Episode 243

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GLENN’S NOTEBOOK

Three jailed over theft of iPad trade secrets

A CHINESE court sentenced three people to prison terms for collaborating to steal information from a key supplier regarding Apple’s iPad 2 several months before its release.

The court said Mr Xiao was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and fined 150,000 yuan.

Mr Lin was sentenced to 14 months and fined 100,000 yuan, and Ms Hou was sentenced to a year in prison and fined 30,000 yuan.



Queensland Health payroll fix a mental challenge

A malfunctioning payroll system will cost Queensland Health $209 million to fix — more than it will spend improving mental health.

The payroll patch-up will cost 41 per cent more than the $148m set aside to improve mental health services over the next four years


Labor’s $100m schools fibre program quietly axed

THE Gillard government has quietly scrapped the $100 million Fibre Connection to Schools initiative established to complement Labor’s ambitious computers in schools rollout.

The broadband program was part of federal Labor’s 2007 digital education revolution election pledge.

The high-speed connection was meant to cover schools outside the National Broadband Network footprint.

A department survey last year showed that only 6147 out of 9693 schools surveyed had a fibre connection.


Spain arrests three over Sony site attack

SPANISH police have arrested three members of the Anonymous group over denial of service attacks launched against Sony and have raided a house where they seized a computer server allegedly used by individuals to coordinate and launch cyber attacks.


The group claims its mission is to promote what it calls freedom of information on the Internet, and members claim their actions are akin to street protests. Law enforcement and companies say the attacks are unlawful and cause costly damage.

While Spain’s police said it has no evidence that the detained were tied to the theft of Sony’s data, it added that the three had been trying to steal and publish what it called “sensitive data” about Spanish politicians and policemen.

Apple relaxes its apps monopoly on pricing, distribution and marketing

Apple has dropped its requirement for publishers to offer paid content through the App Store on the same or better terms than offered elsewhere – meaning publishers will no longer be forced to sacrifice profits by participating in the App Store, where Apple takes a 30 per cent cut of subscriptions.

It has also relaxed a rule that publishers must only offer their apps for sale through the App Store, and not, for example, on their own website. However, apps may not link directly to external e-commerce platforms.

That change followed a move by The Financial Times to launch a web app for the iPad, urging readers to download it from their website rather than the App Store.

Les Paul rocks Google with guitar doodle Celebrating the 96th birthday of the late guitar legend Les Paul, the “Google doodle” can be strummed like one of his famous Gibson guitars.


Les Paul is credited with the invention of the electric guitar and multitrack recording: he died in 2009
http://www.google.com/logos/2011/lespaul.html

Guy with really good voice plays ***FULL VERSION*** Beatles song on Google Logo Guitar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PstqCS4EsuI&feature=related


MYOB to remotely “deactivate” software

British users of MYOB have been warned that the accounting software they purchased will stop working at the end of the year, due to a corporate takeover of the company’s UK operations.
The UK arm of MYOB was bought by Mamut in 2008 after MYOB decided to leave the UK to refocus its efforts on its home Australian market.
Mamut has provided support for MYOB products for two years, but the company will deactivate any MYOB software in the UK at the end of this year.
For copy protection and licensing reasons, MYOB software checks in with a web server every time it loads. That system will be used to deactivate the software on 31 December, 2011.
Bryan Richter, Mamut country manager for the UK, said customers had been given four years to make the switch.
It remains unclear how many customers will be affected by the move.At the time of the Mamut acquisition in 2008, there were 20,000 active MYOB users in the UK.

Blatant Do-Not-Call violator fined

At $10 per call, one hopes it was worth it

Gold Coast-based FHT Travel was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $120,000 and the Court granted injunctions restraining both FHT Travel and Ms Earnshaw from making certain telemarketing calls, without first notifying the ACMA, for a period of five years.

WILL’S NOTEBOOK

Users spent 10.7m hrs playing Les Paul’s doodle – The Times of India
MELBOURNE: It has emerged that the world spent 10.7 million hours playing with guitar legend Les Paul’s doodle last week.

