Episode 195

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

Researchers to treat stroke victims with Wii – Hardware – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Researchers to treat stroke victims with Wii

The project, to be run by Neuroscience Research Australia, will run over a six-month period once the next-generation fibre network is ready next year.

Patients whose arm and hand movement has been stroke-affected will be sought via a letterbox drop in the NBN trial area, according to the chief executive of Neuroscience Research Australia Peter Schofield.

He said each patient would participate in the trial for about a fortnight.

Whirlpool suffers DDoS attack – Security – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Whirlpool suffers DDoS attack

Jun e 29

Whirlpool host Bulletproof Networks noted irregular packet loss and investigated. The hosting company discovered a large number of HTTP requests from a number of source IP addresses, all targeting Whirlpool.

Bulletproof blocked the offending source IP addresses and asked its upstream providers to do the same, restoring the site at 1:45am.

The attack resumed five minutes later.

Again, Whirlpool was pulled offline whilst Bulletproof worked to block the attack. It was brought back online just before business hours, but was taken offline a third time as the attack resumed.

Looks like Whirlpool was the target of at least 20,000 spams or scams coming through the portal, – spokesman said

Point and shoot your way to a gun licence – Oddware – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

The Queensland Police Services (QPS) intends to launch an online weapons licensing system by the end of 2010, which will allow members of the public to apply for and renew a weapons licence online.

The proposed system, funded as part of the $50.2 million allocated to QPS in the Queensland State budget last month, will enable users to apply for a weapons permit and support online payments.

The QPS expects the online system to free up resources by automating the process of issuing licences and maintenance of records.

The current paper-based system requires applicants and licence holders to attend a police station to lodge applications wherein information is manually entered onto systems.

All first-time applicants will still, however, be required to attend a personal interview at their local police station for verification of identity and supporting documentation.

JuliaGillard joins Twitter – Strategy – Business – News – iTnews.com.au
JuliaGillard joins Twitter

She made her maiden post as @JuliaGillard yesterday afternoon: “I’ve decided it’s time to take the Twitter plunge! Hopefully I’ll master it. JG.”

The Prime Minister’s Twitter account is linked to her Australian Labor Party web page. It is followed by 8,678 people, and follows 511 including Labor senators Nick Sherry, Mark Arbib, and Kate Lundy, and Rudd.

Queensland Govt go card giveaway flops: report – Hardware – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Queensland Govt go card giveaway flops: report

A Queensland Government publicity campaign expected to give away up to 400,000 ‘go’ transport smart cards loaded with $10 free credit has apparently backfired after it emerged that less than a third had been handed out.

The Bligh Government, which started the giveaway last week, has been touting it since October 2009.

The campaign aimed to lure users of paper tickets onto the electronic system before the paper system closes at the end of the year.

But a report in The Sydney Morning Herald today revealed that only 110,000 of the cards had been given away. The promotion was due to end within days.

HOW TO: watch Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more in Australia
HOW TO: watch Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more in Australia

The simplest way to make your surfing anonymous is to use a proxy service, in which you connect to the net via a computer (proxy) set up by a third party. Any site that tries to capture your IP information or location finds the proxy’s details.

To connect via proxy you download a browser plug-in or set up a direct connection to the proxy via Windows networking. There are free and paid services. If you choose free, be prepared to trawl through lists of free proxy servers to find ones that work.

StarCraft II region lock angers Australian gamers
StarCraft II region lock angers Australian gamers

Video game manufacturer Blizzard Entertainment is facing a wave of dissent from Australian gamers furious about the company’s decision to lock Australians into only being able to play multiplayer games of its upcoming StarCraft II title against players in Southeast Asia — not in America or Europe.

The objections relate to the fact that many Australians wish to play the game against friends in the US or Europe — and also what many see as the problem of bad internet response speeds (ping time) to Southeast Asia compared with good connectivity to the US.

The man who stands to make $200m a year out of ‘.xxx porn ghetto’
The man who stands to make $200m a year out of ‘.xxx porn ghetto’

Stuart Lawley has Hustler magazine and the distributor of Paris Hilton’s sex tape up in arms

The 47-year-old British internet entrepreneur’s ICM Registry is roiling the $US13 billion pornography industry after last week winning a preliminary nod for the .xxx domain from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, which approves web addresses.

Lawley said ICM, based in Jupiter, Florida, stood to earn $US200 million a year from .xxx.

If his bid passes later this year, Lawley could sell web addresses to adult sites for $60 each

News stories for aussie tech heads – Google Docs

Queen Elizabeth II received a BlackBerry handset as a gift on Monday while touring the Canadian headquarters of its maker, Research in Motion.

