Episode 109

posted in: Show Notes
Apple will repair faulty MacBooks: News – Hardware – ZDNet Australia
Apple will repair faulty MacBooks

 Apple late last week said it would repair at no charge MacBook Pros where the Nvidia GPU has failed, or fails within two years from the purchase date.

Problem signs include distorted or scrambled video, or no video on the screen though the computer is turned on. Models that might be affected are 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros with Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics processors. The computers were made between May 2007 and September 2008.

OpenOffice 3.0 demand crashes servers: News – Software – ZDNet Australia
OpenOffice 3.0 demand crashes servers

 Servers hosting the new version of OpenOffice.org have crashed, under the weight of demand for the latest version of the open source office productivity suite.

McCreesh pointed out that the “vast majority” of downloads of the suite take place through local mirrors, but said “the fact that our central site can’t even run the bouncer [to divert requests to those local mirrors] must mean it’s … our biggest-ever download”.

OpenOffice 3.0 is a significant update to the suite, which includes free, community-led alternatives to Microsoft Office products such as Word and Excel. The new version includes native Mac OS X support for the first time, and is also the first iteration of OpenOffice to be able to read the .docx Office Open XML (OOXML) documents that are created in Office 2007. OOXML is the chief rival to the OpenDocument Format (ODF) specification that has been used in OpenOffice for some time.

The other big change in OpenOffice 3.0 is its increased focus on the integration of extensions. “What we are doing is improving the way people can build extensions so, rather than keep on increasing the size of OpenOffice, people can download additional functionality if they particularly need it,” said McCreesh.

In the new version of the suite, the Writer application can now handle the editing of multiple pages at the same time and on separate monitors. The Calc application now supports larger spreadsheets and includes a new “solver” component for “people who are into high-powered equation-solving”, McCreesh said.

He also said the chart component, which is used across several of the OpenOffice applications, has been given a “complete rewrite” and is now “more visually appealing”.

Massive quantum network unveiled: News – Security – ZDNet Australia
Massive quantum network unveiled

The world’s largest quantum-encrypted network has been unveiled in Vienna, providing a glimpse of how data could be transmitted securely in the future.

The network is the result of more than four years of work with 41 organisations from 12 countries working to integrate quantum cryptography into a modern business network. It has been overseen by the EU-sponsored SECOQC (Development of a Global Network for Secure Communication Based on Quantum Cryptography).

Quantum cryptography is a technique of sending information in a way that makes it impossible for people to intercept without corrupting the information in transit. Packages of data are sent down fibre-optic cables in the form of light photons which are then received and converted back into data.

If this data is intercepted en route, the intended recipient will see an increase in the error rate of the data received, allowing them to detect whether it has been accessed.

iTWire – Google Android phone goes gangbusters on pre-orders

Google Android phone goes gangbusters on pre-ordersT-Mobile to triple its order with Taiwanese manufacturer High Tech Comptuer (HTC), and this is supposed to mean 1.5 million gPhones have been pre-ordered, with more stock on the way for retail store sales.

T-Mobile has made an Android emulator available for consumers to try out, and while the “emulator” is mostly an interactive canned demo, it’s still quite impressive and iPhone-esque.

Unlike the iPhone, the G1 Android has a trackball and slide-out QWERTY keyboard, as well as being touch sensitive.

Add to that a third-party “app store” with no restrictions, unlike Apple’s iPhone App Store, and developer interest is very high, withe G1 phone set to land in US consumers’ hands from October 22 onwards.

Consumers in the UK will get the phone from November this year, while South Africa has just had a 2009 launch date confirmed.

Australians haven’t had any such launch date confirmation luck as yet but I’m hoping for a 2009 launch, too.

Software thwarts mobile phone chatting while driving – Breaking News – Technology – Breaking News
Software thwarts mobile phone chatting while driving


A Canadian company has unveiled software crafted to prevent people, particularly mobile device-loving teenagers, from making telephone calls or text-messaging while driving.