A Google homepage doodle posted last week honouring Paul has cost the world 268 million dollars, despite only setting the internet giant back a mere 15,000 dollars, said Extreme Tech.

It also said the amount covers 10.7 million man-hours in lost productivity, assuming the average Google user earns 25 dollars an hour.

“During the two days that the Les Paul doodle was online, those 740 million visitors, according to analytics from RescueTime, spent 26 seconds more on the Google home page than normal,” News.com.au quoted it has saying.

“740 million times 26 seconds is 5,344,444 hours – and over two days, that’s a total of almost 10.7 million man hours spent playing with the Les Paul Google Doodle.

“Assuming the average Google user earns 25 dollar/hour, the doodle cost companies around the world 268 million dollars in lost productivity,” it added.

“It’s impossible to predict exactly how many kilowatt hours were used by the Les Paul guitar, but if we posit that the doodle draws 5 watts, and the average visitor spent 26 seconds playing with the doodle, then each visit used 0.000035 kilowatt hours (kWh).

“Over two days, with 1480 million visitors, that’s 51,800 kWh. At 10c per kWh, that’s a grand total of 5180 dollars,” the site said.

It said Google would have paid a developer to create the Les Paul guitar but this would amount to just “a few hundred dollars”.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Les Paul doodle, Google have given it a permanent home.

Crackdown on copyright could see an end to lip-syncing on YouTube and other sites | Information,

  • Any copyrighted song will be included
  • Law will target children as well as adults
  • Would stop kids “crying and singing Bieber”


IT may be deeply embarrassing but until now it’s just been harmless fun to make silly lip-syncing videos.
Drastic legal changes currently before the US Senate could make it illegal to post videos featuring lip-syncing on sites like YouTube.
The proposed legislation would outlaw the distribution of performances of copyrighted material online, FoxCharlotte.com reported.

Cubby Squires, who found fame after his YouTube video of himself lipsyncing to Beyonce’s Single Ladies received almost 20 million hits, could face up to five years in jail for posting such videos if the law is passed.

“I don’t think you should go after little eight-year-olds that are crying and singing Justin Bieber because it’s their favourite person in the world,” he told FoxCharlotte.com.

Copyright lawyer Ben Sidbury said even if people were underage and not profiting form the clips the law would still apply.

“The way the (law) is written… it would now criminalise anybody that performs a copyrighted work, which is essentially nowadays any song under the sun,” he said.

“In theory at least, the record companies or the Department of Justice could go after a nine-year old or a 12-year-old or a 30-year-old for publicly performing a song,” he said.

Last week, the world spent 10.7 million hours playing with Les Paul’s doodle | Information, Gadgets,


A GOOGLE homepage doodle posted last week honouring guitar legend Les Paul has cost the world $268 million, despite only setting the internet giant back a mere $15,000, Extreme Tech says.
Extreme Tech says the amount covers 10.7 million man-hours in lost productivity, assuming the average Google user earns $25 an hour.
“During the two days that the Les Paul doodle was online, those 740 million visitors, according to analytics from RescueTime, spent 26 seconds more on the Google home page than normal,” it said.
“740 million times 26 seconds is 5,344,444 hours – and over two days, that’s a total of almost 10.7 million man hours spent playing with the Les Paul Google Doodle.
“Assuming the average Google user earns $25/hour, the doodle cost companies around the world $268 million in lost productivity,” it said.
“It’s impossible to predict exactly how many kilowatt hours were used by the Les Paul guitar, but if we posit that the doodle draws 5 watts, and the average visitor spent 26 seconds playing with the doodle, then each visit used 0.000035 kilowatt hours (kWh).
“Over two days, with 1480 million visitors, that’s 51,800 kWh. At 10c per kWh, that’s a grand total of $5180,” the site said.
It said Google would have paid a developer to create the Les Paul guitar but this would amount to just “a few hundred dollars”.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Les Paul doodle, Google have given it a permanent home here.


