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Hot News in IT This Week

Paul Brislen, Editor. 01 July 2016, 4:19 pm

Cloud Computing and Big Data experts join ITx 2016 lineup

Cloud Computing and the use of Big Data in Education join the line-up at this year's ITx conference in Wellington in July.

May-Ann Lim, Executive Director of the Asia Cloud Computing Association, and Brendan Kelly, Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Information at the Tertiary Education Commission have joined the keynote speaker line-up at this year's ITx conference, to be held in Wellington from July 11 through July 13.

Singapore-based Lim will speak about New Zealand's place in the Cloud Computing world and what else we can do to get ahead of the pack. The Asia Cloud Computing Association reports annually on its Cloud Readiness Index (CRI), ranking countries in terms of international connectivity, broadband quality, security readiness, sustainability and other measures to produce a definitive list of the countries in this region.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is responsible for funding tertiary education in New Zealand and all eyes are turning to our tertiary providers to ensure we turn out employees with the right skill mix for our future-focused economy.

Brendan Kelly's role at the Tertiary Education Commission is to harness the terabytes of data gathered on students and their achievement to better prepare tertiary institutes for the future. Kelly will outline why the TEC launched its big data analytics project, how it's tracking and what the information it creates will be used for.

Lim and Kelly join a host of keynotes from across the world at ITx 2016, including Silicon Valley insider Edith Yeung, Australia-based Entrepreneur and Magician Vinh Giang, Europe tech thought leader Mark Smalley, kiwis Ian Taylor and Ian McCrae, founders of Animation Research Ltd and Orion Health respectively, and technology marketer Rachael Cotton-Bronte also from New Zealand.

You really should check out the programme at itx.nz/Programme

There are still tickets left - it's not too late to register.

 

Excellence in IT Awards - Finalists announced

This year's Excellence in IT Awards will be handed out at a Gala Dinner during the ITx 2016 conference, held in Wellington from July 11 through July 13 and the finalists were announced this week.

The Excellence in IT Awards are unique in the industry in that instead of focusing on products or on companies, these awards celebrate our people, and that's something worth crowing about.

The ten leading tech associations in the land have come together to create these sector-wide awards and the categories include IT Project Excellence, Health Informatics, Public Sector IT and of course our supreme awards, Young IT Professional and IT Professional of the Year.

Finalists will be put through their paces in front of the judging panel this week and the gala awards evening will be held on July 12, hosted by comedian Raybon Kan. I'll see you there.

Techblog - Finalists Announced

 

Brexit: what is it good for?

Whether you voted to Leave or Remain or just sat and watched as I did, the train wreck that is Britain's decision to leave the European Union has led to extraordinary scenes in London and in Brussels the likes of which I can safely say have never been seen before.

It's cost the British PM his job, is another excuse for the other side to vote against the party leader (and for half the front bench to walk out, leaving the juicy prospect of the Scottish National Party becoming the officially acknowledged Opposition) and has seen the EU call for Britain to actually do something formal before any negotiations can take place - something which even those in favour of pulling out seem reluctant to do.

So what does it mean for the tech sector?

Fortunately we don't export much technology so it's OK.

That sounded so much better in my head.

In this instance our limited exposure to the winds of change is probably a good thing but I would like for us to be somewhat more exposed in future.

I contacted Rod Drury at Xero and Ian McRae at Orion Health, two organisations that are making sales in both Europe and the UK, and both manfully resisted my attempts to get them to snarl "Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder" which was somewhat disappointing. Both expressed a vision for the opportunity that the decision presents, which is the Kiwi way.

For the bigger players, referenced in the Techblog post linked below, the picture is not quite so clear nor so rosy.

Vodafone PLC is considering moving its headquarters from London to somewhere in Europe and it's just one of the businesses that is opting to remain with the EU over the UK in this divorce.

But, given nobody seems in much of a rush to actually give the go ahead with regards to formal proceedings, currently we're caught in the phoney war period and any number of observers will give you good odds on the idea that Britain will stay in Europe, although quite how that will play out is anyone's guess. Perhaps if the Tories can't find a leader who will pull the pin and if Labour can't mount an actual Opposition then Her Majesty will dissolve Parliament and call a new election and then we'll see a party with the actual mandate to do something, but I doubt we'll get that far. After all, this is the country that voted for a research vessel to be called Boaty McBoatFace.

TechBlog - Brexit: What does it mean?

CIO - Brexit: a test of the elasticity and resilience of a global digital economy

CIO - Frost & Sullivan on Brexit: Navigating the uncertainty ahead

CIO - Gartner: The IT spending implications of Brexit

The Register - Vodafone hints at relocation from UK

 

NZ. Tick.

