Episode 149

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

Update on credit cards at 7-Eleven | Australian IT
Update on credit cards at 7-Eleven

 

The contactless terminals will be introduced later this year by ANZ Bank and 7-Eleven based on technology developed by Visa.

The new cards communicate with readers via radio waves and don’t have to be swiped through a terminal like mag stripe cards.

The retailer’s 388 stores in NSW, Queensland and Victoria will have the terminals, which will allow customers from any bank to make purchases using either a Visa or Mastercard equipped with contactless capabilities.

Woolies offers prepaid mobiles | Australian IT
Woolies offers prepaid mobiles

 WOOLWORTHS has ignited a fresh front in the supermarket wars after yesterday launching a new mobile offering that focuses on no-frills prepaid service.

Woolworths has signed a deal with Optus allowing the supermarket chain to piggyback on the No2 telco’s mobile infrastructure as a so-called mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

Branded Woolworths Everyday Mobile, the SIM-only service will offer customers a flat rate for voice calls of 15c flagfall and 15c for every 30 seconds of conversation. Text messages will cost 15c.

The pre-paid SIM will be available across Woolworths retail outlets and sold for $2 each at Woolworths, Safeway, BIG W and Dick Smith stores.

The SIM cards will work on a variety of unlocked mobile handsets also available for purchase at Woolworths. However, data-hungry consumers might be disappointed as the service will only be available on Optus’s inferior 2G network.

Apple tries to silence owner of exploding iPod | Australian IT
Apple tries to silence owner of exploding iPod

 APPLE attempted to silence a father and daughter with a gagging order after the child’s iPod music player exploded and the family sought a refund from the company.

Apple would offer the family a full refund only if they were willing to sign a settlement form. The proposed agreement left them open to legal action if they ever disclosed the terms of the settlement.

Ken Stanborough, 47, from Liverpool, dropped his 11-year-old daughter Ellie’s iPod Touch last month. “It made a hissing noise,” he said. “I could feel it getting hotter in my hand, and I thought I could see vapour”. Mr Stanborough said that he threw the device out of his back door, where “within 30 seconds there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10ft in the air”.

“I thought it was a very disturbing letter,” said Mr Stanborough, who is self-employed and works in electronic security. He refused to sign it.

Website brings 1911 to life | Australian IT
Website brings 1911 to life

 the census taken in England and Wales in April 1911 — which is to say, all 36 million forms that were filled out that day — have been put online.

Australia of course has its own census, also called “musters”, from the earliest days of penal settlement. But even today, original census documents are routinely destroyed after data has been extracted and collated.

In 2001 and 2006, Australians were given a chance to “opt in” to a project to have the original forms retained for 100 years, so descendants could get a look at them. About half the population agreed. The rest of the forms were destroyed.

Heather Garnsey from the Australian Society of Genealogy says there will be particular pleasure for the one in four Australians with British ancestry in seeing the actual census form, handled by an ancestor in 1911, and it may encourage a movement to have census forms kept, along with the data.

“It’s tremendous, it really is, to see your ancestor’s handwriting,” Ms Garnsey said.

“You’re actually looking at the form that your person handled, and filled out, which is terrific.

The census included those living in the poor house, in military barracks, and on navy merchant vessels. At the time, life expectancy was about 54; it’s now more than 80.

To view some of the 36 million census documents, go to findmypast.com or www.1911census.co.uk

New weapons in Austar wars | Australian IT
New weapons in Austar wars

 

AUSTAR is to make a major marketing push this year to promote the launch of more than 20 new channels, more interactive services including on-demand viewing, and a high-definition version of its MyStar set-top box.

The regional pay-TV operator yesterday reported net profit after tax of $35.5 million for the six months to June — up from a $7.6m loss in the previous comparable period

Austar appears to be planning to offer a free online catch-up TV service by next year to enable its customers to view programs they have missed or forgotten to record.

