Episode 150

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

Tweeting in labor: ‘Epidural, yes please’ – CNN.com
Tweeting in labor: ‘Epidural, yes please’

 

It’s now a trend for expectant moms to post to sites such as Twitter from the time they conceive to the moment they deliver a baby into the world.

Williams, wife of Twitter CEO Evan Williams, posted to her 14,000-plus Twitter followers when her water broke, when she arrived at the hospital, during contractions and when she decided to get an epidural.

Dear Twitter, My water broke. It wasn’t like Charlotte in Sex and the City. Now, timing contractions on an iPhone app.

iTWire – Cherish the Web: Rudd cranks new sites by the dozen
Rudd cranks new sites by the dozen

 The Rudd Government has now launched 63 new web sites since it was elected in December 2007 at a cost of about $1.6 million.

drinkingnightmare.gov.au site that carried a design price-tag of more than $21,000.

digitalready.gov.au site, designed by departmental staff with BMF Advertising at a cost of $95,000.

Other big spenders included a $77,000 Health department site – measureup.gov.au – by internal staff and 303 Advertising to provide social marketing campaign for the Australian Better Health Initiative, and a $41,000 Tax Office site designed by ad agency Leo Burnett (educationtaxrefund.gov.au).

iTWire – Australia bans another game
Australia bans another game

 the Classification Board’s sites is the multiplatform title Risen, a typical sword and sorcery role play game from developer Pirhana Bytes, makers of the well received Gothic series.

During the course of the game, players can interact with prostitutes (referred to as “whores” in the game) at a local brothel. Players can trigger a lengthy dialogue to engage in their services; sexual activity is strongly implied, but never depicted on screen. Many of the characters in the game smoke a fictional drug called “brugleweed.” The “wood reefer” plant is described as having a mild relaxing effect on users, and can be bought, sold, and used by players. Some profanity (e.g., “f*ck” and “sh*t”) can be heard in the dialogue.”

Find laptop a friendly cafe in Sydney or Melbourne – Digital Media
Find laptop a friendly cafe in Sydney or Melbourne

  It has all the essential information you need to know such as powerpoints, free wi-fi and 3G access.

The service is also available London New York  Cape Town Philadelphia Austin Gallup and Melbourne

Laptop Friendly Cafes

Google reveals next-gen search
Google reveals next-gen search

Hitachi ships first 2TB 7200rpm hard drive
Hitachi ships first 2TB 7200rpm hard drive

 

Despite huge storage capacity and 7200rpm speed, the new drive offers power savings as well.

The drive is the Deskstar 7K2000 and is the first drive in the industry to hit 2TB at 7200 rpm. The drive uses five platters and takes advantage of perpendicular magnetic recording to reach the capacity. Hitachi does make 500GB platters, so I am not sure why it opted to not reach 2TB with only four platters.

Microsoft shuts the doors on Windows 7 pirates
Microsoft shuts the doors on Windows 7 pirates

 Microsoft has said that it has the ability to disable, but has not yet (as we write) deactivated the pirated registration code. When they do, those pirated versions will fail Windows Genuine Advantage and start to close down. Of course, the pirates can use them off the network, but where’s the fun in that?

Lenovo has explained in a statement what happened. “An ISO image [loaded on a Lenovo system] containing the Windows 7 RTM (release to manufacturing), OEM key and marker file, was stolen and placed on a hacker forum in China.”

Nero CD/DVD burner goes FREE!
Nero CD/DVD burner goes FREE!

 Nero has announced that it is now offering Nero 9 as a free version. The free version of the popular application allows users to burn data discs to CD or DVD and allows users to copy discs as well.

Free version of Nero 9 has no time limits and will allow basic CD and DVD authoring.

NBN briefing cancelled for lack of takers | Australian IT
NBN briefing cancelled for lack of takers

 

THE federal government’s “build it and they will come” mentality to its ambitious $43 billion national broadband network has fallen on deaf ears in Tasmania, where a business seminar to explain details of the project’s construction was cancelled due to lack of interest.

The NBN seminar, which was organised by the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI), was pitched to the state’s business community.

It was also set up as an opportunity for Tasmanian businesses to engage with the major stakeholders.

NSW students pioneer Windows 7 | Australian IT
NSW students pioneer Windows 7

 NSW secondary school students last week became the first in the world to use Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 7.

The NSW government was distributing about 5000 Lenovo netbooks each week, NSW Department of Education chief information officer Stephen Wilson said, and about 200 netbooks running Windows 7 “release to manufacturing” were being used at Arthur Phillip High School in western Sydney.

