iTWire - iTWire - Latest News iTWire - Technology news, trends, reviews, jobs Sat, 31 Jan 2015 14:52:05 +1100 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb VIDEO: No CHOICE but to fight fake fans, fake reviews VIDEO: No CHOICE but to fight fake fans, fake reviews

Ok, so we’re not talking counterfeit Dysons but fraudulent product reviews and fake followers on social media with a high cost to the low blow of fake popularity.

Remember Choice magazine’s campaign against the fake review industry from early December 2014?

You’ll find our article about it here, where we see consumer advocates Choice helping to expose the paid-for review, paid-for views, paid-for popularity industry that’s one big steaming pile of genuine fakery.

Now, Choice has taken on the challenge of investigating how easy it is for Australians to be duped online by fraudulent product reviews and fake followers on social media platforms.

Choice’s ‘head of media’, Tom Godfrey, said “When shopping online we increasingly rely on reviews on social media platforms and our opinions can be influenced by what we read and view on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

“But with 20 fake reviews costing a little under $2 each to publish, consumers need to be aware not all is as it seems online.”

The revelations come as part of a campaign the consumer group is running which takes aim at fake online reviews and bogus Facebook & Twitter profiles.

Godfrey adds: ”Consumers will be surprised to learn how easy and cheap it is to purchase popularity and bogus reviews on our favourite social media sites," says Mr Godfrey.

The CHOICE investigation, which is free to read online in full, found popularity can be purchased on most social platforms with Facebook likes costing $70 for 2,500, Twitter and Instagram followers $75 for 5000 and YouTube views just $70 for 25,000.

As well as lifting the lid on bogus likes and followers, CHOICE’s investigation also looked at paying for fake product or service endorsements.

Godfrey cautions that “many consumers will be unaware of how easy it is for businesses to manipulate their perceptions online and how simple it is for their identity to be misappropriated and used to endorse a product they may never have set eyes on. 

“Using a fake email address, we posted a job on a popular freelancing site asking for 15 reviews of an imaginary product.

“Within 24 hours 11 bids for the job were received from freelancers as far afield as South Africa and Jamaica, all willing to write a variety of positive reviews highlighting aspects of the product as instructed.

“We selected one freelancer who completed the job exactly to our specifications in 48 hours for just $34.00.

"It has been estimated 16% of online reviews on some sites are fake and we are aware of cases locally where large corporates have been caught posting bogus negative reviews against competitors.” [This refers to M. Luca’s 2013’s article for Harvard Business School entitled 'Fake It Till You Make It: Reputation, Competition, and Yelp Review Fraud’ - PDF Link]

Godfrey continues: ”From buying white goods and electronics to booking accommodation, manipulating consumers with fake reviews, ratings and likes is big business.

“The message is clear, if you are relying on ratings and reviews on social sites to make an informed purchasing decision – it won’t be too long before you’re misled into a poor choice.”

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Clearly, Choice hopes you’ll only make good choices and are being warned by Choice against making poor choices, to which a New Zealander could easily exclaim … Choice!

More fake product reviews for the fictional ‘Nutrimix’ product can be seen at Choice’s Click Kings YouTube channel - showing just how easy it is to believe something just because it is on the Internet.

Choice will continue its campaign to raise awareness of the fake review industry will continue to run across social platforms for the next 2 months - while also clearly, and without fakery, promoting itself as a genuinely worthwhile choice for you to spend your money on so you make better consumer choices in the future.

]]> (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Home IT Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:52:15 +1100
TechnologyOne buying ICON Software in $10 million deal$10-million-deal$10-million-deal TechnologyOne buying ICON Software in $10 million deal

Australian listed software company TechnologyOne has today completed a sale and purchase agreement to acquire unlisted software vendor ICON Software Solutions for $10 million.

In a statement to the ASX, TechnologyOne (ASX:TNE) said a substantial proportion of the purchase price is payable on the achievement of an earn-out, with the acquisition expected to be earnings neutral for FY15.

The ASX statement notes that the acquisition forms part of TechnologyOne’s strategic focus on providing innovative and relevant solutions for the local government sector.

