Episode 115

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 Cinema ‘cops’ deploy night vision devices – BizTech – Technology – smh.com.au

Cinema ‘cops’ deploy night vision devices

In response to an increase in pirated movie recordings coming out of Australia, the copyright police are patrolling cinemas with night vision devices – and it’s not just commercial pirates they’re after.

Movie studios are providing the scopes to cinema ushers across the country and training them in how to spot people illegally taping films using camcorders and even mobile phones.

After Village Roadshow successfully implemented the technology to prevent pirated copies of The Dark Knight making their way on to the internet, 20th Century Fox has adopted it for Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, which opens today.

He would not name the movies, citing ongoing investigations, but said that, for a number of years, movie studios had been adding “unique forensic markers” to film prints distributed to theatres, allowing them to trace any leaks back to a specific location.

For Australia’s release, financial rewards of $200 will be provided to cinema staff for catching pirates, who will be ushered out of the cinema or referred to police, depending on the seriousness of their offence.

Under the Copyright Act, the maximum penalty for those found with a device for making an infringing copy is $13,200.

In November last year, Sydneysider Jose Duarte, 23, was fined $1000 for filming The Simpsons Movie on his mobile phone and uploading the footage to the internet. AFACT said it was the first illegal copy of the movie to be intercepted anywhere in the world.

Apple says yes to antivirus software

Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult. Here are some available antivirus utilities:

  • Intego VirusBarrier X5, available from the Apple Online Store
    License: commercial
  • Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 11 for Macintosh, available from the Apple Online Store
    License: commercial
  • McAfee VirusScan for Mac
    License: commercial

Minister welcomes NBN bids
 Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has welcomed the proposals to build the National Broadband Network (NBN)
The federal government has mooted the construction of a broadband network that will deliver at least 12Mbps to 98 percent of Australian homes and businesses.
Up to $4.7 billion will be pumped into the network by the government.
Bids have been lodged by Optus on behalf of the Terria consortium, and by Acacia.
Telstra has not submitted its bid, claiming there are “unresolved issues” in the government’s request for proposals
Instead, the company has provided the government with an outline of what it could have achieved.
The proposals will be evaluated by an independent panel of experts appointed by the government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The minister said the government will not be discussing the substance of the proposals that have been received.
Should take 2-3 months for the winner to be announced.

iiNet offers Xbox 360 games download quota free
 iiNet  has become the first Australian ISP to offer quota-free Xbox 360 game downloads.
iiNet was also the first, and is so far the only ISP in Australia to offer quota free the ABC iView service that provides access to ABC TV content.

Web Suicide Viewed Live
 Last Wednesday, when Mr. Biggs posted a suicide note and listed the drug cocktail he intended to consume, the Web site hardly acted like a family. On BodyBuilding.com, which includes discussions of numerous topics besides bodybuilding, and on a live video Web site, Justin.tv, Mr. Biggs was “egged on” by strangers who, investigators say, encouraged him to swallow the antidepressant pills that eventually killed him.

It was not the first time someone had used the Web in this way. In Arizona in 2003, a man overdosed on drugs while writing about his actions in a chat room. In Britain last year, a man hanged himself while chatting online and webcasting. In both cases, other users reportedly encouraged the individual.

live to YouTube

 The popular video-sharing internet site streamed a two-hour live broadcast on Saturday featuring well- to lesser-known singers, dancers and video bloggers who became online celebrities through YouTube.

The event was filmed before a live audience at the Fort Mason Centre near San Francisco’s famed Fisherman’s Wharf.

Will.i.am performed It’s A New Day, the song he released following Obama’s victory in the November 4 presidential election over Republican John McCain

Watchmaker uses spare parts from space
 Forget diamonds – one Swiss watchmaker is betting on watches made from moon dust, parts of the Apollo 11 rocket and bits of spacesuits to capture consumer cash as an economic slow down bites.

In 2007, the four-year-old group sparked controversy with its “Titanic DNA” watches, made from steel and coal from the ocean liner that sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, with some critics saying the timepieces were in bad taste.

But demand for the Titanic watches has been strong and the privately owned group currently has an order backlog of $A64 million for the watches, which range in price from around $A9004 to $A643,000 francs.


The group will make 1969 watches – matching the year of Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s first journey to the moon – for the “Moon Dust-DNA” collection.

