Googled! Cyber warfare in Melbourne mayoral race – Technology – BrisbaneTimes
Googled! Cyber warfare in Melbourne mayoral race
Melbourne lord mayoral candidate Catherine Ng got a rude surprise late on Saturday when she typed her name into Google.
Instead of a link to her website, the first item to show up on her name search read like this: “Vote 1 Peter McMullin. The safe choice for Lord Mayor.”
This was no isolated cyber incident. Google searches for other lord mayoral candidates — including Gary Singer, Adam Bandt, Gary Morgan and Robert Doyle — were all leading to the same place: the rival McMullin campaign and its website.
But at what cost? Cr Ng estimates Cr McMullin has been paying Google hundreds of dollars a day for his “sponsored link” to appear when other candidates are searched
Microsoft launches first online store – BizTech – Technology
Microsoft launches first online store
The Microsoft Store is a possible death knell for the practice of selling software on computer discs that buyers install on their machines.
The online store with EDS (electronic distribution of software) was launched on Friday with little fanfare. Microsoft already operates online stores in Britain, Germany and South Korea.
The Microsoft Store has the full gamut of Microsoft products, from Windows Vista to Microsoft Office and hardware such as Xbox 360 consoles and Zune MP3 music players. However, Xbox 360 games are still shipped on DVD.
Microsoft’s fortune has been built on creating and selling packaged software, such as Windows, that people install on their machines or that comes pre-installed, but it has been coming under pressure from companies that have rolled out free web-based applications, Google among them.
Microsoft Live gets social in website makeover – BizTech – Technology
Microsoft Live gets social in website makeover
Microsoft is ramping up its battle for internet popularity with plans to make Windows Live services more social and build bridges to Twitter, Flickr and other popular websites.
Windows Live will let users keep track of friends in ways similar to those at hot social-networking website Facebook, which has a partnership with Microsoft.
It will also apparently incorporate Live Mesh technology launched early this year to let people combine “smart phones”, personal computers and websites into de facto networks that allow data to be accessed from almost anywhere.
Windows Live is a collection of Microsoft online services including internet search, instant messaging and Hotmail email.
The “next generation” of Windows Live updates photo-sharing, email and instant messaging, and allows ties to websites such as Pandora, LinkedIn, PhotoBucket and Yelp.
Exposed: the extended warranty rort – BizTech – Technology
Exposed: the extended warranty rort
ELECTRONICS and whitegoods retailers have been accused of using high-pressure tactics and making misleading claims while adding hundreds of dollars to the cost of big-ticket items.
Retail staff receive commissions on the extended warranties they sell, which can top up the manufacturer’s guarantee for up to five years on appliances. An investigation by Choice found that many of the warranties were unnecessary, overpriced and riddled with exclusions, while the accompanying sales pitches often involved false or misleading claims over the extent of the extra cover offered.
Harvey Norman and the Good Guys were among the retailers subjected to the shadow shopper investigation, which was conducted jointly with the Office of Fair trading and involved buying LCD televisions or digital cameras from 14 stores. Neither Harvey Norman nor Muir Electrical, which owns the Good Guys chain, responded to the Herald’s calls yesterday
Medicare pushes e-health system | Australian IT
Medicare pushes e-health system
MEDICARE Australia wants medical specialists who have largely resisted online connectivity to come on board with Eclipse, its e-claiming system for hospitals.
The Electronic Claims Lodgement Information Processing Service Environment allows privately insured hospital patients to pay their doctors bill by lodging a single claim to both Medicare and their insurer.
It also gives the patient warning of any out-of-pocket expenses.
Only 40 per cent of medical specialists have computers and IT infrastructure to support online claiming, compared with over 90 per cent of GPs who use computers in their practices, and almost 100 per cent of pharmacists.
As an incentive, medical specialists in metropolitan areas will receive a one-off $750 payment to cover start-up costs and $1000 for those in rural and remote areas.
In addition, practices will receive an incentive payment of 18 cents every time a claim is sent electronically.