Established in 2008, ICON is Australasia's leading provider of ePlanning and eGovernment software, and the two companies have successfully worked together over many years to deliver an integrated ePlanning and assessment solution to local government customers.

In a statement on the company website, TechnologyOne’s Executive Chairman Adrian Di Marco, said that the acquisition provided important functionality for the company’s offering in the local government sector, as well as deep domain expertise.

“ICON’s focus on online services for local government has many synergies with TechnologyOne.

“We already share many of ICON’s customers. The acquisition will enable TechnologyOne to offer an even more effective, best-in-class ePlanning and assessment solution.

“The solution also fits into our integrated and online centric local government enterprise vision. It adds to the already extensive set of online transactions available, further simplifying council operations as we continue to expand the depth and breadth of our solution.

“Our focus is on delivering an end-to-end solution and a single point of accountability for all TechnologyOne customers.”

The company says the acquisition builds on TechnologyOne’s dominant market position in local government, with over 70% of the 100 largest councils, and one third of all councils, across Australia and New Zealand partnering with TechnologyOne today – “the councils benefit from the company’s deep understanding of local government and ongoing investment in solutions for the sector”.

Di Marco said delivering innovative and relevant solutions to meet the current and future needs of local government was a strategic focus for TechnologyOne. “The unique IP and specialist functionality we are acquiring with ICON supports our vision of enabling councils to interact with their communities efficiently through online and digital channels”.

TechnologyOne has said it will invest in the ICON software, redeveloping the application to TechnologyOne’s “world class Ci Anywhere platform, providing smart mobile device technology and seamless integration”.

]]> (Peter Dinham) Listed Tech Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:30:48 +1100
Infosys elevates Groth to chief of Australia, NZ business Infosys elevates Groth to chief of Australia, NZ business

Indian outsourcing giant Infosys has appointed 30-year industry veteran Andrew Groth as Regional Head for its Australian and New Zealand business.

Groth, a senor executive with experience in technology, outsourcing, consulting, business processes and next-generation services, is responsible for leading strategy and growth for the $8.3 billion company’s third largest market globally.

Groth replaces Jacqueline Korhonen who Infosys’ regional head held the role for just over six years from November 2008 to December last year.

Based in Sydney, Groth joined Infosys in 2010 to head up the company’s Financial Services business in Australia and New Zealand. He has also undertaken other roles within Infosys, including Head of Financial Services – Asia Pacific, and most recently as Head of Enterprise and Industry Services.

{loadposition peter}Prior to Infosys, Groth was a Senior Vice President at Genpact based in London, where he led the growth of the business and its customer relationships across the EMEA region.

He also worked for 19 years with CSC in a broad range of roles, including strategic development for the company’s large-scale sourcing, systems integration and consulting business.  

Groth has an MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management and is a Senior Associate of the Australian & New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance.

]]> (Peter Dinham) People Moves Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:01:43 +1100
VIDEOS: Go ogle Microsoft Office on Android, Outlook iOS and Android! VIDEOS: Go ogle Microsoft Office on Android, Outlook iOS and Android!

Microsoft has finally announced the ‘general availability’ of its Office suite for Android tablets from Google Play, along with a preview of Outlook for Android and the release of Outlook for iOS.

The hockey puck has moved over to the iOS and Android side of the fence over the past few years, and Microsoft has finally skated there - even if the famed Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky would skate to where the puck would next be.

Where the puck will next be is yet to be seen - I’m not Wayne Gretzky - but at least Microsoft is finally skating in the right direction to where the bulk of today’s mobile users are - even if Microsoft hopes to win them all back in the future with Windows 10, just as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have won back many who switched to Android, who have now switched back.

That’s a lot of metaphors I’m mixing, but I’m guessing you know exactly what I mean.

In any case, we no longer have to put Microsoft on ice in the fear that we’d be stuck with Windows 8 forever and that MS Office would never come to non Microsoft platforms, because the Microsoft of 2015 is finally and thankfully changing a great deal from its days under Steve Ballmer or even Bill Gates - or at least, so it would seem.

