Late Night twitter

People love and use twitter for lots of different reasons. But I found this quote today from Leo Laporte, of TwiT fame:

“Twitter late night is kind of a swinging place, full of insomniacs, the caffeinated, and Australians. I dig it.”


Pretty much sums up twitter up-late. The other thing is that us Aussies must be making an impact on the twitter scene. There is certainly a big contingent of Aussies out there that are twitter nuts, so hop to it and see what you are missing. Or check out the Global Geek Podcast twitter special, all about twitter. We even talk about this very aspect of twitter – the light night twitter goings on from Oz.

Part of why I love twitter.

The_Rooster my updates are protected but add me and I might just follow you too 🙂


Existing Technology Could Make a Difference, Why Re-Invent the Wheel?

The following article is my personal opinion and does not reflect those of any health care system in Australia. I am not speaking for or on behalf of any facility or department or person. These are my own views and opinions as a member of the public, in relation to new technology and embracing those technologies for the benefit of patients.

Digital Pen Camera

I really hope that some politician somewhere is paying attention right now. Today I read an article about a new USB camera. It is called the Digital Pen Camera. This camera is special, what makes it special is that it is a small, very small. This means that the applications for medicine are exciting.

Measuring 14cm in length and 12.2 cm in diameter, so it is shaped like a pen. With this size comes the fact that it is also capable of really clear close ups up to 9mm from the subject. I could go into the rest of what makes this all possible but that would just be reiterating Dan’s Data’s excellent review, which you should read if you are interested.

While the technical specifications of this tiny camera are interesting even amazing, what is more interesting to me is what sort of things are possible with it, especially in regards to medicine. Here is an example of what this camera is capable of:

(This video has no sound)

Not sure if Dan knew what he was looking at inside his own ear, but that is a video of his ear drum. In fact it is a pretty good quality image that, in my opinion; any doctor and most defiantly a specialist could view that video to make a diagnosis or treatment decisions based on it. Or at the very least have an idea as to what is going on. That is vitally important. It is also worth taking a look at some of the other images that Dan has captured to emphasize the point of what I am about to say.

In Australia we have isolated communities that are a long way from specialist medical care. Lots of families live on large properties in the middle of no-where. Say a child has an ear-ache. The family might make the trip into town to see the doctor, this might be an hour or two (maybe more). They tell the doctor about the ear ache and he or she takes a look but they are undecided as to what is the best treatment so a referral to a specialist in a major center is made. Now the health care system is paying for that family to fly to the closest ear nose and throat specialist, accommodation and the flight back. The specialist takes a look and decides on a treatment and maybe a return visit. Or maybe the trip was unnecessary all together and the treatment could have been prescribed and managed by the local doctor.

Now that very scenario utilizing new technology and services that the Internet provides is a totally different one. The family may still have to visit the doctor. But once there the doctor is not sure of the best treatment. The doctor then starts Skype and plugs in the Digital Pen Camera. Starts a call to the specialist at the major center, tells he or she what the symptom are or the family can talk to the specialist directly. The specialist obviously needs to take a look in the child’s ear, so the Digital Pen Camera is employed and using Skype’s webcam features gets a great look in the ear. No trip to the big smoke necessary, or the trip is not a wasted one when it is decided that they need to go to get the best treatment, possibly a procedure.

Alternatively, if the specialist is not available at the time then the video could be recorded and sent via email or placed on a server via ftp and viewed when convenient. There are a number of possibilities for sharing this information and getting the best treatment to the most remote places.

This set up requires no building of technology, no massive investment in infrastructure. Yet the health care system is hell bent on building hardware or buying it at great expense setting it up and maintaining it and then not even using it in the way that they should be. Medicine needs to start adopting what us geeks have been doing for years and incorporating it into their practice. In doing so the struggling health care system would be saving thousands and thousands of dollars. There are many other costs built into the above situation other than what I have mentioned, I just wanted to keep it simple, but they could all be mitigated or reduced by using existing technology for the benefit of patients. In addition the families that are totally inconvenienced by the whole system get faster better treatment without being temporarily relocated.

I am sure that the government is probably saying things like it is not secure and it is not done that way, I have heard all the rhetoric before. But Skype is encrypted and we need to rethink some things! Seriously, wake up to yourselves.

