Episode 220

posted in: Show Notes


Apple world’s most valuable tech company | The Australian
Apple world’s most valuable tech company Britain’s Financial Times last week named Mr Jobs its “Person of the Year” and even US President Barack Obama joined in the plaudits to the 55-year-old chief executive of the Cupertino, California-based gadget-maker.

Vodafone apologies fail to quell client rage over poor reception | The Australian
Vodafone apologies fail to quell client rage over poor reception
Over 1200 poor reception areas have been logged along the country’s east coast on the Vodafail website, set up by Sydney software engineer Adam Brimo two weeks ago while he was waiting on hold for Vodafone customer support.
“I was spending so much time on hold I figured I might as well do something with my time,” said Mr Brimo, who has now been released from his contract after experiencing dropped phone calls, delayed voicemail and text messages, and poor reception in the Sydney CBD.
Vodafone has issued two public apologies in a week and chief executive Nigel Dews said yesterday the company would offer compensation to some customers if their problems could not be resolved.”If we can’t fix their experience, of course they are able to leave,” he said.

Feuding parents use My School evidence to decide which schools kids should attend | The Australian
Feuding parents use My School evidence to decide which schools kids should attend Family Court judges and federal magistrates are increasingly being asked to consider data from the website, which lists schools’ literacy and numeracy scores, when deciding where children of broken relationships should be educated.

case of the NSW man, federal magistrate Kevin Lapthorn “respected” the father’s perspective, but “found no evidence to suggest the children were not doing well in their current school”.

Skype sorry as call services return | The Australian
Skype sorry as call services return

Skype identified a sudden drop in communication between different parts of its network of users as the source of the problem. Skype relies on millions of individuals connecting to its service through computers and phones to transmit its signals.

millions of users when a problem with its connection system prevented people from signing in

The company says the problem has to do with its “supernodes” – a crucial part of its peer-to-peer networking system.

Libel laws ‘must apply’ to new media | The Australian
Libel laws ‘must apply’ to new mediaFACEBOOK and Twitter should be subject to defamation laws in the same way as newspapers, according to media experts, and all social-media sites should be held responsible for material published on them

Nicholas Pullen, a media and communications lawyer who defended a slew of writs on behalf of gadfly publisher Stephen Mayne when he owned the Crikey website, said Facebook should be treated no differently to The Australian newspaper when it came to defamation.

If you look at the terms and conditions of opening a Facebook account, Facebook actually owns the content that has been placed on it,” said Mr Pullen, a partner with EHW Hebsworth

How many is a billion? : Oxford Dictionaries Online
How many is a billion?
In British English, a billion used to be equivalent to a million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000), while in American English it has always equated to a thousand million (i.e. 1,000,000,000). British English has now adopted the American figure, though, so that a billion equals a thousand million in both varieties of English.
The same sort of change has taken place with the meaning of trillion. In British English, a trillion used to mean a million million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000). Nowadays, it’s generally held to be equivalent to a million million (1,000,000,000,000), as it is in American English.

Google buys New York office building for $1.9 billion | bit-tech.net
Google buys New York office building for $1.9 billion Although Google’s official announcement coyly refuses to discuss the money involved, the company is thought to be paying $1.9 billion to purchase its New York office building at 111 Eight Avenue, or 76 Ninth Avenue, depending on which entrance you use.

If the $1.9 billion purchase figure, quoted by The Wall Street Journal and others, proves true, then it’s a major coup for Taconic, which paid a mere $300 million for the property when it acquired it in 1998.

Androids in space? Google launches phones into orbit – CNN.com
Google launches phones into orbit To celebrate the release of the Nexus S, Google employees constructed seven hobbyist-style air balloons, each containing a phone, and sent them into orbit.

Google says it recovered all seven capsules from the test run. At least one of those reached higher than 100,000 feet (more than 20 miles).
The phones stopped functioning at 60,000 feet — about twice as high as most planes fly. Not bad for being in space without a helmet.
Google says the phones started working again on descent.
The company posted several videos about the project on YouTube.

Apple pulls Wikileaks app – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Apple pulls Wikileaks app There’s no word from Apple on why it took down the app

customer reviews suggest the takedown is no great loss, which was criticised for lack of content and depth.

