Episode 211

posted in: Show Notes | 0

GLENN SHOWNOTES

First Foursquare badge unlocked in space – CNN.com
First Foursquare badge unlocked in space
 Astronaut Douglas Wheelock checked in on Foursquare on Friday, 220 miles above Earth, becoming the first person to use the location-based social network in space.

Wheelock unlocked the “NASA Explorer” badge by checking in to the international space station at approximately 11 a.m. ET from a laptop.

The NASA Explorer badge is available only in outer space. Wheelock’s check-in marks the beginning of NASA’s partnership with Foursquare.




WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walks out on CNN interview | Raw Story
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walks out on CNN interview
 
He claims the cache of documents reveals over 104,000 civilian deaths during the Iraq war, and an initial report by the Associated Press confirms the files detail at least 15,000 additional unreported civilian casualties.
Additionally, German paper Der Spiegel pointed to several accounts of what it calls “dubious attacks” by US Apache helicopters, suggesting they may have amounted to war crimes.
Assange has called the charges of rape and molestation, filed by two women in Sweden, a “smear campaign” based on a consensual relationship.
This video is from CNN, broadcast Friday, Oct. 22, 2010.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_0-KUaQl7k



R.I.P ATI – AMD drops the name and launches new graphics cards
R.I.P ATI – AMD drops the name and launches new graphics cards

 

AMD finally removes it with the launch of two new cards in the Radeon HD 6800 series, the Radeon HD 6870 and Radeon HD 6850

The use of the “ATI” name and branding has been dropped from these cards completely.

AMD’s design goals for these new cards, previously codenamed “Barts”, included improving performance for tessellation (a DirectX 11 feature that allows for mathematically generated interesting visual content), reducing die size and power consumption, and increasing the card’s performance both in gaming and at general purpose computing duties.



Office for Mac 2011 – Closer to parity, now with a decent Outlook
Office for Mac 2011 – Closer to parity, now with a decent Outlook

 

RELEASE

Office for Mac 2011 will go on sale in Australia and other countries at the end of October 2010.

PRICING

Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Student 2011
Includes Word for Mac, PowerPoint for Mac, Excel for Mac and Messenger for Mac.
– Single install: AUD$169
– Family Pack: AUD$209 (three installs)


NBN Co to foot the bill in linking up apartments | The Australian
NBN Co to foot the bill in linking up apartments
 THE National Broadband Network Co will cover the costs of rewiring old apartment blocks to ensure they can connect to the service.
The decision comes as the national association for strata managers and body corporates, the National Community Titles Institute, warned that landlords would not be willing to foot the bill for any extra costs needed to get the best service offered by the NBN.
“We will be doing MDU re-wiring during rollout — because we have said our objective is to bring an NTU (network terminating unit) to each premises free of charge. As the name suggests, the NTU is the end of our network,” an NBN spokeswoman said.
The NBN Co did not say whether the task of rewiring old apartment blocks would affect the NBN’s $43bn price tag, but the spokeswoman said the cost had been factored into its business plan, which was submitted to its board last week.



NBN Tasmania users spurn ‘free’ Exetel offer | The Australian
NBN Tasmania users spurn ‘free’ Exetel offer
 IT was described as “free” broadband by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy but only 18 customers in Tasmania have signed-up for the special NBN offer.
The zero-dollar offer was part of service provider Exetel’s plan to woo customers on to the nascent Tasmanian NBN.
It was a radical departure from the norm, with Exetel deciding to charge Tasmanian NBN users only $2 for every gigabyte of data downloaded and nothing else on a 12-month contract for its entry-level 25Mbps.
It gets worse as speed increases. Exetel chief executive John Linton confirmed that only three customers have opted for the 100Mbps package. This costs $50 a month and 75 cents per gigabyte of data downloaded.
Mr Linton cannot explain why the NBN has been unpopular.
In total, Exetel has only 30 customers on the Apple Isle using the super-fast fibre network.



Online TV spat means fewer free shows on web | The Australian
Online TV spat means fewer free shows on web
 Recent actions by Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS in two separate fee disputes suggest that after a few years of experimenting with free, ad-supported viewing, broadcasters believe they can make more money from cable TV providers if they hold back some programming online.

Last weekend, News Corp’s Fox made TV programming history by blocking online access to its shows, including Glee, to 2.6 million Cablevision Systems Corp broadband internet subscribers. It was part of a fee dispute over how much Cablevision pays to carry the signals of Fox-owned TV stations.

At around the same time, ABC, NBC and CBS turned off access to full episodes when accessed from the new Google TV Web browser, which became available this month.

The Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, General Electric Co.’s NBC and CBS Corp. also have been blocking Google TV’s Web browser from playing their full shows on websites such as ABC.com and TV.com. The Sony television that came pre-installed with the Google software package can still access their channels like any other TV.

Google Inc conceded that it could not force the broadcasters to make their content available, even though they do so freely through other outlets.

Fox abandoned its internet blockade after about 12 hours following protests from several lawmakers, including congressman Edward Markey, a senior member on a House subcommittee that oversees technology and the internet.


Gold Coast win IBM dev centre | The Australian
Gold Coast win IBM dev centre
 BM today announced it had added 34 new places at its Gold Coast operation after responding to an investment incentive program offered by the city’s council Economic Development and Tourism fund.

The new roles would cover two teams working on information loss protection and internet security software products.

Gold Coast Economic Development and Tourism chair Councillor Susie Douglas said that the centre would help preserve diversity in the regions workforce.

