iTWire - iTWire - Latest News iTWire - Technology news, trends, reviews, jobs http://www.itwire.com Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:22:55 +1100 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Do we need another Surface? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/shaw-thing/67539-do-we-need-another-surface? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/shaw-thing/67539-do-we-need-another-surface? Do we need another Surface?

Microsoft took a beating with the ill-fated Surface RT – quietly renamed Surface. Thankfully, – apart from looks - its nothing like the Surface 3 announced today.

RT was not even Windows light – rather a very early and hasty mashup to run something that looked like Windows on ARM based tablets – ostensibly to put a Windows product in the same arena as iOS and iPad. It was a three legged dog that did not run x86 software.

Surface 3 is an Atom x7 based tablet and if this processor performs as well as I suspect then it’s the tipping point for those who would like a Surface Pro 3 (Intel Haswell i3/i5/i7) and don’t need all that power. You can read the iTWire announcement article with more technical specifications here.

It is also smaller (10.8”) but uses Microsoft's 3:2 screen ratio so it gives more usable display space than a 16:9/10 found in the MacBook or many notebooks.

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Of course these wont ship in Australia until 5 May so all I can do in this opinion article is look at the form factor and repeat some information from early international ‘hands-on reviews’

Surface – more a design than a name

It is primarily a hybrid device – a tablet with an optional click on keyboard and a docking station. So it can be a tablet, laptop and even a desktop replacement. Microsoft developed this design and apart from the excellent HP Envy x2 (reviewed here) it has not been widely copied. That is OK as Microsoft know that (a) tablets are not for everyone and (b) the lowest bang for buck comes from making traditional clamshell notebooks.

There is a lot of cost and tech to fit a fully featured and powerful computer into an 8.7 to 9.1mm thin tablet format. Lets not forget the expensive Mag-alloy chassis and quality of components as well.

So Surface is a defining moment in tablet/hybrid design so any variation on it is welcome. Whether we see an 8” version (mini) or even a 15” version is not important.

Price

The elephant in the room with Surface is price – does A$699 (2GB/64GB) or $839 (4GB/128GB) without keyboard and N-trig stylus represent good value?

The Surface Pro ranges in price from $979 to $1829 plus keyboard (inc stylus). There has been some discounting (10%) lately indicating we may see an update in processor.

In comparison, the Surface Pro 3 i3-4020Y has a geekbench score very similar to the new Atom x7 in the Surface 3. So its probably good value compared to that.

I have no doubt that other OEMs will have sufficient room to produce lower cost notebooks using the Atom x7 but they rely on much less tech.

So its good value for what it is. And it’s a lot more compelling than the old Surface RT.

Who will use it?

I see three distinct markets.

Students – probably Grade 10 to University as it is an excellent travelling companion. It’s a clever move to use a standard micro-USB charger as well. The offer of Skype minutes, OneDrive storage and Office 365 personal for a year sweeten the deal.

Home users that want a laptop replacement – just plug in a large screen and a low cost USB hub and you have a good PC.

Business – I cannot find the statistic source but something like 97% of Windows PC users don’t need more power than to run Office! It will give mobility at reasonable price bracket – and the docking station is compelling.

Surface 3 for people who want Surface Pro 3, but do not need the extra performance offered by the Core i processors nor the larger display.

Those can be folks who work more on the go (hence the 4G LTE option), don't run heavy software, and who, when they're at the office, connect their Surface to a proper monitor (which Surface 3 can handle, of course). If that's you, maybe Surface 3 should be your first option.

Surface 3 retains all the other benefits provided by Surface Pro 3, like the compatibility with the docking station, Surface Pen support, and more, but offers them in a much more portable package. What's not to like?

 What about the Surface Pro 3

You can read iTWire reviews on this excellent device below

Week 1 - hands on review

Right for work - not bad for play

A desktop replacement

 

 

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ray.shaw@mci-group.com (Ray Shaw) ShawThing Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:10:58 +1100
NBN Co: 550,000 premises added, ABS: Downloads up 35% http://www.itwire.com/it-industry-news/telecoms-and-nbn/67538-nbn-co-550000-premises-added-abs-downloads-up-35 http://www.itwire.com/it-industry-news/telecoms-and-nbn/67538-nbn-co-550000-premises-added-abs-downloads-up-35 NBN Co: 550,000 premises added, ABS: Downloads up 35%

Although NBN Co says 33%, ABS stats say Internet download volumes have increased by 35% between December 2013 and 2014, with plenty more juicy stats!