The watches, which start at $US15,000 and can cost as much as $US500,000,


The watches’ dials, which feature tiny craters, will have dust in them from the moon rock that was taken from the first visit to the Earth’s satellite.

Steel from the Apollo 11 space shuttle will be used for the case and the strap will be made up of fibers from a spacesuit worn during the ISS mission, Arpa said




The collector is suffering a little bit,” Arpa said. “We are definitely seeing a slow down in demand for watches that cost more than 150,000 francs [$A193,000], especially in Russia and the Ukraine.”

But the collection has one major omission – watches for women.

“I don’t know how to make watches for ladies. I love ladies. But I don’t understand them,” Arpa said.


EA flags new Wii fitness game
 EA Sports Active is an “innovative new customizable and personalised fitness product” that will be available in stores in March and cost $US60, the California-based company said.

The company said EA Sports Active would be the first in a new line of EA fitness and sports performance products that would get “people off the couch and into shape.”
EA said EA Sports Active comes with two leg straps to hold the Wii’s Nunchuk controllers and a resistance band to track upper body exercises.

Man sues McDonald’s over nude photos

 A man is suing McDonald’s after he left his mobile phone at one of the chain’s restaurants and nude photos of his wife ended up online.

The suit was filed on Friday against the chain, the franchise owner, and the store manager, and seeks a jury trial and $US3 million in damages for suffering, embarrassment and the cost of having to move to a new home.

The suit says that Phillip Sherman left the phone in the Fayetteville, Arkansas store in July and that employees promised to secure it until he returned.

Artist wants new eye to be a webcam

 Tanya Vlach, who lost one eye in a car accident, asked engineers through her blog to build her a miniature webcam that could adjust to different lighting and focus as she wished.

She’s also requested the bionic eye be Bluetooth capable, have a 3X optical zoom, have a slot for a 4GB SD card, and be able to take still photos.

Vlach told the New York Daily News the eyecam would let her record her entire life or shoot a reality TV show from her perspective.

Tech experts contacted by the Daily News said much of the technology needed for Vlach’s bionic eye already exists, and she says she has received emails from dozens of engineers eager to help.

Pentagon declares war on USB drives
The US Defence Department has banned, at least temporarily, the use of external computer flash drives in the Pentagon because of a virus threat that officials detected on defence networks.

As part of the ban, the Pentagon was collecting any of the small flash drives that were bought or provided to workers by the department, according to one message distributed to employees.

Workers are being told there is no guarantee they will ever get the devices back, and it was not clear how long the ban will last.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would provide no details on the virus on Friday, but he described it as a “global virus” that has been the subject of public alerts.




First-ever decline in online retail spending: comScore

November 26, 2008 – 9:08AM

Online retail spending fell four percent in the first weeks of November from the same period last year, the first ever such decline in e-commerce spending, online researcher comScore reported on Tuesday.

The Reston, Virginia-based company said 8.2 billion US dollars was spent online during the first 23 days of November, four percent less than during the same period last year, when 8.5 billion US dollars was spent online.

ComScore forecast that online retail spending for the November-December holiday period will be flat versus year ago, significantly lower than last year’s growth rate of 19 percent.

Comcast said it expected e-commerce spending of 29.2 billion US dollars during the period, the same as last year.

“Despite the recent reprieve that plummeting gas prices have given American consumers, the depressed and volatile stock market, declining housing prices, inflation and the weak job market all represent dark clouds hanging over their heads this holiday shopping season,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

“With consumer confidence low and disposable income tight, the first weeks of November have been very disappointing, with online retail spending declining versus year ago,” he added.

Online retail spending during the January-October period grew by nine percent over the same period last year to 102.1 billion US dollars.

Arctic ice thickness ‘plummets’

By Mark Kinver 
Science and environment reporter, BBC News

Arctic sea ice 

The data proves that overall volume of sea ice is decreasing, say researchers

The thickness of Arctic sea ice “plummeted” last winter, thinning by as much as one-fifth in some regions, satellite data has revealed.

A study by UK researchers showed that the ice thickness had been fairly constant for the previous five winters.

The team from University College London added that the results provided the first definitive proof that the overall volume of Arctic ice was decreasing.

The findings have been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“The ice thickness was fairly constant for the five winters before this, but it plummeted in the winter after the 2007 minimum,” lead author Katharine Giles told BBC News.