“IBM’s R&D work will aid the development of the city’s knowledge-based industry, and help ensure there is an increasing range of employment opportunities for Gold Coasters as we continue to grow into the future.”


Smart power meters ‘to hit poor’ | The Australian
Smart power meters ‘to hit poor’
 
Victorians are being slugged an average of $68 a year just for the remote digital meters to be installed — even though barely 10 per cent of households have them.
Consumers are being billed upfront for the rollout to 2.5 million households, which is not due for completion before the end of 2013.
Other states and territories are trialling the devices, which send real-time readings to power companies every half-hour.
The introduction of the smart meters comes in the wake of Australians’ electricity bills rising 18.2 per cent last financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with a typical bill going up by as much as 27 per cent to $2012 in Victoria and 12 per cent to $2278 for rural NSW residents.
consumers could save money on meter reading costs — now about $26 for a standard meter — because the remote smart meter readings would be free.
a report by Energy Market Consulting, which calculated that 50 per cent of households would be worse off under smart-meter pricing.



Sony retires the cassette Walkman after 30 years – CNN.com
Sony retires the cassette Walkman after 30 years
 After retiring the floppy disk in March, Sony has halted the manufacture and distribution of another now-obsolete technology: the cassette Walkman, the first low-cost, portable music player.
The final batch was shipped to Japanese retailers in April, according to IT Media. Once these units are sold, new cassette Walkmans will no longer be available through the manufacturer.
Although it later became a huge success, it only sold 3,000 units in its first month. Sony managed to sell some 200 million iterations of the cassette Walkman over the product line’s 30-year career.


 

WILL’S SHOWNOTES

ath 26th oct

Sony pulls plug on cassette players | News.com.au

Sony pulls plug on cassette players

 
Since launching the first Walkman in 1979, Sony has sold 220 million of the portable players. Picture: Kristi Miller Source: News Limited
AFTER more than 30 years, Sony has pulled the plug on its iconic Walkman, the original portable cassette-tape player.
The New York Post reported that the electronics company made its last shipment of the tape players to the Japanese market earlier this year, and once those are sold off, there will not be any more to come.
Sony has, however, outsourced some Walkman manufacturing to a Chinese company for sales to people who still use cassette tapes.
 The evolution of the Walkman
Launched in 1979, the Walkman became a global hit and a symbol of tech cool, with Sony selling some 220 million of the boxy devices.
Modern MP3 players like the iPod eventually trumped the Walkman and portable disc players – despite Sony’s effort to market a digital version of the 1980s staple.


Social Network movie is about angry geniuses, says screenplay writer Aaron Sorkin | News.com.au

Social Network movie is about angry geniuses, says screenplay writer Aaron Sorkin

final – ramadge sorkin_512K




Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker, left, and Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, right, in The Social Network. Source: Supplied

THE teenage Mark Zuckerberg might have been a jerk, but at least the grown-up one can take a joke.
That’s how The Social Network screenplay writer Aaron Sorkin might put it — if he didn’t love using so many words.
“Growing up in my family at my dinner, anyone who used one word when they could use ten just wasn’t trying,” he joked to news.com.au during a recent trip to Sydney to promote his new film.
The Social Network follows the founding of social networking site Facebook and its odd, often unlikeable, creator Mark Zuckerberg.
To say that Zuckerberg comes off as less than an angel in the film would be an understatement.
But Sorkin, the writer behind A Few Good Men and TV show The West Wing, says the real Facebook chief seems to have taken the movie in his stride.
“I want to say right up front I think he’s been a remarkably good sport about this whole thing. I don’t mean to be glib about it, but he has,” he said.
“I don’t think any of us would want a movie made about the things we did when we were 19 years old, but here it is.”
One of the movie’s pivotal scenes involves drinking a generous amount of Appletinis — something the real Zuckerberg appears to have taken to heart.
“I know the day that the movie opened in the US, he shut down the Facebook offices, he bought out a movie theatre, he took the entire staff over to see the movie,” Sorkin says.
“And this won’t mean anything to anybody until they’ve seen the movie, but he took them all out for Appletinis.
“I don’t know what bar in the world has that much Appletini mix, but he made the Appletini the official drink of Facebook.”
Angry geniuses
Sorkin says the film is based on fact, not fiction — thanks in part to blog posts written by the teenage Zuckerberg which he incorporated into the script.
However he also says that Zuckerberg represents a wider group of people he dubs “angry geniuses”.
“He’s not alone. There’s an entire subset of tech geniuses, and even geniuses in other fields, who are not like the cuddly nerds that Hollywood made movies about in the ’80s,” he says.
“They’re very angry because the pretty cheerleader still wants to go out with the quarterback and not them, even though they’re the ones who are running the universe.
“They have a kind of superiority-inferiority complex that crashes into each other.
“They’ve been told that they’re inferior because they keep getting stuffed in the locker, at least metaphorically. But they know that their minds are superior.”
The trick to putting a character like that on screen without alienating viewers, Sorkin says, is to not judge them.
“You can’t judge the character. You can’t decide this guy is good, bad, up, down, right, left or anything like that,” he says.
“You’ve got to find the parts about him that are you and you’ve got to empathise with him.
“(To do that) I’ll try to tap into those moments when I’ve felt kind of an immature anger about something.
“I really don’t have to go back that far. I can go back to being 25 and still find moments of great immaturity and find that anger.”
The Social Network opens in cinemas this Thursday.