The proof is in the Windows 10 pudding, as well as the fact Office for iPad delivered a truly great Office experience, and now it on ‘general availability’ for Android devices.

The news comes little more than a week after Microsoft previewed versions of Office for Windows 10 fully optimised for touch and mobile devices at its 21 January 2015 Windows 10 consumer preview launch.

Microsoft says Word, Excel and Powerpoint ‘have been specifically designed and built for the Android platform’, with Microsoft specifically designing for touch and, within each app, prioritising ‘the most important features for mobile or tablet scenarios.’

Here’s a 90 second video of Office for Android in action:

If you’re a consumer and have ‘an eligible Office 365 subscription, [you] will also have access to full editing features and OneDrive or DropBox storage’.

Commercial Office 365 subscribers will ‘also have the ability to save their documents to commercial storage (OneDrive for Business, DropBox for Business and SharePoint), use enterprise-grade security, IT management tools like MDM for Office 365, and the latest business features and functionality, including commercial use rights.’

But what do you get for free? Microsoft says ‘all other users will be able to create and print documents and perform core editing functions free of charge,’ which is good news!

The Office apps can be downloaded at the following links: WordExcel and PowerPoint 

More information on system requirements and features is at the Office blog here, but we have some additional details below, along with information on Outlook for iOS and the new Outlook Preview for Android. 

Now, if you thought Office for Android was already available, it was - but only in a preview version.

Microsoft says ‘the preview program itself generated more than 250,000 downloads for all the apps across 33 languages in more than 110 countries’, with ‘3,000 Android device variants covering more than 500 models with different sizes and hardware capabilities’.

To use Office for Anroid, you’ll need a device with a screen size of 7-inches or larger, although ‘a device with screen size greater than 10.1 inches will require an Office 365 subscription to create and edit’, with ‘an ARM based processor and 1 GB RAM or above’ and Android KitKat 4.4.x.

Android Lollipop 5.0 can run Office for Android, and while it’s not fully supported yet, it will be ‘in a subsequent update’.

Also Intel and Android users running Intel-powered Android tablets will be pleased to know that Microsoft says it is ‘committed to supporting Android devices with Intel chips via a native implementation that will be available within a quarter.’

So, what about Outlook for iOS and the new Outlook Preview for Android, also available today?

Outlook is Microsoft’s email, calendar, contacts and even files client, and these new versions replace the previous OWA (Outlook Web App) for iPhone, iPad and Andrdoid, although Microsoft does state that ‘businesses who want features such as IRM should continue to use the OWA for Devices experience on phones and tablets for the near term,’ with the promise that ‘these advanced features will be coming to Outlook on iOS and Android in the coming months.

Microsoft says the new app ‘works with all major email services (including (and Hotmail, Live and MSN), Exchange Online, Exchange Server (2007 SP2, 2010, 2013), Office 365, Gmail, iCloud and Yahoo! Mail, and is free for personal use, and qualifying Office 365 subscriptions will enable commercial use rights for businesses.’

For cloud storage, Outlook connects to OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive and Box. We will be updating Outlook to connect to OneDrive for Business.

Outlook for iOS requires iOS 8.0 and above and Android OS 4.0 and above - unliked Office for Android which requires KitKat 4.4.x as a minimum - at least for now. 

Here’s a 69 second video of Microsoft’s Outlook for iOS in action:

Microsoft answers some questions in its Office blog (listed below), with one listed as ‘why is the app called “Outlook Preview” on Android?’

The answer is that ‘the iOS version of Outlook is ahead of the Android version in terms of features and performance. Once we have completed sufficient work on Android to close the gap we will remove the Preview label.’

You can download Outlook from the iOS App Store and Google Play. Microsoft’s Office blog has plenty more details!

]]> (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Business Software Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:55:26 +1100
LibreOffice spruces up, adds new features in 4.4 LibreOffice spruces up, adds new features in 4.4

One of the major complaints levelled against free and open source software is that it looks bad. The user-interfaces for many applications are not geared towards being pleasing visually and this is not surprising as the software is merely meant to do a job.

