IT isn’t free

Written By: - Date published: 9:45 am, February 17th, 2012 - 172 comments
Categories: economy, jobs, public services - Tags: , , ,

Computers have replaced many jobs. While it’s hard to argue with the gains in efficiency and productivity in some cases, the downside is of course that it is real people who lose those jobs, and there are often no new opportunities for them to move on to. Currently the Key government, sill in the grip of its misguided austerity campaign, is looking to push computerisation further into the workplace. In the original from of a piece written last Tuesday, Stuff reported as follows:

Hi-tech threat to public servants

Technology will replace face-to-face contact as the Government continues its squeeze on the public service.

Prime Minister John Key has met executives from internet giant Google as plans to shake up the public sector gather steam. Virtual jobs will replace staff as the sector moves away from frontline services to call centres and online interaction.

Mr Key said yesterday that people wanted to use their smartphones to apply for passports and other tasks, rather than wait in line in offices.

“It really doesn’t matter if there is a street frontage there … We are living in an age where kids have iPads and smartphones. That’s the modern generation … and they actually don’t want to walk in, for the most part, and be in a very long queue and be waiting for a long time.”

He foreshadowed more mergers and job losses, as the Government continues its quest to slash $1 billion from the state sector. More than 2500 public service jobs have been cut in the past three years.

In the updated piece currently online at that link the argument has been fleshed out more using Air NZ as an example. Key says:

“Go and have a look t Air New Zealand. Frankly, there’s less people checking you in but you can check-in faster. It’s the same thing for the public service…so much of what we do, people want to be able to access technology ….to get better services.”

There are several problems with this plan. First, it’s entirely the wrong time to be booting people out of the workforce. There are no jobs – where will they go? Second, computerisation doesn’t always equal better service. For every punter whisking their way happily through Air NZ’s automated check-in, there is another weeping with frustration in the maze of an appalling automated phone menu. Are the kids with their iPads going to enjoy waiting on hold any more than waiting in a queue? “Your call is very important to us…” – Farrrrk!

The third problem is cost, which I doubt if the Nats have considered deeply. It’s all very well to build a stand alone bit of kit like a check-in kiosk, but this talk of putting everything on the web leaves us at the mercy of very rapidly changing technology (not to mention the security risks). And what is keeping up with that going to cost, when we’ve sacked all the public servants? As many people warned, the Auckland “Supercity” provides an interesting case study:

Auckland’s $54m computer system bill only the start

The international consultancy firm Deloitte charged up to $3400 a day a head for its staff to build a new computer system for the Super City, a confidential paper shows.

Deloitte led a consortium that was paid about $27 million in consultancy fees as part of a basic $54 million computer system to get the Auckland Council up and running.

A confidential proposal from Deloitte, obtained by the Herald, shows the firm estimated its workload at more than 8500 work days at rates between $1200 for an analyst and $3400 for a senior manager. The daily rates excluded GST.

That’s what it costs to build these things. Rinse and repeat every few years to keep up with the technology. Now – let’s see those cost saving figures again?

172 comments on “IT isn’t free”

  1. vto 1

    Doomed to failure.

    IT hasn’t improved that much. All it does is speed things up, it doesn’t actually do anything new. And in fact, even then it doesn’t even speed things up. I remember when everyone used cash at the checkout and it was fast and easy. Then along came eftpos cards and they slowed the payment process down considerably. And now comes along a debity / chippy eftpos card which is even slower again! I mean, what are they thinking these silly buffoons making all these things which make paying slower? What is that about?

    And don’t even get me started on call centres as opposed to physical outlets…

    IT. It’s a myth.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Doomed to failure.

      Yep. You might get something working at the end. But at 3x the budget which was originally proposed, and even then it won’t do all the basic things which were expected.

    • Lanthanide 1.2

      Actually I think the chip cards are slower because they have increased encryption/security on them, which takes older card readers a longer time to process because of their slow CPUs and/or lack of memory.

      I find that brand new card readers (which are popping up in a few stores) are actually faster at reading chipped cards than the old ones were at reading swipe cards.

      • lprent 1.2.1

        You’d be correct.

        Both the protocols for accessing the chip cards are somewhat larger in complexity, and so are the EMV protocols to validate the transaction. Coding for both was a bit of a pain a few years ago (ummm 2007-8? – how time flies).

        New hardware helps a lot, but I think that the biggest change is actually in the comms protocols. A lot less dial up and a lot more network.

    • insider 1.3

      Disagree. It makes it much easier to manage large amounts of cash and speeds what were complex transactions to instant ones. Buying the week;s groceries would have involved writing out a cheque which is slow or the risk of carrying large numbers of notes. I think you have a slightly rosy glow view of the past. Technology has helped supermarkets to be much larger, have more products and process more customers more quickly. Instant transfer of cash means you can buy a fridge, a lounge suite or a car with a card swipe.

      Air NZ check in is brilliant for domestic and pretty good for international (due to the need to check bags)

      Nope nothing new due to IT. No space landings, no internet, no fly by wire airliners, digital tvs. Nope nothing to see here.

      • ianmac 1.3.1

        Emirates in Dubai have self-check luggage as well as self check boarding passes. Though watching the difficulty many were having with the luggage process initially at least maybe not so smart.

      • muzza 1.3.2

        Key using Air NZ as a benchmark example for what can be achieved with technology, as it could be used for the public service sector, is laughable. He is, like almost every MP to ever disgrace the halls, a tech-tard! I think Maurice Williamson, was probably the biggest tech-tard ever to pass comment in the IT space!

        Technology is undemocratic, think about it! And if reading into keys comments, and beyond, because we know the agenda, do we really want to see a continual laying off of the public service sector, because they will not be picked up in the private sector anytime soon, if ever!

        There has been useful tech which has added benefit to humanity, however I draw the line when it is taking jobs away from people! Technology, was going to make all our lives better, remember! Given the social dislocations stemming directly/indirectly from technology, it seems to me that this was just a load of shit rolled in glitter!

        I think it’s well past time that people began to wake up to the lie that is technology – I agree with VTO!

        • insider 1.3.2.1

          You don’t have to trawl through history to see how that approach has failed time and again. only the most oppressive states try to control thought, and that is effectively what you are asking. We have very little capacity to predict the effect of technology and to try and pretend you are omniscient enough to know what jobs will or won’t be better or worse is just silly.

          • muzza 1.3.2.1.1

            Where did you read that I was pretending to know anything – Its a stated objective of this government to shrink the public service, so when Key comes out with talking points in the article a few days back, you don’t need to have a crystal ball to have some idea where it might lead, should there be an opportunity!

            If technology leads to loss of jobs, generally speaking the job losses would be permanent staff head count. Contractors and consultants tend to do very well out of this type of government work, historically!

            Self interest in there somewhere Insider?

        • Vicky32 1.3.2.2

          Technology is undemocratic, think about it! And if reading into keys comments, and beyond, because we know the agenda, do we really want to see a continual laying off of the public service sector, because they will not be picked up in the private sector anytime soon, if ever!

          Exactly right. There are still many thousands of people (“kids” and others who haven’t got smartphones and will never be able to afford them.) Even if I had one, I would never use it to say, apply for a passport (or in my case, renew one). I would rather go to a physical outlet, and take physical documents in, in support. The chances of such an important thing going horribly wrong when done on a smartphone arw horrendously great!