Facebook App Verification Fee Draws Criticism – PC World
Facebook App Verification Fee Draws Criticism
Facebook now gives its developers the option of submitting their applications for review to obtain a seal of approval, but some developers aren’t thrilled with the program.
Via its new Application Verification Program, Facebook will review applications according to several criteria, such as their trustworthiness, transparency and overall usefulness.
Developers must pay a US$375 fee to have an application reviewed. If earned, the certification is good for 12 months, after which developers must pay another $375 to be reviewed again.
iTWire – Microsoft to drop OneCare and launch free security software
Microsoft is preparing to phase out Windows Live OneCare in favour of a new, free-of-charge consumer security product
Microsoft is preparing to phase out Windows Live OneCare in favour of a new, free-of-charge consumer security product
To be offered as a download for XP, Vista and Windows 7, Morro is slated to arrive some time in the second half of 2009.
The rationale for providing a free security product is that even in developed markets around 60 percent of consumers don’t have up to date security software on their PCs, and the proportion is even higher in developing markets.
the new Microsoft product will focus on protection from malware, including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans. It will not include utility function such as the ‘tune up’ capability of Windows Live OneCare.
But that doesn’t mean it will be a stripped down version of Windows Live OneCare. According to Amy Barzdukas, Microsoft’s senior director of product management, Morro will be a new product with a smaller footprint and using fewer resources, making it suitable for use on less powerful machines and where limited network bandwidth is available.
iTWire – Adobe to introduce Flash Player for 64-bit and mobile systems
Adobe to introduce Flash Player for 64-bit and mobile systems
At the Adobe Max conference in San Francisco, California, Adobe announced the availability of a pre-release 64-bit version of their Flash Player 10 and a full version for mobile devices.
it will only be initially available for Linux systems. In the FAQ on the labs.adobe.com, Adobe state that “Release of this alpha version of 64-bit Flash Player on Linux is the first step in delivering upon Adobe’s commitment to make Flash Player native 64-bit across platforms. We chose Linux as our initial platform in response to numerous requests in our public Flash Player bug and issue management system”.
They stated that the final 64-bit version would be released for Linux, Mac and Windows systems simultaneously.
Currently, users of 64-bit operating systems are stuck with using 32-bit browsers and the 32-bit Flash Player plugin. As 64-bit systems slowly gain traction in both the consumer and commercial space, the pre-release of Flash Player 10 for 64-bit signals Adobes move towards greater compatibility.
Current – Sharp makes a big statement with its 108-inch LCD TV
Sharp makes a big statement with its 108-inch LCD TV
By Martin Vedris
SYDNEY: Sharp Corporation Australia’s head office is currently home to what the company proudly states is the world’s largest commercially available LCD TV. It’s not going to be on everyone’s shopping list at RRP $169,000 though, but it says a lot about Sharp.
At 250 kg, you would need quite a few mates around to help you move this Sharp LB-1085 TV into the house. And don’t try to wall mount it unless you have already engineered and reinforced the wall to take the weight.
This TV is manufactured at Sharp’s Kameyama Plant in Japan. The panel measures 2,382 mm x 1,340 mm, making it the largest LCD TV/monitor commercially available anywhere in the world.
If you’ve ever seen Cars the Pixar movie on an LCD, chances are you haven’t seen it like this. The viewing area is approximately 3.2 square metres. It is Full HD (1,920 x 1,080p) utilising what Sharp calls a ASV Low Reflection Black TFT LCD. In other words, you get no reflection from the screen.
It has a 176 degree field of vision and at a maximum colour display of approximately 758 million colours, which is reportedly the widest colour range available on a Sharp LCD TV/Monitor.
The market is clearly in an inverse proportion to the size of the TV, but you’d expect that at $169,000 (although you could get it for less if you order more than one).
This is going to be largely (no pun intended) aimed at the commercial market, with the MCG and other sporting and commercial venues apparently queuing up to see it. And the company said today that it had already sold six.
It is designed to be able to run 24 hours a day without “losing any vividness of image quality”. The metal chassis is designed to dissipate heat. It also has no fan, which makes it quieter, and I would imagine means less energy consumption as well. It has a relatively low power consumption of 1,130 watts.