The monarch is said to be a fan of the popular smartphones, ever since her her son, Prince Andrew, introduced her to them a few years ago.

Company co-founder Mike Lazaridis presented queen with the most current model, the BlackBerry Bold 9700, personalised with an image of area school children offering her flowers.

Dressed in a creme-coloured hat and a white smock, Elizabeth was also given a rare glimpse inside the Waterloo, Ontario factory where the devices are made.

The site was described in pool reports as a cavernous, white room dotted with spotless workstations and large automated machines.

The polished floors are marked with yellow stickers warning people that they are entering an “electrostatic sensitive” area. The smocks worn by the queen and her entourage, including by a red-clad Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer over his uniform, guard against electrostatic shocks.

Canada’s titular head of state was greeted inside by dozens of workers in blue smocks who would normally be busy on their computers designing and making the latest smartphones.

According to a spokeswoman for RIM, it was the first time media have been allowed on RIM’s workfloor.

Later, Queen Elizabeth II, who was accompanied on her Canadian visit by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, donned 3D eyewear to watch a few minutes of a new 3D film by Deepa Mehta being shot at the Pinewood movie studio in Toronto.

The royal couple were expected to dine with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the evening before heading to New York on Tuesday.

Putting Google Docs’ OCR to the test
Putting Google Docs’ OCR to the test

Using Google Docs’ OCR feature is simple: simply choose Upload… from your Documents overview page, then tick the ‘Convert text from PDF or image files to Google Docs documents’ box and choose the files you want to upload
Maybe not as good as it gets – butit will get better

More cities to get Telstra 30Mbit/s cable broadband
More cities to get Telstra 30Mbit/s cable broadband

The company had already offered 30Mbps cable speeds in Sydney but today revealed the faster speeds had additionally come to Adelaide, the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Perth. Melbourne already has 100Mbps speeds in a Telstra trial, but the telco will not be extending the 100Mbps speeds around the country.

To access the faster speeds — which Telstra is dubbing “BigPond Elite Cable”, customers merely need to reboot their broadband modem.

IT WAS ME: first NBN user speaks about what it’s like
IT WAS ME: first NBN user speaks about what it’s like

“It’s awesome,” said Pettman, who Internode said works as a senior IT customer support officer in Hobart. “It’s a major speed increase on what I had before, which was a 1.5 megabit per second ADSL service. Since it went live about 5pm, I’ve done speed tests and have seen a few peaks of 80 megabits per second, although it mostly hovers around 50Mb/s, which is what I ordered.”

“An example of how this helps me is one site I visit regularly that contains high resolution photos, which usually takes around 25 seconds to load. With the new service, it was on-screen instantly. Also, I sometimes use the Internet to connect in to my office remotely. I worked from home yesterday and it was fairly slow. I don’t think I’ll have any problems now.”

MARK’S SHOWNOTES

3D TV Tested at Harvey Norman. NOT BAD.

Photonics team working on systems that could supercharge broadband

A RESEARCH team has developed photonics processing that could push the broadband speeds to one terabit per second.

University of Sydney Institute of Photonics and Optical Science director Ben Eggleton said the group has filed patents on a number of related technologies.

“We are looking to commercialise an aspect of that work in partnership with local industry,” Professor Eggleton said. “It will either be through licensing to some industry partners or it will be through the form of a spinoff.

“Those discussions and negotiations are just starting to happen at a high level.”

The team has reportedly broken world records by getting optical switching up to 1Tbps, a speed fast enough to transmit hundreds of DVDs a second.

Professor Eggleton said the initial commercialisation plan would most likely cover at the instrumentation market, where it could be in use in two to three years.

“It is an instrument that universities, research labs, or the Telstras and Optuses, would buy to use in their laboratories for testing,” he said.

IPOS, which launched in April last year, has claimed the technology as one of its core objectives. IPOS has broken new ground in photonics and optics.

“The key to our approach is to rely on all-optical signal processing,” he said. “So on an integrated circuit we can do basic logic, but the most important example is we have created a photonic chip-based waveform analyser with a terahertz of bandwidth.”

The University of Sydney has one of the top five optics schools in the world, Professor Eggleton said. “What is unique about our approach is that it is photonic chip-based solutions.

“There are only a handful of groups in the world working in this space and many of them are collaborating with us.”

The research is in conjunction with the Australian National University as part of the CUDOS, an Australian Research Council centre of excellence that spans six universities.

