Episode 130

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Govt pledges $83M to save tech innovators

 THE Rudd government will inject up to $83 million into the local venture capital pipeline as a stop gap measure to try and prevent promising tech companies going under due to the global financial crisis.

The Innovation Investment Follow On fund is aimed at supporting companies developing technology in areas such as ICT, biotech and clean energy at risk from VC capital drying up due to the economic crisis.

Senator Carr claimed at least 1000 science-based jobs would be saved by the move.

Weather supercomputer announced for BOM and ANU | News | News.com.au
Weather supercomputer announced for BOM and ANU

 A $30 million, four-year project to create Australia’s biggest weather computer is underway.

The new supercomputing system, being built for the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and Australian National University (ANU), will make weather predictions more accurate.

The BOM machine will have the capacity to make about 1.5 trillion complex weather calculations a second as it crunches through weather data from around the country.

It is expected to provide vital information for future firefighting efforts, and will also help predict climate change in the region.


The BOM’s supercomputer will start operating at a massive 50 teraflops per second, according to the Bureau’s chief information officer Phil Tannenbaum. “The average computer at home can do maybe… a few billion at most,” he said.

“… What you can do on a supercomputer in an hour is what you can do in a decade with a roomful of desktop machines.”

The machine, built by Sun Microsystems, will work in tandem with a more powerful twin based in the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), a Government-funded research section of the Australian National University (ANU).

The ANU machine, which will run at 140 teraflops per second, will be among the world’s top 30 high performance computing systems.

The supercomputer, which is being supplied by Sun Microsystems and will be the most powerful in the southern hemisphere, will be ten times more powerful than the Bureau’s current system.


Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 8 – Software – iTnews Australia 
Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 8

 Microsoft has officially released Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), the latest version of its web browser, adding improved compliance with web standards, greater security features and improved performance.

Available to download now, IE8 includes only minor changes over the release candidate version that was made available to testers in January.

The new browser adheres much more closely to published web standards than previous versions, and has features designed to offer greater user privacy and stronger protection against malicious web pages. 

IE8 is available for Windows XP, and the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003.

Users testing the beta release of Windows 7 should not install IE8 over the version that is included with that platform, Microsoft warned, as there are some differences in the code.

Doubts expressed over ACMA blacklist leak – Internet – iTnews Australia 
Doubts expressed over ACMA blacklist leak

 Doubts continue to mount over the authenticity of a leaked list of URL’s purported to be ACMA’s blacklist of banned websites.


The URLs of some 2395 websites purported to be banned under the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s blacklist were leaked to Wikileaks this morning.

Late this afternoon, Senator Stephen Conroy said that while the leaked list has “some common URLs to those on the [ACMA] blacklist,” it also contains URLs that “have never been the subject of a complaint or ACMA investigation and never been included in the ACMA blacklist.”

“This is not the ACMA blacklist,” he said.



ACMA has warned that anyone who republishes the list or attempts to access child pornography sites on it could face up to 10 years in prison.

It has also warned that linking to sites on the list could incur fines of up to $11,000 a day


iTWire – The Wii dies in Japan
The Wii dies in Japan

 The figures below come from Media Create and represent sales from March 2nd through 8th.

– PSP: 59,568    +23,980 (67.38%)
– PS3: 39,835  +3,322 (9.10%) 
– DSi: 32,102   -3,725 (10.40%)
– Wii: 16,560  -1,316 (7.36%)
– Xbox 360: 14,994  +3,199 (27.12%)
– DS Lite: 11,240  -534 (4.54%) 
– PS2: 4,954  -145 (2.84%)

iTWire – Prizewinning Mac games available for free download
Prizewinning Mac games available for free download

 The uDevGames 2008 competition attracted 20 entries in genres ranging from arcade to puzzles to action, despite giving participants just three months to design and create a game.

One feature of the contest is that the source code for all entries is released under an open source licence. This allows future entrants to learn from their predecessors’ experience.

iTWire – ATM malware may help snatch your cash
ATM malware may help snatch your cash

 Security vendor Sophos has revealed that it has obtained malware samples that appear to specifically target Diebold ATMs.

It appears to be an inside job, as it uses undocumented functions of the ATM software and appears to use the printer

Apparently the code ‘skims’ the details read from the magnetic card, logs the PIN entered by the user, parses the transaction details, and prints the stolen data..
The good news – for most of us, anyway – is that “it appears that the malicious code is designed to skim money from accounts in Russian, Ukrainian and American currency,” according to Sophos’s Graham Cluley.

iTWire – Psystar debuts new Mac clone
Psystar debuts new Mac clone

 Psystar has introduced a new desktop model

Psystar has argued that the company acquired its copies of OS X legally and that the license agreement is unenforceable.