What does this TV say about Sharp though? You cannot underestimate Sharp, it has all the credentials and the product quality. The company is a potential giant in Australia, as it is in many other markets around the world where it holds a leading market share.
Smart technology, smart you – introducing the ASUS N Series notebooks
Presenting a new class of notebooks with cutting edge features and smart style
Sydney, Australia, November 13, 2008 – Form following function – introducing the new N Series notebooks from ASUS. Epitomising style and performance through innovative design and advanced technologies, the N Series comprises of four models that cater to a multitude of users from the hip and trendy to the smart professional, and of course the tech-savvy – N10, N20, N80 and N50.
Designed for optimised mobility, the ASUS N10 is perfect for people always on the go delivering a multi-sensory experience with NVIDIA GeForce 9300M graphics card and Intel Atom processor. Equipped with contemporary technological innovation, the N10 resourcefully preserves energy utilising the highly efficient Super Hybrid Engine (SHE). The SHE consists of the Power4 Gear Hybrid application which allocates power according to users preferences and the Energy Processing Unit (EPU) which accurately detects users power requirements and makes the necessary power adjustments – preserving battery life up to 35%*.
On opening, the N10 provides a vivid display with its 10.2” monitor and introduces fresh facial recognition technology with SmartLogon. The N10 detects the user’s face and logs on without manual key input or any other intervention. The system is designed to determine variations in the user’s facial features and is capable of performing detection even in different lighting conditions. Furthermore, the N10 features the ASUS exclusive Express Gate operating system enhancing efficiency by granting users instant online access to commonly used applications to surf, chat and play at the touch of a button.
On the outside, the N10 is clad in industrial luster with a sexy silver, brushed metallic look . The exterior encompasses In-Mold Roller technology which creates a scratch-resistant panel that retains its sheen even after prolonged use.
In addition to the N10, the N Series boasts a string of models including the N20, N80 and N50 which also incorporate In-Mold Roller technology and come complete in a dark, sleek industrial package.
N20: Built for heavy usage, the ASUS N20 features a 12.1” monitor and up to 12 hours* of battery life. Equipped with an Altec Lansing sound system, the N20 provides excellent sound clarity, as well as a highly efficient eSATA hard disk drive housed in a dust and moisture-resistant enclosure. The N20 is a versatile road performer for business and personal entertainment.
N80: Designed specifically for business executives and professionals, the ASUS N80 features a 14.1” display powered by a standalone NVIDIA GeForce 9 Series graphics card with up to 1 GB of VRAM. Complemented by Dolby Surround decoding, the N50 delivers impressive sound quality that is sure to impress in any business or personal situation.
N50: The pinnacle of mobile computing, the ASUS N50 is top of the N Series range. Designed for intuitive control and user-friendliness, the N50 features a 15.4” display and multimedia touchpad complete with backlit buttons for instantaneous multimedia enjoyment. And not to blow its own horn, N50 includes a built-in Air Ionizer that not only helps clean the surrounding air of allergens and germs, but also promotes refreshing air-flow and circulation.
The ASUS N Series notebooks are the netbook’s next of kin – positioned between the revolutionary netbook generation and the high grade, fully functional notebook. It is supremely sassy computing.
The ASUS N Series notebooks will be available in Australia and New Zealand from November 2008 from selected computer resellers and retailers. Recommended retail prices (inc GST):
§ N10 from AU$999, NZ$1,199
§ N20 from AU$1,999, NZ$2,399
§ N50 from AU$2,299, NZ$2,799
§ N80 price to be confirmed
ASUS Bamboo Series – For the style conscious with a conscience
Clever blend of ecology and technology that is fashion friendly
Sydney, Australia, November 13, 2008 – Embrace the earth in pure digital harmony with the ASUS Bamboo Series notebook. Green in design with fashion in mind, the Bamboo notebook is a matchless marvel that offers uncompromised elegance and superior performance. Ideal for the style conscious with a conscience, the Bamboo notebook is the accessory that enhances environmental awareness.
