Episode 157 – Milo & Wayne

posted in: Show Notes | 0

WAYNE’S SHOWNOTES

U.S.A. Address Mail/Parcel Forwarding
For buying stuff in the US Amazon etc etc. Amazon freepost to this compant who then forward to you for a fee, great site to purchase US goods without any dramas

vlc remote – Google Search
VLC Remote

Available at Itunes Store for FREE !!!! App Section Website Link also available above for help setting up on Iphone if you have any Dramas Paid Version is Better as you can access your hard drives and external drives also.

From today, anti-virus is free, says Microsoft
From today, anti-virus is free, says Microsoft

Tokyo Game Show attendance declines to 185,000 – News at GameSpot
‘s Makuhari Messe convention center. CESA is still deciding whether to hold the next show for three or four days. It will start on either September 16 or 17 and run until September 19. TGS 2010 will be the 20th show since its debut back in the summer of 1996.

TOKYO–Last year’s Tokyo Game Show hit a record-high visitor count that came in just shy of the 200,000-visitor mark. Unfortunately, TGS 2009 did not fare as well. Show organizers the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Organization announced today that this year’s attendance fell by almost 10,000 people, dropping from 194,288 in 2008 to 185,030 in 2009.

As a breakdown of attendance figures indicates (below), the business days had about the same number of visitors as last year. But the show was hit hard on its public opening day, which is when the most dedicated of Japanese gamers traditionally come in for an early peek at the new games.

Day 1 – 27,435 Visitors (2008: 27,305 Visitors)
Day 2 – 24,605 Visitors (2008: 24,178 Visitors)
Day 3 – 61,138 Visitors (2008: 71,639 Visitors)
Day 4 – 71,852 Visitors (2008: 71,166 Visitors)
Total: 185,030 Visitors (2008: 194,288 Visitors)

What’s more, TGS 2009’s visitor count signifies the first time that the show’s attendance has taken a step backward after it switched to an annual format in 2002. (Prior to 2002, the show occurred on a semiannual basis.) Furthermore, attendance was below that of 2006, when the show was still a three-day event.

The global economic downturn seemed to affect the show’s presence of small to midrange publishers. Frequent attendees of this ilk, such as From Software, Irem, and SNK Playmore, did not have booths at this year’s show. Other attractions for the visitors, such as freebies and merchandise stores, were also not as prevalent as they have been in years past.

According to show organizers, TGS 2010 will return to Chiba prefecture’s Makuhari Messe convention center. CESA is still deciding whether to hold the next show for three or four days. It will start on either September 16 or 17 and run until September 19. TGS 2010 will be the 20th show since its debut back in the summer of 1996.

ATH SHOW NOTES GAMING SECTION

GAMERS NEWS SHOW 158

 

GS 2009: Project Natal Hands-On (or off, as it were)

 

 

But the aforementioned comparison still comprises a physical device, and the purpose of Natal is to remove that final barrier between player and machine; crafting an experience quite literally about the palm of your hand, your feet, your arms, your face… you.

This couldn’t have been demonstrated better than when, during our demo experience, the rather tall Natal project director, Kudo Tsunoda, invited a rather petit lady from Gamespot Au to jump in, on-the-fly, and take his place with the the system’s initial gameplay demo of swatting balls at a wall of ever-changing bricks. The standout thing here – the on-screen avatar not only changing immediately to reflect a smaller person, but equally recognised sex, changing from male to female without a single stop for recalibration or anything.

 

Both Dan and I had a chance to jump in, and swat the balls. Yours truly playing with more strenuous actions to see how they effect the demo, the best example being in what Tsunoda referred to as a “power kick” once I’d done it, and yep, it sent the ball flying with much more force.

With all of that said, however, the first demo just still didn’t feel like the goods. Which is why we switched pace and jumped right into a Natalised Burnout Paradise demo. The objective here was to simply jump in front of the camera, position your hands in the air as if holding a steering wheel and put your front foot slightly forward to accelerate.