Computer theft leaves top executives exposed | The Australian
A COMPUTER containing details of high-flying board members was stolen when thieves broke into the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ office.
The PC hard disk contained 66,000 records, including names, addresses, phone numbers and birth dates of 28,000 members. The rest belonged to clients.
Some records had the names of personal assistants and their email addresses.
The institute stressed that the stolen PC did not contain credit card numbers, banking details, personal email addresses of members and clients or passwords.
Such sensitive information is usually held on company servers, but due to an upgrade to the customer relationship management system, the data was transferred to the PC for testing.
Police are investigating the theft. The AICD believes the computer was taken during a power outage last weekend at the National Australia Bank building, where its Sydney office is situated.
The doors to the office were temporarily disabled, invalidating swipe cards, but it is understood security guards were present.
The institute does not believe it was the victim of a targeted attack, although the computer was the only item taken.
“We believe it was opportunistic due to the positioning of the computer near the door,” AICD spokesman Steve Burrell said.
A Qantas spokesman said: “Qantas understands the incident is regarded as low-risk but trusts the AICD and police are handling it appropriately.”
Mr Burrell said the organisation was confident the machine was well protected.
“I can confirm there are three levels of password protection on the stolen computer, and that it would require a high level of IT skill to access the data no matter what method was employed.”
He admitted the hard disk was not encrypted.
AICD chief executive John Colvin said: “We understand the risk of data being accessed and used for fraudulent purposes is low, and that its utility is minimal, as much of the information is publicly available.”
IT security consultancy Pure Hacking says there are tools that can be downloaded from the internet to gain access to computers. “If they didn’t have the hard drive encrypted, it would be easy to get that information,” said Pure Hacking chief technology officer Ty Miller. “At least it’s not financial data involved.”
He said there were programs available that could bypass a computer’s normal log-in process and directly access the hard drive.
The AICD has alerted members, clients, police and the Privacy Commissioner to the theft. “With the police and forensic experts, we are investigating the theft and reviewing our security. We have also consulted the Privacy Commissioner and are following his best practice guidelines,” Mr Colvin said.
The AICD was under no legal obligation to alert the public to the incident but chose to do so. The federal government has flagged new laws to force companies to disclose privacy breaches.


Lulz Security about as effective as ‘schoolboys boasting about imaginary girlfriends’ | Information,

  • Lulz Security shuts down CIA site
  • Open public suggestion hotline
  • “Just schoolboys,” says Sophos head


THEY might have just brought down the CIA’s website, but the latest darlings of the hacktivist scene, Lulz Security, are “schoolboys”.
That’s the challenge thrown down by the head of technology at Sophos, Paul Ducklin, who claims the anonymous collective have to “grow some moral spine” if they want to be taken seriously.
In the past two weeks, Lulz have launched cyber attacks on Sony, Nintendo, gamers at Eve Online, a company that works for the FBI and the US Senate.
They claim their motive to be nothing other than showcasing companies’ online weaknesses “for the Lulz”.
Yesterday, they opened up a hotline and called on the public to suggest their next target.
“Our number literally has anywhere between five and 20 people ringing it every single second,” members of the group said in a Twitter message posted on at @LulzSec.
The hotline number spelled out “LULZSEC” and had an area code in the US state of Ohio.
A recorded greeting featured a man speaking with an exaggerated French accent explaining that “Pierre Dubois and Francois Deluxe” were unavailable because they were up to mischief on the internet.
Panda computer security firm labs technical director Luis Corrons said setting up a telephone hotline was “kind of eccentric” given that the hackers could have easily set up an online forum asking for targets.
“These guys are upsetting a lot of people,” Mr Corrons said. “They think they will never be caught, and that could be their biggest mistake.”
Lulz ceratinly pushed thir luck yesterday, when they claimed credit for the shutdown of cia.gov.
“Tango down – cia.gov,” they tweeted at @LulzSec.
“For the lulz.”
Which sounds impressive, but over at Sophos, Mr Ducklin said what Lulz were doing was “about as intellectually interesting and important as a bunch of schoolboys boasting in the playground about who’s got the hottest imaginary girlfriend”.
He said most of the break-ins had been “languorously orchestrated, using nothing more sophisticated than entry-level automatic web database bug-finding tools, available for free online”.
While he admitted Lulz’s behavious was a “timely wake-up call”, he insisted that didn’t justify LulzSec’s behaviour.
“Time spent throwing bricks through other people’s digital windows doesn’t actually teach anyone anything about glassmaking, glazing or civil engineering,” Mr Ducklin said.
“If you consider yourself a hacker and you have time to spare, grow some moral spine and use your skills for active benefit.
“Follow the lead of a guy like Johnny Long and hackersforcharity.org.
“I dare you to look at his site and decide that LulzSec is a more worthwhile cause.”