Supporting environmental sustainability, its verdant exterior embodies ecology and provides a natural balance with energy efficient elements camouflaged underneath. With the ASUS exclusive Super Hybrid Engine, the Bamboo notebook preserves power internally by intelligently monitoring component power requirements and automatically adjusting to meet current consumption needs – thus optimising system performance and energy efficiency. View vivid images on the WXGA LED-backlit LCD and carry out operations effortlessly with Intel® Centrino® 2 Processor Technology and Genuine Windows Vista® Ultimate.
Strictly stylish combined with truly tech, the Bamboo Series notebook is crafted using recyclable bamboo – light, durable and renewable. From foundation to finish, the Bamboo notebook blends customary and contemporary components. It allows smooth wireless connectivity with gigabit ethernet high speed connection to the internet (wherever reception is available). Equipped with a built-in 0.3M pixel webcam and high quality microphone, the Bamboo notebook is ideal for wire free live video chat anywhere. Data security is also uncompromised and users can be assured of solid privacy protection with comprehensive security features including fingerprint authentication and TPM security.
Packaged in distinctive Moso bamboo paneling, the Bamboo notebook evokes a charming warmth and a cybernetic closeness to nature. A cutting edge creation that incorporates innate, ornate aesthetics, each Bamboo Series notebook is organically unique and radiates a divine spirituality – providing powerhouse computing in a polished package, moving environline. And with the threat of climate change at the world’s doorstep, ASUS is turning the focus, cleverly blending ecology and technology that is fashion friendly – playing an important part as an active participant in the worldwide effort to protect the environment.
The ASUS Bamboo Series will be available in December 2008 through computer resellers – recommended retail price from AU$3,499 inc GST.
NV G9300M GS / 256M
12.1″ WXGA LED
Intel® 802.11a/g/n, 10/100/1000 LAN
Intel® Core 2 Duo T9400 (2.53GHz, 1066MHz FSB, 6MB L2 Cache)
SATA HDD 320GB 5400 rpm
DDR2 800 2G * 2
3 + 6 Cell
3xUSB 2.0, 1xe-SATA, Express Card, VGA Port, Headphone/SPIDIF Out, Mic in, LAN, Modem, WLAN swtich, HDMI Port
90W Adapter, 3cell Li-Ion 2400mAh, 6cell Li-Ion 4800mAh
DM / Weight
300 x 220 x 25.3~31.6mm, 1.57kg with 3-cell battery
A fresh approach to chassis design with the ASUS TA-F foldable chassis
Compact construction provides over 30% savings on storage and transportation
Sydney, Australia, November 12, 2008 – ASUS, manufacturer of high quality computer chassis’, has released the new ASUS TA-F Series chassis.
Featuring a foldable, space-saving design, the TA-F Series chassis is easy to move and carry. Ideal for experienced users and do-it-yourself beginners, the TA-F Series chassis is tool-free and user-friendly for simple, straightforward installation. The unique foldable design makes the TA-F Series chassis truly ultraportable, measuring just 434 x 87 x 434 mm fully folded – enabling effortless haulage for users and potentially saving vendors and dealers storage and transportation costs by up to 30%.
Back at home or the office, the TA-F Series chassis can be instantly opened out. Conveniently spaced USB ports located in front of the chassis allows users to connect devices without interference. Inside, safe folded edges prevent injury during installation. With its tool-free set up, the TA-F Series chassis includes screw-less ODD, FDD, and HDD holders, as well as screw eyelet indicators marking motherboard orientation. Moreover, the inclusion of a 5.25” rack – convertible into a 3.5” version – can be used to install card readers and FDDs, providing users with greater expandability options. Externally, the TA-F Series chassis features a unique sliding door, which doubles as an exquisite design centerpiece, as well as providing extra protection for hardware drives. When not in use, the TA-F Series chassis can simply be folded flat for easy storage.
The TA-F Series chassis supports a pair of front and rear 12cm large fans to maximise airflow. The front fan draws fresh air into the chassis, while heat generated by the system is expelled immediately via the rear fan – providing efficient airflow and cooler temperatures. Vents located at the bottom of the chassis draw fresh air to enhance the cooling effect around the HDD area. Additionally, the two side outlets provide cool air to efficiently lower the CPU and video cards’ temperature. This optimised thermal solution enables long and continuous operations for the most powerful processing platforms today, increasing overall system performance and stability.
