… Buses to be equipped with HSDPA & WiFiIn an Australian first, Vodafone, in partnership with Monash University, is fitting internet access to some of its regular inter-campus buses. The Internet access will be free for students who choose to log on via Wifi on their computers or phones, and will be delivered to the buses via the Vodafone 3G HSDPA network.
According to Monash Uni, buses shuttle up to 60,000 students a year between the Clayton, Berwick and Peninsula campuses and the average travel time between campuses is about 40 minutes.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced the timeline today, outlining when each region will make the switch.
The analog signal at Mildura in north-west Victoria is the first to be switched off by June 30,2010. Other areas will gradually follow until the switchover to digital is complete at the end of 2013
Microsoft’s local director of intellectual property, Vanessa Hutley, conceded in an interview that Microsoft would never be able to stop people who want pirated copies of its software from obtaining them for free via illegal download sites.
Staff at the company now regularly log on to eBay and make “trap purchases” of Microsoft Windows and Office products before analysing them to determine if they’re genuine.
As part of that strategy – which began in July – Microsoft this month commenced legal action in the Federal Magistrates Court against three eBay sellers who pedalled pirated versions of Windows XP and Office 2003.
On Friday, the director Wayne Wang premieres his movie “The Princess of Nebraska” on the video sharing site. It will be available to watch for free at the YouTube Screening Room, a recently launched channel for movies.
- “The Princess of Nebraska” is about a pregnant teen who videotapes herself
- Movie follows free Internet release of Michael Moore’s doc, “Slacker Uprising”
- Wang: Internet is a way for indie filmmakers to get their work seen
- Authorities have shut down one of the largest spam operations in the world
- The vast network involves countries from New Zealand to China and the U.S.
- Spammers sent out billions of e-mails in selling weight-loss pills and other drugs
- The FTC got more than 3 million complaints about the spam and related Web sites
As part of their inquiry, FTC staff made undercover purchases from the sites. No one asked the clandestine buyers to provide verification of a prescription and the shipped drugs did not include doctors’ instructions or dosage information, officials said.
Servers in China hosted the Web sites and the drugs were shipped from India, while operatives in Cyprus and the former Soviet republic of Georgia processed credit card information, Baker said.
US doctors have found the Bee Gees’ 1977 disco anthem Stayin’ Alive provides an ideal beat to follow while performing chest compressions as part of CPR on a heart attack victim.
The American Heart Association calls for chest compressions to be given at a rate of 100 per minute in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Stayin’ Alive almost perfectly matches that, with 103 beats per minute.
UK man jailed for killing wife in Facebook row
A British man has been jailed for life for murdering his wife because he was humiliated by messages she wrote on the social networking site Facebook.
Wayne Forrester, 34, attacked his wife Emma with a kitchen knife and a meat cleaver after she wrote on the site that she wanted to meet other men.
She also changed her online profile to “single” four days after he had moved out.
“LittleBigPlanet” has been delayed due to background music that Muslims may find offensive.
“LittleBigPlanet,” described by review Web site IGN.com as an “instant classic,” has been pulled from warehouses after it was noticed that one of its music tracks contained words from the Islamic holy text, the Quran.
The move is a blow to the Sony PlayStation game, seen as the console’s first launch of an icon to match Nintendo’s ubiquitous Mario, in which rag doll character Sackboy negotiates a lavishly designed world of platforms and challenges.
“We’re sure that most of you have heard by now that one of the background music tracks that was licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Quran,” a statement on the game’s Web site said.
By Jacqui Cheng | Published: October 16, 2008 – 11:14AM CT
Australians may not be able to opt out of the government’s Internet filtering initiative like they were originally led to believe. Details have begun to come out about Australia’s Cyber-Safety Plan, which aims to block “illegal” content from being accessed within the country, as well as pornographic material inappropriate for children. Right now, the system is in the testing stages, but network engineers are now saying that there’s no way to opt out entirely from content filtering.
The Australian government first revealed its filtering initiative in 2007, which it expected to cost AUS$189 million to implement. That money would go toward imposing filtering requirements on ISPs, who would have to use the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s official blacklist, which is in turn based on the country’s National Classification Scheme.
Australia moved forward with its plans despite widespread public outcry and began testing the system in Tasmania in February of this year. At the time, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said that the filters would be enabled by default and that consumers would have to request unfiltered connectivity if they wished to opt-out of the program.
