Episode 125

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Agencies save on Microsoft fees | Australian IT
Agencies save on Microsoft fees


The Government yesterday said it had sealed a whole-of-government agreement with Microsoft Australia that meant around $15 million a year over four years could be slashed from the cost of doing business with the software giant.

The volume sourcing agreement with Microsoft was brokered by the Defence Department – the largest public sector user of its products in the country.

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said the savings would come from price discounts and lower administrative costs, and as a result the benefits would be channelled back to departments and agencies.

The agreement, which expires in 2013, will provide government agencies with access to its desktop professional software, including Microsoft Office and Windows Vista.

The Pirate Bay Demand Webcast of Trial | TorrentFreak
The Pirate Bay Demand Webcast of Trial

 On February 16th 2009, one of the biggest trials in P2P history begins. The case of the largest BitTorrent tracker, The Pirate Bay, will be followed by millions around the world.

The Pirate Bay team have been preparing for the media battle, in part by designating their tour bus as the site’s official media center. But already there are complaints about how accessible the trial will be to the public, with TiAMO and Brokep demanding changes to how it will be made available. In true Pirate Bay style, they want everyone to have access, one way or another.

According to Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij (aka TiAMO) the case will be heard in room 9 of Stockholm’s District Court. This room has space for maximum 35-40 people to view the case. At least 20 of these seats will be reserved for the press and, you can bet, these will be taken up by the mainstream press, many of which are unsympathetic to the site’s cause, a point not lost on Peter Sunde, aka Brokep.

“Traditional media is 90% owned by the opposition in this case and that is something that really must be taken into account,” he notes.

Bungling silenced Victoria bushfires warning | Australian IT
Bungling silenced Victoria bushfires warning

 The federal Government is now fast-tracking plans to let state and territory emergency services access the national database of phone numbers, in order to bombard residents in areas of danger with automated phone calls and text messages.

Privacy and data-security restrictions in the Telecommunications Act, combined with interstate squabbling over funding, had been delaying the scheme’s introduction.

Local talent good enough to run Telstra: Trujillo | Australian IT
Local talent good enough to run Telstra: Trujillo


TELSTRA boss Sol Trujillo says he hopes his successor can be found within the telco, but has ducked questions about his imminent departure.

Mr Trujillo, whose pay package was nearly $13.4 million for the 2008 financial year, said there was a wealth of talent within the Telstra leadership team that had been built up over his time as chief executive.

While not denying the departure rumours, he told the QUT Business Leaders’ Forum on Tuesday he’s been planning his departure since the day he arrived in July 2005.

“The day that I took the job is the day I started the conversation with the board about my succession,” he said.

“Because things happen, sometimes you can get hit by a truck or you can fall out of the air in an airplane.

Vodafone, Hutchison to merge in Australia | Australian IT
Vodafone, Hutchison to merge in Australia


TOUGH economic times have triggered an upheaval in Australia’s $13 billion a year mobile sector with its number three and four players Vodafone Australia and Hutchison “3” forced into merger.

The unexpected move will see hundreds of jobs cut as the two companies streamline their combined $4 billion a year businesses and take aim at SingTel Optus’s number two market position.

The new group, to be named VHA Pty Ltd, will have more than 6 million customers and sell products and services under the Vodafone brand.

The deal also appears to signal the death knell of the 3 brand in Australia with Vodafone being earmarked as the new venture’s main brand.

Short and sweet: Awards honor Twitter tweets – CNN.com
Short and sweet: Awards honor Twitter tweets


  • The first annual Shorty Awards, held Wednesday, honor 2008’s best Twitter tweets
  • NYC event recognized winners in 26 categories, including news, humor and tech
  • There’s an art to writing a great tweet within 140 characters, winners say

Ledger fans demand the Joker retired from film – CNN.com
Ledger fans demand the Joker retired from film


  • Heath Ledger fans are calling for The Joker to be removed from future Batman films
  • They launched a petition at new Web site, The Ultimate Joker, last week
  • Ledger’s Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” received rave reviews

NASA honored for ‘tweets’ from Mars – CNN.com
NASA honored for ‘tweets’ from Mars


  • NASA wins Twitter’s “Shorty” award for its Martian “tweets”
  • NASA delivered more than 600 updates during Mars Phoenix Lander mission
  • By mission’s end, more than 38,000 people were following NASA’s “tweets”

Microsoft readies smartphone assault on Apple – CNN.com
Microsoft readies smartphone assault on Apple


  • Microsoft is getting ready to launch an online marketplace akin to Apple’s App Store
  • Microsoft is also readying an upgraded version of its mobile operating system
  • Announcement expected next week at the Mobile World Congress trade show
  • Developments were first reported in the Wall Street Journal

U.S. nuclear weapons lab loses 67 computers – Security – iTnews Australia
U.S. nuclear weapons lab loses 67 computers

 Officials from New Mexico’s Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory have fessed up to having only just realised that 67 of its computers were missing, with no less than 13 of them having disappeared over the past year alone.