Seriously, this was an incredible demonstration of the system’s 1:1 movement tracking. Each time you shift your hands just a little to turn the steering wheel, it happens immediately on-screen and in-game, and stepping your foot back just a little will ease off the accelerator, while all the way back will slam on the breaks and if left there long enough, send you driving in reverse. Moreover, Tsunoda made a point to come out and walk around one of the players who was driving, waving his arms about to show off the fact the system would simply ignore him and leave the driver/player to continue to race, without distraction.

The demo area we where in was a very white room with powerful lights, but Tsunoda was quick to point out Natal was utilising an infrared system, meaning it could literally work in the dark (good news for those of us who play games with all the lights out), and that currently the system’s RGB camera was good for sensing up to four people at any one given time for games or uses requiring multiple people.

In saying all of that though, Project Natal still has a lot of proving to do. Microsoft seem to be on the right track, only just during TGS announcing official third-party partnerships with the following:

Activision Blizzard, Bethesda Softworks, Capcom Co. Ltd, Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts, Konami, MTV Games, Namco Bandai, Sega, Square Enix, THQ Inc. and Ubisoft.

But will it be enough, and how long will it be before the technology is used beyond party game gimmicky functions? Only time will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

PC GAMING NEWS ALIENWARE TO RELEASE NEW GAMING DESKTOP LAPTOP SERIES

$4,000 USD Alienware Aurora ALX benchmarked: domination this world has never seen

Alienware’s Aurora ALX, which was just unveiled this week alongside ATI’s blisteringly fast Radeon HD 5870 GPU, gets going at $2,299. If that doesn’t bother you, the late-October estimated ship date might. Somehow, the benchmarking fiends over at HotHardware were able to grab hold of one of these rigs, and the results are fairly stunning (if not expected). Granted, their test configuration was a fully loaded $4,074 model, complete with a 3.33GHz Core i7 Extreme Edition 975 CPU, twin ATI Radeon HD 5870’s in a CrossFire configuration and 6GB of DDR3 memory. Oh, and blue lights. Lots of blue lights. Put simply, the one-two CPU / GPU punch produced results that led to domination that made pretty much anything else out there look weak. Don’t believe us? Hit that link for the bar-charted proof.

Processor
Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition 975 3.33GHz 8MB Cache

Motherboard

Alienware MicroATX LGA 1366 Intel X58 Motherboard

Operating System
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition SP1
Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade

Memory
Corsair Dominator 6GB (3x2GB DIMMs)
DDR3-1600MHz 8-8-8-24

Graphics Cards

ATI Radeon HD 5870  1GB GDDR5 CrossFire

CPU Cooling

Liquid Cooling – 120mm Single Radiator

Audio

Onboard

Hard Drive
Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM HDD RAID 0

Optical Drive
Blu-ray 6x Dual Layer Disc Burner

Case
Cosmic Black ALX
Width: 9.84″ (250mm)
Depth: 25.39″ (645mm)

Height: 16.77″ (426mm)
Weight: 45lbs (20.41kg)


Power Supply
Dell PSU

Available Expansion Slots
None

Front Panel I/O Ports

2 USB 2.0
1 FireWire 1394A
1 Headset
1 Mic

 

Rear Panel I/O Ports
1 PS/2 mouse
1 PS/2 keyboard
6 USB 2.0
1 RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet
1 IEEE 1394A
1 eSATA
10-channel audio I/O
1 SPDIF Digital Output

Warranty and Support

1 year hardware warranty
In-home service after remote diagnosis

Price:
$4,074.00 USD (as tested)

FULL REVIEW HERE

Alienware Aurora ALX Gaming System Preview – HotHardware

hothardware.com/Articles/Alienware-Aurora/?page=5

DESKTOP – AURORA ALX = OPEN VENTING SYSTEM ON TOP WATER COOLED, DUAL ATI RADION 5870’S CROSSFIRE 4 X HD BAYS HOT SWAPPABLE, NEW DESIGN FEATURES ALIEN EFFECTS, MID TOWER, WATER COOLED QUIET. NO PRICE AS ET UPDATE TO FOLLOW WHEN AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIA. POSSIBLE LATE OCTOBER

tgs09_alienware_desktopwalkthroug.html

DESKTOP AREA 51 BIGGEST PC AVAILABLE, SAME AS ABOVE WITH VENTING SYSTEM LARGER FULL TOWER SYSTEM, HD BAYS BEHIND MOBO FOR COOLER RUNNING, FULL TOWER ATX SYSTEM 6 X HD BAYS HOT SWAPPABLE DUAL 5870 ATI RADEON

POWER SUPPLY HOT SWAPPABLE TOO. MOTORISED DOORS ON FRONT.PRICES TO FOLLOW.