Legal battle puts Skype’s future in jeopardy, owner says – CNN.com
Legal battle puts Skype’s future in jeopardy, owner says

 Joltid, the company that created the piece of technology at issue, shows no sign of being resolved anytime soon

Joltid complains that Skype broke its licensing agreement to use the technology. Skype filed suit against Joltid in Britain, saying it could not terminate the license agreement; Joltid struck back with a counterclaim saying Skype had broken the agreement.

A trial is scheduled for June 2010, eBay said in the SEC filing.

In an e-mail to CNN, Joltid said Skype “accessed Joltid’s source code and modified it — Joltid then claimed a breach of license.” Skype denies any breach.

“Joltid is enforcing its rights in the courts,” Joltid said in the e-mail. “Like any member of the creative industries, Joltid will defend its innovations with determination.

Exetel plans to ban P2P during off-peak period – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Exetel plans to ban P2P during off-peak period

 

Internet Service Provider Exetel is considering a ban on peer-to-peer network traffic if users continue to set their P2P downloads to go off at the very second the provider’s off-peak period starts.

Exetel chief John Linton says he will place a ban on P2P network traffic during the first two hours of the provider’s 12am to 12pm off-peak period if a user “elects to make that an ‘off peak’ period”.

“For well over five years we have been trying to find ways of giving Exetel customers the maximum ‘free’ download allowances, over the longest possible period, for the lowest possible monthly cost without sending ourselves broke,” he said.

Linton said Exetel’s user base insisted on starting to download over P2P networks at “one second past midnight EVERY night”.  He also claimed that for over 90 percent of those users, “their downloads were completed by 12.30 am EVERY morning.”

This meant that the company had to purchase more bandwidth to cope with the influx of users at 12:01am.

He estimates the off-peak period to cost the company $150,000 in bandwidth costs per month.

Linton plans to bring back the 12am to 12pm off-peak period in November.

He also plans to bring in the ban on P2P if users abuse the Exetel network during the off-peak period.

Twitter inks domain deal with Melbourne IT – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Twitter inks domain deal with Melbourne IT

 

Twitter has handed the management of its entire domain name portfolio to Melbourne IT in a two-year deal.

The microblogging giant purchased the corporate domain management solution for an undisclosed sum.

A spokeswoman for Melbourne IT declined to disclose the value of the agreement.

But it covers all aspects of Twitter’s domain portfolio.

iTWire – iPhone 3GS sold out in Australia?
iPhone 3GS sold out in Australia?

 none of Australia’s iPhone selling telcos seems to have any stocks of the 16 or 32GB iPhone 3GS, while Apple’s online store is selling them with up to a week’s wait for delivery

iTWire – Yet more Mac software bundles [updated]
Yet more Mac software bundles [updated]

 The idea is to provide developers with a promotional opportunity, give users a chance to legitimately acquire software that they otherwise might not have purchased, and presumably to make money in the process.

UK-based The Mac Sale offers $US450 value for $US49.95. http://www.themacsale.com/

http://www.themacbundles.com/

http://www.macweed.net/

 

REG’S SHOWNOTES

 

REG’S STORIES

Telstra to plead guilty on access dispute

Telstra is expected to plead guilty today to breaching its obligations to provide competitors access to its copper network.

The telco is expected to make the rare admission of guilt today in the Federal Court in Melbourne, according to the Australian Financial Review. In March, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched proceedings against Telstra for refusing its competitors such as Primus, Internode, iiNet and Optus access to seven of its metropolitan exchanges.

The competition watchdog claimed Telstra had breached access obligations under the Trade Practices Act which requires it to provide access to its exchanges.

The ACCC had alleged that Telstra misled and deceived access seekers about there being a lack of capacity on its main distribution frames (MDF) — a key component of an exchange used by ISPs to interconnect DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) equipment to the copper wires running to customer ho

 


Just when you thought it was safe to get out your soldering irons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants you to know that its agents are still out there, on the lookout for for even more mod chip-wielding nogoodniks and their non-DMCA compliant consoles. According to the AP, a 27-year-old CSU student named Matthew Crippen was recently arrested for “modifying Xbox, PlayStation and Wii consoles in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act” and released Monday on $5,000 bond. The dime was dropped on this perp by the Entertainment Software Association, and the raid conducted by Customs agents sometime in May. He will be arraigned on August 10th, and if convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. Let this be a lesson to you: while the ICE may have its hands full with human slavery, drug trafficking, transnational gangs, and stolen artifacts, there is always time to make an example out of a man that knows his way around the inside of a PS3.

