Episode 172

posted in: Show Notes


Microsoft Office taken offline in XML legal spat
Microsoft Office taken offline in XML legal spat

Microsoft takes down Office for sale from its own US site in lieu of ongoing patent litigation with i4i,

beta 10 is available –

MS should know better and the patent system that they love so much has bit them on the bum

Rudd warns schools over laptop charges

KEVIN Rudd has warned public and private schools they should not be charging parents for the computers being provided to every senior secondary student under his digital schools program.

The Prime Minister’s remarks follow a report in The Australian today revealing at least one South Australian public school, Seaford 6-12 School, has written to parents suggesting if they want to take home the laptops they should pay the school $365-a-year from Year 9 onwards.

Another public school is encouraging parents to buy laptops for $1200 to take home, telling them to take up the offer because computer literacy is now as important as being able to read and write.


RUDD – “When we are providing that level of support to schools for computers in schools I don’t see any basis for any school then subsequently charging parents for its use.

Defence repelled 2400 cyber attacks in 2009

DEFENCE department computers sustained about 2400 cyber attacks last year, Defence Minister John Faulkner revealed today.

Launching a new cyber warfare centre in Canberra, Senator Faulkner outlined the scale of electronic attacks against government operations.

The media was for the first time allowed to enter the secretive Defence Signals Directorate, of which the new centre is part, since its creation in 1947.

He said Defence investigated about 200 “electronic security incidents” a month last year involving its own computers and networks.

Defence also responded to about 220 cyber attacks against other areas of the Australian government last year.



Telstra doubles broadband quotas but still lags rivals

Telstra doubled the download limit to 400 megabytes per month for its $29.95 entry level plan coming into effect on January 18.

For the same price, Vodafone and Hutchison’s 3 offer customers up to 3GB per month according to the companies’ websites, or over seven times Telstra’s download quota.

Telstra also will abolish charges for excess usage, and will instead slow download speeds instead for customers who go over the download limit.

If speed and coverage aren’t important then go to Vodafone or Optus.

Sony’s $65m GT5 game stuck in the pits

SONY has delayed indefinitely the Japanese launch of Gran Turismo 5, the latest instalment of a hugely complex driving simulation game that cost more than $US60 million ($65 million) to develop and for which fans have been waiting for five years.

The series has sold 53 million copies since it began in 1997, but it is five years since GT4 hit screens via the old PlayStation2.

The new game will include Nascar racing cars in an attempt to draw more American gamers to the title.


Speculation now centres on the reasons for the game’s delays. Many believe that its sheer complexity may be its downfall: the process of eradicating thousands of bugs may be taking longer than expected. Others believe that the developers’ decision to include a realistic car damage simulator may have created months’ of further work.

If Sony felt that it had already met its console sales targets for its 2009 financial year, analysts said, it might want to push the GT5 launch back a little so that the frenzy surrounding its eventual launch would boost sales in the 2010 financial year.


Nation goes wild for wireless

The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s communications report, released yesterday, revealed the use of wireless broadband services jumped 162 per cent in 2008-09, while fixed-line telephone services dropped 3 per cent.

The ACMA report revealed that Australians continued to take to mobile phones in increasing numbers, with the number growing 9.5 per cent to more than 24 million.

In contrast, the number of fixed-line services dropped to 10.7 million.

The number of internet subscribers surged to 8.4 million, up from 7.2 million the previous year. Wireless broadband subscribers accounted for 25 per cent of those subscribers, up from 11 per cent in 2008.

Australians also showed an insatiable thirst for content, downloading 80 per cent more data in 2008-09 compared to the previous year.

ABC iView to cost $2.93m this financial year – Finance – Business – News – iTnews.com.au
ABC iView to cost $2.93m this financial year

The ABC will spend $2.93 million to deliver its iView content service this financial year.

It said the funding included staff costs, rights clearances and acquisitions, platform development, video encoding and operational costs.

ABC managing director Mark Scott told Senate Estimates in October that use had “grown significantly” last year.

“The other thing we have noted is that the traffic on iView is significantly higher with those ISPs who allow iView to be viewed in an unmetered way [than those that don’t],” he said, referring to ISPs that don’t charge for their customers to access iView content.

Unlicensed software users fined $300K – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Unlicensed software users fined $300K

The Business Software Alliance collected $331,678 from Australian businesses using unlicensed software last year, a $92,273 increase on 2008.

The alliance, whose members include Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Autodesk, Symantec and others said it had netted the money from twelve settlements. The two highest individual settlements amounted to $90,000 and $85,000 each.

Why I can’t watch 3D TV

When it comes to 3D television, I don’t see it. Literally. The technology that’s supposed to convince me that a 3D image exists when I look at a 2D screen doesn’t work for me.

Nor does it work for a small but significant percentage of the population — 4 percent to 10 percent, depending on which expert you ask. Me, and millions of people like me, are being left behind by content and hardware companies as they move to 3D.