          • insider 1.3.2.2.1

            There are only five or six passport offices in the whole country, and they open typically customer unfocussed hours. Most passport work is done by mail – DIA certainly is encouraging that. A smartphone is possibly an improvement on that, particularly for renewals.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.3.2.2.2

            The chances of such an important thing going horribly wrong when done on a smartphone arw horrendously great!

            There’s probably a higher chance of you getting run over and killed on the way to the physical outlet.

      • Colonial Viper 1.3.3

        Technology has helped supermarkets to be much larger, have more products and process more customers more quickly. Instant transfer of cash means you can buy a fridge, a lounge suite or a car with a card swipe.

        None of these are really signs of a civilisation progressing, just commerce progressing.

        • insider 1.3.3.1

          I don’t think you can realistically separate out the two. Commerce is a huge part of our civilisation. Historians will look back at changes in our buying behaviours to identify significant changes. The rise of large supermarkets is definitely one. Ok self service and eftpos enhancements will likely be small and relatively unimportant in the scheme of things, and not civilisation with a big C, but they add to collective change. And the speed of purchase is indicative of freed up credit, increased wealth and speed of information transfer.

          • Colonial Viper 1.3.3.1.1

            The two are linked, its best not to mistake them as the same thing. Sunday trading is an advancement of commerce no doubt; but it is not an advancement of our civilisation IMO.

      • mik e 1.3.4

        Maybe National MPs could lead by example by replacing them selves with computers .
        It could rebalance the economy it would lead to a huge leap forward.

    • Peter 1.4

      There are huge resiliency risks here. At a time when most of the infrastructure on which IT depends are fragile and failing from decades of underinvestment, we are talking about moving our most critical public services onto it?

      One earthquake, one cable failure, hell, even a power cut, will tip some societally important function over, right at the times it’s most needed. Public services need to be resilient, and the most resilient things we have right now, are, you guessed it, human beings. People can even be solar powered if needs be (they are called vegetarians).

      There will be a backlash along the lines of that Studylink payment failure for students a few years ago, but probably much greater.

      Peter

    • Cash is only faster if people have exact change in advance, which essentially menas in short queues cards haven’t slowed us up. Besides, the advantage of cards isn’t speed, it’s security and portability- stealing a card isn’t going to get you much if you don’t know the PIN, and they can be cancelled before you can brute-force your way in.

      Now, chip cards are a travesty that was never necessary in New Zealand- we don’t even have the technology to take advantage of them.

      • Lanthanide 1.5.1

        “Cash is only faster if people have exact change in advance”

        When I worked at the Warehouse on the checkouts I would say I was on average 4x faster at completing a cash transaction than a card transaction, exact change or not. Then again I wasn’t the average checkout operator.

        For this I am assuming the customer has their money / card in their hand and gives it over: if they have to hunt around in their wallet then that obviously slows it down, but generally that doesn’t happen (and some people waste time hunting around for their cards, too).

        • Jenny 1.5.1.1

          It would be faster if Countdown and the other supermarkets didn’t use the technology to do with less checkout operators.

          Ask your self this:

          Why is that every time I go to the supermarket even at the busiest times, never ever, are all the checkouts operating?

          How many times have I stood in long queues while most of the other aisles are closed up with a chain across them and a trolley parked there?

          Why are only two check out operators being worked to death when there is obviously designed provision for at least another four operators to be working?

          IT is good but it’s use to increase the rate of exploitation is what the problem is.

          Science is neither good or bad it is what use it is put to.

          • muzza 1.5.1.1.1

            Automation is about reducing costs in many cases, such as you just mention. The services levels in our supermarkets are hardly an issue , given the duopoly, they don’t really need to be!

            What you describe is simply cost saving (cutting) , at the expense of customer service.

            We will see much more of this, accross the board. I hope to be incorrect !

      • Colonial Viper 1.5.2

        Exact change in advance? Unfortunately I think the problem there is the lost art of mental arithmetic and giving change. The computer read out says $13.65 change and the checkout person has to think through what makes up $13.60, (Say one ten, one two, one one, 3x 20’s (no 10c coins left in the tray)

        Old school – bang. Change returned with no hesitation.

        • Vicky32 1.5.2.1

          Old school – bang. Change returned with no hesitation.

          Exactly right! I learned how to do it as teen in 1970, and recently infuriated a woman ‘teaching me’ how to make change (I was volunteering at an Op shop) by being faster and more accurate than she was – as she fumbled and dithered… 
          I almost always use cash. And no, I don’t faff around looking for it, I have it ready.

          • Lanthanide 1.5.2.1.1

            What really annoyed me at the warehouse was their silly policy of “counting the change back to the customer”. That simply didn’t work with my brain and slowed everything down. As a customer myself I find this incredibly unhelpful whenever the checkout operator does it for me. I basically never did it anyway and got away with it (partly because I worked on the weekends and partly because I was very fast and always accurate anyway).

  2. muzza 2

    We see from the article that $300m of debt has been raised for “local council use”.

    http://www.interest.co.nz/bonds/57929/inaugural-local-govt-funding-agency-debt-auction-attracts-bids-worth-nz132-bln-equivalen

    We know from this article that there is a $300m hole in the budget
    from the computer systems blowout

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10729158

    “Making matters worse for ratepayers, the council has only budgeted $150 million for the $450 million cost over the next eight years. This has left a $300 million shortfall that will have to be borrowed or paid for from rates at a time of economic hardship.”

    I do recall the “Supercity” being sold to Aucklander’s as a money saving venture, which by now any thinking tax-payer will realise is, not the case!

    Co-incidence the numbers seem to match up?

  3. Kaplan 3

    Having worked through several medium to large IT implementations one of the differences between coming in close to budget or truly smashing it is the level of troughing that goes on.
    I’ve seen project managers and consultants that spend a couple of hours a day in meetings then take the rest of the day off (“I’m on cell if you need me…”) while still charging the whole day.
    Given the Nat’s record I suspect there’ll be a few ‘consultants’ rubbing there hands with glee at the thought of what is to come here.

  4. tc 4

    Plays nicely into an MSM with the attention span and ability to construct an intelligent analysis akin to a 5 year old. Google eh…..more of keys US mates what’s wrong with the last set of mates that plundered akl ratepayers under key/hide being deloittes/SAP.

    Expect some very shallow reporting and parroting of the gov’t spin lines, yet another example of something that future gov’ts will have to cleanup.

    • Yeah, I took one look at that story and stopped reading. It’s ridiculous on its face. There’s a significant investment to set that sort of thing up, and it may save costs when a critical mass of people start using it, but first you’ve got to eat money setting up the service, then run it long enough to offset the losses. That’s all assuming enough people even have good smart phone plans that they’d want to use up their data cap to do government business.

      • tc 4.1.1

        Yes and Joyce has designed UFB to play into telecoms greedy hands so more filling up of mates pockets.
        We don’t have the economies of scale and once hooked, bammo, watch them ratchet up the costs (ask anyone running SAP) and as one poster pointed out with deloittes charging 3400/day in a market where telecopm are paying good experienced Project Manager’s down to 800/day it’s just another gravy train at taxpayers expense.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          For that much money Auckland City should just start their own SAP consultancy from scratch. Seriously. Contracting out that much ABAP work is dumb, you need to build a real in-house capability. way cheaper and way more responsive.

          • tc 4.1.1.1.1

            That’s what Carter Holt Harvey did and called it Oxygen problem with council is pay peanuts get monkeys and putting that aside SAP specialists get paid shed loads especially on tough gigs like super city so not a model that’s going to work.