Windows 7 “made for multicore”

Intel and Microsoft work together to fine-tune Windows 7 so it can take advantage of multicore and multithreading processors.

With the majority of desktops and laptops now sporting dual-core (and in some cases quad-core) processors, Microsoft has geared its next-gen operating system to suit.

Windows 7, it says, will tap into multi-core processors – and the multi-threading capabilities of each individual core – for significantly faster application performance.

Helping to hit that target is Intel, which revealed it has worked with Microsoft on a range of areas which will dovetail the OS with the capabilities of Intel’s silicon.

“We saw unique opportunities to optimise Windows 7 for Intel processor technology, to deliver PCs that are more powerful and easier to use” writes Intel manager Joakim Lialias on Microsoft’s new Windows Partner Blog.

Amazon attracted a lot of unwanted attention when it used its Kindle e-book reader’s always-on network connection to delete copies of works by George Orwell that had been sold without a proper license. The company has since apologized to its users and promised that it will never happen again, but those steps aren’t enough for some. A lawsuit has been filed in Seattle that seeks class action status for Kindle owners and Orwell readers, alleging that Amazon has done everything from committing computer fraud to eating a high school student’s homework.

One of the plaintiffs, Justin Gawronski, has a compelling story about his experience with Amazon’s memory hole. Apparently, he was reading his copy of 1984 as a summer assignment for school, and had been using one of the Kindle’s selling points—the ability to attach notes to specific parts of the e-book text—to prepare for his return to school. Since he was actively reading the work when Amazon pulled the plug, he actually got to watch the work vanish from his screen. He’s left with a file of notes that are divorced from the text that they reference. A second plaintiff is named, but he just seems to have gotten poor customer service when he complained about the deletion.

Spam knocks Optus email out

in brief Optus has blamed a spam attack on an email outage that occurred between late Wednesday and Thursday morning.

“We did have some issues on Wednesday evening and our engineers rebooted the email servers,” a spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au.

Optus’ IT security systems had detected an influx of spam directed towards its mail servers. Its engineers rebooted its email servers at around 10pm Wednesday night, the spokesperson said.

Customers had reported email services were timing out and that they could not log into their accounts, said the spokesperson. Services were restored at 10am yesterday, the spokesperson said.

Apple Inc says it has fixed an iPhone vulnerability that lets hackers knock people offline – and possibly take over the phones – by sending them specially crafted text messages.

Apple says it issued a software fix on Friday after the vulnerability was exposed this week at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

Similar weaknesses were found in phones running Google Inc’s Android and Microsoft Corp’s Windows Mobile operating systems. The Android problem has been fixed, and Microsoft is investigating the vulnerability reported in its software.

Cupertino, California-based Apple says users will be prompted to download the fix when they plug their iPhones into their computers.

Why we should have a human rights act

In just over two months Australia will hear the results of its biggest public enquiry ever.

The independent inquiry, led by Father Frank Brennan, is considering whether Australia should introduce a human rights act. The inquiry has wound up its public hearings and a consultative committee now has until September 30 to report its findings.

YOUR SAY: Do you think we need a charter of rights?

Many Australians are complacent about rights. A recent Amnesty International survey found that 61 percent of Australians thought we already had a bill of rights. In fact, Australia is now the only liberal democracy in the world that doesn’t have some kind of human rights act.

First broadband over power lines working spec released

by Nilay Patel posted Aug 1st 2009 at 8:20AM

It’s been a long slow go for broadband over power lines, but it looks like things are finally picking up steam — an IEEE working group has completed main development of the standard and released the first draft of technical specs. Of course, there’s still the arduous finalization process to go through, but now that BPL is an actual functioning standard we’re hoping to see a new class of 100Mbps internet providers pop up and bring some much-needed competition to cable and DSL.