IT advocate gets creative | The Australian
THE nation’s advocate for small to medium IT enterprises is opening the door for federal agencies to informally canvass the market pre-tender.
Since his appointment by Innovation Minister Kim Carr in June, Don Easter has been meeting with peak industry bodies and department CIOs to bridge the communication gap between the public and private sectors, and bolster opportunities for skilled jobs, R&D and exports.
Under Senator Carr’s $19 million Australian Industry Participation program launched last year, firms bidding for federal government work must lodge a plan showing they have considered options to include local firms in their tenders.
But Mr Easter concedes there are some practical difficulties and barriers to be overcome before potential opportunities are realised.
“In some ways, departments are looking for the quick wins, the things that can make a difference under the economies of scale identified by the Gershon review, without having to go through a two-year tender process for new desktops or phone systems,” he said.
“They are also looking for creative, innovative applications but often they are simply unaware these exist.
“We’re hoping to run some trials for new ways to communicate strategic intent to the marketplace in a non-binding way – a pre-Request for Tender, if you like, so local companies can respond and demonstrate their capabilities.”
Mr Easter said departments were trying to become more forward-thinking, but were hampered by tender rules when they tried to survey the market in relation to new concepts or directions.
“Large multinational companies face the same difficulty,” he said. “They’ve got big armies of people in their operations centres, plenty of application developers, but they often lack local knowledge.
“SMEs can also be considered as Subject Matter Experts. Small Australian firms are typically very good at what they do, and they also represent great value for money.
“They employ innovative, highly skilled people – in niches, perhaps – but we need to find ways for multinationals as well as governments to tap into their expertise.”
The current government procurement process was a barrier to many SMEs, because it was difficult for smaller players to qualify for panels due to onerous liability and insurance provisions.
“I’d like to see more piggybacking of panels, so if a company is on a panel for one agency it can more easily prequalify for another agency,” he said. “Contracts should also be easily transferable between agencies as well.
“Governments and the public will get benefits from these approaches because agencies will get access to specialist skills at very good value, while we boost local industry and jobs.”
Mr Easter has been working with the Australian Information Industry Association and other industry groups to establish working contacts within government agencies.
“It is important to work to keep money locally,” he said. “We’re a smart country. The whole reason for my job existing is because we’re not a low-wage-cost labour arbitrage country, we’re a high-value-add economy. That’s where our future lies.”


Telstra calls for prompt passage of legislation which paves way for NBN | The Australian

Telstra calls for prompt passage of legislation which paves way for NBN

TELSTRA has backed legislation to create a legal framework for the National Broadband Network and potentially separate the telco’s retail and wholesale arms.
But while Telstra wants prompt passage of the bill, it has also called for amendments to ensure appropriate checks on regulatory decision-making and to bring the industry into line with other industries.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced today the government would reintroduce the legislation for the structural separation of Telstra, which has been held up for months but which paves the way for the development of the NBN.
Telstra’s support comes as the Coalition continues to oppose the construction of the NBN. It is planning a private member’s bill that would require the Productivity Commission to examine the $43 billion project and for the government’s NBN Co to publish a 10-year business plan.
The government has dismissed the Coalition’s move as a political stunt designed to delay the rollout, and independent MP Bob Katter today also dismissed it as a delaying tactic.
Earlier today, Julia Gillard warned the opposition not to delay the bill, which she says will deliver cheaper and faster broadband services to Australians.
The Prime Minister said the bill would deliver greater competition and lower prices, allowing Australians to reap the benefits of better broadband services.
“In other words, this is a textbook microeconomic reform, creating a transparent regulatory framework which delivers quality, choice and competitiveness,” Ms Gillard told reporters in Canberra.
She urged the opposition not to delay the bill, arguing every day it was held back would mean “higher prices and less choice” for Australians.
The Prime Minister said the bill was originally introduced on September 1, 2009 and had been amended following an agreement between NBN Co and Telstra in June to “partner in the delivery of this vital new infrastructure”.
The government says the bill will allow NBN Co to access Telstra’s pits, ducts and other infrastructure and lead to a more “efficient and cost effective rollout of the NBN”.
The government has said the passing of the bill will “cut billions of dollars from the cost of rolling out the NBN”.
In a statement, Telstra chief executive David Thodey said: “On balance we support the passage of the bill.
“We also strongly recommend that consideration be given to further amendments that guarantee appropriate checks on regulatory decision-making and bring telecommunications into line with other industries.”
Telstra said prompt passage of the legislation would put in place a regulatory framework for the NBN.
“We believe the interests of Telstra shareholders would be best served by the bill being passed this year so that a definitive agreement on our involvement in the NBN can be reached quickly,” Mr Thodey said.
The company is now confident the bill would allow agreements to be struck with the government and the NBN Co. while also guaranteeing the telco access to fourth generation wireless spectrum – something the government had threatened to withhold.
Telstra confirmed shareholders would still have the final say on any agreement between the telco and NBN Co.



