Episode 202

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

Govt chaos: Has NBN Co stopped the rollout?
Govt chaos: Has NBN Co stopped the rollout?

The National Broadband Network Company would not confirm this morning whether it would continue to roll out optic fibre around the nation while Australia’s Parliament attempts to resolve whether the Coalition or Labor would form Government.

iiNet launches terabyte download plans
iiNet launches terabyte download plans

The terabyte plan — to be available, along with the other changes, from August 20 — allocates customers 500GB each of on-peak and off-peak data and will cost customers between $99.95 and $119.95 per month, depending on whether they choose an ADSL1, ADSL2+ or naked DSL connection, and whether they bundle their broadband plan with a telephone connection.

In iiNet’s statement, the company said a terabyte of data would allow customers to watch the equivalent of more than 8,000 half-hour episodes of streaming television per month. “Alternatively, customers could stream the ABC’s new 24 hour news channel, ABC24, continually for the entire month and still have more than half their quota remaining for other uses,” said iiNet.

Abbott set to shift policy ground in negotiations with independents | The Australian
Abbott set to shift policy ground in negotiations with independents

TONY Abbott has revealed he is prepared to alter his election promises — including on his proposed broadband network.

His move is an attempt to win over the crucial independent MPs who are weighing up their support for him.

Mr Abbott said yesterday that within the “broad” policy parameters he established during the campaign, he had every intention of negotiating on the themes the independents would raise with him.

“Obviously, I accept that broadband is important because I put forward a very good broadband policy. I don’t want to pre-empt the discussions that I expect will be had over the next few days, just to say that I intend to be very pragmatic, but within the broad policy parameters which we discussed during the election,” Mr Abbott said.

YouTube – Time Warp starring Tony Abbot
Time Warp starring Tony Abbot

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfYM2x6Xmlk

Intel buys security software firm McAfee for $8.6bn | The Australian
Intel buys security software firm McAfee for $8.6bn

INTEL has sealed its biggest acquisition with a $US7.68 billion ($8.6bn) takeover of the security software maker McAfee.

Intel has paid a full price for the software company, with the $US48-a-share offer representing a 60 per cent premium over yesterday’s closing price of $US29.93.

You can’t block Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook – CNN.com
You can’t block Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook

by going to Zuckerberg’s Facebook profile, scrolling down near the button of the left panel and clicking “Report/Block this person,” then checking “Block this person” and clicking “Submit.”

You’ll get an error message that says, “General Block failed error: Block failed.”

Swedish Pirate Party to host WikiLeaks servers – CNN.com
Swedish Pirate Party to host WikiLeaks servers

The Pirate Party said Tuesday it agreed to host the servers during a visit last weekend by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

By hosting WikiLeaks information on the party’s computer servers, WikiLeaks information will be available to more web users.

The party said it will host the information free of charge as part of its political mission.

WikiLeaks founder says he’s been targeted by smear campaign – CNN.com
WikiLeaks founder says he’s been targeted by smear campaign

WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange said Swedish authorities reached “the height of irresponsibility” by issuing an arrest warrant alleging rape against him, then revoking it less than a day later.

Lady Gaga takes ‘Twitter Queen’ crown from Britney Spears
Lady Gaga takes ‘Twitter Queen’ crown from Britney Spears

Lady Gaga has dethroned Britney Spears as “Twitter Queen” with more than 5.7 million followers on the microblogging site and promised no online celebrity nonsense during her reign.

WorldWide Telescope
WorldWide Telescope

WorldWide Telescope (WWT) enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world. Experience narrated guided tours from astronomers and educators featuring interesting places in the sky.

A web-based version of WorldWide Telescope is also now available. This version enables seamless, guided explorations of the universe from within a web browser on PC and Intel Mac OS X by using the power of Microsoft Silverlight 3.0.

http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/Home.aspx

MARK’S SHOWNOTES

Google boss warns on web footprints

Google boss Eric Schmidt has warned that web users may not be aware of the consequences of divulging increasing amounts of personal information online.

As hundreds of millions of web users worldwide divulge increasing amounts of personal information on social networking and other sites, the search engine’s chief executive warned they may not be aware of the consequences.

He told the Wall Street Journal: ‘I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time.’

He added: ‘I mean we really have to think about these things as a society. I’m not even talking about the really terrible stuff, terrorism and access to evil things.’

But far from coming out as a social media sceptic, he described social networking site Facebook as a ‘company of consequence’ and predicted one or two other major players would come on the scene in the near future.

Google itself has a wealth of data on web users, handling billions of emails through Gmail and myriad images of people’s houses through Google Street View, as well as the information it has on online searches.

Schmidt forecast that the future of Google would rely on the company storing more and more personal information about its users.

Because of the data the site collects, ‘we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are’, he said.

Rather than simply answering their questions, this may help Google tell users what they should be doing next, he suggested.

One idea for the future of the search engine is that more searches are done on the user’s behalf without them needing to type, he said.

Schmidt’s comments on the social media phenomenon echoed previous concerns about young people in particular baring their souls online.

Many users of social networking sites have a wealth of information stored on the web, including embarrassing photographs, messages, chat histories and personal details.

Some commentators warn that it may be too late to turn back the clock.

Dylan Sharpe of Big Brother Watch said: ‘Undoubtedly we need to educate children, and many adults, for that matter, on the value of privacy.