Aegis Mobility describes DriveAssist as “advanced call management technology” that essentially creates virtual personal secretaries to intercept calls or text messages intended for mobile telephones in moving cars.

DriveAssist software detects when phones are moving at automobile speeds and then tells callers that the person they are trying to reach is driving. Callers are invited to leave messages or call-back numbers.

The service will also tell callers, presumably parents or employers, where the person they are trying to reach is located by using satellite navigation technology in devices or orienting based on cell signal towers being used.

New AC/DC album leaked online – web – Technology – brisbanetimes.com.au

  New AC/DC album leaked onlineAustralian hard rock fans who have waited eight long years for the latest outing from AC/DC can obtain the band’s new album, Black Ice, a week early after it was leaked in full on illegal download websites.

The online file sharing news site Torrentfreak reported the album has already been downloaded 400,000 times via BitTorrent alone.

AC/DC does not allow its music to be sold through online retailers such as Apple’s iTunes but, ironically, all of the band’s albums can be obtained through illegal download websites.

German court: Google Image thumbnails infringe on copyright

 vvv  German court: Google Image thumbnails infringe on copyrightGermany that revisits an issue that appears settled in the US: the right of image search services to create thumbnails from copyrighted works to display with the search results. The German courts have now determined that this is not OK in Germany, where Google has just lost two copyright suits over image thumbnails.

Apple admits MacBook Pro graphics glitch, offers fix

   Apple admits MacBook Pro graphics glitch, offers fixApple now admits issues may exist on all models that shipped with the standard GeForce 8600M GT cards. The good news: If your machine ‘fails within two years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge.’ If you bit the bullet and got your out-of-warranty MBP repaired because of this issue, Apple will refund your repair costs.The problem, according to Apple, and already admitted long ago by other computer manufacturers, is related to a ‘higher than normal failure rate’ of NVIDIA 8600M GT graphics cards. Symptoms include ‘distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen’ or ‘no video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on’


Better News

Apple will once again get a chance to make amends when they release brand new laptops this coming Thursday morning. No doubt you’ve read plenty on this already, but in short, both the MacBook and MacBook Pro family will receive updates this Wednesday morning.

It’s rumored that this refresh will actually be a complete redesign thanks to the leaked photos of new cases and Apple’s own technical documentation on the MacBook/MacBook Pro (late 2008) model. Rumors in the US of a sub $1000 MacBook may be true, but with pressure on the Australian dollar it remains to be seen whether Apple Australia will make the same play for a ‘budget’ MacBook in the Australian market.

Oh, and in case you were hoping that Apple would dump NVIDIA after the latest debacle, think again, as AppleInsider suggests the new MacBooks will sport NVIDIA chips onboard, deposing Intel’s perenially underpowered integrated graphics chips.


Prince Charles offered Dr Who cameo – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Prince Charles offered Dr Who cameo

Prince Charles has been invited to appear on the BBC’s Doctor Who television series – and his office has not ruled it out.

Initially, Clarence House turned down the approach. The move prompted the show’s executive producer Russell T Davies to label the Prince a “miserable swine” in a joking reference to the heir to the throne’s favourite radio show The Goons.

City hopes to shuttle people in futuristic ‘podcars’ – CNN.com
City hopes to shuttle people in futuristic ‘podcars’

  • Group hopes to create a futuristic transit network of driverless, computer-guided cars
  • System would make Ithaca, New York, the first city in the U.S. to adopt ‘podcars’
  • Podcars give 2 to 10 passengers the freedom and privacy of their own car
  • The electric vehicles ride on their own network, separate from other traffic

New machine prints sheets of light – CNN.com
New machine prints sheets of light


The size of a semitrailer, it coats an 8-inch wide plastic film with chemicals, then seals them with a layer of metal foil. Apply electric current to the resulting sheet, and it lights up with a blue-white glow.

You could tack that sheet to a wall, wrap it around a pillar or even take a translucent version and tape it to your windows. Unlike practically every other source of lighting, you wouldn’t need a lamp or conventional fixture for these sheets, though you would need to plug them into an outlet.