Two thousand ideas for a five-word speech – Aussie winner crowdsources his big Webby moment |
“THE tech boom is back.”
It’s the speech that proved itself. Why? Because it cost almost $1000 per word.
When Matt Barrie, the Australian founder of Freelancer.com, was invited to accept a Webby Award in New York, he decided to do it in style.
Having won two prizes for his popular outsourcing site, which lets freelance workers bid for jobs posted online, Mr Barrie did the only logical thing — asked the crowd for help.
“The Webby Awards has a famous system where each speech can only be five words long,” Mr Barrie said in an email to news.com.au from New York.
“I wasn’t quite sure what to say, so I thought it’d be fun to put the huge amount of freelancers on our site to use!”
The job post had a $1000 prize and attracted 2730 entries, including “Even this speech was outsourced”, “Guess which freelancer wrote this” and “Girls I’m open for bid”.
“We got so many good entries I wanted to give a dozen speeches,” Mr Barrie said.
“The ones that made my bachelor status clear were pretty funny. I’m still not sure how the freelancers figured that out. I have to give it to them.”
However even with the help of the site’s virtual workforce, the speech required something of a personal touch.
Mr Barrie said that rather than choosing one winning speech, he used parts of several of his favourites.
“We actually ended up choosing a few we liked and mashing them together,” he said.
As a thank you to the contributors, the site paid $100 each to dozens of the top freelancers who submitted speeches — putting the price of the final speech at about $4000.
“In the end we paid about 40 freelancers for their entries,” Mr Barrie said.
The average price of jobs posted to Freelancer.com is under $US200.
As for the Webby Award ceremony in New York, Mr Barrie said it was “over the top”.
“It was Hollywood meets Silicon Valley,” he said.
“One minute it would be Brooke Shields on the red carpet, the next it would be Jake and Amir from College Humor.
“They’d play a viral video of the last year, like the one of Antoine Dodson, and the next thing he’d be on stage singing a song about it.”
Freelancer.com won both the Webby and People’s Choice prizes in the employment category.