The World of Warcraft forums are buzzing with complaints from players claiming that their accounts have been suspended because of chargebacks filed against them by a company that they have no connection with. The problem, though, is that the company behind the charges is unresponsive to complaints, and many players don’t know what to do in order to get their accounts re-authorized unless they pay these bills.

According to the thread, multiple players have received the following message when trying to figure out why their account is currently inaccessible: “Access to the World of Warcraft account *********, has been temporarily disabled due to a chargeback filed against the account’s past payment(s) which were billed to a telephone number via PaymentOne.” PaymentOne is a payment service provider, and has a system in place to bill players’ ISP accounts for their WoW subscriptions.

Chargebacks are normally used as a method of consumer protection—a last line of defense against shady retailers. Effectively, a consumer will dispute a charge on their debit/credit card statements and the issuing bank or credit card company will forcibly return the disputed funds to the person. Exactly why and how these chargebacks were applied to the aforementioned accounts has yet to be determined, but they’ve caused the accounts to have negative balances with Blizzard, which has led to their suspension until the issue is resolved.

The main problem with this claim, though, is that many of the players have never used PaymentOne or signed up for the company’s services; some others have, but most of their accounts with PaymentOne were used over a year ago and were canceled a while ago.

Posts in the forum thread show that Blizzard is willing to discuss the unauthorized charges, but there haven’t been any definite results from pursuing this course of action yet. Even stranger, though, is multiple posts stating that users have contacted their phone companies/broadband providers and are told that they have no chargebacks on their account. A quick Google search shows this isn’t the first time that allegations of fraud and unexpected charges have been leveled against the company.

Another major frustration is that PaymentOne seems unwilling to help players reach a solution that doesn’t involve simply paying these unathorized charges. Posts on the thread state that they’ve either been hung up on when they call the company or are transferred back to Blizzard. Two calls to PaymentOne seeking a comment resulted in being placed on permahold and then being disconnected.

Wii and PS3 sales slide

Sales of Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PlayStation 3 have experienced sharp declines during the last three months, both firms’ first quarter financial reports have revealed.

Nintendo sold just 2.23m Wii units worldwide during its first financial quarter, ended 30 June. The Japanese gaming giant shifted 5.17m Wiis during the same period last year.

PS3 sales during Sony’s first financial quarter – also ended 30 June – totalled 1.1m units, compared to 1.6m units during the same period in 2008. PlayStation Portable sales also dropped from 3.7m to 1.3m units during the respective quarters, Sony admitted.

Remarkably, Sony’s aging PS2 – the slimmed down version of which was unveiled back in 2004 – actually sold 1.6m units during the quarter, a far greater number than the flagship PS3 achieved.

Sony’s kept pretty quiet about reasons for the hardware declines, perhaps because the entire company recorded an operating loss of ¥25.7bn (£162m/$268m/€190m) during the three month period – down from the whopping ¥73.4bn in profit it made during the same period last year.

Nintendo, on the other hand, has admitted that “slowing demand for its Wii console” contributed to its overall 60.6 per cent drop in net profit – down from ¥107.3bn (£682m/$1.1bn/€800m) in Q1 ’08 to ¥42.3bn during Q1 ’09. ®

Qld Govt contracting plan shocks industry

Queensland’s ICT industry is up in arms about a state government proposal to handle the recruitment of all IT contractors through one master vendor to drive down contracting costs.

I really think there’ll be some blood on the walls on this one.

Source

The details on the proposal currently being put to industry have not yet been made completely clear, but the government has aired the idea in a presentation this week that current supplier panel arrangements be replaced by a master vendor that would draw on a database of contractors.

According to the government’s presentation, the panels currently draw from the same pool of candidates and result in higher costs for suppliers, which is an increase in costs and an inconsistent experience when dealing with the government. The government pointed to figures that put upper-range wages for IT contractors at $338,430, a tick more than the Prime Minister at $330,000.