The sheets owe their luminance to compounds known as organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. While there are plenty of problems to be worked out with the technology, it’s not the dream of a wild-eyed startup.

OLEDs are beginning to be used in TVs and cell-phone displays, and big names like Siemens and Philips are throwing their weight behind the technology to make it a lighting source as well.

  • Sheets owe luminance to organic light-emitting diodes called OLEDs
  • OLEDs could be used to make light sources out of everyday objects
  • Sheets provide broad, diffuse light sources that bathe rooms in a gentle glow
  • OLEDs will not be competitive with fluorescents by 2010, experts says


New Apple laptops to arrive next week – Laptops
New Apple laptops to arrive next week

 Apple is expected to unveil updates to its laptop line next week with the official confirmation issued overnight that it was planning a press event in the US.

The event will be held on October 14 in Cupertino, California

rumor about the launch: that at least one of the new systems will hit a price point of US$800.

Mozilla launches Geode: location-aware browsing
Mozilla launches Geode: location-aware browsing


A new Firefox extension brings PCs knowledge that mobile phones and GPS systems have had for some time — where the user of that machine is located.

Geode, an experimental extension for users of Firefox, works out your location based on data supplied by your ISP via Skyhook’s Loki service, effectively turning your PC into a kind of low-rent GPS. The software uses the W3C Geolocation Specification, so there’s a reasonable chance that it will be adopted by site developers (and not turn into another failed concept like so many 3D Web implementations, for instance). Future versions of Firefox will incorporate the feature so it won’t need to be installed as a separate add-on.

In the current release, there are some major restrictions — the most notable being that you have to be using a Wi-Fi connection to get it to work at all. Ideally, the technology would adopt data from a range of sources. For example, if I’m using a mobile broadband service, for instance, then phone tower information should come into play.

iTWire – Never-before-seen marine species discovered in Southern Ocean
Never-before-seen marine species discovered in Southern Ocean

 Scientists with the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research unit have discovered hundreds of new marine species while exploring the Southern Ocean among a waterscape of extinct volcanoes.

announced on Thursday, October 9, 2008, that they have discovered 274 crustaceans, molluscs, 2,000-year-old corals, and sponges that were unknown previously to the scientific community.

Eighty-six of species were not known to exist in Australian waters. The Southern Ocean is largely unexplored by scientists. The discovery adds evidence to the large biodiversity of marine life that exists in its waters.

The new species were all found about 9,800 feet (3,000 meters) under the surface of the Southern Ocean.

New video game reads your mind – Technology – brisbanetimes.com.au
New video game reads your mind


Willpower is set to replace fast fingers in a new video game in which players move characters through a headset that monitors their brain waves.

California-based NeuroSky showed off the new headset – named Mindset – at the Tokyo Game Show, the industry’s biggest exhibition which opened near the Japanese capital on Thursday.

The Mindset monitors whether the player is focused or relaxed and accordingly moves the character on a personal computer.

Children’s games using the system will hit the US market next year, Ito said.

“We are exploring the use of brain waves in the game industry because games are fun and so close to people,” he said.

“Once people get used to the idea of using brain waves for various applications, I hope we will see various products using this technology,” he said.

In distance learning courses, for example, teachers could monitor whether students were attentive, Ito said.

Train drivers and motorists could use it to judge their stress levels and alertness, Ito added.

Google tool keeps email sober – web – Technology – brisbanetimes.com.au
Google tool keeps email sober

 Mail Goggles software comes to life after dark and on weekends, when altered states of mind are more probable, and requires that five simple math problems be answered correctly in less than a minute in order to send a Gmail missive.Gmail users can adjust their email settings to activate the Goggles feature and dictate the times it is active.


Current – Sony tells retailers “get behind us” this Christmas
Sony tells retailers “get behind us” this Christmas

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Sony Australia has urged retailers to get behind the manufacturers retail marketing strategy in the lead-up to the Christmas retail season. Speaking to Current, Sony marketing manager – brands and channel, Vanessa Hamilton, said that Sony are investing millions in marketing this quarter, and retailers should reap the benefits.

