Episode 208

posted in: Show Notes


Telstra sparks price war in smartphones | The Australian
Telstra sparks price war in smartphones
The big telco has aggressive plans to double its smartphone footprint in the next 12 months.

the telco is moving to double its post-paid smartphone penetration from 28 per cent to more than 50 per cent by the end of next year.Such an increase would boost the number of Telstra’s smartphone subscribers to more than 3 million, or about one third of its 10.5 million mobile phone users.

Telstra’s aggressive subsidy strategy is not yet in full swing, but changes to the way the telco prices its handsets and plans are already being felt.
In July and August the telco racked up 73,000 new post-paid customers compared with 91,000 for the entire 2009-10 financial year, and in pre-paid it added 13,000 compared with a loss of 62,000 last fiscal year.

Prolonged use of laptops on your lap can leave skin mottled and discoloured, study says | The
Prolonged use of laptops on your lap can leave skin mottled and discoloured, study says
PEOPLE who spend long hours with a laptop computer sitting on their lap have been warned they could suffer “toasted skin syndrome”.In one recent case, a 12-year-old boy developed a sponge-patterned skin discoloration on his left thigh after playing computer games a few hours every day for several months.A medical report several years ago found that men who used laptops on their laps had elevated scrotum temperatures. If prolonged, that kind of heat can decrease sperm production, which can potentially lead to infertility. Whether laptop use itself can cause that kind of harm hasn’t been confirmed.

Microsoft fights Google over Android | The Australian
Microsoft fights Google over Android
The software company sued Motorola, one of the biggest backers of Google’ssoftware, claiming the mobile phone maker is infringing nine patents in handsets powered by Android. While Microsoft has struggled to win adoption of its Windows software for phones, Android, which Google gives away free, has been widely adopted by handset makers and software programmers.Steve Ballmer said there will still be a cost for using Android even if Google doesn’t charge handset makers a traditional licensing fee for using it. “It’s not like Android’s free,” he said. “You do have to license patents.””We are disappointed that Microsoft prefers to compete over old patents rather than new products,” a Google spokesman said. “While we are not a party to this lawsuit, we stand behind the Android platform and the partners who have helped us to develop it.””It’s clearly an aggressive posture. My gut feeling is Microsoft is losing the handheld wars and they’re using their patent portfolio to get some of it back,” said Mark Kesslen, a patent lawyer at Lowenstein Sandler, who isn’t involved in the case.

Fingerprinting technology for gamblers ‘one option’: Gillard | The Australian
Fingerprinting technology for gamblers ‘one option’: Gillard
THE federal government is considering the use of fingerprint technology in clubs to help track problem pokie players. But Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the system, suggested by Senator Nick Xenophon, is just one option to enforce mandatory pre-commitment limits.”We’ll be looking at the whole range of technology that could be used to meet the same pre-commitment,” she told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
Ms Gillard said many Australians were concerned about problem gambling and families had been “torn apart” by the problem.”But at the same time many Australians like to place the occasional bet … and it’s just another form of entertainment,” she said.

‘Social Network’ finds friends aplenty at box office – CNN.com
‘Social Network’ finds friends aplenty at box office
David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” destined to be in the thick of Oscar talk this year, dominated the box office this first weekend in October, taking in $23 million from 2,771 locations. The PG-13 movie, depicting the founding of Facebook, was met with an almost completely positive response from critics. And it now adds a B+ from audiences, according to exit pollster CinemaScore.

Throne surfing: a new Australian pastime – Oddware – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Throne surfing: a new Australian pastime
One in three Australians admit to surfing the internet on their smartphone whilst sitting on the toilet, according to a Nielsen study commissioned by Telstra.The Telstra Smartphone Index, a survey of 2800 Australians over the age of 18, found that one in three admit to what Telstra terms “throne surfing” – a colloquialism for downloading whilst, er, downloading.

Kiwis put a price on copyright notices: $23 – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Kiwis put a price on copyright notices: $23
A telco lobby group in New Zealand has pinned down the cost to ISPs and other service providers of processing a notice of copyright infringement from rights holders – reporting a range between A$23 to $28.30 per notice.

“In the UK, it’s been decided that rights holders bear three-quarters of the cost of processing copyright infringement notices, with ISPs the remaining quarter,” spokesman from New Zealand Telecommunications Carriers Forum
This, he said, was less than ideal but more fair than ISPs bearing the entire cost of notice processing.

