Episode 229

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

First major Starcraft II tournament launched in Australia: Qualifying open to anyone

First major Starcraft II tournament launched in Australia: Qualifying open to anyone

Registrations have opened for the first major Starcraft II tournament to be held in Australia. The event will cater for 600 gamers and comes with $25,000 worth of prizes
StarCraft is a real-time strategy game that’s become the world’s most popular online multiplayer game.

The competition will be for individuals and separately, for teams. It will take the form of two elimination days and a main event for the finalists

The tournament is open to anyone. To enter you need to register on the tournament website and then attend one of the two qualifying days. To qualify for the main event, you have to play and beat four competitors in the qualifying series, playing a series of three matches against each.

The competition opens at 9am and starts at 10am on both qualifying days (Saturday March 20, and Saturday March 27). The main event, or final, will be held on Saturday, April 2.
The competition carries up to $25k worth of cash and prizes


Gates cedes title of world’s richest man | The Australian
Gates cedes title of world’s richest man Analysts said, however, there would have been no contest for the top spot had Mr Gates not ploughed a third of his fortune into his charitable foundation.

Mr Gates’s net worth is estimated at $US49 billion ($48.6bn), just ahead of fellow philanthropist Warren Buffett but far behind Mr Slim, who is estimated to be worth $US60bn.

Mr Slim has said businessmen do more good by creating jobs and wealth through investment, “not by being Santa Claus”.He has pledged several billion dollars to charity

Mr Buffett donated $US8bn to Mr Gates’s fund, e has pledged that almost all of his fortune will end up there on his death.

Mr Gates said all but a fraction of his money would go to his charity rather than his three children because so large an inheritance would “ruin” them.
The foundation was set up to enhance healthcare and reduce poverty in the developing world, and to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology in the US.




iPad customers can get partial refund | The Australian
iPad customers can get partial refundApple Australia, Apple slashed the price of all original-version iPads.

Customers could receive refunds from $180 to $210.

Apple has a policy that provides customers who bought an Apple item at full price, to claim a partial refund, should its price be permanently reduced.
The policy, which is published on Apple Australia’s website, allows customers who purchased an item 14 days or less before the price change, to claim the difference.
The iPad 2 will be available in Australia from March 25

BBC – Newsbeat – Facebook to start showing Warner Bros films
Facebook to start showing Warner Bros films
It’s the first major Hollywood studio to work with the social networking giant in this way. Executives hope it will be a new way for the entertainment company to make money.
The service will only be available to Facebook users in America to start with.
It works by charging people 30 Facebook credits, the equivalent of $3 , to rent the film
The first movie being made available is 2008 blockbuster Batman: The Dark Knight.


Google rolls out Chrome 10 | bit-tech.net
Google rolls out Chrome 10  this version is notable for a significant increase in JavaScript performance. In fact, in the V8 browser benchmark, JavaScript reportedly enjoyed an impressive speed boost of 66 per cent.



Libraries should only lend ebooks ’26 times’ | bit-tech.net
Libraries should only lend ebooks ’26 times’ UK publisher HarperCollins has hit out at libraries in the US in an attempt to stop ebooks being lent more than 26 times

HarperCollins’ sales president, Josh Marwell, believes that’s only fair: 26, he claims, is the average number of loans a print book would survive before having to be replaced.

US librarians have also hit back, posting videos on YouTube of a mint condition book that has been borrowed 48 times, and another that’s still in perfectly serviceable condition after 120 loans.

Government launches data.gov.au – Strategy – Business – News – iTnews.com.au

Government launches data.gov.au

Suggest a dataset for public release.
Special Minister of State Gary Gray has revealed the new-look data.gov.au site today, replacing a beta site developed for the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s Mashup Australia contest back in 2009.




Internet Explorer 9 due on March 14 – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
Internet Explorer 9 due on March 14 Microsoft has announced that Internet Explorer (IE) 9 will be available for download next Monday, March 14.

Mozilla has in the works Firefox 4, with both promising a faster web experience.