But looks are important and over the years have become more important, sometimes even than the actual functionality. An ounce of image, as the late Peter Lawrence wrote, often outweighs a pound of performance.

LibreOffice is not in the category of software that does a poor job. The office suite is great piece of work and satisfies the needs of many, not merely in the GNU/Linux world but also in the Windows and Mac worlds.

The developers behind this project have now decided to dress up the office suite a little better. With the release of version 4.4 on Wednesday, the team behind LibreOffice has made the program look a lot spiffier.

"LibreOffice 4.4 has got a lot of UX and design love, and in my opinion is the most beautiful ever," Jan "Kendy" Holesovsky, who is on the membership committee
and is leader of the design team, was quoted as saying in a media release.

"We have completed the dialog conversion, redesigned menu bars, context menus, toolbars, status bars and rulers to make them much more useful. The Sifr monochrome icon theme is extended and now the default on OS X. We also developed a new colour selector, improved the sidebar to integrate more smoothly with menus, and reworked many user interface details to follow today's UX trends."

The following are some of the other features in the new version:

  • Support of OpenGL transitions in Windows, and improved implementation based on the new OpenGL framework
  • Digital signing of PDF files during the export process
  • Installation of free fonts Carlito and Caladea to replace proprietary Microsoft C-Fonts Calibri and Cambria, to get rid of font related issues while opening OOXML files
  • Addition of several new default templates, designed by volunteers
  • Visual editing of Impress master pages, to remove unwanted elements, adding or hiding a level to the outline numbering, and toggling bullets on or off
  • Better Track Changes with new buttons in the Track Changes toolbar and AutoCorrect features in Writer
  • Improved import filters for Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Publisher and AbiWord files, and Microsoft Works spreadsheets
  • New import filters for Adobe Pagemaker, MacDraw, MacDraw II and RagTime for Mac
  • Greatly expanded support for media capabilities on each platform.
]]> (Sam Varghese) Open Source Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:57:25 +1100
Quickflix looking for a way out as Netflix looms Quickflix looking for a way out as Netflix looms

The streaming market is picking up – but is it happening in time for home-grown player Quickflix? Time is running out.

You’ve got to hand it to Quickflix. It saw that video on demand (VOD) was going to happen, and it built a technically robust system to deliver it. It attracted substantial capital and floated on the ASX.

Quickflix built it, but they did not come. It nearly went bust a couple of years ago, but after a few problems with investors it has cut its costs and got some new backers. Its streaming numbers are up and it says it is recovering.

Problem is, just as it is doing so the big boys are coming into the market – Foxtel’s Presto launched last year, Nine Entertainment and Fairfax delivered Stan just this week, and US giant Netflix will launch a local operation in March.

It seems Quickflix went to market a little early. Now its market value has collapsed and it says it is discussing its options with investors and other players in the industry.

Quickflix’s share price was above 20 cents at its peak in 2007. It started ely as a video rental business, posting out DVDs to people who ordered them online. But things went stale and there was a precipitous decline in 2008, which wasn’t helped when the whole market declined during the GFC.

The share price doubled after it announced movie streaming in October 2011, but it soon fell back again, and it has been in decline ever since. TIts shares are now almost worthless, at .2 of a cent, giving the company a market capitalisation of only $3.63 million.

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That means many investors have seen the values of their stakes in Quickflix virtually disappear. US cable giant HBO made a $10 million investment in February 2012. Most of its investment was subsequently sold to Nine Entertainment, and it is now owned by Stan.

There are signs the share price and investor confidence could recover, but that has been the case for some time now, while the share price has continued to slide. Yesterday Quickflix issued an upbeat quarterly update which shows the number of customers streaming exceeds the number of those using DVDs for the first time.

Key highlights in the December quarter were:

  • Total customers of 136,670, up 6.1%
  • Paying customers of 117,106, down 0.9%
  • Revenue receipts steady at $5.0 million
  • Operating and investing expenditure of $6.0 million, down 26%
  • Net operating and investing cash outflow of $1.0 million down 66%
  • Cash at bank of $2.1 million.

