You want privacy? It’s gone, so get over it
By Ian GRAYSON
Ever since the first database hummed into existence in the early days of mainframe computers, people have voiced concern about who might have access to the information it contained.
Gradually, as more of our personal and professional lives have moved into the digital realm, the cries from privacy advocates have grown louder. People have a right, they argue, to effective safeguards that protect their personal details. As individuals, we should be able to decide who has access to our information and on what terms.
It’s a nice concept, but it’s redundant. Personal privacy has gone the way of the $50 barrel of oil and affordable housing – it’s no more than a swiftly fading memory.
The key factor at work here is the rapidly growing volume of digital information that exists in the world. With everything from banking and shopping to travel bookings and entertainment now being handled online, the amount of personal information stored in computer systems has exploded.
Add to this the rising tide of user-generated content and the volumes become even greater. Every email or SMS you send and phone call you make leaves a digital trail somewhere.
Add to this all the recordings of your movements captured by surveillance cameras, in digital photos and on social networks and the total is mind blowing. If someone wants to find out about you, it’s not that difficult a task anymore.
An interesting report was released last week that summed up this very problem. Conducted by research company IDC in conjunction with storage specialist EMC, the report estimates there is now some 281 billion gigabytes (that’s 281 exabytes) of information in the world.
With a compound annual growth rate of around 60 per cent, this head-spinning volume is forecast to increase to 1.8 zettabytes (that’s 1800 exabytes) by 2011.
IDC talks about the concept of a ‘digital shadow’. This shadow represents the information that’s generated about you rather than by you. The report says the size of a person’s digital shadow is now larger than the volume of information they’ve created themselves.
The report points out the growing importance of organisations having clear guidelines and processes in place to protect the vast volumes of information they store. This is sound advice.
But let’s be realistic, with these kinds of data volumes, any sort of processes are going to have holes. There’s simply no way all your personal details can be kept under a digital lock and key all the time. This is especially true for the growing digital shadow.
So what’s the answer? Learn to live with it. We must accept that, as much as we would like to keep our digital lives to ourselves, it’s not going to happen.
Privacy as we once knew it is over. Get used to living in a digital goldfish bowl.
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ABC's internet TV gives Australian broadband the thumbs up?
By Adam TURNER
Australians love to complain about our internet speeds, but the national broadcaster obviously thinks things are improving if it can recommend a minimum connection speed of 1Mbps for its new internet television service.
ABC's Playback service is hungry for bandwidth.
When the ABC first began offering video online it allowed for a lowest common denominator of 256kbps, which was bumped up to 512kbps a few years ago. If it's ready to launch a service requiring 1Mbps then it obviously thinks Australians are ready.
Take a look at Whirlpool's Broadband Choice and you'll see almost anyone in Australia can get more than 1Mbps via cable, DSL, wireless or satellite. It's not broadband infrastructure that's holding back services like video on demand, it's the outrageous pricing plans from Australia's largest ISPs. Providers such as Telstra, Optus and Dodo are clearly more interested in making a fast buck by ripping off Mums n' Dads than offering value for money.
Unfortunately most Australians get ripped off by these ISPs, who prey on the fact customers don't know any better. Only a year ago a third of Australian homes with broadband were on pitiful 256Kbps connections, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Internet Activity Survey. To make matters worse, most of these homes would be Telstra BigPond customers stuck with pathetic 200MB monthly download limits. Even BigPond's next plan up only offers 400MB per month at 1500Kbps (for a long time it was at 512Kbps). This is fraud-band - 200MB works out at 6.66MB a day, which is barely enough to check your email let alone do anything interesting like internet telephony or video on demand.
To make matters worse, the ISPs offering the worst value plans tend to be the ones that count uploads towards your monthly limit and inflict the most outrageous excess usage charges. Optus betrayed its loyal customers last year by denying customers faster data speeds unless they switched to its new rip-off plans.
A year after those ABS figures were released, I'd guess at least half of Australia's broadband-enabled homes still don't have the speed or monthly download limited to use the ABC's new service. Not surprisingly the ABC has plastered the new service with warnings about using up your download limit and getting slugged with a massive bill from your ISP. Despite such warnings, you can expect to hear bill shock horror stories when the service is opened up to everyone.
Australia's greedy ISPs are holding this country's online future to ransom and I think the ABC is to be commended for pushing the envelope, which should drive demand and hopefully pressure the ISPs to offer better value. Meanwhile, downloader beware.
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Normal service will be resumed...
By Stephen WITHERS
This week's Mac posting failed to appear due to illness.
Things should return to normal next Thursday.
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The iPhone Means Business
By Anthony CARUANA
We've all had a few days to think about Apple announcing the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) and the opening of the App Store. While the nerd-verse has been waiting to create new games I found it interesting to look at the firms that Apple used in their recent dog-and-pong show at Apple Town Hall.
We had some gamers, like EA, strutting their stuff. That was cool but not unexpected. After all, a device with a screen that pretty is obviously a candidate for mobile gaming.
What I did find interesting was the use of companies like Epocrates and Salesforce. Make no mistake - Apple sees the iPhone as a tool that will push their technology beyond the consumer space into business.
Now that Apple's portable computers, the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, can run pretty much any business application from any platform and the iPhone can do similar, there's a portable Apple solution for almost every type of mobile worker. Apple's not been able to enter business customers' minds through the front door so they're sneaking in by their pockets.
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Collaboration can fill the holes
By David HAGUE
Amongst my movements, I meet lots of people- journalists tend to do that, and to a large degree, people are our bread and butter. They tell us things we can pass on or comment about or or they give us things we can review.
Last evening, I met a young lady who I found a breath of fresh air, inspiring and who I believe will go a long way? Simply, she knows what she wants to do, and has formulated a plan to do it.
I was introduced to her some months ago by one of my writers on AusCam who also doubles as my business advisor; he had employed her as talent for a video project he was working on, and then used her services again to create a TVC (television commercial). Juanita has aspirations in the field of acting, and according to my writer, shows enormous potential; he wanted to know if we could give some exposure for her portfolio by featuring her on the front cover.
Not a problem.
Just before the twice monthly ITJourno junket for hacks (damn, really must get out of that habit of copying and pasting from others websites) Juanita emailed me asking if now that she had moved to Melbourne, there were any projects she could be involved with for AusCam – writing specifically or anything else I might have in mind.
As it turned out, I had planned to fly to Melbourne after the Kickstartconference to see some clients, so suggested we meet up and have a chat.
That evening was illuminating; all sorts of ideas were thrown around,projects shelved in my mind brought back to life, projects on hold revitalised, new projects born and much, much more.
Concepts were discussed and discarded or written down for future thought, a nice bottle of white demolished and a fine meal partaken during the course of these discussions. The night finished with a promise we would take these things further by email and future get-togethers, and see what could be tunred into concrete projects.
This evening showed the beneft of collaboration, of brain storming and think tanking. But more, it showed me the tip of the iceberg of someone who is passionate about what she is, does and wants to be.
Make no bones, Juanita is strong – indeed that is how she describes herself. Not with any aggression, attempt at one upmanship or a dare to disagree, just a matter of fact. Woe betide anyone who stands in the way of her gaining her goals!
What was eye opening was that many people I know have that creative flair that could allow them greatness. They are writers, painters, software engineers, photographers, video camera operators and so on. And yes actors too.
But Juanita showed me something I knew, but had slightly misplaced. You also need a desire and the brains to know to ask other people who can help to do so because we cannot do it all or know it all. And just as importantly, we should give back to those what you have received – we all win in that scenario.
True successful creativity lies in the minds and hearts of the many combining.
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