Episode 221

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

Samsung’s iPod rival to run on Android | The Australian
Samsung’s iPod rival to run on Android SAMSUNG Electronics will sell a stripped-down version of its successful Galaxy S smartphone as a digital media player

Samsung will round out a series of Galaxy-named gadgets that matches product for product with Apple’s line of iPods, iPad and iPhone.
Samsung will have the Galaxy Player, Galaxy Tab and Galaxy smartphone. All use a variation of Google’s Android operating system and work with apps developed for it.
Samsung formally announced it this week and said it would be available in South Korea next month, though it didn’t set a shipping date. No price was announced

BBC News – Nintendo issues warning on 3DS games for children
Nintendo issues warning on 3DS games for children
The eyesight of children under six could be harmed by 3D games played on Nintendo’s forthcoming handheld console, the company has warned.
The games giant posted the information on its website devoted to the 3DS handheld.
It said specialists had warned of possible damage that could be caused by 3D games which present different images to the right and left eyes.
Younger children should only play 2D versions of 3DS games, Nintendo said.


Alarm failure leaves iPhone users on snooze – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Alarm failure leaves iPhone users on snooze It is the second time in just a few months the alarm function on the phones has failed to activate correctly.

The problem seemed to be affecting Apple’s most recent versions of iPhones and iPods launched in November, but website Engadget suggests it may also have hit earlier versions.

In a statement, Apple said users should put their alarms on a recurring setting to get around the problem.

Should be fixed by now

WILL’S SHOWNOTES


Apple iPhone alarm woes continue across the globe

Apple iPhone alarm woes continue across the globe

January 4, 2011 – 9:23AM


Photo: LUIS ENRIQUE

Some iPhone users across the globe complained of malfunctioning alarms on the first working day of 2011, even after Apple reassured users that its phones’ built-in clocks would work from January 3.

Bloggers, as well as Facebook and Twitter users, complained they missed flights or were late to arrive at work as the alarm built into Apple’s iPhone failed to go off for a third straight day for some users.

“Come on Apple, I thought the iPhone alarm bug was supposed to ‘correct itself’ by this morning?” tweeted Julie Morgan, a public relations executive in Portland, Oregon, on the social networking site. In an interview, she added, “Luckily, my internal alarm clock went off”.

Similar messages were sent by iPhone users in Britain, the Netherlands and other European countries.

The snafu occurred even as Apple shares touched another all-time high of $US330.20, giving the company a market capitalisation of more than $US300 billion.

Kyle Wiens, who runs the popular Apple repair site iFixit, said the alarm glitch is likely due to a bug in the date code of the iOS software, which powers the iPhone. “It turns out the date code is not very stable,” he said.

“With iOS Apple is completely reinventing the wheel, and a bug in something so basic shows that Apple is having to do a lot of foundational work over again, that they’re really going back and rewriting a lot of stuff from scratch,” Wiens said.

The problem was not limited to the iPhone, with some owners of other Apple products, such as iPod music players, also complaining of a similar problem with their alarms.

“Apple certainly needs to fix it as soon as possible, but I doubt this will impact sales or reflect negatively on Apple itself,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment, but earlier said that it was aware of the problem with nonrecurring alarms and that the iPhone’s alarm would begin functioning normally again on January 3.

Some users said their alarms worked properly on January 3.

“This is not a major issue for Apple, but it is sad that they have the same error on vital dates,” said John Strand, founder and chief of Danish telecoms consultant Strand Consult.

The iPhone alarm system failed to recognise changes in daylight savings time in 2010, causing some users to sleep in an hour longer, according to media reports.

The last time Apple was embroiled in publicity problems was in July last year after the launch of the iPhone 4, when reports about bad reception snowballed and forced the company to call a news conference to address the issue, dubbed “antennagate”.

This had no visible impact on Apple’s sales as the company sold more than 14 million iPhones in the quarter ending last September, more than ever before. It is now the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer behind Nokia.


‘Facebook tried to buy Twitter’

Facebook tried to buy Twitter’

January 3, 2011


The microblogging site Twitter turned down a $US500 million dollar purchase offer from the social networking site Facebook in 2008, according to the Financial Times.
In an interview with the British business daily, co-founder Biz Stone said Twitter wanted to become not just a popular site but a viable business, rather than be taken over by another company.
“We’ve created something that people are finding value in,” he said. “But we haven’t yet created a business out of this, and we really wanted to do that.”
According to the Financial Times, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg offered $US500 million in Facebook stock for Twitter.
But Stone said Facebook had nothing that Twitter’s three co-founders – Stone, Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey – wanted.
The daily added, without elaboration, that Twitter still isn’t turning a profit more than four years after it was created.
In mid-December, Twitter said it had received a major infusion of funds from a group of investors, which reportedly put a $US3.7 billion dollar value on the site.
Created in 2006 to exchange messages of no more than 140 characters, Twitter had 175 million registered users as of early November, and transmitted 25 billion “tweets” last year. About 95 million messages a day are sent over the site.
It has pursued rapid growth over profits and brought in advertising revenues through paid for “promoted tweets”.