WikiLeaks warrant withdrawn

Swedish prosecutors have withdrawn an arrest warrant for the founder of WikiLeaks, saying less than a day after the document was issued that it was based on an unfounded accusation of rape.

The accusation had been labeled a dirty trick by Julian Assange and his group, who are preparing to release a fresh batch of classified US documents from the Afghan war.

Swedish prosecutors had urged Assange – a nomadic 39-year-old Australian – to turn himself in to police to face questioning in one case involving suspicions of rape and another based on an accusation of molestation.

‘I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape,’ chief prosecutor Eva Finne said on Saturday in announcing the withdrawal of the warrant. She did not address the status of the molestation case, a less serious charge that would not lead to an arrest warrant.

Prosecutors did not answer phone calls seeking further comment.

Assange had dismissed the rape allegations in a statement on WikiLeaks’ Twitter page, saying: ‘The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.’

His whereabouts were not immediately known. He was in Sweden last week seeking legal protection for the whistleblower website, which angered the Obama administration for publishing thousands of leaked documents about US military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The first files in Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary’ revealed classified military documents covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010. Assange said on Wednesday that WikiLeaks plans to release a new batch of 15,000 documents from the Afghan war within weeks.

The Pentagon says the information could risk the lives of US troops and their Afghan helpers, and have demanded WikiLeaks return all leaked documents and remove them from the Internet.

Assange has no permanent address and travels frequently – jumping from one friend’s place to the next. He disappears from public view for months at a time, only to reappear in the full glare of the cameras at packed news conferences to discuss his site’s latest disclosure.

Assange declined to talk about his background at a news conference in Stockholm a week ago. Equally secretive is the small team behind WikiLeaks, reportedly just half a dozen people and casual volunteers who offer their services as needed.

A WikiLeaks spokesman, who says he goes by the name Daniel Schmitt in order to protect his identity, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Iceland that the ‘extremely serious allegations’ came as a complete surprise.

Apart from the comment from Assange, WikiLeaks’ Twitter page had a link to an article in Swedish tabloid Expressen, which first reported the allegations.

‘We were warned to expect ‘dirty tricks’. Now we have the first one,’ it said.

Assange was in Sweden last week partly to apply for a publishing certificate to make sure the website, which has servers in Sweden, can take full advantage of Swedish laws protecting whistleblowers.

He also spoke at a seminar hosted by the Christian faction of the opposition Social Democratic party and announced he would write bimonthly columns for a left-wing Swedish newspaper.

Video game with Taliban role condemned

Britain’s defence secretary says a video game that allows players to adopt the role of the Taliban is a ‘tasteless product’, and has called on retailers to show their support for troops by not selling it.

Liam Fox says he’s ‘disgusted and angry’ about Medal of Honour’, produced by Electronic Arts.

‘At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands. It’s shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban against British soldiers,’ he said in a statement on Sunday. ‘It’s hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product.’

The California-based company did not immediately respond to emails from AP, but spokeswoman Amanda Taggart was quoted by The Sunday Times as saying the game’s format ‘merely reflects the fact that every conflict has two sides’.

‘We give gamers the opportunity to play both sides. Most of us have been doing this since we were seven: someone plays cop, someone must be robber,’ the newspaper quoted her as saying. ‘In Medal of Honour multiplayer, someone’s got to be the Taliban. Nobody who plays video games is going to be shocked or surprised by this.’

Playing from the perspective of the ‘enemy’ isn’t new to video games. Other versions of Medal of Honour have been set in the World War II era. When playing sessions with many different players, gamers can choose to be members of Allied forces or the Nazi regime. In Grand Theft Auto titles, from Take-Two Interactive Software, gamers have the choice to take part in multiple controversial and criminal acts, including killing cops.

Last year Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had gamers play someone inside a terrorist group. Created by developer Infinity Ward, the game’s characters included a CIA agent who infiltrates a Russian villain’s inner circle to defeat him, but ends up participating in a terrorist attack on an airport while acting as part of the villain’s group.

The new Medal of Honour version is scheduled to be released in October.

ABC presenter reprimanded over Twitter

A Perth ABC radio presenter has been ordered to delete his Twitter account after tweeting about Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

While Mr Abbott appeared on the ABC’s Q and A program on Monday night, Hutchison used his Twitter account hutchabc to unleash several tweets criticising the Liberal leader.

Hutchison made fun of Mr Abbott on Twitter, saying: ‘I have gay Muslim friends says Tony. But I don’t really like them.’

He also wrote that Mr Abbott had said homosexuals were ‘morally dubious, but big tobacco is all right by me’.

The ABC ordered Hutchison to delete his Twitter account, saying it breached the broadcaster’s social media policy which states employees ‘should not mix professional and personal in ways likely to bring the ABC into disrepute’.

‘Geoff has been reminded of his obligations under the ABC’s social media guidelines and that any future use of Twitter should be in accordance with ABC policy,’ an ABC spokesman said.

‘Geoff’s comments, posted on a personal Twitter account, do not meet ABC social media guidelines and do not represent the views of the ABC.’

The policy also stipulates that employees should not imply ABC endorsement of their personal views, which Hutchison had breached by including ABC in his Twitter username.

The national broadcaster states in its policy it only accepts responsibility for offensive tweets if they come from an official ABC account and not from a personal account.