LAPTOP M15X BELOW ALSO EXCELLENT PIECE OF KIT MOST POWERFUL IN THE WORLD AT PRESENT.

IGN Video: TGS 09: Alienware Desktop & Laptop Overview Gear – TGS 09: Laptop Walkthrough

au.gear.ign.com/dor/articles/1029761/tgs-09-ali…

PROMINENT GAME REALEASES OCTOBER

PS3

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Also known as: Uncharted 2

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is the story of Nathan Drake, a fortune-hunter with a shady reputation and an even shadier past who is lured back into the treacherous world of thieves and mercenary treasure-seekers. The tenth game by premier PlayStation 3 developer Naughty Dog, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves allows players to take control of Drake and embark on a journey that will push him to his physical, emotional and intellectual limits to discover the real truth behind the lost fleet of Marco Polo and the legendary Himalayan valley of Shambhala. 99.3

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog Software
Platform: PlayStation 3     · Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 10/13/09

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Also known as: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty 6 [working title]

The sixth entry in the Call of Duty franchise, this next game brings back developer Infinity Ward as the general in command.

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward
Platform: PlayStation 3     · Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: 11/10/09

Gran Turismo 5

Also known as: GT5

Gran Turismo 5 takes the series to a whole new level. A first for the franchise, The game supports online racing and features over 950 cars, over 20 courses, 70 variations, the newest hybrid cars and electric cars, a new physics engine, a new in-cockpit view, HD support, and much more.

Gran Turismo will feature both a single player and split screen two player arcade mode. GT Mode includes world map, my garage, car dealer, tuning shop, championship race, and license test. Online support includes open lobby, text/voice chat, private room, online photo album, online replay album, and export of replays to YouTube.

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Platform: PlayStation 3     · Genre: Racing
Release Date: 03/30/10

PSP

Gran Turismo

Also known as: GT Mobile, Gran Turismo PSP

Developed exclusively for PSP by the internal team of designers and engineers at Polyphony Digital, Gran Turismo is built for optimal performance and fun racing excitement on the portable platform. Consistently setting the bar in terms of quality of design and physics technology with every product release, Gran Turismo on the PSP is no exception and offers an authentic and accessible racing product for the series’ millions of fans and newcomers alike.

Gran Turismo features more than 800 vehicle models from the world’s top manufacturers (over 4,500 total paint variations) and more than 30 tracks (60+ total layouts), including famous world circuits, city courses and other environments. Featuring exciting gameplay and game modes to suit all levels of play, Gran Turismo is a great introduction to the best-selling series for newcomers. Additionally, seasoned Gran Turismo fans will recognize the depth of content and unparalleled visuals the series is known for, including graphics running at a stunning 60 frames per second. Players can progress and acquire cars in Challenge Mode throughout more than 100 events in, or they can explore different tracks and circuits in Arcade Mode.

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Platform: PlayStation Portable     · Genre: Racing
Release Date: 10/01/09

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Also known as: MGS: Peace Walker, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops 2


 

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Platform: PC     · Genre: Action
Release Date: 11/24/09

PC

AVATAR THE GAME

MOVIE RELEASE IS 17/12/09

www.gamestats.com/objects/802/802862/index.html

COD MOD WARFARE 2 SAME AS PS3

FIFA 10 ALL PLATFORMS

NINTENDO WII

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

This New Super Mario Bros. is a throwback to the style of the original Super Mario Bros. and allows four players to play the game together.

Players can navigate the side-scrolling worlds alone as before or invite up to three others to join them at the same time on the same level at any point in the game for competitive and cooperative multiplayer fun. With the multiplayer mode, the newest installment of the most popular video game franchise is designed to bring yet another type of family entertainment into living rooms and engage groups of friends in fast-paced Super Mario Bros. fun.