NBN won’t raise cost of landlines: Stephen Conroy | The Australian

Broadband and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Daily Telegraph
STEPHEN Conroy last night gave an assurance that landline phone users who hook up to the new NBN would not have to pay more for their service.
The Communications Minister said that while final retail prices for telephone and other services were up to the providers, the wholesale prices being negotiated between the NBN and Telstra, and to be released in a few weeks, would not lead to higher costs for consumers.
“(The wholesale prices) should see no increase in price whatsoever to the person who is sitting there, they don’t have broadband, all they want to do is pick up the phone and make a phone call,” Senator Conroy told ABC TV’s Lateline host Tony Jones last night.
Asked if he could guarantee that, the senator said: “Well, I believe that the pricing which we will see in a few weeks will demonstrate that that is absolutely going to be the case.”
Senator Conroy admitted that consumers who initially chose to opt out of the NBN would have to pay a fee to hook up to the network if they later decided to opt in.
But, he added, “in the case of where it becomes mandatory to make your phone call on the (NBN) fibre, because the (Telstra) copper has been disconnected . . . I can’t imagine there’s any case to be made for there being that (connection) charge.”


Smart power meters ‘to hit poor’ | The Australian

Smart power meters ‘to hit poor’

HOUSEHOLDS that rely on daytime airconditioning, cooking and heating will be hit with higher power bills.
This will occur as hi-tech “smart meters” are rolled out nationally.
Victorians are being slugged an average of $68 a year just for the remote digital meters to be installed — even though barely 10 per cent of households have them.
Consumers are being billed upfront for the rollout to 2.5 million households, which is not due for completion before the end of 2013.
Other states and territories are trialling the devices, which send real-time readings to power companies every half-hour.
Utilities can then tailor their bills, to charge more for electricity used at peak times of demand during the day, and less at nights and weekends.
Victoria has stalled the new pricing system for at least nine months, after complaints from welfare and consumer groups that it would punish low-income families and pensioners.
The introduction of the smart meters comes in the wake of Australians’ electricity bills rising 18.2 per cent last financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with a typical bill going up by as much as 27 per cent to $2012 in Victoria and 12 per cent to $2278 for rural NSW residents.
Victorian Energy Minister Peter Batchelor yesterday revealed that 270,000 smart meters had been installed in Victoria.
He said “time of use” pricing would let consumers “choose deals that better suit their needs”.
“However, these will not be introduced until at least mid-next year,” Mr Batchelor said.
“We are currently undertaking a thorough assessment of consumer impacts, in conjunction with consumer groups, to ensure the right protections and concessions are in place for vulnerable Victorians first.”
Mr Batchelor said consumers could save money on meter reading costs — now about $26 for a standard meter — because the remote smart meter readings would be free.
The nation’s energy ministers are to consider a report on the impact on power bills in December.
Preliminary advice, from officials advising the Ministerial Council on Energy, warns that smart meters could create hardship for some customers.
“Half-hourly interval data recording enables distributors to charge time-reflective network pricing,” the officials state.
“This . . . can be passed through by retailers, allowing customers to be charged a higher rate during times of peak demand on electricity supply infrastructure because of high consumption or network constraint.
“Some customers without the flexibility to respond to time-related tariffs may consequently face an increase in their cost of electricity that may create or worsen a hardship situation.”
The officials cite a report by Energy Market Consulting, which calculated that 50 per cent of households would be worse off under smart-meter pricing.


Just 1 in 10 opt to take up the National Broadband Network | The Australian

Just 1 in 10 opt to take up the National Broadband Network

ONLY about one in 10 of the first Australians to be offered high-speed internet services under the National Broadband Network have taken up the offer.
The federal government yesterday confirmed the take-up rate in the first three Tasmanian towns to receive the NBN was less than 11 per cent, arguing it was evidence the $43 billion program was on track.
However, the Coalition said the take-up rate was “appallingly low” and that revelations that only 262 premises so far had active connections suggested the rollout was “farcical”.
The government has not revealed how many of the NBN users are passing up the full 100-megabits-per-second internet speed, on offer at about $100 a month, in favour of slower speeds on cheaper packages costing $30 or $60 a month.
The release of the first figures came as the West Australian Liberal government last night demanded “greater value for money, greater leverage of private sector investment and a more flexible technological approach” to the NBN.
“The Western Australian government is concerned about the sluggish take-up rates during the NBN test phase in Tasmania,” Commerce Minister Bill Marmion said.
A stoush also looms between the federal and NSW governments over the NBN rollout.
NSW is staring down threats by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to use federal powers to force people on to the NBN if the states and territories do not mandate connections.
In a bid to improve on the lacklustre broadband take-up rates, the Tasmanian government has switched to an “opt-out” model that automatically connects homes and businesses unless they actively refuse.
After reports that Senator Conroy had said the government would consider mandating it through federal parliament, NSW Commerce Minister Paul Lynch maintained that NSW “has no plans to legislate an opt-out model for National Broadband Network connection”.
“We are continuing to work with the commonwealth and other jurisdictions about rollout of the NBN,” Mr Lynch said.
Constitutional law expert George Williams sounded a note of caution over Senator Conroy’s threat to use federal law, saying the government might face demands for compensation after such a move.
“The problem for them is that at the federal level if there’s any acquisition of property involved, they would need to provide just terms as a consequence,” Professor Williams said, adding that detail on Senator Conroy’s threat was scant.
On Wednesday night, Senator Conroy used ABC’s Lateline to launch an attack on The Australian, incorrectly saying the paper had “continued to perpetrate” the “myth” that the NBN would impose a $6000 cost on homes.
Senator Conroy told the program it was a “furphy” that people would lose their fixed phones.
He said no final decision had been made on whether charges would be imposed to connect households to the NBN that had initially not consented to be connected and then later changed their minds.
And he signalled there would be no charge for households when the copper network was decommissioned and it became mandatory to use fibre to make telephone calls.
The business case for the project prepared by NBN Co is due to go to the group’s board today.
Despite Senator Conroy’s assurances, consumer groups yesterday urged an end to the confusion over the impact on consumers from the rollout.
“For the individual ordinary consumer, what they need to know about is how this is going to impact on them,” said the head of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Teresa Corbin. She called for “a really clear statement about costs for the individual consumer”.
The Coalition told The Australian it would seek to hold NBN Co in contempt of federal parliament if it continued to fail to reveal the cost of the rollout in Tasmania and the money spent so far.
Under questioning in Senate budget estimates yesterday, NBN Co revealed there had been 561 orders for services to 436 premises in the three Tasmanian towns reached by the network so far.
“This represents a nearly 11 per cent take-up rate so far,” Senator Conroy said, adding that this was in line with the NBN implementation study that a take-up rate of 6-12 per cent a year was needed for the project to be viable.
However, of the 436 premises, only 262 so far had active connections – a figure the Coalition said represented only 5 per cent of households across the three towns – Smithton, Scottsdale, and Midway Point.
The Coalition spokesman on scrutiny of government, Guy Barnett, said this was “a joke” and that, worse, the government and NBN Co were refusing to divulge how much had been spent to achieve such a modest outcome.
“This confirms that they don’t have a business plan and when they say it’s ‘on time and on budget’, it’s entirely meaningless and nonsensical,” Senator Barnett said.
The Coalition used Senate budget estimates hearings to demand NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley reveal the number of homes made NBN-ready, the cost of the rollout so far, and the total cost of the Tasmanian rollout.
However, Senator Barnett said none of these questions had been answered and were instead taken “on notice”, giving the company six weeks to respond.
“They are obfuscating in the extreme and if they continue to obfuscate and defy Senate requests, then this can be taken up further in the Senate,” he said.
NBN Co spokeswoman Rhonda Griffin said the company would provide answers to all questions taken on notice.