The school was one of three that began testing Windows 7 in May. More than 200 Arthur Phillip High School students were given their Lenovo IdeaPad netbooks, and the set-up process was “seamless”, Mr Wilson said.

“We got the machines shipped in from China, we opened the (netbook) boxes on site and asked the students to log in wirelessly.

“They weren’t configured to the wired network at all.

“The computer was configured on the spot.

The funding is part of the federal government’s $2 billion digital education “revolution” project.

Another 28,000 units would be handed out over the next few weeks, Mr Wilson said.

“In the week of August 17 we’re looking at 4000 units, then 9000 in the following fortnight.

“Then we’ll really scale things up to 15,000 machines.”

The department aimed to deploy 70,000 Lenovo netbooks this year and 80,000 next year, he said.

“Next year will be Year 9 again and we’ll do that as soon as school starts.”

Another 9000 teachers would receive their devices before the end of this financial year.

According to Mr Wilson, IBM has installed wireless networks in more than 290 schools and the full rollout will be completed by the start of term next year.

The department previously said that all netbooks as part of the digital education revolution program would run on Windows 7, making it one of the largest user bases in the world for the operating system.

Trading Post may cut print | Australian IT
Trading Post may cut print

 THE fate of Telstra-owned classifieds bible The Trading Post has again been put into doubt with separate industry sources claiming the weekly newspaper faces closure before the end of the year, as early as October.

The newspaper averages 469,000 readers a week and the website 1.8 million unique browers a month.

Rejected by Apple, iPhone developers go underground – CNN.com
Rejected by Apple, iPhone developers go underground

 some developers aren’t taking the rejection lying down: They’re turning instead to an unauthorized app store called Cydia, where forbidden wares continue to exist

To use Cydia or the apps available through it, customers need to jailbreak their phones — hack them to work around Apple-imposed restrictions — a process that Apple claims is illegal.

Indeed, you can even get a Google Voice app, GV Mobile, through Cydia. After Apple pulled the app from its App Store, developer Sean Kovacs (who is not affiliated with Google) made it available for free through Cydia.

It’s difficult to get accurate data on how many customers have jailbroken their iPhones. But based on the number of unique device identifiers tracked on his server, Freeman claims that about 4 million, or 10 percent of the 40 million iPhone and iPod Touch owners to date, have installed Cydia.

On a recent day, he said 470,000 people were connecting to the Cydia store, up from 350,000 per day just a few months ago. Among many free apps, there are also 15 paid apps in Cydia, and the store has earned $220,000 in overall sales in just five months.

“People are so annoyed by Apple and their s—, and if you give them opportunity to go around it, then they’ll even pay for it,” said Kim Streich, a developer whose app 3G Unrestrictor earned $19,000 in sales in just two weeks through Cydia.

http://cydia.saurik.com/

Tr.im gets cut down – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Tr.im gets cut down

 

URL shortening service shut down.

Nambu, the company behind the URL shortener tr.im has decided to shut down the service, closing all of the products and services within that brand.

According to an official blog post, the company “simply cannot find a way to justify continuing to work on it” and has been unable to find anyone interested in buying the service.

According to the post: “We quietly contacted a number of people within the Twitter development world, and nobody wanted it in exchange for a token amount of money. No one perceived any value in it, or they wanted to operate a shortener under a differently branded domain name.”

Microsoft snaps up Office.com domain | Beyond Binary – CNET News
Microsoft snaps up Office.com domain

 Microsoft appears to have acquired the domain from ContactOffice, which has its own Web-based suite of tools. As of Thursday morning, a message on the Office.com site warns users that they are being moved to the ContactOffice.com domain.

Charges laid over domain name theft
Charges laid over domain name theft

 Daniel Goncalves, 25, of Union in northern New Jersey, hacked into an online account belonging to one of the owners of the P2P.com domain name

He allegedly shifted ownership to himself and resold the website address on eBay to basketballer Mark Madsen, a Los Angeles Clippers forward who did not know the name was stolen.

Marc Ostrofsky, one of the legitimate owners of P2P.com, estimates that the ownership group spent 30 months and $US500,000 trying to reclaim the domain name. They have a pending civil suit against Goncalves and his brother, Madsen and Go Daddy Group, which runs the system Goncalves allegedly hacked.

REG’S SHOWNOTES

Thodey faces first test

on the telco’s future tomorrow when he presents the company’s annual results.


David Thodey
(Credit: Christine Lee/ZDNet.com.au)

Analysts are not expecting surprises in Telstra’s financial results for 2008/09, which will be presented by Thodey and Telstra chief financial officer John Stanhope in Sydney.