Overall, the TA-F Series chassis is a modest, minimalist piece of hardware – choose between two models: the TA-F11 in elegant ebony black and the TA-F21 in sleek, stylish silver.
The ASUS TA-F Series chassis will be available January 2009 from selected computer resellers. Recommended retail price (inc GST) from AU$149, NZ$199.
ATX/Micro-ATX SGCC 0.6MM
190 x 426 x 469mm (expanded)
434 x 87 x 434mm (folded)
4 x internal 5.25” Optical Drive Bays
1 x internal 3.5” Floppy Drive Bays
4 x internal 3.5” Hard Disk Drive Bays
Front I/O Ports
USB x 2
Audio x 2
1394 x 1 (optional)
PCI x 7
Front 120/92/80mm fan x 1
Rear 120/92/80mm fan x 1
Side 80mm fan x 1 (optional)
ASUS is a leading company in the new digital era. With a global staff of more than 8,000 and a world-class R&D design team, the company’s turnover for 2007 was 6.9 billion US dollars. ASUS ranks among the top 10 IT companies in BusinessWeek’s “InfoTech 100” and has been on the listing for 11 consecutive years. ASUS was also selected by the Wall Street Journal Asia as No.1 in quality and service in Taiwan. For more information, visit www.asus.com.au.
YouTube – Most offensive video ever
Most offensive video ever
isoHunt Forums :: View topic – Join the Copyfight!
“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot
“Science without religion is lame: Religion without science is blind.” – Albert Einstein
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay
Current – No response from Sony or Nintendo on Xbox price cuts
No response from Sony or Nintendo on Xbox price cuts
By Patrick Avenell
Sony and Nintendo have both gone into near-silent hiding following Microsoft’s drastic and sudden price slashing on its Xbox 360 device.
After news broke last week that Microsoft had taken the price cutting option to drive sales in the lead up to Christmas, a response, either direct or indirect was expected. Considering the significance of the price cuts, $50 on the Arcade model and $100 on both the standard and Elite models, the almost complete lack of response from these two other gaming giants is mysterious.
Whilst it would be reactionary to immediately change prices in order to negate Microsoft’s move, it was expected to cause consternation enough to invoke a gift-with-purchase or value add promotion, if only to encourage positive press reports. Media coverage of the Xbox price cutting was tremendous for the supplier, with the story being widely reported.
The press has been silent on the competition, however, because Sony and Nintendo have not released any official statements regarding the PlayStation 3 (PS3) or Wii consoles. Current.com.au has asked both to contribute to this debate, and the response has been sparse.
Nintendo Australia’s internal public relations manager, Heather Murphy, said today that, “There are no plans to reevaluate the Wii price structure.”
This laconic response is verbose compared to Sony, who altogether declined to comment to comment on the issue. This lack of a response recalls the maritime saying, the calm before the storm, with an opportunity for a pre-Christmas gaming tsunami still viable, though time and tide wait for no gaming device.
Current – Sony’s new Blu-ray player focuses on features, not price
Sony’s new Blu-ray player focuses on features, not price
By Patrick Avenell
Sony has today announced the release of a new high end Blu-ray disc player. This comes in direct contrast to the intense price discounting going on at the low end of the market.
As reported in Current.com.au, Blu-ray players have experienced a dramatic slide in pricing over the last two months, with the once premium entertainment product slipping past significant price points at alarming speeds. Back at Sony’s product showcase Uchi, the release of sub-$500 players was heralded as a breakthrough. By last week, consumers could pick up a no-name Blu-ray player from JB Hi-Fi for only $299.
The new Sony model, the BDP-S5000ES, is RRP $2,299 – a full $2,000 more that the heretofore cheapest model on the market. Naturally, this is a better player, with features including BD-Live, DVD upscaling, 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD, Bravia-sync, 14-bit HD video processing, Ethernet connection and a one gigabyte Sony Micro Vault flash memory device for use in the player’s USB port.
