Episode 133

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 Family Court nod for Skype | Australian IT
Family Court nod for Skype


THE Family Court is allowing mothers to leave the country with their children, provided they agree to sign up for the internet-based video telephone service Skype.

A compulsory subscription to Skype, which allows parents to see their children on the computer screen while talking to them, has been a feature of 10 Family Court cases this year.

In Rossi and Rossi (2008) both parents were ordered to “each set up at their own expense as soon as practicable, but within eight weeks, a computer with internet connection and a webcam and Skype”.

In Garth and Hope (2008) federal magistrate Stewart Brown said Skype was a “cheap, accessible and effective way” for children to stay in contact with their absent parent.

Ziggy backs $43b broadband network | Australian IT
$43b broadband network

 The network, announced by the Government last week, will connect 90 per cent of all Australian homes, schools and workplaces with fibre-optic broadband services with speeds of up to 100 megabits per second – 100 times faster than those now used by many households and businesses.

It will be built by a new company specifically established by the federal Government to carry out the project, taking an estimated eight years to complete. The rollout will begin in Tasmania in June.

New wire is your connection | Australian IT
New wire is your connection

 The federal Government will use poles and underground pipes near homes to roll out the fibre backbone that will underpin the new national broadband network.

As part of the Government’s plans to build the network over the next eight years, fibre-optic cable will connect 90 per cent of the country to the internet at speeds of 100 megabits per second.

The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, also announced two satellites would be launched to supply wireless technology to the 10per cent of the population who live in towns of fewer than 1000 people.

The Government’s fibre-to-the-home broadband network could be implemented by running a fibre-optic cable from a telephone exchange directly to each house. This would bring the fastest speeds and be the most expensive solution.

A second option would be to run fibre-optic cable from an exchange to a passive hub, where it is split and redirected to each home. Although this method is cheaper, bandwidth and speeds would be lower because capacity is shared.

Existing Foxtel or Optus fibre-optic cables that run down many streets could be used to deliver the broadband, if the existing copper wires, which branch from the cable into homes, were replaced with fibre optic branches. However, splicing multiple branches from a single fibre-optic cable to homes would reduce bandwidth and speeds.

the Government will allow fibre to be rolled out overhead on existing poles.

In many streets in capital cities this is likely to mean a third wire hanging alongside the two existing cables used by Foxtel and Optus.

Tasmanian broadband roll out details | Australian IT
Tasmanian broadband roll out details

 The Tasmanian government and Aurora Energy will construct the network.

If the plan passes the senate, the Tasmanian network will begin rolling out as early as July 2009, before a full national roll-out in early 2010.

“The Tasmanian government, in conjunction with Aurora Energy, will construct a fibre to the premise network which will deliver speeds of 100 megabits per second, connecting over 200,000 Tasmanian households and businesses,” a joint statement issued by the leaders said.

The network will extend to all hospitals and almost 90 per cent of schools.

The Tasmanian government will construct a wireless network and the federal government’s NBN satellite solution will service the remainder of the state with speeds of 12 Mbps or more.

“This announcement means Tasmanians will begin benefiting from broadband speeds up to 100 times faster than currently available within a matter of months,” the statement said.

Service to cost $100 a month | Australian IT
Service to cost $100 a month

 The majority of internet users pay $30 a month for a 1.5megabits per second connection. At this speed, downloading a 90-minute standard definition movie takes about an hour but in future could take about five minutes.

To enjoy speeds of up to 100Mbps, internet service provider Internode says users would be charged a monthly cost of $99.95.

IE8 set for automatic roll-out – Internet – iTnews Australia
IE8 set for automatic roll-out

 Starting on or about the third week of April, users still running IE6 or IE7 on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, or Windows Server 2008 will get will get a notification through Automatic Update about IE8,” said a posting on the IE8 blog.

“This rollout will start with a narrow audience and expand over time to the entire user base. On Windows XP and Server 2003, the update will be High-Priority. On Windows Vista and Server 2008 it will be Important.”