Remember CDs and floppy disks? NBN Co points to the latest ABS Internet Activity, Australia, December 2014, here and says that Australians have ‘downloaded enough content online content to fill more than 6.3 billion CDs or 2.8 trillion floppy disks over the past year.’

Details on the 550,000 new homes and business added to the NBN Co rollout plan by September 2016 are below, but first, the ABS stats NBN Co has pointed to.

This CDs and floppy disks stat is compiled from the ABS report in the ‘volume of data downloaded’ section on the left hand side, where you get the statements that ‘Over the last year, the volume of data downloaded by fixed line broadband showed a 35% increase’ alongside the figures showing ‘Australia’s average broadband subscriber usage has grown from 45.6 GB per month in December 2013 to 58.0 GB per month in December 2014.’

In addition, the stats show ‘there are now 2.33 million people using an internet connection equal or faster than the maximum speeds available on ADSL2+ (24mbps or greater),’ although I note that plenty of people on ADSL2+ connections wish they were getting the full 24Mbps speeds an ADSL2+ connection is supposed to deliver - millions more clearly aren’t and won’t be anytime soon - or at least, until the NBN FTTN or FTTP reaches them.

Indeed, the ABS stats show this, and note on the ‘Advertised download speed’ section on the left hand side that: “The advertised download speed range that recorded the highest number of subscribers at 31 December 2014 was the 8Mbps to less than 24Mbps range, with 6.7 million subscribers, a 20% increase from the end of December 2013. More than half (53%) of all subscribers have an advertised download speed in the 8Mbps to less than 24Mbps range.

“The number of subscribers that accessed the internet at an advertised download speed of 1.5Mbps to less than 8Mbps decreased by 21% to 3.3 million subscribers between December 2013 and December 2014.

“More than 2.3 million subscribers accessed the internet at an advertised internet access speed of 24Mbps or greater.”

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NBN CO’s own network traffic report ‘also shows growth in heavy internet usage with the average total end- user data consumption on services over the national broadband network now at 67 GB per month (download only) compared with the latest national average of 58 GB per month.’

The left hand side of the ABS page also lists ’type of access connection’, the aforementioned ‘advertised download speed’, ‘number of ISPs’, ‘subscriber sector’, ‘volume of data downloaded’, ‘mobile handset subscribers’, ‘in this issue’ and ‘about this release’.

Commenting on it all is Tony Cross, NBN Co’s ‘Principal Technology Officer’ - which is presumably a fancy Government/administration way of saying ‘Chief Technology Officer’ said: “These figures show our appetite for smart devices and online content continues to grow at an exponential rate.

"The NBN is designed to provide a fast and reliable broadband network to help Aussie households keep up with their insatiable demand for connectivity.

“With access to fast broadband a family could be simultaneously streaming on-demand entertainment off multiple devices while still working from home using high-definition video conferencing, without worrying about lags or dropouts.”

In a welcome bit of news that helps speed up NBN connectivity for at least some Australians, NBN Co has also announced that 550,000 additional homes and businesses have been added to its national construction plan, to be connected by September 2016 in its latest ‘quarterly update’, and say this now ‘covers more than 3.1 million Australian homes and businesses.’

If you’re wondering where these 550,000 homes and businesses are, NBN Co says they include ‘Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast; Mt Gambier and Whyalla in South Australia; Bendigo and Docklands in Victoria; Bathurst in the NSW Central West and Castle Hill in Sydney’s North West; the township of Broome and the Perth suburbs of Hilton and Bassendean in Western Australia.’

NBN Co CEO, Bill Morrow, said:

“The addition of 550,000 homes and businesses to the construction schedule demonstrates the continuing momentum of the nationwide delivery of fast broadband.

“Our job is to ensure that all Australians can have access to fast broadband as soon and as efficiently as possible. Homes and businesses across Australia will benefit from the nationwide upgrade to Australia’s broadband infrastructure.

“These quarterly forecasts enable our customers, the telephone and internet service providers, to start planning for the delivery of broadband services to these communities.”