Get your eyes examined

From the optometrist’s perspective, the inability to process stereoscopic imagery is, for many people, a treatable condition. Dr. Brad Habermehl, president of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, told me, “You don’t have to be a 3D refugee if you get to the root of the problem. The majority of stereo-blind people really can be helped.”

New anti-piracy logo breaks copyright – Oddware – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
New anti-piracy logo breaks copyright

The French agency tasked with enforcing strict anti-piracy regulations has been left severely embarrassed after the revelation that its logo contains pirated material.

Th agency will enforce new laws that will strip citizens of internet access after three accusations of piracy, similar to measures championed by Lord Mandelson.

However, within hours Hadopi was forced to withdraw and rework the logo after it emerged that it had used a font owned by France Telecom.

Graphic designer Jean-François Porchez, who created the font for the company in 2000, has said that he is considering legal action over the infringement.

Plan Créatif, the design agency behind the logo, has now admitted that it used the font despite copyright laws, and is changing the design to one that is legal.

the Sarkozy government, which has strongly supported some of the harshest anti-piracy measures in Europe.

Last year Sarkozy’s party was caught out after it illegally used music from American band MGMT at an event and on videos after the band’s label refused permission for its use. The party was also found to be illegally copying DVDs of a documentary about the French leader.

Gmail turns on HTTPS as standard – Security – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Gmail turns on HTTPS as standard

Sam Schillace, Gmail engineering director, said that the company was now turning on HTTPS as standard on the service to encrypt messages being sent into and out of its servers

“We initially left the choice of using it up to you because there’s a downside: https can make your mail slower since encrypted data doesn’t travel across the web as quickly as unencrypted data,” he said.

Google adds file upload feature to Docs – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Google adds file upload feature to Docs

Google has unveiled a new feature in Google Apps that will allow users to upload any type of file to Google Docs.

The appropriately named ‘Upload any Filetype’ can handle files up to 250MB in size.

Watch more TV, die younger, study finds – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Watch more TV, die younger, study finds

Australian scientists have published research showing a link which suggests that the more TV a person watches, the sooner they die.

The report says every extra hour spent watching television increases people’s risk of premature death.

Trevor Shilton from the Heart Foundation says the research highlights a vitally important new field of study.

“In just a couple of generations we’ve gone from being a very active people to people who sit around for most of the day,” he said.

“I can foresee a time where we will have, in addition to our guidelines, a defined 30 minutes of physical activity, also guidelines about moving more and standing more throughout the day.

“And about sitting less, standing up every 20 minutes, going for a walk at work, having rules around television and computer times for our kids.”



Australia Bans R-Rated Movies Without Banning Them

Here in America we tend to think of Australia as our cooler, more free-wheeling, anything goes cousin. We’re utterly wrong. In fact, in recent years, Australia has become anything but free. Instead, they always seem to be the first country to jump on the censorship band wagon. They’ve been only too happy to invent laws which restrict and filter the internet, or lobby to keep out movies which aren’t intended for children by claiming they need to protect their kids from them anyway (hello Kick-Ass). Today they took another step towards becoming the democratic equivalent of communist China when South Australia passed a law which will treat R-rated movies like porn.

Schools levy for Kevin Rudd’s laptop plan

A PUBLIC school is asking parents to pay up to $1460 to lease computers provided under Kevin Rudd’s digital schools plan, while another is urging parents to buy the Apple Mac laptops their child has used for $1200.

After Labor promised to provide access to a computer for every child from Year 9 to Year 12 at the last election, it has emerged that a public school in South Australia, Seaford 6-12 School, is charging a $365-a-year fee to allow students to take the taxpayer-funded computers home.

Another South Australian school, Willunga High School, is urging parents to spend $1200 upfront to lease Apple Mac computers. Parents are being told that, although the offer is “absolutely voluntary”, being able to use computers is “as important in today’s society as being able to read and write”.

Willunga principal Janelle Reimann said in a letter to school parents: “It is not compulsory that parents take up any of the offers, but we believe that students will benefit if they own their own computer.”

Rudd warns schools over laptop charges

KEVIN Rudd has warned public and private schools they should not be charging parents for the computers being provided to every senior secondary student under his digital schools program.

The Prime Minister’s remarks follow a report in The Australian today revealing at least one South Australian public school, Seaford 6-12 School, has written to parents suggesting if they want to take home the laptops they should pay the school $365-a-year from Year 9 onwards.

Another public school is encouraging parents to buy laptops for $1200 to take home, telling them to take up the offer because computer literacy is now as important as being able to read and write.

Mr Rudd said today he would seek further details on the examples but he said the government remained proud of the policy.

“We make no apology whatsoever for the government’s approach of maximising the provision of computers to schools. This is a $2 billion Australian government iniative,” he said.