Sony are currently embarking on two big marketing activities: a TVC campaign promoting Blu-ray technology and a global tie-in initiative with the new James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. Hamilton predicts these campaigns will get customers into stores and buying high-ticket items.

“We have a very a aggressive marketing strategy to drive customers to stores,” she said.

Launched last week, the Quantum of Solace campaign will promote all Sony products, and the brand itself, through product placement in the film and associated marketing activity. Hamilton predicts Quantum of Solace will be the biggest movie of the year in Australia, and the appeal of Agent 007, and his exciting lifestyle, will encourage users to emulate his deeds through the acquisition of Sony products.

“The behavior of Bond, the girls, the gadgets: they’re very appealing.”

Whilst the ordinary Aussie can’t live like Bond, and most can’t get the girls to the same extent, the gadgets are attainable – and Sony is focusing on that.

“Whenever we can show consumers that we have great products, and great content to play on these products – it’s good for retailers.”

Current – Samsung targets up-and-comers with cheap Smartphone
Samsung targets up-and-comers with cheap Smartphone

By Patrick Avenell

Samsung has released its new budget-conscious Smartphone – a pertinent release considering the more constrained economic conditions the world is now facing.

The Samsung i617T, which is exclusive to Telstra, is described as “perfect for those needing a phone to support their demanding lifestyles on a smaller budget”.

The i617T runs off Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional and features Direct Microsoft, Push Email, over the air mobile synchronisation of PIMS, a jog wheel and a full QWERTY keyboard. Transfer speed is 3.6 Mbps HSDPA and international roaming is through Triband UMTS.

Multimedia functions include built-in A-GPS, a 2-megapixel camera, video recorder and player, and MP3 player. The handset includes 4 gigabytes of expandable memory.

The major selling point of this Smartphone, however, is the price point. The minimalist camera capabilities and relatively low internal memory may negatively contrast with the premium Smartphones on the market, but at RRP $589, or free on a $30 plan, Samsung are targeting the aspiring Smartphone consumer whose high-flying lifestyle may have been curtailed by economic downturn.

Current – Sony continues advertising spending in shaky economic climate
Sony continues advertising spending in shaky economic climate

By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: As the major world economies seem to be teetering on the edge of a recession, and the Australian dollar has been savaged, Sony Australia is continuing underterred with its plans to advertise Blu-ray.

Sony released a statement yesterday announcing that it had launched what it called a major TV campaign to promote Blu-ray as the ultimate in high definition viewing for home entertainment.

The TVC was scheduled to air on Network Ten from 5 October 2008 and it will star former Neighbours household name, Craig McLachlan. Sony says that in the advertisement, McLachlan says that watching standard definition content on a HDTV set is a “waste”.

“HD represents 99.9 per cent of all value sales in the LCD TV category,” said Sony Australia head of Strategy and Brand Development, Toby Barbour, quoting research from the Sony High Definition Benchmark; Q2 2008, compiled by GfK Marketing Services.

“So consumers are certainly embracing high definition when it comes to choosing their flat panel TV.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | US tourist set for space station

US space tourist Richard Garriott has successfully blasted off into space, following in the footsteps of his astronaut father.

Mr Garriott has paid about $30m (£17m) for his 10-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft, mounted on a three-stage rocket, launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 0701 GMT (0801 BST; 0301 EDT).

Richard’s father, Owen Garriott, spent 60 days on a US space station in 1973.

He took extensive photographs of the Earth’s surface during his stay on the Skylab orbital outpost.

Owen, 77, will support his son from mission control in Moscow.

Richard Garriott, a 47-year-old computer game designer, is joined on the flight by US astronaut Mike Fincke, who becomes the space station’s commander, and Russian flight engineer Yuri Lonchakov.