            It’s a council not a software consultancy so nowhere near its core competancy or incompetency for that matter so you’d pay massive salaries with no likelihood of keeping the folk.

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1.1.1

              I have to disagree with your analysis – Auckland City is a multibillion dollar per annum organisation with thousands of employees which is more than capable of building and holding its own SAP development competency.

              Note I’m not saying that external consulting services should not be used at all, but a small well paid internal team of four or five getting the grunt work done and building internal capability is going to be more cost effective than a higher level of reliance on consultants only.

  5. marsman 5

    Key wants to outsource our Public Service to an overseas corporation!

    • Jan 5.1

      Already submissions to some government agencies are handled by commercial services and servers hosted overseas. Your information available to an American organisation and subject to US legislation!

  6. Clashman 6

    Keys been talking to people from Google! So all our personal info is up for grabs too then?

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    …the downside is of course that it is real people who lose those jobs, and there are often no new opportunities for them to move on to.

    That’s not actually a downside, it’s an opportunity for society to do so much more. Unfortunately it’s used to enrich the already rich and powerful while cutting income to the weak instead.

    That’s what it costs to build these things.

    That’s what it costs if you do things wrong which, of course, is what will happen under this government. Done over time so that each bit is made and tested (in NZ so we get more jobs as well) we won’t have the same problems as we got from Rodney Hide and National rushing through Auckland Supershitty.

  8. Macro 8

    So every one is IT literate?????
    Ok those who comment here I’m sure are, but just remember that you are NOT typical of the general public. Visited you public library recently? Seen the cues lining up for the computers? Yeah everyone has an iPad – NOT.
    The problem is that over the past 30 years of neo-liberalism people in general have forgotten just what Public Service is, or should be. The people on the front desk are the face of the public service – if you remove them all you are left with is a faceless, impersonal, bureaucracy that has no feeling for your needs. How are you to communicate you needs which will be different from the last person and how are your needs to be met?
    I began work on one of the first computers in this country. They are now capable of doing many good and wonderful things. But they are not, and should never, be substitutes for people.

    • tc 8.1

      +1
      My mother and her era just cannot use technology and are getting punished for transacting across counters, it has a place but not as a substitute for the required personal touch to help those not born north of the 60’s.

      • burt 8.1.1

        tc

        That might be true in some cases, but by virtue of the fact you are commenting here – you could help her. Just as you might help her physically go to an office to queue for hours.

      • burt 8.1.2

        My mother is in her 70’s – gave her a laptop and a broadband connection two years ago. Gave her an android phone a few weeks back.

        It’s been a struggle… and some help needs to be repeated a few times. But it’s been better than getting letters from her which I scan and email and the print responses and post back to her. It’s also easier in the long run than helping her get to and from places to do things that are dead simple when done on-line.

        Sure at times I wondered why I started it – but man the look on her face the first time she drove google earth by herself – priceless.

        • felix 8.1.2.1

          I too know the challenges and rewards of introducing hardware and software to older relatives, but I’m curious: Why would you scan her letters and email them (to who?) when you could just reply with a pen and paper?

          • burt 8.1.2.1.1

            I’m not going to expose some of the things I needed to do for my Mother felix, lets just say dealing with some departments, suppliers etc is really easy online and a pain in the ass via physical mail. Scanned… some I just re-typed.

            • felix 8.1.2.1.1.1

              Sorry, didn’t mean to pry (but I see now how it could be read that way). I thought you meant you were emailing them to yourself or something but I see what you mean now, dealing with 3rd parties.

              • burt

                No stress felix. I wasn’t put out by the question. Perplexed why you asked it but now you explain why it’s clear why you did.

                Yeah, look the argument that not everyone has a computer is somewhat valid for resisting the shift to online services.

                But older people often need physical assistance for the shit they need to do anyway and an ‘assistant’ dropping by with a lap top is easier than an assistant picking up, going to [xyz place] so arguably the nature of the assistance just changes.

                But some folk are fiercely independent and very resistant to change so the argument can get very emotive and irrational at times.

    • Macro 8.2

      I think the point I’m making is well instanced in this example here. It’s not just resident NZ’s who will be disadvantaged, but it may also mean that people’s lives may be put at risk. So much so, that people are prepared to resign over the matter.
      hat tip to Kaplan

  9. Ordinary_Bloke 9

    I hate to be boring, but what about other relationships Google has ..

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/217550/google_comes_under_fire_for_secret_relationship_with_nsa.html

    Are there not certain issues of privacy .. even sovereignty .. involved ?

    Everything that is electronic is aleady being collected, our Governer General is a previous
    head of GCSB, and now our Prime Minister wants to replace our public service with Google ?

    You could not make this stuff up.

    One has to question the level of analysis – if not funk – in the new government if they let Key get away with it.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      Are there not certain issues of privacy .. even sovereignty .. involved ?

      Yes there is which is why these sorts of things should be done in-house.

  10. Muzza 10

    The big sales pitch is around cloud, you get the all the info then you got all the control!

    Only a fuck tard government would consider not hosting their data at the very least. I’ll be working pretty closely to alot of change in this space starting next week , public sector. Not more banking BS for the time being!

  11. illuminatedtiger 11

    Many people who deal with government departments regularly won’t have access to a smartphone, let alone an internet connected computer. Although it must be said that if the Nats can put these services out of reach of the poor they’ll still be achieving their goals when it comes to cost cutting.

  12. burt 12

    All the armchair IT experts have their say and it’s bloody funny to read.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      And then you pop in to say SFA

      • burt 12.1.1

        I’m just getting started…. I’m waiting to see how many armchair experts want to push their story because they are soooo knowledgeable and have soooo much experience in these matters.

        Like the one you shot down at 8:27….

        • Foreign Waka 12.1.1.1

          Shot down at 8:27. You maybe IT literate but you have yet to cotton on what the real issue is. I have yet to see a contribution from you that goes beyond self congratulating techno-speak.

          • burt 12.1.1.1.1

            And you clearly have no idea how information can be misused. If you think it takes modern computers all linked up in a “big brother way” to violate your privacy then…. well…. you keep thinking that and enjoy that bliss.

            • Foreign Waka 12.1.1.1.1.1

              I am under no illusion that today’s means of getting data from anyone if wanted is achievable. However, you seem to not cotton on the issue at hand. This is about Government bodies collecting data on its citizen, compiling it in files and sharing it – This was the point I was making. NZ has NO protection in law.

          • burt 12.1.1.1.2

            But seriously. I agree the legislative frameworks are very very important.

            Compliance with them is however more important and auditable systems prove or expose that compliance.

            Paper is arguably less auditable than electronic because the only real control is physical security and that’s only as strong as the weakest gate keeper. Everyone has a price and there are no audits for copies made via cameras etc.

            Once you have a copy that is not recorded as being taken….. well…. there we go.

            • McFlock 12.1.1.1.2.1

              No. With paper all you have to worry about is physical security.
              With IT you need to worry about physical security and network security.
                       
              To use your “everyone has a price” example, you need to protect against anyone in the country accessing a personal file, e.g. for a debt collector. Any audit trail for computers can be impemented for paper.
                 
              Although my personal reluctance to shutting offices is for the simple reason that communication is often more effective face to face. That goes for customers explaining their issues, and staff explaining their issues.
                