A quick piece of simple arithmetic shows that if it is still losing $1 million a quarter and it has cash reserves of $2 million, it will be out of money by the middle of this year. No wonder the share price is so low. In 2013-14 it lost $10.5 million, so it has stemmed the losses, but a primary rule of business is to make money, and Quickflix is not doing that.

Quickflix says it recorded strong growth in new customer signups in December, resulting in total customers reaching 136,670. What it doesn’t mention is that the total number of customers, as its own data shows, has not gone up in nearly three years, though the proportion of them streaming has. Streaming has increased 70% since a year ago.

It prefers to concentrate on the increase in ‘trialist’ subscribers of 58% in the quarter. It does admit that the number of paying customers as at the end of December was lower, but “the influx in new trialist customers should translate to an increase in paying customers and revenues during the current quarter.

CEO and founder Stephen Langsford is relentlessly optimistic. He has to be. “Quickflix will press its advantage of having an established streaming service that is available on more devices than competitors and offering the very latest movie and TV content under a transaction model, in addition to its value-for-money subscription service.

“It will continue to complement this by offering Australia’s only online DVD subscription service and access to the largest range of movie and TV content. Discussions are progressing with industry parties and investors in relation to growth opportunities.”

He does not elaborate, but given Quickflix’s substantial streaming infrastructure, and its customer base of 70,000 streamers, you’d think someone like Stan or Netflix would buy it for these assets. It would be a fire sale price, given the state of the company’s shares.

Just which “industry parties” is Quickflix talking to? What will they do? When will it happen?

Time is running out.

]]> (Graeme Philipson) Listed Tech Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:36:18 +1100
Apple releases iOS 8.1.3, OS X 10.10.2, Safari updates Apple releases iOS 8.1.3, OS X 10.10.2, Safari updates

If you’ve been waiting for the latest versions of iOS and Mac OS X to arrive, as well as security updates for Safari 6, 7 and 8, they’re finally here and waiting for you to download!

If there’s one thing we know about iOS 8.x and OS X 10.10.x, it's that they’re buggy - or at least, in parts. 

iOS 8.x users have had to put up with Safari having problems with web pages that it never seemed to before, forcing a page refresh and stealing a second or two from your life each and every damn time.

Spotlight has had issues where results would stop appearing, and third party keyboards sometimes have issues, too, where they just won’t appear properly.

Whether iOS 8.1.3 fixes the Safari page rendering problems or third-party keyboards is something I’m yet to discover, as I’m about to download the update, but what does Apple say the latest iOS offers?

Apple says ‘This release includes bug fixes, increased stability and performance improvements, including:’

  • Reduces the amount of storage required to perform a software update
  • Fixes an issue that prevented some users from entering their Apple ID password for Messages and FaceTime
  • Addresses an issue that caused Spotlight to stop displaying app results
  • Fixes an issue which prevented multi-tasking gestures from working on iPad
  • Adds new configuration options for education standardised testing

On an iPhone 6, the update is 247 megabytes in size. Click on Settings, General and Software Update to make the move to iOS 8.1.3.

The security content of this update can be found here.

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OS X 10.10.x users have complained of Wi-Fi issues and slow page loading in Safari, although I can honestly say these two issues haven’t affected me.

That said, Apple says these two issues have been fixed, so those who have been experiencing these problems will soon report whether they’ve really been fixed, at last, or not.

Apple advises that users make a backup using Time Machine before installation. It also asks you not to turn off your Mac or otherwise interrupt the installation process once you’ve started installing the update.

While the update can be installed by clicking on the Apple logo in the top right hand corner of the screen, then clicking 'App Store' and then clicking on the Updates tab, the update can also be downloaded as a standalone installer if you have several Macs to update, with the standalone update available here.

According to this page, the OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 update by itself is 554.3 megabytes, while a ‘Combo’ update that includes all previous 10.10 updates weighs in at 841.1 megabytes.

So, what improvements does this update offer for consumers?