“The ultimate vision would be to see these in next-generation networks, probably not the national broadband network, because it is relying on off-the-shelf components, but the network that follows that initial deployment,” Professor Eggleton said. “But initially we would sell these chips, these integrated waveform analysers into the instrumentation market.”

IPOS has run a breakthrough demonstration of green light from silicon. It opens up prospects for developing silicon devices for photonic processing. An important direction is integrating biology with photonics and optics. The group’s work covers physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering and microscopy.

Tougher online piracy rules unlikely

THE federal government is unlikely to impose tougher online piracy laws on internet providers.

This is in spite of its intent to sign a trade pact aimed at strengthening intellectual property rights.

The government is involved in negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement, but it has resisted pressure to reveal its position.

However, late last week a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the federal government had no intention of allowing the negotiations to trigger new domestic laws.

“Existing Australian law already encourages internet service providers to co-operate in deterring copyright infringements, but there is no mandatory requirement for ISPs to monitor the activities of users. Australia has not joined ACTA to drive change in Australian domestic law,” the spokesman said.

ACTA negotiators from the US, Canada, Japan, Mexico and the European Union have met periodically since June 2008 to develop a draft pact.

The latest wording released in April after a round of negotiations in Wellington, led to speculation that signatories may be required to ensure copyright holders can take out injunctions against ISPs. The draft includes a provision, still subject to negotiation that “parties shall also ensure that right holders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe an intellectual property right”.

However, a widely criticised veil of secrecy over the negotiations, which are conducted in-camera, has made it hard to gauge consensus among countries negotiating the pact.

A Foreign Affairs spokesman said no new draft would be released from the latest round of negotiations, being conducted in Lucerne, Switzerland.

“On this occasion, there was no consensus between ACTA negotiating parties to release the text,” he said.

“The ACTA round in Lucerne negotiated on the basis of the (Wellington draft) and the draft provisions contained therein.”

Foreign Affairs representatives resisted attempts by Greens and junior ALP senators to discover the government’s negotiating position during estimates hearings last month. About the same time, they held public consultations with domestic players, including copyright lobby groups and the internet industry.

Meanwhile, the government and both sides of the online piracy debate are waiting for the outcome of a landmark copyright battle between ISP iiNet and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.

Men at Work avoid big royalties payout over origins of Land Down Under

MEN at Work songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert have won the latest court battle over the origins of their hit song Land Down Under.

The songwriters and publishers of the 1981 Australian rock classic have been ordered by the Federal Court to pay five per cent of the hit’s royalties to the company that owns the rights to the children’s song Kookaburra sits in the Old Gum Tree.

While it’s expected they will have to pay a six-figure sum, the company that sued the songwriters and record company EMI, Larrikin Music Publishing, had been seeking much more – between 40-60 per cent of the song’s royalties.

Under a ruling handed down in the Federal Court in Sydney this morning, the royalties owed to Larrikin will be backdated to 2002, and the five per cent figure will also apply to all future payments.

No actual monetary figure was identified by the court in relation to the backdated sum, but it is thought to be a six-figure amount.

Federal Court judge Peter Jacobson said he considered “the figures put forward by Larrikin to be excessive, overreaching and unrealistic”.

In February, Justice Jacobson found that EMI, Hay and Strykert had breached copyright laws by lifting Land Down Under’s distinctive flute riff from the Kookaburra song without permission.

Colin Hay had told the court that the band had not sought copyright clearance for the flute riff because it was an “unconscious” reference to the children’s song.

The earlier court hearing was told that the flute riff constituted just five bars of a 92-bar song.

Copyright to the Kookaburra song was purchased by Larrikin in 1990 for $6100. The children’s song was originally composed by Toorak teacher Marion Sinclair in 1934 for the Victorian Girl Guides.

The statute of limitations only allowed Larrikin to seek royalties dating back six years from when the original claim was made.

Neither Hay nor Strykert were in court this morning to hear the judgment.

A ruling on legal costs was adjourned to a later date.

 

MS cannabis drug launched

The first licensed medical drug containing whole cannabis plant extracts was launched today to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Sativex will be made widely available after it was approved by the medicines regulator last week.

Taken as a mouth spray, it is used to help alleviate symptoms of spasticity – involuntary muscle stiffness and spasms – associated with MS and is said to be the first symptom relief drug specifically for those with the condition.

It is the first cannabinoid medicine derived from whole plant extracts of the cannabis sativa plant, and is only the second cannabinoid drug to be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Cannabis is a Class B drug and using it for medicinal purposes remains illegal in the UK.

But doctors can prescribe Sativex to MS patients experiencing the spasms and cramping associated with spasticity.

MS charities welcomed the regulator’s approval of the drug, which was developed by UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals.