               

              • Draco T Bastard

                Any audit trail for computers can be impemented for paper.

                Ah, no. Audit trails can be for computers can be far more stringent than for paper simply because it costs less.

                Think about voting. ATM, no one can check to see if their vote was recorded correctly or change it if it wasn’t. Yet if we went to online voting we would be able to do just that. That ability for everyone to check their vote makes online voting more secure than paper voting.

                • burt

                  Exactly Draco

                  And as if the voting papers are collated in a computer system anyway…. The difference here is the collection mechanism, not the storage or analysis.

                • McFlock

                  Think about voting. ATM, no one can check to see if their vote was recorded correctly or change it if it wasn’t. Yet if we went to online voting we would be able to do just that. That ability for everyone to check their vote makes online voting more secure than paper voting.

                  If we as a society wanted to, we could do it by paper wth very little change in the system. They already have the ability to track individual votes  so they can remove ineligible votes (e.g. double voting). But keeping a matched register of voters and their votes would be undesirable, as its very existence would be a threat to democracy.
                         
                  But the problem with your voting argument is that it comes back to your word against the machines. There have been some issues, including untracable voting errors (assuming the zero-vote candidate wasn’t lying when he said hevoted for himself).

                  • burt

                    Ink on the finger is possibly one of the strongest fail safes for corrupt voting practice…. simple and effective. Yet we don’t do that in NZ.

                    • McFlock

                      Checking votes helps you target whom to disenfranchise.
                         
                      And I simply fall back on the question as to why you would want to add an extra level of security vulnerability when the current paper-based system is timely and sufficiently secure.

                    • McFlock

                      The words “cart” and “horse” are fast approaching, in that case.
                         
                      Yes, we need people to get more involved in policy and elections. I don’t think monthly referenda are the solution. I think the solution is a balanced media and clear policy objectives from parties, rather than postmodern brand politics. Throwing frequent online referenda into that maelstrom would make the problem worse, not better.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    If we as a society wanted to, we could do it by paper wth very little change in the system.

                    Not if we wanted to but if we could afford to.

                    But keeping a matched register of voters and their votes would be undesirable, as its very existence would be a threat to democracy.

                    Why?

                    The way I figure it the actual voter needs to be registered or you’d get every tom, dick and harry from around the world voting in what ever elections their masters wanted to influence. On top of that you need to record the votes against those registered voters and you need to keep them around for awhile for auditing purposes. In other words, we already do what you say is a threat to democracy to protect democracy.

                    There have been some issues, including untracable voting errors.

                    There’s a reason why I always say online voting and not voting machines. Online voting is more secure than independent voting machines that people go to because:
                    1.) More machines would need to be hacked for direct influence and each machine increases difficulty exponentially (Even in NZ we’re talking potentially millions of machines that will be online at different times).
                    2.) The servers are going to be as secure as possible. Physical access by limited and registered personnel so that would cut down the possibility of someone being bought off. Network access will be through a major firewall that will be monitored and audited. We can even force the machine that connects to the server to be checked for malware before it goes any further.
                    3.) We will be able to check our votes and change them if that vote is recorded incorrectly. This is actually the biggest security measure of them all. Our vote emailed via a secure email so we have that record, we can check online and, if it’s wrong at any time* we can go down to the courts and get it changed.

                    * Timings will need to be different than today. Actual voting will still be a day (IMO, that could be extended to a week or even a month) but with a time period of a month before final count so that people have time to check and get it changed if necessary.

                    • McFlock

                      The way I figure it the actual voter needs to be registered or you’d get every tom, dick and harry from around the world voting in what ever elections their masters wanted to influence. On top of that you need to record the votes against those registered voters and you need to keep them around for awhile for auditing purposes. In other words, we already do what you say is a threat to democracy to protect democracy.

                       
                      At the moment we have a register of voters – good. We can track back individual votes to a specific voter, but only via the anonymising ballot number common to both, and I believe that currently these links aren’t digitised.  So we don’t have a single list of each voter and their specific vote.
                        
                      The reason we shouldn’t have this list is because its existence opens the possibility of targeted voter manipulation. Worst case scenario, rounding up opposition voters. Scenario faced in the US 2000 election – voters “accidentally” deregistered according to voter preference with the accidents skewed singularly towards oe particular voting direction.
                         
                      Besides your faith in network security, have you considered the possibility of someone other than you changing your vote? The places the onus on you to demonstrate after the fact that it wasn’t you who authorised the change, assuming you are one of the folk who check that your vote was recorded correctly. Similarly, even checking which way you voted could be very valuable depending on who you were. Any opportunity you have to check your vote or change it is an opportunity for voter fraud.
                          
                      But you know what? At least I can remember what box I ticked. And all political parties can scrutinise the count to prevent a vote “accidentally” falling into the wrong pile.
                       

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Besides your faith in network security…

                      I have the same faith in normal security – none. Both types can be bypassed and all we can do is make it hard to do so.

                      …have you considered the possibility of someone other than you changing your vote?

                      Yes I have. When I say change it I’m talking about a fairly rigorous and formal process that an imposter shouldn’t be able to get past.

                      The reason we shouldn’t have this list is because its existence opens the possibility of targeted voter manipulation.

                      Only if you have no security. After all, it’s not an open list. In fact, no one should have access to it except under the rigorous and formal process that I mention above. Anyone accessing it can be traced.

                      Any opportunity you have to check your vote or change it is an opportunity for voter fraud.

                      Don’t know how checking the vote could induce voter fraud. Changing it, yes, that’s a possibility but see above.

                    • McFlock

                      bugger – accidentally “replied” to the wrong comment:
                       
                      Checking votes helps you target whom to disenfranchise.
                         
                      And I simply fall back on the question as to why you would want to add an extra level of security vulnerability when the current paper-based system is timely and sufficiently secure.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      And I simply fall back on the question as to why you would want to add an extra level of security vulnerability when the current paper-based system is timely and sufficiently secure.

                      That’s just it, it’s not timely – not if we want to get referendums going every month or two which, if we want a better, more responsive democracy, we do. How far do you think NAct would have got with a full vote referendum on asset sales steering them in the face? They can ignore polls but they can’t ignore referendums.

                    • McFlock

                      They can ignore whatever they want to ignore. And if they couldn’t, then government policy would be dictated by the Stuff news polls. Is that what you really want? Micro-policy by self-selection, spare time and IT access?
                       

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Is that what you really want? Micro-policy by self-selection, spare time and IT access?

                      Nope, I want general policy voted upon by the populace and not decided in secret in back rooms by a few. As for self-selection – well, our elections are self-selected now. It may come as a shock but we need to get more people involved in politics on a daily basis and not put it in the too hard basket.

                    • McFlock

                      ah shit, replied to the wrong one again:
                       
                       
                       

                      The words “cart” and “horse” are fast approaching, in that case.
                         
                      Yes, we need people to get more involved in policy and elections. I don’t think monthly referenda are the solution. I think the solution is a balanced media and clear policy objectives from parties, rather than postmodern brand politics. Throwing frequent online referenda into that maelstrom would make the problem worse, not better.
                    • Draco T Bastard

                      You know something, IMO, what I’m really seeing here is someone who just doesn’t want to change even though its obvious that we need to. The hierarchical model doesn’t work – that much should be obvious by now as a few people making up their minds what to do with the community just don’t have the necessary wisdom – and so we need to go to a flatter, more participatory model.

