Episode 186

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

Do Boobs Cause Earthquakes? Facebook Event Aims to Prove It
http://mashable.com/2010/04/25/boobquake/
Do Boobs Cause Earthquakes? Facebook Event Aims to Prove It

After prominent Iranian cleric Kazem Sedighi said that women’s immodesty increases earthquakes, a Purdue University student named Jen McCreight created a Facebook event called “Boobquake,” calling for the women of the world to wear their most revealing outfits on Monday, April 26.

Sedighi was quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying, “Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes.”

The plan, of course, is to embarrass Sedighi if a significant increase in earthquakes does not occur on Monday. The event has more than 177,000 “confirmed” guests and 57,000 “maybes.” There’s also a Facebook page [Explicit Images] that has been liked by more than 37,000 users, and a Twitter (Twitter) hashtag called #boobquake that’s getting several updates per minute. Boobquake has been all over the mainstream media and merchandise is already rolling out — T-shirts and the like. It’s this weekend’s social media phenomenon.

Canberra residents fight `747′ data centre

A RESIDENTS’ group in Canberra is fighting the development of a data centre which it says would house gas turbines larger than several Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

The site developer has rejected the 747 comparison.
The development would be in stages and if full capacity were met, would cover 14,000 sq m in 10 years.

Editor’s home raided in lost iPhone probe

POLICE have raided the home of a Gizmodo editor who last week revealed details of a secret next-generation iPhone prototype.

Gizmodo published excerpts from a search warrant that gave police permission to seize property from editor Jason Chen’s home that was “used as the means of committing a felony” or “tends to show that a felony has been committed”.

The search warrant signed by a local judge specifically authorised the seizure of “printed documents, images and/or notations pertaining to the sale and/or purchase of the stolen iPhone prototype”.

 

Gizmodo last week said it purchased the iPhone prototype for $US5,000 ($AU5,394) from an unidentified person who found it in a California bar, where it had been lost by a 27-year-old Apple software engineer named Gray Powell.

Gizmodo has said it returned the iPhone prototype to Apple after the  company asked for it back

Gizmodo said Powell forgot the prototype phone, which had been disguised to resemble the previous model iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, on a bar stool when he left the establishment.

Gizmodo said the phone ended up with a person who had been sitting next to Powell at the bar after no one else claimed it.

 


Optus shapes up broadband plans

telco has refreshed its range of Fusion bundled broadband plans and Naked DSL plans by beefing up the amount of data subscribers can download in a given month and doing away with excess data charges.

Price cuts have affected Optus’s entry-level Naked DSL plans while excess data charges have been removed in favour of shaping speeds once a user exceeds their monthly data allowance. Customers can now sign up to plans offering 120GB, 150GB and 170GB of monthly data downloads for $59.99, $69.99 and $79.99 a month respectively. Download speeds are shaped to 64kbps once download limits are exceeded.

Optus claims its new range of Fusion plans feature ‘unlimited’ broadband access, however they are only unlimited in the sense that users will be shaped to download speeds at 256Kbps once download data is exceeded. ‘Unlimited’ plans begin at $99.99 a month for 15Gb of data.

Western Digital serves up 750GB notebook drive for $139
http://apcmag.com/western-digital-serves-up-750gb-notebook-drive-for-139.htm
Western Digital serves up 750GB notebook drive for $139

The 2.5 inch hard drive is a double-platter disc which packs 375GB per platter. If you’re after speed as much as space it’s worth noting that these fatter platters spin at 5400 rpm rather than 7200 rpm, although the 3Gbps SATA interface should keep things rocketing along if your notebook supports that high-speed pipeline.

is covered by a three year warranty.

Windows 7 powers Microsoft profits up 35%
http://apcmag.com/windows-7-powers-microsoft-profits-up-35.htm
Windows 7 powers Microsoft profits up 35%

Microsoft’s latest quarterly results show US$16 billion in revenue result in $4 billion profit. The company highlighted upgrades from business users as one of the big forces behind the rise in sales and with Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 to come in the next quarter,

share price (Microsoft’s $31 to Apple’s $266). The company also saw growth from bing, taking 11.7% of the search market in March and rises in revenue from Xbox Live services.

The (Mac) Love Boat: Fanbois take to the high seas
http://apcmag.com/the-mac-love-boat-fanbois-take-to-the-high-seas.htm
The (Mac) Love Boat: Fanbois take to the high seas

Celebrity Cruises, which is filling three of its ships with Mac gear, public Internet access, and trainers ready to deliver intensive classes through one of the world’s only floating Mac-only Internet cafés.

the Celebrity iLounge opens this month and may be the world’s only waterborne Apple Certified Reseller. It houses 26 MacBooks, a classroom and retail area, a 56-inch flat-screen TV for use during classes, and the same accessories and gadgets you’d expect to find at your local Apple Store or Apple reseller.

HP puts printer drivers into firmware for USB ‘plug and print’ setup
http://apcmag.com/hp-puts-printer-drivers-into-firmware-for-usb-plug-and-print-setup.htm
HP puts printer drivers into firmware for USB ‘plug and print’ setup

HP will bake the drivers for all its printers into the device’s own flash memory in an effort to reduce reliance on setup CDs and driver downloads when setting up a printer.