Skype Application = free

Skype to Skype call cost = free (bandwidth excluded – they are paying for that anyway)

Digital Pen Camera = $90 (AU and excluding GST)

Most of the medical equipment that I have seen that can produce the above video quality are worth 10’s of thousands and some 100’s where such magnification is required. The 99 dollars that this little camera is capable of costs nothing in comparison, especially considering that it could benefit more than just one patient. Therefore, based on that calculation the thousands of dollars that it would have cost for little Johnny to see the specialist would be ZERO. It does not take a genius to see what we could be doing for a very small cost.

I admit there are some things that need to be looked at in order to really apply this to patients. One thing that comes to mind is the attachments and having enough available for each patient or the training that might be required. But I don’t think these are major hurdles at all.

Te application for this small camera are numerous, wide and varied, not only in health. But I am convinced that the application of the hardware to health at such a small relative cost is exciting. This technology could benefit any number of patients in many different situations. If you are a health professional then you will know what I mean by that. The benefit to patients would be measurable and the benefit to the system and the limited resources also of great significance.

I really don’t know why this is not being done right now. I am at a loss as to how I can influence the decision makers in order to change the way that we do things, or even just to evaluate what we do. I want to make things better for patients and the system. Maybe then I can make a real difference.

The Digital Pen Camera is available to anyone that wants one (even the government):

They are available in Australia for $99 including GST from Aus PC Market.

I am sure that they would consider a bulk discount, anyone for a trial using this very cool piece of kit?

The Need for Speed

I have had broadband or ADSL1 for a while now. Where I live we only have access to ADSL1, ADSL2 is not available as yet. I have had a 1500/256 connection for most of that time. Earlier this year Telstra “took the breaks off” the fastest attainable speed that you could get. We also saw a drop in price for this fastest speed. In order to get the “unthrottled” service you had to upgrade your connection and pay a few extra dollars.

I have been pretty busy and I only got around to looking at my connection last Friday. Now the plan I was on, the 1500/256 plan dropped in price but I have been paying the higher price as I did not change anything. I found that I was basically paying for the unthrottled service. So I thought what the heck, I am paying it I may as well change to that speed and I got a 100% increase in available bandwidth.

Changing my plan means that I now have a 8000/384 connection. But this is variable, meaning that the minimum I will get it 1500/256. All week end I have been testing my connection on checking if it switches over. Today I had some luck. I tested my closest Speedtest server which is Brisbane. I got the following result (note that the miles are wrong in this test):

What I noticed was that the ping has not changed much with the faster connection, not sure why. But as you can see the download speed has definitely had some improvement. The fastest I could get before was about 1300 download. So pretty good. I also tested Europe and the UK in addition to America, the following is the best result from the US:

The big surprise was the speed that I got here in Australia as the best result came from a connection from here in Cairns to Melbourne. What you might not understand is despite our connectivity here in Cairns we are actually quite isolated from the rest of the country. Our pipe from Cairns to Brisbane, which is the most direct is a long one and can be problematic at times. That Cairns – Brisbane connection is the bottleneck as all North connections run through it. But here is the result that I achieved to Melbourne:

I thought that was great. I am pretty happy with these results and time will tell if it is worth it. While I was happy with the download speed that I was getting on my old plan, it was not mega fast but I did not have to wait for much and I had the bandwidth that allowed me to do other things while I downloaded stuff. Now I have bandwidth to burn and the limit that allows me to test out great new services like Joost.

The upload speed was the thing that I was more interested in increasing. I upload the podcast each week and lots of files to our hosts and others this will help speed up that process a bit. But not as much as I was hoping. Then again it is very close to the stipulated 384k that is advertised so I should not complain. In fact it is very good really, as you may or may not know you never get what is advertised. Most people I talk to have no idea what speed they are on!

As I said previously this service is a variable one so I am going to do a few tests at different times and see what times of day are better than others.

These tests were performed with my internet service provider Internode using I have found Internode to be excellent and provide a great service at a reasonable cost. ISP choices are a personal choice and you have to be happy but you could do worse than Internode. A list of available plans is available from their website.

These speeds may seem poor if you live in Europe or the US and they are in comparison. Fact is; that for me this is as good as it gets where I live and is faster than most of the population here in Australia that have broadband access. Fast connection speeds in Australia are hard to come by and when you do they are very expensive, for me this is a good middle ground.

