Episode 166

posted in: Show Notes


Department of Internets | FOXTEL iPhone application privacy leak (Updated x 4)
FOXTEL iPhone application privacy leak (Updated x 4)

FOXTEL released an application this week that allows iPhone users to browse the EPG. It took two years, but it’s out, and IQ owners will be pleased.

Unfortunately, the application also sends personally identifiable information to a third-party website; Pinch Media. Pinch Media specialises in mobile analytics and targeted advertising.

sending Pinch Media information about the categories, channels, and programs you’ve looked at, FOXTEL transmits your iPhone’s Device ID as well.

The Device ID is unique to each and every iPhone manufactured. Combined with tracking information, the Device ID creates of a kind of super-cookie that cannot be disabled or deleted.

Hoyts enters digital cinema age – Storage – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Hoyts enters digital cinema age

Hoyts will convert its cinemas Australia-wide to digital projection underpinned by server and storage infrastructure supplied by HP.

It is expected 32 cinema complexes will go digital under the project, covering “over 300 screens”.  Deployment will start in Sydney as a proof-of-concept with full rollout to commence early next year.

Content will be stored in a library management system housed on the HP modular smart array. Large sites will require 14TB of usable storage to store the content.

The theatre management system server “will ingest and store content, then process, schedule and manage the transfer of content to individual auditorium servers for screening

“The servers will be required to store feature films, trailers and advertising with features having average file sizes in excess of 250GB,

Facebook enhances privacy settings – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Facebook enhances privacy settings

“The plan we’ve come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone.

“We’re adding something that many of you have asked for — the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload. In addition, we’ll also be fulfilling a request made by many of you to make the privacy settings page simpler by combining some settings.”…Mark Zuckerberg

iTWire – Houston, do we have a problem? Spaced out beer drinkers!
Houston, do we have a problem? Spaced out beer drinkers!

A Japanese brewer is using barley grown from seeds that was sent to the International Space Station to make beer.

called “Space Barley

The company states that its new spaced-out beer is made from the fourth generation of barley seeds that orbited the Earth within the International Space Station for five months.

The special limited-edition beer comes in a six-pack for a price of about 10,000 yen, or $110 in U.S. dollars—that’s about $18.33 per bottle. The AFP article calls such a price “astronomical.”

The beer company made 250 of the limited-edition six-packs of “Space Barley.”

YouTube Blog: Introducing Feather: A Lighter Way to Browse Videos
Introducing Feather: A Lighter Way to Browse Videos

“Feather,” an ultra light watch page, launches today in TestTube,

the player still features prominently, but will default to standard quality. Related videos, comments and other familiar features from the current watch page are kept to a minimum. All of this results in a user experience that aims to keep things simple and the videos loading and playing quickly. If we see adoption go up along with improvements in latency, we’ll look to roll this out of TestTube and make it more widely available.

from the youtube blog

Microsoft, EU Are Said to Modify Deal in Browser Case (Update3) – Bloomberg.com
Microsoft, EU Are Said to Modify Deal in Browser Case

Under the modified settlement, computer users with Windows will see a “ballot screen” that randomly lists the top five Web browsers that compete with Internet Explorer, the people said. Users would then click on a browser’s icon and the program would be downloaded from the Internet.


Mozilla continues to generate revenue, mostly through lucrative deals with the various search providers (Tools Bars). In 2005, the company posted revenues of $52.9 million, up sharply from $5.8 million in 2004, and $2.4 million in 2003.

Telstra calls on customers for help will today ask its 10 million account holders to volunteer for what would be the nation’s biggest brains trust.

The “My Telstra Experience” program will ask 18,000 customers to devote 10 minutes a fortnight to online surveys and discussions.

The recruitment drive, launched today, follows a surge in complaints to an industry watchdog about disputed bills, poor response to problems and other gripes.

Instead of being paid, participants will go into monthly cash prize draws.

lower prices might be a good place to start


BBC News – Google includes real-time data in search results
Google includes real-time data in search results

Google has launched real-time search to give users access to up to the second information.

The search giant said it will draw real-time data from over a billion pages on the web.

The new feature will also include updates from Twitter and the social networks of MySpace and Facebook.

“Information is being created at a pace I have never seen before and in this environment, seconds matter,” said Google fellow Amit Singhal.

At an event staged at the Computer History Museum in California, the search giant said this was the first time ever that any search engine has integrated the real-time web into its results page.