                    • McFlock

                      Nah – you’re just debating with someone who has dealt with too many drunk crowds.
                        
                      I like smaller electorates, lobbying transparency, blind trusts being really blind, or included in asset registers, and a balanced media. I also like representative democracy over disease-of-the-week politics. Individuals can be smart. “People” are frequently dumb and panicked. I admit that I might have a weak spot in my assessmentin this area, though 🙂

    • mik e 12.2

      Burt hows ernie Windows XP is a very good operating system easily upgrade online a lot simpler than later microsoft versions which use up massive amounts of memory and processing pwer for very little except for Microsoft, Norton and other security software suppliers one would have to say Microsoft is going the same way as US industry not adapting to modern devices.
      Where Linux being a more compact software is taking over with android because it much less susceptible to Viruses as well.

      • burt 12.2.1

        mik e

        That was all probably true 5+ years ago.

        (except the bit about android – it wasn’t really around 5 years ago. But’s it’s basically a chomped down version of linux optimised for a different chipset. )

      • infused 12.2.2

        Here again, another clueless muppet.

        The latest versions of Windows use more memory because it cache applications and data. That memory is free’d if you do something such as play a video game, or something memory intensive.

        This improves performances hugely and does not negatively affect it. Unless you have a shitty $600 underspecification machine.

        Un-used memory is wasted memory.

        • McFlock 12.2.2.1

          Not in the XP – vista -7 lineage.
          Vista used too many resources because it wanted to be prepared for the slightest thing you might need, and a few things you wouldn’t. That impacted on available resources that other programmes you were actually using would need. Not to mention the system being constantly interrupted for priviledges warnings.
            
          Personally I don’t have the same issues with 7, but don’t blame people for being gunshy and sticking with the system they got to work properly.
            
           

        • lprent 12.2.2.2

          As a consequence of that preloading, my vaio Z laptop (that was overspec for vista) takes more than 5 minutes before it stops running the CPUs or disk at 100% and is ready for actual work. And that is after I dumped office and several other programs preload which would make it a lot worse.

          The Ubuntu boot on the same laptop is running in less than 2 minutes and to my finicky eye is a damn sight faster for the purpose of my work.

          Most of those preloaded applications in windows aren’t completely passive, they impact on background CPU use. For instance the indexers, outlook, things watching for DVD insertions, antivirus, etc. Many of them aren’t event driven, but poll instead. And despite having oodles of real memory, windows persists in dumping their memory into swap and then having to pull background processes memory back into ram when they do little processes. It becomes pretty apparent when you profile what CPU is actually used for. And it all adds up. Most of it is just useless extra weight.

          And don’t get me started on those frigging long shutdowns as it installs the innumerable overwrites of system files because it can’t do it while they are running – because windows uses its memory inefficiently. In Ubuntu or OSX, I can update anything including running files at runtime and shutdowns take the same time every time. They load executables into memory and don’t have open file handles to executables and dlls. That means that I don’t have to have a open laptop in my hand as I run for the car.

          Irritating operating system. Eventually in about 2006, after more than 20 years mostly on building code for DOS to windows, I started switching my systems and preferred work to Linux. I really only use windows if the work requires it. I cross compile or put windows in a virtual machine by preference.

  13. Foreign Waka 13

    A lot of people miss that in the process every NZlander will be registered with a govt department one way or another via a central database. In that way the Nats will have implemented a big brother project that will allow for all services to be connected. Regardless of the minimum failure rate of any webpage, it is the mix up of data that would worry me. It takes 2 seconds to make an error and a lifetime to fix it. Because the blo ody box is always right. Orwell 1984

    • burt 13.1

      Yes and paper records are so much more reliable and can’t be tampered with and never get lost…..

      • McFlock 13.1.1

        Not quite the same as a corrupted database, Burt.
          
        A database purchased by the people who  had cabinet emails forwarded to their personal email accounts, which were then hacked.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      A lot of people miss that in the process every NZlander will be registered with a govt department one way or another via a central database.

      What’s wrong with that? You’re already registered anyway.

      In that way the Nats will have implemented a big brother project that will allow for all services to be connected.

      No, actually, it’s not.

      The government really does need that data and the agglomeration of it should be made publicly available so that we can make informed decisions about our country and how we use it’s resources.

      What I get concerned with is how private companies are using the data that they mine from your activities.

      • Foreign Waka 13.2.1

        Here is something to think about:
        The Constitution recognizes rights of privacy, data protection and secrecy of communications. Article 23 states, “1. Everyone shall have the right to privacy, to personal and family secrets, and to protection of one’s honor and good name. 2. Everyone shall have the right to privacy of correspondence, telephone communications, mail, cables and other communications. Any restriction of this right shall be allowed only under an order of a court of law.” Article 24 states, “1. It shall be forbidden to gather, store, use and disseminate information on the private life of any person without his/her consent. 2. The bodies of state authority and the bodies of local self-government and the officials thereof shall provide to each citizen access to any documents and materials directly affecting his/her rights and liberties unless otherwise stipulated under the law.” This is from the Privacy and Human Rights Act – wait for it – Russia. Not even NZ can offer such pronounced rights. Makes you think – doesn’t it?

  14. burt 14

    Anthony Robbins

    It’s not entirely clear what your position is. Sure we could reject all technology and go back to manual human labour for everything and that would create (re-instate) a lot of jobs that have already been displaced by technology. I’m sure you are not suggesting that, if you were I would expect to get this post of yours via a hand written letter in my mail box. Perhaps that would even be impossible because paper would be rejected… you could walk around the country preaching on street corners… that is if we didn’t dig up the roads and let them return to native bush….

    So can you please clarify what you really think we should be doing – other than just maintain status quo as at today because that is the magical correct mix – simply because it’s status quo as at today.

    • lprent 14.1

      Don’t know about r0b but I always hate seeing illiterate managers looking for the magic wand. It always winds up in a screwup. National MP’s are even more illiterate than they are.

      Ask the police about that dinosaur project that National foisted on them in the 1990s when they were pushing for cost reductions then. Didn’t work, wasted a lot of money, and caused serious issues with the performance of the police in the 90’s and early 00’s.

      What works in IT (as I suspect you are aware) is incremental improvements over considerable time towards objectives. Trying to jump start rapidly will not work….

      • mik e 14.1.1

        Maybe Murry Mc SCully has been trial running the new policy. Nationals heads are definitely in the cloud on this one!

      • burt 14.1.2

        Trying to jump start rapidly will not work….

        All paradigm shifts look like a rapid change to people who are unaware they have already begun. (I’m not saying your ignorant of this lprent)

        The cloud… it’s sooo different to mainframes with richer content and non-proprietary standards based interoperability…. really it is – it’s a massive change from where we were 20 years ago !!!! 😉 😉

        • Colonial Viper 14.1.2.1

          The cloud will fail with no recourse.

          Sorry about those family photos, music collections (which you paid for), and business records which you used Megaupload.com to store. Too bad they don’t give a fuck about the problems their failure causes you (and admittedly can do nothing about it anyways).

          • burt 14.1.2.1.1

            You using gmail CV ?

          • burt 14.1.2.1.2

            Do you regularly backup your PC CV ? Ever tried to restore it ?

            The cloud is no different, it’s just another storage medium and arguably it’s a shit load more robust than a cheap as chips hard drive you rely on everyday.