Well, it turns out now that those promises were only partially true. Internode network engineer Mark Newton told Computerworld that users are able to opt out of the “additional material” blacklist—which targets content inappropriate for children—but not the main blacklist that filters what the Australian government determines is illegal content.
“That is the way the testing was formulated, the way the upcoming live trials will run, and the way the policy is framed; to believe otherwise is to believe that a government department would go to the lengths of declaring that some kind of Internet content is illegal, then allow an opt-out,” Newton said. “Illegal is illegal and if there is infrastructure in place to block it, then it will be required to be blocked—end of story.”
A spokesperson for the Australian Communications Minister seemed to confirm this revelation by saying that the filters would be required for all Australian citizens.
Assuming this is in fact the way the scheme is implemented in practice, it raises plenty of troubling questions. “Illegal” is a broad definition, leaving users wondering exactly what kinds of content will end up falling prey to the government’s apparently mandatory filtering restrictions. Will Big Content be ringing up the Aussie government soon to have tracker sites added to the blacklist? What about sites that discuss topics like at-home bomb making, or something a little less explosive, like DVD decryption tools? And how about those sites that advise users on how to get around the filters? Will various Wikipedia pages be blocked?
Australia continues to ignore its own government-funded studies from 2006 that show ISP-level filtering to be ineffective and costly. The Australian government’s disregard for those prior studies suggests that the driving force behind the current plan is more political than technical.
By Patrick Avenell
JB Hi-Fi has today backed the Rudd Government’s plans to stabilize and motivate the Australian economy. In a presentation to the UBS Australian Emerging Companies Conference, CEO Richard Uechtritz said that the plans announced so far would be beneficial to the retail group, and the industry in general.
In the presentation, JB Hi-Fi chief conveyed optimism reminiscent of Kennedy’s 1961 declaration of a future moonwalk, once again noting that the attractiveness of fast moving stock and a low-overheads business model were the two major factors in JB’s continued positivism amid an environment of uncertainty.
“The $10.4 billion government package is positive for retail and timely for JB (eg families receive lump sum payment early December) as we are very much a Christmas gift destination retailer for small value items such as CDs, DVDs, games, iPods, cameras, navigation, etc.,” said Uechtritz in the presentation.
Furthermore, Uechtritz noted that the fear and uncertainty, and the steadily escalating panic, is obfuscating key drivers that can actually be beneficial in the consumer electronics retail space.
“Some positive sentiment drivers appearing – lower interest rates, government support package, government bank guarantees and lower oil prices are helping to balance the negative sentiment from the financial crisis,” he said.
“[The] weak $A is good for consumer electronic retailers as it will stop or slow price deflation,” said Uechtritz, before revealing the most salient driving factor in JB’s optimism: “JB does not import any products”.
In the speech referred to above, Kennedy predicted in 1961 that America could send a man to the moon, and bring him home safely, before the end of the decade. Whilst Kennedy did not live to see his bold vision become reality, should JB continue to achieve its goals, shareholders may begin to hold Uechtritz in similar esteem.
By Patrick Avenell
Telstra has today viscously attacked its rival broadband providers, calling them pretenders and virtually accusing them of bankruptcy.
In a statement issued today, Telstra alleged that Terria, which is a consortium of rival broadband providers, including Optus, Primus, Telecom and Soul, had “no intention of ever participating in the construction process for the National Broadband Network.”
“Terria is an $8 shelf company, with no assets, no financial plan and no funding. It cannot be trusted with a project as critical as the National Broadband Network,” said Telstra public policy and communication group managing director David Quilty.
“Taxpayers cannot afford to face the real risk of having to bail out Terria from financial difficulties a couple of years down the track.
“It is time for the great pretender to show us the money or get out of the way.
“If they don’t have their finances secured, then why are we delaying the build for a moment longer? Australia’s biggest infrastructure project is being held up by a ramshackle outfit that has never actually wanted to build National Broadband Network,” he said.
As amusing as this rant is, it is a serious issue for regional and rural Australians, for whom a high speed broadband network has been promised for so long. Terria bid manager Michael Simmons can deflect negative attention by pointing to the current economic crisis, but many Australians are still likely to side with Quilty, who described the situation as ‘embarrassing’.
Web content ‘disturbing children’
Three out of four children have seen images on the internet that disturbed them, an NSPCC poll suggests.
The charity is renewing its call for computer manufacturers and retailers to install security to stop children finding violent or sexual content.