“There is so much information being generated out there that getting you relevant information is the key to the success of a product like this. It’s all about relevance, relevance, relevance,” said Mr Singhal.

Technical Feat

The Silicon Valley company said the feature is now live and will take a couple of days to be rolled out across the world. Updates from Twitter will be included right away, while those from Facebook and MySpace are not expected to be integrated into results until the new year.

BBC News – Richard Branson unveils Virgin Galactic spaceplane
Richard Branson unveils Virgin Galactic spaceplane

BBC News – Grid computing tunes tiny transistors for future chips
Grid computing tunes tiny transistors for future chips

A vast network of computers is being harnessed to design components for the next generation of silicon chips.

Simulations of transistors smaller than 30 nanometres (billionths of a metre) are being run on the UK e-science grid, which links thousands of computers.

The results will help designers cope with the physical constraints that occur when working at such tiny scales.

About 20 years worth of processing time has been used by simulating hundreds of thousands of tiny transistors.

Atomic impurity

The researchers hope to get a sense of how such tiny components vary to work out the best way to produce future generations of chips with even smaller components.

“What we do in these simulations is try to predict the behaviour of these devices in the presence of atomic scale effects,” said Professor Asen Asenov, head of the device modelling group at the University of Glasgow, which is leading the NanoCMOS simulation project.

The increasing power of silicon chips is largely dictated by the size of the components that chip makers can cram on to each chunk of silicon. The basic building block of a chip is the transistor, tiny switches that can either be “on” or “off”.

The current generation of chips use transistors with features around 32 nanometres in size, but many manufacturers will move to 22 nanometres soon.

“These problems started to appear a couple of generations ago but right now it’s one of the most serious problems,” said Prof Asenov.

“What’s happening at such dimensions is that the atomic structure of the transistor cannot be precisely controlled,” he said. “In order to make them work we have to put in impurities to define different regions.”

Prof Asenov and his team are not seeking the perfect design for a transistor, instead they are finding out how best to lay down materials so transistors perform consistently.

It used to be the case, said Prof Asenov, that silicon chips were identical and could be relied on to work in the same way. But as components shrink to 30 nanometres and beyond such certainty disappears.

ABC/DISNEY and schools team up to train toddlers to commit suicide
Re: Cartoons shown in schools tell kids to kill themselves to stop global warming?

Thanks for the link Diemaco. This is completely horrific. From the site:

“The calculator lets users compare their own carbon output to the “average Aussie greenhouse pig” and estimates at what age a person should die so they don’t use more than their fair share of the Earth’s resources.”

BBC News – iPhone orchestra ready for debut
iPhone orchestra ready for debut

A group of US students has created an entire orchestra out of separate iPhone applications.

As part of their studies, the group from the University of Michigan built the applications themselves and composed music for them.

While some of the applications sound similar to traditional instruments, others make unique noises.

The iPhone handsets are attached to speakers which the performers wear around their wrists.

A live concert of the students’ original compositions is planned for 9 December. It will mark the end of their three-month course, run by Austrian computer scientist and musician Georg Essl.

He told BBC News that while the concept of using computers to make music was not new, the rise of smartphones had made the idea more practical.

“I come from this community of people who work on sophisticated ways of making sounds,” he said, “but they tend to be very handcrafted prototypes. I realised that few people end up using them.”

“Now everybody has a smartphone, the question of how you get an instrument into people’s hands has disappeared.”

BBC News – US agency’s balloon hunt tests internet accuracy
US agency’s balloon hunt tests internet accuracy

The US defence research agency has used 10 red balloons in a contest to assess the accuracy with which information spreads on the internet.

The giant moored weather balloons were launched on Saturday morning at 10 undisclosed locations across the United States.

More than 4,000 groups competed to be the first to pinpoint all 10.

A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) won the challenge and a prize of $40,000 (£24,000).

Johanna Jones, a spokeswoman for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), said that beyond the actual contest, the aim was to see whether social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter should be seen as credible sources of information.

Darpa is no stranger to innovative uses of technology.

The agency – which is part of the US defence department – played a pivotal role in the creation of the internet itself.

Forty years on, with the internet in full swing, the same agency was keen to see if the power of social networking sites – with their tens of millions of users – could be used as a credible source to alert authorities of impending disaster or unrest on US soil.

BBC News – Can electric cars attract the attention of drivers?
Can electric cars attract the attention of drivers?

Green cars powered by alternative fuel sources have become more visible on the roads in recent years.