Google gives online life to Life mag’s photos
November 19, 2008 – 12:31PM
Google Inc. has opened an online photo gallery that will feature millions of images from Life magazine’s archives that have never been seen by the public before.
The new service, available at http://images.google.com/hosted/life, debuted Tuesday with about 2 million photos. Eventually, Google plans to scan all 10 million photos from Life’s library so they can be viewed on any computer with an Internet connection.
About 97 percent of Life’s archives have not been publicly seen, according to Life.
The photos can be printed out for free as long as they aren’t being used as part of an attempt to make money. Time Warner Inc., Life’s parent company, hopes to make money by selling high-resolution, framed prints. The orders will be processed through Qoop.com.
Life’s archives include photos from the Civil War as well as some of the most memorable moments from the 20th century, including the Zapruder film capturing John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Google has been indexing a wide variety of information that previously wasn’t available online as part of its efforts to lure even more traffic to its popular search engine. For the past four years, Google has been scanning millions of books stored in dozens of libraries around the world.
The Life partnership represents Google’s biggest undertaking in professional photography. Google hopes to work out similar arrangements with the owners of other large photo archives, said R.J. Pittman, a director of product management.
NASA tests “deep space Internet”
November 19, 2008 – 11:47AM
The US space agency NASA said it successfuly conducted a first test of a deep space communications network modeled on the Internet.
“This is the first step in creating a totally new space communications capability, an interplanetary Internet,” Adrian Hooke, NASA’s manager of space-networking architecture, technology and standards, said in a statement.
The US space agency said Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers used software called Disruption-Tolerant Networking, or DTN, to transmit dozens of space images to and from a NASA spacecraft some 20 million miles (32.4 million kilometers) from Earth.
NASA said the software protocol, which must be able to withstand delays, disruptions and disconnections in space, was designed in partnership with Vint Cerf, a vice president at Internet search giant Google.
DTN sends information using a method that differs from the normal Internet’s Transmission-Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP, communication suite, which Cerf co-designed, NASA said.
Unlike TCP/IP, DTN does not assume a continuous end-to-end connection, NASA said, noting that glitches can happen when a spacecraft moves behind a planet, or when solar storms and long communication delays occur.
It said the delay, for example, in sending or receiving data from Mars takes between three-and-a-half minutes and 20 minutes at the speed of light.
NASA said that if a destination path cannot be found, data packets are not discarded but kept by each network node until it can communicate safely with another node.
Eventually, it said, the information is delivered to the end user.
“In space today, an operations team must manually schedule each link and generate all the commands to specify which data to send, when to send it, and where to send it,” said Leigh Torgerson, manager of the DTN Experiment Operations Center at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“With standardized DTN, this can all be done automatically.”
Facebook application plan rankles some developers
November 19, 2008 – 10:43AM
Facebook plans to start charging for verifying applications built for the social network _ an optional process that has upset some developers despite the company’s assurances it will bring plenty of positive benefits.
Platform program manager Sandra Liu Huang said Tuesday that Facebook opened the verification process to developers on Monday.
The process is meant to increase users’ trust of applications that are posted on the site and to help developers wanting to build a serious business get more visibility with users, she said.
Initially, developers file a form to register their application, and after it is reviewed by Facebook, the developers fill out paperwork and submit a $375 annual fee for each application. Students and registered non-profits pay $175 for each application they want verified.
Huang said the fee covers costs on Facebook’s end related to reviewing the applications, and it will recur each year along with a fresh application review. Eventually, if Facebook finds that the costs of reviewing the applications declines, it would be open to lowering the reverification fee, she said.
Facebook currently has 48,000 applications in its directory, Huang said, and she expects that several hundred will become verified initially.
The benefits of the process will start being seen early next year, she said. Verified applications will sport a special badge and they will also be given more visibility on Facebook _ for example, updates from verified applications will be more visible in users’ News Feeds.
But some developers who posted on a developer forum on Facebook’s Web site were upset by the annual verification fee.
Mike Knoop, 19, who developed an application that lets Facebook users request phone numbers from their friends, is not opposed to paying a fee to participate but doesn’t like the idea of paying each year.
