Secrets of your DNA revealed?
Secrets of your DNA revealed? http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/
January 2011: A state-of-the art DNA test that will reveal the blueprint of your genetic code and hold all the answers to your health, wealth and personal prosperity? Not likely! All it will reveal is the secrets of your credit card to scammers.
SCAMwatch has heard reports of consumers receiving a free DNA test kit in the mail and is warning you to be on the look out. Many of the kits are turning up in Western Australia, but reports are coming in nationally.
The kits, which look professional, contain a letter and a cotton swab in a sealed bag. By returning their DNA sample to an address in Canada, recipients are promised valuable and insightful information about their DNA profile, including detailed analysis about health, diet, intellect, personal fulfilment, disease prevention – even life expectancy and aspects of youthful age.
Despite providing the kits for free, the company is charging a $39.99 processing fee and asking for the recipient’s credit card details. As well as being a waste of money, providing your personal or financial details to people or organisation that you don’t know can be dangerous.
Don’t be fooled by the promise of receiving a personal DNA profile or prizes or bonuses for replying quickly – if you receive this kit in the mail, report it!
Schooners sail into British pubs – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Schooners sail into British pubs
The British government is relaxing its centuries-old drink-size rules for pubs and restaurants, challenging the pint’s supremacy for the first time since it was mandated as the official measure of beer by an act of parliament in 1698.
Currently beer must be sold in either pints (568 millilitres) or half-pints. But the new laws, which also allow wine to be served in smaller glasses, open the way for Australian-style 400ml schooners to take a place above the bar.
UK science minister David Willetts says the new measurements are more suited to modern wallets and waistlines.
BBC News – ‘Kinect’ for PCs being developed
‘Kinect’ for PCs being developed
The chips that power the motion-capture system in Microsoft’s Kinect are being put in a gadget that works with PCs.
This will mean anyone keen to tap into the sensing abilities of a gadget resembling the Kinect can do so without owning an Xbox 360.
Development versions of the device are being sold by the Israeli company which developed the motion-spotting chips.
It is releasing the code to control the device under an open licence so anyone can use it.
Julia Gillard sides with consumers in debate over online shopping taxes | The Australian
Julia Gillard sides with consumers in debate over online shopping taxes
The Prime Minister said online shopping was convenient and offered potential savings for cash-strapped shoppers.
“I would be very reluctant to see Australians who are facing cost of living pressures not able to access shopping on the internet in the way that they access it now,” she said.
The Prime Minister warned that if a GST charge was applied to internet transactions under $1000 the administration costs would overwhelm any revenue raised.
Britain pulls plug on stars who don’t disclose when they’re paid to use Twitter | The Australian
Britain pulls plug on stars who don’t disclose when they’re paid to use Twitter Britain’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has already clamped down on one PR firm which was secretly paying bloggers to talk about products. Now actors, pop stars and TV presenters who “plug” luxury goods to thousands of fans could face similar action under consumer protection laws.
Lily Allen, who is followed by 2.5 million people on Twitter, uploaded a picture of vodka bottles accompanied by the tweet: “Whoop Whoop!!! Grey Goose in the house.” Grey Goose provides drinks at Ms Allen’s clothes shop, Lucy in Disguise, in London. Asked about a connection, the singer’s representative said: “It’s nobody’s business.”
People shouldn’t be misled,” the official added. “If someone has been paid to advertise a product they should declare it. It’s not specific to celebrities.” If warnings are ignored, the OFT can seek an order that could lead to a criminal prosecution and an unlimited fine.
Privacy Commissioner investigates alleged Vodafone breach – Security – Technology – News –
Privacy Commissioner investigates alleged Vodafone breach FROM SMH
‘I was surprised how easily the database could be opened’
January 9, 2011
SITTING in a western Sydney business with a laptop and someone who knew a login for Vodafone’s customer database, I handed over my mobile number to be punched in – in seconds we could see all my personal details.
For some time I have been told information about telco customers could easily be accessed.
I have heard many stories of how undesirable elements could get the passwords to tap into anyone’s phone account and gather confidential details as well as watch all their transactions including who they contact.
