Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Full Load

The Full Load is a new performance by Nigel Sutton for the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2011. Directed by Roslyn Oades, this 60 minutes interactive show will be performed in a laundromat in Altona. 

The Story 

Krispin K runs a laundromat in Altona called The Full Load. Krispin has no time for a boyfriend or a life outside The Full Load

Krispin loves his work. He rescues designer clothes from the bottom of laundry baskets, styles his customers along with their washings and matches people like socks. Best of all, he loves to put on his customers' clothes and imagine their lives. 

Strange and wonderful things happen at The Full Load. But a dark shadow looms inside one of the dryers. Things are not quite what they seem …...

The Full Load is a wild ride through the tumbled and often outrageous world of Krispin K and his laundromat. Krispin asks his audience the big questions:
  • What do our clothes reveal about us? 
  • What stories lay hidden in the fabrics? 
  • Why do we trust strangers with our dirty underwear?

Where: 28b Upton St, Altona 3018
When: This and next Fri to Sun nights
How to book: http://www.thefullload.com.au/

Monday, September 19, 2011

Australian Dream Employers 2011

Based on the 2011 Dream Employers Survey conducted by Insync Surveys, RedBalloon and Drake International, Google has for the second consecutive year, topped a list of dream companies that Australians would most like to work in. This is not surprising considering last year, Google had given a 10% pay rise to its employees who also enjoy funky offices, massages and naps on company time (Ref 1).

Priorities have changed from 2010 to 2011. Company reputation is no longer the most important attraction. Pay, benefits and conditions now tops the considerations (38%). This is followed by work-life balance (37%), culture (36%), personal interest (34%), rewards and recognition (29%), company reputation (27%), innovative company (20%), products and services (16%), training and development (13%) and CEO (6%).

Work-life balance (46%) is the best way to retain employees, followed by culture (39%), pay, benefits and conditions (33%), company reputation (24%), rewards and recognition (19%), training and development (19%) and so on.

Systems and processes is the No. 1 attrition driver (41%), followed by communication (39%), rewards and recognition (38%), leadership/senior management (24%), training and development (24%), flexibility/work-life balance (22%), culture (17%), immediate manager (11%) and reputation/brand (11%).
 
There are 4 IT companies in the list (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook), 2 airlines (Virgin, Qantas), 2 mining companies (BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto) and 2 public service employers (Police, Defence Department).

Company2011 Rank2010 RankChange
 Google11Unchanged
 Self-employed23+1
 Virgin Group32-1
 Qantas45+1
 Apple54-1
 Microsoft611+5
 OMD77Unchanged
Walt Disney Co86-2
 BHP Billiton920+11
 Getaway109-1
 United Nation1115+4
 Police force12-
 Vodafone1312-1
 NASA14-
 Rio Tinto15-
 Dept of Defence16-
 Commonwealth Bank1714-3
 Cadbury18-
 Facebook19-
 Lonely Planet2017-3
 Sydney Water-8
 Coca Cola-10
 eBay-13
 Salmat-16
 Air New Zealand-18
 ABC-19

Friday, September 16, 2011

ICT Development Index 2010

The report “Measuring the Information Society 2011” released today by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an United Nations agency, computes the ICT Development Index (IDI) for 152 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills.

South Korea is ranked as the world’s most advanced ICT economy, followed closely by Sweden and Iceland in ICT readiness. Hong Kong, UK, NZ, Australia, USA and Singapore are ranked 6th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 17th and 19th respectively.

EconomyRank 2010IDIRank 2008IDI
South Korea18.417.8
Sweden28.2327.53
Iceland38.0677.12
Denmark47.9737.46
Finland57.87126.92
Hong Kong67.7967.14
Luxembourg77.7847.34
Switzerland87.6797.06
Netherlands97.6157.3
United Kingdom107.6107.03
Norway117.687.12
New Zealand127.43166.65
Japan137.42117.01
Australia147.36146.78
Germany157.27136.87
Austria167.17216.41
United States177.09176.55
France187.09186.48
Singapore197.08156.71
Israel206.87236.2
Macau216.84275.84
Belgium226.83226.31
Ireland236.78196.43
Slovenia246.75246.19
Spain256.73256.18
Canada266.69206.42
Portugal276.64295.7
Italy286.57266.1
Malta296.43315.68
Greece306.28305.7

ITU also measures the average cost of fixed telephone, mobile cellular and fixed broadband internet services of 165 economies, which constitute the ICT Price Basket (IPB).