Mustafa Al Shakarji uses Google Earth to appeal his speeding fine | News.com.au

Mustafa Al Shakarji uses Google Earth to appeal his speeding fine


A man has used Google Earth to allege it was impossible that police caught him speeding where they say they did. Source: Supplied
A MAN has won the right to appeal his speeding fine and had his traffic conviction quashed after using Google Earth to allege the police officer may have issued the ticket to the wrong car.
Mustafa Al Shakarji, 24, was ordered to pay a $200 fine and court costs of $71.50 after a Bowen Magistrate refused to accept all of his evidence when he represented himself, the Townsville Bulletin reported.
But the fourth-year James Cook University pharmacy student will attempt to overturn the speeding fine a second time after being granted an appeal in the Brisbane District Court and ordered a re-trial in the Townsville Magistrates Court.
Mr Al Shakarji, who immigrated to Australia from Iraq with his family in 2002, yesterday gave an insight into why he didn’t just pay the fine, and even continued to fight the charge after initially losing.
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“I am from a country rife with corruption in the police and the government, but Australia is so different,” he said.
“In Iraq I couldn’t stand up to speak out but here you can when you don’t think it’s right so why wouldn’t you?”
The Wulguru man said he was inspired to fight the traffic conviction after his older brother Reza disputed four speeding fines and had all of them overturned.
In his first trial on June 10, 2010, Mr Al Shakarji appeared in the Bowen Magistrates Court to dispute the speeding fine issued on April 22, 2009 at 8.45am in the 40km/h Herbert St school zone in Bowen.
The defendant was adamant he was not doing 57km/h. Using Google Earth, which allows you to navigate through satellite imagery, he alleged not to have been the one speeding “down the hill”.
The defendant claimed “if the device had been operated in accordance with Australian standard, the evidence that the officer had given would have been impossible”.
Based on the timing guidelines to view the vehicle speeding and then administer the radar, Mr Al Shakarji said his vehicle would have been at the top of the hill and thus “not visible to the officer”.
District Court Judge Douglas McGill, who presided over the appeal, agreed there was “reasonable doubt as to whether the appellant was exceeding the speed limit” and found the Magistrate may have unduly restricted cross-examination by the defendant who was attempting to prove this point.
Judge McGill summed up that the registered higher speed could have been “something other than the defendant’s vehicle, the most plausible candidate being a different vehicle” and “the police officer may not have used the device properly”.


Future-proof your data archive | Workers’ Edge – CNET News

Future-proof your data archive

It’s easier than ever to make sure copies of your most important records, documents, photos, videos, and other personal data will be readable/viewable/playable long after the hardware and software used to create the files have bitten the dust.
The four keys to safe data archiving are to choose file formats that won’t become obsolete, use storage media that won’t deteriorate or become inaccessible, make multiple copies stored apart, and check your archived data regularly to ensure it’s still readable.
Don’t get stuck with outdated data formats
Most of the files you want to archive are likely in proprietary formats, such as Microsoft Office‘s .doc, .xls, and .ppt for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, respectively. Despite the ubiquity of software and services that let you read and edit Office files without the Office app used to create them, these formats will become obsolete one day–perhaps sooner than you may think.
Even if you archive files in their original proprietary formats, it’s a good idea to save another version of the files converted to an open-standard format. That’s the approach taken by the open-source Archivematica data-archive service, which maintains the original file format but also converts the files to appropriate “preservation” and “access” formats.
For example, Archivematica’s media-type preservation plans convert .doc, .rtf, and .wpd word processing files to the XML-based Open Document Format (ODF) for preservation and to Adobe’s PDF for viewing. Likewise, the system saves .bmp, .jpg, .jp2, .png, .gif, .psd, .tga, and .tiff raster image files as uncompressed TIFFs for preservation and as JPEGs for viewing.


(Credit: screenshot by Dennis O’Reilly/CNET)