One cause could be the introduction of legislation and higher taxes to penalise drivers of gas-guzzling vehicles by governments around the world.

But another factor is an increase in the range of eco-friendly cars on offer. These include hybrids with a combination of petrol engines and electric motors, fully battery-powered electric vehicles and even experimental ones running on algae.

Japanese automotive giants, in particular, have been stepping up their manufacturing of environmentally-friendly cars.

Lack of infrastructure

Mitsubishi is the first to mass produce an electric car which is expected to be available for sale in Europe next year.

The firm has produced the i-Meiv which is based on an existing petrol car widely available in Japan.

The green model has seen the petrol engine replaced with an electric motor, while a lithium-ion battery is stored underneath the cabin area and also stabilises the car.

BBC News – How I helped nail the ‘manhood’ spammer
How I helped nail the ‘manhood’ spammer

BBC News – Mobile phones ‘have not increased brain cancers’
Mobile phones ‘have not increased brain cancers’

There has been no substantial change in the number of adult brain tumours since mobile phone usage sharply increased in the mid-1990s, Danish scientists say.

The Danish Cancer Society looked at the rates of brain tumours among 20 to 79 year olds from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

They found that trends in cancer rates had not altered from the period before mobiles were introduced.

But they say longer follow-up studies are needed.

The research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, says radio frequency electromagnetic fields emitted from mobile phones have been proposed as a risk factor for brain tumours, but a biological mechanism that could explain the potential effects has not been identified.

BBC News – Children who use technology are ‘better writers’
Children who use technology are ‘better writers’

Children who blog, text or use social networking websites are more confident about their writing skills, according to the National Literacy Trust.

A survey of 3,001 children aged nine to 16 found that 24% had their own blog and 82% sent text messages at least once a month.

In addition 73% used instant messaging services to chat online with friends.

However, 77% still put real pen to paper to write notes in class or do their school homework.

Of the children who neither blogged nor used social network sites, 47% rated their writing as “good” or “very good”, while 61% of the bloggers and 56% of the social networkers said the same.

“Our research suggests a strong correlation between kids using technology and wider patterns of reading and writing,” Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, told BBC News.

“Engagement with online technology drives their enthusiasm for writing short stories, letters, song lyrics or diaries.”

Mr Douglas dismissed criticisms about the informal writing styles often adopted in online chat and “text speak”, both of which can lack grammar and dictionary-correct spelling.

BBC News – World Cup games to be filmed in 3D
World Cup games to be filmed in 3D

BBC NEWS | Technology | When Big Brother turns bad
When Big Brother turns bad

For a man described as the “internet entrepreneur you’ve never heard of”, Josh Harris has led an extraordinarily public life.

As an internet pioneer he took webcam surveillance to the extreme, becoming what many called the “Warhol of the web”.

His story is now part of an award-winning documentary film, We Live in Public.

After setting up analyst firm Jupiter, he went on to found Pseudo.com, one of the web’s first webcam portals.

Then, after making millions in the 1990s dotcom boom, he gathered 100 artists and moved them into an underground bunker on the eve of the new millennium for a project called Quiet: We Live in Public.

Fitted with many cameras, the artists’ every move – sex, fights, drug-taking – were recorded and broadcast online – until New York police shut the operation down.

Next, Harris fitted cameras in his own home, including in the bedroom, bathroom and toilet.

For six months, every detail of his life, and that of his girlfriend, Tanya Corrin, was captured and broadcast live while Harris interacted with fans in a chatroom.

During that six months, his girlfriend left him, his multi-million fortune was destroyed when the dotcom bubble burst, and he had a mental breakdown – all on camera.

Facing financial ruin, he retreated to an apple farm in upstate New York before heading to Ethiopia, where he now runs the broadcast company African Entertainment Network.

Big Brother anarchy

As the film begins to show at selected cinemas in the UK, Harris spoke to BBC World Service’s Digital Planet about the bunker project, privacy and a changing media world.

“It was ahead of its time and, unlike the television show [Big Brother] which was a facsimile of living in public, we actually were living in public and the audience was not just watching – they were literally in our heads and doing things in our lives that we didn’t necessarily control.”

BBC News – Solar power technology takes its next step
Solar power technology takes its next step

The technology behind solar energy is constantly evolving. Portable devices that charge up gadgets from the sun are becoming smaller and more powerful.

A new generation of portable solar chargers can plug straight into a laptop and provide up to a quarter of its power needs while in use.