WILL’S SHOWNOTES

Skype, now with ads – Communications – News
Skype has announced plans to introduce advertising as it seeks to boost revenue ahead of going public.
(Billboards image by Nick Mathew CC2.0)

Skype said the ads will appear in Britain, Germany and the United States for now.
The introduction of advertising is Skype’s latest bid to increase revenue ahead of an initial public offering expected later this year.
The Luxembourg-based Skype, which was founded in 2003, announced plans in August to raise up to US$100 million (AU$98.65 million) by listing on the tech-heavy NASDAQ stock exchange in the US.
“The Skype experience is our first priority, which is why we’ve taken a lot of time working through and testing what kind of advertising would work best in the Skype environment,” Skype said in a blog post.
“We believe that advertising, when done in the right way, will help us continue to invest in developing great products,” the company said.
It said initial advertisers include discount coupon site Groupon, Universal Pictures and Visa.
Skype said ads will appear in the home tab in Skype for Windows “and we may experiment with ads in other areas as well”.
“The ads won’t interrupt your Skype experience,” the company said.
“You won’t suddenly see annoying pop-up ads or flashy banner ads in middle of conversations.”
According to its IPO registration statement, Skype generated US$406 million (AU$400.5 million) in revenue in the first half of 2010 and had 560 million registered users.


Google Chrome 10 – Internet – Software – Reviews
Google Chrome continues to mature from a lightweight and fast browsing alternative into an innovative browser that’s also on the precipice of a potential browsing revolution with the pending Chrome OS. The browser that people can use today, Chrome 10, offers highly competitive features including synchronisation, autofill and standards compliance, and maintains Google’s reputation for building one of the fastest browsers available.
Chrome 10 represents a major milestone for the browser, but those expecting to see dramatic changes in major-point updates will be disappointed. For several months now, Google has been pushing features over what it calls milestone numbers, which means that as soon as new features are usable in the stable version of Chrome, Google will likely push them to all users.
The big change in Chrome 10 is a dramatically faster JavaScript engine. Other changes include moving settings from a separate dialog box into a single tab and limited hardware acceleration for video playback. These are discussed below in the Features and Performance sections.
Please note that there are at least four versions of Chrome available at the moment, and this review only addresses the “stable” branch, intended for general use. Chrome beta (Windows | Mac), Chrome dev (Windows | Mac) and Chrome Canary (Windows only) are respectively progressively less stable versions of the browser, and aimed at developers.

Installation

Chrome’s installation process is simple and straightforward. If you download the browser from Google’s website, it will ask you if you’d like to anonymously submit usage statistics to the company. This can be toggled even after the browser’s installed by going to the “wrench” preferences menu, choosing Options, then Under the Hood and unchecking Help Make Chrome Better. Depending on your processor, the installation process should take less than two minutes.

Interface

Google’s Chrome interface has changed remarkably little since its surprise debut in September 2008. Tabs are still on top, the location bar — which Google likes to call the “Omnibar” — dominates the minimalist design and the browser has few visible control buttons besides Back, Forward and a combined Stop/Reload button. Although some may not like having the tabs on top, we find it to be aesthetically preferable because it leaves more room below for the website we’re looking at.
One change has been to remove the secondary Page options button and combine it with the preferences wrench icon to create space for extension icons to the right of the location bar. As it currently looks, it could be better organised. Some controls, such as page zoom, are readily available. Others, such as the extension manager, are hidden away under a Tools sub-menu.
Chrome’s extensions are fairly limited in how they can alter the browser’s interface. Unlike Firefox, which gives add-on makers a lot of leeway to change the browser’s look, Chrome mandates that extensions appear only as icons to the right of the location bar. The benefit is that this maintains a uniform look in the browser, but it definitely limits how much the browser can be customised. Chrome doesn’t support sidebars, either, although other Chromium-based browsers (such as Flock 3) do offer the feature.
A minor change in Chrome 10 is that settings pages now open in their own tab, rather than a dialog box. This brings Chrome the browser into parity with Chrome the operating system, where the feature first debuted. We like the left nav tabbed layout for settings, making it easy to jump between settings sub-menus as well as keeping Chrome to one window.
Even with its limitations, the interface design has remained a contemporary exemplar of how to minimise the browser’s screen footprint while remaining easy to use and versatile.