Despite this news, NBN Co is still yet to connect one million users, although it presumably won’t be too long before that threshold is crossed. NBN Co’s media release says ‘across Australia, more than 870,000 families and businesses are already able to experience fast broadband by connecting to the National Broadband Network.’

NBN Co has listed a summary its network traffic report (dated 31 December 2014):

  • The average total data usage (upload and download) per end-user on services over the NBN is 83 GB per month.
  • The average total download usage end-user on services over the NBN is 67 GB per month.
  • The average total upload usage end-user on services over the NBN is 15 GB per month.
  • The average wholesale download speed ordered by internet service providers is 33.6 Mbps.

NBN Co also points to other ‘recent research showing increases in demand for smart devices and online content’:

  • There is an average of 8 connected devices per household in Australia, Telsyte Digital Consumer Study, 2015
  • 25% of Aussies now have a Smart TV with 71% connected to the internet, Telsyte Digital Consumer Study, 2015
  • The main device Australians use for streaming online video remains the computer (67%), followed by smartphones (13%), tablet (9%) and others (11%) which includes games consoles and Smart TVs, Telsyte Digital Consumer Study, 2015
  • On average Australians spend 448 minutes (7hrs and 28 minutes) a month viewing streaming video such as catch-up TV as well as other content such as YouTube, on PCs and laptops up from 352 minutes (or 5hrs 52 mins), Australian Multi-Screen Report, 2015
  • In the past year, tablet use has grown to 2 hours and 3 minutes (up from 1 hour 47 minutes) while mobile video viewing rose to 2 hours 47 minutes on a smartphone (compared to 1 hour 56 minutes), Australian Multi-Screen Report, 2015
  • An estimated 6.2 million adult Australians (35%) used a communications application to either make phone or video calls, or send messages, ACMA Digital Lives Report, 2015
  • Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, Viber and Apple iMessage are the top five communications applications Australians with Facebook and Skype reaching 69% of users, followed by the video chat application FaceTime (46%), ACMA Digital Lives Report, 2015
  • Almost half (49%) of Australians have used the internet to work away from the office, ACMA Digital Lives Report, 2015

As per usual, NBN Co notes it aims to connect 8 million homes and businesses by 2020, and notes that ‘end user experience including the speeds actually achieved over the NBN depends on the technology over which services are delivered to the premises and some factors outside our control like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans and how the end user’s service provider designs its network.’

It even points to data from Sony showing CD-RW’s hold around 650MB of data, and that ’an average floppy disk’ can hold ‘around 1.44MB of data’, showing us how it calculated its 6.3 billion CDs and 2.8 trillion floppy disk stats.

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Telecoms & NBN Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:31:33 +1100
What is an Intel Atom x7? And why you should care http://www.itwire.com/business-it-news/byo-technology/67537-what-is-an-intel-atom-x7?-and-why-you-should-care http://www.itwire.com/business-it-news/byo-technology/67537-what-is-an-intel-atom-x7?-and-why-you-should-care What is an Intel Atom x7? And why you should care

Intel launched a new Atom processor family that has shown up first in the new Surface 3 released today. It is a significant step forward in processing power.

The codename is Cherry Trail - it is the next generation to the Bay Trail - built on a 14 nanometre process and drawing an almost impossibly low 2W to operate fan-less. The new family will be named x3, x5 and x7 to denote speed. All come with four physical cores and four threads, a 2MB L2 cache and support both Windows and Android operating systems.

Model

Cores /
Threads

Frequency /
Turbo

L2
cache

Graphics

GPU
Frequency

Memory

Atom x5 Z8300

4 / 4

1.44 / 1.84 GHz

2 MB

Gen 8-LP

200 / 500 MHz

DDR3L-RS 1600

Atom x5 Z8500

4 / 4

1.44 / 2.24 GHz

2 MB

Gen 8-LP

200 / 600 MHz

LPDDR3-1600

Atom x7 Z8700

4 / 4

1.6 / 2.4 GHz

2 MB

Gen 8-LP

200 / 600 MHz

LPDDR3-1600

Atoms have never been known as powerhouse processors but these are closer than ever before – of course Intel would not make slower CPUs. X3 (not yet released) is for entry-level smartphones and tablets, x5 and x7 for higher-powered tablets.

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These have 64-bit virtualisation, Advance Encryption Standards (AES) and Identity protection. Unlike previous dual core Atoms these only have one thread per core – no hyper-threading. This should give better performance and better power management over a dual core wth hyperthreading.

