Episode 147

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

 Taxpayers hit for website | Australian IT
Taxpayers hit for website

 The Rudd government spent $164,000 to set up the website, which provides details of the rollout of spending under the government’s $42 billion stimulus package, announced in February.

Figures released yesterday show there were a total of 230,000 hits on the website in April and May.

The site received an average of 115,000 hits a month for its first two months. The figures also revealed the Rudd government had spent $7500 registering 121 domain names since it was in office.

Liberal senator Scott Ryan said it was inappropriate that the Rudd government was spending taxpayer money to deliver a political message.

“There hasn’t been a sufficient justification for the cost of the stimulus website,” Senator Ryan said.

“$164,000 for a government propaganda website that is highly political is a lot of money to spend.”

Queensland Police plans wardriving mission – Security – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Queensland Police plans wardriving mission

 

The Queensland Police plans to conduct a ‘wardriving’ mission around select Queensland towns in an effort to educate its citizens to secure their wireless networks.

‘Wardriving’ refers to the technique of searching for unsecured wireless networks by driving the streets armed simply with a laptop or smartphone seeking network connections.

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the Queensland Police, who today was honoured by security vendor McAfee with an “International Cybercrime Fighter Award”, told the audience at McAfee’s Strategic Summit in Sydney that his unit is “about to undertake a wardriving program, in which we drive through areas of Queensland trying to identify unsecured networks”.

When unsecured networks are found, the Queensland Police will pay a friendly visit to the household or small business, informing them of the risks they are exposing themselves to.

Visa computer error leads to US$23 quadrillion overdraft – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Visa computer error leads to US$23 quadrillion overdraft

 A computer error has led to some Visa prepaid credit card holders being charged enormous sums for simple purchases.

A New Hampshire man stopped at his local petrol station to buy a packet of cigarettes using a prepaid Visa card.

Checking his balance online a few hours later he found the cigarettes had cost him US$23,148,855,308,184,500, plus a $15 charge for going overdrawn.

“I thought somebody had bought Europe with my credit card,” Josh Muszynski told local television station WMUR.

Aussies download 81m gigabytes in a month – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Aussies download 81m gigabytes in a month

 

The annual ‘Australia broadband market overview and statistics’ report found business broadband usage increased from six million gigabytes downloaded in December 2007 to over fifteen million gigabytes downloaded in December 2008.

Over the same period household usage grew by 24 per cent to 66 million gigabytes.

On the retail front, Telstra continues to dominate the ISP market providing nearly 45 per cent of services.

Optus has around 11 per cent of the market while iiNet, TPG and Primus round out the top five, each with approximately a five per cent market share.

The remaining 30 per cent of the market is shared between around 180 small and medium sized providers,

iTWire – Partially restored videos of Apollo 11 mission available
Partially restored videos of Apollo 11 mission available

 NASA is making available some partially restored videos of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon that occurred in July 1969. Included in the 40-year-old videos is the broadcast of Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s moonwalk on the lunar surface.

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/hd/apollo11.html

talk to reg about the landing

Telstra slugs new landline customers with $100 penalty for moving to naked DSL
Telstra slugs new landline customers with $100 penalty for moving to naked DSL

 Changes introduced last week to its connection fees for new landlines now classify a landline connected for less than three months as a ‘temporary connection’ which attracts a $100 penalty for cancelling the service.

Broadband users claim this is intended to stop customers signing up for a home phone with Telstra and then immediately churning to another ISP for a naked DSL connection.

Dumb and Dumber – $602 for two movies

 

Jack Featherston downloaded two movies – Dumb and Dumber and Freddy Got Fingered – to his laptop, not knowing that the large files would add a hefty $573 to the bill.

Jack downloaded the movies over 3’s mobile internet using a $29 monthly plan. He had 3.5GB of included downloads, with an excess fee of 10c per MB.