The driver software is installed the first time the printer is connected to a PC via a USB cable, making it especially useful for netbooks and other ‘thin and light’ laptops which lack an optical drive.

At this stage only the Windows drivers are preloaded into the printer’s firmware, although Koon said “we will work on the Mac for future versions”.

The baked-in drivers make their debut on HP’s just-released LaserJet Pro P1100 printer and the LaserJet Pro M1130 and M1210 multifunction printers. All printers will still ship with an installation CD containing both Windows and Mac drivers.

However, HP won’t be providing any simple software tool to allow customers to update the printer’s inbuilt drivers should updated driver software be released.

HP is also introducing a new power-saving ‘deep sleep’ mode in its printers. Called Auto-On/Auto-Off, this reduces the power drain of an unused personal laser printer from the typical 3-5 watts to slightly less than one watt, or 1.5 watts for a multi-function printer with faxing and a LAN connection.

“95% of customers let the printer go into sleep mode when they walk away at night or weekends, but that’s when 80% of a printer’s energy is expended” explained Dave Lobato, HP LaserJet Environmental Manager.

In an Auto-On/Auto-Off printer “only the firmware remains active and listening for incoming print jobs” Lobato said. When a job arrives the printer wakes up as per usual, but during the lengthy standby mode in which printers spend most of their time it draws a third of the energy.

“The only way to draw less energy is to turn the printer off. In fact unless you turn it off at the wall it’s still drawing 0.3 watts, which is what the industry calls ‘phantom draw’
Lobato said.

No upgrades to Office 2010

Microsoft’s Australian PR agency, the reason was revealed – there’s no special upgrade pricing.

“To simplify our Office 2010 product offering, version upgrade suites are no longer available” confirmed Tina Flammer, Office Consumer Product Manager, Microsoft Australia.

Australian pricing

launch on May 13th

If you buy a new PC with Office 2010 preloaded as a trial edition, or download the trial version from the Internet yourself, you can shave $40 off the sticker by purchasing one of Microsoft’s new Product Key Cards for $169. This contains a single-install product key for Office 2010.

Home and Business 2010, which adds Outlook to the Home and Student mix, will sell for $379, with the relevant Product Key Card at $269.

The top-shelf Office Professional 2010 – containing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access – comes in at $849, although opting for the $499 disc-free Product Key Card lands you a whopping $350 discount.

 

 

Microsoft offers free Fix-It on XP, Vista

new free download is available for XP users with Service Pack 3 or Vista users and offers the same level of fix-it features that are found hiding away in Windows 7. You can find it at the Fit it Center Online and it looks a little like Automatic Update. It can be left to run in the background, automatically trying to solve issues or can report to an user or admin that there is a problem.

It can also run a batch of tests to try out all your systems, or just ones you know you have trouble with, like a flaky Internet Explorer. So, while the power user might sniff at such assistance, for typical users it could provide easy solutions to the common, and not-so-common issues that Windows users face.
Note that you need to be running as an administrator in Windows XP SP3 to get Fix it to run in that OS.

Google Australia in hiring spree

has 51 job openings for positions.

“We’re will be hiring aggressively in sales, marketing, support and pre-sales roles … to be based in Sydney,” Mr Farber said.

The company wants more enterprise technical solutions engineers for Google Maps, Apps and Earth.

iPhone boosts Apple profit to $3.3bn

For the quarter ended March 27, Apple reported a profit of $US3.07bn A$3.3bn, or $US3.33 a share, up from $US1.62bn, or $US1.79 a share, a year earlier. Revenue jumped 49 per cent, to $13.5bn, with 42 per cent of sales in the US.

Apple sold 2.9 million Macintosh computers in the latest quarter, up 33 per cent from a year earlier.

The company sold 10.9 million iPods, down 1 per cent. Sales have slowed for the iPod, although the unit has likely benefited from higher average selling prices, as more consumers gravitate toward the iPod touch.

Wii turned me into a nymphomaniac

A WOMAN has gone from Nintendo to nympho after a fall from her Wii Fit board turned her into a sex addict.

Randy Amanda Flowers needs 10 sex sessions a day after the slip-up.

The UK’s Daily Star says now the slightest of vibrations, from mobile phones to food processors, turns her on.

The catering worker said: “It began as a twinge down below before surging through my body. Sometimes it built up into a trembling orgasm.”

A doctor diagnosed her with persistent sexual arousal syndrome due to a damaged nerve.

Single Amanda, 24, from Harpurhey, Manchester, said: “With no cure I just have to try to control my passion by breathing deeply. Hopefully one day I’ll find a superstud who can satisfy me.”

MARK’S SHOWNOTES

Of all the online technologies of the past 10 years SKYPE leads the pack.

http://kanexlive.com/

Turn your Apple iMac 27 inch into a HDTV. Connect and play Blu-Ray DVD, PS3, and Xbox games at HD format. Fully utilize the backlit LED display to work and play hard. Audio pass through is enabled for a full screen HD experience.