At the time of writing, Internet Explorer had a market share of 66.82 per cent, with Firefox on 22.05 per cent.

Windows XP support runs out next week – Operating Systems – iTnews Australia
Windows XP support runs out next week

 Mainstream support for XP will end on 14 April 2009, over seven years after the operating system originally shipped.

Microsoft’s mainstream support includes problem resolution over the phone, and covers fixes for security and non-security related issues such as bugs and requests for changes.

While the company said that it will continue to provide free security fixes for XP until 2014, any future bugs found in the platform will not be fixed unless customers pay for additional support.

iTWire – Microsoft confirms biggest Patch Tuesday for six months
Microsoft confirms biggest Patch Tuesday for six months

 Recent Patch Tuesdays have been pretty understated affairs, but all that is due to change next week with the most security updates since October 2008.

iTWire – Google adds search by color
Google adds search by color

 Just search for something the way you normally would, such as [tulips]. On the results page, click on the “All colors” drop down in the blue bar and choose a color. For example, try restricting your results to [yellow tulips]. Want to see purple tulips instead? Simply click on the color filter again, select purple, and voila — you have pages of beautiful images!

You can also combine the color filter with any other image filter to further refine your search. For example, if you’re looking for an image of an orange butterfly, try restricting to photos or clip art.

Skype released for iPhone and iPod Touch | Redmond Pie
Skype released for iPhone and iPod Touch

 The iPhone client of Skype includes everything you will expect of it and it integrates with the phone perfectly. You can make free Skype-to-Skype calls, low cost calls to landlines and mobile phones (can use your existing Address book from iPhone too), participate in conference calls. And yes, you can IM and can have group chats too using any of the connectivity mechanism available like WiFi, 3G, EDGE or even GPRS. You can even use the built-in camera or the Photos section of iPhone to select your display picture in Skype.

eBay May Finally Be Able To Unload Skype (EBAY)
eBay May Finally Be Able To Unload Skype (EBAY)

 eBay may finally get a chance to unload its bastard stepchild Skype-

Skype’s founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, and trying to raise some private money to supplement their own and make a run at the company

eBay reportedly wants $1.7 billion for Skype, which would allow it not to take an additional writedown. eBay originally paid $4 billion for Skype and has been taking hits since then.

Skype did $145 million of revenue in Q4, which puts it on about a $600 million run rate.

Apple ‘Sells’ 1 Billion iPhone Apps 3X Faster Than 1 Billion iTunes Songs (AAPL)
Apple ‘Sells’ 1 Billion iPhone Apps 3X Faster Than 1 Billion iTunes Songs


On Friday afternoon, it passed 930 million downloads, about nine months after the App Store launched. That’s impressive. With about 30-35 million iPhone and iPod touch devices in the market, that suggests the average person has downloaded about 30 apps. That’s a lot! Most mobile users download zero apps on their phones.

It took Apple more than two years to sell 1 billion songs on iTunes, so it’s going to hit 1 billion apps about three times faster.

Amazon Reported To Be Developing A Large Screen Kindle (AMZN)
Amazon Reported To Be Developing A Large Screen Kindle

 Amazon (AMZN) is developing a large screen version of the Kindle, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, citing sources who’ve seen the device.

Social not-working: Facebook snitches cost jobs – web – Technology – smh.com.au
Social not-working: Facebook snitches cost jobs


 About three weeks ago, Roseanna Brisbane, after a long day doing casual work for a Queensland Government agency, updated her Facebook status saying that in future she would be “saying no to working for shitty Government departments”.

She did not name the department or any individuals in her message but a colleague and Facebook friend saw the update and passed it on to her boss. She was promptly “escorted out of the building” on her next day back at work.

She said she was a casual so had few options in terms of unfair dismissal claims.

Brisbane, 20, believed she was targeted because of a back injury she obtained at work that restricted her productivity.


Steven Penning, a partner with Turner Freeman with two decades of experience in workplace law, has said people who are sacked over social network comments could have grounds to file an unfair dismissal claim, as employment contracts rarely cover staff use of social networking sites.