What about the copyright issues

National broadband network begins in Tasmania 

 

WORK has officially begun on the Federal Government’s ambitious $43 billion national broadband network, starting in Tasmania.

Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett made the announcement yesterday.

The project will be run by a company called TNBN formed as a joint venture between the Federal Government’s NBN company and Aurora Energy.

The company will begin offering wholesale broadband services in the second quarter of 2010 and eventually connect 200,000 households and businesses to the 100 megabit-per-second fibre-optic network.

The Tasmanian part of the broadband network is expected to cost between $500 and $700 million

 

 

Premier Bartlett and Senator Conroy also launched a new link between Tasmania and the mainland, breaking Telstra’s monopoly in the state.

Senator Conroy said the fibre-optic link, called Basslink, would improve the quality of broadband available to Tasmanians.

“They have had more expensive and slower broadband than anywhere else in the country,” he told ABC radio.

 

Mr Bartlett said internet providers including Netspace, Internode and Primus would now be willing to enter the market, leading to greater competition and lower prices.

The 300km Basslink cable runs under the Bass Straight between Gippsland, southeast of Melbourne, and George Town in northern Tasmania.

Microsoft pulls IE8 OMGIGP vomit ad

 

MICROSOFT has bowed to public outcry and pulled from the web an ad rapidly gaining fame as “the worst technology commercial ever”.

The ad, which plugs Microsoft’s Internet 8 browser, features a couple eating breakfast while the husband’s browsing on his laptop.

He leaves the table and hands it to his wife, who inadvertantly finds a site in the history file so disturbing, she vomits on the floor.

The insinuation is it’s hardcore pornography.

Hubbie returns, slips in the vomit and is conseqeuntly thrown up on several more times by his wife.

The ad also features former television Superman Dean Cain.

The catchcry for Internet Explorer 8 “OMGIGP” – “Oh My God I’m Going To Puke”.

The ad is Microsoft’s attempt to sell Internet Explorer 8’s ability to cover any users’ browsing tracks.

 The ad has been removed from its own website, YouTube channel and its ad agency’s website, but several versions still remain on YouTube
 
 

Telstra slapped down on pricing

 The proceedings, which were launched against the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission and 14 of the nation’s largest internet service providers, including Optus, Macquarie Telecom and Primus, related to the access price that Telstra’s competitors pay to use its copper network to offer voice and broadband services to consumers.

 
 

Currently the ACCC sets access pricing to Telstra’s copper network at $2.50 a line per month for LSS services and $14.30 a month for ULLS.

But in Telstra’s claim to the Federal Court, the telco argued that its competitors should be paying $9 a month for LSS and $30 a month for ULLS.

A rise in the monthly charge would out-price Telstra’s competitors offering telephony and internet services in competition.

For more than five years Telstra has lobbied the competition watchdog to impose a $30 monthly access fee on wholesale customers who wish to use Telstra’s copper network to deliver telephony and internet services to customers in metropolitan areas.

RIP Austext: Will you shed a tear? – TVs
RIP Austext: Will you shed a tear?

 Come 30 September, Austext’s teletext weather, lottery, finance and news pages will shuffle quietly off into the ether. All that will remain will be Channel Seven’s closed captioning service, which, the company says, will continue operating as per normal via page 801.

Trialled in the late 1970s, Austext began operating in 1982 in Brisbane and Sydney. It then spread to other capital cities with Channel Seven stations, as well as regional affiliates, like Prime and Southern Cross. Overseas the BBC is still running its Ceefax service, although it too will be abandoning it once analog TV is switched off in 2012

New Pirate Bay Will Become a Pay Site | TorrentFreak
New Pirate Bay Will Become a Pay Site

 The money collected from user subscriptions and advertising revenue will then be used to pay off the copyright holders. The exact monthly fee is yet to be decided, but Rosso did confirm that the more files people share, the lower it will be.