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But I was surprised at how quickly and easily the customer database could be opened from anywhere by someone unconnected to Vodafone. I could see my full name, address, driver’s licence number, date of birth, the pin number to access and change details on my Vodafone account.
My entire call list – everyone I had rung or texted and the time I spent on the phone – was visible.
U.S. orders Twitter to hand over WikiLeaks records – Security – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
U.S. orders Twitter to hand over WikiLeaks records court has ordered Twitter to hand over details of the accounts of WikiLeaks and several supporters as part of a criminal investigation into the release of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.
It ordered Twitter to provide account information on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking Pentagon documents made public last year by WikiLeaks.
The information sought by the government includes all connection records and session times, IP addresses used to access Twitter, email and residential addresses plus billing records and details of bank accounts and credit cards.
The subpoena included the accounts of WikiLeaks supporters Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrijp and Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former WikiLeaks volunteer and member of Iceland’s parliament.
The subpoena gave Twitter three days to provide the records and ordered the San Francisco-based company not to inform the users under investigation.
A federal judge unsealed the order on January 5, 2011 after Twitter requested the right to inform the people involved.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on the subpoena but added:
“To help users protect their rights, it is our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so.”
BBC – Newsbeat – Angry Birds launch for Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PSP
Angry Birds launch for Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PSP
Sony has announced that Angry Birds is going to be released on its PlayStation 3 and PSP consoles.
The game was originally developed for smart phones and proved a huge success with iPhone and Android users.
Since being released in late 2009 it’s been downloaded nearly 40 million times.
The puzzle game features a variety of birds, all with different skills, trying to rescue their eggs from evil pigs.
Using a slingshot the birds are catapulted at different structures the pigs are hiding in.
Peter Vesterbacka, Chief Executive of Rovio, says there are also plans for an Angry Birds 2.
But he was staying fairly tight lipped about the details when he spoke to Newsbeat in November, only saying that while it would feature the same characters it won’t be a sequel or a prequel but a different type of game altogether.
“Let’s say that you will see a lot more of the pigs,” he revealed.
“The pigs will be a lot more active than just being slingshotted at by birds.”
#itspontingsfault, Say Twitter users | Ricky Ponting Hashtag Popular
#itspontingsfault, say Twitter users Ricky Ponting is being blamed for everything from bad coffee and Justin Bieber to Queensland floods and climate change.
At lunch time today the Twitter hashtag #itspontingsfault was the social networking site’s top trending topic in Australia.
The hashtag began around lunch time yesterday when brisbanetimes.com.au blogger John Birmingham tweeted: “Australia’s wretched #ashes has forced me to take solace in leftover Christmas pudding and custard for dinner. If I get fat #itspontingsfault.”
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In the following hours, thousands of Birmingham’s followers jumped on the bandwagon, using the hashtag to blame the Australian skipper for their own woes, be it having to work between Christmas and New Year, Collingwood winning the 2010 AFL premiership or for having indigestion.
Ponting was even accused of being responsible for eccentric North Queensland politician Bob Katter.
He copped the blame for Qatar winning the World Cup 2022, for Stephanie Gilmore being bashed at Tweed Heads, slow wi-fi, burnt toast, lame tweets and no beer.
For one Twitter user, Ponting’s poor performance was the reason “my wife won’t drive to Maccas and get me a sundae” and for another: “I just lost a game of Monopoly to a six-year-old. #itspontingsfault.”
Apple CEO Jobs takes $1 for 2010 compensation – Finance – Business – News – iTnews.com.au
Apple CEO Jobs takes $1 for 2010 compensation
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs earned another US$1 in salary 2010, the technology company said in a regulatory filing on Friday.
Jobs has received annual compensation from Apple of only US$1 since 1997. He owns 5.5 million shares of Apple common stock. Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976.
Shares of the company rose 50 percent on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010. The stock closed at $336.12 on Friday.
Consumers in Australia, China and South Korea made the Asia Pacific region by far the fastest growing market for Apple in 2010.