Telcos to seek compensation if bypassed by NBN | The Australian

Telcos to seek compensation if bypassed by NBN

TELECOMS infrastructure owners have warned they will demand compensation if the National Broadband Network bypasses their assets.
Last week the competition watchdog issued a discussion paper outlining its plans to provide a universal wholesale access price to internet service providers (ISPs).
Central to this goal is the need to establish Points of Interconnect (POIs) — where the customer access network connects to the backhaul network that is used to move data nationally — in regional and capital city locations.
The release of the paper followed three weeks of tense discussions between the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, Telstra and the NBN Co about how many POIs would be needed to achieve the right balance between competition and engineering for the ambitious infrastructure project.
Sources close to the discussions said the NBN Co wanted a minimal number of POIs — between 7 and 14 — while Telstra wanted as many as 1000. The ACCC is arguing for balance between the two to assure existing infrastructure owners that their backhaul assets would not be bypassed by the NBN.
The discussion paper outlines the NBN Co’s favoured model, which proposes that 14 POIs be established in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. From these major hubs the NBN Co also plans to establish 195 additional POIs to support regional centres when they need it.
“This approach would see the network built with 14 centralised POIs and the opportunity to connect at a selection of a larger number of connectivity serving areas, where for technical reasons or local content reasons connection is needed deeper in the network,” the NBN Co’s POI position paper says.
The additional POIs would allow the NBN Co to carry internet and voice traffic to capital cities to lessen the financial burden on ISPs, which need to access backhaul networks. But the NBN Co’s model could also see some existing backhaul networks “stranded” in areas outside the big cities, the paper says.
Owners of these backhaul networks are now warning they will demand compensation in line with the billions of dollars being paid to Telstra to shut down its copper network.
Companies such as NextGen, Pipe Networks, AAPT, Optus and Telstra all own extensive backhaul assets.
“If they have 7 or 14 POIs, then they are going to have to overbuild all of us, so they had better start writing cheques for compensation. All they will do with that small number is re-monopolise the industry,” AAPT chief Paul Broad said.
“If you want to enhance competition and you want consumers to benefit, then you use the fibre in the ground that is there already. That means you should have about 500 points to start with, because that’s how many exchanges the telco industry has equipment in at the moment.”
The ACCC has invited interested parties to make submissions to the discussion paper by November 8.


Australians joining the rush to internet gadgets | The Australian

Australians joining the rush to internet gadgets


One of the millions of iPads that have already been sold. Source: AP
TABLET computers, internet television and smart phone ownership is set to rise sharply over the next year, according to a Nielsen survey.
More than five million Australians, or one in four, were considering buying a tablet computer in the next 12 months, while 30 per cent were planning to buy a TV with an internet connection. Another 31 per cent were looking for a stand-alone device that connected a TV to the net.
The study found 28 per cent were planning to buy a smart-phone, while 22 per cent were thinking about purchasing another handheld computer device such as an iPod Touch or a PlayStation Portable.
News Limited marketing boss Joe Talcott said if even half of the people who intended to buy a tablet computer actually bought one, it would signal the arrival of another mass media channel.
“There’s a big gap between thinking about buying something and doing it,” Mr Talcott said.
According to Nielsen, the proliferation of devices is bringing about changes in how Australians access the internet.
“With such a rapid take-up of new technology in Australia, there are more opportunities than ever for marketers and media companies to reach out to consumers, whether it be via mobile, video or traditional internet,” said Matt Bruce, managing director of Nielsen’s online business in Australia.
More than one in three (36 per cent) went online via their mobile phone in the past month, with that figure likely to rise to just over half of all Australians (51 per cent) in the next 12 months.
In the past month, 13 per cent used non-phone handheld computing devices to go online, with that number set to more than double (30 per cent) in the next year.
Viewing of videos online is also growing, with 77 per cent of people watching at least one in the past month, up from 71 per cent in April.
Another 26 per cent watched video on their mobile phone and 31 per cent viewed it on their handheld computing device.
Shaun Branagan, a senior creative at advertising agency BWM, said the screens on tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad lent themselves to visual images as well as interactive ads and applications.
“The questions for me are more around what are people going to be using their iPad for,” he said.
The data, which forms part of Nielsen’s Global Consumer Survey, also found 17 per cent of Australians have downloaded an app to their mobile phone and 6 per cent have conducted a transaction.