Kill IE6, for the sake of the web: expert – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Kill IE6, for the sake of the web: expert

Despite being superseded by IE7 and IE8, as well as the rise of competitors such as Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome, market share was still at 25 per cent in September 2008, according to a Net Applications Market Share survey.

In a post on social media blog Mashable, associate editor Ben Parr says internet users and web developers are at a crossroads and for the web to move on, IE6 must be abandoned.

YouTube and Digg clearly believe that it’s not in their best interests to continue supporting the outdated browser and thus have put the word out about their plans to phase out support.

“More and more companies will take their lead as it becomes harder and harder to justify the cost of keeping a site running correctly in Microsoft’s old browser.”

Twitter and Facebook have also been urging users to upgrade their browsers.

App Store: 1.5 billion downloads in 1 year | Apple – CNET News
App Store: 1.5 billion downloads in 1 year

 

Apple announced Tuesday that after a year in existence, its App Store has counted 1.5 billion downloaded applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. In a press release, Jobs said, “The App Store is like nothing the industry has ever seen before in both scale and quality. With 1.5 billion apps downloaded, it is going to be very hard for others to catch up.”

 

App Store downloads(Credit: Apple)

Indeed, the rate at which customers are buying the apps seems to be increasing. In April, Apple announced 1 billion apps had been downloaded from its store, after just 9 months of being open. Just three months later, another 500 million apps have been purchased. Apple says there are 65,000 apps available in the store, and 40 million iPhones and iPod Touch devices sold thus far, with new iPhone 3GS owners likely bumping up those download numbers in the last month.

Conroy vows to tackle illegal file sharing – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Conroy vows to tackle illegal file sharing

 

Federal communications minister Stephen Conroy has vowed to fight illegal file sharing head on in a report on the Digital Economy.

In a report unveiled at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney last night, Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, said the Government, among other promises, will “facilitate development of an appropriate solution to the issue of unauthorised file sharing”.

 

“One solution proposed by copyright owners is a “three strikes” or “graduated response” proposal under which copyright owners would work together with ISPs to identify the ISP’s customers who are suspected of unauthorised file sharing and the ISP would then send a notice on behalf of the copyright owner to that customer advising of this allegation”.

Microsoft trial video for pollies

 

 

MICROSOFT Australia has taken a leaf out of US President Barack Obama’s playbook, launching an interactive website to connect politicians with their constituents.

During an eight-week trial, Ask A Pollie will help Microsoft determine if politicians can use online video to get their message out instead of text-based press releases.

Content on the site (Askapollie.com.au) shows videos by Canberra heavy-hitters, including federal Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Family First senator Steve Fielding.

The environment, education, ethics, health records, trade and the economy are among topics being included in the presentations.

Visitors to the site will be able to comment on the two-minute videos.

Ask A Pollie, which was launched in late June, will be promoted online and on kiosks at shopping centres and airports.

MasterChef final attracts 3.7m viewers as Julie Goodwin beats Poh Ling Yeow

 

 An average national audience of 3.745 million watched the winners announcement, while 3.31 million tuned into the whole two-hour finale on the Ten Network.

It was an even bigger audience than had been predicted.

The previous non-sport record was held by the Australian Idol verdict in 2004, which scored 3.3 million viewers.

The most watched item on television is the 2005 Australian Open men’s final when Marat Safin defeated Lleyton Hewitt, which had just over four million viewers.

Nine’s 60 Minutes featuring British backpacker Jamie Neale, who spent 12 days lost in the Blue Mountains, was no match with under a million viewers.

Kevin Rudd and Al Gore in video to up pressure on Malcolm Turnbull 

 Mr Gore left Kirribilli, a video of their chat appeared on the PM’s homepage.

The move, aimed at building pressure on Mr Turnbull ahead of the vote on the government climate-change legislation in the Senate next month, is expected to be the first salvo in a new hi-tech assault on the voters in the name of “direct engagement”.

The PM is already a Twitter convert who writes his own material. He also has a growing following. As of yesterday he had 179,000 followers, up from 143,000 last Friday and 156,000 on Sunday.