The region accounted for 13 percent of its US$65 billion in global net sales, according to a statement Apple released ahead of its first quarter 2011 earnings update on January 18.
“Particularly strong year-over-year growth was experienced in China, Korea and Australia,” Apple noted.
“The significant growth in Asia-Pacific net sales was due mainly to increased iPhone revenue,” it explained.
Skype to buy video archiving company – Networking – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Skype to buy video archiving company
Skype has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Qik, a US service provider that allows mobile and desktop users to record, transmit and store video footage.
Qik is available on Android, iPhone, Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile platforms, according to a statement by Skype.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, however those close to the deal say the agreement is for US$100 million, according to Business Insider.
Qik claims to have five million users.
Telstra pledges $1m to Queensland flood fund
TELSTRA will join Coles, Commonwealth Bank, Xstrata and others contributing up to $1 million to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal.
A spokeswoman confirmed the telco would match dollar for dollar donations by employees to the tune of $500,000.
Optus and Microsoft have also joined the growing list of donors after Vodafone Hutchison became the first ICT company to make its way on the Premier’s list of corporate givers.
Telstra supports 16 charities as part of its corporate citizenship program.
“Telstra will contribute up to $1m to the Queensland appeal by matching dollar for dollar employee payroll giving donations to the value of $500,000,” the spokeswoman said.
“This contribution is in addition to the significant commitments already announced to assist people affected by floods, including additional resources deployed in the field, assistance packages to help residents and small businesses stay connected and free payphones in critical community evacuation areas.”
The donation was in response to the scale and magnitude of the unfolding disaster and “demonstrates Telstra’s commitment to the immediate and long-term well being of affected communities”, she said.
Telstra’s last “employee giving program” was in response to the Victorian bushfires with more than $1.5m raised, including $750,000 donated by staff.
Optus plans to contribute $225,000, including a $25,000 pledge made at a Harvey Norman corporate fundraiser on Friday.
Microsoft will tip $10,000 into the Premier’s fund and match employees’ donations, as well as staff donations to the Red Cross and the RSPCA.
“Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by the tragic floods in Queensland,” a spokesman said. “Microsoft is quickly assessing some of the ways in which the company and our employees can help, including offering the Queensland Flood Recovery Operations Group our technology and expertise.”
The spokesman said Microsoft has an established program to donate software to non-profit and charitable organisations through its partnership with Donortec, and that commitment extends to a number of charities helping in the flood disaster.
“This ensures that charities and non-profit organisations have access to the technology they need to help affected communities as quickly as possible,” he said.
The Australian earlier reported that Vodafone Hutchison Australia was the first and only technology company to make a contribution to the Queensland flood relief appeal.
Since then, Telstra, Optus and Microsoft have come forward with their contributions.
Google and IBM were contacted but have yet to respond.
According to the Premier Anna Bligh’s flood relief appeal page, Vodafone pledged $100,000 while subsidiary Crazy John’s will provide $50,000.
As of Monday morning, around $30m had been raised.
IT giants yet to splash on Queensland flood appeal | The Australian
IT giants yet to splash on Queensland flood appeal
VODAFONE Hutchison Australia is the first and only technology company to make a contribution to the Queensland flood relief appeal.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s office maintains a list of companies that have either donated or committed funds to help victims of the devasting floods.
According to the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal page, Vodafone has pledged $100,000 while subsidiary Crazy John’s has offered $50,000.
Comment has been sought from some of the biggest ICT names in Australia, including Telstra, Optus, Google, IBM and Microsoft. As of yesterday morning, around $30 million had been raised; the list of donors was last updated today.
Telstra and Optus have each made assistance packages available to residential and small business customers since flooding hit the state last month.
Coles and Commonwealth Bank have provided $1m each to the appeal, while BHP Billiton, Etihad Airways and Origin Energy are among the handful to have committed a similar amount.
As the Brisbane River broke its banks this afternoon, Queensland Police warned residents in low-lying areas of Strathpine and Caboolture to evacuate immediately as they fear a repeat of the 1974 floods that engulfed more than 6500 homes.
