Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Telstra Global Operations Centre

Telstra's Global Operations Centre (GOG) in Melbourne appears to be too large to be effective. David Neiger's Article in August 2009 Australian Personal Computer magazine ("Telstra's massive nerve centre exposed") ,is accompanied by photos showing a conventional command centre room.

The GOC room is rectangular, with a wall of monitors at one end straight rows of operator stations. The room is divided into two halves with a walkway down the middle, which wastes the most valuable space of the room (the center). There are five operators in each row in half the room, with ten rows: one hundred operator stations in total.

Most operators have four large LCD screens in front of them. Because of the width of the screens, the operators appear to be more widely spaced than is needed, or useful, for effective work. The spacing could be reduced by one quarter, to allow them to work together more effectively. It is questionable if one operator could usefully observe four separate LCD screens around them. Removing one screen would likely improve the effectiveness of the station. A better option would be to replace all three monitors with one large wide screen monitor.

The desks also appear to be 50% deeper than needed, most likely due to having been designed for bulky obsolete CRT display screens.

There are supplementary monitors suspended from the ceiling along the sides of the room. These are likely needed as the operators at the back of the room would not be able to read what is on the board at the front.

Making the desks less deep, placing the operators closer together and removing the central walkway would allow the size of the room to be halved. This would increase the efficiency of the operation, as the operators would be able to more easily work as a team, as well as save very expensive floor space. Curving the row of desks slightly, would also allow the operators easily see each other, as is done in the NATO Combined Joint Operations Centre (CJOC) in Kabul.

Tesltra has a more modestly sized Managed Network Operations Centre in Sydney. The MNOC has a 16.7 metre video wall and provision for 42 operator stations.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Netbooks on Wireless Plan

Optus, Telstra and Vodafone now all offer a netbook with 3G wireless broadband access on a monthly payment plan (usually over 24 months with 1 to 5 MB of data a month). Optus offer the Samsung NC10, Telstra the Acer Aspire, and Vodafone the Dell Mini 9.

This is a very convenient way to get Internet access for email and casual web browsing. But you need to be careful not to exceed your monthly download limit on those plans where you are excess for excess data. It would be very easy to download a movie and end up with a large bill. Also the bundled deals usually cost more than buying the netbook and data access separately.

I use Virgin Mobile Broadband at $39 a month postpaid with my Kogan Agora Netbook Pro. This is not as convenient, as the Kogan does not have the 3G modem built in. I use an external HUAWEI E169 3G USB modem, which came free from Virgin. The Virgin plan reduces the data rate to 64 kbps when the 5 Mbyte monthly limit is reached, rather than imposing additional charges.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tesltra spin doctors off message

Telstra have hired the PR company Network Communications (Australia) Pty Ltd to help sell its message about the environment. I was contacted by the company and invited to download a joint Tesltra-WWF white paper paper on "Using ICT to drive your sustainability strategy". But I found that I had to register with my details before being allowed to look at the paper. This is an annoying process and means that the paper is not generally available. I wrote back to Network Communications explaining this and they said they would put my comments in their final report to Telstra. But in the interim the paper is still not generally available. It does not seem a lot of use to include a comment which says "Tom wanted to comment but could not because we didn't bother to tell you in time". This is unfortunate as it does not accord with the more consultative approach which Tesltra's green guru, Dr TurloughGuerin and others in the organisation have been successfully implementing. Their good work is being undermined by Network Communications lack of responsiveness and Tesltra might be better off without this PR company.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Telstra now-we-are-acting on greenhouse?

In "Innovate, don’t compensate", Tesltra's green guru, Dr Turlough Guerin argues that there should be strong leadership on climate change from the Australian government. However, Tesltra might like to lead by example and provide some concrete measures on reduction of their own greenhouse gas emissions. I suggest Tesltra commit to a 5% annual cut in emissions, starting in 2009, up until 2020. To acheive this, Telstra could commit to have 10% of its senior IT staff compete a Green ICT course , such as the one the Australian Computer Society is running, by the end of 2009.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Telstra Ending I-Mode Web Mobile Service in Australia

According to news reports, Telstra will cease its iMode service on 10 December 2007. The service started in November 2004 and provides web like information on mobile phones. The service is popular in Japan but has not taken off elsewhere. The UK O2 mobile carrier is also reported to be phasing out iMode.

I tried iMode when it came out and it worked okay. The iMode phones were slightly modified GSM phones and also capable of displaying ordinary web pages. However, it appears few in Australia were willing to pay a subscription for news or information on the iMode phones, when they could get the same information free on the web. No one knows why iMode is popular in Japan; one theory is that because it can be used in crowded trains on long commutes.

iMode uses a derivative of HTML called Compact HTML (cHTML). It was designed for hand held devices with small screens. This differed from the Wireless Application Protocol Version 1 (WAP 1) developed by other phone makers, which is an XML format not compatible with HTML. WAP 1 also failed to attract much support from consumers.

Current mobile phones have WAP 2 which includes a subset of XHTML and thus have more compatibility with the web. Smart phones, such as Apple's iPhone have more advanced web browsers supporting HTML, XHTML and some new features of the proposed HTML 5.

However, web content on mobile phones has still not become a popular consumer product. It is not clear if large screen phones, such as the iPhone, with more advanced software will change that. Features of CSS allow web pages to be automatically adjusted, to some extent, for hand held screens. However, compromises need to be made to the web design to suit both desktop and hand held screens.

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