 

Don’t ask us to switch off: it’s keeping us together 

 

KPMG social demographer Bernard Salt said he was not surprised by the growing level of importance Australians placed on instant personal communication, given survey findings released yesterday.

These showed that Australians would prefer to sacrifice key aspects of their lives than live without their laptop, BlackBerry, music devices, car satellite navigation system or favourite bag.

Mr Salt said there was a case to be argued that people were becoming too reliant on digital communication and material possessions.

“This goes to the heart of people in the workforce who never switch off their BlackBerry or their mobile phone 365 days of the year, which can be quite dangerous because we are breeding a generation of workers who, in reality, never, ever, ever switch off, even when they go on leave,” he told AAP.

“Within 10 years we might find that there are a complete generation of Xs and Ys who are completely burnt out at 45 because they’ve never disconnected from work.”

 

The survey, conducted by Arnold & Bolingbroke on behalf of American Express, revealed that 61per cent of the 1001 Australians polled felt they could not live without credit and debit cards; 60 per cent could not live without their mobile phones.

The survey revealed many would prefer to sacrifice exercise, eating breakfast or watching their favourite television program for a fortnight for the sake of their personal possessions. Six per cent said they would stop showering for a fortnight and 11 per cent would sacrifice quality time with their partner to keep their treasured possession. Mr Salt said the findings reflected the temporary way in which some people saw their relationships.

“Not all people are in their relationship for the long term – this exposes the shallowness of about one in 10 relationships,” he said. “The reality is, you can moralise all you like about mobile phones and technology being a luxury but the truth is, it’s not

 

REG’S STORIES

 

Telstra customers charged for paying bills

TELSTRA customers will soon be slugged $2.20 when they pay their bills by mail or over the counter.

The administration fee comes into force from September 14 for every bill payment sent by mail or paid over the counter at Telstra shops or at post offices.

The credit card processing fee will also rise to one per cent for MasterCard, Visa and American Express users, and two per cent for Diners Club card holders.

Telstra says the fee is in line with industry practice and direct debit payment options remain fee-free.

Some Telstra customers will be offered exemptions from paying the administration and credit card processing fees, including their Pensioner Discount and Disability Program customers.

Tax on TVs and computers to pay for recycling

By Glenn Milne CONSUMERS may be charged an additional $30 for a TV or computer under a plan to pay for the safe disposal of old appliances.

The Federal Government is considering the new tax to pay for compulsory recycling.

But retailers have dubbed it “a billion-dollar scam”, the Sunday Herald Sun reports.

The tax is outlined in a government-commissioned report to the Environment Protection and Heritage Council of federal and state environment ministers.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett revealed the report last week with a low-key press release calling for six months of community consultations. But he did not refer to the issue of a new tax.

The Price Waterhouse Coopers report to the council says the need to change community and commercial behaviour in relation to recycling old TVs and computers means a tax to pay for their disposal is an option that has to be seriously considered.

How about you put the GST from those goods towards that instead of jacking up prices.

Computer users reacted with outrage to news of the new tax.

“I don’t think putting a tax on computers is the answer,” said Lyn Goodall, former president of the Melbourne PC Users Group.

“It’s just slugging the consumer. Computers are expensive enough as it is.”

The National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia senior policy adviser Gerard Van Rijswijk said the plan amounted to “a billion-dollar scam”.

Australian Information Industry Association chief Ian Burke said a straight-out tax would probably add an average $30 to the cost of a new television.

He said his group would prefer each importer or retailer to have market-based competitive recycling schemes to reduce the hit on consumers and achieve better environmental outcomes.

“A flat levy is one option,” Mr Burke said. “But we don’t advocate that because the consumer would pay more.”

The Opposition described the idea as “a television tax”, with Coalition environment spokesman Greg Hunt saying it would hurt low income earners most.