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Platform: Wii     · Genre: Platformer
Release Date: 11/15/09

FIFA 10

PES 2010

XBOX 360

Halo 3: ODST

Also known as: Halo 3: Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, Halo 3: Recon [working title]

Halo 3: ODST’s tale focuses on the legendary ODSTs or “Orbital Drop Shock Troopers” as they drop into the ruined city of New Mombasa, looking for clues behind the Covenant’s catastrophic attack on the city.

The new campaign chapter predates the events that unfold in “Halo 3” and gives players a new perspective through the eyes of a new hero in the “Halo” universe. New multiplayer maps ensure that the award-winning Xbox LIVE experience of “Halo 3” continues to thrive.

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Bungie Software
Platform: Xbox 360     · Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: 09/22/09

 

 

IGN Video
Video Review: Smaller But Worth the Cash?

New Sony PSP Go

JB HI FI $398.00 WITH GRAN TOURISMO VALID TILL 4/10/09

Zune HD 32 – Buy from Microsoft Store
The new Zune HD wireless media player connects you to a new world of entertainment. With built-in HD RadioTM receiver, HD-compatible video1, multi-touch navigation, OLED screen, and games, Zune HD delivers the next level in music and video experiences.

The 32GB version holds up to 10 hours of high definition video, or 48 hours of standard definition video optimized for device, or 8,000 songs, or 25,000 pictures.2

MILO’S SHOWNOTES

The year the plasma died?

The future of plasma TV has been hotly debated ever since big LCD screens muscled their way into the market, but will 2009 go down in history as the year that plasma finally died?

Figures released by market researchers reveal a pronounced decline in both sales and manufacturing for the once popular format, and several key brands such as Pioneer and Hitachi have fled the space in recent years as consumers defect to thinner, lower energy consumption display formats.

According to year-on-year quarterly sales figures just released by retail market analyst GfK, while LCD continued to increase its market share, unit sales of plasma slid 15.4 per cent and accounted for less than a quarter of all flat-screen TV sales.

The figures also reveal that, since January, the total sales value of plasma TVs in Australia fell by almost 9 per cent while LCD made solid gains of 10 per cent.

Bing Lee general manager, Phil Moujaes, said that manufacturers of LCD televisions had made dramatic strides in recent years.

“They can now can handle action and sport much better. From that perspective there has been a massive improvement.”

He said people were buying LCDs because overall demand remained stronger for smaller screens, “but if you look at large screens, plasmas are still going very strongly”, he said.

He said the choice between LCD and plasma generally came down to price, “and larger screen plasmas are still more affordable than larger screen LCDs”.

Samsung, one of the three largest television manufacturers still making plasma TVs, said that, although demand was flattening, it had retained a big stake in the technology since launching the world’s thinnest plasma display (2.5 centimetres), and integrating wireless technologies and internet television into recent models.

“Plasma accounts for 25-30 per cent of the market, which means there is still a very large market there,” said Evan Manolis, a senior product manager for Samsung’s audio-visual unit in Australia.

“There are still a lot of people that really love the look of plasma, the softness of the screen, the [rich] blacks and the capacity to handle motion. So the big challenge for plasma is the drive towards energy consumption as consumers become more aware of the environment. We have reduced plasma energy consumption by 40 per cent compared with 2007 models,” he said.

Plasma may still rule in the big-screen stakes, but according to global manufacturing data from research group Gartner, this situation may not last with LCD expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 28 per cent until 2012, compared with 8.1 per cent for plasma.

“Plasma led the market in the 30-inch TV segment until 2003, but the situation changed in late 2004 as LCD panel vendors activated their sixth-generation production lines.”

The researcher said that for 40-inch and above screen sizes, LCDs had “competed more strongly against plasma” since the opening of seventh-generation production lines in 2005 with the gap in capability gradually widening in favour of LCD TVs.

“Compatibility problems and a lack of competitiveness have affected the plasma display panel, which is losing ground in the fast evolving large-size TV market. The economies of scale achieved in infrastructure by LCD TV vendors has affected the plasma display panel industry by slowing growth,’’ Gartner said.

PSP Go plays the memory game
PSP Go plays the memory game

With no UMD drive in sight, it’s all on-board in Sony’s latest hand-held console. By Mike Wilcox.