Features:

  • Designed exclusively for Apple® iMac 27-inch Desktop
  • Toggle between iMac 27-inch OSX and HD playback by using Hot Key – command+F2
  • Toggle volume and brightness controls through your wireless bluetooth keyboard.
  • Support 2-channel audio pass-thru
  • Full screen playback with audio
  • Supports up to 1920×1200 resolution
  • Full screen HD playback of Blu-Ray DVD, Playstation 3, Xbox Elite, Direct TV, Dish Network or other components with HDMI output set at 720p.

Package Contents:

  • Kanex XD
  • 3ft Mini DisplayPort cable M/M
  • 3ft HDMI cable M/M
  • 5v power adapter

Playback not possible on Apple LED Cinema 24″ because this display only accepts 1920×1200 resolution and PS3, Xbox 360, Blu-Ray does not have a matching resolution at 1920×1080. However depending on your PC DVI/HDMI video signal, it will work because it has more resolution to select from to match.

Police seize blogger’s computers over iPhone prototype

(Reuters) – Police broke into a blogger’s home in search of photographs of a prototype Apple iPhone and other material, launching a felony investigation, gadget site Gizmodo and prosecutors said on Monday.

Gawker Media-owned gizmodo.com, a popular consumer gadgets site, said last week it paid $5,000 for a prototype next-generation iPhone purportedly left in a Silicon Valley bar by one of Apple’s engineers.

Stephen Wagstaffe, spokesman for the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office, confirmed Friday’s raid and said Apple had contacted his office to report the crime. But he did not elaborate on investigation details.

“The allegation was that there was a reasonable cause that a felony theft had occurred,” he said. “This is the beginning of the investigation.”

Apple, which was not available for comment, is expected to unveil the next-generation iPhone this summer.

Trumpeted as a major scoop, Gizmodo’s bloggers said they returned the device to Apple after an official request came from Cupertino, but not before taking it apart and reporting on the device’s details.

But one of the blog’s editors, Jason Chen, said police seized four computers and two servers, an iPad, and other devices from his home last Friday.

According to a search warrant posted on gizmodo.com, the computers may contain photographs of Apple’s “prototype 4G iPhone,” as well as email pertaining to its purchase, call records, and research on Gray Powell, the Apple engineer who purportedly misplaced the device.

In a letter to the police also published on gizmodo.com, Gawker’s Chief Operating Officer and legal counsel Gaby Darbyshire asserted the search and seizure was illegal under California law, because Chen works as a journalist for the publication, protecting him from such action.

Pirates rewrite script for Apple’s China iPad launch

(Reuters) – Just three weeks after the global launch, bootleg versions of Apple Inc’s hot-selling iPad tablet PCs have begun showing up on the shelves of online and real-world shops in piracy-prone China.

Technology |  Media

Apple recently delayed the iPad‘s international launch after huge demand in the United States caught the maker of trendy iPhones and MacBooks off guard. But Chinese consumers looking for knock-offs of the company’s latest must-have product need look no further than this teeming electronics mall in Shenzhen, the southern Chinese boomtown near the border with Hong Kong.

Here, tiny shops are stuffed with pirated versions of everything: from Microsoft’s newest Windows 7 operating system, a steal at $2 each, to a range of Apple products, from iPhones to MacBooks and the lightweight MacBook Air.

After extensive queries with multiple shopkeepers, one surnamed Lin offered the sought-after item in a dark backroom on the market’s fifth floor away from the hustle and bustle.

Hefty and thickset with three USB ports and a more rectangular shape than the original, this knock-off with iPad aspirations, which runs a Windows operating system, looks more like a giant iPhone. It costs 2,800 yuan ($410), making it slightly cheaper than the iPad’s $499-$699 price tag.

“This is just the first rough version,” says Lin a crew-cut agent speaking in bursts of quick-fire Cantonese.

“While the shape isn’t quite the same, the external appearance is very similar to the iPad, so we don’t think it will affect our sales that much,” he added, explaining the difference was due to the difficulty sourcing matching parts because of the quick two-month turnaround time for the first version’s development.

Hard-working Chinese bootleggers are rushing to fill a vacuum that won’t last for long, created by unexpectedly strong demand for the iPad in its first weeks on the market.

The 10-inch entertainment device, on which one can read books, play music and videos and surf the Internet, sold more than 500,000 in its first week alone, and continued strong U.S. demand has led Apple to delay the product’s international launch to the end of April.

Chinese counterfeiters have rushed to fill the iPad gap.

Taobao, China’s largest online marketplace, contains hundreds of listings for the coveted product, many real but some dubiously labeled as “China goods,” with claims to have even better features than the real deal.

Like the models in the Shenzhen market, these fake iPads also retail for around 2800 yuan each, compared with 4,000-6,000 yuan for those marketed as real.

Analysts and gadget fanatics expect the iPad to do well in Asia given Apple’s strong branding and the rising number of affluent middle class consumers. But few are surprised by the quick appearance of a counterfeit version in a country where pirated movies often appear in markets in the same week of their theatrical release.