During a series of tweets on Monday night, Hutchison also made the tongue-in-cheek comment: ‘Tony, why are you frightened of intercourse with Julia? Is it because we will be watching and measuring?’

Hutchison’s tweets became quite popular among followers with one commenting: ‘Geoff doesn’t tweet often, but when he does, it is worth waiting for’.

Another wrote: ‘I am happy to jump on the hutchabc bandwagon. In general ABC people on twitter are good value.’

Facebook ban for bosses

If you’re worried about a potential employer looking you up on Facebook and seeing you at your drunken worst, you should move to Germany.

The government there is proposing a law preventing bosses from using social networking sites to check out job applicants.

But Der Spiegel magazine says Google is exempted from the law, meaning the search engine can still be used to look you up.

Teacher quits over Facebook comments

A teacher in the US has resigned after accidentally publishing a tirade of abuse against staff and pupils on her Facebook page.

Dr June Talvitie-Siple thought her comments would only be seen by her friends.

Instead, the whole town of Cohasset in Massachusetts is in uproar and Dr Talvatie-Siple has now left her job at the local high school.

In her Facebook comments, she wrote that the swanky waterfront town was ‘arrogant’ and ‘snobby’.

She went on to say: ‘I’m so not looking forward to another year at Cohasset schools.

‘Now I remember why I stopped teaching! Kids… they are all germ bags.’

But the maths and science teacher has come out fighting.

She said: ‘I don’t regret the comments I made because I thought I made them in confidence.’

‘I’m human. I know a lot about technology but I still made a mistake. Not everybody is arrogant and the kids are great, they’re not germ bags. It is a joke.’

The school’s assistant superintendent Alfred Slanetz, confirming Dr Talvitie-Siple’s departure, said: ‘It is really unfortunate what happened.

‘I think the lesson at the end of the day is that whatever you put on these social networking sites like Facebook you should consider it could become public.’

Dr Talvitie-Siple’s comments have been condemned by parents, pupils and fellow members of staff at Cohasset High School.

Parent Shannon King: ‘These kids are supposed to be looking up to their teachers and elders in the school and this is disappointing for them to hear.’

Student Mackenzie Hart: ‘I think teachers should have a little more respect for their students and their school.’

And fellow teacher Patricia McGrail said: It is very upsetting to hear those characterisations about the parents that we work so closely with on a daily basis.’

The story serves as a reminder to the millions of people using social networking sites of the risks of publishing their thoughts.

Dr Talvitie-Siple said: ‘It wasn’t like I was intending to go out there and lambast anyone, it was just moment of frustration and I thought I had my privacy settings correct on Facebook.’

Lucas sues to stop “Jedi Mind” wireless headset

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67N18720100824?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FtechnologyNews+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Technology%29

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – “Star Wars” creator George Lucas has filed a $5 million trademark lawsuit against a company marketing a technology that allows users to control computer applications directly with their minds.

The defendant is Jedi Mind, Inc., which touts a wireless headset that detects brainwaves on both a conscious and non-conscious level and can even make it possible for users to play games or run software applications with thoughts alone.

The technology calls to mind the famous “Jedi Mind trick” as featured in the “Star Wars” films. According to Wikipedia’s hilariously dry description, the mind trick refers to a “spectrum of force powers which influenced the thoughts of sentient creatures, most commonly used to coerce into agreement by suggestion through voice manipulation, or to cause one to reveal information. This allowed its practitioners to resolve matters in a non-violent way.”

The mind trick doesn’t, though, appear to have worked on Lucas. His LucasFilm production company sent a cease-and-desist letter to Jedi Mind in May 2009. A week later, Jedi Mind’s chief, Brent Fouch, offered to phase his company out of Jedi Mind marks. LucasFilm accepted the offer, but now claims the company did no such thing.

LucasFilm sent a second cease-and-desist letter last September and says it attempted to settle the situation without a lawsuit. JediMind is selling three products — “Master Mind,” “Jedi Mouse” and “Think Tac Toe.”

The studio says the alleged trademark infringement will cause confusion in the marketplace and harm its business and reputation. LucasFilm is seeking injunctive relief and recovery of damages estimated at no less than $5 million.

Note to all potential clone armies: LucasFilm holds trademarks on Jedi Knight, Jedi Power Battles and Jedi Training Academy, but not directly on Jedi Mind and other affiliated marks. Nevertheless, it claims dominion over “all characteristics associated with the Jedi knights not memorialized in a registered trademark … (including) Jedi robes, the lightsaber weapon, the power to levitate objects, a telepathic oneness with other Jedi and the universe, and the ability to shoot energy beams called ‘Force Lightning’ from the fingertips.”

WILL’S SHOWNOTES

$35 tablet PC has more features than the iPad | News.com.au

$35 tablet PC has more features than the iPad

  • Cheap Tablet

It doesn’t have a great touchscreen, but the $35 tablet from India has more than enough extras. Picture: YouTube

  • USB, mini USB, video-out ports
  • Runs Google Android OS
  • Aims to be “even cheaper”
  • Join us on Facebook | Twitter

IT’S not as pretty and it’s not as powerful, but a new $35 tablet computer from India comes with some basic features that the iPad doesn’t.

Apple’s trendy touchscreen device, starting at about $630, requires users to fork out for extra accessories if they want to connect a digital camera or output video.