  • Resolves an issue that might cause Wi-Fi to disconnect
  • Resolves an issue that might cause web pages to load slowly
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Spotlight to load remote email content when this preference is disabled in Mail
  • Improves audio and video sync when using Bluetooth headphones
  • Adds the ability to browse iCloud Drive in Time Machine
  • Improves VoiceOver speech performance
  • Resolves an issue that could cause VoiceOver to echo characters when entering text on a web page
  • Addresses an issue that could cause the input method to switch languages unexpectedly
  • Improves stability and security in Safari

For enterprise customers, this update:

  • Improves performance for browsing DFS shares in the Finder
  • Fixes an issue where certain Calendar invitations could be displayed at the incorrect time
  • Fixes an issue for Microsoft Exchange accounts where the organizer of a meeting might not be notified when someone accepts an invitation using Calendar
  • Addresses an issue where Safari could continually prompt for credentials when accessing a site protected by NTLM authentication
  • Adds the ability to set "Out of Office" reply dates for Microsoft Exchange accounts in Mail

The security content of this update can be found here.

Meanwhile, Safari has been updated to version 8.0.3, 7.1.3 and 6.2.3, for Yosemite, Mavericks and Mountain Lion respectively.

WebKit has been updated to prevent a maliciously crafted website leading to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution.

Apple says that ‘Multiple memory corruption issues existed in WebKit. These issues were addressed through improved memory handling.’

The following are the CVE-ID’s fixed by this update

CVE-2014-3192 : cloudfuzzer
CVE-2014-4476 : Apple
CVE-2014-4477 : lokihardt@ASRT working with HP’s Zero Day Initiative
CVE-2014-4479 : Apple

More information on the Safari updates can be found here.

]]> (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Home IT Fri, 30 Jan 2015 03:08:04 +1100
St George Bank, BSCG partner on new SME apps St George Bank, BSCG partner on new SME apps

St.George Bank has launched MyBusinessConnect, what it says is a platform of innovative cloud-based applications handpicked by experts to help small businesses and start-ups run their business more easily and effectively.

Called MyBusinessConnect, the platform is claimed by St George as an Australian-first service provided by BCSG, a cloud solutions provider which supports small business clients around the world with "expert knowledge and distinctive, beneficial services through a cloud-based platform".

Chris Screen, Head of SME Banking at St.George said MyBusinessConnect is geared towards helping small businesses and start-ups run their business more effectively so they have more time to focus on the things that matter most.

“St.George is a huge supporter of small businesses. We work with over 300,000 small businesses locally and understand the daily pressures they face. To help our small business customers grow, we’ve teamed up with BCSG to provide the most compelling start-up proposition in the market place.

{loadposition peter}“Whether business owners need help to manage their finances, execute a marketing campaign, or develop a business plan – MyBusinessConnect is the solution to help businesses get ahead.

“It’s also available anywhere, anytime, from any device and if our customers need any help along the way, there’s instant access to customer support by phone, webchat and e-mail,” Screen said.

Screen said St.George has collaborated with BCSG experts to select four packages of cloud-based applications for its small business and start-up customers and the applications are packed with a wide range of features including time saving tools for managing cash flow, website design options, and protection tools to stay legally complaint and safeguard lost computer files.

MyBusinessConnect is available online from any device with an internet connection. St.George customers can subscribe to the Manage Finances, Grow Online or Business Protection applications at a discounted rate with up to 70% off RRP.

For the complete pricing table click here:

BCSG Australia managing director Paul Wenck said BCSG is “delighted to be working with St.George on this innovative proposition”.

“It is an exciting opportunity to be the first to bring online tools to small businesses in this way in Australia. BCSG are passionate about supporting small businesses to be successful and MyBusinessConnect is a great way for them to access services that really help, at a very competitive price.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) Cloud Fri, 30 Jan 2015 01:24:48 +1100
Young lawyers: talk your way to success Young lawyers: talk your way to success

Being able to articulate your position and speak clearly is a skill every lawyer should be well versed at, but are young lawyers texting and typing their way to failure?