The NSPCC, which polled visitors to its children’s website There4me.com, said it was “alarmed” by the accessibility of potentially disturbing material.
Some 377 of 497 votes cast claimed to have been disturbed by internet images.
One child posted a comment on a There4me message board saying: “I’ve seen violent images I didn’t search for. I was freaked out.”
Another said his eight-year-old sister’s search for “pictures of animals” generated pornography adverts.
The NSPCC wants social networking and video hosting sites to remove offensive material within hours of finding it.
Policy adviser Zoe Hilton said the NSPCC was “alarmed” by how easy it was for children to access “disturbing internet material”.
She said: “Children are just a few clicks away from innocently stumbling across upsetting or even dangerous pictures and films such as adult sex scenes, violent dog fights, people self-harming and children being assaulted.”
Telephone service complaints soar
Correspondents in Melbourne | October 22, 2008
COMPLAINTS about telephone services to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) have rocketed in the past 12 months.
The TIO’s annual report, released today, reveals it received 149,742 complaints in the 2007-2008 financial year, representing an almost 50 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.
The TIO said it was also the biggest rise in complaints for the past 10 years.
Complaints were predominantly from consumers who could not resolve a problem with their landline, internet or mobile phone service provider.
“Only four years ago, the TIO was handling about 60,000 complaints a year,” Ombudsman Deirdre O’Donnell said.
Mobile phone services, which now outnumber landlines in Australia, caused the most concern, with the TIO logging 47,300 complaints this year compared with 33,670 last year.
Another 13,899 complaints were received about mobile premium services.
Ms O’Donnell said despite a move by consumers away from landlines, complaints about this service increased by almost 60 per cent, from 34,116 to 54,326, easily outstripping a rise in internet complaints, which rose from 27,591 in 2006-2007 to 34,217 this year.
“I’m dismayed that complaints that could easily be resolved by providers are ending up with us,” Ms O’Donnell said.
Yahoo to cut at least 1400 jobs globally
Shara Tibken | October 22, 2008
YAHOO reported its third-quarter net income tumbled 64 per cent as the company lowered its year revenue guidance and said it would reduce its global work force by at least 10 per cent.
Yahoo said it plans to implement further cost-cutting actions to reduce its current annualised cost run rate of about $US3.9 billion ($5.8 billion) by more than $US400 million by the end of the year.
The job cuts translate into at least 1400 layoffs from a workforce of 14,300 employees.
It will be Yahoo’s second round of mass cutbacks this year as management tries to end a three-year slump that has hammered the company’s stock price.
Shares rose 5.5 per cent to $US12.74 in after-hours trading.
The internet company reported net income of $US54.3 million, or US4c a share, down from $US151.3 million, or US11c a share, a year ago. Excluding items, earnings fell to US9c a share.
Total revenue increased 1.1 per cent to $US1.79 billion. Revenue excluding traffic-acquisition costs climbed 3 per cent to $US1.33 million.
“An increasingly challenging economic climate and softening advertising demand contributed to revenues this quarter coming in at the low end of our outlook range,” said chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen, adding the company was “disappointed” with the results.
In July, Yahoo predicted revenue of $US1.78 billion to $US1.98 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting per-share earnings of US9c on revenue of $US1.37 billion, excluding traffic-acquisition costs.
Yahoo’s gross margin slipped to 56.8 per cent from 58.1 per cent.
International revenue fell 12 per cent, while US revenue grew 7 per cent.
Yahoo lowered its outlook for 2008 revenue to a range of $US7.18 billion to $US7.38 billion from previous projections of $US7.35 billion to $US7.85 billion. In July, the company narrowed its guidance but kept the midpoint the same.
By Martin Vedris in Guangzhou
GUANGZHOU: News of the global financial crisis, which US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke refuses to call a recession, is front page news in the Chinese press as talk of the country’s lowest GDP in years sparks affirmative action from the Government to stimulate flagging exports.
The Chinese Government last year decided to lower the tax rebates it offered Chinese companies who were manufacturing for export. The companies were using the rebates as a subsidy by including part or all of the rebate in their pricing, thereby lowering the cost of goods to international buyers.
When the Government announced it would heavily reduce the rebates, prices of Chinese goods increased by up to 11 per cent.
Now, with news of China’s lowest GDP result since the 1970s on the way, worry is setting in.
Because the Chinese economy is so heavily reliant on exports, the falling demand from international buyers is putting pressures on local factories. Some toy factories, for example, have closed down with more closures to come, according to comments from Government officials in the China Daily newspaper.
