Florida Defrocked :artshub.com.au | For Australian Arts Workers

Terry Cutler takes a hard look at cultural maestro Richard Florida’s new book.

“I find Florida’s treatment of North Asia rather superficial which suggests that one should be fairly cautious about rushing too quickly to proclaim this as the new general theory of innovation and competitiveness.”


Popup Blockers Thwart Net Bank

The Commonwealth Bank launched its new online banking service on the weekend. Apparently:

“The site also includes a number of security enhancements, but the bank has shied away from launching the site with dual factor authentication.”

If you believe reports in today’s crikey.com.au these security enhancements extended to stopping a large portion of the users from logging in at all. Apparently the login window was blocked by popup blockers in peoples’ web browsers.

Crikey’s bulletin says:

“The problem was anyone who with a pop-up blocker installed was unable to log into the new Netbank on Friday. Why? Because the login button on the new Netbank website was set up in such a way that a pop-up-blocking program was triggered by trying to logon. No matter how many times you clicked on the login button, the login screen was blocked by Internet Explorer’s pop-up blocker.”

“The problem was fixed on Saturday morning with a new version of the login button which is pop-up blocker friendly. Pop-up blockers are installed by default on firefox and new versions of internet explorer. The google toolbar also has a built-in pop-up blocker. You have to wonder where the CBA’s developers have been for the past year because that’s when pop-up blocking programs have become more common.”

Web site maps home searches

I really like this story. Smart, effective use of integrated technology for practical outcomes.  A programmer has created a web site which integrates real estate advertisements from craigslist, with Google’s mapping system. (If you haven’t played with Google Maps, please do, it’s seriously cool).

The site is http://www.housingmaps.com/

Here’s the story on cNet.



Home Networking

I’ve been eying off the new Foxtel IQ hard disk recorder/digital tv box. Mainly because I keep forgetting when my favourite programs are on. After missing Battlestar Galactica yet again I checked out the IQ web site – and had a fit when I discovered IQ would cost me $500 to install, and that’s the rate if you are already a Foxtel digital subscriber.

It’s also a pretty limited offering – basically it’s a harddisk recorder pretending to be a video recorder. Sure, it has a couple of neat tricks – it can record a couple of things at once, it can do a bit of time shifting, so you can ‘pause’ a live program then come back later and pick up.

But it’s nothing on the Tivo in the USA for example, which learns what you like. Tell it your interested in Alfred Hitchcock and it will automatically chase down relevant programs and record them.

However, I reckon all of this is a short term thing. Charles Wright has a good pieceon his Bleeding Edge site highlighting the blurred line between TV, computers and video recorders. We’re rapidly approaching the era of the networked home, where you have a centralised media systems hooked to tv, internet and other communication channels, and distributing content around your home.

There’s some big companies playing hardball with this technology, including Microsoft with its Windows Media Centre, and Intel with its East Fork project. Plus independent producers – have a look at the Home Media Centre from D1.

It makes me wonder how much of a time window Foxtel has. As the general public becomes more educated about networked homes, and the big players bring out accessible, consumer-oriented and priced products, it’ll render Foxtel’s IQ box old technology very quickly. I certainly wouldn’t buy it. I’d rather put the $500 towards a second hand PC running an open source software like MythTv.

From the ‘You’d Think They’d Notice’ Department

Telstra mobile phones were blacked out 28 April. It started at 10am after a power failure and a cut in a cable. But according to newspaper reports, “The company only became aware of the problem about 1.30pm but fixed it by 2pm. “. It only affected mobiles registered with the particular exchange in Sydney. Bit of a worry when it takes them 3 hours to realise part of their mobile phone network wasn’t working.


Circuit Bending

An arts festival after my own heart. As a child I had a habit of taking electronic things apart, and putting them back together – with varying success. It got to the stage family friends even donated old electrical items for me to pursue my passion. Clearly I need to go and live in New York. They have the Bent festival, “an arts festival devoted to dismantling electronics to see what sounds they can make, often with loud results”.

“Circuit bending involves opening up and playing with the wiring in gadgets like electronic instruments and toys to produce different sounds. While children’s toys are a popular choice and an easy place to start, many different gizmos can be “bent,” all with different results”

Read more in Wired.

Mobile Novels

The latest craze in Japan is reading full length novels on a mobile phone. There are now hundreds of novels you can download and read – albeit you gotta wonder about the eye strain.

“It takes some getting used to. Only a few lines pop up at a time because the phone screen is about half the size of a business card.

But improvements in the quality of liquid-crystal displays and features such as automatic page-flipping, or scrolling, make the endeavor far more enjoyable than you’d imagine.

In the latest versions, cell-phone novels are downloaded in short installments and run on handsets as Java-based applications. You’re free to browse as though you’re in a bookstore, whether you’re at home, in your office or on a commuter train. A whole library can be tucked away in your cell phone — a gadget you carry around anyway.”

Read more at Wired.

New eMarketing Code of Practice

There’s now a Code of Practice for eMarketing, produced by a group of key bodies incuding the Australian Direct Marketing Association, and registered with the Australian Communications Authority.

“Providing a more detailed and specific guide to email and mobile marketing – particularly in those areas where there is currently some confusion, such as consent and viral marketing, the eMarketing Code will offer significant benefits to those companies operating in this sector. It will also help all other companies who use email in their business, but aren’t necessarily covered by the Code, to ensure they are acting lawfully under the new Spam legislation.”

The Code provides detail on the following key areas relating to the sending of commercial electronic messages in an email and mobile marketing environment in Australia:

  1. Obtaining and maintaining consent;

  2. Keeping records of consent;

  3. Obligations in relation to viral marketing campaigns;

  4. Inclusion of accurate information about senders/message authorisers ;

  5. Provision and operation of a functional unsubscribe facility;

  6. Sending commercial electronic messages about age sensitive material; and

  7. Complaints handling.

You can read more and download from www.adma.com.au