Pam Macfarlane, chief executive of the MS Trust, described today’s launch as a milestone.

She said: ‘We have been aware for a long time, based on comments from people with MS, that cannabis-based medicines can significantly improve spasticity, which is a common, complex symptom of MS.

‘For this reason, the MS Trust has campaigned for the availability of a licensed medicine that can be properly controlled and prescribed.’

She added: ‘The launch of Sativex is a milestone for the NHS and the MS Trust and we are delighted. It will now be down to specialist professionals to assess people and we hope that this can happen quickly.’

Ed Holloway, head of care and services research at the Multiple Sclerosis Society, said: ‘Sativex can help alleviate one of the most distressing symptoms of MS and its licensing is good news for people with progressive forms of the condition, for whom drugs and therapies are sparse.

‘We’d like to see it made available to anybody who might benefit.’

Doctors have been able to prescribe the drug to named individuals at their own risk since 2006, the Home Office said.

About 2000 people in the UK are already prescribed it on this basis but any MS patient will now be able to request a prescription for the drug from their doctor, meaning many more will be able to obtain it.

About 100,000 people in the UK have MS, a condition of the central nervous system.

It is most often diagnosed in those aged between 20 and 40, with women nearly twice as likely to develop it as men.

It can cause a wide range of symptoms besides spasticity, including fatigue, visual problems, cognitive problems and mood changes.

The only other MHRA-approved drug containing cannabinoid – a compound found in cannabis – is Nabilone, which was licensed in February 1995 for the treatment of nausea and vomiting suffered by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Unlike Sativex, the cannabinoids it contains are synthetic.

Europe’s ‘Big Bang’ probe sends image

A space telescope designed to peer into the enigma of the ‘Big Bang’ has served up its first overall image of the cosmos, the European Space Agency says.

The picture ‘is an extraordinary treasure chest of new data for astronomers,’ ESA declared on Monday.

The image was painstakingly built up, slice by slice, by a 700 million euros ($A1.04 billion) telescope, Planck, which ESA put in orbit in May last year.

Planck is designed to look at radiation in the microwave part of the energy spectrum.

Microwave signatures point to the birth and death of stars and galaxies, as well as the embers of the ‘Big Bang’ which, according to theory, brought the Universe into existence 13.7 billion years ago.

This primeval energy, known as cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR), washes across the sky.

But in order to spot it in Planck’s first ‘all-sky’ image, scientists will have to filter out background noise from our own galaxy, the Milky Way, ESA said.

‘We are opening the door to an Eldorado where scientists can seek the nuggets that will lead to deeper understanding of how our Universe came to be and how it works now,’ said David Southwood, ESA’s director of science and robotic exploration.

‘The image itself and its remarkable quality is a tribute to the engineers who built and have operated Planck. Now the scientific harvest must begin.’

Named after the 20th-century German physicist Max Planck who founded quantum theory, the mission is equipped with a 1.5-metre telescope that focuses radiation onto two arrays of microwave detectors, each cooled to almost absolute zero.

By the end of its mission in 2012, Planck should have completed four all-sky scans, ESA said. The data release of the CMBR – in essence a map of the Big Bang – is also scheduled for 2012.

More pros to social media than cons

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter should reduce friction between humans around the world by 2020, but new research says the technology could also rob us of face-to-face relationships and foster shallower relationships.

The survey of about 900 top tech leaders and experts says the benefits of social media should far outweigh the negative impacts over the next 10 years.

The experts say anything that helps bridge differences and increase understanding is a good thing and the struggle to be with the important people in our lives will only intensify by 2020.

But others say while people will have hundreds of acquaintances, they’ll have very few friends.

The Pew Research Center study, The Future of the Internet, was conducted from December 2 to January 11.

Arcade games ‘groom kids for pokies’

Anti-gambling advocates say children are being groomed to gamble on arcade games that mimic poker machines in gaming venues.

The so-called redemption games offer expensive prizes including digital cameras or televisions and are usually located just steps away from the adults-only gaming areas, The Sunday Age says.

Monash University electronic gaming expert Charles Livingstone said the arcade games indoctrinate kids into gambling and lure children and their parents into pokies venues.

But a Victorian government spokeswoman said there’s no ‘research or evidence linking children playing redemption games with problem gambling in adulthood’.

However, a 2009 Adelaide University study of more than 2500 teenagers found those who were pathological gamblers were significantly more likely to have a history of playing video and arcade games, the paper says.

The Productivity Commission’s report on gambling released last month reiterated that ‘minors should not…be exposed to gambling areas within venues’, it says.

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