“Water is expected to exceed levels of the 1974 floods,” the state police service said on its Facebook page.
“If you know your house went under during the ’74 floods, we advise you to leave your home immediately and seek shelter at higher ground.”
Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said forecasts show around 6500 properties will be affected by the rising water. Up to 32 suburbs are at risk of flooding.
Monday’s flash floods in Toowoomba left eight people dead and around 70 others unaccounted for.
Devastating scenes of water rampaging through suburbs have been posted on YouTube and widely distributed via Twitter and Facebook.
The images show cars and homes being swept away in the deluge that’s been dubbed “an inland tsunami” by some media outlets, in reference to the 2004 Indian Ocean Boxing Day disaster.
One popular video making the rounds on Twitter was uploaded by YouTube user whitelightbringer which shows a swollen creek along Chalk Lane, Toowoomba sweeping up several cars in its path.
The Australian Information Industry Association, which contributed $5000 to the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal, has urged members to provide support and recovery services to flood victims.
Voda back up, telcos under siege in QLD – Communications – News
Voda back up, telcos under siege in QLD
Vodafone has restored service to Queensland customers as it and other telcos work feverishly to protect network assets in the flooded areas.
“Vodafone voice and data services in Brisbane, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and affected rural area, have been fully restored, as of 1:45pm AEST,” said Greg Spears, Vodafone-Hutchison Australia’s head of corporate communications.
Spears told ZDNet Australia that a network facility at Coorparoo had been affected by flooding, however, staff were working to build a sandbag barrier to keep the water out.
It was that facility which had caused Vodafone services to be interrupted today.
Meanwhile, Optus was working to keep its mobile networks active in Toowoomba, Brisbane and the Lockyer Valley.
Three mobile towers at Helidon, Gatton and Gunters Hill are currently without power. Coverage is being supplemented to the area via additional towers.
Optus users in Brisbane is set to experience some congestion due to the sheer volume of voice and data traffic in the CBD, while Lockyer Valley towers are running on battery power after power was cut to the Mt Stradbroke facility.
“Due to the extreme flooding situation we are unable to access the area to install portable generators,” Optus said, adding that a loss of service going into the evening was likely and would continue until the area became accessible to technicians.
Telstra told ZDNet Australia that its NextG network was holding strong thanks to battery back-ups in affected areas and well-prepared exchange technicians.
“Some of our techs have been sandbagging and sleeping overnight at exchanges. St George telephone exchange was even wrapped in plastic to defend it from floodwaters,” Telstra said.
Telstra said that evacuations in Brisbane were putting the network under strain, and advised users to only make calls if necessary and to keep them brief.
The telco said, however, that its biggest problem was access to mains power.
“The flooding has caused loss of power to Energex and we need them to power our base stations. Fortunately we’ve got battery backup so we’re not experiencing issues. That could change in eight hours when those run down,” Telstra said.
Telstra said it would replace depleted batteries and even install generators if required, but added that the clean-up and repair process could take weeks given that whole townships are still underwater.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh addressed the nation this afternoon and told Brisbane to brace for flood waters higher than the 1974 peak of 6.6 metres by Thursday.
Linux.conf.au on track despite floods – Business – News
Although Microsoft Australia was evacuated and gamer favourite Mana Bar has closed its doors in Brisbane today due to the floods, this year’s Linux.conf.au conference is sticking to its Brisbane venue.
Queensland University of Technology on the Brisbane River is set to host Linux.conf.au 2011 despite the flooding.(Screenshot by Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)
Linux.conf.au 2011, set for 24 January through to 29 January, is to be held at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) situated on the banks of the Brisbane River.
Shaun Nykvist, director of Linux.conf.au, told ZDNet Australia today that the buildings intended for use at the conference are well above the level of the Brisbane River.
“At this stage, there are no plans to cancel Linux.conf.au,” Nykvist said. “It’ll just be wet,” he added.
Nykvist said that if rising waters did affect the conference, organisers had a backup site in the works.
