Aust broadband will fail to compete globally, expert says
One of the United States' top technology gurus is warning that Australia will not be able to compete in the global economy if it does not greatly improve its broadband internet capabilities.
Professor Larry Smarr from the University of California is collaborating with Melbourne University on a broadband connection 3,000 times faster than what is available to Australian consumers.
This morning the two universities will unveil a broadband link between the two institutions which moves data at one gigabit per second.
The quality and speed of Australia's broadband is below that of many other countries, according to Professor Smarr, one of the original architects of the internet.
Partyboy Corey Delaney faces child porn charges – Security – www.itnews.com.au
Partyboy Corey Delaney faces child porn charges
The Melbourne youth at the centre of an out of control house party, has been charged with offences relating to child pornography, after he had allegedly taken lewd photos of semi-dressed girls at the party with his mobile phone
Microsoft Office 2008 upcoming release in Oz – Software – www.itnews.com.au
Microsoft Office 2008 upcoming release in Oz
On January 31, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac will be launched in Australia. The announcement was made at the recent Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco
Three versions will be released: Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition, and Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition. Customers with any previous version of the software are eligible for upgrade pricing.
To coincide with the Australian release, the local Mac business unit website Mactopia will go live on January 31. It is designed to be a “resourceful hub” for all Mac BU-related topics
FBI warns of malicious email scam – Security – www.itnews.com.au
FBI warns of malicious email scam
The bogus messages often include pictures of FBI director Robert Mueller, along with the organisation's official seal, letterhead and banner.
"The FBI does not send out emails soliciting personal information from citizens," said the agency.
"The social engineering technique of using the FBI's name is designed to intimidate and convince the recipient that the email is legitimate.
"Please be cautious of any unsolicited email referencing the FBI, Robert Mueller or any other FBI official endorsing any type of internet activity."
The emails are typically a notification of a 'lottery win' or long-lost relative leaving an 'inheritance'.
Other emails offer website monitoring containing malicious attachments, and online auction scams.
Submarine cable makes FTTN link for Australia : News – Communications – ZDNet Australia
Submarine cable makes FTTN link for Australia
Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy officially announced plans to build a 6,900km undersea cable between Guam and Sydney which will become one of the first links in the government's national fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network chain.
Internet exchange vendor Pipe Networks announced today that it will be constructing the AU$200 million cable system known as the Pipe Pacific cable-1 (PPC-1), a two-pair fibre cable capable of delivering 1.92 terabits of data per second which is expected to become part of the foundations for the government's national FTTN network.
Construction of the cable is expected to be completed in mid to late 2009, and will subsequently link Australia to existing cable systems in Asia, the US and Europe through an exchange in Guam.
Pizza Hut rolls out mobile ordering – Mobility – www.itnews.com.au
Pizza Hut rolls out mobile ordering
The unit of Yum Brands Inc this week introduced new cell phone services that let customers order from any of its 6,200 outlets nationwide via text message or the mobile Web
Within five years, Pizza Hut aims to earn half its revenue from orders placed via computers and mobile phones, he said.
Pizza Hut is not the first to offer mobile ordering services, but the Dallas-based company says its service is the broadest and most comprehensive
Boffins create the ultimate black – Hardware – www.itnews.com.au
Boffins create the ultimate black
Scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York have made black paint that absorbs light almost perfectly..
The paint is the "darkest man-made material ever", according to the team, reflecting just 0.045 percent of light.
Normal black paint reflects between five and 10 percent, and the new black is almost 30 times darker than the carbon used by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology as the current standard.
The application will be for things like more efficient solar cells, more efficient solar panels and any application where you need to harvest light."
The paint uses a thin layer of carbon nanotubes which trap light waves inside their cylindrical structures. This can be used by solar cells to trap more energy and hopefully produce new levels of efficiency.
Mac users targeted by fake antivirus tool – Security And Utilities Software
Mac users targeted by fake antivirus tool
Mac users are being warned against downloading a "free" rogue security application, MacSweeper, which guarantees to find a virus on Apple systems.
False positives: MacSweeper guarantees to find a virus.
Finnish security company F-Secure says the application is reminiscent of scams that often target Windows users.
By making the intended victim believe they have a virus, the distributors of MacSweeper hope to sell software to the concerned user. Should a user make a purchase, they will find themselves paying for software that simply doesn't work.
Nation of hoarders: 30 million PCs rot in Australia: News – Hardware – ZDNet Australia
Nation of hoarders: 30 million PCs rot in Australia
In 2008, seven million PCs will be available for recycling. Of those, just 500,000 will be recycled, 1.6 million will be sent to landfill, and the remaining 5.4 million PCs will collect dust in garages. ZDNet Australia asks why Australians treat old PCs like last night's leftovers by covering, storing and deferring the purge until the item's value flatlines.