From 2008 to 2010, the global price of ICT services has dropped by 18%, with the largest decrease of 52% in fixed broadband internet services. Average ICT prices account no more than 1.5% of monthly per capita income in developed countries, compared with 17% in developing countries.

Monaco (Europe) has the cheapest ICT services. In Asia Pacific, Hong Kong ranks 4th, Singapore 6th, Australia 23rd and South Korea 26th. As you can see from the table below, the fixed telephone, mobile cellular and fixed broadband internet services in Australia are relatively more expensive compared to other countries in the Top 20.

The higher costs in South Korea are due to its extensive FTTH (Fiber To The Home) network, with the most number of homes connected to the fibre. In fact, East Asia accounted for more than 27 million of the world’s 32 million FTTH connections in 2009 (Ref 1), with the largest deployments in Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Singapore's all-fibre Next Gen NBN is slated for completion in 2012 (Ref 2). FTTH service will be provided by the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Australia.

Rank
2010
EconomyICT Price
Basket 2010
As a % of GNI per capita in 2010
Fixed-TelMobileFixed-Broadband
1Monaco0.20.10.30.3
2Macau0.30.30.20.3
3Liechtenstein0.40.30.20.5
4Hong Kong0.40.30.10.7
5United Arab Emirates0.40.10.20.8
6Singapore0.50.30.30.9
7Luxembourg0.50.40.40.6
8Norway0.50.50.30.7
9Iceland0.50.50.50.7
10Denmark0.60.60.20.9
11Austria0.60.70.40.7
12United States0.60.30.80.5
13San Marino0.60.60.60.5
14Finland0.60.40.30.9
15Sweden0.60.60.40.8
16Switzerland0.70.510.6
17Netherlands0.70.60.80.8
18Bahrain0.70.20.71.3
19United Kingdom0.70.60.90.7
20Germany0.70.80.41.1
21Canada0.80.610.7
22Cyprus0.81.10.30.9
23Australia0.80.80.81
24Belgium0.90.81.10.7
25Ireland0.90.710.9
26South Korea0.90.30.91.5
27Israel0.90.71.60.4
28Italy0.90.910.9
29France10.71.40.8
30Trinidad & Tobago1.11.40.90.9

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Global Fashion Capitals 2011

The Global Language Monitor has released the 2011 Global Fashion Capital rankings last month. London has overtaken New York as the Top Global Fashion Capital. Singapore has climbed 7 places to No. 8, the second most fashionable capital in Asia, after Hong Kong and just ahead of Tokyo. In Australia, Sydney has slipped out of the Top 10, from 7th to 11th place. Melbourne too slipped 6 places from No. 11 to 17.

The GLM computes this ranking using its Narrative Tracking technology, which analyzes the internet, blogosphere, 75000 print and electronic media and new social media sources, such as Twitter. The words, phrases and concepts are tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.

CityCountryRank (2011)Rank (2010)Rank (2009)
LondonUK135
New YorkUSA212
ParisFrance343
MilanItaly461
Los AngelesUSA556
Hong KongHong Kong627
BarcelonaSpain7914
SingaporeSingapore81520
TokyoJapan91412
BerlinGermany101819
SydneyAustralia1179
MadridSpain121021
RomeItaly13224
ShanghaiChina141214
MonacoMonaco15--
Las VegasUSA161610
MelbourneAustralia171125
MoscowRussia182022
AmsterdamNetherlands1917-
Buenos AiresArgentina202424
BaliIndonesia2132-
Mexico CityMexico222930
Rio de JaneiroBrazil231918
MumbaiIndia242816
Sao PauloBrazil25138
MiamiUSA26813
DubaiUAE272111
StockholmSweden283326
CopenhagenDenmark2934-
SantiagoChile303123
FlorenceItaly31--
BangkokThailand323527
WarswaPoland3336-
TorontoCanada3438-
ViennaAustria3527-
ChicagoUSA3638-
DallasUSA3740-
San FranciscoUSA38--
New DelhiIndia393017
AustinUSA40--
JohannesburgSouth Africa4125-
Abu DhabiUAE42--
FrankfurtGermany4338-
AntwerpBelgium44--
AtlantaUSA4540-
Cape TownSouth Africa4623-
KrakowPoland473928
PragueCzech Republic482629
MontrealCanada49--
CaracasVenezuela5040-