 I think this is the first time that we can definitively say that the bulk overall volume of ice has decreased 
Dr Seymour Laxon
University College London

Sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record in September 2007, when it extended across an area of just 4.13 million sq km (1.59 million sq miles), beating the previous record low of 5.32 million sq km, measured in 2005.

The team from the university’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling – part of the UK’s National Centre for Earth Observation – found that last winter the ice had thinned by an average of 10% (26cm/0.9ft) below the 2002-2008 winter average.

Dr Giles added that the data also showed the western Arctic experienced the greatest impact, where the ice thinned by up to 19% (49cm/1.6ft).

Telstra ‘bid’ a joke: Optus

Mitchell Bingemann | November 26, 2008

OPTUS has labelled Telstra’s bid to build the federal Government’s $10-billion plus national broadband network as an “arrogant joke”.


After months of threatening to boycott the NBN process Telstra today submitted a proposal, signalling its intention to vie for up to $4.7 billion in taxpayer funding on offer to build the broadband network. 
But instead of lodging a bid conforming to the terms set out in the network’s request for proposal, Telstra proposed an alternate solution that would see its broadband network expanded to cover between 80-90 per cent of the population. 
Telstra said the global economic uncertainty, the rising cost of capital and the falling dollar meant a 30 per cent increase in cost would hinder the Government’s plans to construct a network that delivers at least 12Mbps internet speeds to 98 per cent of the population. 
“With this joke of a bid Telstra is just thumbing its nose at the Government,” Optus spokesperson Maha Krishnapillai said. 
“This is not a bid; it’s not even a partial bid and it’s not a bid to put an Australian broadband network together. 
Telstra is saying it will build and expand the Telstra network if the Government hands over money. They are not proposing to build an NBN, they just want to expand their dominance.” 
Mr Krishnapillai described Telstra’s proposal as a slate on the Government’s plans to deliver on one of its biggest election promises. 
“Telstra has once again proven they are all bluff, bully and bluster. But the joke of their proposal is that when it came to the crunch they would only put in this arrogant non-conforming bid.” 
Telstra’s proposal is in the form of a 12-page letter to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. 
“This will be a real test of Senator Conroy’s mettle. He has a 1000 page document from Optus that conforms to all of the Government’s terms and covers every single angle. And then he has a proposal from Telstra that just aims to build on their profits. It is not what he asked for.”


Apple made to drop iPhone advert

Apple iPhone 

The advert compared the iPhone’s 3G and 2G models

An Apple iPhone advert has been banned by the advertising standards watchdog for exaggerating the phone’s speed.

The advert boasted the new 3G model was “really fast” and showed it loading internet pages in under a second.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints by 17 people who said the TV advert had misled them as to its speed.

Apple UK said it was comparing the 3G model with its 2G predecessor and its claims were “relative not absolute”.

The advert repeatedly stated that the phone was “really fast” and showed news pages and the Google maps service taking just fractions of a second to appear.

Text on the screen said: “Network performance will vary by location.”

After upholding the viewers’ complaints, the ASA said the advert must not appear again in the same form.

It said the advert was likely to lead viewers to believe that the device actually operated at or near to the speeds shown in the advert.

The watchdog concluded: “Because we understood that it did not, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.”

Apple said its claims were “relative rather than absolute in nature” – implying the 3G iPhone was “really fast” in comparison to the previous generation – and therefore the advert was not misleading.

The company also said the average consumer would realise the phone’s performance would vary – a point they said was made clear by the text stating “network performance will vary by location”.

My Stop Smoking Coach with Allen Carr (USA) NDS 

‘World mandate’ on climate action

By Richard Black 
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Workman placing solar panels on the Vatican roof

The Vatican is a recent convert to the theology of renewables

An opinion poll in 11 countries has produced what organisers term a “global mandate” for action on climate change.

About half of the respondents wanted governments to play a major role in curbing emissions, but only a quarter said their leaders were doing enough.

In developing countries, a majority of people were prepared to make “lifestyle changes” to reduce climate change. 

The survey was commissioned by the HSBC Climate Partnership, which includes business and environmental groups.

Lord Nicholas Stern, who led the 2006 Stern Review into the economics of climate change and now works as a special advisor to the HSBC partnership, said this amounted to a global mandate for stronger action.

 Despite the financial crisis, climate change was very much in the minds of the general public 
Francis Sullivan

“It does show that people in the world expect their governments to take strong action as as matter of responsibility, and hope they will work with other governments to take action,” he told BBC News.