Buyers had accused the app of being “just a wrapper for the mobile website

BBC News – Police warn of burglary risk from social media sites
Police warn of burglary risk from social media sites
Police are warning that criminals are using social networking internet sites to plan burglaries.
Officers warn that messages indicating that homes may be empty over Christmas and the New Year can leave householders vulnerable to crime.
One family have blamed Facebook for a break-in which cost them more than £30,000

Giants of retail count their losses as the web threat comes of age | The Australian
Giants of retail count their losses as the web threat comes of age Gerry Harvey is now in the vanguard of retailers pushing for an end to tax exemptions on foreign internet purchases of less than $1000 — a measure they say unfairly favours online operators.

a report commissioned by the federal government, Access Economics estimates that online purchases totalled between $19 billion and $24bn in 2009, or around 3 per cent of total retail sales. That may not sound like much in relative terms, but it’s growing, and fast.

These trends can already be seen at the Australian arm of online auction site eBay, which reports women’s shoes, handbags, music CDs and electronic games as its biggest sellers — most of which are sold brand new by businesses, despite the common perception of the site as an online garage sale. Chief among the attractions for shoppers is price — shoppers buying from offshore retailers based in countries with no sales tax on exports can save 15 per cent.

Myer chief Bernie Brookes has said he could begin selling tax free as early as February, with Chinese-made clothing ordered from the company’s website to be shipped from Shenzhen.
Gerry Harvey, who has flagged similar plans, believes the federal government would not allow the retailers to evade tax so openly.
“The day we do it they’ll probably shut it down,” he said.



Boeing resumes Dreamliner testing | Cutting Edge – CNET News

Boeing resumes Dreamliner testing

Boeing announced today that it is resuming flight testing for its 787 Dreamliner program six weeks after an onboard fire halted the evaluation program and forced a test aircraft to land in Laredo, Texas.
Boeing said in a statement it returned test aircraft ZA004 to flight after it had installed an interim version of updated power distribution system software and completed a “rigorous set of reviews to confirm flight readiness.” In the past few weeks, Boeing and supplier Hamilton Sundstrand completed initial verification of the changes with simulator and ground-based testing.
Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter told CNET that the company will announce a revised testing schedule possibly in January but only after it had evaluated results from the resumed tests. After it completes additional company-required tests Boeing will follow with the remaining certification testing needed to carry revenue passengers.
The November 9 fire, which was blamed on a failed power panel in the electronics bay, was only the latest incident in a long string of setbacks that have delayed the plane’s delivery for more than three years. Though launch customer All Nippon Airways was originally set to receive its first aircraft in May 2008, the Dreamliner’s first flight didn’t occur until December 15 of last year.
Shares of Boeing closed at $65.06 at the end of trading today. That’s up $0.45 or 0.70 percent from Wednesday’s close.

Nissan’s Leaf featuring automatic gaming system | Crave – CNET

Nissan’s Leaf featuring automatic gaming system

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(Credit: MyNissanLeaf.com, forum poster ‘gudy’)
A few weeks ago we wrote about Phylo, a Flash-based puzzle game that uses addictive gameplay to help scientists map human genetic code. It’s part of the trend of making otherwise mundane things fun by adding gaming elements, especially Xbox-like achievements. Another good example is Foursquare, which awards users “badges” for checking in a certain venues. The idea is to give users reasons to use a service by providing bragging rights to those who achieve the most. And now Nissan is adding the concept to its new electric car, the Leaf.

It’s been known for awhile that the Leaf has a seven-inch display that gives real-time information, such as how much CO2 the driver is keeping out of the atmosphere, as well as daily, weekly, and monthly reports to drivers. It’s called CARWING, which would be a great name for a Decepticon.
And it unexpectedly also includes achievements, averaging a driver’s usage with others, assigning rankings, both regionally and globally. There’s a notion that electric car drivers tend to be smug, and this allows them to measure that smugness. It’s a fun idea, and contributes to the gamification trend, something that we expect to see show up everywhere in the next year.
What’s unknown is if there will be an official prize system. Will the greenest drivers get discounts on insurance? Blinged-out rim upgrades for free? A Fiji water cup holder?

