Archive for February, 2011

National Broadband Network one step closer

Friday, February 11th, 2011

SMH reports today that Telstra and the NBN Co have hammered through another part of the national broadband network deal today.

The “key commercial terms” have been announced, so Telstra now has the green light to shut down the copper network and share its infrastructure with the NBN Co.

Now, the Telstra shareholders will need to vote on whether to proceed with the deal, with the vote to take place earlier than July.

Telstra itself will be hoping for a ‘yes’ vote, given that its recently released half year financials showed a 36% profit decline.

Aussie Tech Update: The Man v Microsoft

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Well we did promise an update on the interesting story of Ric Richardson, who was appealing a US court decision in favour of Microsoft for a patent infringement. As a positive note for his cause, he has been successful this week in the appeals court in reinstating the original ruling, which ordered Microsoft to pay Uniloc $338 million USD for the infringement.

Richardson isĀ  a well-known inventor, who invented the patent in question which was aimed at software piracy detection, in the 1990s.

Whats next for this man? Sony and McAfee apparently! Watch this space.

View the full article on Sydney Morning Herald here.

More dangers for Internet Explorer users

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Microsoft has highlighted a major security flaw affecting the 900 million users of its web browser.

To make sure you are protected, please visit the news story on here.

Technology automation for Supermarkets – for better or worse?

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

In the past 6 months I’ve had the opportunity to try automated self-checkout at both Coles and Woolworths.

The machines are relatively easy to figure out. But what I seem to find is a large gap between these two chains with respect to usability and my temptation to throw something at them out of frustration.

Coles had the first self serve checkouts, I used them at Wynyard Station, Sydney to start with. Over time, I found that:

-They were easy to use and intuitive.
-There were no unnecessary steps – once you had finished you could actually insert your cash into the machine and you didn’t have to press anything else to do so.
-There are a few problems sometimes but I think this is part of the learning curve.
-Bags too small at Coles King St.
-Staff are always attentive and quick – they don’t assume that because it’s automated it’s going to always work as intended.

Then they introduce them downstairs at Woolworths Town Hall, where I usually check out.

-Same sort of machines.
-Of the 6-7 there, I’ve only ever seen 3 working.
-It is unclear which ones have just broken, and which ones are okay. Little direction from staff.
-I always see people standing there, unsure what to do.
-I always see people looking like they’re contemplating breaking the machine as it continually throws up errors.
-I always have to have a staff member swipe their card to override a problem. Usually related to the machine detecting an incorrect weight, which is due to the fact it takes so long to fit anything into the tiny bags they provide, or to move the next bag and open a new one (which is a challenge in itself as they are stuck together at the top), that by the time you’ve sorted it the machine thinks you’re shoplifting.
-I always have to press so many buttons to get through – I can’t just enter cash I have to press the “No” to not using my Woolworths rewards points, then press “Cash” it is not intuitive.

Overall, my experiences suggest that Coles has added a new convenient way to speed up the checkout process for people. Whereas Woolworths has aimed to replace people with a computer.

Two companies providing a very similar physical device, but with a very different outcome for customers.

Technology needs to have that extra bit of thought so that it not just new technology but is a useful solution, and there is a very thin line between the two.