Conroy vows to tackle illegal file sharing

 
   
 

Government promises to “facilitate” a solution.

Federal communications minister Stephen Conroy has vowed to fight illegal file sharing head on in a report on the Digital Economy.

In a report unveiled at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney last night, Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, said the Government, among other promises, will “facilitate development of an appropriate solution to the issue of unauthorised file sharing”.

“The Government recognises a public policy interest in the resolution of this issue,” the report said. “A number of submissions received during the consultation phase for the development of this paper argued that a role for Government exists in addressing the apparent popularity of peer-to-peer file sharing of music and movies, without the necessary permissions of the relevant copyright owners”.

The report goes on to outline submissions made to the department by various stakeholders.

“One solution proposed by copyright owners is a “three strikes” or “graduated response” proposal under which copyright owners would work together with ISPs to identify the ISP’s customers who are suspected of unauthorised file sharing and the ISP would then send a notice on behalf of the copyright owner to that customer advising of this allegation”.

Union: Telstra to cut 100 Melbourne jobs

Telstra is on the brink of axing 100 jobs from its Melbourne global operations centre, the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) claimed today.

The jobs it claims Telstra has planned to cut, but is yet to execute, are mostly from Telstra’s support divisions, including financial and business administration staff. Telstra has not confirmed the redundancies. “In their Melbourne Global Operations Centre alone, Telstra looks to cut almost 100 key personnel,” the union said on its website today.

The jobs proposed to be cut were included in a leaked list detailing 600 other jobs the union claims Telstra has cut in the past three months. Roles included administrators, engineers, technicians, installers, designers, project coordinators and technical specialists. The cuts are Australia-wide, with the majority coming from Melbourne and Sydney.

The list, which does not reveal individuals’ names, includes the suburbs, job titles, and business divisions of staff it claimed Telstra has made redundant. The disclosure comes just days after several unions and Telstra reached an agreement on the principles the two would stick to in upcoming enterprise bargaining negotiations.

Apple’s panties in bunch over Microsoft ads

Apple’s legal arm asked Microsoft to pull its ongoing series of Laptop Hunter ads, according to one Microsoft exec.

On Wednesday, at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2009 (WPC09), the company’s COO, Kevin Turner, gave a traditional partner-stroking talk that alternated between thanking and exhorting the assembled Microsofties. Near the end of his 8,000-word homily, however, he related a phone call that prompted the crowd to break into applause.

And you know why I know they’re working? Because two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, hey – this is a true story – saying, “Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices.” They took like $100 off or something. It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I’ve ever taken in business.

I did cartwheels down the hallway. At first I said, “Is this a joke? Who are you?” Not understanding what an opportunity. And so we’re just going to keep running them and running them and running them.

Technically, Apple has a point. One of the ads – “Lauren and Sue get a Dell XPS 13” – prominently features a 2.4GB, 15-inch MacBook Pro’s price tag, which lists it for $1,999. That model was superseded early last month by a 2.53GHz model, which now lists for $1,699.

But considering that Lauren and mom Sue ended up buying a $972 Dell, the price discrepancy between the two MacBooks could be considered nitpicking.

What’s more interesting is that the Laptop Hunter ads are getting under Apple’s skin.

Apple has had a long run of advertising success. Its Get a Mac series debuted in 2006 and has continued through 59 episodes in which cool, calm Justin “I’m a Mac” Long regularly flusters eminently flusterable John “I’m a PC” Hodgman. And, in a number of spots, Long gets the girl.

Microsoft first responded to the Get a Mac campaign with an astonishingly lame but mercifully brief series of ads featuring Bill Gates teamed up with Jerry Seinfeld, who was reportedly paid $10m to help Bill flog Windows.

If you think “astonishingly lame” is a harsh appraisal, try to make it through both the Shoe Circus and New Family spots, then reassess.