Friday, September 9, 2011

Global Commuter Pain Index 2011

IBM released its 4th annual Global Commuter Pain survey yesterday. The study surveyed 8,042 commuters in 20 cities worldwide, regarding commuting habits, ranking the emotional and economic toll of commuting in each of the cities, with higher scores indicating worse conditions.

It found that drivers throughout the world reported more stress and frustration with their commute compared to last year. Commuters in many places are opting for public transport instead of driving and 41% of those surveyed said stress levels would decrease with improvement in public transport options. If traffic congestion did not consume so much time, 56% of respondents said they would spend more time with family and friends, 48% would exercise more and 29% would sleep more.

The index suggests a big disparity in the pain of the daily commute, with Mexico City at a score of 108, outstripping all other cities surveyed and Montreal at 21, reporting the lowest pain level.

Australian cities are not surveyed, otherwise Sydney and Melbourne would probably feature quite high on the list.

CityCommuter Pain Index
Mexico City108
Shenzhen95
Beijing95
Nairobi88
Johannesburg83
Bangalore75
New Delhi72
Moscow65
Milan53
Singapore44
Buenos Aires42
Los Angeles34
Paris31
Madrid28
New York28
Toronto27
Stockholm26
Chicago25
London23
Montreal21

Global Competitiveness Index 2011-2012

Two days ago, the Word Economic Forum (WEF) released its 2011-2012 Global Competiveness Index. Switzerland retained its top spot for the third consecutive year. The highest ranking Asian country is Singapore, which moved up one rank to the second position. Despite its massive economic problems, the United States still came in at No. 5.

Australia slipped 4 places from Rank 16th to 20th. The WEF commented that Australia was lagging in innovation (22nd), business sophistication (29th) and transport infrastructure, particularly seaports, which has come under strain in recent years from intensifying trade in commodities. The strengths are its efficient financial system (6th), sound and stable banking sector (4th), very good and improving performance in education (11th) and transparent, efficient public and private institutions (ranked 17th and 8th respectively).

The table below shows the top 30 rankings.

Rank
(2011-2012)
Country/EconomyScoreRank
(2010-2011)
Change
1Switzerland5.7410
2Singapore5.6331
3Sweden5.612-1
4Finland5.4773
5United States5.434-1
6Germany5.415-1
7Netherlands5.4181
8Denmark5.4091
9Japan5.406-3
10United Kingdom5.39122
11Hong Kong 5.36110
12Canada5.3310-2
13Taiwan5.26130
14Qatar5.24173
15Belgium5.20194
16Norway5.1814-2
17Saudi Arabia5.17214
18France5.1415-3
19Austria5.1418-1
20Australia5.1116-4
21Malaysia5.08265
22Israel5.07242
23Luxembourg5.0320-3
24South Korea5.0222-2
25New Zealand4.9323-2
26China4.90271
27United Arab Emirates4.8925-2
28Brunei 4.78280
29Ireland 4.77290
30Iceland4.75311

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wikileaks' Postbox

Having read an interesting article on Wikileaks in The Age on my train journey home, I decided to visit Wikileaks' website. I have read about the financial blockade of Wikileaks by international finance companies, including Visa, Mastercard and PayPal so I am interested in finding out how the whistleblowing site receives its funding. When I visited the site's Donate page, I was surprised by one of the ways to send money:

Wikileaks Postbox

But I soon discovered this is old news. The Age had revealed this secret last December when it reported of Australia Post's decision to close the Melbourne University Branch on 17 Dec 2010 (Ref 1). The Architecture and Planning building, where this post office is located, is set to be demolished in the coming years, but plans are not yet fixed. Australian Post later reversed this decision a week later (Ref 2). Interestingly, Julian Assange studied at the University of Melbourne from 2003 to 2006 but did not graduate.