Water levels on the Brisbane River are currently sitting at 11 metres, almost double the level designated as “major” flooding.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh addressed the nation this afternoon and told Brisbane to brace for flood waters higher than the 1974 peak of 6.6 metres by Thursday.
Other businesses in Brisbane were not so lucky today. New Microsoft Australia head Pip Marlow revealed that the company’s Eagle Street offices were being evacuated.
“Thinking of our Brisbane office — just been evacuated!” Marlow tweeted from her official account.
Microsoft has offered the Queensland Flood Recovery Operations Group technology and help and has committed to a $10,000 donation to the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal and is matching its employees donations to the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal, Australian Red Cross and the RSPCA.
Popular watering hole and gamer haunt, Mana Bar, also shut its doors in light of rising flood waters.
Mana Bar told followers it may not be open due to flooding, before confirming it in a follow up tweet an hour later.
Guy Blomberg, founder of Mana Bar, said that staff already have a plan in place for surviving a potential zombie apocalypse; however, it would play it by ear as the week went on.
Aussies only use 15% of broadband quota – Communications – News
Aussies only use 15% of broadband quota
Australians use only 15 per cent of their monthly broadband quota on average, according to a report released this week by Sydney-based telecommunications analyst firm Market Clarity.
The firm conducted its study, “Broadband Download Behaviour in Australia: The Disconnect Between Allowance and Usage” (available in full from its website), over a period of four years from 2006 to 2010. Its results show that Australian users are far from exceeding their average broadband quotas of 45GB, with residential usage being about 7GB per month.
(Pizza at the sprints image by Richard Jones, CC2.0)
Market Clarity has been comparing the major internet service providers’ (ISPs) plans, focusing its research on residential fixed broadband plans and tracking the changes from year to year. 3G mobile services, however, were excluded in its analysis.
The study concludes a decade of broadband growth, culminating in the recent terabyte download quota war between ISPs. According to the study, this has resulted in relatively stable price points with increasing quota value.
Last August, iiNet launched what it claimed was Australia’s first terabyte-per-month plan. Other major ISPs have since rushed to launch similar plans. However, many are sceptical about the practicality of a terabyte-per-month plan and question whether it’s possible for users to reach their limit each month.
“Even before the ‘terabyte wars’ began, Australian broadband users were already the lucky beneficiaries of growing download allowances,” said Market Clarity chief executive Shara Evans this week.
“That trend, most apparent since around 2008, led us to wonder whether there might not be a gap between the allowances subscribers receive when buying broadband plans, and their consumption of broadband data,” she said.
The study shows that while consumers tend to migrate to plans with more generous allowances, the rate of broadband download consumption is lagging behind broadband quota growth.
Market Clarity claims that increasingly ISPs are upgrading their existing plans to higher download limits when they launch new retail plans. The increase of international fibre-optic cables reaching Australia has also allowed ISPs to pay less for data and thus pass on extra allowances to users.
“Since 2006, the average residential fixed broadband consumption has more than doubled from 2.4GB per user per month to around 7GB per user per month,” Evans said.
“However, download allowances by June 2010 — before terabyte plans emerged — were already averaging 45GB per residential subscriber.”
According to the study, 71 per cent of consumers were on plans offering quotas less than 1GB per month in 2006. In 2010 these entry-level quotas disappeared and were replaced by 1 to 5GB plans, which, according to the study, is currently used by 46.8 per cent of broadband consumers. At times, consumers are automatically allocated from a low entry level to a higher one without changing fees, thus benefiting from better value for money.
Evans said the discrepancy between downloads and allowances were beneficial to customers, noting that customers had more usage quota “headroom”.
Nature trumps tech: Gillard – Communications – News
Nature trumps tech: Gillard
By Luke Hopewell, ZDNet.com.au on January 11th, 2011 (4 hours ago)
After flash flooding hit Toowoomba and several other townships in the Lockyer Valley in Queensland yesterday, claiming eight lives, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has told the nation that in certain circumstances, technology can still be trumped by the savage forces of nature.
