Friday, 4 August 2006

Newsletter Issue 118, August 2006


Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 118, August 2006
Hi guys,
The stats are out on the MSD's Social Report on the Nelson Tasman region, below.
We take a look at the new web fave, Mashups
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

MSD's Social Report

According to a newly-released Social Report by the Ministry of Social Development, people in the Nelson Tasman region are the most physically active in the country with 71% of people involved in sport or active leisure. However, around 22% of our residents still smoke, which is fairly appalling.
Apparently 71% of the people living here are active, have healthy drinking water (if you are in Nelson) and are much more likely to be employed than almost anywhere else in New Zealand with employment being at 97.3%, but 23 to 24% of our population are struggling with low wages.
There was apparently still a significant number of people who need to improve aspects of their lifestyles to enjoy better health, such as getting regular exercise, stopping smoking, losing weight, eating less fast food and watching less television. We are also getting fatter and fewer of us can afford to buy a house.
It is interesting that 75.1% of Nelsonians left school with NCEA level 2 or higher, whereas only 57.7% of Tasman school leavers achieved level 2. Perhaps that says something about rural attitudes to qualifications being slower to shift (or perhaps I am reading things into these statistics which were never meant!).
The Ministry of Social Development has produced this "National Stocktake", sampling 42 indicators to determine our national wellbeing. They anticipate testing the waters annually to develop some standard measures to test ourselves against the past, to look for trends and to determine whether social policies are working.
The data recorded has been analysed against 1980s data. Comparing the data sets, we are now living longer, have a reduced suicide rate, and smoke less. However, obesity has almost doubled, owning your own home is out of reach for almost half of the population and 3% of our population are experiencing severe hardship.
And, of course, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.
 

Mashups

If you haven't heard of 'mashups' before, stand by to be educated.
Mashups are a relatively new web genre, where data from two or more external information sources is combined to make something new. A popular form of mashup is in bringing hard to read tables of data to life by superimposing them on a world map; something which both Google & Microsoft have developed applications for.
The trick is that the owner of the data doesn't know that their data is being used, and the mashup developer does not own the data which is being mashed. The data may be misrepresented or misused by the masher; equally, the masher may be using data that is incorrect or flawed.
Mashups may be popular, but there is probably insufficient control regarding both information accuracy and security, and ride roughshod over the rights of the original information owners.
A recent Computerworld News article relates that "How do you know the data is real? Without an exchange of encrypted ID certificates between source and mashup, the data could be come from a spoof site. For example, an outwardly public-spirited site that claims to show crime figures in certain areas could be hacked by criminals or those interested in selling property in a certain area to give a false impression."
Tom Ovad, from the website www.applefritter.com/bannedbooks, says that even some accurate mashups risk creating trouble. He has experimented with collating wish-lists of Amazon customers to identify those with particular — and possibly suspect — reading habits. Apparently there is a technique for “fishing” common first names, which, despite Amazon keeping details of customers’ delivery addresses secret, makes it possible to attach wish-lists to individuals. Such a list might be useful to anyone — cf the US government — who wanted to unearth potential terrorists.
Which raises some quite serious questions of what our information can be used for; how it might be manipulated, and what attack or surveillance that could leave us subject to. No doubt the issues of rights and responsibilities will be hammered out in the courts over the coming years.
However, to get back to 'how much we can rely on the data', I do feel that we can all put more onus on ourselves as the reader to make an informed judgement. My Mother always used to tell me "Don't believe everything you read". It is far more true of the internet, where Uncle Tom Cob-leigh & all can publish, make it look professional, but it is still the fluff and dreams of the Women's Weekly.
 

...It's Who You Know

Springspotters report that there is a new trend starting in the Big Apple where restaurants are buying into a new customer service tool.
Mobo runs a Manhattan-based service which lets customers order from the Mobo group of partnered restaurants. Their customers first create an account, which includes their credit card details. Then when they are ready to order takeaways, they can either place their orders online at www.gomobo.com or by text message (sms).
The order appears on the restaurant's in-store Mobo system, and is automatically billed to the customer's credit card. The restaurant confirms the order, and the customer is given priority in the restaurant queue and are texted back by the restaurant with the time their order will be ready.
Every Mobo restaurant has a separate Mobo Pick Up counter, so when their order is ready, Mobo users can walk straight to the counter, state their name and last four digits of their phone number, and pick up. However, Mobo also delivers to desk-bound customers at their offices.
Springspotters reports "According to Mobo, the benefits for partnering restaurants are increased profits from new Mobo customers, higher average order amounts, increased customer loyalty and improved operating efficiency. The company is also developing platforms for other services that involve people standing in line, such as transportation and entertainment. Customers save time, get a bit of that oh-so-coveted VIP treatment with their takeaways, and vendors increase profits. Now that mobile phones are truly ubiquitous, and ordering takeaways online is no longer a novelty, this concept should work well anywhere".

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLA for you:
  • TLDs, Top Level Domains. Identifies on the internet the most general part of the domain name in an Internet address. A TLD is either a generic top-level domain (gTLD), such as "com" for "commercial," "edu" for "educational," and so forth, or a country code top-level domain (ccTLD), such as "de" for Germany or "is" for Iceland.

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
In this newsletter, we look at all you can do with Alt, Shift, Ctrl and "=" (equals):
  • Excel "Start a formula" = (Equals)
  • Excel "Insert the AutoSum formula" Alt & = (Equals)
  • Outlook "Switch to month view when using general keys for moving around in day/week/month view" Alt & = (Equals)
  • PowerPoint "Apply subscript formatting (automatic spacing)" Ctrl & = (Equals)
  • Publisher "Apply or remove subscript formatting" Ctrl & = (Equals)
  • Publisher "Apply or remove superscript formatting" Ctrl & Shift & = (Equals)
  • Word "Customize Add Menu Shortcut" Alt & Ctrl & = (Equals)
  • Word "Outline Expand" Alt & Shift & = (Equals)
  • Word "Apply subscript formatting (with automatic spacing) to selected text" Ctrl & = (Equals)
  • Word "Superscript" Ctrl & Shift & = (Equals)

Hot Linx
If you have a quirky sense of humour, then this site full of "entertainment for the curious mind" is for you at http://eepybird.com/dcm1.html
Interested in what all the ccTLDs are on the planet? This site has a list of all of htem at http://www.iana.org/cctld/cctld-whois.htm
There's a new website advising businesses about best practice and so forth. You can check it out at http://www.yourbiz.co.nz/default.asp?sectionID=13
Ready to have a web presence? You could consider FreeParking as a hosting and publishing provider. Check them out at http://www.freeparking.biz/hosting/siteplus_hosting.mv

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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