            • Macro 14.1.2.1.2.1

              And clay tablets last 5000 years and still going
              5000 years from now – if humanity is still around that long – they will know more about the babylonians because their records will still be intact whereas ours will have pretty much disappeared by the end of this century.

              • burt

                You’re doing bloody well connecting yours to the net and using it to blog. Mine are just door stoppers – how did you do that ?

              • burt

                Oh, and don’t tell Foreign Waka that I can come and steal the tablet with his personal information from you and now only I have it and before too long you can’t even remember what information I have…..

                • Macro

                  theft has always been a possibility burt. Placing information on a clay tablet and then locking it in a store room with an armed guard might slow you down a little – at least you would have to get of your arse and come and get it rather than sitting at home and hacking 🙂

            • Colonial Viper 14.1.2.1.2.2

              RAID bro, RAID.

            • Jackal 14.1.2.1.2.3

              Cloud computing could be a hackers dream come true. The other main issue is control of content, whereby the public will effectively lose control. It is also worth mentioning that having a centralized programing system means that advances due to user input are fully retained by the program developer. This is probably bad in terms of small developers, that are often paid when their apps are incorporated into the main systems. However the computational and advantages of a converged infrastructure probably easily outweigh these issues. Centralized reliability? Guess well have to wait and see.

              • infused

                Well if you’ve ever done risk management and continuity planning, you’d know that all this is taken in to account.

                It’s not as simple as you make out.

                • Colonial Viper

                  you’d know that all this is taken in to account.

                  And one of the best ways of managing a risk is not exposing yourself to it at all.

                • Jackal

                  Taking something into account is not resolving it infused. In terms of the security risks, which are well known with such systems, I am sure there has been risk management and continuity planning etc. But this does not rectify what is essentially technical issues. As far as I can tell, control of media is one of the main reasons cloud computing has been developed. So again, I do not see how your argument rectifies the issue for the general public. Likewise the loss of some development by independent programers will likely not be rectified by continuity planning. If you have information showing a solution design to the inherent problems, I would be interested in reading it?

            • tc 14.1.2.1.2.4

              Backup you do on your own media you control whereas the cloud you’ve no idea really could be anywhere, looked at by anyone, sold etc

              The industry wants you on the cloud so it can Analyse the big data and pitch more at you as it effectively will know everything about you.

              • burt

                tc

                Do you store that backup in a secure location ? House fire… earthquake…. Couple of CD backups sitting by the PC will also be stolen when the PC is stolen….

                Think this through.

                • Macro

                  that’s the beauty of a clay tablet! Fire actually turns it to ceramic and makes it even more durable…

                  • burt

                    Yeah, but be careful when transporting it over water… the bugger sink and are hard to find on the ocean floor. Of course if you have a copy that’s exactly the same in a safe location that risk is mitigated.

                    Likewise if you drop it from anything above about 1m onto a hard surface…. the buggers can split and fragment in ways that make them really hard to piece back together. I’d also like to see the equivalent of a Terra-byte of data on tablets… better have a big storage facility !

                    • Macro

                      I think the same argument applies to iPads does it not? Tho why you would want to transport them over water beats me – unless, like me, you were there working at the time. Having dropped my phone in the tide on several occasions I can say that they don’t exactly respond well to total immersion, but a clay tablet – well that’s another story!

                    • felix

                      “Tho why you would want to transport them over water beats me”

                      Because that’s where the cloud forms. Silly goose.

                    • burt

                      Macro

                      Well… If you iPod is backed up in the cloud and you dump it in the tide never to be seen again you get a new one and hey-presto… all back where it was just before you lost it.

                      That tablet lost in the tide… good luck remembering what was on it…

                      Oh and just before you dropped the tablet the guy with the big zoom lens on his camera – he’s taken a snap shot of it… go talk to him and see if he will give you a backup to restore from 😉

                      It amazes me that so many people have so much to say about IT security when they know bugger all about it. One story of [xyz] getting hacked and they just know it’s so insecure and too risky…. meanwhile every night somewhere an office is being broken into and physical shit is being stolen but hey… that’s physical and easily understood so it’s not the big scary monster that ‘hackers’ are….

                    • Macro

                      Burt

                      5000 years from now – my clay tablet will be just as it was 10,000 years ago, even when it’s discovered in a pile of sand 30m deep in what was once Bagdad. It is a signature of what was then and will always remain so.
                      But your cloud changes formation every instant, and what will it be like even 10 years from now. Obsolescence is the name of the game, and the physical lifetime of digital media is measured in decades not millennia.

                      What I am simply pointing out, and it has really nothing to do with the debate about the hidden costs of IT, (or has it??) is that every innovation in information technology has resulted in a reduction in the durability of archival material.
                      Clay tablets have proven to be much more durable than papyrus
                      which in turn is about as durable as parchment
                      which is more durable than paper,
                      Paper and ink’s durability can be measured in hundreds of years
                      microfiche lasts about a century (if your lucky)
                      magnetic tape deteriorates in decades (I “watched” a video recording I made 25 years ago last month, it was almost unwatchable despite having had little usage)
                      CD’s are about the same
                      and so on..
                      you get my drift

                    • burt

                      Macro

                      Oh I fully understand that. But I think you are skirting around the usability of the devices we are discussing. Your tablet is what it is – no more no less. A thing with stuff recorded on it. Ignoring for a moment that when I get out a pocket knife and scratch some changes into it that it’s been corrupted, it has no other purpose than the one thing it is very good at. A permanent ( well permanent in human life terms not in geological time terms ) record of just one thing.

                      A video tape is a good example, you could record different stuff onto it each day and share that with friends, copy it easily etc.

                      I have no argument the tablet is durable and probably cheap – but you simply can’t compare a clay tablet to an iPad – not in any universe.

                  • Macro

                    totally agree burt.
                    I’m not anti-innovation or anti-new. It’s simply an observation I came face to face with a few years back when researching for a book on the history of algebra. A moment of epiphany I suppose.
                    There was a tablet clearly showing the value of root2 (and predating Pythagoras by several millennia) with calculations to the equivalent of at least seven significant figures.
                    Will the text books of today be as durable 5000 years from now? What will people be able to deduce about the state of our knowledge on their archaeological digs?

              • Draco T Bastard

                Just because you have it on the cloud doesn’t mean that you can’t have your backup as well.

                The industry wants you on the cloud so it can Analyse the big data and pitch more at you as it effectively will know everything about you.

                The best option would be to make it a government cloud with decent regulations and auditing. And, yes, the government would still analyse the data – as I said up thread, it needs to be done and the results need to be public. It’s how we should be managing the economy.

                • Macro

                  That’s all well and good Draco, and I agree essentially with what you are saying here – EXCEPT

                  a. I’m a little bit suspicious that this is a little close to the concepts espoused in “1984” and “Big Brother”. All of ones personal information contained in one easily accessed data base. Whether it’s government controlled or not. There are privacy issues here.

                  b.Many people in an increasingly aging population are not as computer literate as you. Making access to Public Service only available via a computer will severely disadvantage many. It could even disadvantage you, as you may not be fully aware of all the services that were available to you. Where as, in a face-to-face consultation with a public servant who fully understood the role of Public Service you needs would be more likely to be met. (As I have said previously, over the past 30 years of neo-liberalism in this country, we have lost sight of the true nature of Public Service so that the value of people is has been reduced to note takers – but it doesn’t HAVE to be like that.)

              • muzza

                The cloud is about control, thats it!