After flushing that ad money down the crapper while humiliating Microsoft’s founder and chairman – and after watching Vista twist slowly in the wind – Microsoft’s marketing department came up with a brilliant idea: ignore Windows itself and simply bang the drum for PCs that just happen to run Windows.

And so the Laptop Hunter campaign was born, featuring supposedly real-world situations with such attractive folks as perky Lauren (“I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person”), cute-as-a-button Jackson (“I’m a PC and I’m eleven”), and suave and debonair Giampaolo, (“I’m technically savvy”).

The pro-PC tech specs and pricing claims in the Laptop Hunter ads are as debatable as the anti-PC harangues in Apple’s Get a Mac series. But these are adverts, an artistic form in which truth takes a back seat to impact.

And although hard numbers on the Laptop Hunters campaign are both hard to come by and as debatable as the truthiness of the ads themselves, the ads’ effectiveness can be seen not only in the fact that Apple has launched Get a Mac ads directly targeting them (Elimination and PC Choice Chat, for example), but also that Laptop Hunters has spawned a YouTubed flood of parodies (Homeless Frank is one of the few watchable ones) and fanboi refutations.

It was the rare fanatic who even bothered to take aim at Shoe Circus and New Family. Sorry, Jerry and Bill.

And now comes word that Apple’s legal forces are in high dudgeon over Laptop Hunters. If true – there’s been no independent confirmation – then it’s no surprise that, as COO Turner said, “We’re just going to keep running them and running them and running them.

Wireless USB on the way

If the computing experience is to get better, doing away with those pesky wires is a good step. Cut up another cable with the advent of wireless USB.

There’s a line in U.S. comedy show, Big Bang Theory along the track of “Everything is better with Bluetooth!” Which is, unfortunately, rubbish. Bluetooth is over-complicated, slow and plain annoying, on PCs at any rate. Also on the horizon, hoping to consign USB 2.0 to history will be the forthcoming USB 3.0 standard, but in the mean time Japanese company KDDI is getting ready to spring wireless USB 2.0 on us.

Using an infra-red converter, data is freed from the wires and can be sent up to 1 gigabit per second, fast enough for phones, music and video players, and other gadgets, presumably within a short range. A converter will be needed for existing devices to complete the other end of the loop but it is hoped that future devices will have that built-in to do away with the need for a converter.

Of course, Intel has an official standard for wireless USB, but it uses ultrawideband radio frequency, and the regulatory approvals needed in each country (not to mention the fact that each country uses slightly different radio frequencies) has effectively stalled industry adoption of this standard.

With USB 3.0 heading our way in 2010, its 400 megabytes per second practical speed means wired data transfer is about to shoot along. However, it’ll still require the dreaded cabling and, to be honest, most files that go through a USB are only a few megabytes in size so it seems wireless USB 2.0 may fill a popular niche.

Windows Azure priced and set for November launch

At this year’s Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft unveiled the pay-as-you-go pricing for its Windows Azure platform, which includes a cloud services operating system, a Web-based relational database in Microsoft SQL Azure (formerly SQL Services), as well as connectivity and interoperability with .NET Services. Microsoft will offer a consumption-based pricing model, allowing partners and customers to pay only for the services that they consume, in the following structure (bandwidth across all three services will be charged at $0.10 in / $0.15 out / GB):

  • Windows Azure:
    • Compute @ $0.12 / hour
    • Storage @ $0.15 / GB stored
    • Storage Transactions @ $0.01 / 10K
  • SQL Azure:
    • Web Edition – Up to 1GB relational database @ $9.99
    • Business Edition – Up to 10GB relational database @ $99.99
  • .NET Services:
    • Messages @ $0.15/100K message operations, including Service Bus messages and Access Control tokens

Microsoft emphasized that its partners would have access to special promotional offers and discounts that will help them bring solutions to the market faster, reduce IT complexity, and increase revenue opportunities. Microsoft partners get a five percent promotional discount on Windows Azure compute, SQL Azure, and .NET Services. MSDN Premium subscribers will get resources to develop and test their cloud-based applications. There will also be a “development accelerator promotional offer” (15 to 30 percent discount off the consumption charges) for partners and customers who want to quickly develop and deploy applications with dynamic scaling, predictable pricing, and a deep discount. It requires a six-month commitment, and after six months the pricing reverts to the standard Azure rates.