But a low-cost educational tablet from India that costs a fraction of the price comes with USB and Mini USB ports and an SD card slot as standard.

It also has Wi-Fi, a video-out port, runs Google’s Android OS and will sell for just 1500 rupees ($36 or $US35).

The tablet is the product of a government plan to create a device affordable for students, and authorities hope to make it even cheaper in the future.

However the computer does have its setbacks.

It has 2GB of RAM but doesn’t have a hard drive, and its touchscreen must be used with a stylus rather than fingers.

Indian TV network NDTV this week said a prototype model they reviewed was very impressive despite its flaws.

“The hardware seems to be handling it all very well,” they said.

“Android was not sluggish. It seemed like heavy-duty hardware all working well.”

One of the only major drawbacks, most likely due to cost, was the simplistic touchscreen.

“It’s not a bad touchscreen, but obviously it’s not as good as other touchscreens out there,” they said.

Legohacker turns Star Wars sets into Star Trek | News.com.au

Legohacker turns Star Wars sets into Star Trek

Legohacker

One of the “hacks” showing a Star Wars Lego set turned into a Star Trek battleship shown on the Legohacker blog.

WHAT happens when you mix science fiction, building blocks and a desire to break the rules? Legohacker.

Anyone who’s old enough to know anything will know Lego just isn’t what it used to be.

While once it was all about imagination and creating something from scratch, now it seems like every second block is locked to a toy franchise.

But one young enthusiast isn’t going to take it lying down.

One of this week’s most talked about blogs tracks the inventions of a Lego fan who “hacks” the official sets to turn them into something else.

His latest favourite is turning Star Wars sets into ships from Star Trek — using only the pieces that were included in the box.

But while the 12-year-old boy behind Legohacker been lauded by nerd bibles Boing Boing and Wired, he isn’t one for the spotlight.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.

His father, Jon Ippolito, said it wasn’t because he was shy that his son didn’t want his name out there, but because he was humble.

“I think he sees attaching his name to these things as a form of bragging,” he told news.com.au.

Mr Ippolito, an associate professor of new media at The University of Maine, said he started the blog to document the creativity of his son and his nine-year-old daughter.

“When I had kids I was eager to see what kind of creativity they would spill on a page full of crayon drawings or a lump of Play Dough or, in this case, a bunch of Legos,” he said.

“I was pretty astonished to see how sophisticated the kind of thinking outside the box they did was.

“In particular my son, when he was about 4, started to put blocks together in ways that I didn’t even think were possible.”

One entry on Legohacker shows a Lego Star Wars Clone Walker turned into a Klingon warship. Another shows a Hyena Droid Bomber turned into a Dominion battlecruiser.

Mr Ippolito said his son put together the original sets “incredibly fast”, but then was even faster to reimagine them.

“I’m sure this is true of a lot of Lego enthusiasts, young and old, that they get one of these enormous 900-piece sets and they’ve got it built in a few hours,” he said.

“What I find more remarkable is that my son will create these hacks very quickly too, even though he has nothing to go on — there’s no instructions.

“It can be as quick as a matter of minutes.”

And why Star Trek? Mr Ippolito said his family didn’t own a TV, but they still watched some films and shows.

“When we were young our parents watched Star Trek. It was something that families did together,” he said.

But since introducing his children to the Star Trek universe, their knowledge had far outgrown his own, Mr Ippolito said.

“Of course once you let children into any sphere they often start to eat it up and ravenously consume all the aspects of that kind of world,” he said.

“They quickly learned a lot more than I ever knew about all these different classes of ships and people and races and so on.

“My son will look at a certain kind of ship and instantly identify what it is and I have no idea.”

Links

Legohacker — http://legohacker.blogspot.com/

Warrant cancelled for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange | News.com.au

Warrant cancelled for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Julian Assange

Julian Assange, the Australian-born editor-in-chief of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks / File Source: AFP

SWEDISH prosecutors have withdrawn an arrest warrant for the founder of WikiLeaks, saying less than a day after the document was issued that it was based on an unfounded accusation of rape.

They said that for the moment Julian Assange remains suspected of the lesser crime of molestation in a separate case.

The accusations have been labeled a dirty trick by Julian Assange and his group, who are preparing to release a fresh batch of classified US documents from the Afghan war.

Swedish prosecutors had urged Mr Assange – a nomadic 39-year-old Australian whose whereabouts were unclear – to turn himself in to police to face questioning in the case involving suspicions of rape and the other based on an accusation of molestation.

“I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape,” chief prosecutor Eva Finne said on Saturday in announcing the withdrawal of the warrant.

Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said Mr Assange remains suspected of molestation.

“The prosecutor hasn’t made a decision” on that count, he said. “The investigation continues.”

Mr Assange had dismissed the allegations in a statement on WikiLeaks’ Twitter page, saying: “The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.”

He was in Sweden last week seeking legal protection for the whistleblower website, which angered the Obama administration for publishing thousands of leaked documents about US military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The first files in Wikileaks’ “Afghan War Diary” revealed classified military documents covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010. Mr Assange said on Wednesday that WikiLeaks plans to release a new batch of 15,000 documents from the Afghan war within weeks.

The Pentagon says the information could risk the lives of US troops and their Afghan helpers and has demanded WikiLeaks return all leaked documents and remove them from the Internet.