Former chief executive Sol Trujillo’s earnings guidance of between three and five per cent growth delivered at Telstra’s half-year results is expected to be met. The main focus will be on Thodey’s outlook for 2010 and beyond after just 12 weeks in charge.

Telstra has been facing increasing pressure on its traditional fixed line services, such as local and international calls, as users move away from fixed-line services in favour of mobiles. The economic downturn has also curbed spending.

Fixed-line revenues fell 5.1 per cent in the first six months of 2008/09 and this division is again expected to weigh on Telstra’s full year figures. That in turn places pressure on Trujillo’s target of an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) margin of between 46 and 48 per cent in the current financial year.



Gateway relaunches in Australia


 

 

The long-absent PC brand Gateway has been re-launched in Australia, attempting to target the fashion-conscious consumer.

Acer, who acquired Gateway in 2007, has positioned the cow-patterned brand at the style-conscious, realigning the Acer brand for the tech-savvy, while its Emachines division will be targeted at the “budget-oriented” user. There are no plans to bring the Packard Bell brand into Australia.

Unlike in the past, Gateway machines will be found in retail stores rather than a direct sales model, with Harvey Norman listed as the major launch partner.

Launch models have been split into five target markets: the netbook LT series, the mid-weight NV series, the CULV based EC series, the premium ID series and the P series FX (the gamer focused laptop), and will be in-store 14 August.

Gateway expects to launch desktop models in sync with the Windows 7 launch on 22 October.



Qld Rail Wi-Fi plan goes ahead


Queensland Rail has gone to market for a supplier to provide a Wi-Fi service on the state’s suburban trains that would offer wireless internet, security and other services.

In April, the state’s Transport Minister Rachel Nolan revealed Queensland Rail had conducted a trial of the technology on the Gold Coast line network and wanted to blanket its Citytrain network, including stations, with Wi-Fi coverage.

In a request for information document released this week, Queensland Rail said it wanted a communications service that would allow it to:

  • Stream CCTV images from carriages back to a central monitoring office
  • Deliver Wi-Fi services to passengers
  • Provide a channel that would allow the delivery of customised data and media from Queensland Rail to on-board passenger mobile devices and fixed display screens in the trains; for example, LCD screens

The document revealed there was currently no carrier-provided wireless communications to Queensland Rail’s Citytrain carriages, meaning retrieving CCTV security footage from the trains was a manual process. In addition, passengers on trains had no access to the internet, apart from their own 3G mobile devices.

Regarding passenger use of the proposed Wi-Fi services, Queensland Rail is envisaging that passengers would be able to access the internet on trains, as well as packaged content, such as Queensland Rail safety messages, information about track closures and special events, and “infotainment” such as news, weather and sport.

Queensland Rail is currently investigating the feasibility of installing additional LCD screens in trains to aid with providing information to passengers; currently, some trains have several LCD screens, but not all.



10,800 Myki transactions were faulty

Victoria’s Transport Ticketing Authority (TTA) has confirmed the state’s new Myki public transport smart card system has suffered errors that caused passengers to be overcharged a total of 10,800 times over the past few months.


Myki has been rolled out in a Bendigo and a number of other locations throughout the state, replacing previous ticketing systems. However, it has not yet hit Melbourne, with the capital currently being prepared to go live on the system later this year.

The errors admitted this week — which the TTA first flagged and fixed back in July — were as a result of several factors. Firstly, some passengers not immediately familiar with the system, which requires the new smart cards to be touched on and off to terminals in buses when entering and leaving a bus, touched the terminals more than once getting on or getting off.

Secondly, some of the terminals were reset when buses were powered down upon changing drivers.

“A total of 10,800 instances of the system error occurring were identified and all customers have been reimbursed in full,” said a TTA spokesperson. Customers paid an average of $1.15 more than was required for their tri



HP sued by own sales reps


IT vendors are often not much better than their customers when it comes to doing information technology, and sometimes, they are worse. This appears to be the case with a sales force commission tracking system called Omega used by Hewlett-Packard, which has screwed up commissions so badly that three former employees of the company have taken HP to court.

The Wall Street Journal last week broke the story about the Omega commission calculation system not paying employees correctly. Omega is a legacy commission system that was created by minicomputer maker Digital Equipment. It was adopted and used by Compaq when the PC and server maker ate DEC in 1998. Like many legacy applications, Omega managed to survive another decade even as HP bought Compaq in 2002, but maybe it is time to get a different system for the people who are selling servers, storage, and systems software at HP, where Omega is used.


The exact nature of the glitch in the Omega commission system has not been divulged, but HP has confirmed that about 2,000 of its 23,000-person salesforce have been affected by the issue, and according to the WSJ report, salespeople in the “business technology group” have not been paid their proper monthly sales commissions this year.