The concerns forced the Chinese Government to intervene, and just like Harvey Norman and Bing Lee can stimulate retail sales in Australia by offering extended interest free credit terms, the Chinese Government is pulling the tax rebate lever to lower prices and stimulate demand.
By Patrick Avenell
Sony has today announced the availability of its three new Bravia XBR LCD televisions. The panels, which feature LED lighting, are now available, each with a price point to reflect the high end positioning of this product.
Originally launched to the industry at Uchi last month, the XBR series distinguishes itself from Sony’s previous Bravia offerings through the use of LED backlighting. Additional new features include Bravia Engine 2 PRO and Motionflow 100Hz PRO.
According to Sony, LED lighting “utilises local dimming technology which momentarily dims in dark areas of the picture, reducing light leakage for enhanced contrast and deeper blacks.” Sony claims this is the first time this technology has been used in 46- and 55-inch models.
Talking about this release is Sony Australia product manager for Bravia, Jan Ergen.
“The XBR series is a new, distinct benchmark in premium picture quality and design,” said Ergen. “The next series of Sony’s high-end XBR range of LCD TVs delivers deeper blacks thanks to 1,000,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio, and the most realistic colour reproduction thanks to RGB Dynamic LED backlight technology.
“We are the only manufacturer to bring this technology to market here in Australia.
“The XBR series demonstrates our ongoing innovation in the TV space. Sony’s unique RGB Dynamic LED backlight technology delivers industry-leading levels of colour and contrast reproduction – significantly superior to other LCD backlight technologies including CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp) and white LED backlight.”
Additional features include digital media port compatibility, for use with MP3 players; USB connectivity, which can allow for the panel to be used as a digital photo frame; DLNA compliance; and XMB incorporation.
The first release of the Bravia XBR series features three models: the 40-inch KDL40XBR45 at RRP $3,999, the 46-inch KDL46XBR45 at $6,999, and the 55-inch KDL55XBR45 at RRP $9,999.
By Patrick Avenell
Harvey Norman stores around Australia are especially hurting from the global economic crisis, with chairman Gerry Harvey once again reporting disappointing sales figures to the ASX.
In keeping with the company’s commitment to report sales activity to the ASX each week for a month through October and November, Harvey today wrote to the ASX to convey some troubling news.
“Like for like written sales for the 28 days ended 19th October 2008 (sic) from the franchised “Harvey Norman” stores in Australia decreased by 5.8% when compared to the same period last year,” wrote Harvey. “Retail margins continue to be under pressure.”
Written sales are those that have been processed in-store but not delivered.
With news that Australian Harvey Norman franchisees are facing almost 6 per cent in downturn, and that margins are continually strained, the Government’s plan to hand out one-off cash payments to qualifying Australians is welcome news. Due to be paid on 8 December 2008, single pensioners will receive $1,400, couples will receive $2,200.
In addition to this, the easing of pressure on homeowners through dramatic interest rate cuts, including those by the Commonwealth and ANZ banks extra to the Reserve Bank’s reduction, means that retail stores may experience a mini-boom in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Considering that Harvey believes there is a Harvey Norman franchise “in every state and town of any significance in Australia,” this mini-boom will be desirous nationwide.
India has successfully launched its first mission to the Moon.
The unmanned Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft blasted off smoothly from a launch pad in southern Andhra Pradesh to embark on a two-year mission of exploration.
The robotic probe will orbit the Moon, compiling a 3-D atlas of the lunar surface and mapping the distribution of elements and minerals.
The launch is regarded as a major step for India as it seeks to keep pace with other space-faring nations in Asia.
Indian PM Manmohan Singh hailed the launch as the “first step” in a historic milestone in the country’s space programme.
“Our scientific community has once again done the country proud and the entire nation salutes them,” Mr Singh said in a message.
The launch was greeted with applause by scientists gathered at the site.
The chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Madhavan Nair, said it was a “historic moment” for the country.
“Today what we have charted is a remarkable journey for an Indian spacecraft to go to the moon and try to unravel the mysteries of the Earth’s closest celestial body and its only natural satellite,” Nair said.
The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says there has been a lot of excitement about the event, which was broadcast live on national TV.
An Indian-built launcher carrying the one-and-a-half-tonne satellite blasted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of Andhra Pradesh, at about 0620 local time (0050 GMT).
Little Big Planet recalled planetwide, new dates issued