The Archivematica system is still very much under development, but you can download the alpha version of the free archiving software for use on a virtual appliance, Live USB key, or Live DVD.
To recap, the best way to ensure your archived files will be readable while maintaining their original formatting and other attributes is to save them in their native format and in at least one other generic, open format. This lets you open, view, and edit the files in the program used to create them if it’s available, and access the data in a more basic form if the proprietary software isn’t available.
Find a storage medium with legs
If you’re wondering how long the data on your CDs and DVDs will last, you’re not alone. Even the experts can’t agree on the expected longevity of optical media–and the same is true for magnetic tapes and disks. (The X Lab offers a detailed discussion of optical media longevity, including a brief description of the ISO standards for testing optical media.)
The general consensus is that CD-Rs should last 30 to 50 years, DVD-Rs less than that, and CD-RWs and DVD-RWs even less. Similarly, tapes and hard disks can be expected to be readable for 10 to 30 years, while portable disks, USB thumb drives, and other solid-state storage devices may survive for half that time, maybe.
But these are just numbers. Who wants to trust their important data to probabilities? The facts are that any storage medium can fail at any time. That’s why you should archive data on more than one medium and check your archives regularly for failures (more on these points below).
Two of my favorite archival-storage options are the oldest and the newest: paper and online, respectively. While printing your archives isn’t environmentally friendly, it’s tough to beat the expected lifespan of properly stored paper records. Of course, finding specific files in a paper archive can be a challenge, and paper records aren’t easy to convert.
If searchability and easy accessibility are important, online data archives are a good choice. Services such as SpiderOak and Microsoft’s SkyDrive make it easy to store copies of your important files in the cloud where they can be retrieved from any browser. (I described SpiderOak and two other free encrypted online storage services in a post from June 2009.)
More than one archive, more than one place
Storing your data archive online violates two rules of safe storage: you don’t have physical access to the hardware the files are stored on, and you’re susceptible to the financial health of the service you’re using. If the service goes under, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to retrieve your data, and you have to trust in the service’s ability to maintain and back up its storage servers.
The key is to avoid putting all your archival eggs in one basket. Use a combination of media and file types when archiving important data to increase the chances that the information will be accessible well into the future. And as new archival media are developed and proven to be practical, convert your archive to one of those forms.
One other very important archival-storage rule: always store at least one copy of your archived data somewhere other than your home or office. This is one area where online storage comes in handy.
Schedule regular archive checkups
For the last couple of years I’ve been spending a good chunk of my spare time using the free Audacity audio software to convert several thousand songs on several hundred audio cassettes to MP3s. Some of the tapes were made as far back as the mid-1970s, but most date from the 1980s and early 1990s.
Most of the store-bought tapes in my collection are now unplayable, but I’ve had much better luck with the home-made recordings. In fact, one tape I made in 1976 spent a good chunk of its early life stored in my old VW bug–through freezing temperatures and blistering heat–but it sounded brand new when I converted its songs to digital (thank you, TDK!)
When it comes to your important digital files, you can’t trust to luck. Get into the habit of opening a handful of files in your various archives on a regular basis. If they aren’t accessible, dig out one of your other backups and make another archival copy using known-good versions of the files. After all, anything worth saving is worth saving well.


Police: Traveler won’t shut off iPhone, gets socked | Technically Incorrect – CNET News

Police: Traveler won’t shut off iPhone, gets socked

Violence solves nothing.
And yet so many are moved to it in search of vital prizes, such as peace, oil, or a safe landing in a plane.
Perhaps there is one man reconsidering his philosophy of violence more than others this morning after he allegedly thumped a 15-year-old boy sitting next to him yesterday on a Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Boise, Idaho.
There are many reasons why some might be moved to pummel someone in the next seat on a plane. The thought has crossed my mind when my fellow passenger won’t stick to his side of the seat (it’s always a he) and hangs his elbows into my ribs.
In the case of 68-year-old Russell Miller, so KBOI2 tells it, he was peeved that the 15-year-old seated next to him wouldn’t turn off his iPhone as the plane came in to land.

(Credit: CC Yutaka Tsutano/Flickr)
Police told KBOI2 that the teen had been listening to music and playing video games when the cheery Southwest announcement telling everyone to switch off their electronic devices was trumpeted through the intercom.
The teen, as teens are sometimes predisposed to do, allegedly ignored the happy instruction. Miller then allegedly fell into an unhappy conversation with the teen and his attitude, the result allegedly being a sock to the teen’s arm.
Police Lt. Kent Lipple told KBOI2: “He punched him so hard there was a mark on the teen’s arm. That gave us probable cause to believe the reports from the other passengers.”
Though one can never condone violence, people sometimes find themselves faced with probable cause on a daily basis. They try to stifle it as best they can. So I have probable cause to conjecture that there will be one or two in the firmament who might have a small amount of sympathy for Russell Miller, who has reportedly been charged with misdemeanor battery.
Sometimes on planes people really do miss the basics of demeanor. So one awaits any legal proceedings with some enthusiasm, should all the facts be laid before a judge.
Was this a case of an overly rigid adult eking out discipline on what he saw as a recalcitrant ingrate? Or was this an instance of a teen, deeply immersed in a meaningful relationship with his iPhone, keen to express his belligerence toward a generation that has, potentially, sold him into future penury?


Plane to catch tomorrow? Beware iPhone’s alarm | Apple – CNET News

Plane to catch tomorrow? Beware iPhone’s alarm

In the “early bird catches the worm, unless its iPhone has caught a bug” department, Apple’s beloved gadget reportedly has a glitch that means if users set a one-time alarm to wake them tomorrow, they may well end up sleeping in.