Unconfirmed: Android Now On Its Way To The iPhone 4 :: App Advice
Unconfirmed: Android Now On Its Way To The iPhone 4

A big part of the problem, is that the port only works on first and second generation iPhones at the moment, and they are simply way too slow for that kind of geekery. Yet, we still have some hope because, according to iSpazio this week, iDroid might now be on its way to our more recent devices. Asked about the matter on Twitter, Pod2G, the notable Dev-Team member replied in the affirmative:


Panasonic develops robot hair-washer

Japan’s Panasonic has unveiled a robot that scans a client’s head using 3D technology, then shampoos their hair and massages the scalp.
The prototype machine was developed to help thinly-stretched staff at healthcare facilities, common problem in rapidly-ageing Japan, said the electronics maker.
In a three-minute media demonstration, the automated hair salon, which resembles a dentist’s chair with a wash basin, moved a pair of ‘arms’ with 16 finger-like massage nobs while squirting shampoo and water.
‘With 16 fingers, the robot washes hair and rinses the shampoo bubbles with the dexterity of human fingers,’ the company said in a statement.
‘The robot’s two arms scan the head three dimensionally as they move and measure and remember the head shape to apply just the right amount of pressure to each person when shampooing and massaging.’
The machine, which will hit stores in a few years, was unveiled at a Tokyo fair of welfare goods that showed off 20,000 products, including a wheelchair that can dock into a three-wheeled electric motorbike and automobiles designed for disabled people.
Panasonic also displayed a prototype electric bed that turns into a wheelchair.

~ What is Braid? ~

~ Critical Reception ~
“Braid is an ingenious and startlingly creative puzzle game, built with an understanding of good game design that even some of the industry’s most revered figures could learn from.”
PC Gamer Magazine (UK)
“It’s the most original and fresh platform game I’ve played in at least ten years, and almost every single puzzle in it will make you grin with happiness and clap with appreciation at the cleverness of it.”
Graham Goring, The Arsecast
“Braid has the potential to change the way you think about reality. It will certainly change the way you think about video games.”
Jason Roher, Arthouse Games
“Beyond Braid’s enchanting hand-painted visual style, beyond its often haunting score, and beyond its musings on love and personal growth… Braid is one of the most progressive platform/puzzle games we’ve played in years.”
Cam Shea, IGN Australia
“Braid’s artistic design is as imaginative as its puzzles. The whimsical world looks like a painting come to life.”
Hilary Goldstein, IGN
“Braid is a risky experiment climaxing in glorious success. Ask yourself when last you felt a sense of reward and achievement playing a game; not Achievement with a capital ‘A’ and ten Microsoft points, but an actual sense of pride… And when did a game really make you look at the world differently?”
Xbox World 360 Magazine
“I love this game…. I feel like I’m using parts of my brain that have never been used before, like parts that haven’t evolved yet.”
Frank Lantz
“One of the most interesting, satisfying, beautiful game experiences I’ve ever had.”
Reverend Anthony, Destructoid
“More fun than calculus!”
Chris Dahlen, Save The Robot
“We’re not used to being able to manipulate time in the ways that Braid allows you to… You can sit staring at it for hours, feeling entirely clueless as to how the next jigsaw piece could even be possible to reach. But with a bit of patience, everything just clicks, and you can’t help but smile to yourself at how elegantly simple the whole thing is. It was never difficult at all – you just weren’t thinking in the right way. That’s videogaming Zen.
Sean Bell, DarkZero
“Each zone presents a new trick in addition to the time reversal mechanic, many of which defy causality in brilliant and migraine-inducing ways.”
“The end level is fucking ingenious.”
Gamer Hate

Lara Croft: Guardian of Light Review

Despite the titles lack of either tomb or raider, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is the best Tomb Raider game in a long time. Lara has never quite faced an adventure like this before. She’s still diving for hidden gold, but Guardian of Light finds her playing co-op with a partner, introduces fun new arcade features, and gives a new perspective on the iconic heroine. In other words, this game will make you fall in love with Lara all over again. The story – as usual – is a fluffy excuse to run Lara through trap infested landscapes and encounter monsters. Story and dialogue I would say are the weakest parts of this game. Lara’s collection of one liners are unimaginative and somewhat painful to hear.
Story moments are delivered with animated cut scenes and a flip-through comic book style that downloadable games are so fond of these days, as a massive comic fan… I approve! An intro is supposed to draw us into a game and the ending is a reward for playing all the way through, so I can see why these bits have been highlighted by giving them a different style to the rest of the game. This game is beautiful! The environments are intricately detailed and larger than one might think, disagree? You try finding a teeny tiny red skull gem in one of the maps! Many objects are destructible and look great as they explode, but then the pieces may immediately disappear when they hit the ground, somewhat annoying in a continuity sense but handy when trying to see where your going in the often tight spaces your ambushed in.