“What employers are doing is they’re scrambling and trying to make out that present policies can be stretched to cover these new areas, and in many respects they can’t,” Penning said.



Internet 2 – Google Video
Internet 2: Censorship Has Begun


Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!

Technology News | brisbanetimes.com.au
Steve Jobs maintains grip at Apple

More than three months into a medical leave from Apple, chief executive Steve Jobs remains closely involved in key aspects of running the company, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing people familiar with the matter.

US court fines Microsoft $546m | Australian IT
US court fines Microsoft $546m

A US federal court jury has ordered Microsoft to pay $US388 million ($546 million) to Uniloc USA Inc and Uniloc Singapore Private for infringing a software patent.

Uniloc, which makes antipiracy tools for the software and videogames industries, alleged that Microsoft had infringed its patent through the “product activation” system which is in its Windows operating system and Office tools.

Product activation requires a customer to register as the authorised user before using the software, to prevent a single copy being installed on several machines.

Uniloc, which patented the technology in 1992, brought the case in 2003. Last August, a federal appeals court ordered the lawsuit to go to trial after it reversed a summary judgment in favour of Microsoft.

On Wednesday, the jury found Microsoft wilfully infringed the patent.

Microsoft had argued that Uniloc’s patent was invalid, said Paul Hayes, an attorney with Mintz Levin who represented Uniloc.

“It’s a significant victory for Uniloc, which is, frankly, a small company struggling against a giant,” Mr Hayes said.

Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Ziggy backs $43b broadband network | Australian IT
Ziggy backs $43b broadband network

FORMER Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski has thrown his support behind the Government’s proposed $43 billion national broadband network, describing it as “strategically elegant and appealingly breathtaking in its ambition”.

Writing in today’s edition of The Australian, Dr Switkowski says the Government’s plan is both necessary and in the national interest.

“It has correctly identified a necessary program of work in critical infrastructure to help keep Australian industry competitive, to continue improving our standard of living, and to ensure fair distribution of benefits to the maximum number of people,” he says.

The network, announced by the Government last week, will connect 90 per cent of all Australian homes, schools and workplaces with fibre-optic broadband services with speeds of up to 100 megabits per second – 100 times faster than those now used by many households and businesses.

It will be built by a new company specifically established by the federal Government to carry out the project, taking an estimated eight years to complete. The rollout will begin in Tasmania in June.

Dr Switkowski rejects claims the plan is inherently anti-competitive, and applauds the manner in which the network will allow competition to continue unabated in the telecommunications market.

“Its magnitude will in fact help establish a new environment for competition among re-sellers of fixed-line connectivity,” he says, adding that because the Government’s new network will duplicate the existing Telstra network, every home will now have a choice of at least two suppliers.

Dr Switkowski, who was chief executive of Telstra between 1999 and 2004, writes that the proposal highlights the failure of the telco’s outgoing management to engage with the Government, while presenting incoming management with an opportunity to start the relationship afresh.

Video to rule in new broadband network | Australian IT
Video to rule in new broadband network

THE rollout of the $43 billion national broadband network could spark a new wave of allegiances between broadcast TV networks and online portals as video becomes the predominant form of data sent online.

While both the Nine and Seven networks already have strong online relationships through joint ventures with Microsoft and Yahoo, online executives analysing the impact the new ultra-fast broadband system will have on the Australian market predict the video-centric nature of fast-pipe broadband will create new interelationships.

Joe Pollard, CEO of Australia’s largest portal, Ninemsn, said video content ranging from news to lifestyle and sport would become paramount as Australians became connected to the faster network.

“The level of content viewership is going to accelerate,” Ms Pollard told Media.

“Consumers use different media for different things, but yes, the barriers will be gone.”

One of Australia’s largest telecommunications network providers, Pacnet, has predicted that video will account for more than 95 per cent of all data transmitted online in coming years.

Ms Pollard said video partners would become increasingly important once the new network came to life.