Engadget and other media outlets are reporting that Twitter lit up today with lots of grumpy comments from people who were cheated out of greeting the New Year in their desired fashion because their iPhone alarm clocks failed to ring.
The bug reportedly could ruin your plans for January 2 as well, if you let it. But there’s an easy fix, and come the 3rd, the glitch should evaporate. Apple told Engadget:
“We’re aware of an issue related to nonrepeating alarms set for January 1 or 2. Customers can set recurring alarms for those dates and all alarms will work properly beginning January 3.”
So you need only set a recurring alarm to sidestep the problem and get a good night’s rest.
In November the iPhone’s alarm was off by an hour, in a mix-up related to Daylight Savings Time. Judging from this latest error, iPhone users weren’t the only ones affected then: Apple itself apparently didn’t get the, ahem, wake-up call.


Man uses computers to discover four planets | Technically Incorrect – CNET News

Man uses computers to discover four planets

How do you expect to achieve immortality?
Well, should sporting prowess have passed you by, or should you have suffered an unfortunate career-ending injury on a night out with some foreign language students, perhaps you might might use your computer to discover a planet or two.
Or, in the case of British utility worker Peter Jalowiczor, four.
The Daily Mail reports that Jalowiczor is something of an astronomical enthusiast, despite not actually owning a telescope. If you want to discover a previously unknown planet, you don’t apparently need the technology enjoyed by Admiral Lord Nelson.
Jalowiczor told the Mail that he used two home computers–and much of the spare time of his last three years–to analyze data released by the University of California’s Lick-Carnegie Planet Search Team in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Jalowiczor, who does have a couple of college degrees, used Doppler spectroscopy to locate planets that are too far away to be located by telescopes or Richard Branson spacecraft.
And now planets HD31253b, HD218566b, HD177830c, and HD99492c all have Jalowiczor as their co-Columbus.

(Credit: CC Lunar and Planetary Institute/Flickr)
He described his technique to the Mail: “I look for faint changes in stars’ behaviors that can only be caused by a planet or planets orbiting about them. Once I identify likely candidates, I send the details back to Santa Cruz.”
In the countless nights that he spent searching he was, he told the Mail, looking for a very simple phenomenon: “If a planet orbits a star it causes a tiny wobble in the star’s motion and this wobble reveals itself in the star’s light.”
So tonight–and perhaps for the next year or two–perhaps you should put aside your video games and deny yourself the pleasures of your DVR recording of VH1’s “Basketball Wives.”
Instead, you could go to your computer and discover your own planet far, far away. And when you do, please appeal to those who name planets. Please encourage them to stop using those dull nomenclatures that look like emergency passwords sent by online retailers.
Planets are not just a number. They are personalities. And, for all we know, they have feelings. I feel sure Pluto, the ousted planet, certainly does.
Wouldn’t you prefer to hear about what’s happening on Planet Jalowiczor rather than Planet HD31253b?


Greens back retailers’ online GST fight – Communications – News

Greens back retailers’ online GST fight

Retailers calling for the government to scrap the GST threshold on internet shopping have found a surprise ally in Greens Leader Bob Brown.
A group of Australian retailers launched an advertising campaign today urging the government to lower the GST threshold on internet shopping.
Currently, no GST is imposed on goods that are bought from international websites for less than $1000.
Acting Attorney-General Brendan O’Connor indicated today that the government would not change the laws, but Brown said it should reconsider.
“GST on imported goods is a reasonable thing,” he told reporters in Hobart.
“Why should the shop up the street have to charge GST for its customers but the shop selling goods out of Tokyo or California not have to charge GST?”
Brown said the existing threshold of $1000 was established before overseas online shopping took off in Australia and proposed reducing this to $100.
“The current threshold robs the government of revenue that could be used for schools and hospitals and creates jobs overseas at the expense of jobs here,” he said.


Uproar at retailers’ online GST campaign – Business – News

Uproar at retailers’ online GST campaign

Brick-and-mortar retailers have already experienced considerable resistance against their campaign to have GST imposed on purchases under $1000 from overseas sites, with consumer groups and politicians weighing in against a change to the GST threshold.

