounts of money to create a piece of work. Why should they not get revenue from it?
If a magazine or newspaper or TV station ripped off your work -say you sent a video from your camera or phone of a momentous occasion - eg the planes crashing into the twin towers of 9/11 - you'd want to be paid yes? Well that's where that footage came from - it was amateur. I guess it made millions for the shooter.
The big companies screw the artist very often. Their cut (the artist) is minimal. Put yourselves in their shoes.
Piracy may not make much of a dent in the overall profits of a multi-national, despite what they may tell you,but they DO make a hole in the pocket of the origin of the work!
|| 3 feedbacks »||Permalink|