“China is basically a market that has the ability to clone everything, so it’s really not surprising,” said Edward Yu, chief executive of Beijing-based researcher Analysys International.

“I don’t think piracy is a bad thing for the iPad given that China has a huge population, maybe the clone iPads will give more of the potential users a look and feel.”

Back in Shenzhen, Lin said factories around China’s Pearl River Delta — the country’s biggest export manufacturing hub — were working hard on an updated version of the pirated iPads to feed strong demand.

“This is just the first rough version,” Lin said. “Eventually, the factories will be able to make a much better copy.”

Top court to rule on California video game law

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it would decide whether a California law banning the sale and rental of violent video games to minors violated constitutional free-speech rights, the first time it will rule on a video game case.

The justices agreed to hear the state’s appeal after a U.S. appeals court in California struck down the law, which also imposes strict video-game labeling requirements, as unconstitutional.

The high court is expected to hear arguments in the case and then issue a ruling during its upcoming term, which begins in October. It will be one of the most important cases the court has thus far decided to hear in the upcoming term.

The law has been challenged by video game publishers, distributors and sellers, including the Entertainment Software Association. Its members include Disney Interactive Studios, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Corp and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

In appealing to the Supreme Court, the state argued the free-speech guarantees of the First Amendment do not bar a state from prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors under 18.

The state also argued that the appeals court was wrong to require it to show a direct link between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors.

The law, adopted in 2005, has never taken effect because of the legal challenge.

“It is time to allow California’s common-sense law to go into effect and help parents protect their children from violent video games,” California Attorney General Jerry Brown said.

SAME STANDARD AS SEX

The appeal argued that violent material in video games should be subject to the same legal standard the courts have used to prohibit the sale of sexually explicit material to minors.

The Supreme Court has never addressed whether violent material sold to children can be treated the same as sexually explicit material.

The law defines a violent video game as one that depicts “killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being.” Anyone who sells a violent video game to a minor can be fined as much as $1,000.

Michael Gallagher, president and chief executive of the Entertainment Software Association, which represents U.S. computer and video game publishers, said the group looks forward to presenting its arguments and defending the industry’s works.

“Courts throughout the country have ruled consistently that content-based regulation of computer and video games is unconstitutional. Research shows that the public agrees; video games should be provided the same protections as books, movies and music,” he said.

The Supreme Court agreed to decide the California case after last week’s ruling that struck down a U.S. law that bans videos depicting animal cruelty for violating constitutional free-speech rights.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he looked forward to the Supreme Court upholding the law.

“We have a responsibility to our kids and our communities to protect against the effects of games that depict ultra-violent actions, just as we already do with movies,” he said.

Simon Cohen named new telco ombudsman as consumer complaints soar

THE telecommunications industry has found permanent a replacement for its former ombudsman Deirdre O’Donnell.

Former Victoria Public Transport Ombudsman Simon Cohen has taken up the role ending a search which began when Ms O’Donnell announced her resignation late last year.
Simon Cleary has been acting ombudsman since Ms O’Donnell left early this year.
TIO Board Chair John Rohan said Mr Cohen’s complaints handling skills in the public service would prepare him well for the role.
Ms O’Donnell was appointed to the role in May 2007. She replaced John Pinnock who had been in the role for 12 years from 1995 who is widely credited with establishing the TIO’s credentials as a complaints handling body.
The TIO scheme is an industry sponsored instrument which mediates complaints between carriers and internet providers, and consumers.
Mr Cohen has stepped into the ombudsman role at time when the scheme’s work is coming under increasing scrutiny from federal regulators.
Last week the Australian Communications and Media Authority announced that it would formally investigate consumer satisfaction with telcos after the TIO recorded a 130 per cent rise in complaints related to complaint handling.
In the same period it recorded a 118 per cent increase in complaints about customer service. Complaints from consumers and small businesses about phone and internet providers were also up 54 per cent.

New BlackBerry may be a touch device

BLACKBERRY fans will have to wait until at least July for the latest version of its operating system which could be launched on a new touch device.

Research In Motion president, founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis told analysts the highly anticipated BlackBerry 6.0 operating system would be available in the next quarter.

The OS will work on both touch and non-touch screen devices, he said in Orlando, Florida.

He said BlackBerry App World was doing a million downloads per day.

“It’s a very exciting time for us … these are incredible statistics and we’re very proud of them,” Mr Lazaridis said.

“We don’t do features by the inch, we do experiences.”

RIM launched its first touch product, the BlackBerry Storm, in late 2008 but the device was blasted by users and critics. A much improved newer version was released around 12 months later.

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RIM has sold more than 90 million devices, including 37 million in the last year and 10.5 million last quarter, he said.

There were 250,000 registered BlackBerry application developers, with over 3.8 million downloads of developer kits, tools and upgrades, he told analysts during the company’s annual conference, Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES 2010) in Orlando, Florida, today.

Day one saw new BlackBerry Pearl 3G models and a voice over Wi-Fi offering announced.