Censorship the real sleeper in the government’s $43bn NBN chaos | The Australian

Censorship the real sleeper in the government’s $43bn NBN chaos

THE political row over the future of the federal government’s $43 billion National Broadband Network has been dominated by the cost issue.
Responding to calls, particularly from The Australian, for more financial accountability from what is the biggest and most expensive infrastructure project in the country’s history, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has attacked suggestions that consumers may have to pay thousands of dollars to have their homes rewired to gain maximum advantage from NBN’s high-speed fibre cable.
Neither Conroy nor the head of the government-owned NBN Co, Mike Quigley, who has also pooh-poohed these claims, will say what the extent and cost of rewiring will be. But this debate over cost is masking the sleeper in this project: the degree of control this government-owned monopoly will be able to exercise on the flow of information into the homes of all Australians.
After all, if things go according to plan, NBN Co will be Australia’s communications gatekeeper, owned and driven by a government that favours internet censorship.
The consequences of this in a democracy raise potentially disturbing issues affecting the free flow of information that go well beyond dollars and cents. In effect, the NBN rollout gives the government the ability to determine what content is suitable for delivery into the home — a situation not dissimilar from that which operates in China.
In the face of mounting hostility as the government headed towards August’s federal election, Conroy announced he was deferring the introduction of a mandatory internet filtering regime pending a review of refused classification guidelines.
This took some of the heat out of this issue that has seen the government criticised by the US administration and Google, which has been involved in its own battles with the Chinese government over internet censorship. Earlier this year, the Obama administration said the Rudd government’s plans to introduce the internet filter ran contrary to official US foreign policy that encouraged an open internet.
Conroy has built his case for mandatory internet filtering on the need to stamp out child sexual abuse material. But Google has argued the scope of the proposed filter goes far beyond this and could be used to block access to important online information.
While Conroy’s review into the filter regime brought a supporting response from internet service providers, and even Google, there is no indication he has lost his enthusiasm for this form of censorship.
Meanwhile, in the lead-up to the election, the government also announced it would extend NBN’s high-speed fibre-optic broadband cable to an additional 300,000 homes. If successful, this would mean 93 per cent of homes would be connected exclusively to the NBN communications pipe. Initially, the government had stated that the NBN cable would be connected to 90 per cent of homes with the remainder being serviced by a mixture of wireless and satellite delivery.
Under this revised rollout, announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, satellite will account for 3 per cent of the new high-speed broadband connection, with the balance being delivered by wireless services. These will provide “fixed”, not mobile, services designed to be used in and around the home.
And in another pre-election move, Labor deferred the start-up date requiring all new premises to be “fibre ready” from July 1 this year to January 1 next year.
This legislation, which is yet to pass through the Senate, makes it an offence to install copper cabling in future and provides hefty penalties for tradesmen or body corporates by-passing the fibre optic cable in favour of copper. And under a yet-to-be-approved $11bn deal, Telstra will migrate its copper and cable broadband networks into the NBN fibre backbone. It is anticipated Optus and Foxtel will also transfer their services to the NBN.
In Tasmania, where the NBN national cable rollout is in its embryonic stages, the state Labor government has responded to a lukewarm take-up rate by deciding homes and businesses will automatically be connected to the network unless they opt out.
The decision by the Rudd government last year to dramatically up the ante for the NBN project from a $4.7bn fibre-to-the-node scheme to a $43bn rollout going directly into the home requires connection to be effectively mandatory in order to find some way to justify the massive cost.
Even though NBN will be restricted to being a wholesale information carrier, it will assume enormous power in the distribution of data and voice services, particularly as the copper network is decommissioned.


Gold Coast win IBM dev centre | The Australian

Gold Coast win IBM dev centre


THE Gold Coast has edged out competitors courting IBM to bring software development jobs into the region.
IBM today announced it had added 34 new places at its Gold Coast operation after responding to an investment incentive program offered by the city’s council Economic Development and Tourism fund.

It’s also given “long-term security” to another 13 roles and software development activity at the centre.

IBM Australia’s Development Laboratory director Glenn Wightwick said that the terms of the financial incentive were confidential. A Gold Coast council spokesman said that the incentive accounted for a portion of the grant program which was worth around $2.5 million annually.

IBM has nine development centres across Australia and Mr Wightwick said that the case for moving more work to the Gold Coast had strengthened.

“We’ve significantly expanded the scope of the operation in the Gold Coast and that’s become quite a hub for us in relation to our Tivoli security portfolio,” Mr Wightwick said.