The latest model, the Open(3), is a small (roughly 14 x 14 x 4 inches) desktop machine based on an Intel Core2Duo or Core2Quad chip — it can also run Windows XP or Vista as well as various flavors of Linux. Listing at US$599, itfeatures four USB ports, two PCI slots, two PCI-Express slots (one used by the standard NVIDIA GeForce 8400GS video card), and Gigabit Ethernet.

Compared to Apple’s new US$599 Mac mini, the base Open(3) offers a faster chip (2.8 GHz vs. 2.0 GHz), more memory (2 vs. 1 GB), and a significantly larger hard drive (500 vs. 120 GB), while the mini comes with one more USB port, a Firewire port, and Bluetooth and 802.11n wireless connectivity — and is, of course, one-eighth the size of the Open(3). The extra features on the mini are all available as build-to-order options on the Psystar, and the buyer would still have a PCI slot left over. Monitor, keyboard, and mouse are extra either way.

Chinese crackers break iTunes gift card algorithm 
Chinese crackers break iTunes gift card algorithm

 By cracking the algorithm which Apple uses for the generation of its voucher codes and then selling the codes online, hackers have been able to scam iTunes out of songs, applications and money.


Now, a plethora of the codes are appearing on the web, which can be redeemed for the purchase of movies, TV shows, games and applications at the iTunes Store in the USA.

The iTunes gift cards can be purchased online for prices as low as $2.60, and users are reporting that the codes are accepted by Apple and work fine.

Scan barcode at DVD shop, get movie by BitTorrent 
Scan barcode at DVD shop, get movie by BitTorrent

 A new Android app called Torrent Droid uses photographs of DVD barcodes taken on your mobile phone to search for films using torrent trackers, and then remotely connects to your home computer to get the download going. 

At this point in time the application can only be utilized with the Pirate Bay, which is still in court with a verdict due in April. More than likely other BitTorrent servers will jump on the bandwagon and begin offering access to the application as well.

ABC launches Android and iPhone applications 
ABC launches Android and iPhone applications

 The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s web site is very popular, but it’s not terribly mobile-friendly, with a lot of content on display on very small screens. That’s set to change with the the national broadcaster announcing ABC Mobile this morning. The new mobile site features sections for News, Weather, Sport, TV, Movies, Local News, JJJ, ABC Radio, Movie Reviews and ABC Shop.
You You can check the ABC mobile service at m.abc.net.au, or if you like spending money on SMSes, SMSing the word ‘ABC’ to 19 712 111 to receive a live link to the site, a step that’ll cost you 55c for the privilege. 

BLACKLIST: Government cracks down on Whirlpool.net.au 
BLACKLIST: Government cracks down on Whirlpool.net.au

 Internet filtering is supposed to just be a trial in Australia, but the government has already clamped down on Whirlpool for posting a link to a banned website.

The trial of wide-scale Internet filtering is supposed to be ongoing, but the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is already wielding a nasty weapon it can use to block any site it likes without further discussion. Just what is a link deletion notice and why does it represent a major threat to online freedom in Australia?

Fake Stephen Conroy outed as Telstra staffer 
Fake Stephen Conroy outed as Telstra staffer

 Fake Stephen Conroy account on Twitter has been abruptly closed, after it was revealed that the spoofer was a senior Telstra employee.
The man behind it was Leslie Nassar, a former producer of podcasts for the ABC, who is now employed as a “senior emerging technology specialist (mobile)” with Telstra. 

iPhone 3.0: Now with copy and paste, MMS, sat-nav 
iPhone 3.0: Now with copy and paste, MMS, sat-nav

 Apple finally answers its critics and adds laundry list of features to iPhone 3.0 including Cut Copy Paste, MMS support and turn by turn navigation.

Apple has announced that iPhone users around the world have lots of great new features to look forward to coming in the form of a software update (probably around June) including most of the things users have asked for like copy and paste, MMS messaging and Spotlight search.

Microsoft launching Windows 7 RC in May 
Microsoft launching Windows 7 RC in May

 Microsoft looks likely to have a final release candidate of Windows 7 within months, and a gold release this year.

This year, it’s as if Microsoft wants to brainwash customers into believing that Vista never existed. The company is pushing towards a 2009 release at a furious pace. The Windows 7 Center blog tips a late May date for the release candidate version of the OS, and while Microsoft has yet to confirm this date, leaks and scoops from this blog have proved to be extremely accurate.

