Sunday, January 28, 2007

Traditional science publishers hire PR firms to scuttle open access

Doesn't surprise me - this industry has descended into blatant rent-seeking behaviour over the last couple decades. It's gotten to the point in my field (heterogeneous catalysis) that all (pretty much) the journals dedicated to the subject are owned by Elsevier. No prizes for guessing what happens when you own all the journals...
I also suspect that a lot of lecturers (the reveiwers, how many businesses let their employees take a day of 3-5 times per month to review articles for another business?) are tacitly pulled into the system since they can aspire to become 'editors' of the journals and thus pump up the ol' resume.
Add in these ridiculous 'impact factor' calculations and you have the makings of a ludicrous Kafkaesque like rabbit warren of being seen to publish in journals not because it's good work but because the journals themselves define good work. Madness!
Publish or perish: you reap what you sow.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

US Energy Flows

Cool diagram. Check out the losses from the transport sector.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More Biofuel research in NZ

We could lead the world in this technology if we wanted to.
It's a very cross-discipline science and technology application and goes right through the spectrum from blue-sky to nuts'n'bolts engineering and fits seamlessly with our image and our historical pastoral economy. You'd think we'd be further down the path by now huh?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Security in Australia

why oh why doesn't govt get security? It's not that difficult, therefore i suspect that they don't wish to get it. The best summary of computer security and databases built by govt is still 'Yes, Minister' made in the early 80's and still disturbingly current!
Aussie seems to be going through the motions and all the same stupid assurances are thrown out. They all boil down to 'Trust Me'. Not bloody likely given the ham fisted efforts of govt so far with large IT budgets.

Get these:
Only those who need to see your files will be allowed access, and even then they will only have access to the information they need

Sensitive information will be accessible only by agency readers.

One of the greatest fears people have is having their identity stolen. Existing cards and vouchers make that all too easy.
Minister: your biggest security concern isn't the masses, it is the minimum paid data clerk that you've outsourced your IT dept to working out of Connabarabran. They'll input or delete any data you want for $200 and a free slab of stubbies (and that includes switching names! oh the horror!).
The sole saving grace of a paper record is that it's "£$£"$ hard to gain access to it!!

I'm all for using technology wisely but please, if this is the best you can come up with - the big 'ol database - then you need to go back and double the 12 mins you spent thinking this through.
As for the slimy IT advisors licking their lips at all that taxpayer trough money - you're disgusting.
Bring back a competent civil service!!

I'm not the only one who's pi$$ed off with baby boomers...

It seems that someone else has been wondering what happens if older people don't move over and let the younger ones have a go...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Don't mention the war...

h/t to signs of the

this would be hilarious if it weren't so damned alarming. The Tube police: ever watchful for Brazilian electricians.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Angel investment in NZ

story in today's herald here.
Angel investment is typically seed funding from a single individual personal wealth. It's the next step up the ladder from friends, families and fools...
NZ doesn't really have an institutional VC community (i'm not counting govt, that's called a subsidy or kick-back...) or serious efforts to find international VC's. It's one of those vicious cycles where successful people fund start-ups but with the start-ups, there's fewer successful people...

One thing that jumped out at me was this:
ICEAngel Investments

* Biomatters, biotech software $988,000
* Nexus6, drug delivery and health information technology $500,000
* Calcium, e-marketing software development $200,000
* Optima Corporation, software $1.2 million
* Go Virtual, medical software $930,000
* Data Brake, intelligent brake light system $500,000
* Total ICEAngel investments $4.23 million

They're mostly IT funding. This may reflect on where the investors made their money and I agree that if you're going to invest, invest in something you have a credible opinion on. My question is: what makes NZ think it can succeed in software? or are they targeting one particular niche like medical software? targeting a niche makes a lot of sense but as you can see from the figures (and in the story), it's just not much money. About the only thing you can do with $250,000 NZD is buy a half dozen workstations, a server and 3-4 bodies for 2 years.
Are we focusing on software because we think we can be competitive in a couple of niche areas or... are we doing software because it's the only thing we can afford to invest in?

For instance, if you wanted to do some serious genetic work (or anything phys sci) $250,000 NZD is about what you'd budget for equipment. Where does NZ make it's foreign exchange? Dead animals, animal products and tourists. You can't do any serious research with a half-mil on the DNA of our animal products (and farmers seem to think the govt should pay for it anyway) and I haven't noticed any software specifically targeting tourism - maybe it's out there and is just busy getting on with it...
Just my opinion but if I was picking something that NZ is truley world class in already (nz wide, you need an ecosystem of businesses to hedge your entrepeneur risk) and looking to make software that i'd sell/lease around the world, tourism would have to be high on the list. So where are they? am i missing something here?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Peter Garrett on nuclear power in Aus

If this is what passes for environmental debate in Australia, it's not just screwed, it's super-screwed.
My $0.02, taxpayer subsidies to protect the commons are exactly what a responsible government should consider with something as difficult as energy policy. It's a slippery slope towards back-handers but if we can seperate the Reserve Banks from the politicians, I don't see it as insurmountable.