Synology DS1511+ does the 3TB-per-drive dance, backs up most of your neighborhood — Engadget

Synology DS1511+ does the 3TB-per-drive dance, backs up most of your neighborhood

By Sean Hollister

Once one network attached storage manufacturer upgraded to 3TB hard drives, it was only a matter of time before the rest followed suit, and this time it’s Synology’s turn with the DiskStation DS1511+. In case you haven’t done the math already, this particular unit can store up to 15 terabytes of your juiciest secrets across five 3TB hot-swappable drives, and its 1.8GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of memory handles a RAID 5 array capable of speeding that data across a local area network at up to 197 MB / sec read speeds and 165 MB / sec writes. If that capacity isn’t enough to house your plan for world domination and monitor all the IP cameras in your underground volcano lair, the unit can scale up to 45TB with a couple of secondary expansion units, each with five more 3TB drives of their own. Yours for roughly $900 — sans storage — wherever NAS are sold.

42-inch Nexus S stomps into Best Buy, terrifies shoppers and demos interactive Gingerbread UI

42-inch Nexus S stomps into Best Buy, terrifies shoppers and demos interactive Gingerbread UI (video)

By Sean Hollister

This isn’t Google TV, though we can see why you’d ask. No, this monster is merely the world’s largest fully-functional Nexus S handset. Presently on display in a Best Buy store in San Carlos, California, the enormous Android is equipped with a 42-inch multitouch screen, rigged to a real Nexus S that does all the processing. There’s a working camera, internet access and the whole Android 2.3 user interface to explore, though it does look a mite difficult to navigate in the video below.

IBM makes racetrack memory breakthrough, which could come in handy someday — Engadget

IBM makes racetrack memory breakthrough, which could come in handy someday

By Sean Hollister

between magnetic fields, racing across a nanowire, at hundreds of miles per hour. IBM’s been plugging away at the so-called racetrack memory since 2004, calling it the perfect hybrid of magnetic storage and flash, but until recently scientists didn’t know whether the magnetic domain walls (where data will live) had any mass to speak of. As it turns out, they do, and thus have to obey the tiresome laws of physics as they move along the nanowire “track,” but also accelerate and decelerate the exact same amount, more or less canceling out the effect. Long story short, IBM can use this knowledge to precisely position those 1s and 0s in their newfound data bank, and someday we’ll all reap the benefits of dense, speedy and reliable memory. You know, assuming PRAM, FeRAM, ReRAM and memristors don’t eat IBM’s lunch.

Sonic the Hedgehog will charge your Wiimote inductively, but he won’t like it — Engadget

Sonic the Hedgehog will charge your Wiimote inductively, but he won’t like it

By Tim Stevens

He may be flashing a peace sign, but you can tell from the look in his eyes that Sonic isn’t exactly thrilled to be doing anything to support Nintendo. This is the cat that made blast processing a reality, whose addiction for gold rings is legendary, and who hasn’t starred in a truly great game since, well, since Sega stopped making hardware, now reduced to this. Look at him, perched atop a mock floating platform, brown and tan checkerboard base with a green top where you can set your Wiimotes for charging without stripping them of their prophylactics. Though the press release makes no mention of this, we were led to believe that this is not actually powered by your AC outlet, instead by the spirits of fuzzy little squirrels and rabbits trapped within, making this $49.99 figurine from Mad Catz all the more nefarious.

Vodafone may face class action – Communications – News

Vodafone may face class action

Vodafone may become the target of a class action lawsuit from customers angry over ongoing call connection and data problems with the telco’s mobile network.
Sydney lawfirm Piper Alderman is currently investigating the possibility of taking class action against the telco following months of complaints from customers about the service on the company’s 3G network.
“Calls dropping out, reception issues, poor data performance — this is not what Vodafone customers signed up for. Vodafone, however, has continued to charge customers on its mobile plans, without providing the service it promised,” the firm said on its website.
“Customers who signed up with Vodafone over the last three years may be entitled to compensation if they were misled into signing contracts or if Vodafone did not live up to its end of the bargain.”
Piper Alderman said it would be investigating whether it could recover funds (including interest) for customers for the past three years and said that there will be no financial costs for Vodafone customers unless the firm can successfully win compensation from the telco.
Vodafone said that it was aware of the law firm’s intentions, but added that the most important thing it could do was to improve customers’ experiences and resolve issues.
The telco is currently in the process of upgrading its 3G networks.
Vodafone said it was keeping the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission informed about what it was doing to improve network performance and customer service, and that it was keeping customers informed of changes via its website.
“Our network performance is improving and we are confident that things will get better as we continue to roll out extra capacity across our network,” the company said in a statement.
Last week Vodafone Hutchison Australia CEO Nigel Dews issued an apology to customers for the problems with the network and the telco’s failure to accurately communicate those issues with customers.
“Having customers who are happy with their service and their network experience is central to us, but unfortunately in recent weeks, some customers have had a disappointing and frustrating experience, which I am very sorry for,” Dews said.
“Looking at your comments on various blogs including here on our own, it’s clear we could have done a better job at keeping you across what’s been happening,” he admitted.
Vodafone customers interested joining on the action can do so by filling in a form on Piper Alderman’s website.

