heard it on the radio

“This morning the two universities [University of California and Melbourne University] will unveil a broadband link between the two institutions which moves data at one gigabit per second.” — Aust broadband will fail to compete globally, expert says, ABC

Although I liked hearing on the radio the ‘one gigabit per second’, I thought that fast broadband speeds were already technically possible in Australia. It’s just that there is a big difference between stated download/upload speeds and actual speeds obtained. For example, do you know any home or small business users that have a 1.5 Mbps to 20 Mbps plan that actually consistently gets nearer to 20 Mbps?

The availability of the technology I feel has got little to do with the company that owns the core infrastructure and the seemingly high price in comparison to what other people pay in other countries (albeit often more populated). And if our broadband is already such that “Australia will not be able to compete in the global economy if it does not greatly improve its broadband internet capabilities”, broadband speeds will be going backwards if the Government’s proposed clean feed filtered internet connection is implemented.

Perhaps this morning’s demonstration will highlight that the technology is available, and that it is necessary for politicians, ACCC, and Telstra to free up the infrastructure so that telecommunications companies can be ‘really’ competitive.

déjà vu

In 1999 I walked in my first rally and my partner published a web page. The rally was to demonstrate opposition to the Commonwealth Government’s Internet censorship laws (Australian Broadcasting (Online Services) Bill 1999) and the web page expressed our concerns as an Australian company wishing to internationally market our products and services

The then proposed laws were watered down before being approved by the Parliament in May/June 1999 and becoming effective on 1 January 2000. The Bill was passed on the votes of the government (Liberal/National Party Coalition) plus the vote of the well-known pro-censorship Senator, Brian Harradine, who held the balance of power in the Senate prior to 30 June 1999. Opposition parties (ALP, Democrats and Greens) voted against the Bill. — Electronic Frontiers Australia

The nearly new Government of the day (ALP) is proposing a “clean feed” filtered internet connection to all homes and schools to supposedly block pornography and other “inappropriate material”.

What is different between the 1999 Bill and the scheme championed by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, is that it requires individuals to opt-out of the scheme rather than request filtering from their Internet Service Provider (ISP).

The think of the children argument is sounding a little hollow again. I don’t think the ‘issue’ is to be solved by constricting all Australians bandwidth with ineffective technology.

In 1999, CSIRO stated in a media release:

Blocking access to certain Internet material by Internet service providers or ‘backbone’ providers will be largely ineffective, a recent CSIRO report has concluded.

Instead, CSIRO recommends the use of filtering software by Internet users, enabling them to choose whether to filter Internet content, and to what extent.

Rather, parents need to be parents to their children, and societal mores or community attitudes need some sort of whopper shift. If there was not the demand for such content or services, then there would not be an issue – supply and demand. I would like to believe I live in a community rather than an economy.

Commentary and sources that I find useful this time around:

science communication and education

The Masters of Science Communication and Education was launched yesterday afternoon by Professor Robyn Owen, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Research Training) and Professor Lyn Beazley, Chief Scientist for Western Australia.

Professor George Stewart, Dean, Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences was the MC for the event, and other speakers included Dr Nancy Longnecker, Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator/Science Communication Courses Co-ordinator, Rich Weatherill, Director Outreach, Scitech, and there was one other whose name escapes me at the moment. He was either representing the education side of the new masters degree, or the administrative process or committee that got the programme up.

Rich did the sugar in champagne demonstration, followed by the menthos in pepsi, which unfortunately didn’t hit the roof and was a bit of a fizzer.

I found all the talks of interest. Mostly they were re-iterating how few school students go on to do science, mathematics or engineering and emphasised that this was because there were a diminishing number of suitably qualified and enthusiastic science teachers.

I do wonder what is going to happen to Western Australia once we no longer have anything to dig up, as does Professor Dong-ke Zhang from the Curtin University of Technology at the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering’s 30th Annual Symposium “Resources Boom: Opportunities and Consequences” this week.

Science Communication students (current and previous) had red dots on their name tag. The only eek! moment was when Nancy encouraged those without dots on their name tag (most guests) to go and talk to those that did. All of the people that came and spoke to me were very nice and seemed genuinely interested in science communication and the new masters degree.

The event was very pleasant as I got to catch up with colleagues and fellow students some from other cohorts, over a drink and abundant nibbles.

RoHS

I’ve started to receive my parcels, and it is becoming increasingly important that I check the components for any expected RoHS compliance so that I can separate the compliant stock.

This is sometimes made easy, as the manufacturer has a different part number for the RoHS compliant part to that of the non-compliant part. But when the manufacturer uses the same part number, you have to read the specifications more closely to see if they use marks of any sort or simple statements. Some distributors have different part numbers for RoHS compliant parts to assist with this, including Certificates of Compliance.

RoHS is a European Union (EU) directive and came into effect on 1 July 2006. The EU has banned the use of six environmentally unfriendly materials from nearly all new electrical and electronics products developed for the European market.

In August last year, I presented a talk on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive to my Science Communication colleagues at UWA. My talk was from the point of view of my company, a manufacturer of electronics products, and from the point of view of the audience and myself as consumers of electrical and electronics products.

During prototyping, mixed components are not a problem. But I will need to keep track of any components that will be used for design for manufacture and production. This means ensuring that I have a paper trail from the manufacturer, through any distributors and suppliers, to us.

Fortunately, this latest BOM for the prototype only has approximately 30 unique parts. Once all the sample quantities are delivered for the prototypes, I will need to look to purchasing all RoHS compliant components in manufacturing quantities.

Different countries are imposing their own version of the EU’s RoHS Directive, and others are waiting to see what other countries will do. If we wish to export to many different countries, RoHS (and WEEE) will be another stream of knowledge that we will need to be aware of and continue to research.

virtual shares

Registrations for the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) Sharemarket Game has opened. From a hypothetical $50,000 you get to create your own virtual share portfolio and play the sharemarket without it costing you a cent. There are also prizes for increasing the value of your virtual share portfolio. Note: The Game is open only to Australian residents.

There is plenty to read and do before trading commences Thursday 29 March. The Game runs for fourteen weeks and concludes Thursday 5 July.

It is not often you get to play with money that is not yours and the opportunity to win a prize 🙂 What fun. A sharemarket sandbox to play in.

categories and articles

Herbie has now got shape.

From reading WikiMedia’s Help:Category and RealGrouchy’s guidelines for the OpenOffice.org Marketing Project Wiki, we now have a simple structure to our internal company wiki. Figuring out what categories and article pages that we need took some time and discussion, but not too difficult as our business processes have had us ticking along for over 15 years.

However, it was a fruitful exercise as it has provided the opportunity to reflect on where we are now, and from where we began. I remember attending SBDC and AusIndustry workshops. Gathering information (collecting paper) everywhere I went to do with product development and starting a business. If I was able to let my fingers do the walking, imagine the time I would have saved if the various organisations had a wiki like SmallBusiness.com.

Philip Hogarth in Wiki 101 writes:

It [business wiki] can be deployed in hours rather than weeks, and it can be updated by the entire company (or a selected subset) in minutes, with a minimum of training. Sample proposals, best practices, competitive intelligence, online portals and resources, partnership agreements, and anything else that is of use to new and existing staff, can be linked to or posted, making the business wiki an enterprise’s corporate brain in short order.

But more importantly, Hogarth says; “in time for it to matter”.

Where we are now? We have an internal company wiki. Now to pour in the next 15 years, starting with the next few months that matter.