Microsoft Should Follow Apple’s Lead on Windows 7 Pricing

Windows 7Apple’s upcoming Snow Leopard upgrade currently occupies two of the three top spots on Amazon’s software top seller list. The pre-sale prices are $29 for a single computer and $49 for a 5-user family pack.

Microsoft occupied the same two spots last month when it was pre-selling the Windows 7 Home Premium edition upgrade for $50 and the Professional edition for $100.

There’s a profound difference between the $29 Apple is charging, and Microsoft’s $50 offer: Apple’s price won’t expire.

That same Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade will now set you back a solid $120. While one might ask why Microsoft would need to lower its prices when its current prices are more aggressive than what they asked for Vista. I have the answer; Consumer’s expectations have changed.

People now expect to be able to buy netbooks for $300, notebooks for $500 and premium desktops for a few hundred more.

For the person running XP on a $300 netbook, spending an additional $120 for Windows 7 is exorbitant. Ditto for the person who bought a laptop running Vista two years ago. Many people would rather put that money toward their next computer purchase that will be much more powerful than they already have.

A person could argue that regardless of whether people buy Windows 7 upgrade or just buy a new computer, Microsoft sells an OS. This is technically true, but MS has to be much more aggressive with its pricing for OEMs than consumers. It is much happier to sell you an upgrade to your existing computer where they pocket more cash.

Microsoft is smart to sell a family pack for $150. This allows users to update up to three computers to Windows 7 Home Premium. This makes sense for households and small businesses that actually own three computers. However, there is a huge market for people that only own a single computer that is powerful enough to run Windows 7.

For the chunk of change that Microsoft is asking, these folks might just continue using XP or Vista, which still work fine for the overwhelming majority of computing tasks.



Intel settles feud with Nvidia

Intel settles feud with Nvidia



Intel and Nvidia have agreed to a deal which will end the companies’ licensing battle.

Nvidia said that it had reached an agreement to produce its SLI GPU hardware for use with Intel’s Core I5 and I7 processor platforms. The deal also covers motherboards from Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte and MSI.

In making the deal, Nvidia has put an end to a legal battle that has dogged both companies for much of the year. Intel filed suit against Nvidia in February to terminate a 2004 licensing deal.

Intel contended that in the time since the deal was made its own chip and hardware designs have progressed to a point of making the agreement obsolete. Shortly after Intel filed suit, Nvidia countersued and issued a statement vowing to fight the motion.

That feud was ended on Monday when the new agreement was announced.

“Nvidia SLI technology is a perfect complement to the processing prowess of our new Core i7 and Intel DP55KG desktop board,” said Clem Russo, vice president and general manager of the Intel client board division.

“NVIDIA and Intel share a combined passion for furthering the PC as the definitive platform for gaming, and this combination will surely be attractive to anyone building or purchasing a brand new PC this fall.”



Telstra to offer Next G ready laptops

 

(Credit: CNET Australia)

Telstra has teamed up with Acer to add notebooks and laptops to its Next G range of devices, offering these machines on similar monthly contracts it sells mobile phones on.

Breaking away from its current range consisting only of mobile phones and business handhelds, Telstra today announced it would begin offering Acer One notebooks and Acer Aspire laptops with Next G SIM cards embedded. This means the laptops can connect to the Next G network without the need for an external wireless broadband modem.

“Telstra worked with Acer to make sure once a customer has purchased an embedded laptop it was simple and quick to connect to the internet … allowing them to start surfing the internet straight away,” said Glenice Maclellan, Telstra consumer executive director.

Telstra will sell the Acer computers in its T-Life stores for $0-upfront on a $39 per month data plan plus a monthly laptop repayment expense, the cheapest being $30.38 per month. Vodafone entered into a similar partnership with Dell computers last year and is currently selling a Dell Mini 9 notebook with a 5GB monthly data allowance for $59.95 per month.



NBN will require a govt blank cheque

commentary Now that the board of the new National Broadband Network company, NBN Co, has been assembled, the moment of truth is nearing.

There is little prospect that the NBN Co can be financially sustainable on a stand-alone basis, which means the original concept of a giant public/private partnership will founder without massive and ongoing government subsidies.

There is little prospect that the NBN Co can be financially sustainable on a stand-alone basis

The telecommunications team at Goldman Sachs JBWere has just released a major 92-page report on the NBN. It estimates it will cost $37 billion to build — $41 billion if Telstra isn’t prepared to sell the ducts, pits and pipe that constitute the most strategic element of its “last mile” network to NBN at a 33 per cent discount to the analysts’ $12 billion valuation — but be worth negative $9 billion in net present value terms.