Furthermore, on the Windows Azure blog, the software giant outlined an enterprise-class guarantee backed by a service-level agreement that covers service uptime, connectivity, and data availability:

For compute, we guarantee that when you deploy two or more role instances in different fault and upgrade domains your Internet facing roles will have external connectivity at least 99.95% of the time. Additionally, we will monitor all of your individual role instances and detect within two minutes when a role instance’s process is not running and initiate corrective action. For storage, we guarantee that at least 99.9% of the time we will successfully process correctly formatted requests that we receive to add, update, read and delete data. We also guarantee that your storage accounts will have connectivity to our Internet gateway.

IBM fighting ATO on $55m tax bill

IBM has filed a case in the Federal Court against the Australian Commissioner of Taxation, disputing a $55 million tax bill it has received on royalties paid by its Australian subsidiary.

(Credit: IBM, by Kansir, CC2.0)

Last month, the Australian Taxation office sent a letter to the software and hardware giant and its subsidiary IBM World Trade Corporation requesting that they pay additional taxation amounts of around $26 million and $29 million for royalties IBM Australia had paid them from 1 January 2005 to 31 January 2009, according to court documents.

IBM had completed a software licensing agreement with its wholly owned subsidiary IBM Australia, which gave the subsidiary the right to licence programs for use by customers, use programs to raise revenue and to use the programs internally.

IBM Australia paid fees per copy of each program to its parent, which were taxed. At the end of 2006, IBM transferred its obligations to provide rights to IBM Australia under the service level agreement to another subsidiary, IBM World Trade Corporation.

In 2003, IBM began to pay a lesser royalty tax, five per cent of only part of the fees paid, in accordance with a binding private ruling which the Taxation Office had issued to IBM Australia in 2004.

Tasmania planning April 2010 NBN roll-out?

The telecommunications industry is abuzz with speculation that the Tasmanian Government is planning to commence building its part of the National Broadband Network in April 2010 to coincide with the state election, with supplier tender documents to be issued this week.

Multiple sources from the Apple Isle today said that the State Government was planning to commence the build after its March 2010 election. An April start date would be a major blow to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who has insisted Tasmania’s build would commence as early as July.

A request for tender for equipment supplies for the NBN, however, is expected to be issued this week, which would put an end to speculation that the Tasmanian Government may expedite the process by relying on Tasmanian state-owned energy supplier Aurora’s existing supply relationships.

A spokesperson for Bartlett was unable to provide ZDNet.com.au details about the tender; however, they confirmed an announcement would be made later this afternoon about the NBN. Conroy’s spokesperson was unable to comment on the alleged new start date.

Conroy joined Bartlett in Tasmania today for the official launch of the Basslink Cable and is expected to attend the state Labor Party’s controversial fundraiser this evening at a local winery.

Will Gazelle gazump Google OS?

Microsoft’s plans for domination of the netbook market face a growing challenge from Google’s pipsqueak OS

It has only been a couple of days since Google was rushed into announcing its new OS, as the New York Times was in the process of breaking the story. However, Google is now back on track, unveiling the list of hardware makers who will support the OS. The list includes Acer, Asus, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and Toshiba on the Intel side and Texas Instruments and Qualcomm on the ARM processor side.

Acer and Asus have a healthy share of the netbook market. Lenovo and HP are behemoths in the business laptop arena, and they would not be publicly linked to Google’s OS unless they were intent on making a statement. Are they just covering all the bases, or planning for a future where Microsoft is not the only game in town?

