Episode 155

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

Apple’s secret: new iPod Touch has unactivated FM radio and 802.11n hardware
new iPod Touch has unactivated FM radio and 802.11n hardware

The new iPod Touch unveilled last week disappointingly lacks a video camera but it’s got an FM receiver, FM transmitter and 5GHz 802.11n wireless hidden

The chip, identified as Broadcom’s BCM4329, also contains high-speed and long-range 802.11n Wi-Fi capable of switching between the standard 2.4GHz and less cluttered 5GHz bands.

In addition, according to Broadcom’s own spec sheet, there’s an integrated FM transmitter/receiver module.

Asus prepping $199 EeeBook Reader?
Asus prepping $199 EeeBook Reader?

Part of the Eee family, the Eee Reader is suspected to be built using standard netbook components from Intel’s Atom platform, such as the compact low-power ‘Silverthorne’ Z-series CPU.

Prototype designs show a device with two colour screens and a central hinge. It’s a deliberate attempt to give eBooks a reassuringly familiar form, although the notion of ‘turning pages’ seems odd.

However, because the screens run independent of each other, one display can show text from an ebook while the other contains associated multimedia material or is even used to jump online and look up related information.

Optus probed for blocking numbers | Australian IT
Optus probed for blocking numbers

A spokesman for the TIO said Optus customers had complained about the carrier introducing new terms in its mobile contracts that allow it to block them calling any number for technical, operational or commercial reasons.

An Optus spokeswoman said a very small number of Optus customers had been dialling what looked like a standard Australian mobile number to make an international call. The calls would then be re-routed through an internet gateway to send overseas.

“Optus does not have a commercial agreement for the interconnect arrangements necessary for these calls, so we cannot continue to support them,” the spokeswoman said.

Conroy rings in new Telstra era | Australian IT
Conroy rings in new Telstra era

THE Rudd government has given Telstra an ultimatum to split its wholesale and retail businesses or it will be forced to sell key assets and locked out of new broadband and mobile phone opportunities, in the biggest shake-up of the communications sector in a generation.

The government could also deny Telstra access to new spectrum for advanced wireless broadband unless the telco sells off its cable network and 50 per cent stake in Foxtel (25 per cent owned by News Corporation, owner of The Australian).

Telstra chief executive David Thodey said the government’s announcement yesterday was “disappointing”.

“It is Telstra’s view that many aspects of this package are unnecessary and need never be implemented if a mutually acceptable outcome can be reached on the national broadband network,” Mr Thodey said.

Telstra last month told analysts functional separation could cost $500 million to $1 billion and take one to five years to implement.

Constitutional expert George Williams said it would be difficult for Telstra to challenge the laws. There was no legal impediment to the government denying Telstra access to new spectrum.

“It’s a clever way of forcing an outcome without triggering the constitutional requirement to pay compensation,” Professor Williams said. It is understood Telstra received a detailed briefing yesterday morning on the changes, which Senator Conroy hopes to see in place before the end of the year.

Senator wants ban on fee for paying bills by cash | Australian IT
Senator wants ban on fee for paying bills by cash

INDEPENDENT senator Nick Xenophon will seek parliamentary endorsement for a ban on consumers being charged a fee for paying their bills by cash.

Telstra has imposed a $2.20 administration fee on customers who pay their bills by mail or over the counter.

Its 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.

Senator Xenophon says the practice of paying bills by cash should be fee-free.

Steve Jobs speaks of liver transplant | Australian IT
Steve Jobs speaks of liver transplant

“About five months ago I had a liver transplant,” he said. “So I now have the liver of a mid-20s person who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate their organs.” He said he would not be alive without the donor’s generosity and urged others to sign up to become organ donors.

Facebook makes money, tops 300 million users – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Facebook makes money, tops 300 million users

Facebook is making enough money to cover its costs and now has 300 million users, the world’s largest social networking site said on Tuesday, proving the Internet’s newest star industry can be a viable business.

Trapped girls call for help on Facebook – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Trapped girls call for help on FacebookThe Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) in Adelaide says it is worrying that two girls lost in a stormwater drain raised the alert on a social networking site rather than ringing triple-0.

 

REG’S SHOWNOTES

Remember back in May 2008 when Dell was found guilty of “engaging in deceptive business practices related to financing promotions for its computers and technical support?” Yeah, those were the days, and now just 15 and a half months after the verdict, the computer maker is now paying up to the tune of $4 million — not as paltry as its $30,000 Taiwan fine, but still less than one percent of its quarterly profits. We know, it’s the thought the counts.

