Monday, July 09, 2012

E-health bungledom

Just for fun, I decided to enrol myself in the new, sparkling, all-singing, all-dancing  e-health record system just introduced by the Gillard government.

As you might expect from government, it was a lengthy process with lots of time-consuming questions to answer.

One surprise was the number of "secret" questions you had to nominate in order to verify your identity.  Most sites require only two questions.  This mob wanted five!  I rather ran out of ideas after a while and ended up nominating my dead dog's name for one of them.  I wept when he died  -- as people do.

But in the end it was all for naught. I got to the stage where I had to enter the surname of the last medical specialist I had visited.  I entered it and, Hey Presto!  Up came the following message:

We have encountered an unrecognised fault and can't continue with your request. For security purposes, the process has been cancelled

Since the last medical specialist I have visited is the perfectly admirable dermatological  surgeon Russell Hills, that his name should have caused such a meltdown rather boggles the mind.  If his name had been something exotic, one might perhaps have a degree of understanding but if "Hills" is problematic, what is safe?

Where do I go from there?  They didn't say.  With a start like that,  who would ever rely on them for anything?  My advice:  Don't!

A brief thought on economics

Ronald Reagan and Bob Hawke both had degrees  in economics and both introduced intelligent reforms that were immensely beneficial to their respective countries.

Gough Whitlam probably ran the most shambolic government Australia has ever seen and he admits to this day that he does not understand economics.  Julia Gillard is a lawyer and Kevin Rudd has a degree in Chinese.

Tony Abbott has a degree in economics.  Australia has a bright future.

Corruption in the choosing of an Australian Olympic team

Choosing lesser performers on the basis of their family connections is not the way to win, one would think.  Australia was  once a land of great horsemen.  Do we not even aspire to win equestrian events these days?

"YOU have to love keeping it in the family!" pronounced Lyndal Oatley when she heard her cousin Kristy was joining her on the Australian Olympic equestrian team to compete in London. But, in the world of dressage, the love didn't spread far at all.

Instead, the selection of the two Oatleys - granddaughters of the billionaire Bob Oatley, a sponsor of grand prix events in the sport in Australia - has exposed bitter tensions at the perceived influence of wealth and patronage in the sport.

Kristy Oatley gained her spot at the expense of Hayley Beresford under a discretionary selection process. Yet, only two weeks ago, Beresford was ranked 111th in the world, well ahead of Oatley's ranking of 283, as judged by the Federation Equestre Internationale. Both women represented Australia in Beijing.

Then, last Thursday Beresford confirmed form, too, was on her side, beating Kristy Oatley in Aachen in Germany - only hours before the Court of Arbitration in Sport, sitting in Sydney, closed the final legal door to her Olympic dream. She finished the event in tears.  "I am deeply devastated and at this moment cannot find the words to explain the selection process," she said on Facebook.

Beresford last night told the Herald Lyndal was clearly the best rider but that selectors were biased towards Kristy.

Other riders are speaking out, claiming the selection process was altered to favour Kristy Oatley, who was added to the shadow Olympic team after it had been finalised despite not having competed for nearly two years. Another change allowed riders to use a second horse in London.

The top-ranked Australian dressage rider Heath Ryan, who did not seek Olympic selection for London to allow his wife Rozzie to participate, said he found the changes "very disturbing".

"I am very concerned the changes were made by power and money to favour the wealthiest individuals. You cannot change Olympic [selection] criteria like that," he said.

"There are people out there who have dreams of riding for their country but if this is the way Equestrian Australia is going to conduct itself then really it is only [a sport] for the rich."

A grand prix judge, Berni Saunders, said the sporting community was shocked by the decision. "Everybody is absolutely horrified," she said. "It would be like Cathy Freeman having two years off running and then deciding a few months before the Olympics 'I'd like to have a go'."


Government contractor loses data on thousands of people

How British!  It rather shows what government promises of security for your personal information are worth, doesn't it?  Losses like this have happened time and again in Britain

And note that this galoot was a specialist in data SECURITY!

A federal government contractor that was paid more than $1 million to deliver e-security alert services to Australians has lost 8000 subscribers' personal information in the postal system.

AusCERT, which was paid $1,199,484.52 by the federal government to run between July 18 2008 and June 30 2011* lost subscribers' data after using Australia Post to send it to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) on April 11 when its contract to run the alerts service expired.

In an email to the site's 8000 subscribers sent at about 6pm on Friday, the "Stay Smart Online Team" said information that had "gone missing" on the DVD included subscribers' user names, email addresses, memorable phrases and passwords. It said passwords were "unreadable" (stored as a cryptographic hash).

The DBCDE claimed it had "no reason to believe" that subscribers' information had "been found and misused by any third party" and therefore did not believe that there was "a privacy risk".

But it did not provide any evidence to support this claim, and suggested subscribers "consider" whether they should change their "user name, memorable phrase and/or password for other websites or services".

The DBCDE said in a statement that AusCERT was responsible for the security of the subscriber data.

Neither the DBCDE or AusCERT has said whether registered post was used to deliver the data via Australia Post's "express post service" or why the data was not sent electronically. AusCERT refused to comment, saying media enquiries were being handled by the DBCDE.

Australia Post said the disc containing subscriber's personal information sent by AusCERT to the DBCDE was not posted using registered post, which it recommended using for sending sensitive information.

Geordie Guy, an "online rights and digital policy geek" who has previously worked for Electronic Frontiers Australia, joked in a blog post that he had to check his calendar to see if it was April 1 (April Fools' day).

"This isn't likely to be the last data leak this year, it's unlikely to be the biggest, but it's above and beyond the most embarrassing for a government department with a long history of poor practice (despite its preaching), and I think I speak for a lot of the online rights community when I say it'll be a long time before we get another [thing] this funny."


Scientists call for action to "save" reefs

There have been headlines in Australia like the one above for at least 50 years.  Like all natural phenomena, nothing stays the same over time on the reef and there have always been attention-seekers trying to create panic over the changes they observe

Thousands of scientists have signed a statement calling for immediate action on climate change to save the world's remaining coral reefs.  ["Remaining"?  The Great Barrier reef is the biggest reef in the world and is as extensive and as diverse as ever.  This call is plain dishonest]

MORE than 2500 marine researchers signed the consensus statement from the International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, which calls for global action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The statement calls for action to prevent rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification  [There is no acidification.  There is a possible reduction in  alkalinity but that is a long way from acidification], overfishing [Fishing is now banned in most of the reef area] and pollution from the land  [Unproven theory].

"The international Coral Reef Science Community calls on all governments to ensure the future of coral reefs, through global action to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and via improved local protection of coral reefs," the statement says.

Professor Terry Hughes, convener of the symposium and director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said Australia's Great Barrier Reef was a prime example of a reef in need of protection.

"Unfortunately in Queensland, the rush to get as much fossil fuel out of the ground as quickly as possible ... has pushed environmental concerns far into the background," he said.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recently released a report that was highly critical of Australia's management of the Great Barrier Reef.

It said the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site in danger unless high-risk coastal developments including new ports in Queensland are shelved.


1 comment:

paul said...

"2500 marine researchers"

Might as well have been 2500 shoe salesmen.