Features and support

Chrome 9’s features are accessible from the Preferences menu, via the wrench icon on the right side of the navigation bar. The browser offers a complete range of modern browsing conveniences. The basics are well-represented, including tabbed browsing, new window creation and a private browsing mode that Google calls Incognito, which disables cookie tracking, history recording, extension support and other browsing breadcrumbs.
Chrome is based on WebKit, the same open-source engine that powers Apple Safari, Google’s Android mobile platform and several other desktop and mobile web-browsing tools. However, Chrome runs on a different JavaScript engine than its WebKit cousins and there are other changes as well.
In Chrome 10, as mentioned above, the biggest improvement is to Chrome’s JavaScript engine. The new Crankshaft version of Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine, Google claims, is 66 per cent faster than the one in Chrome 9. The importance of JavaScript performance has grown dramatically in the past year as developers have been writing not just websites but full-featured web apps in JavaScript.
Chrome’s tabs remain one of the best things about the browser. The tabs are detachable: “tabs” and “windows” are interchangeable here. Detached tabs can be dragged and dropped into the browser and tabs can be rearranged at any time by clicking, holding, dragging and releasing. Not only can tabs be isolated, but each tab exists in its own task process. This means that when one site crashes, the other tabs do not. Though memory leaks are a major concern in Chrome when you have dozens of tabs open, we found sluggish behaviour and other impediments weren’t noticeable until after there were more than 30 tabs open. That’s not an immutable number, though, and a computer’s hardware will alter browser performance.
Some of the basics in Chrome are handled extremely intuitively. In-page searching works smoothly. Using the Ctrl-F hot key or the menu option, searching for a word or phrase will open a text entry box on the top right of the browser. It searches as you type, indicating the number of positive results and highlighting them on the page.
Account syncing is another area where Chrome excels. Using your Gmail account, Chrome will sync your themes, preferences, autofill entries, extensions and bookmarks. You can toggle each of those categories, too. It does not yet offer password syncing, although the password manager offers a smart show-password option that keeps it visually separate from the site that it’s associated with.
Chrome also offers a lot of privacy-tweaking settings. In the Options menu, go to the Under the Hood tab. From here, you can toggle and customise most of the browser’s privacy and security settings. Cookies, image management, JavaScript, plug-ins, pop-ups, location information and notifications can be adjusted from the Content Settings button. This includes toggling specific plug-ins, such as the built-in Adobe Flash plug-in or the Chrome PDF reader (which is deactivated by default).
Like Firefox, Chrome gives broad control over search engines and search customisations. Though this doesn’t sound like much, not all browsers allow you to set keyword shortcuts for searching and some even restrict which search engine you can set as your default. Chrome comes with three defaults to choose from: Google, Bing and Yahoo.
The Chrome extension manager, bookmark manager and download manager all open in new tabs. They allow you to search their contents and throw in some basic management options like deletion, but in general they don’t feel as robust as their counterparts in competing browsers. For example, URLs in the bookmark manager are only revealed when you mouse over a bookmark and you must click on one to get the URL to permanently appear. That’s an extra click that other browsers don’t require.
Two other low-profile but well-executed features in Chrome are auto-updating and translation. Chrome automatically updates when a new version comes out. This makes it harder to revert back to an older version, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll want to downgrade this build of Chrome since this is the stable build and not the beta or developer’s version. The second feature, automatic translation of web pages, is available to other browsers as a Google add-on, but because it comes from Google, it’s baked directly into Chrome.
Chrome is also a leader in HTML5 implementation, which is uneven because of the continuing development of HTML5 standards. This will become more important in the coming months and years, but right now it doesn’t greatly affect interaction with websites.
Other changes in Chrome 10 mostly address under-the-hood tech that users won’t see, but will change the browser’s behaviour slightly. This includes sandboxing the built-in version of Adobe Flash, which means that if Flash crashes, it will only take down the page that it’s loaded on and not the entire browser. Chrome has sandboxed other plug-ins for more than a year. Chrome 10 also integrates Google’s open-source VP8 video codec, but notably removes support for the licensed H.264 codec, which requires the software publisher to pay a licence fee before it can be used. Hardware-accelerated video also made it into this version of Chrome, which means that Chrome can now make use of your computer’s graphics card to run video faster and more smoothly. At this point, though, Chrome’s hardware acceleration is limited, unlike the soon-to-be released Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4.
In the realm of security, besides allowing you to disable JavaScript, Chrome will autoblock websites that are known for promulgating phishing attacks and malware threats or are otherwise unsafe. The usefulness of this depends on Google’s ability to flag websites as risky, though, and so it’s recommended to use an add-on like the Web of Trust extension or a separate security program to block threats.
Security improvements in Chrome 10 include disabling outdated plug-ins by default and automatic malware reporting. However, this does not preclude the need for adequate, up-to-date security software on your system. Password sync is also now enabled by default as a part of Chrome’s synchronisation feature.

