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Hot News in IT this week

Simon Eskow, TechBlog Editor. 19 December 2014, 7:00 am
Hot News in IT this week

Some highlights of the news from New Zealand and around the world.

Massey Goes Big by Degree

Massey University is launching a business-focused analytics degree to address the skills shortage in analysing big data, according to a story on TechDay. Marketing expert Professor Harald van Heerde tells the publication that the university is responding to a need identified by New Zealand businesses, and ultimately to allow New Zealand organisations to use existing data they do not realize they can use. The Master of Analytics (Business) will be available at Massey's Albany campus in 2015 and will be taught by lecturers from both the Massey Business School and College of Sciences. Under the degree, students will be taught the fundamentals of data mining, statistics and handling data sets by science lecturers. The university says they will then transfer those skills to a business context by specialising in marketing, finance or supply chain management. In the final phase of the one-year programme, students will complete a real analytics project for their employer or another company. TVNZ focuses on "online shopping" data in its headline, but makes the point that more skills and expertise are needed in this area in New Zealand.

TechDay: Massey Plugs NZ Shortage with Big Data Degree

TVNZ: New Masters Aims at Luring Experts to Track Online Shopping

Wearing IT Well

A University of Canterbury research project is investigating how smaller computers will affect people's behaviour. The research is being carried out by Professor Deak Helton and PhD student Matt Ward, along with the university's HITLabNZ Professor Mark Billinghurst. Ward says the Google Glass consists of a computer unit which can be attached to a variety of prescription glasses or sunglasses frames. The team has already completed a study on users performing a tracking task, requiring constant attention, while simultaneously receiving messages on the Google Glass, to measure how well they were able to divide their attention between the real world and the data. While monitoring the Google Glass, users had a harder time judging the speed of moving objects, and saw their reaction times to sudden changes in movement slowed by about a quarter of a second. The research will try find ways for users to increase the speed and ease with which they interact with the Google Glasses. Even if the Google Glass research doesn't apply to your life, Stuff has provided a short list of wearable and other gadgets shown off at the CES in Las Vegas last week.

Voxy: Computer Information, Closer and Closer

Stuff: Nine Things From CES You May Actually WANT to buy

DIY Broadband

A digital consultancy claims small wireless transmission sites built at a fraction of the cost of those erected by major telecommunications companies can solve the rural broadband problem forever. Digital Development Associates has been visiting rural New Zealand communities to suss the way high-speed wireless broadband access is delivered, and you can learn about what they found at Because big ISPs don't roll infrastructure to out-of-the-way rural locations, government funding breathed life into particular "DIY" projects, like Network Tasman's solution in the Waihopai Valley running fibre optic cable along the road beyond where other carriers would go. The DDA project is supported by InternetNZ, and points to other projects, such as farmers joining to lay fibre in their own trenches, and the DDA provides information on how each rural community accomplished their goals, and at affordable costs.

Stuff: High Speed DIY style

Hills-holes-poles: Number 8 Wireless

Quantum Drive

A team of Australian and New Zealand physicists have extended the storage time for a prototype quantum super-computer optical hard drive by over one hundred times, according to a release posted to Scoop. Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Otago demonstrated a six-hour quantum storage time using a rare earth element, europium, embedded in a crystal. The concept is to use quantum entanglement to store and transmit data. Entangled states can only be maintained for a short time, but the research team has come up with a way to store data for hours, rather than milliseconds. Utilising this effect, a quantum communication network could be used for perfectly secure encryption for data transmission. The team created the state by "writing a quantum state onto the nuclear spin of the europium using light" then used magnetic fields "to lock the atom's spin in place and preserve the fragile quantum information". The team's goal is to extend this storage time out past a day, when it may be possible to physically distribute entangled quantum states between any two points on the globe. (Current quantum communication networks are limited to distances of about 100km).

Scoop: Otago Collaborates in Breakthrough for Quantum Hard Drive

At Work on At Work

In the US, users can download a Facebook At Work app for the iOS, with the Android flavor on the way. Techcrunch has been following the development of a version of Facebook that puts the company "head-to-head with the likes of Microsoft's Yammer, Slack, Convo, Socialcast, and...others" trying to tackle "the 'enterprise social network' space." The media's breathless glee aside, there is a race and the competition has been shifting, with LinkedIn's office communication and content sharing product. While the app can be downloaded by anyone, Entrepreneur reports that the service is still accessible only to a few unnamed test partners. The outlet says the rollout is planned "for some point in 2015" so the app rollout is part of the hype. It isn't even built for most companies. The target for "Facebook at Work" is the enterprise space, companies with 100 or more employees, beyon (In fact, the existing Facebook Groups product is already used by smaller organisations.)

Techcrunch: Facebook at Work in the Works

Entrepreneur: Facebook Begins Rolling Out Facebook at Work?

Re/Code: Upcoming LinkedIn Products Connect Coworkers

Pay Day

IT jobs took the top five places for average rates of pay during the last quarter of 2014, according to the Trade Me Jobs Employment Survey result for October to December. IT architects earned an average salary of $150,386 while IT Project Managers took second at an average pay rate of $124,360. The economy overall produced more jobs, according to NBR's report on the same analysis, with a 14 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of roles advertised in the fourth quarter. Automotive, construction, manufacturing, operations and trades sectors have all expanded. Nationally, IT job ads were up 11.6 per cent year-over-year. Rounding out the top five places for best pay were IT Management ($123,179), IT data warehousing & business intelligence ($118,901) and IT functional consultants ($118,262) respectively. One of the key reasons why salaries in IT made up all five of the highest-paid roles, was down to employers continuing to face a continued short supply of experienced IT staff.

Computerworld: Kiwi IT Workers Become Highest Earners

NBR: TradeMe Job Numbers Reflect Expanding Employment Market



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