Fairfax Tech Talk Column

Fairfax Tech Talk Column

18.9.2020 The irony of Newcastle reducing coal dependence - Tech Talk Column 216


In September 1797, Lieutenant John Shortland went in the direction of Port Stephens searching for runaway convicts. He stumbled across what he later described as “a very fine coal river” and, in one of those ultimate moments of praising your boss, he took it upon himself to name the estuary the Hunter River after Captain John Hunter who was Governor of the British colony in New South Wales. With Shortland’s description of the deep-water port and the abundant coal in the ..

11.9.2020 The Holy Grail of solar panels - Tech Talk Column 215


In raising our four children, my wife and I hope we have managed to achieve many things but, at the very least, we hope we have taught them to have a sprinkling of scepticism about the world around them. When something seems just way too good to be true then, well, there is a pretty good chance that it is. You know the type of thing…the five million pound lottery win for a draw you didn’t enter; the windfall from the massive estate from the overseas deceased unknown relative and ..

04.9.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 214


Look! Up in the sky. It's a bird! It's a plane! It's…sorry, it’s not Superman. As much as many people like the idea of a guy flying around with his underpants over his pants protecting us, it is much more likely that if you look up in the sky today, you will see a drone. With a third company recently cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for commercial drone deliveries, we continue to edge closer to the vision of a thirty-minute turnaround from order to delive ..

28.8.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 213


I was looking through some photos recently and stumbled across an old photo of me from 1995. It was a newspaper clipping that had me with my head down on my keyboard sound asleep. No, it wasn’t a photo at the end of a night of hard-core gaming. It was at the opening of my business at midnight for the launch of Windows 95. This week sees the twenty fifth anniversary of the official launch of Microsoft Windows 95. Steve Jobs had not been at Apple for ten years so this was a heady tim ..

20.8.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 212


Pick your extravagance of choice. Chocolate, coffee, fruit, whatever. If I offered you a free single serving of your indulgence immediately OR a full day with free access to your preference if you went without for a week, would you wait for the greater reward? This is the basic premise of the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment. Young children sat down with one marshmallow in front of them. If they could resist eating the single marshmallow for fifteen minutes, they would receive two. In fol ..

14.8.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 211


I started selling computers in 1989. Desktop computers. It took me three years to sell my first notebook. Despite the fact that desktops only hold a market share position of 22.6 per cent now, thirty years ago it was rare to see someone use a notebook. There were two main reasons – high price and poor performance. The first notebook I did sell had a monochrome screen and was using the brand new 486SX processor along with 2MB of RAM and an 80MB hard drive. And I wanted one – b ..

06.8.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 210


I attended a local Chamber of Commerce function in April 2004 and the guest speaker was Tom Potter. No, not some distant relative of Harry. Tom founded the Eagle Boys Pizza chain in 1987. During his presentation, Tom mentioned that they had expanded the chain through New Zealand and had a monopoly on certain aspects of the pizza business in that country. As a throwaway line, Tom noted that many people think competition is good in business but he was of the opinion that owning a monopoly busi ..

31.7.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 209


Now normally I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but…Toot Toot! This week saw the thirtieth anniversary of the mobile phone network being switched on in my home city. My business had the privilege of enabling the very first connection in that city. I had started my first electronics business the previous year but it was on a trip to the Adelaide Grand Prix in November 1989 that school friend, Daryl Coxon, told me all about this new concept of mobiles. He said there was probably  ..

24.7.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 208


A decade ago I was privileged to have a tour through a new $18 million tiered theatre that was nearing completion. What most impressed me was the acoustic performance of the theatre. Sitting in the audience in any seat a person on stage could be heard clearly with no amplification necessary but then when the half million dollar sound system was fired up, the acoustics were even more impressive. At least I thought so. One of the other people in the tour group was a self-confessed audi ..

17.7.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 207


Way back in those crazed eighties when most kids were watching a Steven Spielberg movie on their Betamax or learning to moonwalk like Michael Jackson, I was doing my best impression of emulating the stars of BMX Bandits - although I never could find a girl that looked like Nicole Kidman collecting trolleys at the local supermarket. We would visit Tom Dawson at his cycle shop and marvel at the latest Mongoose and Quicksilver BMX bikes – in sizes small and large - and Tom would look  ..