BlackBerry users have been eagerly awaiting more word after gadget blog Boy Genius Report last week posted leaked screenshots of the BlackBerry 6.0 which included multi-touch functionality, tabbed browsing and a much improved, ‘cleaner’ look for email management.

Several Apple iPhone-like traits in version 6 were also reported, including how pictures are viewed on future BlackBerrys.

Mr Lazaridis will officially lift the veil of secrecy on the new OS late tonight when he delivers his keynote address at WES 2010.

He will be on-stage with Hewlett-Packard software chief Robin Purohit, CSC business solutions president James Cook, Oracle middleware chief architect Ted Farrell and RIM business marketing and alliances senior vice president Jeff McDowell.

The company today unveiled Pearl 3G smartphones that will be available in Australia “soon”, according to a RIM Australia spokeswoman.

It also showcased a new CDMA BlackBerry Bold 9650 for the North American market that can roam on 3G networks.

The voice over Wi-Fi capability comes courtesy of the BlackBerry Mobile Voice System 5 in conjunction with Cisco.

The function will work on any Wi-Fi hotspot and calls will be routed through the corporate phone system to ensure company policy compliance. The same corporate desk phone number can be used on the BlackBerry device.

Companies must first purchase a BlackBerry Mobile Voice System 5 server to enable Wi-Fi calling. RIM will have pricing and availability later this year.

“There the potential for huge cost savings using Wi-Fi to make calls,” said Alan Panezic, RIM platform product management vice president.

Kevin Rudd delays emissions trading scheme until Kyoto expires in 2012

KEVIN Rudd has delayed he government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme until the end of 2012, backing away from his biggest election promise.

The Prime Minister said that by 2012, when the current Kyoto deal expires, governments around the world would need to make clear their new carbon reduction commitments.

“That will provide the Australian government at the time with a better position to assess the level of global action on climate change,” he said.

Mr Rudd cited the Opposition decision not to support an ETS and the slow global progress on a climate change response as key reasons for the delay.

But the delay exposed him to charges today that he had backed away from one of the “great moral and economic challenge of our time”.

The decision follows the failure to secure a meaningful global agreement at the Copenhagen summit last year and the Obama administration’s decision not to pursue an ETS.

This decision now means a Rudd government ETS will not be in place until after John Howard’s proposed ETS was set to take effect from 2011.

Mr Rudd had previously described the ETS as the answer to the “great moral and economic challenge of our time” and had threatened to go to a double dissolution election on the issue.

He said today the government’s targets on greenhouse gas emission reductions would remain unchanged and that climate change remained a key global issue.

“Climate change remains a fundamental economic environmental and moral challenge for all Australians and for all people of the world,” he said.

Mr Rudd said Tony Abbott’s alternative policy would cost more, achieve less and had not been funded.

But the Opposition leader today accused Mr Rudd of running away from climate change and called on him to outline details of his climate change policy.

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey also joined the fray, arguing the decision to shelve the controversial emissions trading scheme was a calculated “accounting trick” to improve the budget bottom line.

Mr Hockey said under the first few years of the ETS, handouts would have exceeded the tax “so there was a cost to the budget bottom line.”

Mr Hockey said removing the ETS from the budget forward estimates contributed to an improvement of $2.5 billion over four years to the deficit.

“Postponing the scheme allows the government to remove the revenue from the sale of carbon permits of $28 billion over four years, and assistance measures of $30.5 billion, from the budget forward estimates,” he said.

“This improvement to the budget bottom line will be achieved with no effort at prudent control of spending.

“It is merely an accounting trick to make the Budget bottom line look better than it really is. It will be another example of spin over substance.”

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson this morning accused the conservatives and Greens of ganging up to spoil the government plan to pass its emissions trading legislation through the Senate.

“I think it’s very clear that we don’t have much hope of getting the legislation through the Senate. The Coalition and the Greens … have clearly spelt the end to the legislation this parliament. So be it,” he told ABC radio.

“I am disappointed. So is the broader community. But you’ve got the conservative side of politics lining up with the Greens, the so called progressives, to actually kill off putting a price on carbon.”

But Greens Deputy Leader Christine Milne has increased the pressure on Mr Rudd, urging him not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” and abandon plans to price carbon.

“The dumping of the CPRS is not an excuse for dumping carbon pricing altogether, rather it is reason to embrace the only carbon price with a real chance of cross-party support – the Greens’ carbon levy proposal,” Senator Milne said.

“Why does the Prime Minister prefer to have no price on carbon at all than to negotiate in good faith with the Greens?

“The Rudd government is clearly trying to get climate off the agenda before the election. Either the Prime Minister was not genuine when he said climate change was the great moral challenge of our time or he lacks the courage to take the action necessary.”

The Greens said the CPRS as it stood would have “locked in failure” and “paid polluters to keep polluting”.

They had been proposing an interim carbon tax to end the deadlock in the Senate over the emissions trading scheme, an idea initially canvassed by then government climate adviser Professor Ross Garnaut in his 2008 report.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis accused the Rudd government of policy cowardice.