Intel exec speaks the obvious: first-time buyers aren’t going for netbooks

 

Intel’s chief sales and marketing officer Sean Maloney wants you to know something you probably already figured out on your own. “Netbooks are predominantly… a second or third purchase from someone who’s already got a notebook,” he suggested today at the company’s Technology Fair event, further extrapolating with an anecdote of him watching people in China retail shops skipping the portables and going straight to more capable notebooks. “The first time you buy something, you want the real deal. It’s a human behavior thing… it’s [the same] all around the world.” It’s an admission of processing power and capability, but of course Intel still wants you interested in ultra-thin computers with more capability — and either way, the chip manufacturer gets a share of the profits, so it’s essentially a win-win.

Sneak Peak: Streamlined ‘Chrome’-style UI for Firefox 4?

Official mockups of Firefox 4 reveal hints of a streamlined UI similar to Google’s Chrome browser in what Mozilla calls a ‘Tabs-on-Top’ design concept.

Firefox 4.0 could be as far as two years away, but Mozilla’s browser boffins are already brewing up ideas to improve the UI.

A set of mockup screenshots posted this week showcase two broad directions for the fourth-gen browser, along with a set of smaller usability tweaks – all of which are intended to simplify and streamline the interface.

Such moves are considered paramount as the browser becomes an increasingly central part of the PC experience in accessing not just Web pages but online apps and other Web 2.0 services.

Windows 7 product activation cracked already

A file (that you can find and download from some murky places on the Internet) allows users to activate and use the RTM version of Windows 7 (freely available on torrent sites) and have it pass Windows Genuine Advantage activation. The file makes use of a flaw in the OEM distribution of Windows 7.

The file is called Windows 7 LOADER and while it currently works, we think it will only be a matter of time before Microsoft updates the WGA component to block further activations. At which point some edits will be made and a new version of the cracker will appear. In the mean time virus/spyware types will be buzzing all over this file like flies to dung, adding their own “special” extras to spread their own wares

MILO’S STORIES

 US Marines renew ban on Twitter, Facebook
US Marines renew ban on Twitter, Facebook

The US Marine Corps on Tuesday renewed a ban on Twitter and other social networking sites as the Pentagon weighed a similar prohibition over cybersecurity concerns.

The Marines had already banned the use of social media on military networks but issued a more detailed order this week defining which sites were out of bounds and noting possible exceptions to the rule, Marine Corps spokesman Lieutenant Craig Thomas told AFP.

“These Internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user generated content and targeting by adversaries,” the Marine Corps said in an order posted on its website.

“The very nature of SNS (social networking sites) creates a larger attack and exploitation window, exposes unnecessary information to adversaries and provides an easy conduit for information leakage that puts opsec (operational security), comsec (communications security)… at an elevated risk of compromise,” the order said.

Those marines whose assignments may require access to social media could apply for a waiver, it said.

Marines working in criminal investigations, press relations and recruiting have a need to use social media to carry out their duties and would likely be granted access, Thomas said.

But he said “social networking sites have always been banned in the Marine Corps.”

The Defense Department meanwhile confirmed it was carrying out a formal review of its policies on the use of social networking sites.

In a July 31 memo, the deputy secretary of defense, William Lynn, said he had asked the Pentagon’s chief information officer to draw up policy options examining the threats and benefits of so-called Web 2.0 capabilities.

The memo acknowledges how social networking sites have proved valuable for recruitment, press relations and sharing information with allies and among military families.

“However, as with any Internet-based capabilities, there are implementation challenges and operational risks that must be understood and mitigated,” the memo said.

The policy review comes as other branches of the armed services have embraced social media with enthusiasm, seeing the sites as a means of reaching a wider audience and spreading information within the military.

The US Army has set up a new office for online social media but the military has struggled to balance security concerns with demands to modernize its communications.

Security rules have been blamed for stifling blogging by soldiers from the battlefront, even as some senior commanders write blogs or maintain a Facebook page.

Net addict son ‘beaten to death’ at camp
Net addict son ‘beaten to death’ at camp

A teenager was reportedly beaten to death by trainers at a rehabilitation camp in China where his parents had sent him to cure his internet addiction.