Sony Computer Entertainment has developed a product to join its hand-held gaming line.

Since it launched locally in 2005, the PlayStation Portable has already been through two revisions involving slight modifications to the shape and some minor new features. The latest model, the fourth in the family, is available from today and sees a number of significant changes introduced.

While primarily still a gaming console, the new PSP Go is aimed at people who regularly download and consume their entertainment digitally, including music, photos, movies and games, on the move.

The PSP Go’s redesigned body is both lighter and smaller than the standard model and has a reduced 9.6cm-wide screen display, although this offers the same high-resolution picture quality. One of the most significant changes to the form factor is the sliding front panel that lifts to reveal the game controls below. While it’s in the closed position, the console looks every bit like an elegant digital media player.

Another big change is the replacement of the proprietary UMD drive with 16 GB of flash-based internal memory, which can be doubled to 32 GB with an optional Memory Stick Micro (M2) flash card.

Where until now retail games have been available mostly on disc, they can now be downloaded conveniently to the PSP Go and stored in the console’s memory. Sony says most of the existing back catalogue of PSP games will be made available in downloadable format, and new titles will now be released both digitally and on UMD.

In addition to wi-fi capabilities for online activities, the PSP Go now supports Bluetooth. This enables the console to connect with compatible wireless headsets and speakers, mobile phones, as well as a PlayStation 3 wireless controller.

Due to the smaller size, some of the console’s ports have been consolidated. The standard USB port has been replaced by a new proprietary multi-use connector, which can be used for recharging and computer connectivity, as well as hooking the console up to a television.

The online PlayStation Store is the main source of gaming content for the PSP, including new and classic games, demos, video trailers and more.

The store can be accessed directly from the console using either a wi-fi connection or, alternatively, through the new Media Go software for PC, which is bundled with the console. As well as accessing the store for games, this free application makes it easy to manage all the digital content on a PSP.

To date, worldwide sales of PSPs have surpassed 56 million. However, Sony revealed a slowdown in the hand-held console’s sales in its first quarterly report of 2009, from 3.7 million to 1.3 million the previous quarter.

At a price point of $449 compared with $299 for the standard model, it would appear the new PSP Go has a tough job ahead to reverse those flagging figures.

Spy software, then police, swoop on child porn file sharers
Spy software, then police, swoop on child porn file sharers

POLICE have secretly identified thousands of suspects who are allegedly trading child pornography images through online networks. Detectives expect to make hundreds of arrests, having used a breakthrough software program to spy on files held in private computers.

Designed in the US to pinpoint computers holding known child pornographic images, the software has been used in Queensland for six months.

Victorian police made their first arrest using the technology earlier this month. A 60-year-old office worker, married with two adult children, will be charged on summons with possessing and transmitting child pornography.

Known in the US as Operation Fairplay, the method enables detectives to identify the contents and images on computers without applying for search warrants and without raiding suspects.

Detective Sergeant Peter Ravlich, from Brisbane’s Taskforce Argos, said his officers had made 40 arrests since investigators started using the program in March. “It just doesn’t make mistakes,” he said.

In just two days, the team identified thousands of computers in Victoria that hold child porn images. The computer hits are then matched with Google maps to confirm locations.

The imaging, seen by the Herald, covers a map in red dots, each representing a suspect computer. One Melbourne suburb shows hundreds of hits – and the CBD has thousands, indicating widespread abuse of office networks.

The suspects use technology similar to that used to share music files between computers. One computer has more than 200 suspect share files, of which 192 have been confirmed as holding illegal child porn images. Police have seized computers with ”tens of thousands” of such images.

The system effectively grades suspects – identifying “contact offenders”, those likely to molest children – by analysing the material. The head of Victoria’s sexual crimes squad, Detective Inspector Glen Davies, said high-risk suspects will be targeted first and police would raid houses where they feared children were at risk. The first priority was to rescue potential victims.

Australia’s spam central
Australia’s spam central

AUBURN is the most spammed suburb in Australia, according to a new security report.

The MessageLabs intelligence report looked at its clients’ spam rates within Australia and identified the top suburbs and cities most affected by spam.