I often walk past this Post Office but did not realize that it contains a "secret". What have been in Box 4080? Some sensitive information that is going to shake the world? Cheques and cash perhaps? There is at least one publicly-known letter sent to this postal address.

Who holds the key to this box? Apparently Julian Assange has his share of Australian supporters, some whom you may find it here. Hence, the postbox does not necessarily have to under his name.

Has Julian Assange not founded Wikileaks in 2006, he will probably still remain as a nobody. Sometimes when a person is so good at doing something, unexpected things come along the way. Nicholas Allegra is a 19 years old hacker who had repeatedly frustrated Apple by setting up JailbreakMe (Ref 3), an application that removes restrictions on iphone, ipod and ipad, allowing unauthorized applications, themes and network to be installed free of charge outside the Apple's App Store. If you cannot beat your enemy, then bring him into the tent. This is what Apple did by hiring Nicholas Allegra to identify security vulnerabilities in its software.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Unhygienic Restaurants in Melbourne

Today I came across an article in The Age on unhygienic restaurants in Melbourne (Ref 1). This article mentioned that restaurants in the City of Hobsons Bay, which includes Brooklyn, Laverton and Altona, also feature prominently among the offenders. As I am living in Altona, I am concerned so I went to search for this Register of Convictions (click here for access), maintained by the Department of Health.

Of the 25 premises listed, 7 are located in Melbourne CBD, 3 in Hobsons Bay (Brooklyn, Laverton and Altona North), 3 in Boroondara (Camberwell, Hawthorn, Ashburton), 2 in Bayside (Brighton, Hampton), 2 in Hume (Dallas, Meadow Heights) and 1 each in Cardinia, Yarra, Stonnington, Greater Dandenong, Geelong, Ballarat, Warrnambool and Surf Coast Shire. I am not sure why Hobsons Bay is being singled out although Boroondara too has 3 listings.

This register was set up on 1st July last year, following the example of a similiar "name and shame" website in NSW.

Other restaurants reported having unhygienic conditions by The Age or Herald Sun in the past, include the following: Ref 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

In Singapore where hawker food is very common, all hawkers are assessed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) for their hygiene standards on an annual basis and are required to display their hygiene gradings (A, B, C or D) in a conspicuous location of their stalls (Ref 11). According to a 2009 report (Ref 12), more than 90 per cent of Singapore’s food stalls have achieved either an A or B grading for hygiene standards and as of 31st July 2009, there was no stall with the lowest D grading. On 5th March 2010, NEA launched www.myhawkers.sg, an interactive web portal that offers useful information on hawker centres and food stalls. The portal allows registered users to review or recommend hawker stalls or hawker centres and to provide feedback to NEA on hygiene matters in hawker centres. The users can rate a food stall based on 4 criteria: taste, cleanliness, service and affordability. There are several restaurant rating sites in Australia but I do not think there is one that provides ratings on cleanliness.

The government here could consider a similar hygiene grading system. If every food-preparing business has to undergo assessments, there will be no issue of "name and shame" as everyone receives the same treatment. I believe most members of the public do not know that such a register exists and many do not read The Age so the requirement of every restaurant and food stall to display a hygiene grading sign will provide very helpful information to the public. This will force restaurants to maintain high hygiene standards, in order to attract customers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Landlines and VoIP

When I changed my internet provider from Telstra to Clubtelco, I also ported my home phone over to take advantage of the 5% discount for the home phone/broadband bundle. As you can see from the table below, this is a better deal. With Telstra, a connection fee of 45 cents is charged for every national, international or mobile call.

To further reduce my phone expenses, I signed up for Pennytel VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Freedom Plan. VoIP is a way of making phone calls through the internet. For a monthly subscription fee of $5, I can make 150 free calls (up to 2 hours per call) to over 80 destinations, including Australian landlines. After I have exhausted the 150 free calls per month, calls are charged at 8 cents per call. We do make regular international calls to Singapore and China landlines and mobiles, which are included in the list of 80 destinations. Unfortunately, this list does not include calls to Australian mobiles. However, calls to Australian mobiles are still cheaper at 10.5 cents per minute compared to 35 cents per minute if I use Clubtelco landline.