        • lprent 14.1.2.2

          Oh I’d agree that the “cloud” style is far more interesting for building systems with. It does also have its own set of development traps for building systems in. I think I’ve been through most of them… In fact I’m getting somewhat bored with wide area applications.

          I was building that general style of netapp application off and on (mostly on) since (ummm) 1996. First with client/server apps in C++ running over TCP or UDP in the internet. Then when the browser got more standardised, doing the client side in a webapp. Prior to 1996 I wrote a couple of wide area networks with modems hooking up data sources.

          Just at present our award winning product (we got an award when we haven’t done final release yet! That’s a first) has a wifi access point in it. One of the other guys wrote IOS app on it to access the data from my server, and another has done the same with a third party app free out of appstore. That is providing me with some thoughts about what happens when the wifi client devices start getting an ability to multiband. When I get the optimization sweep through the code done and we release, I have some ideas.

    • Foreign Waka 14.2

      I am not talking about an “impartial” approach to IT use and implementation of customized applications. This can be done, we know that – This is about privacy rights and the means of changing and distributing data collected on people and/or groups by other parties then yourself. Whilst IT can be quite efficient in collecting data, NZ hasn’t got the legal framework that allows for sufficient barriers to avoid the worst case scenario. Of cause it all looks so logical, irrefutable and the best thing since sliced bread. But is it? Has anybody looked at the implications? What about laws and frameworks, what are the experiences of other countries who have been there done that? Are we really so isolated that we cannot look at such proposals in an open and critical way so that we can at least do our homework before jumping onto the bandwagon? What do we really need? And to serve what purpose? There are more questions than answers for me and a simple “because it’s better” will not do for me.
      http://gilc.org/privacy/survey/surveylz.html this is a website where you can read up on NZ and other countries privacy laws.

      • Jackal 14.2.1

        The trick is to not allow commercial interests to take over and essentially restrict development for financial gain. I’m not too sure how geographical laws will apply, but one of the main driving forces behind cloud computing is an integration of various systems and applications, many of which have reached their current development ceilings. Of course the implications of using a new medium is dependent on how it is used. In terms of system developers, it is exciting. In terms of the public, it is another tool. Use at your own risk.

  15. Carol 15

    And we’ve just had a lesson tonight out here in west Auckland as to what happens when technology (or at least the electricity that drives it) fails. Nasty storm out here tonight & there were power outages throughout west Auckland & to the north of Auckland.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/flash-floods-drench-auckland-s-western-suburbs-4728105

    So I was without power for about 3 hours. During that time the batteries on my MP3 player with FM radio were worked close to dead. Ditto for the battery on my mobile phone that can connect me to the Web (on a pretty inadequate small screen), and also the batteries on my laptop started to run down as I tried playing a few games to pass the time.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      And we’ve just had a lesson tonight out here in west Auckland as to what happens when technology (or at least the electricity that drives it) fails.

      That’s why we have backups and plans to bring everything back online.

      So I was without power for about 3 hours.

      I seem to recall power outages 30+ years ago that went on for that long or longer. We just talked and played in the candle light instead of watching TV.

      • burt 15.1.1

        Till we ran out of candles then we just shagged like rabbits to amuse ourselves and statisticians mused at the birth bulge years later. 😉

        • Carol 15.1.1.1

          Well, what I was thinking was…. technology always fails at some point, and often when people who relied on it need it most. Then, all you have is people to help. Get rid of the people in favour of technology, and you can lose valuable expertise. And given the precarious state of energy resources for the future…. well, I’d rather keep a lot of people doing some pretty essential stuff.

          • Vicky32 15.1.1.1.1

            Well, what I was thinking was…. technology always fails at some point, and often when people who relied on it need it most. Then, all you have is people to help. Get rid of the people in favour of technology, and you can lose valuable expertise. And given the precarious state of energy resources for the future…. well, I’d rather keep a lot of people doing some pretty essential stuff.

            I absolutely agree! As a trivial example, I was in the Mt Albert library some time in  January, and there was chaos everywhere. Returned books were piled up 15 deep, threatening to fall any minute, and the queue at the issues desk was curled around and around the stacks. Lawrie the librarian sighed as my returned my 6 or so books, and explained when I asked, that their entire computer system had gone down. When that happened in the 1980s, they still had the paper system in existence. Now in 2012, they don’t – and it developed that they ended up doing massive amounts of over time when it came back up, 36 hours later – they had by then 100s of books they had received but had not been able to check back into the system. Many patrons had accidental overdue fines on their record as a result, and they had been unable to issue anything in the meantime. It was a complete disaster.
            In the Post office some years before, I had to explain to a blonde teenage teller how to do a transaction and what change I was due, when their system was on the fritz (luckily for ony a short time.) My mental arithmetic is not very good, but hers was non-existent as she was used to just entering figures and getting the computer to tell her the  answer!

  16. infused 16

    I see people here have no clue about IT.

    I look forward to you hiring masses to hand out your hand written blog posts and delivering them door to door. 1 blog post per month?

    Send around the lynch mob to ‘ban’ someone?

    • burt 16.1

      Exactly…. Hang on paper… that takes technology…. lets use soil based dyes to write on cave walls and anyone who suggest we use “paint” is just trying to put soil gathers out of work.

      status quo as at today must be maintained… must not go backward – must not go forward… Just let it stay like it is… muppets.

      • infused 16.1.1

        This has to be one of the silliest blog posts I’ve seen here.

        I’m amusing the poster had nothing to do on this fine, sunny afternoon.

  17. Jackal 17

    Let’s replace John Key with an IBM 5150… instant increase in on-board RAM, and I’m pretty sure I can find one without a faulty logic board.

    • burt 17.1

      Yes, Mallard should fit the bill for a faulty logic board…. Ummm the only output we get from this computer is do as I say and not as I do… what’s that all about !!!!

      • Jackal 17.1.1

        There’s no way I’m paying original face value. Besides you can’t mung an Atari 400 with a 5150. They’re incompatible.

  18. Carol 18

    There isn’t a reply button for the thread on online security above.

    But I have no faith in it or in giving up control to cloud computing. I avoid using online banking (or very much phone banking). I prefer going into my bank to do many transactions face-o-face.

    The banks keep going on about how secure online banking is. So why are some overseas banks starting to use complicated offline ID/PIN processes for customers to use every time they log into their acount online? Apparently they claim having an offline component guards against fraud and hacking, which is always a danger when login PIs are kept on computers:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/banking/8725302/Facebook-campaign-by-angry-HSBC-customers-over-new-online-security-key.html

    So why has the bankdecided to introduce this seemingly unpopular gadget, and will its rivals follow suit?

    The secure key, which will attach to your key ring, is the latest weapon in the war against banking fraud. It looks smaller and slicker than similar devices offered by Barclays, the Co-op, Royal Bank of Scotland and Nationwide. Their gadgets might resemble a Fisher Price calculator circa 1985, but at least you can log on to your bank without them – and if you have forgotten your own toy-town device, you can borrow other people’s.

    By contrast, you need your HSBC key before you can do anything when it comes to online banking – and it is registered to you alone, so you can’t borrow a friend’s. If you have a business account as well as a personal one, you may have two of the keys to carry around.

    “My secure key has broken already,” complained one HSBC customer on the “Scrap the HSBC Secure Key” Facebook page. “They have made the whole thing insanely complicated”.