(Mat’s Thongs image by Corrie Barklimore, CC2.0)
Gillard addressed the nation from Parliament House in Canberra and told assembled journalists that Queensland emergency services had deployed the SMS warning system developed after the Black Saturday fires in Victoria to evacuate residents in affected areas.
“The emergency SMS system has been used in parts of Queensland, so something that was learned through the devastation in Victoria with the bushfires is available and can be used in other disaster circumstances,” Gillard said.
She warned, however, that nature is a serious force to be reckoned with, despite sophisticated technology in the hands of governments and citizens.
“We live in a world with more technology than we’ve ever had before, with resources available to us that were unavailable to previous generations, but the power of nature can still be a truly frightening power and we’ve seen that on display in this country through fire and we’re now seeing it through flood.”
A Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson told the media this morning in Queensland that it didn’t have the ability to track extreme weather in minute detail. Gillard this afternoon promised that a review of forecasting and early warning technology would take place in the future, but now is not the time.
“I have seen experts from the weather bureau in Brisbane, talking about the limits to their ability to track these extreme weather events in individual localities,” Gillard said.
“In the days to come, I’m sure there will be a review of weather warnings and the like but right now in the midst of this emergency, our thoughts are on dealing with that emergency,” the Prime Minister added.
In 2009, the Victorian Government committed $15 million into a project that saw Telstra construct a phone-based warning system, designed to alert residents to life-threatening emergencies and natural disasters.
The system issues recorded voice or text messages to fixed and mobile phones to apprise residents of fire situations, and if required, provide evacuation information.
The system came as a result of the devastating Black Saturday firestorm in the same year that claimed 173 lives.
No point to NBN speeds: Turnbull – Communications – News
No point to NBN speeds: Turnbull
Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday claimed there was no evidence that there was any benefit to end users from getting access to broadband speeds higher than currently available under existing ADSL2+ technology.
(Credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull)
Currently, ADSL2+ is limited to a theoretical speed of 24Mbps, although in practice many Australians get much lower speeds from the technology. The National Broadband Network (NBN), however, will eventually provide up to 1Gbps as it is rolled out over the next decade.
Turnbull, though, didn’t appear impressed by the higher speeds that would be made available.
“There’s been no case made or evidence made that there is any benefit from having a speed higher than what we can get now in many of our cities, at least, from ADSL2+,” the Liberal MP told radio station 2GB in Sydney yesterday. “If I connect your house with 1 terabyte per second speeds — the sort of speed you might get over a transcontinental cable — it would be of no use to you. There’s nothing you could do with it.”
Turnbull’s comments play into the Coalition’s line — repeated by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in a press conference on the NBN before Christmas — that the NBN would primarily be used for high-end entertainment applications in video and gaming.
“It’s pretty obvious that the main usage for the NBN is going to be internet-based television, video entertainment and gaming,” Abbott said at the time. “We are not against using the internet for all these things, but do we really want to invest $50 billion worth of hard-earned taxpayers’ money in what is essentially a video entertainment system?”
Yesterday, Turnbull reiterated that the NBN would primarily be used for entertainment, and added there was no point to Australians getting high-speed broadband if there were no concrete applications for the technology. He pointed out internet video providers such as FetchTV were currently rolling out their services around Australia, using existing broadband to do so.
“In fact, I think they only need four-and-a-half [Mbps] download speeds to deliver it. So the big question mark is what is the use of all this extra speed at a household level?” he said.
The shadow communications minister also attacked the NBN on take-up; he pointed out that take-up in the Victorian test-bed suburb of Brunswick to the network had been 45 per cent of premises so far. In Tasmania, the NBN will be connected to every premise by default, unless premise owners specifically reject the new technology. However, in Victoria, the State Government is opposed to this so-called “opt-out” policy.
Turnbull described the Brunswick numbers as being indicative of what take-up numbers could be expected in other metropolitan sites around Australia.
“What you’re seeing is that a lot of people who do have internet access now are not interested in taking up the NBN,” said Turnbull. “So it underlines the point that we’ve made, which is that the NBN is only ever going to be able to achieve significant penetration at all if competition is eliminated.”