Auburn attracted the highest rate, with 94.1 per cent of its users affected. Other Sydney suburbs to rank highly were Camperdown and Chatswood (equal third at 91.7 per cent), with Auburn’s neighbouring suburb, Silverwater, coming in sixth with 91.4 per cent. The ACT suburb of Barton was second (93.1 per cent) and Mulgrave in Victoria ranked fourth (91.5 per cent).

While Sydney suburbs were overrepresented in the top six, it was Canberra that grabbed the top spot as the most spammed city at 93.4 per cent, followed by Hobart, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Darwin attracted the least amount of spam at 86.6 per cent.

The report was based on data security vendor MessageLabs collated from its customer base looking at industry, city and suburb.

The senior manager of enterprise and partner services from MessageLabs, Andrew Gordon, says the suburbs with the highest amount of spam attacks also have the highest concentration of small businesses and manufacturing facilities.

”Spammers really do target SMBs because they do know they have a little bit less IT security skills than larger organisations,” Gordon says.

Low security measures could open companies to organised spammers that download malicious code to steal passwords.

The senior analyst, global communications for MessageLabs, Paul Wood, says: ”Spammers are able to distribute millions of emails … but only a small per cent will hit valid addresses that may result in spam arriving in someone’s inbox but the mail servers still have to process each connection before the vast majority are rejected.

”This can still be a silent killer for SMBs, as the mail server is only designed to support email connections for a few hundred employees and millions of emails each day can cause huge problems.”

Google Sidewiki Allows Notes And Comments on Web Pages
Google introduces comments on web pages

Google introduces comments on web pages

Google unveiled a new tool on Wednesday which allows notes and comments to be posted alongside web pages for others to read.

Google Sidewiki appears as a narrow pop-up browser panel on the left hand side of a website and displays messages from users about the content of the page.

The messages are visible to other users of Sidewiki who visit the site and they can post their own comments but they cannot edit the comments of others.

A website about museums in New York City, for example, would have a Sidewiki panel featuring relevant notes and comments from other visitors.

Google, in a blog post, said Sidewiki was a way for web users to contribute “insights” and “helpful information” next to any web page.

The internet search and advertising giant said it had developed an algorithm to ensure that the “most useful, high-quality entries” are displayed at the top of a Sidewiki panel.

Sidewiki is a feature of Google Toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers and Google said it would be available soon for Google Chrome, its own web browser.

Google Sidewiki is similar to other services launched in the past and it met with mixed reviews from technology bloggers.

Ars Technica said Sidewiki was “intriguing” but “it’s unclear if the service will really deliver a lot of value” and it could end up being “little more than a glorified comment system”.

PaidContent.org said Sidewiki “may anger some online publishers who have commenting systems of their own that they’d prefer visitors continue to use”.

A blogger for TechCrunch said he does not have high hopes for Sidewiki.

“Marking up the web has limited appeal to the average consumer,” he wrote.

NBN | Work begins on National Broadband Network
Australia embarks on great broadband adventure

From snowy mountains and sun-baked deserts to the steamy tropical north, Australia has begun wiring its vast expanse with a high-tech broadband network in a giant project being closely followed abroad.

Workmen are already digging trenches in island state Tasmania, the first step in a $43 billion scheme which Prime Minister Kevin Rudd calls Australia’s biggest ever infrastructure venture.

The ambitious plan aims to connect 90 per cent of homes, including remote outback settlements and sprawling coastal cities, with fibre-optic cable by 2017, accelerating lagging network speeds and boosting the economy.

The sheer scale of the project has drawn interest from foreign governments including the United States, where President Barack Obama has outlined similar plans.

Engineers will lay cable across 7.7 million square kilometres of often challenging terrain which covers an area equivalent to two European Unions.

“There’s no kidding about it, it’s a massive job,” telecommunications analyst Paul Budde told AFP.

“You have to physically go to 10 million premises and bring a cable there, either (by) digging it or via (power) poles and then obviously it’s not just having the cable, you have to have the installation in the house.”

Specialised French digging machines have been shipped to Tasmania to lay the first of millions of kilometres of fibre-optic cable. By next June, three pilot towns are expected to be enjoying connection speeds of 100 megabits per second.