    Seems much easier to just go down to my local bank branch when I need to do something. Ditto for voting or any online transactions for public services.

    • Draco T Bastard 18.1

      You think entering a 6 digit number is complicated?

      And the reason why they’re doing it is because some people don’t run anti-malware software or firewalls and so pick up key loggers which means a standard username/password can easily be appropriated.

      Nothing is totally secure – even going down to the bank isn’t.

      • Colonial Viper 18.1.1

        But we’re not talking about “total security” are we. Unfortunate as it is, when it comes to the cloud, breaching one or two persons internet or banking or credit card security is not the issue.

        The thing which makes me nervous is the potential for data compromise to a million NZers to occur in just a few minutes.

        • Carol 18.1.1.1

          Indeed, I agree with CV. And my point was that online security ain’t so great, but also as CV suggests, there’s the potential for someone in an unspecified location globally, to access large numbers of accounts/indivual login sites. Loss of control to gods knows who is a problem IMO.

          And I don’t think the HSBC system looks that simple. There’s extra steps, using a device small enough to fit on a key ring (so probably not great for people who have poor close vision and/or limited manual dexterity). And one person reports their’s has already broken. And people need to have that device wherever and whenever they access there bank account online.

          http://www.hsbc.co.uk/1/2/customer-support/online-banking-security/secure-key

          So it seems a user needs to create a PIN for the device, that is used for each online login. Then the device generates a 6 figure number (a different one each time), and doesn’t stay on the device for very long.

          Then, online the user puts in their ID, plus a “memorable answer” plus the 6 figure number….. simple…. so what could go wrong?

          http://www.hsbc.co.uk/1/2/internet-banking-support/secure-key-troubleshooting

          Oh dear…. a lot it seems…. there’s instructions of how to trouble shoot PIN fails #1, #2 & #3, and LOCK PIN fails #1-#4. And battery fails? Seems they need to be re-ordered from time to time.

          Honestly, I feel going personally to my local branch is not that much hassle.

        • infused 18.1.1.2

          How did you come up with that conclusion?

    • infused 18.2

      Because retards go to porn websites and have spyware installed. It has nothing to do with the banks. Having an offline component protects your stupidity.

  19. dv 19

    This is interesting comment on IT integration between two bank systems.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/6439921/ANZ-National-bides-time-over-merger-plans

    >ANZ National Bank is in no rush to merge its two brands as it struggles to get customers onto a single computer system.

    >The bank, which owns the ANZ and National Bank brands, said yesterday it would spend about another A$90 million on developing a common computer system which it hoped to have ready later this year, almost a year late and double the cost.

    • DH 19.1

      It’s interesting to compare the banks $A90m cost against the Auckland City councils $500million and the IRDs $1billion. There’s no way a council system should cost 4-5 times as much.

      • Colonial Viper 19.1.1

        The banks have built up a lot of internal IT capability and only use external consultants for overall scoping and then for very specialised parts of the project.

        Same with Fonterra, which is continuously developing and redeveloping its SAP systems. They have in-house capability of some employees and some long term independent contractors. Way cheaper.

        Auckland City appears to be stupid and rich enough to want to entrust the entire project and build capability to consultants charged out to ratepayers @ thousands per hour each.

        • DH 19.1.1.1

          Agreed. The only people qualified to negotiate with IT consultants are IT people, dealing with council & govt bureaucrats must be like taking candy from a baby.

          People not in the business just haven’t got a clue.

      • Draco T Bastard 19.1.2

        I think you’ll find that the biggest cost of the SuperShitty system is that they started off with several systems with no common standards that need merging. Hell, some of them were probably proprietary. And each different system increased the difficulty of merging exponentially.

  20. Cannot think of a clever name 20

    @ CV says

    “The banks have built up a lot of internal IT capability and only use external consultants for overall scoping and then for very specialised parts of the project.

    Same with Fonterra, which is continuously developing and redeveloping its SAP systems. They have in-house capability of some employees and some long term independent contractors. Way cheaper.

    Auckland City appears to be stupid and rich enough to want to entrust the entire project and build capability to consultants charged out to ratepayers @ thousands per hour each.”

    That does not fit my experience of the industry. Fonterra outsource enormous amounts of their IT to organisations (and use lots of contractors as you say). The one bank I worked with recently did the same as have all the banks I have worked at in the past. They also employ quite a lot of internal IT capability to manage their IT providers and own the most important knowledge. Whenever I dealt with local government organisations they had very similar approaches with actually less outsourcing than in commercial organisations.

    The difference between the Fonterra’s and the local governments of this world in my dealings with them is that the local government IT is significantly more political and it’s much less likely that the hard decisions are made and more likely that the project is presented in a way that hides its failings. Thus the use of Deloites in Auckland Super City. As one of the big ‘four’ they are perceived as safer whereas most in the industry would not use them to create applications as they are massively overpriced and actually worse at it than the Datacoms etc of this world. I would also say that often the pay in IT is greater in commercial organisations and more skilled staff tend to go there. I have seen many more IT projects canned or blocked in the commercial world than in local government. Then again local government is pretty famous for screwing up the world over.

    That aside all large organisations screw up very large projects on a regular basis. Large IT projects are exceedingly risky both in terms of cost and achieving successful outcome.

    But on a final point I can think of lots of things I now do on-line that make my life a lot easier. Some with government organisations. The IRD aren’t bad – on line access to payments, performing GST returns, downloading forms. I never go to a bank. Pay car parking fines on-line (cheaper than paying for casual parking in Auckland), Vodafone account management etc

    The front office trend in many commercial organisations moved from branch focussed, to call centre focussed to web focussed over the last 15-20 years. Our government organisations have done this less and would benefit from improving here.

    F****d if I know what google has to do with this though!!

    • infused 20.1

      Most IT projects fail, for two key reasons:

      1) Incorrectly scoped.
      2) Changes made once the project has commenced.

      The second reason is why the whole IBM / Police system blew out.

  21. RedLogix 21

    Precisely. After more than 30 years in a tech industry very closely related to IT my observation is very similar to yours. Internal capacity is critical, and while contractors can be very useful in various ways .. it is essential that they are used in a capacity that is either very closely controlled and managed by the internal people.. OR the case where some very specific external skill is required for a specialist role.

    Letting outside contractors own and drive core components of your business is always a disaster.

    Regarding Local Government… they are no different to any other organisations except that for political reasons they aren’t allowed to pay their own skilled IT people properly and never have enough of them to manage big internal projects. For this reason they are very prone to being ‘owned’ by outfits like Deloites.

    Where by contrast they DO have the internal expertise (often in areas like Public Transport and Water) this problem doesn’t occur.

    • Cannot think of a clever name 21.1

      Agreed Red especially on the giving away of control. Sadly, it’s more likely that one gets measured more by one’s mistakes than one’s successes in those environments thus government and pseudo government organisations are much more prone to giving the problem away to ‘experts’.

      Even when they have decent internal expertise (I can think of a couple of examples I have dealt with) they still get handicapped by the political side more so than commercial organisations.

  22. aerobubble 22

    Every MP has an relative whose on the benefit at some time. So giving Google access to all benefitaries, and citizens data, is just oppressively stupid.

    second, we’ve seen this meme before. Take a global brand with high regard in the market place, and then piggy back off the brand to give your own standing a boost, before one policy document has yet to be written.

    third, universal identification by the back door. poll taxes by stealth.

    Fourth, wtf, google isn’t even a nz company.

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