“Because its recurring every 12 months, I think that’s going to shut out a lot of the smaller developers that don’t have the initial capital to invest in Facebook applications,” he said.
National Geographic discovers videogames
November 19, 2008 – 7:46AM
National Geographic, the monthly magazine famed for its glossy photographs and stories from obscure corners of the world, is venturing into videogames.
The magazine announced on Tuesday that its first game, “Herod’s Lost Tomb,” would come out this month ahead of the December 2008 issue which features an article on the biblical figure known for his architectural exploits.
The game will be available for free online at nationalgeographic.com/channel and will also be downloadable for PCs, Macs and iPhones, National Geographic said in a statement.
National Geographic said “Herod’s Lost Tomb” was the first in a number of “family-friendly” games it would publish this year.
Other titles include “National Geographic: Panda,” “National Geographic: Africa” and “Sudoku Traveler: China.”
It said it was partnering with Namco Bandai Games America and Sony Computer Entertainment to distribute the National Geographic-banded games on handheld devices and gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3.
Black Monday fear for malware spike
Security researchers have deemed November 24 “black Monday” following predictions it will herald this year’s peak in the spread of information-stealing malware.
PC Tools, which analysed information taken from 500,000 users of its anti-virus products, said its internal monitoring systems registered a dramatic spike in viruses around November 19 last year, three days before the American Thanksgiving holiday and about the time when many people were shopping online for Christmas presents.
Based on this data, Kurt Baumgartner, the company’s chief threat analyst, has predicted November 24 will be the worst day of the year for computer attacks.
There is expected to be a bigger than usual bounty of sensitive credit card and bank account information available to cyber thieves this year as many people turn to the internet to find lower prices on presents and to help them beat the credit crunch.
Baumgartner said his data was particularly poignant because it related to the amount of malware actually making its way on to users’ computers, rather than that which gets blocked beforehand.
Adam Biviano, spokesman for competitor Trend Micro, said he expected to see a large increase in hackers using holiday-related tools such as electronic greeting cards as a front for attacks.
“It’s typical for the orchestrators of malware attacks to make use of public holidays, make use of special occasions, because it gives them an angle from which to attract people to click on their link [or] download their attachment,” he said.
Biviano said the holidays were a particularly popular time for attacks because this is when many organisations have limited staff in their IT departments.
Baumgartner said modern viruses, which send back to the hacker a detailed log of everything the victim enters into their keyboard, were now infecting users through more creative avenues than the typical email attachments.
A new flaw in PDF document readers meant even seemingly innocuous PDF files could be used to spread malware in the background, while Baumgartner had also seen users become infected just by visiting a credible, big name website.
“There are a number of websites with banner ads that are redirecting people to more malicious websites where actual code is being hosted,” he said.
But Carlo Minassian, chief executive of Earthwave, which provides security systems on internet services offered by companies including McDonald’s, said it was important not to blow the issue out of proportion.
He said last week’s shutdown of the notorious McColo US webhosting service, responsible for two-thirds of the world’s spam, had slowed down scammers somewhat.
“It should be expected spamming and phishing will increase in the immediate future as we approach the upcoming Christmas period. Trends from past years indicate spamming and phishing spikes around this time,” he said.
“Fraudsters will look to capitalise on online bargain hunters looking for cheap deals – and this is precisely what spammers are offering.”
Minassian said internet users should beware of emails from unknown senders and deals that seem too good to be true.
“Don’t be enticed into clicking on email links. Don’t browse websites which have a bad reputation or lack a trusted SSL certificate, keep your anti-virus software up to date, and install a pop-up blocker,” he said.
Uproar as Dell claims half-price offer a mistake
Dell is under fire after it twice advertised a computer for sale at less than half the usual price last week but then abruptly pulled the offers, refusing to honour any orders.
Customers are crying foul, saying Dell deliberately advertised at an impossibly low price as a marketing ploy, knowing it could pull out at any time and claim the offer was an error.