The release candidate would be the last version of the OS before its commercial build is delivered to the makers of PCs.

Originally, the OS was scheduled for a release in 2010; however it has been bumped ahead to later in the year as sales of new PCs collapse due to the economic crisis. After Windows XP, there was a six year lapse before the release of Vista. 

Microsoft confirms UK Surface price | News | TechRadar UK
Microsoft confirms UK Surface price


Microsoft Surface



 Microsoft has confirmed its £8,500 price-tag for each Surface PC table, as it showed off UK partnerships with Tesco Wine Club, First Direct and Carphone Warehouse.

Mozilla’s mobile browser goes into beta | News | TechRadar UK
Mozilla’s mobile browser goes into beta

 Mozilla’s mobile browser ‘Fennec’ reaches stage one of the beta test phase today, with a release candidate now available that will work on Nokia N810 tablets, as well as Windows, Mac and Linux desktop emulators.



Google soon to be banned in Australia under draconian censorship laws

Google soon to be banned in Australia under draconian censorship laws

Profanity record for potty-mouthed video game – BizTech – Technology
Profanity record for potty-mouthed video game

A video game called House of the Dead: Overkill has been named the most profane ever by Guiness World Records, a spokesman said on Monday.

The well-received game, which is playable on the Nintendo Wii console, features the “F” word 189 times, equating to three per cent of the all of the game’s dialogue.

“It is a dubious honour to receive such an accolade working in an industry where so often the fruits of your labours are derided and dismissed for being puerile or irresponsible,” said Jonathan Burroughs, the game’s writer.

“But in the case of The House Of The Dead: Overkill, a little puerility was the order of business,” added Burroughs of the game, which is published by Sega.

“Parodying the profane excess of grindhouse cinema was (game developer) Headstrong Games’ objective and I am flattered that this record acknowledges that we not only rose to that challenge, but entirely exceeded it.”

As a result of its award, it will be short-listed for inclusion in the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition next year.

House of the Dead: Overkill was given a 8.0 rating out of 10 by video game website Gamespot, which said it “reinvents the aging shooter series for the better with an over-the-top grindhouse theme that resonates in its every aspect, from the hilarious story to the fantastic vintage soundtrack”.

According to a spokesman for Guinness World Records, the film Casino holds the record for most expletives in a single film, with 422 instances of the “F” word, equating to approximately 2.4 times per minute.

“It’s a mark of the times,” said spokesman Gaz Deaves.

“This record category pre-existed for movies, music and television, but The House Of The Dead: Overkill is the first video game to be awarded the title in the gamer’s edition,” he added.


Discovery sues Amazon’s Kindle | Australian IT
Discovery sues Amazon’s Kindle

MEDIA company Discovery Communications has sued Amazon.com, accusing the online retailer’s Kindle of infringing its patent on electronic book technology.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Delaware, marks another blow for a closely watched gadget that has drawn fire from publishers that say Amazon is trying to avoid paying royalties.

The lawsuit claims that Amazon, in two versions of its Kindle, has infringed one or more of the claims on a patent that Discovery founder John Hendricks received in November 2007.

The patent deals with encryption technology for the distribution of digital books.

Amazon launched the second version of its digital e-reader last month. The wireless device, which retails for $US359, has been closely watched by gadget lovers and touted by Amazon as the future of book reading. It first came to the market in November 2007.

The Kindle is not yet available in Australia.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Discovery, which is not a competitor to Amazon and is best known for its Discovery channel on U.S. cable television, is seeking damages and a royalty to compensate it “for any future infringement” of the patent.

Discovery and founder Hendricks “were significant players in the development of digital content and delivery services in the 1990s,” the company said in a statement. “Hendricks’ work included inventions of a secure, encrypted system for the selection, transmission and sale of electronic books.”

Sony also sells a portable reader, but a Discovery spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the Japanese company’s technology could also be in violation of the patent in question.

Amazon’s new Kindle has been dogged by criticism from the publishing industry, which says a text-to-speech function that allows users to listen to their devices avoids paying royalties to authors. 

Google gives Chrome speed boost | Australian IT
Google gives Chrome speed boost

GOOGLE released a new version of its Chrome web browser as the search giant continues its efforts to get a foothold in a market dominated by Microsoft.

The new Chrome represents the first major update of the software aimed at the general public since Google entered the browser business six months ago.