Performance

Based on the open-source WebKit engine and Google’s V8 JavaScript engine, Google Chrome debuted to much fanfare because of its rocketing rendering speeds. Two years down the line, that hasn’t changed and the stable version of Chrome remains one of the fastest stable browsers available. The less stable versions, with their more recent improvements and bug fixes, are often faster.
Google has claimed that Chrome 10 is 66 per cent faster than Chrome 9, and CNET benchmarks will be added here soon. Historically, Chrome has been one of the top three fastest browsers available across multiple benchmarks and that’s not expected to change in version 10.

Conclusion

It’s hard to tell which is faster, user adoption of Chrome or its development. Certainly the two are linked and due in no small part to Google’s ability to lay claim to the “fastest browser” title, even when it may not be strictly true. The rest of Chrome’s appeal lies in its clean, minimalist look and competitive features that justify its still-increasing market share. Chrome is a serious option for anybody who wants a browser that gets out of the way of browsing the web.


IBM picks Townsville as global smart city – Hardware – News
Townsville has been selected as one of 24 cities worldwide to receive a grant from IBM worth around US$400,000 to help implement technologies to make its city smarter.
The other cities were from the US, Chile, Romania, Thailand, India, Canada, the Netherlands, France, Brazil, Japan and South Africa. IBM intends to spend US$50 million on 100 cities over three years.
“We selected these cities because of their commitment to the use of data to make better decisions, and for their desire to explore and act on smarter solutions to the their most pressing concerns,” Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and president of IBM’s Foundation, said in a statement.
“The cities we picked are eager to implement programs that tangibly improve the quality of life in their areas, and to create roadmaps for other cities to follow. The stakes have never been greater but we’re excited at the prospect of helping cities tackle the most pressing challenges of our time.”
The cities wanted to use technology to collect data — for example, on school test results, crime and traffic — to analyse so that they can introduce initiatives to improve the quality of life in their locality. IBM will provide city heads with experts to help analyse their needs, take pointers from other cities across the globe and create strategies to make their city healthier, safer, smarter and more prosperous.
During the challenge, the cities will use a free website called City Forward — which keeps track of statistics on the performance of services such as education, safety, health, transportation, utilities and energy — to benchmark their performance against other cities.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy welcomed the announcement.
“I congratulate Townsville on receiving this grant and I also wish to thank IBM for this important corporate citizenship initiative, which will support growth, better delivery of municipal services and increased citizen engagement,” he said in a statement.
“Smart cities are an important part of Australia’s digital economy,” he continued. “Intelligent technology can make communities better places to live by making more efficient use of infrastructure, transport, water and energy, and reducing environmental impacts.”
Townsville is also one of Australia’s first mainland cities to be connected to the National Broadband Network.


HP CEO: WebOS on all our PCs in 2012 – Hardware – News
Starting next year, Hewlett-Packard will include its mobile operating system, WebOS, on every PC it ships, according to a story quoting new CEO Leo Apotheker. WebOS will be offered in addition to Microsoft’s Windows, not as a replacement.
Apotheker reportedly made the comment in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. The motive for doing that is to augment the reach of the WebOS platform and hopefully attract more developers. There are currently 6000 apps for WebOS, compared to 350,000 in Apple’s App Store, and 250,000 in Google’s Android Market. And while WebOS phone sales are far behind iPhones, and Android phones, HP is the largest PC maker in the world, selling more than 60 million units last year.
HP acquired WebOS when it bought Palm last year. WebOS was designed as the operating system for Palm smartphones, though HP has reworked the software to also work with its new line-up of tablets.
HP has said from the minute it bought Palm that it plans to expand the reach of WebOS, though few expected the jump to desktop and notebook PCs so quickly. But Apotheker has been trying to put his own stamp on the company since he arrived.
Apotheker is a former chief executive at software giant SAP. He was brought in to replace Mark Hurd as HP chairman and CEO after Hurd was forced to resign last August amid controversy surrounding improper expense reports and an alleged relationship with a female contract employee.
Apotheker is holding a forum with journalists in San Francisco on Monday, where he is expected to expand on his vision for the company. That will likely include more talk about his plans for WebOS, and hopefully details of how he plans to implement the new WebOS-on-every-PC strategy.