The campaign, backed by Myer, David Jones, Harvey Norman, Target, House, Borders, Angus & Robertson among others, began with full-page advertisements in some of the nation’s newspapers.
The retailers are concerned that the exemption for foreign sites will disadvantage them and cause thousands of job losses.
Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey said that exemption gives overseas retailers “a free kick”.
“Why can’t I have the same deal as overseas retailers?” he told ABC Radio.
“I employ people in this country, I do pay taxes, I pay rent, so can I have the same go?”
Harvey said overseas retailers regarded the GST exemption as “manna from heaven”.
“You’ve got stores all over the world thinking ‘what a beauty that Australia is’,” he said.
“This is a shocker.”
Electronic Frontiers Australia chairman Colin Jacobs said he thought the number of jobs said to be endangered by the disparity was likely overblown given that the vast majority of purchases were still done with traditional businesses.
He also thought it far more likely that the high dollar was causing a flight to online, rather than any difference in GST.
Jacobs said he believed that the truth would come out in an inquiry by the Productivity Commission looking into the matter.
The current system was very beneficial for consumers, Jacobs said, adding that any change to impose a lower threshold for GST would “vastly complicate transactions”.
He also believed that such a move would be going against the goals of the government’s flagship project, the National Broadband Network.
“Part of the vision for the National Broadband Network is that more and more commerce will move online,” he said. Any moves that would create a disincentive to move online would hinder that vision, he believed.
“With the NBN on the way, any changes targeted specifically at hindering online shopping should only occur after a lot more study and consultation.”
Harvey Norman and Myer previously threatened to open online stores in China to combat the problem.
Online retailer Ruslan Kogan called their bluff and said that if those retailers did so, he would link to their sites on his own site.
Jacobs said the fact that they have not as yet taken that option raised a question about whether the playing field is really as uneven as they claim.
The Electronic Frontiers Australia chairman pointed out that bricks-and-mortar retailers saw online retailers as competition and that anything they say should be seen through that prism.
Consumer advocacy group Choice described the retailers’ campaign as an “alarmist red herring” driven by self interest.
“The big chains should recognise that it’s their high prices, limited range and poor customer service that increasingly encourages people to use the internet,” spokesperson Christopher Zinn said in a statement.
“Consumers are simply chasing the best deal and the best service and often these days that is found online.”
Choice used the example of a digital camera (Canon IXUS 1000 HS) available online from Myer for $557.
The same camera could be purchased though an Australian online retailer for $433.50.
Purchasing the camera from Hong Kong through a company with Australia-based sales staff would cost $346.
“Major stores are not being forced by anyone to charge these high prices,” Zinn said.
“This debate is about quality of service, competitive pricing and the inability of some retailers to understand the future of internet shopping.”
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said the campaign doesn’t acknowledge that small businesses are those most hurt by internet shopping.
“It’s extraordinary to hear Myer, David Jones, Harvey Norman and Target all claiming they want a level playing field when … the extraordinary market power of these very businesses has put enormous pressure on the small business sector,” he said in a statement.
“It’s like watching Goliath pretend he’s David.”
Xenophon said the big retailers with their buying power and considerable resources had significant advantage over smaller retailers.
“I would argue if anyone was going to get an exemption from GST on goods under $1000 … it should only be the small business sector.”
Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten maintained that imposing the GST on every item purchased from overseas is too expensive.
“The cost of compliance would be greater than the tax raised,” he said, adding consumers and retailers wanted a considered response from the government, not a knee-jerk reaction.
Shorten said there was no denying Australian retailers were doing it tough in recent times.
“But the GFC [global financial crisis], the high dollar, poor sales before Christmas, I don’t think justifies flattening a tax willy-nilly where it hasn’t existed before.”
Harvey was unimpressed by the argument, accusing Shorten of being out of touch.


2010: 10 best tech blunders – Communications – News

2010: 10 best tech blunders

From dodgy gadgets to bungled broadcasts and coverage failures to complete system outages, 2010 saw some of the funniest and most frustrating tech fails. Here are ten of the best for your disaster-loving pleasure.

Virgin Blues

Low-cost airline Virgin Blue’s check-in software host Navitaire suffered a hardware failure on its network that forced the New Skies platform offline in September.
The outage was so bad that Virgin Blue cancelled several flights, leaving understandably frustrated passengers stranded. The outage meant that Virgin Blue staff had to revert to manual check-in processes to clear passengers through departure gates.
Multi-billionaire Richard Branson even issued a personal apology after the glitch inconvenienced thousands.
The airline’s group executive, Andrew David, said that legal action against Navitaire was being considered.

NAB: National Australia Blunder

National Australia Bank (NAB) customers woke up in November only to find that some accounts were missing transaction histories, scheduled payments, and in some cases, their hard earned pay packets.
What followed was a week of pain for NAB staff, executives and customers alike, with account balances and transactions appearing, then disappearing again, only to reappear somewhere else.
NAB kept branches open over a weekend to make sure customers had access to their money in the old-fashioned way.
The glitch was eventually repaired, although speculation surrounded the exact cause. The official explanation from bank CEO Cameron Clyne was that a software update dating from 2001 and a coding error teamed with a missing vendor patch caused the week from hell.

Time-travelling speed cameras

Victoria Police shut down its point-to-point speed cameras in October after an out-of-sync clock caused speeding offences to be recorded in error.
The fault was dated back to 2008 and nine motorists out of 68,000 snapped by the cameras had their fines reversed.
It just goes to show that you can’t be too careful with a speed camera.

Back to the stone age: ATM, website collapses

One week in August saw three of the big four banks suffer various technology outages ranging from ATM and EFTPOS collapses through to website unavailability.
CommBank blamed a botched software upgrade, as did Westpac, but ANZ played its cards close to the chest, leaving us wondering what caused its ATM woes.
At the time, it looked as if NAB escaped unscathed. We know better now.

Nokia N8 — Flagship fail

Nokia’s new smartphone flagship was meant to set the pace for quality craftsmanship.
With a camera that could shoot action movies and curves that left Victoria’s Secret models wanting, it looked set to thrill users. In the end it was more a case of plenty of smoke, no flash.
When users ran their shiny new N8s out of battery, the devices refused to turn back on. Nothing could bring them back to life.
Thankfully, Nokia quickly recognised the fault and promised affected users a new handset rather than a patch job.