Australia misses out on iTunes movie rentals: News – Software – ZDNet Australia
Australia misses out on iTunes movie rentals
Apple's iTunes Store in the US now allows users to rent movies rather than purchase them, but there's still no word when a similar service might be available Down Under.
Movies and TV shows aren't available for download from Apple in Australia.
Rented movies from the US iTunes Store can be kept for up to 30 days, but must be viewed within 24 hours once the user starts to play the film.
Robots to rule at Rio Tinto
Ben Woodhead | January 18, 2008
RESOURCES giant Rio Tinto will replace humans with robots in its Western Australian mining operations over the next two years as it rolls out a fleet of automated vehicles including trucks, trains and drilling rigs.
Rio Tinto chief Tom Albanese wants the resources giant to be global leaders in fully integrated, automated operations
The work is part of Rio Tinto's 'mine of the future' program, which has been underway for close to a decade and aims to radically transform mining by automating processes throughout the supply chain.
"We're aiming to be the global leaders in fully integrated, automated operations," Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese said today as the miner unveiled its plans for robotic mining over the next two years.
"It will allow for more efficient operations and directly confront the escalating costs associated with basing employees at remote sites, giving us a competitive advantage as an employer along the way."
Telstra takes court fight up to Conroy
Michael Sainsbury | January 18, 2008
TELSTRA has shifted its court battle with the previous Coalition government over last year's decision to hand an Optus-led consortium $958 million in funding, taking the legal fight to new Labor Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.
Sol Trujillo's Telstra is appealing against a Federal Court decision denying it access to secret government documents
The telco is appealing against a Federal Court decision denying it access to secret government documents on the bid.
But the OPEL consortium, which also includes regional services provider Elders, has yet to receive its cheque from the Government. OPEL is understood to have handed Senator Conroy the details of its plan, needed to finalise the contract.
It remains unclear why he has not signed off on the cheque.
Senator Conroy was against the tender for regional services run by the previous government but has said he will honour any legally enforceable contracts.
Telstra's legal move comes only days before Senator Conroy's decision on whether to let the telco shut its regional CDMA mobile network. The minister is considering two departmental reports on coverage and services of the NextG network that will replace CDMA.
Google wants to feed the world
Kevin Delaney | January 18, 2008
IN one of the most widely watched efforts in corporate philanthropy in years, Google said it will dole out nearly $US30 million ($34 million) in new grants and investments to nonprofits and a private business that are taking on do-good projects such as tapping solar power, preventing plagues and improving public services for the poor.
Google's push into philanthropy is being watched closely because of its size and its effort to erase the usual boundaries between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.
Valued around $US2 billion, the assets currently set aside for the company's philanthropic arm, Google.org, make it larger than any other in-house corporate foundation in the US, according to the Foundation Center, a nonprofit research firm. (Private foundations set up by tycoons such Microsoft's Bill Gates have more assets.)
Just as important, the internet giant is marshalling both company and foundation resources around the initiatives, which it hopes will provide more impact in tackling some of the world's biggest problems.
Philanthropy experts consider Google to be among the leading edge of donors who are experimenting with this hybrid for-profit/nonprofit model. Others include eBay founder Pierre Omidyar's Omidyar Network, which both invests in businesses and makes grants to nonprofits.
China netizens now 210 million
Correspondents in Beijing | January 18, 2008
CHINA had 210 million internet users by the end of 2007 and will soon have more web surfers than any other country on the planet, an official report said.
China's online population was only five million less than the US, the government-linked China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) said in a report.
"The CNNIC predicts that at the beginning of 2008, China will become the country with the largest online population in the world," the CNNIC said in its report.
China already has the globe's biggest mobile phone user population, numbering 539.4 million at the end of November, according to government figures.
China added 73 million new online users last year, as the internet seemed to be catching on in the countryside, where development has so far been held back by low incomes and weak infrastructure.
The number of rural internet users reached 52.6 million by the end of 2007, up a whopping 127.7 percent from a year earlier, the CNNIC said.
Britain targets extremist websites
Correspondents in London | January 18, 2008
THE British government announced a drive to shut down websites inspired by al-Qaida, comparing the move with efforts to target paedophiles online.
In her first keynote speech on terrorism, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said fighting it was about more than disrupting planned attacks, adding that Britain "can't after all simply arrest our way out of this problem".
"If we are ready and willing to take action to stop the grooming of vulnerable young people on social networking sites, then I believe we should also take action against those who groom vulnerable people for the purposes of violent extremism," she told an audience in London.
"Where there is illegal material on the net, I want it removed."
Ms Smith also pledged to meet representatives from the online industry to discuss how best to counter the problem.
