SIGNING THE TIMES

What does not spring to mind is lot
of bods dotted about on chairs – at home. Chairs, it must be remarked, do not move. They do not, in particular, move along roads. They do not have engines. They do not imbibe petroleum. Their main moving part is the wriggling liveware deposited on them. Transport they are definitely not. This is well-known fact.
So it must have been bit of surprise for some – perhaps even major shock – when ?telework’ projects took two of the top three places in the inaugural Transport Category of the Energy-Wise Awards earlier this year, the first time ?telework’ has been publicly acknowledged in New Zealand as significant component in transport or energy-reduction campaign.
(If you are wondering why ?telework’ is in quotation marks it is because although I love the concept, and practise it, I loathe the word: it is an ugly, ill-sounding neologism, linguistic horror, an offence to tongue and ears.)
The nine entries were assessed for their ability to improve energy efficiency and reduce national consumption. The three finalists were Auckland City Council’s Buses First (which won the award), Auckland Regional Council’s Telework Promotion Investigation, and the Kapiti Coast Telecentre.
ARC’s project won Highly Commended award, for the energy savings (all transport-related) associated with two trials. The trial involved only 12 workers, but if the full potential of whole project had been considered – up to 8000 workers at cost of under $1 million over three years – the benefits could have been far higher. The work associated with the ARC project was performed by Telework New Zealand (the official report is at www.telework.co.nz/arcreport.htm).
Telework New Zealand director Bevis England says an average company can expect to save $100,000-$300,000 year per 100 staff once its telework programme is mature.
Weather on your radar
If you want close-up of the weather for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, go to www.geo.vuw.ac.nz/meteorology/current/radar/, which updates the image about every three hours. Very useful – it saves having to go and find high hill.

Market research reveals all
When market research firms call, they usually begin by asking if you are, among other things, journalist. If so, they say thanks and goodbye. That hurts. It cuts to the quick. It causes oceans of salty tears before bedtime. Journalists are people too. Their opinions should matter just like those of normal people. So why are they being cut out of the democratic loop?
A recent call, in which that question was not asked (someone blundered?), confirmed the obvious answer. The companies that commission these things do not want any publicity about them. They do not, therefore, want to ask questions of people with enquiring minds, word-processors and publishing houses. Small wonder, if that interview is anything to go by.
The commissioning company in this case was Telecom. Question after question after question was pathetically amateur attempt to lead us into giving Telecom the warm fuzzies by confirming its PR self-delusions. But New Zealanders are not stupid, as the surveyor’s responses to my questions showed. Telecom was being roundly trashed by respondents.
One wonders if Tyrannosaurus Rex will take any notice of the little animals, even though it paid to hear them, or whether they are only perceived as the warm-and-squeaky something oozing up between its toes as it strides along. (Very odd that company which prides itself on being wonderful should have as its symbol dog – and patched dog at that. Freudian slip?)

Internet2 cometh
The episode now playing – what you might call Internet 1 – is OK, but the plot is being made up as it goes and there are lot of paint-filled cracks in the cardboard scenery. But now Internet2 (aka Internet 2) is being prepared, with, we hope, some smart concrete to replace the cardboard, and real, intelligent plot.
And it is no hole-in-the-corner effort by dreamers. One hundred and seventy US universities, industry and government, are working on it. Watch these spaces: www.internet2.edu, www.internet2.org and www.nsf.gov.

More on hacker attacks
Symantec has set up website with information on the threat from mobile code, which is increasingly being used by hackers to facilitate multi-level attacks on computer systems. See http://enterprisesecurity.symantec.com/symes1.cfm?JID=11&PID=37145

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