An Apple a day couldn’t keep Antennagate away

The iPhone 4 was another product that was loaded with forward sizzle, only to disappoint on launch day.
Users bounding out of Apple Stores with their precious devices later discovered that if their hands covered a specific section of the device, coverage would disappear.
To remedy the issue — dubbed Antennagate — Apple CEO and cult icon Steve Jobs gave all iPhone 4 users a free rubber bumper with their new phone, and dragged other manufacturers like BlackBerry and Nokia down into the muck with it.
Come the device’s Australian launch, Vodafone said that Antennagate hadn’t fazed Aussie users, despite the effects being duplicated on local carriers.

iOS: Wake me up (early) before you go, go

Turns out there are some times when being the early bird is not such a great thing.
After daylight savings came around once again for those on the east coast of Australia, devices running Apple’s iOS platform (including iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches) failed to adjust themselves.
The glitch was localised to recurring alarms that had been set prior to the daylight savings switchover, with bewildered users left wondering why they had been woken up an hour early by their keen-bean iOS devices.

TV ain’t as easy as ABC

After bungled ads, miscued cameras and general broadcast sloppiness on both the ABC and WIN Television, Media Watch pointed the finger at MediaHub.
Errors included footage being stuck in a loop, advertisements not being aired and shows being interrupted with static images or broadcast logos.
At one point in time, according to Media Watch, ABC TV jumped in on the end of A Current Affair for around a minute.
Media Watch talked to a source who claimed that the Morpheus Software used inside MediaHub was chiefly to blame, as it couldn’t handle changes to programming.

Vodafail

A botched network upgrade was to blame for slow throughput speeds and data drop-outs that caused Vodafone users to pull their hair out over the last few months.
The latest development in the Vodafail saga saw Vodafone Hutchison Australia chief Nigel Dews apologise to users for the coverage catastrophes.
Dews not only apologised for the coverage dramas, but also for how the carrier kept users abreast of the issues. Will we see a more open Vodafone in future?

Queensland Health’s unhealthy returns

Nurses missing their pay packets, being rostered on at the wrong times and even seeing their deceased co-workers scheduled to work were just some of the distinct calling cards of Queensland Health’s failed deployment of a payroll system.
Problems with the SAP-based payroll system started after the implementation in March, with the Queensland Government importing two payroll experts from Canada to untangle the problems, at a cost to taxpayers of almost $350,000.
The Queensland Auditor-General slammed the leadership behind the roll-out, saying that the lack of a clear organisational structure within the project team had led to confusion over the roles and responsibilities of various parties.
In November, Queensland Health and the state’s Department of Education and Training separated themselves from the state’s shared services program to prevent further catastrophes.


Microsoft fixes Hotmail bug – Communications – News

Microsoft fixes Hotmail bug

A bug that made emails and folders go missing for some Windows Live Hotmail users has been fixed according to Microsoft.
“We have identified the source of the issue [and] have restored email access to those who were affected,” the company said on the Windows Live Solution Center help site yesterday.
“We recognise that even though we restored email access, some of the affected users did not receive mail sent to them during the last 24 to 72 hours.”
Microsoft said the issue was fixed yesterday, although if users are still having issues, they should send in a help request using a specialised form.
A chorus of frantic people had posted complaints to the Redmond, Washington-based company’s online message board during the weekend, saying their messages had disappeared. In some cases, emails were mistakenly sent to their deleted mail folders.
The online Hotmail message board has racked up 489 pages of complaints about lost and deleted emails dating back to early November.


2010: the devices you wanted – Hardware – News

2010: the devices you wanted

Everyone’s saying that the world has gone mobile, but it hadn’t really sunk in until we saw the list of the most viewed reviews in 2010.
It seems that everyone who’s anyone is buying a mobile device. And they want the best. These are the gadgets everyone was looking at this year.

Number 1: Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

Sony Ericsson expands on Android’s excellent web browser with its huge 4-inch screen real estate and a first-class multimedia experience, but Timescape needs improvement.

Number 2: Samsung Galaxy S

Sure it looks like an iPhone, but on the inside the Galaxy S is a web-browsing, media-playing beast of a smartphone and one of the best Android phones in Australia today.

Number 3: Nokia N97 mini

The N97 mini is better than the original, but not so when compared with smartphones from other manufacturers. Its S60 OS helps the mini feel like an old phone even before it hits the stores.

Number 4: Apple iPhone 4

Some will still consider Apple’s iPhone the benchmark for today’s smartphones, but its revised design raises issues we haven’t seen in a phone of this calibre before. Those upgrading from an iPhone 3G would be wise to consider a 3GS instead.

Number 5: Apple iPad

The Apple iPad is the first affordable tablet computer worth owning, but it won’t (yet) replace your laptop.

Number 6: Nokia X6

The X6 delivers first-class features in a second-rate package. The excellent camera and media player are tarnished by a clunky on-screen keyboard and a sometimes confusing user experience.