The Solargorilla charger by Powertraveller, for instance, can also level out the electrical spikes caused when clouds obscure the sun.

Jerry Ranger, head of Powertraveller, says the charger is able to convert a high percentage of the sunlight’s energy in a more compact way than previous devices.

“You can get the power output if you get a massive great big panel but clearly that’s impractical so we’ve needed to get it down to a size that’s portable,” he told BBC Click.

“So previously we had around 15% efficiencies, we’re now on the verge of getting 20%, and within the next 18 months we expect to deliver around 22% efficiencies,” he explained.

Consumers can currently use portable panels only for charging up small devices such as phones or music players.

Powertraveller plans to launch a portable four-panel folding array that can run a laptop and charge the battery at the same time.

Planned for spring 2010, it will be the first commercial device to offer AC or DC outputs.

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Click | Europe split on Google book plans
Europe split on Google book plans

YouTube – marksaltzer’s Channel
Charlie Sheen’s Video Message to President Obama

BBC NEWS | Technology | San Jose wins electric car plant
San Jose wins electric car plant

Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

tesla roadster

Tesla’s two-seat electric Roadster went on sale this summer

San Jose is aiming to be the capital of clean technology following a $250m (£139m) deal with electric car maker Tesla to base its new factory there.

The city beat other contenders to secure a project that will bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area.

“This is a big step toward being the centre of world cleantech innovation,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

Tesla boss Ze’ev Drori said that “this is proof the time has come for the electric car.”

The company plans to produce an all-electric luxury sedan, called the Model S, at the plant with a retail price of around $60,000 (£33,000.)

It already manufactures a two seater zero emission Roadster which sells for $109,000 (£61,000) and is built by Lotus in England.

Mr Drori told BBC News Tesla hopes to deliver its first cars by 2010. They will have a range of about 240 miles (390 km) per battery charge. The production run is set for around 15,000 vehicles initially, with half of the line being sold in Europe.

“This car signals an end to dependency on foreign oil. The summer of high gas prices has accelerated demand for such a vehicle.”

San Jose’s mayor Mr Reed agrees. “This is the next step in transportation.

Petrol customer

Oil prices hit a near high in the summer of $150 a barrel

“Shifting from petroleum to electric vehicles will make a huge change to how the world moves and we are excited to be part of that happening.”

Analysts however believe Tesla will face a tough challenge with its five-seater sedan, especially from GM’s Volt, which was unveiled this week.

“Tesla’s electric sedan will be a tough sell alongside the Volt which will cost around $35,000 (£19,500),” said Michael Kanellos of Greentech Media.

“Price will play a big role in this battle.”

‘Vote of confidence’

San Jose along with the State of California devised an incentive programme estimated at around $150m (£84m) to persuade Tesla to site its new plant in the city.

While California came up with a hefty $100m (£56m) financing package, San Jose put land into the deal.

The first 10 years of the 40 year lease on the 90-acre plot will be rent-free. After that a yearly lease payment of $1.5m (£835,000) will be paid over the next ten years with a 2% increase year on year for the last 20.

Mayor Reed told BBC News he believed this part of the package was worth around $50m (£28m) but stressed the land was not being used anyway.

“A lot of investment decisions are based on faith in the future and confidence in the future and this 250 million dollar project is a real stamp for us and a vote of confidence in San Jose.

chevrolet the volt

General Motors said the Volt symbolises its commitment to the future

“Hopefully it will help other companies to make investment decisions and locate their businesses here.”

He said that San Jose, which is said to have America’s highest per-capita concentration of hybrid cars, is aggressively encouraging cleantech companies to the area.

The Mayor claimed the city is the leader in attracting these types of companies with more than 40 already calling San Jose home and providing more than 2,500 jobs.

“San Jose is the capital of Silicon Valley, which offers the best opportunities because it is right here where the innovation is happening.

“It is important for Tesla to be close to that innovation and this is a big boost for us.”

Tesla’s Mr Drori said his business represents the beginning of a burgeoning growth sector.

“Cleantech is a completely new paradigm and what we are doing represents a major seismic shift. That’s the reason we chose San Jose and we will lead this charge.”

Greentech Media’s Mr Kanellos said cleantech is “going through a really exciting time.”

“It’s cool the fact the government of California sees a bit future in this and certainly companies are saying they are getting swamped with applications for people to work in the sector,” he said.