Just 0.1 percent of Australians are currently linked to fibre-optic cable with most accessing the Internet over the 100-year-old copper telephone network, prompting Rudd to call the country a “broadband backwater”.

Rudd, announcing the project in April, said Australia had some of the developed world’s slowest internet speeds and lowest access rates. Some outback communities rely on dial-up connections and others have no internet at all.

“It is good for business, good for productivity, good for the delivery of e-health, good for e-education and good for Australia,” Rudd said this month.

Industry expert Reg Coutts, who advised the government on the network, said the venture had attracted top-level attention in the United States and other countries.

“There’s really an absolute interest, particularly in America, but also in Europe,” he told AFP.

“People are asking, ‘What the hell are you doing and how are you doing it?’ People of course are sceptical,” he said.

Laying the network was only the first step, he added, with the real challenge transitioning 10 million customers from old TV, telephone and internet networks to the new system.

“That alone, we have never seen on that magnitude anywhere in the world,” Budde said.

Once laid, there was “really no limit” to what the fibre network could do, said Ravi Bhatia, CEO of Primus Telecom and spokesman for industry consortium Terria.

He said technological advances in areas such as satellite mapping would make the roll-out easier than it would have been even three years ago, allowing for “smart” deployment of resources and machines to dig and pull cable.

“By using the latest technology building this network we create another set of skills which we can then export to other countries and build their networks,” said Bhatia.

Government adviser Coutts said every developed country was grappling with the same question: how to replace ageing once-public infrastructure that now belonged to private companies.

Teams of lawyers and economists were racing to untangle complex commercial questions of how to use existing exchanges, underground ducts and power lines to minimise building work, said Budde.

Australia moved to deal with the problem by serving telco giant Telstra, the former state-owned monopoly, with an ultimatum to split its network and retail businesses or face being barred from further wireless spectrum.

Coutts said there was “a lot of infrastructure that could potentially be utilised in the NBN (National Broadband Network)” but estimated it was only about 10 per cent of what was needed.

“Most of what’s going to go on is purely civil works, actually pulling in and splicing optical fibre to replace the copper,” he said.

EU Proposes To Cut MP3 Players, iPod, to 80 Decibels
MP3 makers forced to reduce volume

Tens of millions of people will be forced to listen to portable music at permanently reduced volume under European Commission proposals to be unveiled next week.

The plans, trialled ahead of talks between Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva and gadget manufacturers on Monday, are aimed at reducing health hazards but also nuisance complaints.

Brussels says the dangers arising from high volumes or long periods spent wearing headphones or earplugs mean developers of MP3 players including iPods and mobile phones will have to lower permitted noise-output levels.

According to a report issued by an EU scientific committee in October 2008, as many as 10 per cent of listeners risk permanent hearing loss by listening to loud music every day for five years.

Brussels wants the maximum decibel level to be reduced from 100 to 80 decibels, with all new music players built to the new standards.

A normal conversation is held at around 60 decibels, according to medical charts, with a loud rock concert measured at about 115 decibels.

Kuneva has previously expressed her fears over “irreversible degradation” in the hearing of today’s youth.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling joins Twitter

Harry Potter author JK Rowling joins Twitter

Harry Potter author JK Rowling joins Twitter

September 26, 2009
J.K. Rowling.

‘Children’s author’ … J.K. Rowling. Photo: Reuters

The real J.K. Rowling has come to Twitter.

Wanting to counter numerous fake Rowlings on Twitter, the Harry Potter author has set up her own account, describing herself as a children’s author from Scotland.

In her first post she wrote: “I am told that people have been twittering on my behalf, so I thought a brief visit was in order just to prevent any more confusion!”

But Rowling warned that she didn’t plan many tweets.

“I should flag up now that although I could twitter endlessly, I’m afraid you won’t be hearing from me very often as pen and paper is my priority at the moment,” she wrote in a tweet dated September 17.

With only three tweets so far, all from September 17, it looks like she will be true to her word. But it hasn’t put off fans, her account already has more than 42,000 followers.

The account, twitter.com/jk_rowling, was first reported by the fan site the-leaky-cauldron.org, then confirmed by Potter publisher Scholastic Inc.

Google digs deeper into search results
Google digs deeper into search results

Google said it has enhanced its popular internet search engine to dig deeper into pages to uncover the exact tidbits of information people seek.