The three supervisors who allegedly beat Deng Senshan, 16, were arrested after the boy’s death early on Sunday, his father Deng Fei told the Global Times.

“We are investigating a case where a high school student was beaten to death by his camp supervisors. The case is still under investigation,” a police officer in Nanning, Guangxi region, was quoted as saying.

Deng Fei said he paid 7000 yuan ($A1190) to give his son a month’s training at the Guangxi Qihuang Survival Training Camp to rid him of his addiction to the internet.

But instead, he said, the boy was put in solitary confinement shortly after his arrival and then beaten to death by his trainers who scolded him for running too slowly.

“My son was very healthy and was not a criminal. He just had an internet addiction when I left him at the camp,” Deng Fei told the paper.

“We can’t believe our only son was beaten to death.”

China has the world’s largest number of internet users with 338 million — more than the entire population of the United States.

More than 10 million of the country’s 100 million teenage web surfers are internet addicts, the China Daily said, citing a survey by the China Youth internet Association last year.

There is controversy over the treatments for internet addiction and how it is diagnosed. The health ministry last month banned the use of electroshock therapy to treat internet addiction, the China Daily said.

Aussie’s lightning photo becomes the face of Bing
Aussie’s lightning photo becomes the face of Bing

Sydney graphic designer Jeremy Somers has beaten 10,000 entrants from around the world to win a Microsoft Bing photo competition in the US.

His dramatic image of a lightning strike cracking through the Sydney skyline was taken during a summer storm and was announced as the winner of Bing’s “summer themed” competition.

As part of the prize, the photo will be displayed on the search engine’s website today across Australia, US, Germany and France.

In order to enter the competition, amateur photographers submitted their photos to a Facebook profile. Social networkers then voted on which picture they liked the best.

Somers said he was surprised his photo was chosen as the winner.

“I got a message saying it had been picked in the top eight photos and I thought: ‘Wow that’s great,’ ” he said.

Somers was told about the competition through a friend who insisted he should consider placing an entry.

To capture the image, Somers says he spent four hours in the rain at his grandmother’s apartment in Potts Point and took about 700 photographs.

“I wasn’t just waiting for the one shot. There was such a big storm going on and I really enjoyed watching it,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for quite a few years.”

Somers said he had entered a few photo competitions in the past, but had never won anything like this.

“I studied photography and ran a bit of a freelance business, but nothing that was really professional,” he said. “Now I just do it as a hobby.”

Somers says he had a lot of requests from people for a copy of the winning picture, which can be obtained from his website www.itsartdammit.com.

Microsoft Unveils Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade & Family Pack Pricing – HotHardware
Microsoft Unveils Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade & Family Pack PricingAccording to a recent blog post from Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc, Windows 7 will include a tool that will allow users to upgrade from a basic version of the OS to one of the more feature-rich versions at that touch of a button. Even though most people buy the edition of Windows that best meets their needs when they purchase a computer, those needs may change over time.

To help meet the changing needs of users, Microsoft is offering a program called Windows Anytime Upgrade. This program will make it easy and convenient for customers to upgrade to a higher edition of Windows 7. Windows Anytime Upgrade will allow users to launch a screen from within Windows 7 and purchase a product key for a pricier version of the software. They will also be able to enter a product key for an upgrade that was purchased at a retail store. After purchasing or entering a product key, buyers can upgrade to their chosen version of Windows 7 with just a few clicks. Customers will be able to upgrade from Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Home Premium for $79.99. Users who want to move from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional will pay $89.99. Finally, Windows 7 Home Premium users can upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate for $139.99.

The upgrade packages will be available at retail stores after Windows 7 is released to market on October 22nd. The online upgrade option from within Windows 7 will be available to users in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.

In addition to Windows Anytime Upgrade, Microsoft will also offer the Windows 7 Family Pack which will allow for Windows 7 Home Premium to be installed on up to 3 PCs. By running run Windows 7 on more than one PC on a home network, Microsoft points out that you’ll be able to take advantage of features like HomeGroup. HomeGroup lets you connect PCs and share files. The Windows 7 Family Pack will be available for $149.99 starting on October 22nd until supplies last. The Family Pack provides a savings of more than $200 for three licenses.