Mr Assange has no permanent address and travels frequently – jumping from one friend’s place to the next. He disappears from public view for months at a time, only to reappear in the full glare of the cameras at packed news conferences to discuss his site’s latest disclosure.

Mr Assange declined to talk about his background at a news conference in Stockholm a week ago. Equally secretive is the small team behind WikiLeaks, reportedly just half a dozen people and casual volunteers who offer their services as needed.

A WikiLeaks spokesman, who says he goes by the name Daniel Schmitt in order to protect his identity, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Iceland that the “extremely serious allegations” came as a complete surprise.

Apart from the comment from Mr Assange, WikiLeaks’ Twitter page had a link to an article in Swedish tabloid Expressen, which first reported the allegations.

“We were warned to expect ‘dirty tricks’. Now we have the first one,” it said.

Mr Assange was in Sweden partly to apply for a publishing certificate to make sure the website, which has servers in Sweden, can take full advantage of Swedish laws protecting whistle-blowers.

He also spoke at a seminar hosted by the Christian faction of the opposition Social Democratic party and announced he would write bimonthly columns for a left-wing Swedish newspaper.

Modchip for the Playstation 3 allows backup of games, comes on USB drive | News.com.au

Modchip for the Playstation 3 allows backup of games, comes on USB drive

Sony PS3 (Playstation 3)

The Slim version of Sony’s Playstation 3 console. Picture: Chris Pavlich   Source: The Daily Telegraph

WHEN it comes to modding and “jailbreaking”, most big companies seem set against the idea of letting users play around with their hi-tech devices.

Of course, that doesn’t stop people trying.

The first working “modchip” on sale in Australia can let PlayStation 3 owners store games on their hard drive and promises to be easy enough to be used by tech novices.

The mod actually comes on a USB stick, which, if inserted into the PS3 before the console is turned on, will disable system security, and allow users to backup games on the hard drive, or run third-party software.

The owner of ozmodchips.com, Ryan, who declined to give his surname, said Sony, the maker of the PS3, had a reputation for being the most concerned with keeping its systems tamper-free.

“The PS3’s remained unhacked for four years,” he told news.com.au.

“If this had happened a while ago it wouldn’t have been big news. The reason it is big news is that Sony, out of this generation, have had the only ‘unhackable’ console.”

Ryan said that because many of today’s consoles were always connected to the internet, it was easy for manufacturers to close any holes in their software that let third parties muck around with it.

“Maybe they already know how this works, maybe next week they’ll release a new firmware that blocks it,” he said of the mod, that originated from overseas.

“As I said, with the current generation of consoles, all the power’s with them.”

Ryan’s website sells several modifications for consoles and other electronic devices, but says they are not designed to be used with pirated games.

“If they want to do that, we just hang up. We keep ourselves very clean, we don’t involve ourselves with piracy at all,” he said.

The PS3 modchip for sale on his site wouldn’t allow users to play burnt copies of games, he added.

Of course, the nature of Ryan’s business means things can get a little dicey at times.

“It’s one of the hardest things, this industry, to be in, because (of) the legality. If the laws change tomorrow, you can’t… you’re not going to do it illegally,” he said.

The new mod follows the recent removal of a feature from the PS3 that let users install other operating systems, such as Linux, on their consoles.

In June, one Australian PS3 owner sued Sony claiming that the feature was one of the reasons he purchased the console.

Halo: Reach ending posted on YouTube after review version hacked, shared | News.com.au

Halo: Reach ending posted on YouTube after review version hacked, shared

Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach spoiler – real deal or Microsoft marketing? Source: Supplied

  • Halo: Reach out on Sept 14
  • Review copy hacked, shared
  • Ending posted on YouTube

SOME very brave hackers have posted the spoiler of the year on YouTube.

Three weeks before its official release, Microsoft has had its biggest gaming release of 2010, Halo: Reach stolen by hackers and leaked to file-sharing websites.

“Me and my team finally did it; we got Halo: Reach! This is not released for public, and we are not really planning on releasing either,” a message from the team responsible for the leak posted on GameTuts.

For the last couple of days, it’s been swapped around on file-sharing sites, playable only on modified machines.

And within the last 24 hours, the ending to one of the most successful franchises in video game history is on YouTube.

Gaming bible CVG has seen it and says it’s the real thing. Or at least, one of the real things.

The game itself got out after Microsoft released codes to access the game for reviewers – a standard procedure in the industry which enables reviews to hit the media on the day of a game’s official release.

Microsoft told Wired magazine’s Game Life blog that it had been experimenting with different ways of getting its pre-release games to reviewers.

One such way was to make Halo: Reach available on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace for 9999 points (roughly $1400 worth).

However, hackers were able to work around the special restrictions, enabling them to “fool Xbox.com into allowing a download of the copies put up for some press”, according to Bungie fansite HBO.

The game is playable on Xbox 360 consoles that have been modified with a JTAG hack.

Microsoft is apparently extremely unhappy with the modders, but given the same thing happened with Halo 2 and Halo 3, they’re either unable to learn from their mistakes, or cashing in on the press such previous “hacks” received.

They’re currently in the process of removing the hacked content from YouTube due to “copyright violations”, but a search for “halo reach ending” will still get you several versions popping up every other minute.