As the team concludes: “It is difficult to see the market ascribing any value to an equity investment in a company such as this.” It forecasts the NBN Co won’t be cash flow positive until 2025.

The team argues that Telstra will be prepared to sell its passive infrastructure to the NBN Co for $8 billion — a $4 billion discount to its assessed value — to demonstrate that it is a good corporate citizen (and presumably to try to avoid regulatory punishment for non-cooperation).

Telstra would also significantly reduce its maintenance capital expenditures and selling its assets to NBN Co would avert the threat that the NBN would “go aerial” and, in the longer term, leave Telstra’s existing network intact but eventually obsolete.



Twitter sued for patent infringement


Megapopular microblogger Twitter is being sued for patent infringment by a Texas company that alleges the 140-character messaging system is based on its patented digital-notification technology.

The suit was filed TechRadium, a Sugar Land, Texas-based company that, according to its website, “delivers the world’s leading edge mass notification and emergency alerting systems to a vast array of governmental, educational, commercial and non-profit entities.”


At issue is the “mass notification” part of that self-description. According to court documents submitted to the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, TechRadium holds three patents on the technology behind its IRIS (immediate response information system) for which it claims infringement.



Mixed fortunes for Hitachi disk division

A profitable 2008 for Hitachi has been followed by a miserable 2009, with two loss-making quarters and a possible fall behind in the areal density stakes.

In April last year, and after much high-level debate within Hitachi, it was decided that Hitachi GST would remain as part of Hitachi, not be sold off in whole or part, and have its fortunes rebuilt by its own internal efforts. HGST was formed in 2003 when Hitachi absorbed hard disk drive (HDD) manufacturing facilities from IBM. There were prolonged difficulties in realising a profit from the combined venture, leading up to discussions with a venture capital fund, Silver Lake Partners, for a partial sell-off in return for a capital injection. After a couple of quarters of profit in the second half of 2007, Hitachi backed out of this and decided to go it alone with Hiroaki Nakanishi as its chairman and CEO.



Nero CD/DVD burner goes FREE!

Free version of Nero 9 has no time limits and will allow basic CD and DVD authoring.


One of the things with Windows Vista that just never seemed to work right for me was the integrated CD and DVD burning capability. Every now and again, my computer simply refuses to burn a disk with Vista’s integrated burning capability.

If you aren’t a fan of Vista’s CD/DVD authoring tool, Nero has a new product that is right up your ally. Nero has announced that it is now offering Nero 9 as a free version. The free version of the popular application allows users to burn data discs to CD or DVD and allows users to copy discs as well.

AMD 785G: Small changes add up to big design win

AMD’s new 785G chipset has just launched, and fresh-from-embargo reviews have hit the streets from a number of hardware sites, including HotHardware, TechReport, PCPerspective, Tom’s Hardware, HardwareZone, and Hexus. Of these, the HotHardware and Tom’s Hardware reviews are probably the most interesting; Tom’s in particular pays attention to graphics performance in comparison to AMD’s other integrated chipsets, the 785G’s legitimate competition.

The 785G packs a number of feature upgrades, small things like HDMI 1.3, DDR3, DirectX 10.1, and support for socket AM3 processors. More significantly, though, the new northbridge features dynamic clocking features that allow its GPU and other cores to downclock by a factor of eight, to a mere 60Mhz from 500Mhz, at idle time, saving power. As one review points out, this means that a Blu-ray-equipped 785G PC with a low-voltage processor can probably be configured to consume less power than some standalone Blu-ray players. Tom’s showed that at idle, a 785G system consumed 17W, 19 percent, less power than a 790GX system with the same components. Over five years nonstop, at Chicago electricity rates, that’s more than $110 worth of electricity.

The most interesting feature of the 785G is, of course, its beefed-up Radeon 4200 IGP, and the comparative performance of this IGP with others is the subject of lots of work in multiple of the reviews. Unfortunately, none of the reviews directly compares the 785G with its 780G predecessor and 790GX competitor, but the picture can be knitted together. For context, all three IGPs feature 40 stream processors. Those in the 790GX are of roughly the same design as the 780G’s, but clocked up to 700Mhz from 500Mhz, while the 785G’s GPU is die-shrunk and mildly redesigned, and clocked at 500Mhz. The overall picture is this: 785G is marginally higher-performing than 780G, but lower than 790GX, and can be overclocked to be faster than the 790GX.

This new northbridge is no breakthrough, but it’s high-performing, sips power, packs lots of nifty features, and is very low cost. Using the 785G in almost any new AMD build that isn’t a Crossfire gaming rig is probably a slam dunk at this point.

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