“The work we’ve done recently has allowed us to attract two complete development missions to the Gold Coast and expanded the operation there quite significantly and the council has (a) program there that we were able to take advantage of to help strengthen the case for bringing them to (the) team there.”

Mr Wightwick declined to reveal the overall headcount for the operation following the expansion.

The new roles would cover two teams working on information loss protection and internet security software products.

Gold Coast Economic Development and Tourism chair Councillor Susie Douglas said that the centre would help preserve diversity in the regions workforce.

“IBM’s R&D work will aid the development of the city’s knowledge-based industry, and help ensure there is an increasing range of employment opportunities for Gold Coasters as we continue to grow into the future.”


AFP seeks legal advice in Google probe | The Australian

AFP seeks legal advice in Google probe

THE Australian Federal Police has sought legal advice as part of its probe into internet giant Google.
Google has been under investigation by the AFP for possible breaches of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act and other criminal law after its Street View vehicles inadvertently captured personal data over unsecured WiFi networks.
“We evaluated this matter in relation to possible breaches of Commonwealth criminal law including the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, the Criminal Code Act 1995 and the various state relevant surveillance devices Acts.
“The AFP has received interim legal advice from Senior Counsel and is currently assessing that advice,” an AFP spokeswoman said.
The development comes as Google is being investigated in Britain for similar Street View breaches.
The company faces hefty fines under privacy laws after it admitted copying computer passwords and entire emails from households across Britain, Sky News reported.


Online TV spat means fewer free shows on web | The Australian

Online TV spat means fewer free shows on web


US broadcasters took a big step toward eliminating free TV shows on the internet after they blocked access to their programming online this month.
Recent actions by Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS in two separate fee disputes suggest that after a few years of experimenting with free, ad-supported viewing, broadcasters believe they can make more money from cable TV providers if they hold back some programming online.

That could mean new limits on online viewing are coming: broadcasters might make fewer of their shows available to begin with, or delay when they become available – say, a month after an episode is broadcast, rather than the few hours it typically takes now.

It would make it tougher for viewers to drop their cable TV subscriptions and watch shows online instead. If cable and satellite TV providers can hang on to more subscribers, broadcasters can then demand more money from them to carry their stations on the lineups.

Last weekend, News Corp’s Fox made TV programming history by blocking online access to its shows, including Glee, to 2.6 million Cablevision Systems Corp broadband internet subscribers. It was part of a fee dispute over how much Cablevision pays to carry the signals of Fox-owned TV stations.

At around the same time, ABC, NBC and CBS turned off access to full episodes when accessed from the new Google TV Web browser, which became available this month.

Both actions sent the message that broadcasters are demanding to be paid for their shows wherever they are seen – just as new devices are making it easier to watch those shows on regular TV sets.

“Basically, they’re trying to work hard to ensure that ‘cord-cutting’ is not an attractive option anymore,” said analyst Derek Baine of research firm SNL Kagan, referring to the phenomenon of people cutting their cable subscriptions and catching shows online to save money.

BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield put it more bluntly in a blog post on Monday.

“Consumers must be made to realise that nothing is free anymore,” he wrote.

Fox’s tactic wasn’t entirely successful. It inadvertently drew into the dispute the Cablevision internet customers who got their TV feeds from other companies such as DirecTV Inc. Fox abandoned its internet blockade after about 12 hours following protests from several lawmakers, including congressman Edward Markey, a senior member on a House subcommittee that oversees technology and the internet.

Fox TV stations have remained off Cablevision lineups since October 16, though, as the two companies remained locked in dispute. Cablevision has about 3.1 million TV subscribers in the New York area.

The Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, General Electric Co.’s NBC and CBS Corp. also have been blocking Google TV’s Web browser from playing their full shows on websites such as ABC.com and TV.com. The Sony television that came pre-installed with the Google software package can still access their channels like any other TV.

Google Inc conceded that it could not force the broadcasters to make their content available, even though they do so freely through other outlets.

“It is ultimately the content owner’s choice to restrict users from accessing their content on the platform,” Google said in a statement.

In fact, the free Hulu online video site is already blocked from mobile phones. To watch shows on such devices, you need the $10-a-month Hulu Plus subscription plan.

ABC, NBC, CBS and Cablevision declined to comment. Fox only reiterated its reason for lifting the online blackout.

The online blockades showed that the broadcasters can target certain internet users with blackouts based on their internet providers or services. It also revealed how important it is for them to control who is watching – and paying for – their shows.

For the past several years, broadcasters have been pushing cable and satellite operators to pay more to carry broadcast programming that can also be received over the air with a digital antenna. Because most people now get broadcast stations through subscription services, the cable and satellite operators have been grudgingly paying for the retransmission rights.

Such fees have become an increasingly lucrative revenue stream that makes free over-the-air TV more closely resemble cable channels that require paid subscriptions.

But broadcasters find they now must justify those payments. One way is to limit access to their shows for free online, just as Time Warner Inc.’s HBO and other cable channels limit access to their programs on the web. Access requires passwords tied to cable subscriptions. Baine and Greenfield said broadcasters would likely move to this “walled garden” approach as well.

Time Warner is pursuing such a model, called “TV Everywhere”. It would allow paying TV customers to watch shows from its channels including TNT and TBS online after proving their identity. In a similar move, Time Warner Cable Inc, the nation’s second-largest cable TV provider, announced Friday that subscribers who pay for plans that include ESPN would also get access to live sports shows online through ESPN3.com starting Monday. Video on that site is restricted to customers of participating subscription TV providers.