And remember – many reliable video games sources are claiming it’s the real thing.

You have been warned.

Melissa Thompson smashes world’s fastest texting record | News.com.au

texting

Melissa Thompson has smashed the record for fast texting / AFP Source: AFP

A 27-year-old British woman has smashed the world record for typing the fastest text message, according to a mobile phone company.

Nimble-fingered Melissa Thompson, from Salford, Greater Manchester, texted “the razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human” in 25.94 seconds, Sky News reported.

The official Guinness World Record is currently held by American Franklin Page, 24, who wrote the same passage in 35.54 seconds earlier this year.

https://i1.wp.com/www.news.com.au/images/icon_video.gif?w=1140 Watch Page text his way to the record books

Ms Thompson’s feat, which will be released on video when she gains Guinness approval,  was achieved by using a “SWYPE” key pad, which enables users to input text without their fingertip leaving the screen.

The insurance company worker was shopping with her boyfriend, Chris Davies, when she was invited by Samsung to have a bash at breaking the record.

She said: “I used to send a lot of text messages – 40 or 50-a-day to Chris alone – so we both knew I could type fast.

“But since we moved in together and I started my job I haven’t been texting as much and, you could say, my fingers were out of shape.

“It’s a real shock to find out that I’m the fastest texter in the world

Could malware have led to Spanair plane crash? | News.com.au

SPAIN-AIR-ACCIDENT

A malware infection on a ground safety system could have contribued to a fatal plane crash, according to reports / AFP

A PLANE crash that killed 154 people may have been connected to malware on an important ground safety system, says a Spanish newspaper.

Spanair flight JK 5022 took off from Madrid for the Canary Islands on 20 August 2008, but failed to clear the runway.

Of the 172 passengers and crew on board died, only 18 survived.

The exact cause of the crash remains contentious, but investigators believe it may have been related to the MD-82 aircraft having its flaps set incorrectly.

Investigators believe the plane’s pilots twice failed to spot the error. However the airport’s ground system should also have spotted the mistake and alerted them.

According to the newspaper El Pais, the computer system responsible may not have been functioning properly due to an infection by an unnamed computer virus.

If the report is confirmed, it will be the first known example of malware being directly connected to fatalities.

Intel buys security software firm McAfee for $8.6bn | The Australian

INTEL has sealed its biggest acquisition with a $US7.68 billion ($8.6bn) takeover of the security software maker McAfee.

The surprise takeover comes amid the world’s busiest northern summer on record for mergers and acquisitions, and a bumper week for deals, including BHP Billiton’s hostile $US39bn bid for a Canadian fertiliser company.

The McAfee acquisition, which was announced before the US markets opened overnight, will give Intel access to better security software for its microchips.

Intel has paid a full price for the software company, with the $US48-a-share offer representing a 60 per cent premium over yesterday’s closing price of $US29.93.

Paul Otellini, Intel chief executive, said: “In the past, energy-efficient performance and connectivity have defined computing requirements. Looking forward, security will join those as a third pillar of what people demand.”The boards of both companies have unanimously approved the deal, although it still requires shareholder approval from McAfee’s investors and US regulatory clearances.

Dave DeWalt, president and chief executive of McAfee, said: “The cyber threat landscape has changed dramatically, with millions of new threats appearing every month.”

Intel, the world’s biggest maker of microprocessors, believes that the tie-up will give it access to new revenue streams.

The company plans to sell security software alongside new chips it is developing for mobile phones, televisions and even cars.

Shares in McAfee surged $US17.08, or 57 per cent, to close at $US47.01 today and Intel shares slipped 69c, or 3.5 per cent, to $US18.90.

Some analysts were critical of the deal. Standard & Poor’s Equities analyst Clyde Montevirgin said: “Our initial take is somewhat negative, as we see only modest near-term strategic benefits of better integrating security and its core CPU businesses. We also think the deal is expensive.”

According to Thomson Reuters, July and August have seen the highest value of M&A approaches since the company started monitoring potential deals in 1987.

BHP Billiton’s bid for Potash Corporation is the world’s biggest takeover bid since its hostile $US135bn bid for its rival Rio Tinto fell apart in 2008.

Facebook defends Places | The Australian

THE launch of Facebook’s Places location service this week sparked new privacy concerns about the popular social network.

Places is a feature that lets users share their physical locations with Facebook friends, but it also allows users to identify friends at those locations. By default, each Facebook member can be tagged at a location by friends until the member changes his or her account’s privacy settings.

The result is that a Facebook member can use a smartphone to ‘check in’ at a nearby location and record that another friend is at that place as well, whether that person is actually at the location or not. That prompted some privacy advocates to advise Facebook users to disable the feature soon after its debut.

Cameron Hiebert, a 36-year-old in Lima, Ohio, said he likes the idea of being able to share his location on Facebook, but not the fact that friends can tag each other, even if they’re not physically at that place with them. As an experiment, he created a fictional place called “Cameron’s Naughty Little House of Perversion and Love,” and tagged five of his friends (as well as himself) as being at that place.

Facebook, which changed its privacy controls following a torrent of criticism in May, defended the new feature and said it had consulted a dozen privacy and safety groups before it went live on Wednesday with Places.”It is a huge privacy concern,” he said, noting he had already turned off the setting that would allow others to tag him.