Bargain hunter websites, such as OzBargain, and PC user forums, including Whirlpool and Overclockers Australia, lit up on Friday with word that Dell was offering a $799 Vostro 220ST computer on its website for $240.
The desktop computer included an Intel dual-core processor, 2GB of internal memory, 160GB of hard-drive space and a 20-inch LCD monitor.
The same computer was offered days earlier, on Monday, for $350 as part of another deal, which Dell also pulled out of.
Dell believes it is justified in refusing to honour the sales, saying it did not send customers a notice accepting the orders and therefore no contract was created. Dell did, however, send customers an automated response acknowledging the orders.
Dell Australia spokesman Marty Filipowski said the offer was simply a mistake and stemmed from Dell accidentally allowing customers to delete certain accessories from their orders.
“Those who deleted the preconfigured accessories from their order where inadvertently offered the product for $238.64,” he said.
“We are contacting these customers now and believe they will understand the error.”
The NSW Office of Fair Trading says traders such as Dell are generally obliged to deliver goods only if customers have paid for them, which creates a binding contract.
YouTube video ‘not so flash’
Cynthia Karena talks to a French developer weaning us off a grainy, low-definition web.
YouTube is a great idea but it has lowered people’s expectations about image quality on the internet, says Pascal Vuylsteker, a French consultant and web software developer.
“YouTube has trained people to get used to bad-quality video,” said Mr Vuylsteker, 40, who works for Opsomai, an IT consultancy for audiovisual and multimedia content management and distribution. The reason for that bad quality was the wide adoption of Flash, “thanks to YouTube”, as a tool to access video, he said. “Flash was not designed for that in the beginning; it was a tool to display vector animation.”
Two years ago, Mr Vuylsteker was lecturing at the Australian National University and, after several years away from Paris, he is back with a mission to improve image quality on the internet.
His clients, such as the French Broadcasting Institute, demand high-quality images, and the demand for quality video on the internet was following slowly, he said.
Mr Vuylsteker said the web needed a precise editing tool but, again, YouTube had set a low standard, with developers “following like sheep”.
“People using YouTube don’t expect to be able to move video images frame by frame on the web. The best precision you can get on YouTube is one second. Most of the video on the web is always difficult to navigate quickly and a specific (fragment) is even more difficult to extract.”
He developed an online video player that “releases the power of QuickTime within a webpage”.
QuickTime, he said, was the only technology that achieved high visual quality and interactivity. “It also allows developers use whatever video format they want, including standard formats such as MPEG1, 2 and 4 (H.264). It is also more precise than Flash when it comes to selecting a video frame.
“Nothing can play video better than QuickTime. But the QuickTime plugin is not as easy to interface with as Flash, especially because of Internet Explorer instabilities.”
It took him about a year part-time to develop the player for the institute.
But web development was at a crossroads, he said. “Do you want to rely on one technology – Flash – that one company controls, or do you go for an open solution such as HTML5? If web developers adopt the new HTML5 solution, then we can throw Flash away, which will be good.
Obama vows to engage world on climate change
US President-elect Barack Obama says he will “engage vigorously” in global climate change talks and denial is no longer an acceptable response to global warming.
In a surprise video message to a summit of US state governors on climate change, Mr Obama said he would show new leadership on the issue as soon as he takes office in January.
The President-elect also addressed his message directly to delegates at United Nations climate change talks in Poland next month.
“While I won’t be president at the time of your meeting, and while the United States has only one president at a time, I’ve asked members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to me on what they learn there,” he said.
“And once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change.
“Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.”
US car giants on ‘brink of disaster’
November 19, 2008 – 10:40AM
America’s three biggest car makers say the industry is teetering on the brink of disaster and desperately needs a multi-billion dollar loan from the US Government.
The chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are pleading with Congress to give them $US25 billion in Government-backed loans.
Rick Wagoner from General Motors has bluntly told the Senate Banking Committee why the money is needed.
“What would it mean if the domestic industry were allowed to fail? The cost would be catastrophic in jobs lost, income lost, government tax revenue lost and a huge blow to consumer and business confidence,” he said.
However, hopes for a speedy bailout package have faded because of strong opposition from the Bush Administration and many Republicans.