“It is not a story which says ‘I will do something only if others do’.”

The survey is published just five days before this year’s United Nations climate conference opens in the Polish city of Poznan.

More than money

The survey revealed that 43% of people questioned put climate change ahead of the world’s financial instability as an issue of current concern, even though the surveys ran in the turbulent months of September and October.

“Despite the fact this research took place at a time when the global financial crisis was taking off, climate change was very much in the minds of the general public as an issue of concern,” commented Francis Sullivan, HSBC’s environmental advisor and a former director of conservation with the environment group WWF.

KORG DS-10 #001 

KORG DS-10 #002 

KORG DS-10 #003 



Nintendo Wii now smashing the Xbox 360 and PS3: fastest seller even faster

By Patrick Avenell

The Nintendo Wii is now selling faster than ever, with GfK figures showing an incredible sell through rate for the console. This has led Nintendo to focus on product and content, not price, as it battles the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (PS3) for the Christmas dollar.

According to GfK figures, the Wii has not only maintained its position as Australia’s fastest selling console, it is now selling much faster than it was four months ago, when it crossed the 500,000 units sold mark. Industry figures now show the Wii has crossed 750,000 mark in just 102 weeks of sale. 

Amazingly, this means the Nintendo Wii has sold its last 250,000 units in just 18 weeks, or just under 2,000 per day. It took the Wii 84 weeks to reach the 500,000 mark, or 42 weeks per 250,000 sold. Compared to the last 18 weeks, that works out at a relatively paltry 850 per week.

This level of startling sell through contrasts with Sony, who gave away 35,000 PlayStation 3s (PS3) in the lead up to the Olympics, and Microsoft, who have slashed between $50 and $100 off the recommended prices of its Xbox 360 models in the hope of remaining competitive.

In addition to the Wii figures, Nintendo sold 1.5 million DS units in just 194 weeks. That means that in just under four years, over seven per cent of Australians have purchased a DS device.

It is clear, therefore, that pricing does not currently need to be reevaluated, at least not downwards, which means Nintendo is squarely focusing on its product range. Nintendo public relations manager Heather Murphy reports that the key products for the Wii this Christmas are Animal Crossing: Lets Go To The City (out 4 December), Wii Speak, Wii Music and Disaster: Day of Crisis. For the DS, the key titles are KORG DS-10 Synthesizer, Kirby Super Star Ultra and Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia.

Gerry Harvey: giving money to the homeless is a waste

By Patrick Avenell

Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey is quoted in today’s Fairfax papers as being quoted in a new book criticising charity for “no hopers”. In these amusing extracts, Harvey says he’s happy to give money to help people realise their potential, but giving money to the homeless is just a “waste”.

“You could go out and give a million dollars to a charity tomorrow to help the homeless. You could argue that it is just wasted. They are not putting anything back into the community,” said Harvey.

“It might be a callous way of putting it but what are they doing? You are helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason. They are just a drag on the whole community.

“So did that million you gave them help? It helped to keep them alive but did it help our society? No. Society might have been better off without them but we are supposed to look after the disadvantaged and so we do it. But it doesn’t help the society.”

Movies on PC plan put on hold

Andrew Colley | November 25, 2008

EZYDVD’S attempt to resurrect ReelTime Media’s commercial internet movie service has been aborted as local internet service providers come under pressure from Hollywood to curb illegal movie downloads.

EzyDVD managing director Jim Zavos said the service, rebadged EzyDownload and scheduled for a September launch, had been shelved due to market conditions caused by the global financial crisis.

“Retail is going through a bit of a hard trot at the moment,” Mr Zavos said. “The project is on hold but we plan to pursue it later next year should the economy or the market circumstances change.”

The first signs of cracks in the company’s plan appeared in September when private equity expected to be injected into the online movie venture dried up, Mr Zavos said.

The infrastructure behind the business would not be dismantled and liquidated, Mr Zavos said.

However, it’s understood server equipment obtained on lease from Sun Microsystems has been sent back to the vendor.

Under the EzyDownload model consumers were expected to be able to download movies to view on their computers using a proprietary software video player that protected movie copyright.

Telstra bluffs to the end on broadband bid

Mahesh Sharma | November 25, 2008

THE federal Government may face a legal battle with Telstra if a competitor wins the national broadband network contract.