“When we are providing that level of support to schools for computers in schools I don’t see any basis for any school then subsequently charging parents for its use.

“Let’s look at the detail of what actually is occurring at these schools in particular. The odd thing may be happening, let’s get the details of that straight. (But) we’re proud of the policy, it’s the right thing to do.”.

ACCC to review Telstra pricing

THE competition watchdog has launched a review of Telstra’s retail prices following a request from the federal government.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wrote to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in December, asking the watchdog to investigate the telco’s retail price control arrangements.

Telstra operates under price control arrangements designed to promote competition in telecommunications sector.

The review will investigate whether the arrangements need to be altered.

“It is not intended for retail price control arrangements to now be discontinued,” the commission said in a statement.

The review, which is now seeking submissions from the public and other stakeholders, is expected to be finalised by March 12. The revised price control arrangements will apply to Telstra from July 2010 to 2012.

BBC News – German government warns against using MS Explorer
German government warns against using MS Explorer

The German government has warned web users to find an alternative browser to Internet Explorer to protect security.

The warning from the Federal Office for Information Security comes after Microsoft admitted IE was the weak link in recent attacks on Google’s systems.

Microsoft rejected the warning, saying that the risk to users was low and that the browsers’ increased security setting would prevent any serious risk.

However, German authorities say that even this would not make IE fully safe.

Thomas Baumgaertner, a spokesman for Microsoft in Germany, said that while they were aware of the warning, they did not agree with it, saying that the attacks on Google were by “highly motivated people with a very specific agenda”.

“These were not attacks against general users or consumers,” said Mr Baumgaertner.

“There is no threat to the general user, consequently we do not support this warning,” he added.

Microsoft says the security hole can be shut by setting the browser’s security zone to “high”, although this limits functionality and blocks many websites.

However, Graham Cluley of anti-virus firm Sophos, told BBC News that not only did the warning apply to 6, 7 and 8 of the browser, but the instructions on how to exploit the flaw had been posted on the internet.

“This is a vulnerability that was announced in the last couple of days. Microsoft have no patch yet and the implication is that this is the same one that exploited on the attacks on Google earlier this week,” he said.

BBC News – Social networks and the web offer a lifeline in Haiti
Social networks and the web offer a lifeline in Haiti

The collapse of traditional channels of communication in Haiti has again highlighted the role of social media and the internet in disasters.

Twitter is being used as a prime channel for communications, while sites such as Ushahidi are providing maps detailing aid and damage.

Both Google and Facebook are producing missing persons lists.

Satellite networks are also diverting resources to provide communications to aid agencies and the military.

The very first images to escape from the region after Tuesday’s earthquake came from citizens, capturing video with mobile phones.

But landlines near the epicentre have been wiped out, and mobile phone service has been at best intermittent – a fact that has already hampered rescue efforts.

The UN body Telecoms Sans Frontieres, which maintains a network of telecommunications engineers and mobile equipment worldwide, has deployed two teams in the region. The World Food Programme operates a similar service .

“When we arrive in the country, we establish a telecoms centre for the humanitarian community, for them to be able to communicate and have access to internet and phone,” said Telecoms Sans Frontiere’s Catherine Sang.

BBC News – Kodak sues Apple and RIM over iPhone and Blackberry
Kodak sues Apple and RIM over iPhone and Blackberry

Camera maker Kodak has said it will sue Apple and Research In Motion (RIM), the makers of the iPhone and Blackberry, over technology used in their handsets.

Kodak has filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

It alleges the iPhone and Blackberry use technology for previewing pictures that infringe Kodak patents.

It has also filed two separate suits against Apple that claim infringements of patents relating to digital cameras and certain computer processes.

Kodak has asked the ITC to bar both firms from shipping the phones and has asked for undisclosed monetary damages.

RIM and Apple declined to comment.

BBC News – Cybercriminals revive old scams to target smartphones
Cybercriminals revive old scams to target smartphones

As mobile phones get more sophisticated, hi-tech criminals are dusting off some old tricks.

Security companies have noticed a rise in trojans known as diallers that used to be popular during the days of dial-up net access.

On a smartphone the diallers are being used to call premium rate lines leaving victims with a big bill.

Experts say the diallers are proving popular as a quick way for criminals to cash in.

Diallers were widely used during the days of dial-up net access when most people connected via modem.

Many diallers lurked on porn sites and, once they snared a victim, disconnected their modem and then placed a long distance call. Many victims were left with huge phone bills.

The economics of international calls meant that some of the cash spent on the call would be shared with the criminals. Some diallers were very sneaky in that they muted the speaker on a modem so victims could not spot when the overseas call was being placed.

Now, the security wing of software firm CA has said it is seeing a rise in diallers for smartphones. This time, instead of calling international numbers, the diallers call premium rate lines and land victims with the bill.

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