ACCC raps Crazy John's for 'free ads'
Michael Sainsbury | January 18, 2008
CRAZY John's has become the latest mobile phone group to fall foul of the competition watchdog's advertising guidelines.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has started proceedings against Mobileworld Operating Pty Ltd, which trades as Crazy John's, alleging it has engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by representing that handsets on its Crazy Phone Plans are available "free" or for "$0".
The ACCC claims that, in fact, consumers are required to pay for the handsets through higher call rates than those available on comparable plans that do not include a handset.
The ACCC alleges these representations contravene sections 52 and 53 of the Trade Practices Act and is seeking a range of remedies, including admissions by Crazy John's that its advertising was misleading, and possibly advertising corrections.
Qld woman charged over internet scam
Correspondents in Brisbane | January 17, 2008
POLICE have issued a warning against online scams after charging a 54-year-old Brisbane woman with receiving and forwarding stolen property.
Detective Superintendent Brian Hay, from the Queensland Police Service Computer Crimes Investigation Unit, said the woman allegedly asked to have stolen goods delivered to her home at Sunnybank, in Brisbane's south, before forwarding them to Cambodia.
The woman was believed to have become involved in an internet relationship with a man in Cambodia whom she met on a dating website.
Det Supt Hay said overseas-based criminals could spend months engaging people online to cultivate their trust before asking them to send money or goods.
Current – Sony announces 48,000 PS3's sold over Christmas
Sony announces 48,000 PS3's sold over Christmas
By Chris Nicholls
SYDNEY: Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCE Australia) has announced it sold approximately 48,000 PlayStation 3’s over the 2007 Christmas period, taking their 2007 total to 155,000.
The data, collated by GfK, covered the five weeks before the end of the 2007 calendar year. The higher price of the PS3, especially in its $1000 launch incarnation, meant SCE Australia said the console captured the highest dollar value of any console in the industry over 2007.
Including the PlayStation Portable (PSP), Playstation 2 (PS2) and PS3, Sony sold over 175,000 PlayStation systems during the Christmas period. The PS2 captured 88,000 sales, while the PSP sold approximately 45,000 models, helped in part, according to SCE Australia, by the Simpson’s yellow special edition.
The PS2 also claimed top spot on the console sales charts for the year, according to Sony.
Both Microsft and Nintendo are yet to release their Christmas sales figures, with Nintendo's due out next week.
Hackers exploit security hole in Excel
Correspondents in Seattle | January 17, 2008
MICROSOFT said hackers have found a way to use some older versions of its Excel spreadsheet program to take over control of people's computers.
Microsoft said late Tuesday that it is investigating reports of such attacks, but has not yet determined whether it will patch the hole, or when.
People who open a specially crafted Excel file from an e-mail attachment or visit a compromised website could be inviting hackers to take over their PCs for malicious purposes such as stealing passwords and other personal information, or sending out spam. Microsoft Office Excel 2003 Service Pack 2, Excel Viewer 2003, Excel 2002, Excel 2000 and Excel 2004 for Mac all contain the security hole.
| Criterion Collection: Xbox 360 Games You MUST Own
Posted by Jeremy Bergen, Yesterday
Fun and entertaining video games are released every day in the video game industry. However, few games are able to rise above being merely entertainment. There are few titles that every true gamer must own. These games truly belong in the Criterion Collection. Here are the titles that belong on every Xbox 360 owner’s shelf.
Bioshock is the “Big Daddy” of the Xbox 360’s Criterion Collection. Set in the not so distant past, players find themselves shipwrecked in some sort of underwater pseudo-Utopian society gone horribly awry. Bioshock creates a living, breathing, and oftentimes unpredictable FPS experience. With the idealistic society crumbled, the underwater city is filled with corpses, genetically mutated citizens, and creepy little girls (trust us; it will make sense when you play it). In turn, the player must mutate himself to survive in the now dystopian underworld. Gamers are forced to make moral decisions that have a real impact on the world around them. From art design to gameplay, Bioshock has broken new ground and definitively answered the question of whether video games should be viewed as art. In Bioshock’s case, that answer is a resounding yes.
Gears of War
Gears of War kicked off the launch of the Xbox 360 with a bang. Set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future, “Gears” (as it is lovingly referred to) captivated 360 gamers with its gorgeous environmental graphics, a decidedly adult storyline, and tight gameplay. However, what really fascinated gamers was the title’s vicious multiplayer action, and Gears of War’s multiplayer is what still has gamers coming back to the title today. At the end of a hard day at the office, there is nothing more satisfying than taking a chainsaw to some poor sap’s cranium.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Unquestionably, no game released on the Xbox 360 has given gamers more freedom of choice than “Oblivion.” The title has effectively raised the bar and set a new standard in the fantasy RPG genre. Set in the capital providence of Cyrodil in the kingdom Tamriel, gamers are given the task of finding the hidden heir to the thrown after Tamriel’s king has been assassinated. Without the king, the hellish gates of Oblivion have been opened. Players are given the ability to decide joining various guilds, complete quests, or wander around completing side quests. Superb voice acting and life like characters make this title stand head and shoulders above the rest. Find the hidden king or spend time stealing horses and killing small woodland creatures; the choice belongs completely to the player.