The New Zealand tech sector has long struggled to be recognised as more than just a place where international companies send its trainee Australian managers, but it's always been so much more.

Now we have the numbers to back it up, thanks to a report released this week by vendor group NZTech.

We had some of the numbers already, of course. The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) puts out sector reports each year and the ICT report has been sharing the news for a while. We've also had the TIN100 annual reports which have been telling us how big the top 100 companies are in the sector for many years.

But we've always struggled to get that broader story out, to engage with the rest of the business community and to let every day New Zealanders know that there's a viable industry here.

The industry employs over 100,000 people working for 29,000 companies bringing in $16.2 billion a year in revenue.

That makes it the third largest industry in the land.

It's a great news story and one that needs to be told because all too often we still hear stories of students being directed to the traditional worlds of accounting or legal studies rather than into ICT or broader fields. We still hear stories of university courses being closed or merged and the job market not being sustainable.

Yet the national median base salary for tech sector employees is $82,000, according to the AbsoluteIT Remuneration Report released in January, compared with the median annual income from wages and salaries across all jobs in New Zealand of $45,864 according to StatsNZ.

And with the added emphasis on digital skills at school level and programmes like IITP's TechHub in Schools, we hopefully will see a generation of students come through who understand that technology isn't dull, doesn't require 40-hours a week of drone work sitting in a cube farm pushing a mouse around but can be applied to other disciplines, other fields of commerce.

There's more to do, certainly, and with our average research and development spend still well behind the rest of the "advanced" nations of the world we will struggle to catch up, but this is a good report that should help us sell the story of New Zealand Tech to the rest of the world.

(Just a very small fly in the ointment: an e-flipbook? Really? I never thought I'd say this, but can't we just have a PDF file? These things went out with portals and WAP browsers, or so I thought ;))

NZTech - Digital Nation

NZTech - New Zealand as the high tech capital of the world?

CIO - Rod Drury: NZTech report a beacon to future growth for IT sector

NZTech - NZ manufacturers & retailers must embrace technology faster

NZTech - Emerging technologies present biggest opportunities for NZ healthcare

ResellerNews - How many jobs is the NZ tech sector creating?

Stuff - NZ should be the 'high-tech capital of the world'

TVNZ - Mike's View: Tech is quietly making New Zealand a fortune

The Spin Off - The NZ economy is on the cusp of a new era, and it's been stuck there for at least 17 years

TechBlog - Hobbits and Food

 

Show us yer passwords

I've just been sent a log-in to a website I might have to help edit and naturally I'm asked to create a password for the site. So naturally I use the password I use for logging in to websites.

I have a different one for government stuff and a different one again for social media sites.

This is not good.

But in my defence, and in defence of the countless millions of others who reuse passwords, it's not actually our fault.

The password process itself is flawed. "Hey, remember this random set of letters and numbers or make it something easier to remember". Yeah, that's never going to work is it? Then there's the monthly "you must now renew your password" model, which leads to Password 1 (or, if you're really lucky, "p455w0rd1") being replaced with Password 2.

Then there's the problem of the auto-complete. I have no idea what most of my passwords are because my computer remembers them for me. This makes it much easier for me to log in but much easier for my online life to be utterly compromised.

I also object to sites that ask you to create a password and THEN tell you about their requirements. Tell me you need three capital letters, a number, one special character, your DNA and star sign and the first prime number you can think of BEFORE I put in my usual rotating list of passwords, OK?

I really like the fingerprint scanner on my iPhone, despite mocking the whole concept before I got one, because it works really well, but now the US government has decreed travellers must unlock devices and give up their thumbprints on request (so much for the right to not self-incriminate) I'm less happy about the whole thing.

Years ago I interviewed Bruce Schneier who told me to make up an insanely complicated and write it down.

This, he told me, would give me the best of both worlds. A strong, secure password that is beyond a brute force attack but easy for me to input because it was written down on a piece of paper in my wallet - something I was unlikely to lose.

Most security bods gasp at the idea of writing down your password but given the prevalence of online security breaches where millions of passwords (all probably reused on tens of millions of sites) are stolen versus the number of times I've been mugged for my wallet (zero times today and counting), it's starting to make a lot of sense to me.

I'm not sure what the solution is to the password conundrum but demanding more complexity and forcing a change every month isn't the answer. We need a new way to secure our data that allows us to access it easily.

TechCrunch - Is The Password Dead? The Future Of Web And Mobile Authentication

NBR - The Death of the Password

ID Theft Centre - 2016 Data Breaches

IT Business Edge - 2016 Security Trends: What's Next for Data Breaches?

 


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