Shock threat to shut Skype
Shock threat to shut Skype on Ebay

 

eBay says it may have to shut down Skype due to a licensing dispute with the founders of the internet telephony service.

The surprise admission puts a cloud over the 40 million active daily users around the world who use Skype for business or to keep in touch with friends and far-flung relatives.

A recent study by market researcher TeleGeography found Skype carried about 8 per cent of all international voice traffic, making it the world’s largest provider of cross-border voice communications.

The online auction powerhouse bought Skype from entrepreneurs Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis for $US2.6 billion in 2005, but this did not include a core piece of peer-to-peer communications technology that powers the software.

eBay has since been licensing the technology from the founders’ new company, Joltid, but the pair recently decided to revoke the licensing agreement.

The matter is now the subject of a legal battle in the English High Court of Justice, with eBay trying to force Joltid to let it continue using the technology.

In a quarterly report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, eBay said in no uncertain terms that if it lost the right to use the software it would most likely have to shut Skype down.

eBay said it was working on developing ‘‘alternative software’’ to that licensed through Joltid, but this ‘‘may not be successful, may result in loss of functionality or customers even if successful, and will in any event be expensive’’.

‘‘If Skype was to lose the right to use the Joltid software as the result of the litigation, and if alternative software was not available, Skype would be severely and adversely affected and the continued operation of Skype’s business as currently conducted would likely not be possible,’’ eBay wrote.

In the filing eBay also said that, even if it was successful in developing alternative software, the technical challenge of assuring backward compatibility with older versions of Skype’s technology ‘‘may be difficult to overcome’’.

This was echoed by analysts, with the Info-Tech Research Group’s Jayanth Angl telling Bloomberg that ‘‘it would be quite difficult to replace what they already have as the underlying component to their service’’.

‘‘There are a number of barriers to that, not the least of which are legal barriers,” he said.

The case is set to go to trial in June next year, which could seriously hinder eBay’s plans to spin Skype off as a separate company in a public stock offering next year.

Already, eBay has had to write down Skype on its books to $US1.7 billion, an admission that the business is not worth nearly as much as it originally paid for it. However, its revenues for the second quarter grew 25 per cent to $US170 million.

But, even though Skype has not been a major financial success, it has succeeded in becoming the dominant internet telephony service globally.

Skype has more than 480 million user accounts – twice as many as Facebook – and the application comes bundled with more than 50 mobile phones and even the Sony PSP.

Facelift for Twitter homepage
Facelift for Twitter homepage

Micro-blogging service Twitter has unveiled a new frontpage featuring a prominent search box in a bid to attract new users.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, in a blog post about the redesign, said it was intended to demonstrate “the power of Twitter as a discovery engine for what is happening right now.”

The search box will allow Web surfers who have not signed up for Twitter to plug in a query and see the latest real-time messages, known as “tweets,” about the subject of their query.

Stone said this would hopefully inspire people to then sign up for Twitter, which allows users to broadcast messages of 140 characters or less to other members.

“Twitter has moved from simple social networking into a new kind of communication and a valuable source of timely information,” he said.

“We have a lot of work to do when it comes to the quality of our search results and trend analysis,” Stone acknowledged.

“But repositioning the product to focus more on discovery is an important first step in presenting Twitter to a wider audience of folks around the world who are eager to start engaging with new people, ideas, opinions, events, and sources of information,” he said.

The redesign does not affect the Twitter homepage seen by current users of the service, only the introductory page at Twitter.com seen by Internet users who have not yet signed up for the service

Australia mulls Twitter strategy | Australian IT
Australia mulls Twitter strategy

 British government departments have been given a lesson on how to use the popular micro-blogging site via a 20-page document developed by Britain’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

On Twitter, users post messages of up to 140 characters called tweets; Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and South Australia Premier Mike Rann are avid twitterers.  

The Australian government has a policy specific to YouTube but not Twitter. At the moment, public servants rely on interim protocols introduced last year on how to “behave” on social networking sites.

 

 

 

 

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