Forza Motorsport 2
Forza Motorsport 2 is Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s extremely successful Gran Turismo series. Forza 2 sports over 60 tracks and a whopping 300+ vehicles from over 50 of the top car manufacturers. Cars can be customized down to their most minuet details both inside the hood and out. The title also allows gamers to share their creations with the world via XBL. Millions of decals, paint options, and body kits are available allowing gamers to express their creativity. With tight racing elements, true customization options, and online components, Microsoft has truly found their counter to Gran Turismo.
The Orange Box
Valve’s Orange Box stands as the best video game compilation released to date. The Orange Box includes Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Episode 1, Half Life 2: Episode 2, multiplayer Team Fortress 2, and the stunning puzzle game Portal. Five amazing games in one Orange Box is enough to make the Criterion Collection by itself, but Valve managed to update the graphics and gameplay of all of the titles to make them look and feel like new releases. Valve’s brainteaser “Portal” also stakes its claim as one of the most innovative puzzle games of all time. Any one of these games is worth $60 by itself; all of them for $60 is just ridiculous.
More of the Xbox 360’s Criterion Collection on the next page
| Criterion Collection: Xbox 360 Games You MUST Own
Posted by Jeremy Bergen, Yesterday
While the ultimate decision on whether Halo 3 lived up to the hype or was a disappointment is still up for debate, gamers cannot own the 360 and not own this game. The Halo series is an institution for the Xbox, and Halo 3 continued that tradition. Graphically, Halo 3 brings lush, vibrant environments in which players can blast through hoards of alien baddies. Although the storyline was convoluted and the single player campaign was short, Halo 3’s multiplayer was brought to a new level in the franchise. Halo 3’s multiplayer features expansive environments, creative multiplayer games, movie replays, and the “Forge” editor that allows gamers to customize their fields of play life never before. Gamers may never find out the identity of Master Chief, but they sure hope he stays around.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
Does infinitely blasting neon shapes sound a bit boring? Not if you are playing XBLA’s Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. In the title, players are endless barraged by green, purple, and red shapes. Geometry Wars first gained popularity in Project Gotham Racing 2 and hit the XBLA with both the retro version and a new graphically enhanced version. The gameplay of Geometry Wars is chaotically beautiful and strangely mesmerizing. When players log more hours playing an arcade game then a full $60 title, it obviously deserves a spot in the Criterion Collection.
Guitar Hero II/III
The Guitar Hero series has experienced soaring popularity since it originally hit consoles. Simple gameplay coupled with many of the best songs in rock’n’roll history make Guitar Hero II/III a joy to rock out to every time. At its core, Guitar Hero is a straightforward timing game, but when the volume is turned up to 11, it is easy to feel like a rock god. New installments in the series continue to add bells and whistles that continue to reinvigorate gameplay. Whether gamers play to see how fast their fingers can fly or to just feel like a rock star, the Guitar Hero series is more addictive than Scott Weiland on a heroin bender.
With Mass Effect, developer Bioware has added another entry on their already impressive resume of RPG titles (See: Jade Empire, KOTOR). Mass Effect is a sci-fi action-RPG that explores the human conscious as much as it explores the depths of the universe. The player is ultimately in control of the morality of their character. Branching dialogue determined by player provides an unparalleled depth of storyline development. Player choices have lasting impacts on the lives of everyone in the game. NPC’s look and feel alive for perhaps the first time in gaming history. This may be the first time during a game where players want to hurry to finish a fight sequence so they can get to the next section of dialogue.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat
Sick of first person WWII shooters? Call of Duty 4 leaps out of the 1940’s and into present day military combat. Although the single player campaign is short, its gameplay is brilliantly paced. The game seamlessly transitions from foot campaigns, to sniping missions, to helicopter combat, and even engaging the enemy from thousands of feet above in a gunship. COD4 is graphically stunning. There are times players will stop mid action to stand in awe of the environments war ravaged beauty. A new ranking system provides a refreshing depth to the multiplayer experience. Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat is a refreshing installment in the series and has effectively set the new standard for first person shooters.
Regardless of genre, these 10 games are must own games for every serious gamer. Ladies and gentleman, this is the Criterion Collection for the Xbox 360 to date.