Three of the 13 computers which went missing in the past year were stolen from a scientist’s home on January 16 and the memo also mentioned a BlackBerry belonging to another staff member had been lost “in a sensitive foreign country”. Could that be Russia? China? Iran?

Worryingly, only one of the three computers nicked from the scientist’s house was even authorised for home use.

Microsoft cuts off Windows 7 beta – Operating Systems – iTnews Australia
Microsoft cuts off Windows 7 beta

 Members of Microsoft’s MSDN and TechNet services will still be able to download the beta.

The decision to end the download program brings a conclusion to the month-long public beta period for its upcoming operating system release.

Originally slated for a limited test of 2.5 million users, strong demand for the beta convinced Microsoft to lift that limit and allow all users to download the Windows 7 beta.

BREAKING: Internet filter to go live… without iiNet or Optus
Internet filter to go live… without iiNet or Optus


Australia’s second and third largest ISPs, Optus and iiNet, won’t be included in the government’s internet filter test upon its launch.

it seems Conroy isn’t interested in testing the filtering system in the highest traffic ISPs, at least when the filtering pilot launches.

Senator Conroy’s office confirmed that the six ISPs would be Primus, Tech 2U, Webshield, OMNIconnect, Netforce and Highway 1. Only Primus has more than a metaphorical handful of customers compared to the largest ISPs in the industry, and WebShield is an ISP that already filters its customers’ connections as a selling point.

Underbelly 2 episodes hit the net
Underbelly 2 episodes hit the net


Channel 9 is making Underbelly 2 available for download on the web straight after each episode airs.

Each episode is an AVI file, encoded with a flavour of XVID which Channel 9 says you are free to share with friends or transfer via P2P networks.

The catch is that the AVI file is DRM protected and you have to install Channel 9’s HIRO video CODEC (available for Windows, and Mac). You are, at least, not forced to watch the video through a proprietary player or as a streaming video on a web page — HIRO plugs into Windows Media Player 9 and above and Apple Quicktime on Mac.  

The use of HIRO does mean you can’t play the file on a portable video player like an iPod though, and the HIRO system also prevents people outside Australia watching the file.

HIRO is designed to show advertisements in your video (which cannot be fast forwarded), “just like commercial TV”, but NineMSN says this functionality is not being used and that all Underbelly 2 downloads from NineMSN are ad-free. (Some other shows use the ad functionality to show ads before and after, but not during, the episode.) When you first install HIRO, it gathers some demographic information about you.

Each episode is about 800MB according to NineMSN, though the first episode of Underbelly 2 is actually 1.3GB. It downloads reasonably slowly from NineMSN’s servers — even on APC’s 22Mbit/s ADSL2+ connection, it only downloaded at 180KB/s, which is roughly equivalent to 1.5Mbit/s. That download speed means an episode takes about two hours to download.

We found that the background daemon for the HIRO software crashed repeatedly on Mac OS X 10.5.6. NineMSN is checking into the problem.

The Underbelly 2 main site is here and episode downloads are available here.



update THE federal Government’s controversial live ISP filtering trial will finally kick-off with six internet service providers chosen to participate.

Primus Telecommunications, TECH 2U, Webshield, OMNIconnect, Netforce and Highway 1 have been selected.

The live tests will last for a minimum of six weeks and the ISPs’ customers have the option of taking part in the trial.

Actual start dates will depend on the ISPs.

Nullriver Software : Home

Green light for ISP filtering trials | Australian IT
Green light for ISP filtering trials

BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft bounty for worm creator

A reward of $250,000 (£172,000) has been offered by Microsoft to find who is behind the Downadup/Conficker virus.

Since it started circulating in October 2008 the Conficker worm has managed to infect millions of computers worldwide.

The software giant is offering the cash reward because it views the Conficker worm as a criminal attack.

Early bushfire alert cover-up exposed | Australian IT
Early bushfire alert cover-up exposed


CANBERRA and the states baulked at the $20 million cost of a telephone-based alert system that would have given early warning of the deadly Black Saturday bushfires, a secret report shows.

The confidential review for Victoria’s State Emergency Service in December 2007, obtained by The Australian, reveals that the technology to bombard mobile and fixed phones with danger messages had been trialled successfully for the agency.