Number 7: HTC HD2

There’s no doubt in our minds that the combination of power, features and good looks make the HTC HD2 the best Windows Mobile smartphone ever made.

Number 8: Samsung N150

The Samsung N150 is among the first netbooks to use the new Intel Atom N450 chip. As a result, it offers excellent battery life, but it’s far from perfect. Unfortunately, its cramped keyboard and comparatively small hard drive let the side down.

Number 9: HTC Wildfire

The Wildfire is a lot of phone for comparably little money. If you can live without 3D gaming, the Wildfire will tick the rest of the boxes needed by most users from a modern smartphone.

Number 10: Samsung Wave

Bolstered by excellent hardware and performance, the Samsung Wave outshines most phones at a similar price and showcases the promise of the Bada OS.


iPhone users suffer another alarm glitch – Communications – News

iPhone users suffer another alarm glitch

Many iPhone users started the new year with an unexpected sleep-in after their devices suffered another alarm system glitch.

Users around the world have taken to Apple’s official discussion forum to compare notes, reporting that alarms set to go off after midnight on 1 January 2011 are not sounding.
Users are even reporting that the alarm fault is occurring on phones which have been updated to the 4.2.1 version of the operating system, which was meant to fix recurring alarm issues.
“Non-repeat alarms have stopped working after midnight of the 31st December 2010. I know this because I set several alarms to remind me of midnight, and one at 12:10 to remind me to call my mother. The three pre-midnight alarms went off without problems. The 12:10 alarm never sounded however,” a user from Melbourne reported.
Another Aussie user said that at least six staff were late this morning as a result of their iPhone alarms not going off.
The issue could be worldwide, with a user from Japan also saying they were affected by the alarm fault.
This is not the first time that Apple users have encountered an alarm fault on Apple’s iOS operating system. After the October change over to daylight savings time, users’ alarms went off an hour earlier than they were meant to.
ZDNet Australia contacted Apple, however no comment was received at the time of publication.


Vodafail founder meets Vodafone CEO – Business – News

Vodafail founder meets Vodafone CEO

Over just a few short weeks his nascent website has become a focal point for customers angered by problems in the mobile networks of telco giant Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), with his name being splashed across Australia’s mass media. Now Vodafail founder Adam Brimo has taken his complaints directly to the top of the corporate telco ladder.
This morning a spokesperson for VHA, which operates the Vodafone brand in Australia, confirmed Sydney resident Brimo had met yesterday with VHA chief Nigel Dews at the company’s North Sydney headquarters.
While not privy to the details in the meeting, the spokesperson said VHA wanted to meet with Brimo because the site had captured “a fair degree” of customer sentiment. “We’re interested in tapping into it, to see how best we can resolve customer complaints,” they added, noting Vodafail’s geographical targeting functionality could be especially useful for the telco as it could allow it to pinpoint areas of poor coverage in its network.
In his own post on the site disclosing the meeting, Brimo, who was released from his own Vodafone contract on 21 December and was looking for a new mobile provider, appeared to have come out of the meeting of the minds with a positive viewpoint.
“I started this website hoping to gain the attention of Vodafone so that they acknowledge our problems and get them resolved. This morning I took your complaints and suggestions to Vodafone CEO Nigel Dews,” Brimo wrote.
“He and his team are well aware of our issues and are focusing on how to solve them. It is now up to Vodafone to announce how and when your specific problems will be solved. Vodafone has clearly taken notice, however this website will remain open until our main issues are resolved.”
The Sydney resident said he was “appreciative and humbled” by the support and coverage Vodafail had achieved, but that it represented a “testament” to customers’ complaints and contributions.
“We understand that this may be a frustrating time for customers however please remember to be calm and respectful to Vodafone employees and each other. We cannot personally resolve any of your issues but we can keep you informed and direct you to the right people,” he said.
The sentiments represent somewhat of a change from the initial approach Brimo took to the site. On 16 December he described Vodafone (VHA) as “a useless company”, “a sorry excuse for a company” and VHA’s network upgrade efforts as “too little, too late, most likely”. He also encouraged all of his readers to contact sector watchdog, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), with their problems.
Since that time, several senior VHA executives, including Dews, have publicly apologised for the company’s problems, which have seen some customers experience dropouts, delayed delivery of SMS messages and more, and the company has committed to investing in its network to resolve the headaches.


Skype comes clean over global outage – The Take

Skype comes clean over global outage


A Skype executive has shed more light onto how and why its peer-to-peer “supernodes” went down last week, which left millions of users without service. According to Skype CIO Lars Rabbe, the service crashed after the offline messages server became overloaded with traffic, which ground some buggy Windows client programs to a halt all around the world.


2010: what you read the most – Business – News

2010: what you read the most


Now for the moment of truth: what are you really interested in? To find out, check out the top ten stories of the year as per your itchy-trigger fingers.
It seems that all you really want is a good joke, a bit of security news, a chance to scoff at other people’s stupidity and to find out when the next hot phone is coming to Australia.