After reading the FAQs and Call Features sections of PennyTel, I found out that:

To use the VoIP using a handset, you will need to connect an equipment called the ATA (Analogue Telephone Adaptor) between the handset and the modem. I had bought a Cormain GW211 VoIP Adaptor for $35, including delivery, from this webpage. Alternatively, you can use a modem router with VoIP capability such as Netcomm NB9WMAXN.

This Freedom plan provides one free traditional Phone Number (with the area code 03 if you are in Melbourne). If Naked DSL or cable broadband is available in your area, you can actually do away with the landline phone, save the monthly phone rental and sign up with a VoIP service instead. Other people can still call you using this traditional Phone Number provided by the VoIP provider, as though you are having a landline.

So far, my wife said that she heard echoes when she made calls to China but did not experience this issue when she made local calls. If you are looking for better quality VoIP, you can consider MyNetFone or WorldDialPoint.

Company Telstra Clubtelco Pennytel (VoIP)
Plan Homeline Plus ClubTalk Freedom
Monthly Line Rental/Subscription $31.95 $30
(+$50 annual fee)
5% discount on total bills if bundled with broadband
$5
(+ 50 cents with credit card payment)
Included Value - - 150 free calls to 80 destinations, including Australian landlines & 50 free SMS.
Local Calls 18c per call 20c per call 8c per call (after using 150 free calls)
National Calls 20c per min 20c per Minute 8c per call (after using 150 free calls)
National Cap $2 for 1st 20 min (7am-7pm)
$2 for 1st 3 hours (7pm-7am)
$2 for 1st 2 hours (anytime) 8c per call (after using 150 free calls)
Calls to Mobile (all networks) 36c per min 35c per min 10.5c per min
Mobile Cap $2 for 1st 20 min (only to Telstra mobiles) $2 for 1st 20 min (all networks) N.A.
13/1300 Calls 30c per call 30c per call 25c per call
International Calls Various rates Various rates 8c per call (after using 150 free calls)
Connection Fee per call 45c for National, International and Mobile Calls 39c for International Calls only Nil
Billing for Timed Calls Per minute block Per minute block Per second

Friday, September 2, 2011

World's Most Liveable Cities 2011

The EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) has recently published its Global Liveability Survey’s ranking of 140 cities worldwide. Shown below are the top 30 rankings as well as rankings of some major global and Asian cities, which I can find from the Internet.

Other rankings of liveability (Mercer and Monocle) can be found here.

RankCityCountryScore
1Melbourne Australia 97.5
2Vienna Austria 97.4
3Vancouver Canada 97.3
4Toronto Canada 97.2
5Calgary Canada 96.6
6Sydney Australia 96.1
7Helsinki Finland 96
8Perth Australia 95.9
8Adelaide Australia 95.9
10Auckland New Zealand 95.7
11ZurichSwitzerland95.6
12GenevaSwitzerland95.2
12OsakaJapan95.2
14HamburgGermany95
14StockholmSweden95
16ParisFrance94.8
16MontrealCanada94.8
18TokyoJapan94.7
18FrankfurtGermany94.7
20CopenhagenDenmark94.6
21BrisbaneAustralia94.2
22BerlinGermany94
23WellingtonNew Zealand93.8
24OsloNorway93.4
25LuxembourgLuxembourg93.3
26HonoluluUSA92.8
26AmsterdamHolland92.8
28BrusselBelgium92.7
29MunichGermany92.6
30PittsburgUSA92.3
31Hong KongChina92.6
34BarcelonaSpain
39MadridSpain
51SingaporeSingapore88.7
51San FranciscoUSA
53LondonUK
56New YorkUSA
58SeoulSouth Korea85.9
61TaipeiTaiwan
62Buenos AiresArgentina
63SantiagoChile
65MontevideoUruguay
67AthensGreece
72BeijingChina76.9
73SuzhouChina75.5
74TianjinChina75.2
78Kuala LumpurMalaysia74
79ShanghaiChina73.8
82ShenzhenChina72.8
85DalianChina70.9
86GuangzhouChina69.8
98QingdaoChina67.7
102BangkokThailand65
105ManilaPhilippines62
112New DelhiIndia58.6
116MumbaiIndia56.9
122HanoiVietnam54.2
124Ho Chi Ming CityVietnam52.4

Sources: Ref 1, 2