While the test run of Telstra’s Community Information and Warning System was for flooding, the Victorian SES found it would work “for all types of hazard”, including bushfire.

Despite this, the system was not introduced because the Howard government and the states bickered over the expense.

The internal report for the Victorian SES concluded: “Apparently governments are baulking at … their contribution to the $20 million cost.”

Gmail – Current.com.au – Friday 6 February
Playstation accounts for 42 per cent of 2008 Australian software sales

 Sony Computer Entertainment Australia has just released their 2008 retail performance figures, boasting impressive software sales and accounting for almost half of Australia’s total software purchases for the entire year.

PS3 local sales doubles | Australian IT
PS3 local sales doubles


SONY’S PlayStation 3 increased its install base by 283,000 units in 2008 as clever marketing promotions helped the video games manufacturer catch-up to its market rivals.

The PlayStation 3’s install base now stands at approximately 460,000 and is slowly catching up with its high-definition gaming rival, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which has an install base of approximately 500,000 and an additional year of sales under its belt.

Nintendo, however, still sits as the undisputed console king with over 680,000 Nintendo Wiis sold in 2008.

Much of PlayStation 3’s 2008 sales success came off the back of a promotion for free PS3s with the purchase of selected models of Sony BRAVIA LCD TVs.

The promotions, which ran as two separate tranches in January and June of 2008, added an additional 70,000 PS3 units to its install base.

“This promotion was highly successful for us and we are now looking into whether we run a similar offer in 2009,” Sony Computer Entertainment managing director Australia and New Zealand Michael Ephraim said.

“The thing you have to understand with this deal is that people didn’t go out and buy a box of cereal to get a free PS3, they bought a high definition TV and the link between the two is what’s important here.”

“Whether you’re playing games or watching movies, the PlayStation 3 serves as a great tool to bring these two segments together.”

PlayStation’s current hardware install base across all platforms is now almost 3.5 million units in Australia.

Sony’s handheld video game device, the PSP, sold 121,364 units for the year to bring its total install base to approximately 500,000, while the nine year old PlayStation 2 continued to sell well and moved 189,815 units for the year. The PS2 now has an install base of over 2.4 million consoles in Australia.

Sony now plans to launch a video download service in the coming year in a push to attract new consumers to the PS3 console.

“Video downloads are very viable when you realise that 50 per cent of our PS3 customers are connected to the internet,” Mr Ephraim said.

“We are building up a very robust digital network where distribution of digital content will be a major play for us.”

Qld teen finds porn in new mobile phone | Australian IT
Qld teen finds porn in new mobile phone


A FATHER claims his complaints have been ignored after porn images were found on the mobile phone he gave his 14-year-old daughter for Christmas.

It has now been six weeks since the incident and John Roberts said he was repeatedly ignored and sometimes ridiculed by staff from 3, but has now had enough.

“When I first confronted them at the store where I bought it they thought it was hilarious,” Mr Roberts said.

Since Christmas, Mr Roberts has visited the 3 retail store where he bought the phone several times, sent unanswered letters to both 3 and Nokia and spoken with local and federal Police.

Mr Roberts bought the Nokia 6210 Navigator mobile phone from the Toowong Village 3 mobile store in late November last year as a gift for his daughter.

The first time the mobile phone was removed from its packaging was when his daughter unwrapped her present on Christmas morning, when she used the phone’s camera to take several family photos.

Later that day, when his daughter was transferring the photos to a home computer, Mr Roberts said he was shocked and embarrassed, and his daughter traumatised, by the images she found.

“I was really embarrassed – it tears me apart, I don’t know how to talk to her about that sort of imagery,” he said.

“My daughter’s pretty devastated over this.

“At the end of the day all I want is someone to say to me, to my daughter, they’re sorry this happened.”

The images on the phone showed men and women engaged in explicit sexual acts.

3 mobile corporate PR manager Edwina Elliott released a statement to The Courier-Mail yesterday.

“3 takes this matter very seriously and is currently investigating Mr Roberts’ complaint,” she said.

In September last year a student was shocked to find pornographic images on a mobile bought from a Dick Smith store in Cairns.

A certain Web Design Firm in Sydney decided to place a file name TERRA ie. associatesTERRA.php in the middle eastern flash map on the site. Now normally what appears in this line of code is a country name, which corresponds with a page containing the members from that country. As well know there is no such country by that name in the middle east. Funny thing is, the one thing that has been forced down our throats with propaganda, is that Terrorists and Terror stem from this region of the world. Now is it just me or does the word TERRA when said out loud sound a little similar to the other word that seems to be more important these days than climate change.


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