SPEEDTEST.NET is a great way to check out how well your ISP performs. It uses a graphical interface with some funky dials and gives very usable results as can be seen here. That is all well and good in isolation, but they also give you the functionality of being able to compare your results to others in your country and the world. These images are via the supplied links that they offer to embed your results into web pages. Screenshot

Proposed Copyright Law Changes in Australia

Despite the fact that 99% of the time I listen to podcasts in the car, I often listen to the news on the way to work sometimes. This morning I heard that there were some proposed changes to copyright law happening this week during the parliamentary sitting. I get home tonight and I read about the response to these propositions, I find that things are not good in the blogOsphere’s response to the changes …

I was not surprised to see this headline:

“Google Explains How To Kill The Internet In Australia: Just Make Proposed Changes To Copyright Laws”

While I do not fully understand the proposed changes. Basically the idea is that every website that is indexed has to have permission from the site or content owner. This is basically a stupid idea. I can see what they are trying to protect and that is the illegal copying and distribution of owned content. Effectively it would mean that search for Aussies would be useless and we would essentially have our access to information crippled.

“If such advanced permission was required, the Internet would promptly grind to a halt,”

– Google’s senior counsel and head of public policy Andrew McLaughlin

That is just bloody great…

Also that the changes would:

“… condemn the Australian public to the pre-Internet era and will place them at a serious competitive disadvantage with those in other countries who have such access,”

That is something to look forward to… [add sarcasm here]

As usual the Australian government has no bloody idea about how the internet works and how information is disseminated through it. surprising considering that they are saying the new laws are to:

“… Australian government says the new laws are designed to keep up with the fast pace of technological change”

As usual in the governing bodies attempt to be “hip” they are potentially leaving us behind in the digital dark ages!

If these changes were to go ahead the effect it would have on Australian online business would be devastating. We all know just how important the Google ranking is to a website. Things like promoting our podcast would be very difficult. At least the servers are offshore!

As I said initially nothing surprises me as far as the governments approach to things they really do not understand. After all I reckon the average age of an Australian polly would be about 50! In addition I don’t even know of one that has a blog. Well not one that they are willing to let on about.

Maybe they should ask someone that knows what they are talking about before making rash decisions.

Cameron Reilly Heads to San Fransisco

TPN LogoSo I was talking to the Cameron Reilly CEO of The Podcast Network very breifly this morning and I find out that Cam is heading off to San Fransisco later this month. I was gob-smacked, then by coincidence heard the podcast where he speaks about it on the way to town after I spoke to him. Came out a few days ago so I guess he expected that I had heard it… sorry Cam been busy, but I have now!G’day World Logo

Cam talks about his reasons for the move in his own special way on the latest edition of G’day World. Great show and worth the listen.

What I find the most depressing about the whole saga is the fact that Cam has to “out-source” investment in The Podcast Network. What a load of crap to think that Australian investors have their heads so far up their own arses that they either A will not or B can not invest in quality Australian Internet start-ups. In addition to this it would be investing in what is the future of media, the rest of the bloody world can see that. Why do you think PodShow received 15 million. Ignorant fools. This is just typical of investment in Australia, period. So many of our great inventions and ideas are lost overseas due to this very thing, when will it stop?

I would dare anyone to doubt Cams commitment to the podcasting medium. Cameron is leaving his partner and kids here in Australia while living in San Francisco. He is leaving his much beloved Melbourne for the bigger smoke and a forign country to live in one of the “Tech Mecca’s” of the world… hang on… Bastard!

Seriously though this is a sacrifice for him and in that he has my 100% support and trust and even greater respect. I have every faith that Cam will succeed, why?… Because if there is one thing I have learned about Cam it is that he gets what he is after and if you are not on board then see you later. He grabs life by the throat and chokes what he wants out of it. He believes passionately in what he is doing and feels he has a responsibility to further podcasting and citizen media. Bloody minded.

So Cam The Rooster wishes you the best fortunes in the world mate. I am sure your job will be easy, The Podcast Network is a quality company with class. I am proud to be a part of The Podcast Network as a host and sharing the ride with you all.

Just don’t go all American on us OK. Mind you he is calling himself:

“… the Steve Irwin of podcasting”

Apparently he is going to sport an Akubra, Driza-Bone and get RM Williams as a sponsor. So no, not much hope of “Americanizing” the Cam.

Could Skype Crush the Telco’s?

SkypeAs you would probably realise I have been away for a few days. I was blown away by the news that Skype has applied for a patient that indicates that it might in the future offer free calls to any phone worldwide for free!