While typical search results provide links to websites deemed relevant to queries, Google now weaves in direct connections to spots on pages with snippets of information that might be of interest.

“We’ve enhanced the search snippet with two new features that make it easier to find information buried deep within a page,” Chris Kern of Google’s Snippet Team wrote in a blog post.

The features help by providing links to relevant sections of the page, “making it faster and easier to find what you’re looking for,” Kern added.

The refined snippets let searchers “jump” to information they want instead of having to scour websites listed in results, according to Google.

© 2009 AFP
This story is sourced direct from an overseas news agency as an additional service to readers. Spelling follows North American usage, along with foreign currency and measurement units.

Geeks earn $4600 a day selling penis pills online
Geeks earn $4600 a day selling penis pills online

Thousands of tech-savvy Eastern Europeans are earning up to $US4000 ($4600) a day for each spam campaign selling illegal penis pills, fake anti-virus software and counterfeit luxury products.

An investigation by Russian security researcher Dmitry Samosseiko found most spam on email, search engines and social networking sites originates from well-organised Russian affiliate networks – known as “partnerka” – which pay people generous commissions for referring unwitting web users to their illegal products.

“Thousands of affiliates, each calling themselves a ‘webmaster’, work day and night to drive as much user traffic to their partners’ stores as possible,” Samosseiko, who is head of Sophos’s Canada virus lab, wrote in a report.

“The stores sell fake watches, fake anti-virus software, fake pills and fake love – the webmasters get their commission, making thousands of dollars per day.”

The affiliates refer people to the networks’ products by setting up scores of bogus web pages and commanding “botnet” armies of infected computers to send spam. They use black hat search engine optimisation techniques – and even monitor search term trends – to ensure their pages appear towards the top of search results.

Software tools such as John22, A-Poster, Xrumer, ZennoPoster and DarkMail automate much of this process, including generating seemingly legitimate websites based on content from Wikipedia articles.

The affiliates are paid a commission for every product they sell or for every computer they infect with malware, depending on the type of scheme.

The products include generic drugs produced without a licence, fake Viagra, pornography, pirated software, casinos, dating services and fake Rolex watches.

“Just as web 2.0 is about user-generated content, today’s web and email spam (Spam 2.0?) is generated by a massive number of affiliates who direct traffic to a partner site to get their share of the revenue,” Samosseiko wrote.

One of the oldest and biggest affiliate networks is known as GlavMed, which sells bogus pharmaceuticals under brands such as “Canadian Pharmacy”.

Although GlavMed claims to have a strong anti-spam policy, searching its phone number reveals more than 120,000 online pharmacy sites selling generic drugs.

During his research, Samosseiko uncovered a log file showing purchases made for GlavMed products. GlavMed advertises on its website that it pays a 40 per cent commission fee to affiliates, while the log file showed the average purchase was worth $US200.

“This data revealed over 20 drug purchases per day per spam campaign, which can add up to $1600 paid in commission fees per day,” Samosseiko wrote.

GlavMed is just a drop in the ocean of bogus pharma businesses which includes names such as Stimul-cash, Rx-partners, Rxcash.biz, Evapharmacy, Rx-Signup.com and DrugRevenue.

Among the most prevalent internet threats today is known as “scareware”, which is malware that convinces users that their computer is infected with thousands of viruses, before offering to sell them fake anti-virus software to fix those so-called infections.

One scareware vendor, Topsale2.ru, says on its website that it only accepts traffic from the US, Canada and Australia and pays up to $US25 commission for each fake anti-virus software sale. It says the average member can make a $US4916 commission in 11 days.

“We can see how a successful webmaster can make over $US180,000 per year on this network alone from traffic averaging 10,000 visits per day,” Samosseiko wrote.

“Assuming that most webmasters direct their traffic to more than one sponsor at a time, it is no surprise that affiliate marketing and black SEO are extremely appealing career paths for a computer savvy person in Eastern Europe.”

A previous investigation by a US security researcher into fake anti-virus software found cyber criminals were earning up to $US150,000 a week selling copies of Antivirus XP 2008 and 2009 to naive internet users for $US49.95 a copy.

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