Separately, broadcasters are selling their shows online for as little as 99 cents through places such as Apple Inc.’s iTunes store and on Amazon.com – another method that ensures they get paid.

Collins Stewart analyst Thomas Eagan said Fox’s inability to exactly target customers that relied on Cablevision for both video and internet access could prompt it to simply withdraw some programs from the web altogether. “At the end of the day, you’re more likely to end up seeing content companies changing what they make available for free online,” he said.


NBN Tasmania users spurn ‘free’ Exetel offer | The Australian

NBN Tasmania users spurn ‘free’ Exetel offer


Exetel chief John Linton at his North Sydney office. Picture: Alan Pryke Source: The Australian
IT was described as “free” broadband by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy but only 18 customers in Tasmania have signed-up for the special NBN offer.
The zero-dollar offer was part of service provider Exetel’s plan to woo customers on to the nascent Tasmanian NBN.
It was a radical departure from the norm, with Exetel deciding to charge Tasmanian NBN users only $2 for every gigabyte of data downloaded and nothing else on a 12-month contract for its entry-level 25Mbps.
But five months after Senator Conroy hailed the pricing structure as a paradigm shift in the local broadband landscape, the numbers look bleak.
It gets worse as speed increases. Exetel chief executive John Linton confirmed that only three customers have opted for the 100Mbps package. This costs $50 a month and 75 cents per gigabyte of data downloaded.
Mr Linton cannot explain why the NBN has been unpopular.
In total, Exetel has only 30 customers on the Apple Isle using the super-fast fibre network.
“We had no idea (what to expect) but it seems very low,” Mr Linton told The Australian.
Days after Exetel announced its pricing structure for NBN Tasmania in early May, Senator Conroy led the cheer squad, publicly spruiking that the company’s offerings were markedly different compared with current broadband packages.
There would be no monthly fixed charges for Exetel’s entry-level 25Mbps plan as customers would have to pay only for every gigabyte downloaded. The pricing regime was hailed as “game-changing” by the minister.
“You’ve seen . . . one ISP announce that it is . . . actually going to give broadband away for free and only charge per gig, a dollar per gig of download.
“That’s a paradigm-shifting, game-changing pricing structure.
“It will be interesting to see how that goes but that’s the sort of fundamental change that the NBN brings by being a wholesale only platform, something we do not have here in Australia,” Senator Conroy told ABC’s Inside Business on May 9.
But he didn’t mention service providers don’t pay monthly fees to access NBN Tasmania. This cost will come when NBN Co and the competition regulator decide on a national wholesale price for the NBN next July.
Internode, iiNet and iPrimus are the other service providers for NBN Tasmania. Out of 262 active customers, Internode has more than 100, iiNet has 40 and iPrimus the remainder. Telstra will start offering NBN services in weeks.
Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull renewed calls for a cost-benefit analysis into the $43 billion NBN project. “Every piece of news from the Tasmanian NBN deployment raises serious questions about the project’s commercial viability.”


NBN Co to foot the bill in linking up apartments | The Australian

NBN Co to foot the bill in linking up apartments

THE National Broadband Network Co will cover the costs of rewiring old apartment blocks to ensure they can connect to the service.
The decision comes as the national association for strata managers and body corporates, the National Community Titles Institute, warned that landlords would not be willing to foot the bill for any extra costs needed to get the best service offered by the NBN.
“We would encourage landlords to make the NBN available to tenants but inevitably there could be a cost involved and in most situations like this, landlords are less willing than owner-occupied units to meet those costs,” NCTI executive officer Mark Lever told The Australian. “This might have to be something that body corporates resolve themselves, and also pay for it.”
Those fears should be assuaged as the NBN Co yesterday confirmed to The Australian that it had recently formalised its position on connecting multi-dwelling units (MDU) to the NBN. The formal position is in line with one of the 84 recommendations outlined in the $25 million McKinsey KPMG implementation study, which the government is yet to respond to.
“We will be doing MDU re-wiring during rollout — because we have said our objective is to bring an NTU (network terminating unit) to each premises free of charge. As the name suggests, the NTU is the end of our network,” an NBN spokeswoman said.
The NBN Co did not say whether the task of rewiring old apartment blocks would affect the NBN’s $43bn price tag, but the spokeswoman said the cost had been factored into its business plan, which was submitted to its board last week.
According to the implementation study, enlisting the co-operation of the body corporates that oversee MDUs is crucial in ensuring the financial success of the NBN.
MDUs account for one-third of the nation’s premises and an unwillingness by body corporates to connect to the NBN, coupled with disparate state approaches to the way premises are being connected to the network, could wreak havoc on the government’s and the NBN Co’s plans to ensure the maximum number of premises sign up to the network.
The NCTI — which represents the vast majority of the 270,000 body corporates around the nation — has warned that unless the government and NBN Co start engaging with strata managers and body corporates about how the network will be connected to apartments, then many of the multi-dwelling units could miss out on the NBN.
“It’s all speculative at the moment. We actually don’t know how the NBN is going to approach body corporates and how they will install the NBN at MDUs,” Mr Lever said.
So far, the government and the NBN Co have not entered formal discussions with any bodies representing strata managers or the body corporates.
However, the NBN Co said it would use the first five release sites in its mainland build — in Willunga, Brunswick, Townsville, Kiama and Armidale — to test a range of installation and deployment methods in MDUs.

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