“The thing that I’m really excited about, given our partnerships with ACP and Channel Nine, it makes the opportunity for collaboration to bring the Nine brand and the magazine brands to life much better than what we have had before.”

ABC managing director Mark Scott has also signalled that the arrival of super-fast broadband will create an increased reliance by broadcasters and online portals on each other.

Speaking at the LaTrobe Annual Media Lecture last week, he said there was little doubt the NBN would become a second broadcast network.

“The capacity of this network will enable us to deliver high-definition quality television services direct into homes, without using traditional transmission services,” Mr Scott said.

Canberra bids to keep Telstra on tight leash | Australian IT
Canberra bids to keep Telstra on tight leash

THE federal Government has signalled its resolve to do everything necessary to curtail Telstra’s dominance of the Australian telecommunications market.

Amid concern that Telstra would be able to use its market power to hinder the successful rollout of the Government’s new National Broadband Network, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday called for submissions on a range of new regulations.

One of the most radical would be the “functional separation” of Telstra’s network operations from its other divisions. This would involve ring-fencing Telstra’s network operations and ensuring all companies seeking access to the new network, including Telstra’s retail arm, were treated equally. This is known as “equivalence”.

Telstra has strenuously resisted any further separation of its network operations after previous attempts to make its wholesale operations more independent.

“The overwhelming view of stakeholders and the (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) is that the current arrangements in place to promote equivalence of access have failed,” says a discussion paper on the proposed changes.

“Competition has suffered as a result. What needs to be considered is whether functional separation of Telstra would be more consistent with the type of wholesale-retail market structure the Government envisages for the NBN environment of the future.”

The proposals, which carry Senator Conroy’s seal of approval, also seek submissions on strengthening the power of the ACCC to grant and police access to networks, particularly Telstra’s.
And they canvass whether Telstra should be forced to sell its hybrid fibre coaxial cable network and its 50 per cent stake in Foxtel. If it is allowed to keep Foxtel and the network, the paper asks whether it should be subject to “cross media ownership” laws that limit its ability to buy other media and content companies.

Conficker still a threat: AusCERT | Australian IT
Conficker still a threat: AusCERT

THE threat posed by network worm Conficker is not over – instead it’s a question of “what’s next”, AusCERT general manager Graham Ingram warns.

About 10 million computers worldwide have been infected by the tenacious and mysterious worm, but the expected trigger date, April 1, passed without incident.

“Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to create a very advanced network,” Mr Ingram said.” April 1 was simply the date it could start to work, and it would be naive to suggest it was all a false alarm.

“Most of the security community – those who aren’t caught up in the hype – are maintaining a watch on Conficker to see where it goes next.”

Facebook fixation harms student grades | Australian IT
Facebook fixation harms student grades

IT begins innocently enough; that overdue history essay is momentarily flicked to one side, so you can check your Facebook messages.

Facebook fixation harms student grades

Rob Barnum (l), at Manly in Sydney, says his grades have fallen because of Facebook use. His friend Jeremy Grose, 23, uses the site sparingly. Pic: James Croucher

Two hours later you’re scrolling through baby photos of someone you sat next to in grade four. The essay remains untouched.

Most university students with Facebook accounts have similar tales of online procrastination. They know all too well how easy it is to lose hours of precious study time to the allure of social networking sites.

Now academic research has validated the nagging suspicions of many such students that Facebook is having a detrimental effect on their university results.

Researchers from the US have found that students prone to accumulating friends, uploading photographs, chatting and “poking” others on Facebook may devote as little as one hour a week to their academic work.

“Our study shows people who spend more time on Facebook spend less time studying,” said Aryn Karpinski, a researcher in the education department at Ohio State University.

“Every generation has its distractions, but I think Facebook is a unique phenomenon.”

Ms Karpinski’s study, conducted with a colleague at Ohio State University, questioned 219 US undergraduates and graduates about their study practices and general internet use, as well as their specific use of Facebook.

They found that 68 per cent of students who used Facebook had a significantly lower grade-point average than those who did not use the site.

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