It offers web surfers faster performance and a handful of new features, such as auto-filling of personal information on online forms and a new way for users to drag around tabs of different web pages within the browser window.

Google was a distant No.4 in the browser market, with 1.2 per cent share of the worldwide market in February, according to market research firm Net Applications.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer dominates the market, with a 67.4 per cent market share in February, while the Mozilla foundation’s Firefox browser had a roughly 22 per cent share. Apple’s Safari browser had an 8 per cent share.

Last month, Google officially joined the European Union’s antitrust case against Microsoft, describing the browser market as “largely uncompetitive.” The EU has charged Microsoft with abusing its dominant market position by bundling its Internet Explorer web browser with its Windows personal computer operating system.

According to a post on Google’s blog on Tuesday, the new Chrome beta loads certain types of web pages 25 per cent to 35 per cent faster than the current version of the browser. 

The shocking cost of smartphones – BizTech – Technology – brisbanetimes.com.au
The shocking cost of smartphones

The phenomenon known as “bill shock” is racking up new victims as mobile users succumb to the temptations and traps associated with next-generation smartphones.

Popular devices such as the iPhone and the HTC Dream provide one-touch access to internet and social networking applications which can prove far more costly to access than voice services.

A bewildered mobile phone user recently sought advice on a technology user forum after being hit with a bill in excess of two thousand dollars.

In his post entitled: “Virgin shocker bill $2458.67” he said he had accessed the internet while on holiday in Cairns, and hadn’t realised his $450 cap plan applied only to voice calls.

Christoph Dwertmann, a technology research engineer, also experienced a substantial increase in his monthly bill after he bought an Android G1 phone which had been shipped from the US by a specialist local supplier.

Mr Dwertman said T-mobile, the original distributor of the phone, had programmed the handset to send out automated SMS messages, which were then charged to him at an international rate, resulting in a $120 bill.


The World Wide Web turns 20 – web – Technology – brisbanetimes.com.au
The World Wide Web turns 20

The World Wide Web (WWW) marked its 20th anniversary and its founders admitted there were bits of the phenomenon they do not like: advertising and “snooping”.

The creation of the web by British computer software genius Tim Berners-Lee and other scientists at the European particle physics laboratory (CERN) paved the way for the internet explosion which has changed our daily lives.

Berners-Lee and former colleagues such as Robert Cailliau, who originally set up the system to allow thousands of scientists around the world to swap, view and comment on their research, regardless of the distance or computer system, took part in commemorations on Friday at the laboratory.

“Back then there were 26 web servers. Now there are 10 to the power of 11 pages, that’s as many as the neurones in your brain,” said Berners-Lee, who still has an active hand in the web’s development.

In March 1989, the young Berners-Lee handed his supervisor in Geneva a document entitled Information Management: A Proposal.

The supervisor described it as “vague, but exciting” and gave it the go-ahead, although it took a good year or two to get off the ground and serve nuclear physicists in Europe initially.

Former CERN systems engineer Cailliau, who teamed up with Berners-Lee, said: “It was really in the air, something that had to happen sooner or later.”

They drew up the global hypertext language – which is behind the “http” on website addresses and the links between pages – and came up with the first web browser in October 1990, which looks remarkably similar to the ones used today.

“Everything that people talk about today, blogs and so on, that’s what we were doing in 1990, there’s no difference. That’s how we started,” Cailliau told Swiss radio RSR.

The http://WWW technology was first made available for wider use on the internet from 1991 after CERN was unable to ensure its development, and the organisation made a landmark decision two years later not to levy royalties.

“Without that, it would have died,” Berners-Lee said.

Cailliau still marvels at developments such as Wikipedia that allow knowledge to be exchanged openly around the web, but never imagined that search engines would take on the importance they have assumed today.


Banned hyperlinks could cost you $11,000 a day – Technology
Banned hyperlinks could cost you $11,000 a day

The Australian communications regulator says it will fine people who hyperlink to sites on its blacklist, which has been further expanded to include several pages on the anonymous whistleblower site Wikileaks.

Wikileaks was added to the blacklist for publishing a leaked document containing Denmark’s list of banned websites.

The move by the Australian Communications and Media Authority comes after it threatened the host of online broadband discussion forum Whirlpool last week with a $11,000-a-day fine over a link published in its forum to another page blacklisted by ACMA – an anti-abortion website.

ACMA’s blacklist does not have a significant impact on web browsing by Australians today but sites contained on it will be blocked for everyone if the Federal Government implements its mandatory internet filtering censorship scheme.