A bare bones Google blog has a little more information about the project here. However, Microsoft is unlikely to take this lying down and, lurking in its research division is Gazelle, something that was brought to our attention by a Gartner blog discussing the Chrome story. We’ve also previously covered Gazelle. All of a sudden Windows 7’s rumble to prominence does not seem so certain, definitely in the netbook market.

What is certain is that Google’s effort won’t consign Windows to history, despite what some eager punters think, however, the fight is on for the “lite-OS” that could come to dominate casual, low-powered computing in the near future.

NASA hacker launches last-ditch plea

Trial … Gary McKinnon has admitted to hacking into 97 US computers from his London home / AP

A MAN who hacked into NASA computers will launch a last-ditch effort in Britain’s High Court to avoid extradition to face charges in the US.

Gary McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, has admitted to hacking into 97 US computers from his London home in 2001 and 2002 following the September 11 terror attacks.

The 43-year-old claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs and aliens on the high-security computer systems belonging to the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Department of Defence.

Former home secretary Jacqui Smith granted requests for Mr McKinnon’s extradition in October 2008, with the Crown Prosecution Service backing up her decision in February.

Two High Court judges will now begin a judicial review of the decisions after requests by Mr McKinnon’s lawyers who hope he can instead face trial in Britain.

If the unemployed computer administrator is extradited, he faces up to 60 years in jail if found guilty.

Cybercriminals attack Microsoft Office

White collar cybercrime … the Office flaw lets malicious websites take over the PC / File

BATTEN down the hatches, Microsoft Office is under attack.

The software, used by hundreds of millions of users, is susceptible to a new programming flaw that the software giant has yet to repair.

Hackers take advantage of the vulnerability by booby-trapping websites with malicious code that can load onto PCs running various versions of Microsoft Office.

Infected PCs can be commandeered into a botnet, a network of hijacked computers. They can then be used for identity theft, spamming and other cybercrimes.

“We are aware of attacks attempting to exploit the vulnerability,” Microsoft said

Govt to explore Google ‘safe harbour’

The Safe Harbour scheme, at the centre of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) case against internet service provider iiNet, may be extended to Google and Yahoo.

“The Australian Government will consider whether the scope of the safe harbour scheme should be expanded to include additional types of online service providers,” the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy’s Future Directions paper released yesterday.

The scheme was introduced in 2004 under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement and was designed to encourage ISPs and telcos to cooperate with copyright owners to deter infringement by reducing the potential liability of providers if they assist copyright owners’ efforts to prevent infringements via, for example, file-sharing.

The scheme is also at the centre of the legal battle between AFACT and iiNet, with AFACT arguing that the ISP failed to alert its customers to acts of copyright infringement.

The paper has not outlined

MontaVista boasts 1-second Linux boot

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It’s getting to where a fellow can’t enjoy a nice relaxing boot time these days. The latest perpetrator of the conspiracy: Linux application tool vendor MontaVista, which said today that it is demonstrating an embedded Linux system that boots in just one second.

MontaVista’s Linux demo goes from a cold boot into a sample, “fully operational” vehicle dashboard application in a single second, the company said. It will be showing off the speedy boot performance at the Virtual Freescale Technology Forum this week.

The demo in question is an embedded OS built around specific hardware, so it does forgo drivers and processes required with your typical production version of Linux. Nevertheless, it’s a performance worth some bragging rights.

“The achievement of one second boot from cold power to operational status is a breakthrough in embedded Linux performance,” said MontaVista CTO Jim Ready in a statement. “It’s always been thought that embedded Linux could never perform at this level of speed and efficiency. We’re proud to be the first embedded Linux vendor to achieve and demonstrate this demanding level of performance.”

The application uses MontaVista Professional Edition Linux designed for the Freescale MPC5121e hardware built on Power Architecture technology. MontaVista says the boot performance was achieved through careful turning of the software stack starting with the bootloader, a highly optimized kernel that’s kept uncompressed in NOR flash, and loading only required drivers.

 

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