World’s first 3D TV that doesn’t need special glasses goes on sale in Japan | News.com.au

World’s first 3D TV that doesn’t need special glasses goes on sale in Japan

Toshiba executive Masaaki Osumi unveiling the Regza series 3D TVs in Tokyo in October. Picture: AFP Source: AFP
TOSHIBA has launched in Japan what it calls the world’s first television that allows viewers to see 3D images without wearing special glasses, amid intensifying competition.
Curious shoppers stopped to test the screen at an electronics store in central Tokyo as the 12-inch model of Regza GL1 Series went on sale.
The new model with a liquid crystal display carries a price tag of ¥119,800 ($1440). A 20-inch model will be released this weekend.
The new 3D TV does not require users to wear special glasses, whereas other 3D-capable models require glasses that act as filters to separate images between each eye to create the illusion of depth.
Toshiba’s screens use processing technology to create depth-filled images and the Regza GL1 Series allow users to switch between 2D and 3D on normal TV programs.
Kazuhito Gunji, a public relations official at electronics retailer Bic Camera, said the company had received many inquiries from customers on when they could get their hands on the product.
Electronics stores are hoping the release of the latest technology will help offset declining sales as government incentives for purchasing environment-friendly home appliances were reduced this month.
The hugely competitive TV sector is a challenge for many electronics makers given that customers are increasingly accustomed to declining prices, making it difficult for the industry to generate profits.
Sony this week said it may fall short of its sales goal of 25 million liquid crystal display TV sets this fiscal year as it struggles to be profitable in the sector. It has also embraced 3D TV technology.
Most shoppers were curious but also cautious about the new Toshiba device, however.
“I want to watch on a big screen,” said a 47-year-old man who has a 37-inch TV at home.
“I’ll wait for another year before buying,” he said.
Another customer, 33, said: “It’s great that we don’t have to wear glasses, which is a nuisance.”
“But I didn’t feel images were flying out of the screen on some programs,” he added.
Toshiba says images on the 12-inch screen are best viewed from the front and 65cm away.
“Customers currently think of 3D images as just an add-on function… but 3D is expected to become a standard eventually” with 3D films and video titles increasing, said Toshiba sales official Eiichi Matsuzawa.
Rival Sharp earlier this year unveiled a small glasses-free LCD touchscreen that shows 3D images for use in mobile phones, digital cameras and games consoles such as Nintendo’s 3DS, to be released in Japan in February.

PS3 consoles become military supercomputer | News.com.au

PS3 consoles become military supercomputer

A PlayStation 3 (PS3) console waiting to become a supercomputer / Image supplied
US Air Force researchers have created the Defence Department’s largest interactive supercomputer – the 35th fastest in the world – from 1760 Sony PlayStation 3s.
The amalgamation of consoles, nicknamed the “Condor Cluster,” will be used to “process high-resolution satellite images and boost surveillance capabilities” according to The Air Force Times.
It will allow scientists to monitor a 15.5-mile area in real time.
Mark Barnell, director of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio – where the computer was unveiled earlier this month – said that the computer is also capable of reading 20 pages per second with up to 30 percent of the characters removed and recovering all the words without error.
The “Condor Cluster” is energy efficient and at $US2 million, has a price tag well below that of traditional computing equipment.
“We’re striving hard to make affordable and constrained systems, where they can really use them and make a difference,” Mr Barnell said, adding that it is thought to be the seventh “greenest” computer in the world.
The “Condor Cluster” can achieve about 1.5 GigaFLOPS – floating point operations per second, the unit by which supercomputing power is measured – per watt of computing power, about fifteen times more powerful than a typical supercomputer.
“We have quite a few research and development efforts working on those kind of applications to do confabulation and prediction and that will open up a variety of areas which could help with a lot of other efforts and a lot of the areas in which the Air Force would like to go,” Mr Barnell said.

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