The Graphics processor has 16 execution units and is clocked at 200MHz but boosts up to 500/600MHz for graphic intensive tasks – the result is about 2x times the speed of the Bay Trail. It does hardware H.264, VP8, HEVC decoding. It supports DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.3, OpenGL ES3.0 and OpenCL 1.2 APIs and wireless displays. Three HD 1080 displays (one internal and two external) and one external 4K/2K monitor are supported.

The Atom used in the new Surface supports up to 8GB RAM dual channel, DDR3 memory at 1600MHz.

The System on a chip (SoC) also includes PCI-e 2.0, USB 3, SDIO 3, eMMC 4.51, NFC, Wi-Fi AC, wireless and quick charging, and legacy I/O interfaces. It can also have an Intel 3G/4G LTE modem (not released) and supports up to a 24MP camera and Intel Real Sense iris scanning cameras.

Where do they fit into the scheme of things?

Geekbench testing on the x7 is 3451 similar to the Intel Core M 5Y10 – a Broadwell based CPU used in the new MacBook. The key difference is that this has four physical cores with one thread per core and the Core M is two physical cores with two processes per core. In theory, the Atom x7 is a more powerful, more power efficient chip. To put this in perspective the Surface Pro 3 using an even earlier 4th generation i5 Haswell has a score of 5570.

Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba have announced products based on this SoC.

The x7 Z8700 is targeted at enterprise (Office users) as well – it has integrated security and remote management.

And why you should care

If real world use shows this SoC to be as good it loooks there will be further downwards price pressures that can only be good for end users.

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ray.shaw@mci-group.com (Ray Shaw) BYO Technology Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:06:00 +1100
Tyro opens first Fintech hub in Sydney http://www.itwire.com/it-industry-news/strategy/67536-tyro-opens-first-fintech-hub-in-sydney http://www.itwire.com/it-industry-news/strategy/67536-tyro-opens-first-fintech-hub-in-sydney Tyro opens first Fintech hub in Sydney

EFTPOS payments company TYRO has opened a new hub for financial technology startups in Sydney.

The Fintech Hub – in a refurbished art deco building in Clarence Street in the heart of the Sydney CBD - has been opened by Tyro to act as an exchange of ideas for the country’s innovation providers and entrepreneurs.

Tyro says the new facility, with room for 125 entrepreneurs, will also host accelerators, conferences, hackathons, meetups and seminars in a push to build and support Australia’s burgeoning technology companies in the financial services space.

Backed by Tyro CEO Jost Stollmann, the Fintech Hub has opened months before an alternative site, called Stone & Chalk, also opens its doors. Stone & Chalk is largely being financed by the country’s large banks and will also be located in Clarence Street.

{loadposition peter}“Clarence St, Sydney is now becoming ‘FinTech alley’ because of the emergence of two centres of excellence for emerging fintech startups,” Tyro Fintech Hub Head Andrew Corbett-Jones said.

“Tyro Fintech Hub and Stone & Chalk will complement each other and provide an eco-system along Sydney’s thriving western fringe adjoining Barrangaroo.

“The time has come for financial services to be disrupted and radically improved by a swarm of fintech entrepreneurs.”

“The finance and insurance sector is the largest industry in NSW, employing 180,000 people, and contributing $57 billion to the economy.

According to Corbett-Jones, more than 13,000 people currently study IT in NSW alone, and globally, fintech financing activity has grown from about $US100 million in 2008 to $US3 billion in 2013.

“We believe this space will be particularly attractive to anyone thinking about leaving their large slow-moving employer – whether that’s a bank, an insurance company or a professional services firm – and launching their own startup.

“Australia has some of the most innovative and creative minds in the world, and they need to be co-located with other equally creative people to test their thinking and commercialise their dreams.”

Stollmann said he was keen to see more companies do what Tyro had achieved by “powerfully disrupting banking in Australia”.

“We believe it takes an ecosystem to drive real change, and so we have committed substantial resources to build and grow the Tyro Fintech ecosystem.”

Startups wanting co-working desks can apply through the Fintech Hub website.