But even without the mandatory censorship scheme, as is evident in the Whirlpool case, ACMA can force sites hosted in Australia to remove “prohibited” pages and even links to prohibited pages.

Dell laptop even thinner than Apple’s – BizTech – Technology
Dell laptop even thinner than Apple’s

Dell enters the ultra-thin notebook race today with the launch of the Adamo, from the Latin for “to fall in love with”.

The aluminum-body laptop comes in two colours, “onyx” and “pearl” and prices start at $3699.

It boasts a 13-inch screen and, with a depth of less than two-thirds of an inch, is thinner than both Apple’s 0.76-inch MacBook Air  and Hewlett-Packard Co.’s 0.7-inch Voodoo Envy notebook.

Dell, known for affordable, no-frills computers, leaned away from consumer-electronics tropes and toward the seductive imagery of couture as it designed a marketing campaign to fit the Adamo.

The leap Dell is asking consumers to make from its core brand would be a risk in any economy, let alone the worst recession of the personal-computer age. PC sales are sliding and the lone bright spot in the market appears to be small, inexpensive “netbooks,” Adamo’s polar opposite.

Dell reworked its consumer PC lineup about two years ago, shortly after ceding market leadership to Hewlett-Packard. Dell had fallen a few steps behind partly because people started craving gadgets with flair. Meanwhile, Apple was nurturing consumers’ love for their iPods and using that connection to sell them well-designed laptops, too.

Dell knew it needed to “bring more brand lust and more got-to-have kind of products into the mix,” said Michael Tatelman, the company’s vice president of global consumer sales and marketing.

Apple showcases iPhone 3.0 software – BizTech – Technology
Apple showcases iPhone 3.0 software

Apple is updating its software for iPhones so that users can cut, copy and paste text  – a basic computing feature that many people had lamented was missing from the gadget that seems to do everything.

At a function held at its US headquarters, Apple previewed the third generation of iPhone software, due to be released this later this year, which it said will encompass over 100 other new features.

These include:

:: MMS, which gives the ability to send and receive photos, contacts, audio files and locations with the Messages app;

:: the ability to capture and send audio recordings on the go with the new Voice Memo app;

:: landscape view will be available for Mail, Text and Notes, giving users a wider screen to work on.;

:: search capabilities will be expanded, allowing customers to search within Mail across other features;

:: a search function called Spotlight will lets people hunt for information in multiple applications at once, including Notes, Calendar and iTunes.

However, the list of updates did not include support for video recording (a feature found in even the most common mobile phones), support for Flash-based websites, and tethering support, which would allow users to hook their phones up to a laptop and use it as  a modem.

The company also pledged to broaden the way that third-party software programmers can build and sell content for the device.


Seattle newspaper goes web-only – web – Technology – brisbanetimes.com.au
Seattle newspaper goes web-only

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has chronicled the news of the city since logs slid down its steep streets to the harbour and miners caroused in its bars before heading north to Alaska’s gold fields, will print its final edition on Tuesday.

Seattle becomes the second major city to lose a newspaper this year, following Denver, as many US dailies face uncertain futures, battered by quickly declining ad revenue in the age of the internet and a teetering economy.

Hearst Corp, which owns the 146-year-old P-I, said on Monday that it failed to find a buyer for the newspaper, which it put up for a 60-day sale in January after years of losing money.

The P-I’s roots date to 1863, when Seattle was still a frontier town. It will now shift to another frontier for newspapers: entirely to the web.

“Tonight will be the final run, so let’s do it right,” publisher Roger Oglesby told the newsroom. The P-I’s closure leaves Seattle with one major newspaper, the Seattle Times.

The Rocky Mountain News in Denver closed earlier this month after its owner, E.W. Scripps Co, couldn’t find a buyer. In Arizona, Gannett Co’s Tucson Citizen is set to close on Saturday, leaving one newspaper in that city.

And last month Hearst said it would close or sell the San Francisco Chronicle if the newspaper couldn’t slash expenses in coming weeks.

The US newspaper industry has seen ad revenue fall in recent years as advertisers migrate to the internet, particularly to sites offering free or low-cost alternatives for classified ads. Starting last summer, the recession intensified the decline in advertising revenue in all categories.

Four newspaper companies, including the owners of the Los Angeles TimesChicago Tribune and The Philadelphia Inquirer, have sought bankruptcy protection in recent months.


YouTube – Lily Allen – Smile (in Simlish) – using Sims 2 Seasons

Lily Allen – Smile (in Simlish) – using Sims 2 Seasons



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