“They are policy cowards, this has never been about the greatest moral challenge of our time … that was rhetoric,” he told Sky News.

“When they discovered that it wasn’t an electoral winner for them, they are running away from it at a million miles an hour.”

Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt said the government was concerned about the impact of the ETS on the budget and attacked Mr Rudd for not indicating he would seek a double dissolution election on the issue.

“The Prime Minister is taking off the possibility of a double dissolution on what was his greatest moral challenge,” Mr Hunt said.

“In other words, the Prime Minister is not willing to take his emissions trading scheme to the electorate.”

“Last year’s greatest moral challenge has become this year’s inconvenience.”

Canberra residents fight `747′ data centre

A RESIDENTS’ group in Canberra is fighting the development of a data centre which it says would house gas turbines larger than several Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

The resulting air pollution would severely choke suburbs around the Hume data centre as it would release around 1.5 million tonnes of exhaust per turbine, the Canberrans for Power Station Relocation (CPR) said.

The site developer has rejected the 747 comparison.

The residents have demanded an environmental impact assessment be conducted on the site near the Monaro Highway, although this was not required by law.

Last week, ASX-listed Challenger Financial Services announced it would provide $5.27 million in funding to data centre developer Technical Real Estate to acquire a 12.7ha greenfields building site in Hume. That alliance gave birth to TRE Data Centres Canberra.

The development would be in stages and if full capacity were met, would cover 14,000 sq m in 10 years.

TRE has not been without controversy. A few years ago CPR successfully fought utility company ActewAGL and the developer when they proposed building a $1 billion data centre in Tuggeranong. The stoush continued over several years and other sites, including in Belconnen and other Hume site, were investigated.

CPR chair Bill Reid said the group’s statistics were derived from TRE’s own original development application which named the model of turbines to be used — Caterpillar Industries’ Solar Titan 130.

Each generator set (air compressor, gas turbine, bypass and exhaust-stack assemblies) was about 58m long; the Boeing 747’s wingspan measured 64m, Mr Reid said. The Titan 130 exhaust stacks were 35m high while the Boeing 747 stood at just 19.4m at its highest point, the top of its tail, he said.

The action group covers the interests of thousands of residents across many suburbs including Macarthur, Gilmore and Fadden, the residential suburbs closest to the proposed Hume data centre site.

The three suburbs are a mere 1.2km away from the development and would suffer severely from noise and air pollution, Mr Reid said.

There was also a high-dependency health facility close to the Hume site.

The residents believe the plan could result in two or three such turbines in place.

TRE Data Centres rejected the group’s claims, although it conceded no decision had been made on the number of turbines to be used. The company was well within its rights as it had been given permission by the ACT government to develop the land, it said.

“While Challenger first became involved as a financier of the revised project late last year, we understand that since 2007, several sites have been investigated as to their suitability for the proposed CTC, with the current site having been publicly earmarked for at least 12 months,” a TRE Data Centres spokesman said.

“The proposed CTC has been moved nearly 1km further away from the nearest residence and is in an industrial area, next to a highway and near a waste-recycling plant.

” It will be energy self-sufficient thanks to the small (co-generation) plant which will produce less than 15 per cent of the power output of the originally proposed 210 megaWatt unit, which also involved a grid-power-generation component. Co-generation is one of the most common forms of energy recycling.”

He said there were hundreds of small co-generation plants throughout Australia, many in the basements of office buildings.

“This much smaller, relocated project was thoroughly reviewed by government before eventually receiving DA approval more than one year ago. It was subject to an Auditor-General’s report which was then reviewed by a Legislative Assembly Committee including a Greens MLA,” the spokesman said. He said the only association between the CTC and aeroplanes lay in the vivid imagination of whoever concocted the idea.

“Three of these turbines will not be initially installed at the CTC and no decision has been made yet as to what equipment will be used. A simple check of the actual physical dimensions will quickly reveal that the 747 comparison is deceptive and invalid.

“A turbine is nowhere near as long as the wingspan of the plane. It is similar in scale to all of the other industrial buildings and structures at Hume.”

But Mr Reid said if no decision had been made, Challenger and TRE should state that they would not use turbines. And if both companies were good corporate citizens they would do an environmental impact study on the site regardless of whether it was required by government, he said.

One example he cited as good and green was Canberra Data Centres, which uses new cooling and hot aisle containment methods that save energy by more than 50 per cent and does not pollute the air like turbines.

Israel lifts its ban on Apple iPad

ISRAEL has lifted a ban on Apple’s popular iPad tablet computer, ending restrictions that had been imposed over concerns the gadget’s wireless signal could disrupt other devices.

Communications Ministry officials conducted “intensive technical scrutiny in a controlled laboratory” before deciding to allow the iPad into the country, said ministry spokesman Yechiel Shabi.

Israel announced the ban shortly after the iPad’s April 3 launch in the US. Officials said at least 10 of the flat, touchscreen computers were seized at the country’s international airport. Mr Shabi said owners of the confiscated iPads would be allowed to retrieve them.