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peter.dinham@itwire.com (Peter Dinham) Strategy Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:44:05 +1100
How Call Journey lets you measure the effectiveness of every conversation http://www.itwire.com/business-it-news/business-technology/67535-how-call-journey-lets-you-measure-the-effectiveness-of-every-conversation http://www.itwire.com/business-it-news/business-technology/67535-how-call-journey-lets-you-measure-the-effectiveness-of-every-conversation How Call Journey lets you measure the effectiveness of every conversation

Australian software measures the emotions and sentiment expressed by callers.

Call Journey's voice analytics software goes beyond speech to text conversion by splitting the two sides of the conversation, spotting vocal elements unique to a speaker (and once the person has been identified, the software can recognise them in subsequent calls), and determining the caller's gender, emotions (from their speech) and sentiment (from the words they use).

This is done in realtime to give an immediate indication (see below), for example to spot conversations that are going downhill so a supervisor can get involved before it is too late.

The data file from the conversation can be subsequently fed into analytics software to determine what the call was about, whether it was successful, whether the agent mentioned everything they were supposed to, and how the customer responded (for example, what part of the conversation got them excited). It also provides a detailed record of the conversation.

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Detecting emotion is "highly powerful when dealing with calls," according to Call Journey director of enterprise intelligence Andrew Lamrock (pictured). It can even be used at the IVR (interactive voice response) stage to pre-identify the caller (giving a better customer experience and reduced call time) or, especially if the caller is showing signs of distress or anger, to direct the call to the agent best able to handle the situation, possibly by-passing additional IVR questions.

Call Journey

It can also help guide an agent, for instance where the words in the script aren't resonating as expected with the customer.

A distinctive feature of the system is that it can be used at scale, he said, even across a business's entire voice network if necessary. It also works with audio collected from two-way radios or microphones.

Also, the software is multilingual, and where other voice products can be tuned for an Australian dialect, Call Journey can be tuned to suit a particular client, for example with the vocabulary used in that organisation's transactions.

While Call Journey provides some lightweight analytics tools, the software is designed to work with other products such as SAS, Cognos, Ascribe or R for more advanced requirements. "We don't need to be good at analytics," said Lamrock, just good at providing good data for external processing.

"'Voice of the customer' is the hottest thing in marketing," said Lamrock, but hardly anyone actually listens to their customers' calls, or know what they want or how they think. Call Journey makes that possible, he said, not merely with a sample of calls but 100% of them.

"It's the biggest data source they've seen," and also the cleanest and most relevant, he added. Data from social media might be valuable, "but what about the true voice of the customer?"

Lamrock gave an example of Call Journey's effectiveness. An insurance company outsourced some retention work to a contract contact centre, but felt uncertain about the value it was delivering to customers.

By using Call Journey, "every single call was monitored" and the company identified a "really detrimental" pattern in the calls resulting from incorrect scripting and incentives, and the use of analytics helped develop a new script that gave better results. The revised script led to customers doing a bigger share of the talking, which gave the company more information leading to better recommendations.

The company "got a great result," said Lamrock.

Page 2: "A love meter for your business."


Customer retention requires a good relationship, and that's built on good conversations, he said. [That's questionable: this writer's best and longest lasting consumer relationships are with businesses that simply take the money and provide the goods or services as promised - any 'conversation' means something has gone wrong.]

"Your relationship with the customer is about the only thing that can't be copied," he said, pointing out that in many areas it is quick and easy to set up a business. If you want to be an energy retailer and you've got $1 million or so, Accenture can get you up and running in about a week. Then it's up to you to win and retain customers, and that's where Call Journey can help.

Net Promoter Score is "a really hot topic," he said, but rather than relying on sample surveys, Call Journey makes every call a survey response: if you can tell from the customers emotion and sentiment that the call was satisfactory, there's no need to ask.

This serves as "a love meter for your business" and reduces reliance on focus groups, Market Pulse and so on. Furthermore, there's an immediacy that's lacking when you survey customers the next day or later in the week, by which time something else could have happened that affects the responses.

Asked for the names of some representative customers, Lamrock replied "we don't name any," though he did reveal that Call Journey's software is widely used by telcos, banks, insurance companies and utilities. In addition, there is some use in the retail sector, mainly by franchise networks that want to know how cost-effective their 13/1300 numbers and other channels are.

But "typically it's the larger organisations with complex telephony platforms," he said.