Why Australians are paying higher prices for technology | The Australian
HUGE price differences in consumer electronics sold here and in the US continue, with local retailers appearing not to pass on the advantage of our surging dollar.
Australians who buy locally still pay through the nose for some desktops, laptops, tablets, computer games and consoles and music bought at online stores, compared with consumers in the US.
Computer firms are still setting their recommended retail prices often up to 50 per cent higher in Australia compared with the US.
The base model of the popular Lenovo X1, for example, is reduced on Lenovo’s Australian site from $3428 to $1979, but a similar reduction on its US parent site lists it at $US1191 ($1130).
The 16GB model of the ASUS Transformer without keyboard sells at Harvey Norman for $598, but in the US it can be bought for $US400.
While Apple’s Australian mark-ups on iMacs, MacBook Pros and iPads are not as severe, they were significant, as Apple can control the distribution and cost of its goods.
The discrepancy in costs between a US and Australian iPad 2 is $80-$120, while a new iMac in Australia can cost up to $250 more.
Despite the Australian dollar’s value at about $US1.05 last weekend, music bought through iTunes in Australia typically costs 30 per cent more than when bought through iTunes in the US.
Individually purchased tracks in Australia typically cost $1.69 here and $US1.29 in the US.
The Beatles’ Anthology Highlights album, for example, costs $20.99 in iTunes in Australia, but $US12.99 on the US site. The currently promoted Arctic Monkeys’ Suck It and See alternative music album is $17.99 here, but $US12.99 in the US store.
Sometimes consumers face artificial barriers designed to stop them buying cheaply from overseas, such as international internet address filtering, restrictions on credit card use and regional tagging of DVDs, games consoles and games.
Harvey Norman executive chairman Gerry Harvey said there was not a major difference in laptop prices between his stores and online vendors, except for unbranded items.
Mr Harvey said he would follow up The Australian’s example of the ASUS Transformer costing less online overseas.
“They’re the sort of things that we follow up, as to why, how come our buying price is more than they’re selling it there?” the retailer said.
The Australian Retailers Association defended high local prices.
Crippling shop-front rentals, higher import prices demanded by local distributors and local wages were major factors cited as to why it remained difficult for major Australian retailers to compete with cheaper online sales, especially offshore.
But these problems are not the whole picture. Australian Consumers Association director, campaigns and communications, Christopher Zinn said local consumers were savvy enough to overcome these barriers: businesses that offered a US credit card or Australian businesses that would buy your goods in the US and post them to you, for instance.
Victorian-based Price USA, which buys goods in the US for Australian consumers, has seen a surge in business since the Australian dollar reached parity and, ironically, since the call from Harvey Norman’s Mr Harvey for the government to axe the Goods and Services Tax exemption on imported products worth less than $1000.
Price USA owner Carolina Tillett said that, apart from laptops, one of her biggest sellers was US Apple iTunes cards. Armed with these cards, Australian consumers could open and operate a US iTunes site account.
Ms Tillett currently charges $209 for $US200 of Apple iTunes credit. Purchasing is quick, as Ms Tillett’s agent in the US buys the cards and emails the codes directly to customers. US iTunes cards can also be bought on eBay.
Large Australian retailers such as Harvey Norman have been left gasping by the strengthening surge in online trading, and that surge is still gathering pace.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has estimated that online retailing is worth 5 per cent of retail spending.
Retail analyst Patersons predicts a domestic online sales growth of 10 per cent a year and offshore online sales growth of 25 per cent.
In its submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into retailing, the ACA said the savings that Australian consumers made by buying from overseas online vendors far exceeded any GST exemption and that abolishing it would not have a significant effect.
The Australian Retailers Association agrees the problem for retailers goes deeper than import tax and wage differences.
ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said Australian retailers paid the second-highest tenancy costs in the world, and often didn’t have a free choice of supplier. “You have to ask what’s the retailer paying his supplier for his goods in relation to what the retailer in the US pays his supplier”, Mr Zimmerman said.
The recent CeBIT business technology show in Sydney highlighted the increasing battle some Australian retailers faced against online competition from overseas and it centred not only on pricing. Online trading also undermined the retail franchise model as franchise owners felt cornered into opening online stores that competed with their franchisees.
Dymocks general manager Steve Cox told a CeBIT conference his company was challenging itself to come up with a franchise model that allowed it to share its online revenues “and we haven’t quite figured that one out fully”.
To add insult to injury, staff at Dymocks wasted time fielding in-store inquiries from shoppers who used local retail outlets as showrooms to view and handle goods they had already decided to buy online.
Mr Zimmerman acknowledges that the traditional retail franchise model had to evolve.
One model was for retailers to be predominantly online and for stores to be showrooms, places where you picked up online orders or sought warranty support.
Mr Zimmerman said some stores might offer in-house online ordering.