Israeli standards mirror those of many European nations, but Israel has been the only country to ban iPad imports ahead of the product’s international release. Apple has delayed the launch until late May, citing heavy sales in the US.

The ban prompted grumbling from Israeli tech enthusiasts and software developers in a country widely considered to be a technology powerhouse.

Mr Shabi said the ministry quickly contacted Apple to seek more information about the wireless signal.

“Of course, in the mainstream media, it was bad PR and we didn’t like this,” Mr Shabi said. “But we said we would test it and it took us a week. I think that is very fast.”

The ministry has denied the ban had anything to do with concern the signal could cause interference to signals of military equipment, as one lawmaker, Robert Ilatov, said.

All that is left now is for Israel to lift the ban on treating Palestinians like Human Beings.

Sony to stop selling floppy disks from 2011

Sony has signalled what could be the final end of the venerable floppy disk.

The electronics giant has said it will stop selling the 30-year-old storage media in Japan from March 2011.

Earlier this year Sony stopped selling the disks in most international markets due to dwindling demand and competition from other storage formats.

The slow death of the “floppy” or “diskette” began in 1998 when Apple decided not to include a floppy drive in its G3 iMac computer.

Since then various other firms have stopped support for floppy disks, including computer giant Dell in 2003.

Computing store PC World stopped selling them in 2007.

However, Sony has continued to sell the disks, and continues to ship them in the millions.

Now, the firm – which claims to have produced the first 3.5in (9cm) disks in 1981 – has decided to halt sales completely faced with competition from online storage and portable USB drives.

Son’s autism leads to innovation

The father of a child with severe autism has developed technology to help him communicate.

Stephen Lodge said the idea for his Speaks4Me system came to him years ago but has been waiting for technology to catch up in order to make it a reality.

His eleven-year-old son, Callum, is non-verbal and uses his father’s invention to speak.

Speaks4Me was on show at Naidex 2010 – the annual disability exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham.

Mr Lodge’s system runs on any device that can run the Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 operating system.

It uses the concept of dragging and dropping images from one area of the screen to another to form sentences.

The user then presses a speech button to “verbalise” the sentence.

“Callum has been using Speaks4Me for some time now and he has already been able to create some very expressive sentences,” Mr Lodge told the BBC.

Examples include, “I want a drink of juice”, “I want to go outside”, and “I feel tired”.

Dynaspine

Mr Lodge – who lives in South Yorkshire – has 20 years’ experience in technology and developed Speaks4Me after deciding that other products on the market were unsatisfactory for Callum.

He cashed in his savings and raised money on his property in order to finance the venture.

Speaks4Me is currently sold on a portable, touch screen media player imported from the Far East.

But the company is finalising a “software only” price which will mean that it can run on any Windows laptop, desktop or even an interactive plasma white board in schools.

Mr Lodge says that several people have already tried the system.

“It’s fabulous to see how such an exciting but simple concept is well understood by the children that have been introduced to it,” he said.

Mr Lodge estimates it takes half an hour or less to be able to understand and use the system.

He is also hoping that it will prove useful to stroke survivors – about a third of whom lose the ability to speak, either temporarily or permanently.

“Imagine waking up in hospital, not being able to speak: how would you ask for the toilet?” he said.

Speaks4Me currently retails for about £2,000.

Mr Lodge says his future plans include being able to put his software on other portable devices such as mobile phones and gaming handsets.

On call

Also having its UK launch at Naidex was a French product called the Minifone.

Photo of the Minifone

The device can summon help and take incoming calls

It is being sold in the UK by Essex-based PivoTell which describes the product as the world’s smallest digital cordless phone.

Designed with older and disabled people in mind, the Minifone is worn like a wrist watch.

It can be used to summon help from three pre-programmed numbers and has the additional option of being connected to a call centre.

Provided that the landline has caller line identification (CLI) enabled, the Minifone will also display the date and time and the name or number of an incoming caller.

The Minifone uses a built-in speaker and microphone.

“The experience in France has been that – unlike alarm pendants which have a certain stigma attached – people find these quite attractive and so are more likely to be wearing them,” said Adrian Milne of PivoTell.

The device costs £150 and a subscription to the call centre is £10 per month.

Hawking’s Alien warning

Aliens are very likely out there, according to eminent scientist Stephen Hawking – but we should keep quiet and hope they don’t notice us.

In a documentary for the Discovery Channel, the theoretical physicist warns against making contact with any extra-terrestrials.

Professor Hawking, who retired as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge last year, claims such space life would only abuse Earth’s resources and move on.

‘We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet,’ he said.

‘I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet.

‘Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.’

‘If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.’

The documentary, which begins on May 9, explores the British scientist’s vision of the universe.

While most aliens were in all probability simple organisms such as microbes, Professor Hawking said it would only take a few intelligent ones to spell disaster for humans.

Fevers in 60 children linked to flu vaccine

More than 60 West Australian children may have had adverse reactions to the flu vaccine, the state’s health department says.