BigHand is a company that offers workflow, document automation, digital dictation and voice productivity software, providing services to a range of fields including legal, medical, accounting, construction, mining, property and many more.

It uses Nuance’s voice dictation engine in its software, with both BigHand and Nuance conducting a series of test with a group of leading lawyers, and came to the conclusion that ‘today’s lawyers are focusing too heavily on written communication at the expense of oral communication, putting at risk mastery of fundamental lawyering skills and impeding efficiency at law firms’.

Theodora Ahilas, Maurice Blackburn, Principal and Director, said: “This generation of graduates and younger lawyers verbalise their ideas and thoughts by putting it on the screen - by typing.

“They are fantastic in print, but when you question them on their documents, in some instances, they fall short of being able to articulate their position.

“Part of our work is actually having a lot of court appearances, so you have to be able to get up and talk

“Judges will throw questions at you, and you have to be able to answer them in a well-thought-out, articulate way.”

Julia Harris, Partner at Carroll O’Dea Lawyers, says that the rise in texting and emailing has had a “massive effect” on her generation and those younger to her.

“In terms of doing business and being a lawyer, the ability to sit down, and look someone in the eye and listen to their story and use your intuition is so important and it does concern me that people are losing that skill and I just don’t think that sending a text message or email without properly considering it is the right way to communicate,” she said. “I think that the phone call is almost becoming a lost art,” explained Harris.

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The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby, retired Justice of the High Court of Australia, agrees and says that the telephone is a “beautiful thing”.

“Younger people are losing the art of speaking to each other via telephone. They text. Even when they are in the same place! Even when they are in the same room! It’s ridiculous!

“Oral communication and the way in which we can put things over not only by words, but by gestures, by a look, by a raised eyebrow, by actions – this is the way we really communicate with each other and we see the whole message, the whole context, and that makes for better understanding” he said.

Kirk Warwick, Senior Associate, Norton Rose Fulbright argues that emailing effectively is a skill in itself.

“Today, a lot of communication is being done in the form of email, where you can reflect on what you are saying and read the last sentence before producing the next one to ensure it is structured appropriately.

“I do think this is a skill that it is being utilised to the detriment of being able to really corral thoughts and deliver your ideas verbally and think on the fly.

“As a lawyer, you’re going to be confronted with situations where you’ve got clients or opponents on the other side of the table, you’re running negotiations, you’re in court and the judge wants you to address a particular issue.

“You are really going to have to be able to take that in your stride, process that information, and then deliver something that is concise. I think that is only something that is developed with practice,” concluded Warwick.

The view that typing an email or developing documents via typing them into a computer is most efficient use of a lawyer’s highly-valuable time is a fallacy, according to tests conducted by BigHand and Nuance.

Anthony Bleasdale, Director Asia Pacific at BigHand explained: “Tests show that lawyers are typically three times more efficient when verbalising their ideas rather than typing them.

“This is a significant result in an industry where time is money.

“Law firms need to ensure they are not losing efficiencies in how their lawyers are working, provide the right tools to maximise their efficiency and ensure younger lawyers are developing the oral communication skills they need.”

Maurice Blackburn’s Ahilas agrees, stating: “We are actually becoming less efficient, rather than becoming more efficient in our time by becoming slaves to the computer and typing ourselves, rather than actually thinking about what we are doing and having a system and protocol to develop our ideas through dictation.

“A junior lawyer will say to me ‘but I am much more efficient typing it up than actually dictating it’.

“I don’t think that they realise that dictating can be much more efficient because not only do they have clarity of thought, they get it done much quicker than sitting at the computer and actually typing up the document. The best way to do it is to dictate the document, get in back on the system, correct it and then get it out.

“We time cost our work. It is much more efficient for clients that I spend 15 minutes of that hour dictating it and it gets typed by someone else, rather than spending an hour and a half typing it up and then I’ve used their quota or the amount of time allocated for the particular task,” she said.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s Warwick added: “I was certainly a bit surprised at how much quicker I could verbalise something more than typing it. But then typing something is a much more mechanical process and delivering information verbally can be much more fluid.