iPads to be used in airline cockpits? – Hardware – News
Apple’s iPad may soon find its way onto your next commercial flight, and not just in the cabin as an entertainment device. Major airlines and a charter jet company are considering using the tablet as a way to replace both paper navigation charts and laptops on the ground and during flight.
Jeppesen’s iPad app offers electronic aeronautical charts. (Credit: Jeppesen Systems)

So far, no US airline has adopted iPads exclusively, but Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines are testing the device for navigational purposes. Alaska spokesperson Marianne Lindsey told the Seattle Times that the carrier is running a trial program with a select group of pilots. Calls made by CNET to the Alaska Airlines press office were not returned at the time of writing.
Switching to iPads or other tablet devices would cut down on paper, and on the equipment pilots have to carry. While some specially designed laptops, or “electronic flight bags”, can weigh up to 8 kilograms, the current iPad weighs just 0.68kg (the recently announced iPad 2 is a tad lighter). What’s more, instead of receiving new paper charts every few weeks, pilots could receive updates electronically.

Yes, there’s an app for that

To power the iPads, Jeppesen, based in Englewood, Colorado, has developed an iPad application called Mobile TC that delivers electronic charts (an Android app for Honeycomb tablets like the Motorola Xoom is due later this year). At the the time of writing, Mobile TC covers only airport terminal charts, but Jeppesen spokesperson Brian Rantala told CNET that the app will be expanded to cover in-flight use. Mobile TC is a free download from the iTunes App Store, but the charts require a subscription.
Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration authorised private jet charter Executive Jet Management to begin using the app as an alternative to paper aeronautical charts. A wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing, Jeppesen also developed an iPhone and iPad app called CrewAlert to manage airline crew fatigue.
And back in the cabin, Qantas subsidiary Jetstar is close to using iPads as in-flight entertainment units on selected Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft. Though Jetstar initially announced its iPad plans last year, it was revealed today that the airline has compiled a presentation for major movie studios.


Vodafone’s Dews updates on IT merger – Communications – News
Vodafone Hutchison Australia is set to begin merging some of its biggest IT and network systems in the near future as part of the gradual merger of Vodafone and 3, VHA chief Nigel Dews has revealed.
(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

Since Vodafone and 3 announced it would merge two years ago, the company has reduced many of its duplicate systems. Dews told an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney today that almost every system in the company was duplicated when the merger first began.
“We actually had six point of sales systems. We’ve rationalised the point of sale systems, content management systems and corporate IT systems,” he said. “Nearly all the other duplicate systems are still running.”
Dews said that all that remained in the three-year merger plan was to merge the IT systems and the two networks, currently still split between Vodafone and 3. In an interview following the event, Dews revealed to ZDNet Australia that the company is about to embark on its full IT system and network merger.
“We’ve been in a lot of planning over the last 12 months. We’re about to execute some of the large deals in that space … in the next few weeks,” he said. “And then we’ll get heavily moving into it. The second half of our three-year plan to fully merge is all about network and IT.”
Dews said that on the IT side the company still had to merge its business support systems and its billing systems, and on the network side it would be about merging the core network and the radio access networks.
“There’s still two core networks. Behind the two radio access networks we’ve still got two core networks. We’re going to shrink that to one core as well.”
Dews reiterated that the company was a “keen supporter” of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and said that the backhaul for the network would help reduce mobile costs and allow the company to move into more regional and rural areas of Australia. He admitted, however, that the company would not rely on NBN exclusively for backhaul for its mobile network because it wouldn’t be rolled out in time for many of the company’s expansion plans.
The telco chief also said that the company was happy with the number of points of interconnect for the NBN, but admitted NBN Co had been slow in starting negotiations with VHA so the company could prepare to offer services through the network.
“NBN Co has certainly expressed an openness, but it doesn’t appear to be a current priority to get commercial negotiations moving,” he said, adding that he understood that NBN Co might be trying to bed down the details of its $11 billion deal with telco rival Telstra.
“I understand that but I want to get moving.”

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