The patient has not received much publicity to this point, mainly because the call from objectors has not been made. That happens on the 1st of August. Prepare for war, that date is looming. The Patient’s title is “The Whole World Can Talk for Free”. Yes that’s been their slogan for a long time. But I refer to Russell Shaw’s reply:

Yes, of course I know Skype has been using this phrase in their marketing for a year now, and it appears on their home page. But why go to the point of registering it.. now? Is this basically a butt-cover to forestall similar phraseology from competitors who Skype fears may underprice them, or are there larger forces at work?

This is huge. We may be in the first stages of a major restructuring of the global communications market. That is to say nothing about the impact that this will or may have in Australia. In Australia we are ripped off supremely for phone calls and access. In addition to that we pay twice when we phone a landline using Skype; we pay for the broadband access, we pay for the call. Admittedly I would have payed for the broadband anyway but in my opinion this is a double dip.

One thing that may or may not be happening in other countries is that the major Telco in Australia (Telstra) charges everyone an access fee to a landline. Not so strange you say. What about the fact that if I choose not have a phone line and just use VoIP for my calls via my broadband connection; I still need to have a landline in order to get the broadband! So Telstra charge me for access to the line that I have to have then I have to pay for my Internet connection on top of that then I have to pay for my Skype calls to landlines and mobiles on top of that! See my point. So how might this rumour affect me should this prediction come true?

I could see the major Telstra off-setting the loss of revenue with an increased charge for access. Not only that they will charge like a wounded bull for the ignorant few that are left with no knowledge of Skype. So based on that I am not sure how this one will resolve. I am crossing my fingers…

For those of you that might doubt the power of the Skype marketing engine. Just remember that Skype have been offering free outbound calls in America for the last couple of months, what is there stopping them from extending this globally. With the right business model of course. In addition I think an inclined to agree with Shaw in that to take advantage of this you will probably have to make some form of financial commitment to some service that Skype offers. Still that given I think that it will beat the Telco’s hands down as far as value for money. We will no longer be held to ransom by these companies that insist on ripping us off blind!

In summary though I see trouble on the horizon for Telecommunication Companies that will need to drastically revise their business model in order to stay in the game. If they are not scared now they should be, this was always coming and it is on our doorstep now. I will be very interested to see what happens on the 1st of August. I am thinking that there will be a long list of objectors.

Of course this is all speculation but time will tell.

Internode ISP To Boost Bandwidth in Australia

As you may or may not know my Internet Service Provider is Internode. This is an Adelaide run; slick internet provider that comes highly recommended for you Australian readers. I have always received great service with a no-fuss attitude. In addition to that they offer a reliable service at an affordable cost.

So without starting to sound like an advertisement or something, I found some real news on the RSS about Internode. Australian IT reports that they are wanting to be the first Australian ISP to offer “super-fast” internet connections of over 1Mps. They are currently waiting for approval by the relevant authorities. Once this is done they are planning for immediate deployment of the service.

The service is being touted as ideal for people that want to host web services, video conferencing and downloading large files. While this is all great and dandy, I bet the rest of the world is laughing their arses off! Internet services are so far behind in Australia it really is not funny. This is evidenced by the fact that I regularly talk to my overseas contacts that have much faster connections than the “super-fast” 2Mps! Indeed Knightwise who is from Belgium has a 4Mps connection for less than I am paying for 1.5Mps!

This is not to shun the forward thinking of Internode. The fact that they are pushing for faster connections is great but we are really behind the times on a global level and scale.

The tele-communications industry in Australia remains a political and red-tape filled cess pit that, from what I can see, shows no sign of changing any time soon. This is severely compromising our stake in this rapidly changing and transforming landscape that is the internet. Perhaps the global push for connectivity will boot our industry into a more competitive stance and one that enables the community to take advantage of all that the internet is offering, rather than a restrictive, legalistic, overpriced and unfair monopoly (Despite the denials) that restricts access and that is based on cost alone.

This is highly evident by the fact that at the moment I pay $49.95 AU a month for a 1500/256 connection. If I was with the biggest, most dominant and anti-competitive company in Australia and yet the most popular, Telstra; I would be paying $125 AU. When you ask them why; you get the usual red-tape rhetoric. I just do not understand how a company that charges more than double can stay in business. Other than the fact that they prey on peoples’ comfort in familiarity.

Congratulations to Internode for playing the ball. Wake up you Telstra morons we are being left behind and yes you are a problem.