“There is a whole generation of kids who want to work in this area not just for the money but because it’s cool.”

Telstra in executive shake-up

TELSTRA chief executive David Thodey plans to streamline his management structure, as he seeks to put his stamp on the operational side of a business whose outlook has been dominated by the government’s plan to build a $43 billion national broadband network.

Mr Thodey, who took over the top job from Sol Truillo in May, has 15 executives who report to him and is believed to be working on a plan that could rationalise the telecommunications giant’s executive structure.

It is understood Mr Thodey turned his mind to the management restructure after setting out the telco’s strategy at this month’s annual general meeting and investor day.

Sources said he was keen to reduce his number of direct reports by consolidating some areas of responsibility as Telstra continued to negotiate with the government over the NBN.

He is also likely to restore Telstra’s representation on the board of pay-TV group Foxtel, which has dropped to two directors following the resignation of consumer marketing and channels boss David Moffatt last week.

Seven first to the punch with interactive ads

SEVEN is set to become the first free-to-air television network to offer interactive ads from April via a TiVo set-top box.

The internet connection on the TiVo device, which is licensed in Australia and New Zealand by Hybrid Television Services, will provide the back channel to send data back to the broadcaster.

Hybrid TV chief executive Robbee Minicola said the interactive ads would enable viewers to order a product or receive more information about an advertiser as well as viewing long-form content or accessing a micro-site.

Ms Minicola said a trial would begin in January during Seven’s Australian Open tennis broadcast to test the technology, which would then go to advertisers.

“The trial will make promotions interactive that are running in the Australian Open,” she said.

“If I’m watching a promotion for the next Seven show that’s coming up, I will be able to Season Pass (record every episode of) that show from the promo.”

BBC News – Loneliness makes cancer ‘more likely and deadly’
Loneliness makes cancer ‘more likely and deadly’

Fresh evidence adds weight to suggestions that loneliness makes cancer both more likely and deadly.

Work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows social isolation tips the odds in favour of aggressive cancer growth.

Rodents kept alone developed more tumours – and tumours of a more deadly type – than rats living as a group.

The researchers put it down to stress and say the same may well be true in humans.

Cancer experts say more work is needed to prove such a link in people.

Lead investigator Gretchen Hermes, of Yale University, said: “There is growing interest in relationships between the environment, emotion and disease.

“This study offers insight into how the social world gets under the skin.”


Doctors already know that cancer patients who are depressed tend to fare worse in terms of survival.

BBC News – Internet safety for children targeted
Internet safety for children targeted

Technology reporter, BBC News

Zip it, Block it, Flag it logo

The government will also announce a ‘Green Cross Code’ for internet safety

Lessons in using the internet safely are set to become a compulsory part of the curriculum for primary school children in England from 2011.

The lessons are one element of a new government strategy being unveiled called “Click Clever, Click Safe”.

Children will also be encouraged to follow an online “Green Cross Code” and block and report inappropriate content.

The measures have been drawn up by the UK Council on Child Internet Safety, a new body comprising 140 organisations.

The “Zip it, Block it, Flag it” campaign is intended for use by schools, retailers and social networks, although it will be up to individual sites to choose how they use it.

The campaign intends to encourage children to not give out personal information on the web, block unwanted messages on social networks and report any inappropriate behaviour to the appropriate bodies, which may include the website, teachers or even police.

‘Panic button’

The measures were drawn up by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), which was set up following Dr Tanya Byron’s review into inappropriate material on the internet and in video games.

UKCCIS comprises organisations including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, which have pledged support for the campaign.

A spokesman for Google said most of the websites represented by the group already had controls that “help users manage their personal information and block or report unwanted contact”.

Three-way struggle for bionic eye development

COMPETITION for a $50.7 million fund to develop a bionic eye has become a three-way tussle between Bionic Vision Australia, Swinburne University of Technology and a mystery suitor.

It is understood the Australian Research Council has short-listed a joint bid by Swinburne University and La Trobe University’s Graeme Clark Hearing and Neuroscience Unit, and a second bid by Bionic Vision Australia backed by National ICT Australia and the University of Melbourne.

It’s understood an unknown Victorian bidder has also been short-listed.

Associate Professor Tony Paolini at La Trobe’s School of Psychological Science confirmed the Swinburne-led group was seeking about $10m.

La Trobe is supporting the Swinburne bid by providing technology associated with a new technique for brain stimulation.

Sources said the funding could be split among several groups.

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