IT innovation a money-waster

Kiwibank CEO right on the money

Hey, big spenders

“There’s more money wasted in IT innovation than in anything else.”

Kiwibank chief executive Sam Knowles told it like it is at last week’s launch of the Fujitsu Innovation Index.

“I’ve been involved with plenty of innovation failures and they’ve all come down to IT, generally,” he said.

How not to see the elephant in the room E-tales has been following the saga of Michael Swann, the former Otago District Health Board CIO, with interest and is at a loss to know how he could afford the truly humungous yacht, refitted with plasma televisions in every room, properties in Dunedin and Wanaka and the 30-odd luxury cars he owns, as claimed in a television news report last week.

Swann is currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office over his dealings with an ICT company contracted by Dunedin Hospital and $16 million spent by the DHB on ICT contracts during the last six years.

What E-tales wants to know is why no one noticed the man’s spending was so hugely out of sync with the income of a CIO, as apparently these activities have been going on for years. Someone spending way above their salary level is a well known sign that all is not well with the financials.

It’s rather reminiscent of the proverbial elephant in the room that no one dares mention. But it doesn’t mean it’s not there!

White smoke, black smoke

From now on Computerworld editors will not be appointed or hired, or chosen. Instead, they will be “anointed”, or so the lovely chaps from IT Journo, an Australian-based website that monitors the comings and goings of ICT journalists, believe.

Keen as mustard, they are, to find out who our new editor is (it’s a secret — Ed), and, presumably, write about the anointment.

We hope it’s anointment in the form of “ceremonially conferring Divine or Holy Office” rather than “smearing or rubbing with oil”.

What’s in a name?

Ah, marketing. Once, BCL was a simple company ruled by a simple creed: ensure that television and radio signals get out to the offices and homes of good, honest, hard-working New Zealanders.

It was a simpler time, a quieter time. BCL, like so many, went on to discover the internet and all that broadband wireless stuff, and became THL — to better reflect its transmission roots, or routes.

Now, this persona, too, has been swept aside. BCL/THL has transformed itself again — into Kordia.

Quick show of hands: who knows someone who had a Mitsubishi Cordia Turbo back in its day? Nobody will ever admit to owning one, of course, but, by crikey, everyone had a mate who had one, and weren’t we all envious of the raw power of the 1.8 litre turbo. Sadly, Trade Me only has three Cordias for sale today and none is a turbo.

Too much vroom

Now, we know some chaps take their cars very seriously indeed, but one of our E-talers, who is a rather laid-back chap, reckons there should be room for some fun, too. So he was a bit flabbergasted when he attended a recent Ricoh-sponsored ICT industry amateur car race to find one grown-up boy racer poring over a map of the course that he had diligently printed out, and had been perusing for the past week — so he could better negotiate those difficult corners.

Our man felt all this homework was taking things a bit too far. E-tales’ isn’t sure if our race aficionado won or not, but he surely enjoyed the adrenalin rush.

Mine’s biggest – and greenest

On the subject of the competitive urge getting out of hand, E-tales was pleased to come across an example of the opposite. UK news site The Register reports that the ongoing race to build the the biggest, fastest computer is being curbed by Green concerns asenergy-chomping comes to the fore as an issue.

Of course that could mean the competition just shifts from “mine’s bigger than yours” to “mine’s greener than yours” now that supercomputing researchers are pushing for a new “Green 500” list, to complement the Top 500 list of the world’s fastest computers. The green list will balance overall performance against energy consumption.

Poetry in wave motion

We don’t know if this is a prototype kids’ Chrissie present idea or just an odd example of arts-meets-science. It's a wireless version of the old cup-and-string telephone that kids used to play with. A mini walkie-talkie, it’s a cinch to use (no difficulties with predictive texting, running out of paid time, et cetera) — just tug the cord and squeeze to talk, holding to mouth and ear.

The brainchild of artist Duncan Wilson, we’re not so sure about the artist’s description of his work though. “The design of the Cup Communicator is focused around a series of physical actions and gestures that create a poetic etiquette of use and a tactile intimacy between user and object.”

Certainly, there’s poetry in the sweet reminder of the homemade toy and Eureka moment that came with the elementary physics lesson it also provided, but perhaps Wilson, like a lot of artists, should steer away from the written word — his artistic vision speaks far more clearly when not spelled out so fully.

Hackers drive on by

Normally, for obvious reasons, we don’t condone hacking here at E-tales headquarters (especially now the world’s various Mafia have got in on the act), but we were amused by a wee hacker’s tale we spotted on news site Ananova.

It seems hackers managed to break into the local council’s computer system at Crawley in the UK, and replaced the electronic car park signs, which tell motorists how many parks are free, with a rude “F*** off” message.

Trouble is no-one noticed for two hours, which must have been disappointing for the pranksters.

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