Telstra bluffs to the end on broadband bid

The Terria consortium is so far the only party to publicly confirm it will bid for the national broadband network contract

Proposals to use up to $4.7 billion in taxpayer funds to build the network are due by midday tomorrow.

The Terria consortium, made up of Optus, iiNet, iprimus, Macquarie Telecom and Internode, is so far the only party to publicly confirm it will bid.

Telstra has stuck by its mantra that it will not bid until the Government guarantees there will be no structural split of the telco as part of the deal.

Melbourne University Business School professor Paul Kerin said Telstra could launch legal action to delay construction if a competitor won the contract.

Professor Kerin said Telstra could also delay rollout efforts by refusing to allow access to the copper line that runs from the node to the premises.

If Telstra were to submit a bid and lose, it could launch legal action claiming it was treated unfairly in the bidding process.

“Whatever happens, it’s in Telstra’s interests to stall the competitor,” Mr Kerin said.

“There are various options to stall, the obvious one that would happen anyway is just stalling negotiations for access from the node.

Cybercafe fined for copyright breach

Fran Foo | November 26, 2008

A SYDNEY internet cafe operator has pleaded guilty to 40 charges of copyright infringement involving titles such as Russell Crowe’s American Gangster.


Interville Technology was fined $82,000 and ordered to pay court costs at the Downing Centre Local Court yesterday. 
The company’s computers and servers seized during a raid by the Australian Federal Police will be forfeited. 
On December 18, 2007, the AFP raided Interville’s cybercafe located at Sydney’s World Square shopping centre following an investigation by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and the Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI). 
According to AFACT and MIPI, the cafe had 60 computers and three servers that contained hundreds of thousands of infringing movie, TV and music titles. 
The cafe was charging its patrons hourly fees to illegally access movies and music, that were then saved on storage devices with up to 60GB of space. 


YouTube goes wider, expands video player

November 26, 2008 – 7:35AM

YouTube, after years of complaints over the size of its video player, expanded the size of its screen on Tuesday, adopting a widescreen format.

The Google-owned video-sharing site, which has also been experimenting recently with high-definition video, announced the change to a widescreen format in a posting on the YouTube blog overnight.

“Over the years we’ve heard a lot of feedback from you about what you’d like to change about YouTube, and the size of our video player is always top of mind,” YouTube said.

“We’re expanding the width of the page to 960 pixels to better reflect the quality of the videos you create and the screens that you use to watch them,” it added.

The switch to a widescreen format is the latest in a number of recent moves at YouTube, which was purchased by Google for 1.65 billion US dollars in 2006 but has been unable so far to turn its massive popularity into profits.

It recently unveiled a feature called “theater view” which enhances its video screen by making it larger, centering it on pages and bordering it with virtual red curtains.

YouTube last month added links to online stores.

“‘Click-to-buy’ links are being discretely placed in control panels below YouTube videos to invite people to visit online shops iTunes or Amazon.com to buy music, books, films or other material related to snippets watched.

YouTube also recently announced that advertisers would be able to “sponsor” videos and bid on key words people use for searches on the site.

YouTube also staged a “live” concert over the weekend and announced earlier this month that it would host some full-length television shows and films from famed Hollywood studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM).

Under an agreement with CBS and the independent Lionsgate studio, YouTube recently began adding episodes of classic television programs such as “Star Trek,” “MacGyver” and “Beverly Hills 90210” to its menu.

YouTube is the number one site for amateur video, but it has had a troubled relationship with Hollywood and other producers of professional content.

Entertainment giant Viacom has filed a copyright lawsuit against YouTube accusing it of being a willing accomplice to Internet users who put clips of Viacom’s copyrighted television programs on the site.

Its first live event on Saturday was part concert and part variety show and drew comments from viewers ranging from “AWESOME!” to “train wreck.”

The star of the show was Grammy-award winning musician Will.i.am of the Black-Eyed Peas, whose song “Yes We Can” in tribute to Democratic candidate Barack Obama has been viewed nearly 14 million times on YouTube.

Google has moved slowly to “monetize” YouTube out of concern it might irk notoriously transient Web surfers who could easily switch to rival video sites.

YouTube has been facing competition from other sites such as Daily Motion and Hulu which features a menu of full-length programming from NBC Universal and News Corp.’s Fox.

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