IT HANG 5: The Ride of Our Lives on the IT Wave

December 8, 2009
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Having written a reflective blog on where we started in IT and one on where the future of research may take us, it’s worth contemplating the journey from past to present and into the future. And what a ride it has been – and indeed, still is. I had thought of titling this blog ‘IT – the never ending journey,’ but it seemed too much like fantasy (which the journey definitely is not) – and ‘Hanging 5’ at the local beach seemed much more tangible and fluid – besides tracking your surf board with a sensor or taking your water proof mobile (cell phone) is quite a reasonable scenario these days.

Being in IT as a technical professional has been an exhilarating and exciting ride. Nothing stays still (for long), new “toys” arrive to play with – and work had been a constant (and rewarding) learning experience. Lots of places – lots of industries. “Awesome” in today’s jargon. Even the idea of being in the ‘right place’ at the ‘right time’ doesn’t jell – because the IT time-line wave can be caught at anytime and the ride just as exhilarating. Today, I am regularly reminded of this constant change when I get the emails informing me that an on-line course/product update has been added to my



Having written a reflective blog on where we started in IT and one on where the future of research may take us, it’s worth contemplating the journey from past to present and into the future. And what a ride it has been – and indeed, still is. I had thought of titling this blog ‘IT – the never ending journey,’ but it seemed too much like fantasy (which the journey definitely is not) – and ‘Hanging 5’ at the local beach seemed much more tangible and fluid – besides tracking your surf board with a sensor or taking your water proof mobile (cell phone) is quite a reasonable scenario these days.

Being in IT as a technical professional has been an exhilarating and exciting ride. Nothing stays still (for long), new “toys” arrive to play with – and work had been a constant (and rewarding) learning experience. Lots of places – lots of industries. “Awesome” in today’s jargon. Even the idea of being in the ‘right place’ at the ‘right time’ doesn’t jell – because the IT time-line wave can be caught at anytime and the ride just as exhilarating. Today, I am regularly reminded of this constant change when I get the emails informing me that an on-line course/product update has been added to my Learning Plan and must be completed as part of my day-to-day obligation to ‘stay current’ and the Area ‘ready’ to support Teradata’s new products and services.

So what’s made the industry so dynamic? A lot of what we use computers (technology) for today were not even in science fiction 50 years ago. OK, so maybe Dick Tracey had a cool watch, and Andromeda was a test tube baby, but the constant contribution from incremental pure research effort, like Trent’s thesis work, which I talked about last time, Cruiser and PhoTable, provides a fertile ground for product innovation. There are many Australian inventions from the Hills Hoist to the Bionic ear that have forever changed our lives. By the way, don’t believe those who tell you that the Hills Hoist was invented as a clothesline – it was really designed as a backyard ‘swing-around’ which kids let their Mums use once a week!

Seriously though, the recent case over Australia’s CSIRO WiFi patent is a good example. The US patent 5,487,069 which was filed in November 1993 and issued in January 1996 was for the invention of “a peer-to-peer wireless LAN whereby mobile transceivers are each connected to, and powered by, a corresponding portable electronic device with computational ability.” This seemingly small invention is ubiquitous today – embedded in so many devices we take for granted: Our mobile phones, WiFi sound systems (for our surround sound) and computers at home (or work or in the park). Applied by vendors and products too numerous to mention.


This drawing is one of 8 diagrams submitted with the patent (makes a lot of sense – to some anyway).

Think about the initial benefit – no need for those kilometres of cables in the walls, under floors and in ceiling cavities – just to connect our computers, telephones or speakers. In fact just two years earlier (1993-94) I had my network team re-cable a whole building to get the higher connectivity speeds on offer and even laid second cables of fibre to ‘future proof’ the infrastructure as the cost of physically laying the cables was the major cost component – let alone the inconvenience for staff in each office to lay the cables. But by 1998 at a university I was working at, we were already embarking on campus wireless ‘hot spots’ and lending wireless cards using the reserve books process in the library. So in a four year period I had network infrastructure and new service deployment options.

Most BI applications today offer ‘reports’ or ‘alerts’ to a range of mobile devices while the iPhone has expanded the recipient market for information and created new application opportunities. Today you can surf for the best place to surf while on your board! Or if you are a land-lubber you can get all the stats for your jog from your shoe.

The real “high” of the IT wave has been delivered through sheer creativity in the application of basic concepts and invention. One invention solves many problems and creates a seemingly limitless set of new opportunities. It is in fact a ‘never ending’ journey. How cool is that!

Next episode – IT planning for the ‘never ending’ journey.

 

Christine Page-Hanify