Tagging friends in status updates, Facebook said, was a norm on the website even before Places. With location, the company said, it added notification for the person being tagged and the ability to remove individual tags or turn off tagging completely. It also requires that the person doing the tagging place themselves at the location.

“If you have a friend that is tagging you in illicit places, you can tell them to stop, or you can de-friend that person, or block them entirely,” said Ana Yang, a Facebook Places product marketing manager.

Many privacy groups said they were pleased that Facebook had limited Places to voluntary check-ins—rather than constant real-time tracking of users’ locations—and also that the service set defaults for much of the shared information to be limited to a user’s circle of friends.

Still, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, one of the groups briefed by Facebook about the product before its launch, said Facebook didn’t give users adequate controls.

“After all of the privacy uproar earlier this year, Facebook is clearly thinking more about privacy — that is why we were surprised and disappointed that they did not resolve these issues that were technically possible,” said Nicole Ozer, the group’s technology and civil-liberties policy director.

She said Facebook should make it easier for users to control the feature that allows their friends to tag them at a location by providing a clear “don’t allow” option when a friend first tags them at a location. Currently a user can accept the tag or defer the decision. But if no action is taken, the default is for the information to be shared with friends.

Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said the company has had ongoing discussions with privacy and safety groups. For the Places launch, it briefed a wider group that included some past critics. “We always recognised that location information is one of the most sensitive topics,” he said. “We feel good about the result.”

On Friday, Facebook brought two of the privacy advocates it consulted, from ConnectSafely.org and the Future of Privacy Forum, onto a stage with them for an online video broadcast from the company’s Palo Alto, California headquarters to highlight the company’s privacy efforts.

During the broadcast, Larry Magid, co-director of ConnectSafely.org, a group that addresses cyber-bullying and other youth online issues, said he had recommended that Facebook add additional precautions for minors using Places.

He suggested that it automatically limit use by minors under the age of 18 of a “here now” feature, which broadcasts one’s location to a wide set of Facebook users also in that pace. Facebook complied, and Places automatically limits sharing such information just to those minors’ confirmed friends.

“We appreciate the fact that you actually took our advice,” Mr Magid told Facebook’s Ms Yang at the event. “We weren’t just window dressing.”

Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital freedoms group in San Francisco that was pre-briefed about Places, described the product launch as a “good step forward” from the way that Facebook has launched new products in the past.

“We had a constructive dialogue with Facebook,” he said, though the company didn’t integrate all of his suggestions. On Thursday, Mr Opsahl posted a blog post that warned users to think about the implications of sharing location with everyone from ex-lovers to business competitors.

Ray Lin, a 24-year-old in New York City, said he liked the idea that Places would let him tell friends where he is without calling or sending a text message. “It is an easy way to say, ‘hey I am here,'” he said, adding he was ok with the idea that friends could tag him, so long as he could remove the tags later if he wanted.

Todd Rosenthal, a 38-year-old Facebook user in Sacramento, said he wasn’t going to use Places. “I don’t really have any desire for people to know where I am all the time,” he said, adding he felt Facebook’s default privacy settings were too loose.

Additional reporting: Robert Guth

A Rolls-Royce NBN is simply not commercially viable | The Australian

THE national broadband network will be a revolutionary piece of infrastructure with enormous benefits.

It will deliver 1GB high-speed internet to 93 per cent of Australians.

But there would also be speed and safety benefits to giving every Australian a Rolls-Royce, and the government doesn’t do that because it would be ridiculously expensive, with many rarely leaving the garage.

So too the NBN.

The price we’ve been quoted is $43 billion, but that’s only for the initial build.

Factor in the year-on-year running costs and the NBN rests somewhere between a losing investment and a financial black hole, guaranteed never to break even, let alone to turn a profit.

Take the best-case example. Assume a budget overrun of only 10 per cent of the capital cost ($47.3bn), an adoption rate for households and businesses of 60 per cent (more than 100 per cent of current broadband subscribers), a yearly running cost of $800 million, a 15-year lifespan and a wholesale charge of $50 a month per connection, and the NBN loses more than $1bn a year, costing taxpayers $64bn.


After interest and depreciat- ion, that’s a running cost of about $8bn a year, $4bn of which comes back in connection fees, creating an investment that loses $4bn a year, or $100bn over its life.More likely, the budget overrun will be 15 per cent ($49.45bn), the adoption rate 45 per cent (still more than 100 per cent of current broadband subscribers), the running cost $900m, the wholesale price $45 and the lifespan 12.5 years.

In a worst-case scenario, with a capital overrun of 20 per cent, an adoption rate of 30 per cent, a $40 a month wholesale price per customer and a 10-year life, the network loses $7.3bn a year, or $124bn in total.

Who does that money belong to? According to the Prime Minister, $27bn of it will be the taxpayers’, and the remainder private funds.

She can only be wrong.

The fact is there is simply no reason for any private business to invest in the NBN because it is not a viable commercial proposition.

If it were, it would have been brought to you already by the private sector.

Any way you look at it, the costs are simply too high.

Although the fibre might be a 50-year asset, the bulk of the cost will be in replacing its networking equipment as it ages: a capital investment close to$43bn every 10 to 15 years.

That the government has come to the table doesn’t change the fundamental economics for any business: the NBN would be commercial suicide.

The government argues it will recoup some of its costs by selling all or part of the NBN down the track.