Intel antitrust appeal: EU failed to show consumer harm

Intel has filed an application for annulment with the European Union’s Court of First Instance seeking to have its record €1.06 billion (~$1.45 billion) fine thrown out. In its application, the chipmaker says that the European Commission finding that it engaged in illegal anticompetitive behavior was erroneous, that the investigation itself was flawed, and that there’s no indication that consumers were harmed by Intel’s actions.

When Intel originally filed its notice of appeal in July, it also said that the EC violated its human rights by levying such a large fine as the result of an administrative proceeding. In Intel’s most recent filing, it doesn’t directly raise the rights issue. Instead it argues that investigators failed to meet the standard needed to prove misconduct, noting that they never made a link between the volume discounts and rebates that Intel offered to OEMs and any real harm to consumers.

The discounts and rebates were a major cornerstone of the EC’s case against Intel. Intel paid volume rebates to manufacturers that agreed to keep their PC and laptop lineups at least 80 percent Intel. Investigators also found that Intel paid one OEM to delay shipment of AMD business desktops to distributors, blocking their sale to enterprise customers.

Having such a large chunk of the processor market isn’t a problem, according to the EU. Using anticompetitive tactics to ensure that it remains that way, is.

In pleading its case, Intel points to what it says are exculpatory documents and other omissions that EC investigators failed to disclose. A EU ombudsman’s report notes that a Dell executive told investigators in 2006 that AMD’s CPUs suffered from “very poor” performance. Intel was told by the EC that the meeting never took place and that there were no records of any interview with the unnamed Dell executive. “The applicant also submits that all or part of the Decision should be annulled on the basis that the Commission infringed essential procedural requirements during the adminis­trative procedure, which materially infringed Intel’s rights of defense,” argues Intel in the filing. “In particular, the Commission failed… (c) to make a proper note of its meeting with a key witness from one of Intel’s customers, who was highly likely to have given exculpatory evidence.”

Intel’s submission is part of the case record that will be considered by the Court of First Instance, which is hearing the appeal. That Court is the same one that upheld the €500 million fine levied against Microsoft in 2004.

Senator wants ban on fee for paying bills by cash

INDEPENDENT senator Nick Xenophon will seek parliamentary endorsement for a ban on consumers being charged a fee for paying their bills by cash.

Telstra has imposed a $2.20 administration fee on customers who pay their bills by mail or over the counter.

Its 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.

Senator Xenophon says the practice of paying bills by cash should be fee-free.

“People shouldn’t have to pay more because they want to pay a bill with real money,” he said in a statement, adding that accepting cash was a cost of doing business.

The crossbench senator intends moving amendments to Labor’s draft laws on unfair contracts with the aim of banning the practice.

“If corporations get away with this, where will it stop?” he asked, adding that not everyone had access to the internet or a credit card.

From monopolist to little Aussie battler

commentary Legislation setting up the regulations for the National Broadband Network could be introduced to parliament as early as this week, which means Telstra will soon get some clarity about whether it’s in a lot of trouble or just a little bit.

Telstra and its shareholders are on tenterhooks, waiting to find out whether the government-sponsored NBN will go into a price war with them or into a partnership — compete with them or buy their network. The NBN legislation, and in particular ownership restrictions, should provide a clue … but just a clue, not the full answer.

It is a melancholy fact for Telstra shareholders that the company’s management has no idea what’s going on and there are no talks taking place with either the government or the NBN management, led by Mike Quigley. Relations have improved, but Telstra is still on the outer.

The crucial question of whether the NBN Co, which now has a management and a board, decides to simply buy all or part of Telstra’s wholesale network and get its customers that way, or whether it tries to take the customers off Telstra by competing with it, is, at its heart, a simple “buy or build” decision — that is, it depends on price

No Zune HD, says Microsoft

11th September 2009 10:33 GMT

Microsoft’s existing line of Zune players may finally be available in the UK – at least from unofficial suppliers – but the software giant has confirmed that its new HD model won’t arrive in Blighty anytime soon.

“For the time being the Zune HD device will remain US only,” a spokesperson for Microsoft said this week.

But the Microsoft rep steered clear of ruling out non-North American Zune HD shipments altogether.