The software can also be used with audio sources other than phone systems, for example microphones. But this is "only in the military space," Lamrock explained, where it is used to isolate the different voices in a physical space and therefore determine associations between people.

It isn't magic, so it cannot identify voices without samples from known individuals. Initial results might be along the lines of 'Person 14526 spoke to Person 65424 on 27 occasions in a one-week period,' but as voices are identified such information presumably becomes of greater value.

This aspect could be useful in the wash-up following recent financial advice scandals, Lamrock suggested. Recorded calls could be analysed to check whether the speaker was a qualified person and whether appropriate advice was being given, he said.

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swithers@blackandwrite.com.au (Stephen Withers) Business Technology Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:43:14 +1100
Datacom snares $242m government contract http://www.itwire.com/government-tech-news/govenrment-tech-policy/67534-datacom-snares-$242m-government-contract http://www.itwire.com/government-tech-news/govenrment-tech-policy/67534-datacom-snares-$242m-government-contract Datacom snares $242m government contract

IT services company Datacom has secured a contract valued at $242 million to supply ICT infrastructure and support services to the Federal Department of Health.

Datacom – in its 50th year of business - was selected by the department after a competitive tender process.

CEO of the Datacom Group Jonathan Ladd said the agreement is a departure from traditional IT Services Outsourcing with a structure to provide an outcomes-based fully managed service, with consumption-based pricing, and a strong focus on service delivery.

Ladd said this approach empowers Datacom to determine the best way to deliver the services, offering autonomy but also responsibility for the achievement of the outcomes.

{loadposition peter}“We’re delighted to have been awarded this work after going through a fiercely competitive process and an extensive follow up to ensure a support model that met the needs of the Department of Health,” Ladd said.

“This new partnership model, with Datacom delivering agreed outcomes, as-a-service, demonstrates leadership and a service delivery evolution by the Department of Health.

“Securing the Department of Health appointment recognises our significant track record, of public sector delivery, advanced technical capabilities and our long term commitment to the federal government market.”

According to Ladd, Datacom has a considerable portfolio of federal government work with new contracts with Australian Customs, Border Protection Service and CrimTrac, further complementing established engagements with the Department of the Environment, ATO, ACCC, NHMRC and Airservices Australia.

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peter.dinham@itwire.com (Peter Dinham) Government Tech Policy Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:34:45 +1100
Surface 3 re-surfaces http://www.itwire.com/your-it-news/home-it/67533-surface-3-re-surfaces http://www.itwire.com/your-it-news/home-it/67533-surface-3-re-surfaces Surface 3 re-surfaces

No it is not the Pro – the tablet that redefined x86 computing – but it has a lot in common.

Unlike the old ARM powered Surface RT tablet it has an Intel quad-core Atom x7 processor, a 10.8” Full HD screen, and runs Windows full fat, 64-bit 8.1 (and soon 10).

There is really no comparison with the old Surface RT except a relatively low cost for a fully-fledged Windows computing device - A$699 for the 2GB RAM and 64GB eMMC and $839 for the 4GB RAM and 128GB eMMC. A 4G LTE version is coming soon too.

I like the Surface design – the integrated kickstand and its low weight (622g without keyboard) make it an ideal travel companion. Pre-orders are being taken now for delivery around 5 May.

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Screen

It is 10.8”, full HD 1920x1080, and has the same aspect ratio as the Pro – 3:2 a better match for A4 paper’s ratio. In my experience with the Pro I have found that this ratio can give a fuzzy image via a data projector which expects 4:3 or 16:9 ratio. Microsoft is aware of this and promises a fix.

Camera

The 8.0MP rear camera has autofocus and is more than adequate for taking photos of scribble on black/white boards so it is ideal for students and those who attend boring meetings. The front camera is 3.5MP – way more than needed for Skype use.

Processor

Intel’s latest power sipping Atom x7-Z8700. It has a 2MB cache, 1.6GHz (2.4GHz turbo) and four physical cores and four threads – delivering power similar to the dual Core-M5Y10 used in the latest MacBook. It uses Intel HD graphics which supports up to three HD 1080 displays (internal and two external via Display port daisy chain or Docking station) and a single external 2/4K display. It also has Wi-Fi AC and Bluetooth 4.0 LE. Gyroscope, Compass, Accelerometer, etc.