Number 1: Hackers accidentally give Microsoft their code

Ok. So everyone has their bad days. But sending your malware off to Microsoft because you can’t be bothered reading a pop-up before clicking yes? That’s just really dumb.

Number 2: Internet “kill switch” proposed for US

We get it. You like your internets. And the thought that someone, anyone, might have the power to cut them off is scary. You listening governments?

Number 3: Govt wants ISPs to record browsing history

No surprises here. The news that the government was looking into a data retention scheme, which could possibly end in a list of visited URLs being stored for internet users, was sudden and frightening.

Number 4: Google to leave Australia over “evil” filter

Well, this one wasn’t even true. But you laughed along with us in belly-jiggling humour on the day. The funny thing? A rival publication also ran a more serious version of the story as an April fool’s joke, and an international organisation then ran the story as true.

Number 5: Get wet with submarine tech photos

This seems to be the meeting place for everyone who’s ever worked on a sub. Keep it coming guys…

Number 6: Body scanners have mutagenic effects

Security-induced evolution starts now.

Number 7: Remote-wiping thwarts secret service

Remote-wiping is great for security, but apparently terrible for catching crims.

Number 8: Crims use hacked email to steal house.

*Spooky voice* It could happen to you. Scary. Yet also very funny.

Number 9: Labor releases national NBN maps: pics.

Everyone wants to know if they’re going to get fast broadband. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Number 10: Sweet bypass for student finger scanner

Biometric security and skipping school. Of course you all wanted to know.


Skyfire brings Flash to the iPad – Software – News

Skyfire brings Flash to the iPad

Flash video on an iPad browser? You betcha. Skyfire has spent months creating browsers for iPhone and iPad that play back Flash video on the notoriously Flash-blocking devices. Skyfire for iPad is now available in the App Store for AU$5.99.
The Skyfire browser on the iPad(Credit: Skyfire)

The app follows the same path as its iPhone cousin in being able to play Flash video. The company uses a workaround that routes video requests through their own servers. They then push those videos through the browser. It’s not elegant, but it is usually successful.
Apart from Flash playback, which operates the same way on smaller iOS devices, Skyfire’s iPad version is differentiated in ways that complement the iPad’s 10-inch screen. There are “QuickView” buttons for accessing your Facebook and Twitter streams, plus a similar feature that brings you Google Reader content. The Fireplace Feed Reader filters your Facebook feed just to show multimedia like links, videos, and pictures. Also on the social spectrum is the Facebook “like” button that Skyfire stamps on every webpage.
Back on the browsing side, Skyfire for iPad also includes a list of stories that are popular with your Facebook friends and the wider Facebook community. Flash is still the browser’s biggest draw, and the most compelling reason Skyfire can ask for cash.
Two questions always surface in discussion about Skyfire and Flash. First, can Skyfire handle the bandwidth? Second, does the iPad really need Flash support?
The answer to the first question is of the “wait and see” variety. Skyfire’s bandwidth took a nose dive after just five hours after the iPhone app went live in the App Store. Skyfire engineers spent the following several days increasing bandwidth, and the app re-entered the market. Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that they’ve anticipated the iPad demand.
As for the second question, Skyfire’s revelation that it grossed over a million dollars on the iPhone app in just a few days speaks to consumer demand. However, it’s important to note that the demand isn’t for Flash, per se. It’s for access to web content that’s been programmed in Flash. Skyfire’s video playback isn’t as seamless or robust as an integrated solution, and there’s still plenty that Skyfire won’t do.
When content providers start making a move to new or different technologies, perhaps HTML 5 or Google’s Web M video standard, Skyfire will have to look for a new angle for distributing, or at least selling, its browser on iOS.


WTF? CIA looks into Wikileaks effects – Security – News

WTF? CIA looks into Wikileaks effects

A CIA taskforce — known by the suitable acronym WTF — is to assess damage done by Wikileaks‘ mass release of classified US documents, an official has said.
The Wikileaks Task Force will “examine whether the latest release of Wikileaks documents might affect the agency’s foreign relationships or operations,” CIA spokesperson George Little said.
Few of the thousands of confidential documents leaked by Wikileaks were from the CIA, but many were secret communications by high ranking diplomats discussing sensitive questions of world and US affairs.
The taskforce, headed by the CIA’s Counterintelligence Center, is to make an inventory of the leaked cables and will report on the impact of the leaks, particularly regarding the ability to recruit informants, a source who asked not to be named said.
Some of the leaked documents originated on the protected SIPRNET, or Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, which is used to share classified information between different government branches.
The embarrassing saga could lead to a tightening of the rules for sharing, the source said.
“The recent Wikileaks episode points to the serious need for our government to look closely at whether it might be time for need-to-know to make a comeback.”
Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of stealing the information and passing it to Wikileaks, had access to SIPRNET as an army intelligence analyst.
Despite the concerns voiced by the source about data sharing, most respondents to a recent poll conducted by ZDNet worldwide said that the Wikileaks saga had not forced them to reconsider their organisation’s data security.

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