“We are looking at potential future hardware experiences for these markets, but do not have anything to announce right now,” the spokesperson told website Ars Technica.

Firefox 4.0 developers granted year of living dangerously

Mozilla won’t release the next significant upgrade of Firefox until the final quarter of 2010.

The open source browser maker said it expects to release Firefox 4.0 in October or November of next year.

Of course before that versions 3.6 and 3.7 will be squirted out by the team, assuming that Mozilla doesn’t hit similar problems to those encountered with 3.1.

The outfit was forced to rejig its roadmap and jump directly from its June 2008 3.0 release to 3.5 after a number of showstopping bugs delayed the next iteration (which should have been 3.1) of the browser several times, eventually forcing the name change.

Mozilla already revealed earlier in the summer that it planned to make some major changes to the Firefox interface.

Telcos fuming over Telstra access win

The Australian Competition Tribunals’ (ACT) decision to wind back regulated access to Telstra’s wholesale network has outraged the telecommunications sector.

The ACT yesterday issued a statement claiming there was sufficient competition in certain metropolitan areas to wind back regulated access to Telstra’s wholesale network in them.

The ACCC will now publish a biannual list of the areas where Telstra will not be obligated to provide access to its competitors. The tribunal’s decision was based on the view that competition from internet service providers (ISPs) who had installed their own ADSL equipment at Telstra’s exchanges, meant that the ACCC could step away from its role of ensuring Telstra gives access.

“Whether an exemption will apply in a particular area will depend on a number of factors, including the number of Telstra’s competitors already using the Unconditioned Local Loop Services in that area as well as their market share,” the Tribunal noted.

While Telstra has welcomed the new rules of engagement with its competitors, the decision has been slammed as a joke by the rest of the industr

Apple unloads 47 fixes for iPhones, Macs and QuickTime

Apple has issued fixes for more than 47 security bugs in the Mac, iPhone and QuickTime media player, some that allowed attackers to take complete control of the underlying device.

The patches, which were released over a 24-hour period starting Wednesday, fix critical vulnerabilities in a variety software made both by Apple and third parties. OS X components included Alias Manager, CarbonCore, ClamAV, ColorSync, and CoreGraphics and Adobe Flash. The updates were available for both the Tiger and Leopard versions of the OS.

An update for the iPhone patched holes in CoreAudio, WebKit and MobileMail, among other things. A third update fixed four vulnerabilities in QuickTime, some of which allowed attackers to hijack a machine by tricking users into opening specially manipulated H.264 and MPEG-4 files.

For the most part, Snow Leopard, Apple’s latest and greatest version of Mac OS X, was left out of the security patch love. It received a single fix that updated Flash to the latest, most secure, version. As previously reported, the new OS shipped with a version of the media player that left users susceptible to attack.

Snow Leopard was also updated to fix a host of non-security issues, including a vexing problem that prevented some users from being able to use the Mac’s automatic feature for adding printers.

NSW cops get sneaky new hacking laws

NSW cops get sneaky new hacking laws

Essential linkage: Law quietly passed to give police greater – and more secret – access to your pr0n stash.

The New South Wales Police – once upon a time the best cops money could buy – have been given “sweeping new powers” to snoop and hack private information. From ABC News coverage of the legilsation:

New South Wales Police are being given sweeping new powers to search people’s homes and hack into their computers for up to three years without their knowledge.

The State Government admits police have already used the measures, even though the Supreme Court ruled the practices unlawful in 2006.

The Government says new legislation, to be introduced into Parliament today, will ensure police evidence collected using the practices will hold up in court.”

Flight sim website tracks hacker

Flight sim website tracks hacker

We know what you hacked last summer.

The outfit that ran a flight simulator website shut down by a cracker in May says it has presented a file of evidence to British police which it claims contains “incontrovertible evidence” about the hacker’s identity.

Avsim, a US firm, lost data held on two servers and the attack “effectively destroyed” the site, which is still being rebuilt.

According to the firm it expects that the criminal complaint it filed with London police will lead to the alleged hacker spending “time behind bars”.

Of course if this was in the US, the hacker would be locked up for many decades in a ‘get tough policy’, which obviously has deterred so many crackers that website hacking is non-existant there.

Tom Allensworth told the BBC that he would not name names, because in Blighty if you do you could stuff up a trial. However he said he had forensic evidence and provided that evidence to the London police.