If you were to compare this new Atom to the ARM based Apple A8 or Snapdragon 810 it is well above these in processing power so expect much better performance. It also has much improved video performance over the older – and still very adequate - Bay Trail Atom.

Battery

Claimed use is 10 hours video playback but expect ‘full day’ computing under normal use. Unlike the Pro it uses a micro-USB charging port so that allows you to use phone chargers and external battery packs.

Ports

A full size USB3.0, a mini-display port (buy a converter to HDMI, DVI or VGA), a microSD card reader, a micro-USB charging port and 3.5mm headset jack.

Software

Windows 8.1 64-bit. A one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal – Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher, and Access. It also includes OneDrive cloud storage and 60 Skype world minutes each month for 12 months.

Keyboard

Here is the catch – it is sold separately. Price – about $150. Consider getting a Bluetooth keyboard instead.

Pen

One of the Surface/Pro’s most underrated features is its ability to use an active pen/stylus. Another catch – it is an optional extra at $59.95.

It has 256 levels of pressure sensitivity, palm blocking technology, and is great to use as an annotation device, to sign documents, take notes (and convert to text) and draw. It works with any drawing program that uses a pen. This is a two-button pen – the side button is equivalent to a right click mouse to reveal formatting options and the top button enables the eraser and opens OneNote.

Opinion

I have not seen this in the flesh but I am a Surface Pro user. That redefined portable computing.

Interestingly my wife has an Asus T-100 Windows tablet powered by an older Atom processor and it does everything she needs - this new generation Atom will be even better.

This is aimed at the student market – light, reliable, and note that Microsoft has student discounts on the Pro so I expect it will be similar for the Surface 3.

While I, and most other IT journalists will comment that Microsoft should include the stylus and keyboard it gives you a lot of room to look at Bluetooth options and covers from other manufacturers. I am sure Logitech will have an integrated folio cover/keyboard soon.

I understand that there will also be a docking station at $279.99 so it is clearly aimed at workers as a BYOD device and it will be a great replacement for those who need Office on the go.

For an update on the new Atom x7 processor read iTWire's article here.

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ray.shaw@mci-group.com (Ray Shaw) Home IT Wed, 01 Apr 2015 09:40:26 +1100
More locations added to NBN build plan http://www.itwire.com/it-industry-news/telecoms-and-nbn/67532-more-locations-added-to-nbn-build-plan http://www.itwire.com/it-industry-news/telecoms-and-nbn/67532-more-locations-added-to-nbn-build-plan More locations added to NBN build plan

The latest update to NBN Co's construction plan shows another 550,000 homes and businesses in the areas where the rollout is at least being planned.

The time horizon of NBN Co's latest construction plan is "quarter end September 2016."

By that time, work should have commenced in previously unannounced areas around the country that contain a further 550,000 homes and businesses.

These new areas are:

Bathurst, Castle Hill (NSW)
Noosa (Qld)
Mt Gambier, Whyalla (SA)
Bendigo, Docklands (Vic)
Broome, Hilton, Bassendean (WA)

{loadposition stephen08}NBN Co's plan shows more than 3.1 million homes and businesses in the areas where construction is either underway or planned to start by September 2016.

These figures exclude premises that will be served by HFC, even though last December NBN Co chief customer officer John Simon said the "initial scale product launch" for HFC is expected in the first quarter of 2016.

Nor does it include the Long Term Satellite Service.

More than 870,000 homes and businesses can already connect to the NBN. NBN Co's interactive rollout map can be viewed here.

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swithers@blackandwrite.com.au (Stephen Withers) Telecoms & NBN Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08:50:19 +1100
Telstra to resell IBM SoftLayer cloud http://www.itwire.com/it-industry-news/enterprise-cloud/67531-telstra-to-resell-ibm-softlayer-cloud http://www.itwire.com/it-industry-news/enterprise-cloud/67531-telstra-to-resell-ibm-softlayer-cloud Telstra to resell IBM SoftLayer cloud

Telstra is continuing its close relationship with IBM, announcing it will sell services from IBM’s Softlayer Infrastructure-as-a-service (Iaas) platform.

IBM acquired privately held Softlayer for US$2 billion in 2013, and has since invested US$1.2 billion more to make it a premier supplier of cloud services globally. Last year it opened a new Softlayer data centre in the Melbourne suburb of Deer Park, and also has a hosted facility in Sydney.