With this game, one I will admit I was unsure about when I began, I had one hell of a time with it from the very start right through till the end! Crystal Dynamics has struck some kind of gold and I would like to see a transition of the old stale Tomb Raider games to this much more dynamic platform of adventure. Guardian of Light is all about racking up high scores and enjoying some friendly competition with a partner, how fitting for an arcade game and yet these new parts slides effortlessly into the game. Finding treasure and killing ‘baddies’ earns you points and you can compare scores on the international leader boards. Each stage has optional Challenge Tombs that will offer up valuable artefacts and relics if you can solve the puzzle. Artifacts and relics can be equipped to your character in order to significantly enhance their skills. And then there are the many Reward Challenges in each level that grant weapons and items for completing random tasks like destroying all the columns in the stage. There are so many hooks here to keep you interested!

Speaking of weapons, there are loads to find and you can customize either character Lara or Totec with any four at a time. Guardian of Light is dual-stick shooter that has you running around with the left stick and aiming with the right. This felt peculiar to begin with but after warming up to it, and that happens quickly, it becomes very satisfying and fun to experiment with the weapons and swapping between them. Each puzzle has been designed to require the particular talents of both Lara and Totec. Lara has a grappling hook she can extend that Totec can then walk across like a tight rope. Or Totec can throw his spear into a wall for Lara to jump to. Impressively, Guardian of Light remains a good time even if you’re flying solo. The game doesn’t give you an AI partner — instead, you’ll encounter slightly tweaked versions of puzzles that are possible to solve on your own. You encounter puzzles, start experimenting and trying different approaches, and then you eventually solve it — together. If you ever had a friend watch you play a Zelda or Resident Evil game and offer advice, it’s a lot like that, except in this game your playing together! It’s great fun. Since the single-player and cooperative games differ significantly, drop-in drop-out play isn’t possible. All of your equipment carries over from single- to multiplayer games, though. I should also point out that, at launch, Guardian of Light does not offer online cooperative play. That feature will be patched in later with the release of the PlayStation 3 version.

Lara Croft: GoL is one hell of a great adventure! Especially if you’re in the mood to be playing co-op with a buddy. Ignoring the silly story and tiresome dialogue, I had fun with it, just as much as the original Tomb Raider when I first played through that. Back with a brand new look, clever puzzles and loads of collectables this is an intense makeover for Lara, and I hope like me, you approve.

Russian company to build ‘space hotel’

A Russian company on Wednesday announced plans to launch a comfortable space hotel for tourists who up to now have shared cramped accommodation with astronauts, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
The company, Orbital Technologies, plans to launch the first module of the hotel in 2015-16, its chief executive Sergei Kostenko told RIA Novosti at a presentation.
A cosy fit, the first module will measure just 20 cubic metres and have four cabins, designed for up to seven passengers, who would go into orbit using the Soyuz shuttle, Kostenko said.
Up to now space tourists, who have included the Canadian founder of the Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, have squeezed into the International Space Station (ISS) along with cosmonauts and animal life including fruit flies.
The new hotel will offer more comforts than the ISS, Kostenko said.
‘Our planned module inside will not remind you of the ISS. A hotel should be comfortable inside, and it will be possible to look at the Earth through large portholes,’ Kostenko said, calling it a ‘cosmic hotel’.
The space hotel will be aimed at wealthy individuals and people working for private companies who want to do research in space, Kostenko said.
The space tourism program was halted earlier this year as the crew numbers on the ISS increased, leaving no room for extra passengers.
Kostenko said that the project has ‘found Russian and American investors, and we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars’, without elaborating.
‘At the moment, the project is already at the design stage,’ he said.
The space hotel would be built by Russian spacecraft manufacturer Energia, the company’s website says. It would follow the same orbit as the ISS.
Kostenko told RIA Novosti that ‘a number of agreements on partnership have already been signed’ with Energia and the Russian space agency.
The company’s website cites the deputy head of Russian space agency Roskosmos, Vitaly Davydov, as saying that ‘the suggested project is extremely interesting’.


Sydney council in large solar project

One of the largest non-residential solar projects will be undertaken by the City of Sydney over the next five years with solar panels to be installed on more than 30 council-owned properties.
The City of Sydney’s $12.3 million project will cut greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 3,000 tonnes a year and supply enough electricity to power the equivalent of 400 households.
‘The city is delivering on its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 70 per cent and produce 25 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030,’ the council’s international energy and climate change expert, Allan Jones said on Monday.
The project will install 2000 kilowatts of solar panels, dwarfing the current largest non-residential installation at the University of Queensland, which has a 1200 kilowatt peak.

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