Experimental tasks

The professional astronauts will supervise the start-up of new life-support equipment for the ISS. This should enable the full-time occupancy of the orbiting outpost to be increased from three to six crew members in May.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Google founder books space flight

Google founder books space flight

Sergey Brin (file picture)

Sergey Brin says he is a big believer in space exploration

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has made a $5m (£2.5m) down payment to book a seat on a future orbital space flight, a US space tourism company has said.

Space Adventures says it is planning the first private space flight to the International Space Station in 2011 in a deal with the Russian space agency.

The initial payment gives members a first option on a seat on the mission.

It will go towards flight costs, which could be $35m or more, Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson said.

“I am a big believer in the exploration and commercial development of the space frontier and am looking forward to the possibility of going into space,” Mr Brin said in a statement.


HDMIX Compact, Portable, Expandable DJ System
HDMIX Compact, Portable, Expandable DJ System

iDJ2 Road Case Road case for Numark iDJ2
iDJ2 Road Case Road case for Numark iDJ2

NSW schools in second round of computers fund | Australian IT

NSW schools in second round of computers fund

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Fran Foo | October 10, 2008

MORE than 20 NSW government schools have defied a state order and proceeded to apply for the second round of the federal Government’s computer grant scheme.

The deadline for submissions was yesterday. Early indications show that 25 NSW government schools applied for funding.

The schools chose to ignore a memo issued in late September by director-general of the state Education Department, Michael Coutts-Trotter.

Mr Coutts-Trotter had told government school principals not to participate in round two of the National Secondary Schools Computers Fund as on-cost issues with the first round weren’t resolved.

In round one, NSW government schools received $56.2 million in funding but the state requested the federal Government to provide an additional $245 million to cover additional costs such as software licences and technical support.

“It would be unfair to schools and students to seek new computers only to find that there was insufficient funding for their operating costs from the federal Government,” NSW Education Minister Verity Firth said in an interview a few weeks ago.

Ms Firth expected the matter to be resolved at the Council of Australian Governments in Perth last Tuesday but the extra funding issue was not on the agenda. She could not be contacted yesterday for comment.

“The schools computer fund wasn’t discussed at COAG,” a spokesman for NSW Premier Nathan Rees said.

It remains unclear if the negotiations would take place at the next COAG meeting in November, but the matter is expected to be resolved by the end of the year.

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Berkshire | Test explores if robots can think

Test explores if robots can think


Experiment to see if robots can ‘think’ like humans?

An experiment has been taking place in Berkshire to see if robots are capable of intelligent thought.

Scientists at the University of Reading tested five machines to see if they could pass themselves off as humans in text-based conversations with people.

The test was devised in 1950 by British Mathematician Alan Turing, who said that if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was “thinking”.

One robot, Elbot, came close on Sunday by reaching 5% below the pass mark.


One of the machines in the Turing Test

No computer has passed the test by fooling 30% of its human interrogators

No robot has ever passed the Turing Test, which requires the robot to fool 30% of its human interrogators.

During the experiment, five artificial conversational entities (ACEs) competed in a series of five-minute long, unrestricted conversational tests.

Current – JB Hi-Fi gets TiVo
JB Hi-Fi gets TiVo

By Patrick Avenell

JB Hi-Fi has signed up with Hybrid Television Services, the supplier of TiVo, to distribute the electronic television recorder. The device was originally sold exclusively through Harvey Norman stores.

Talking about this announcement is JB Hi-Fi chief executive officer, Richard Uechtritz.

“Australian consumers today are quite savvy and willing to invest in digital devices that will stay relevant over time as well as bring ongoing services and benefits,” said Uechtritz. “We believe the TiVo media device will achieve this.”

And welcoming JB Hi-Fi into the fold is Hybrid Television Services chief executive officer, Robbee Minicola.

“We are pleased to welcome JB Hi-Fi into the fold of retailers for our all-important first year of Christmas trading,” said Minicola.

Hybrid Television Services also released a statement today briefly mentioning that Clive Anthony’s store will also stock TiVo. The RRP for this device is retained at $699.

In related news, Hybrid Television Services has a new CEO. You can read more about that here.


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