It will be a tough sell. Buyers might be willing to pay the residual value of an NBN asset, after depreciation, but nobody buys anything that’s unprofitable without a plan for making it profitable, and reducing the NBN’s operating costs and increasing its revenues will be very hard.

Spending between $64bn and $124bn on the NBN would be justified if its technological benefits created sufficient cost savings and productivity increases elsewhere in the economy, but this is unlikely to be the case.

The government points to billions of dollars in savings through e-health initiatives, yet none of that requires an NBN: most could be implemented with less expensive technologies.

Nor has the productivity case been made.

There’s no doubt the NBN will deliver substantial productivity benefits, allowing organisations to subscribe to efficiency-driving platforms and cloud computing services, but again, almost all this productivity dividend could be delivered with a much more modest investment.

The Coalition’s alternative broadband plan, a $6bn investment with a greater focus on wireless technologies, is much more cost effective, more likely to attract private investment, and would still allow for the e-health and productivity benefits that will flow from the NBN.

As the Coalition recognises, a fibre roll-out makes economic sense only in high-density areas.

In low-density and rural areas, the NBN’s aims can be achieved using cheaper wireless, satellite or copper-based connections.

Despite what the government has suggested, the fact such connections terminate over radio matters not a jot to applications the connection can handle.

A road is a road. You can drive on it whatever it’s made from, so why build roads that do the same job for 10 times the price?

Without the long wait for fibre deployment, the Coalition’s plan will also bring greater bandwidth to the bush much faster.

That’s the essential trouble with this massive plan.

The idea is to take fibre to 850,000 houses, yet we could bring the same speeds to 800,000 houses for a fraction of the price using an efficient combination of fibre, copper and wireless.

The NBN is overkill. It’s parking a Rolls-Royce in the driveway of every home, which is going to be nice, but something we don’t need.

Communication needs of consumers vary considerably.

They all have different requirements and budgets, yet the NBN will deliver a premium service as standard, which most of us will have no use for.

That might be all right if those of us receiving the premium service didn’t also have to pay for it in our role as taxpayers.

From 10 hospitals apiece in five state capitals , to fast trains, to a second Sydney airport, $124bn could buy many things, almost all of which would have bigger economic and social benefits than the NBN.

If Australians want fibre to the node, so be it. But it’s only fair they be told what it will really cost, that the cost will be a premium cost, and that they’ll be paying that premium again and again every 10 to 15 years.

They might also bear in mind that on Thursday, Senator Stephen Conroy described the idea of preparing a business case or cost-benefit analysis of the NBN as a waste of time, waste of effort, waste of money.

When assessing the NBN as a national investment, it may tell them all they need to know.

Dave Stevens is managing director of Brennan IT. He is not a member of the major political parties.

www.brennanit.com.au

Hung parliament is a win for technology and regions | The Australian

NO matter who becomes prime minister, investment in regional technology is set for a major boost, analysts say.

The standoff between Labor and the Coalition following Saturday’s federal election has forced Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to negotiate with independent MPs from regional Australia to get the numbers to form government. Telecommunications and broadband have been listed as key priorities for three independents — Tony Windsor from New England, Bob Katter from the far north Queensland seat of Kennedy and Rob Oakeshott from Lyne on NSW’s north coast.

The local ICT industry generated between $85bn and $98bn in revenue in 2008-09, according to the Australian Computer Society. During that period Australia imported ICT goods and services worth $28.6bn while exports hit $5.5bn.

Ovum public sector research director Kevin Noonan said technology would be key to negotiations between the leaders and the independent MPs.

He said that was a big win for the industry but could not put a value on the extra telecommunications and IT investment expected in regional areas.”The government of either persuasion will have to pay closer attention to delivering services to the bush, so that means broadband will definitely go ahead in some form or another,” Mr Noonan said.

While Labor’s $43bn National Broadband Network had a clear rollout plan and covers the electorates of New England, Kennedy and Lyne, the Coalition’s $6bn policy had no such clarity. However, during negotiations, policies that have been cancelled could be revived and vice versa.

“No matter who gets in they (IT companies) should view it as a change of government,” Mr Noonan said.

“That means there will be a period of settling in and review of policy as opposed to a second term of government being re-elected.”

The finely balanced election result meant Labor’s plans to force all ISPs to install an internet filter could die. The Greens — who will hold the balance of power in the Senate from next July — and the Coalition have said they would not support a filter legislation.

With the independents having a say in policy matters, a Gillard Labor government could use this as an excuse to not introduce the mandatory filter.

“They can rightly claim that, even though they believe it is good policy, they can junk it ,” Mr Noonan said.

However, on the downside, the Coalition has vowed to cut public-sector jobs in the thousands, which would have a severe impact on government IT projects and vendors who operate in this sphere.

Under an Abbott government, 12,000 public service jobs would go over two years.

“The Public Service Commission and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will lose even further funding as the Coalition winds back the recommendations of the Moran Review and other initiatives,” Mr Noonan said.

“Technology companies selling to government will likely see a downturn.”

The Coalition will scale back Labor’s $2bn computers in schools program, replacing it with its own $120m version.

Labor’s $467m pledge to develop personal e-health records will also be scrapped.

It is unclear if Mr Abbott will stay loyal to a $100m smart grid project spearheaded by EnergyAustralia.

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