Erez Yarkoni, Telstra’s Chief Information Officer and Executive Director of Cloud said the alliance will provide customers with choice and flexibility when adopting an efficient and agile hybrid cloud environment and demonstrated another key milestone in Telstra’s global cloud strategy.

“Telstra customers will be able to access IBM’s hourly and monthly compute services on the SoftLayer platform, a network of virtual data centres and global points-of-presence (PoPs), all of which are increasingly important as enterprises look to run their applications on the cloud. SoftLayer is a platform that lets businesses quickly migrate, build, test, and deploy their applications and innovations,” he said.

Yarkoni said Telstra’s Australian customers will have access to the full-range of SoftLayer infrastructure services, including bare metal servers, virtual servers, storage, security services and networking. “The network of connected enterprise-grade SoftLayer data centres will enable Australian business to manage data residency, security and resiliency.

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“Telstra customers can connect to IBM’s services via the Internet or with a simple extension of their private network. By adding the Telstra Cloud Direct Connect offering, they can also access IP VPN connectivity, giving them a smooth experience between our Next IP network and their choice of global cloud platforms,” Yarkoni said.

IBM’s Mark Brewer said: “Australian businesses have quickly realised the benefits of moving to a flexible cloud model to accommodate the rapidly changing needs of business today. IBM Cloud provides Telstra customers with unmatched choice and freedom of where to run their workloads, with proven levels security and high performance.”

Telstra seems to be covering all its bases with cloud. It also resells Microsoft’s Azure, and a year ago announced a close relationship with Cisco, reselling its Intercloud as one of only nine global partners (CommsWire, 27 March 2014).

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graeme.philipson@itwire.com (Graeme Philipson) Enterprise Cloud Wed, 01 Apr 2015 06:13:00 +1100
Government to adopt East German nomenclature http://www.itwire.com/government-tech-news/govenrment-tech-policy/67530-government-to-adopt-east-german-nomenclature http://www.itwire.com/government-tech-news/govenrment-tech-policy/67530-government-to-adopt-east-german-nomenclature Government to adopt East German nomenclature

Many Federal Government departments and agencies will be rebranded with names used in the former German Democratic Republic, the Government has announced.

In keeping with its move to a surveillance regime, the Federal Government has announced that a number of key departments and agencies will be renamed with those used by similar bodies in the former East Germany, properly known by the Orwellian title Deutsche Demoktratische Republik (German Democratic Republic).

“We are an English speaking country, but we feel that the names used in Communist East Germany are now more appropriate,” said Attorney-General Georg Brandis, whose own department will now be known as the Justizministerium.

“We want Australians to feel as comfortable as were the citizens of that socialist utopia, confident that they are safe from external and internal threats. If they do nothing wrong, they will have nothing to worry about.”

One of the most important changes will be to ASIO, which will now be known as the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, or ‘Stasi’ for short (Germans share the Australian love of abbreviations). It will be elevated to the status of a full Department, with Brandis taking on the role of Minister (Stasiminister).

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Other name changes include the renaming of the Australian Federal Police to the Australische Staats Polizei (Austapo) and that of the Department Customs, Immigrations and Border Security to the Ministerium für Grenzsicherheitzolleinwanderungs. All its officers will wear black uniforms and airport sniffer dogs will be replaced with German shepherds.

The ABC will be abolished and its role undertaken by News Limited, headed by Kamerad Rupert Murdoch, which will be renamed Nachricht AG. Murdoch tweeted that this will ensure impartiality in Australia’s media scene.

In a separate announcement, the Government has announced that a wall will be built around Canberra to prevent politicians and public servants escaping, and to stop them mixing and fraternising with voters and other real Australians. There will be a single border crossing at Queanbeyan, to be named ‘Checkpoint Tony’.

The Australian national anthem will be replaced with the German Version of ‘The Internationale’ and Karl Marx’s grave moved from Highgate cemetery in north London to Sydney’s Rookwood.

WARNING: The Ministry of Truth (Ministerium für Warheit) has directed that this article be labelled 'April Fools Joke', and that its publication ensures that iTWire has now reached its annual humour allowance.

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graeme.philipson@itwire.com (Graeme Philipson) Government Tech Policy Wed, 01 Apr 2015 05:33:27 +1100