The evidence was submitted on Monday to the Southwark division of the Metropolitan Police, which was “acting on behalf of another constabulary”.

The US site, launched in 1996, covered all aspects of flight simulation, although its main focus was on Microsoft’s Flight Simulator.

Avsim has spent $US50,000 to bring its website back online since the 12 May attack, with $US25,000 of that having been contributed by users.

It is fairly clear that the outfit has spoken to the hacker as it said it had given him or her “two opportunities to settle” which were ignored.

Allensworth said that Avsim is ratcheting this matter up to the next, criminal, level.

AMD unveils Eyefinity, six 30″ screens off a single 5800-series card

AMD unveils Eyefinity, six 30
Related Articles

24.6 megapixels of eye-wateringly gorgeous screen.

With the 5xxx series cards just peering over the edge of the horizon AMD isn’t resting on its laurels and instead has announced a number of exciting technologies, as well as a new branding scheme. Called VISION, these are a series of badges that will be applied to their products to give an idea of their performance; including standard VISION, Premium and Ultimate.

 

Courtesy TechPowerUp
Courtesy TechPowerUp

The real exciting story here is Eyefinity, an amusing play on words that means a whole lot more – six giant 30″ LCD screens being powered by a single 5xxx series card. It’s a custom-designed PCB for now, that packs in six DisplayPort connectors on the expansion bracket, giving enough bandwidth to power six individual monitors at a resolution of 2560×1600.

This equates to an earth-shatteringly huge 7680×3200 resolution – in other words, a 24.6 megapixel image! AMD can do this by coding their driver to tell the operating system that a single huge screen is attached, then letting the driver itself take control of the indiviual panels to divvy up the work. It works so well that GRID, WoW and even DiRT 2 can be played at this massive res, ushering in a whole new gaming experience.

Defence hauled in over PM website attack

Security experts from the Department of Defence have been called in to assist federal government agencies that were targeted by last night’s denial-of-service attack, with sources predicting further attacks.

The Attorney General’s Department (AGD) has called in the Defence Signals Directorate’s Cyber Security Operations Centre and has provided IT security advisors to each of the targeted agencies in yesterday’s attack, according to an AGD spokesperson.

The only website that appears to have been affected by yesterday’s distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack on government web servers was the site belonging to the Prime Minister & Cabinet. But it was not hacked, according to the spokesperson.

“I can confirm that the Prime Minister’s website was unavailable for a short time shortly after 7pm on 9 September 2009. Visitors to the site received an error message stating that the service was unavailable,” said the spokesperson. “There was no unauthorised access to the website’s infrastructure.”

A group calling itself “Anonymous” had published its threat to wage cyber war on the Australian Government a month ago on YouTube. It had demanded that the Labor Government abandon its internet filtering plans and threatened to flood government email, fax, phone and internet services if its demand was not met.

Yesterday, AGD said it had referred the threats to the AFP, which was investigating the matter; however, it appears the response to the attacks were led by ISPs. “Agencies are working with their internet service providers (ISPs) to respond to any attacks,” the AGD spokesperson said.

Telstra drags heels on union pay

Members of Telstra’s main union are expressing frustration over the fact that new pay rates have yet to be settled.

The Communications, Electricians and Plumbers Union’s (CEPU) positivity towards Telstra is waning as the key issue of pay remains unsettled. Since David Thodey’s appointment, the union has sung praise for Telstra over the company’s willingness to negotiate. In June the union called off a long-running action, and since then the two sides have been seen to be working towards a new enterprise agreement.

Although negotatiations have dealt with general conditions for unionised workers, the touchy issue of pay has not, which is causing growing impatience amongst workers.

“There is still not agreement on the structure of the EA and the related issues of job classifications, banding levels and new employee pay rates,” CEPU president, Ed Husic, said. He added that “a stream” of complaints over this issue was being heard across the country by state branches.

“Telstra wishes to bring new employees into the company on its non-negotiated classification system and to have pay levels largely set by management. The CEPU believes this system would leave too much of future pay levels at the mercy of decisions outside of your control,” he added.

The union is planning to commence a round of nationwide meetings in the coming weeks to clarify where it has reached agreement with Telstra.

Thodey earlier this year said executives’ salaries would be frozen this year, while general staff would be in line for a 2 per cent raise. The CEPU has previously said it wants a 7 per cent raise for its members.

 

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