"There is a huge amount of blue sky for digital transcription technology to fill. I think that this technology will really drive efficiency, and really make the way that we operate much more fluid and really save some time."

BigHand and Nuance Communication conducted four tests on leading lawyers to determine how their verbal dictation and typing speeds compared.

In the tests, the ‘average benchmarking task’ showed it is 3.73 times faster to use your voice. When it came to the ‘average memory task’, the test revealed it is 3.25 times faster to use your voice.

The following chart shows the test results.


For more information, full video interviews with the lawyers above can be seen here

]]> (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Business Software Fri, 30 Jan 2015 00:49:53 +1100
No CHOICE but to ‘HideMyAss’ for global content access?‘hidemyass’-for-global-content-access?‘hidemyass’-for-global-content-access? No CHOICE but to ‘HideMyAss’ for global content access?

Consumer advocate Choice magazine has released its research on which VPN service it thinks is best for privacy protection while browsing the Internet and opening up access to geo-restricted content like ‘The Daily Show’.

If you’re looking to access content that’s blocked from those not in the US, the UK or other countries, one way of getting it is by using a VPN - virtual private networking software.

Choice spokesperson Tom Godfrey says: “Businesses use all sorts of tricks to try to keep Australian consumers out of overseas stores. A VPN unlocks a world of options and savings.

“VPNs have a range of uses. They can help you secure your internet connection and hide the data you send and receive online. This helps you keep your personal information private.”

Choice released a copy of its paid research in a link for people to read, which as of now is open to anyone to look at, and while Choice hasn’t said anything about restricting access to the research in the future, it’s probably worth having a look now if you’re interested.

The consumer advocates looked at 12 of what is says is the most popular VPN services, ‘ranking them based on their ease of use and performance’.

The top 3 VPNs are HideMyAss, PureVPN and VyprVPN, while the others are CyberGhost VPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish, OverPlay, privateinternetaccess, TorGuard, TunnelBear and VPNSecure.

However, as Fairfax Media points out, TorrentFreak says HideMyAss keeps extensive logs on user activity, with TorrentFreak’s own guide to the most private VPNs due next month (February 2015).

Even so, Choice makes the observations that a reliable VPN service can:

- Protect people from identity theft when using risky public networks, like unsecured café Wi-Fi.
- Open up opportunities for savvy consumers to seek out better shopping deals from international retailers.
- Give TV lovers the ability to access streamed content from overseas that is blocked for Australian viewers.

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Choice’s Tom Godfrey adds: “Consumers shouldn’t be locked in to a bad deal just because they live in Australia.

“Australian consumers want to be able to purchase things at a reasonable price, and access the products that are available in other countries. Using a VPN service is like being given the keys to the global marketplace, with all of its competitive benefits.”

“With the launch of new streaming services and a falling dollar, we are starting to see more affordable streaming and video on demand services in Australia. This is a great win for consumers. However, people don’t need to be locked in to local options if it doesn’t suit them. There’s a global marketplace available with the help of VPNs.

“Some content in Australia is available, but at uncompetitive prices compared to overseas. The award-winning Daily Show with Jon Stewart can be watched in Australia if you have a Foxtel Play subscription costing a minimum of $45 for one month, or you can purchase individual episodes on iTunes for $2.99 each.”

“With a VPN, consumers can legally access this content online for free with advertisements. Ultimately this about increasing choices for people looking to be safe online and consumer legitimate content”.

Choice backs up the last sentence with the following explanation:

'Foxtel Play price based on minimum ‘Single Genre Based Pick plus Premium Movies & Drama’. The Daily Show is screened on the Comedy Channel, only available with the Premium Movies & Drama Premium Pick. iTunes prices here. US consumers can watch the Daily Show for free online here.'

So, whatever you use a VPN for, it most certainly does have very legitimate uses, and if the Australian Government ever does decide to put its metadata monitoring program in place, a VPN will be one way to sidestep that issue while opening up a world of otherwise geo-restricted content.

]]> (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Home IT Fri, 30 Jan 2015 00:22:28 +1100