West Australian Health Minister Kim Hames announced yesterday that vaccinations for children under the age of five would be halted after a number of reactions to the three-strain vaccine, which includes swine flu.

Australia’s chief medical officer Jim Bishop today said health professionals nationwide should immediately stop immunising children under five with the vaccine, as a precaution.

West Australian Health Department chief health officer Tarun Weeramanthri said a higher-than-expected number of reactions to the vaccine, which is offered free by the state government to children under five, had been reported.

The Princess Margaret children’s hospital (PMH) had reported 44 children under 10 had presented with febrile convulsions, of which 23 related to the paediatric flu vaccine.

Of the 23 children, 12 were admitted to hospital.

One child is in a critical condition following their reaction to the vaccine.

Dr Weeramanthri said he had few details on the child’s condition but that they were “seriously ill”.

The average age of children who had reactions to the vaccine was about two years, but children aged between five and 10 also experienced fevers and convulsions.

Dr Weeramanthri said another 40 children under 10 had been taken to other hospitals in the state with febrile convulsions, and work was being done to assess if there was a link to the vaccine.

“Advice from West Australian clinicians has said that there is a consistent clinical picture that they’re seeing, with fever and vomiting around six hours and certainly within 12 hours of vaccination,” he said.

The West Australian health department is working with other states and territories to compile data, but there have been no reports of a spike in reactions to the vaccine in other states.

“It’s important to get an estimate of both how many have been vaccinated and how many children have potentially had reactions,” Dr Weeramanthri said.

The department and the Therapeutic Goods Administration had honed in on what they thought the cause of the increased reactions was, Dr Weeramanthri said.

“The Therapeutic Goods Administration is working with the manufacturers on two lines of inquiry,” he said.

“One is the data from around the country about where we’re getting any signals of increased reactions and which batches went where.

“The second is to actually directly test the batches held by the various manufacturers for any impurities.”

There had been no reports of an increased reaction rate to the single pandemic swine flu strain vaccine.

“So whether this is an issue about the combination of antigens … in this vaccine, which has three parts compared to a single vaccine, is something that TGA is looking at,” Dr Weeramanthri said.

“That’s the first time that particular antigen has been included, but one must remember that the strains of flu change regularly and so there are regular changes in the formulation of the flu vaccine.”

The West Australian Health Department had responded appropriately to the reaction and in a timely fashion, Dr Weeramanthri said.

“As soon as we got information from clinicians, particularly at PMH this week that they were concerned they were seeing something more than what they normally see, and people have to understand there is a normal incidence of febrile reactions after vaccination in children.

“Once we got that information we acted as promptly as we could.”

National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance clinical research head Professor Robert Booy said the experience was that children around Australia had demonstrated a good tolerance for the vaccine.

Dr Weeramanthri said he was hopeful a safe vaccination program could be provided once the safety of the vaccine could be ensured.

Case in South Australia

One young child has suffered a convulsive reaction to the seasonal flu vaccine in South Australia, health officials say.

But chief medical officer Paddy Phillips said it was still to be determined if one or more components of the vaccine were the cause of the South Australian case and the spike in cases reported in Western Australia.

“There’s no evidence at all that there’s any particular linkage, at this stage, to any of the components because we don’t even know if it’s absolutely linked to the vaccine,” Professor Phillips said.

“Clearly there’s a suspicion and that’s why we’re playing it safe and suspending the vaccine for five and unders.”

Facebook’s bid to rule the web as it goes social

Facebook set out its stall to unseat Google and be at the heart of the web experience as it becomes more social.

The world’s largest social network unveiled a series of products at its developer conference F8 aimed at helping the company achieve that goal.

These tools will make it easier for users to take their friends with them as they browse the web.

“We are building toward a web where the default is social,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder.

“If you look back a few years ago and even as recently as today, in most cases the web isn’t designed to use your friends. They don’t assume you have a real identity but we are seeing that seep in more and more.

“We want to be one of the things that empowers that and right now most users are using Facebook and we hope we can be a good force in driving that forward,” Mr Zuckerberg told the BBC during a news conference.

He added that the “web was at a turning point” and that the way forward was to have friends, or what Mr Zuckerberg called “your social graph”, to guide you online.

“One of the points Mr Zuckerberg was making was that the web has become a lot less anonymous and Facebook is definitely positioning itself as wanting to be the owner of that information,” said Maya Baratz of the Huffington Post.

Personalisation

At the F8 conference in San Francisco, Mr Zuckerberg unveiled a number of products aimed at putting users and their friends at the “centre of the web”.

The most significant was an open graph protocol to let publishers tag their content by type along with a “Like” button that partner sites put on their webpage. This allows users to indicate what they like on a website, be it from photographs to news items and from clothes to music.

That information will then be stored by Facebook the way it already stores connections between people. At the same time any website will be able to take those individual preferences and use them to tailor a more “personalised online experience” for the user and their friends.

Facebook said this means its members will see a web that caters to their individual tastes.

Crucially all this can only happen when users are logged into Facebook and “makes it easy to make any page (on the internet) a Facebook page,” said Bret Taylor, Facebook’s director of platform.

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