Queensland Health payroll fix a mental challenge | The Australian
A malfunctioning payroll system will cost Queensland Health $209 million to fix — more than it will spend improving mental health.
A record $11.7 billion health budget will inject $1.82bn extra into the state’s health and hospital capital works program in 2011-12, making it the nation’s biggest health infrastructure scheme.
But $209m will have to be spent fixing the bungled payroll system, which has resulted in the 67,110-strong workforce routinely being underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all since its introduction last year.
The payroll patch-up will cost 41 per cent more than the $148m set aside to improve mental health services over the next four years.
Mental health expenditure will total a record $950m in 2011-12.
The capital works spending in 2011-12 will include $242m towards the $1.4bn Queensland Children’s Hospital, and $435.6m towards the $1.76bn Gold Coast University Hospital. Another $246m will be spent in 2011-12 to redevelop the regional hospitals in Cairns, Mackay, Mount Isa, Townsville and Rockhampton, which will cost $1.4bn to complete.


Telstra cloud investment hits $1 billion | The Australian
TELSTRA has announced it has found an additional $800 million to invest in cloud computing over the next five years as it chases new enterprise revenue streams.
Telstra chief executive David Thodey said the investment was part of a wider strategy to transform the carrier from being “not just an access infrastructure provider” but to place an enormous computing capacity within its network.
The telco has never confirmed the amount it has invested in its cloud infrastructure to date but it is understood that it spent $200m getting it off the ground.
He said telecom providers played a natural role in providing cloud services in the market due to their role in providing high-availability technology.
“It’s been more and more important the role we play because of what we are,” Mr Thodey said.
“It’s part of our DNA … it’s all about managing risk,” he said.
Mr Thodey said the investment would fund improvements in its next-generation data centre capacity, including a brand new facility in Melbourne, and new IT infrastructure. The investment would also be used to deepen integration between its IT infrastructure and its Next IP platform.
Telstra’s chief operating officer Brendan Riley said construction of a new Melbourne data centre was already under way. The remainder of investment would be used to transition government and business applications into its cloud infrastructure and portals, he said.
Telstra enterprise and government managing director, Paul Geason, said that the $800m investment was only an estimate and that the investment could expand to match customer demand.
“What we’ve tried to do with that number is be as approximate as we can about what we think demand will look like over the next five years but quite clearly that’s in the hands of our customers how they embrace cloud,” Mr Geason said.
Telstra’s role in cloud service would be limited to providing infrastructure at this stage, Mr Geason said. Software companies would continue to make software licensing fee arrangements with customers directly and Telstra’s revenue stream would be limited to infrastructure provision.
Mr Geason said that the company was actively working with software companies to certify their applications for its cloud infrastructure.
Telstra said it was not in a position to announce the individual applications that would be made available on its service.
Philip Jones, Telstra executive director of innovation and product management, said that it would be geared to customer demand.
“We will move to applications that customers tell us they want,” Mr Jones said.


‘Big Blue’ IBM celebrates its 100th birthday | The Australian
TO celebrate the mothership’s 100th birthday, the 78-year-old IBM Australia threw a party with one current and five former CEOs as the birthday boys.
IBM across the world is celebrating its incarnation as an information technology powerhouse on June 16, 1911.

The local company kicked off here in 1932 under Edgar Hall.

The CEO party boys (no woman has yet broken the glass ceiling at the local Big Blue), between them have clocked up 150 years of experience at IBM.

Absent from the Bilson’s bash were Allan Moyes (CEO 1958 – 1980) and Doug Elix (1994-1995), who rose to become number two at IBM under Sam Palmisano before retiring in 2008.

Those present ranged from the long and happily retired Brian Finn – who led IBM  Oz from 1980 to 1993 – to current boss Andrew Stevens.

Mr Finn began his rule when IBM was god of the computer industry with its main competitors known derisively as the seven dwarfs.

During the boom years of the eighties he watched all four major banks and the two dominant insurers sign up for Big Blues boxes from the landmark IBM 3090 mainframe on down.

Then came IBM’s near death experience in the early nineties when the company made its first large scale redundancies. Mr Finn recalled the shock at letting go about one third of his workforce as Big Blue globally writhed around and attempted to remake itself.

“I’ve worked through boom times and recessions, and I’ve got to tell you boom is better”, said Mr Finn. He was also secretly pleased when IBM sold its PC business, he said, as now he could buy his machine of choice – an Apple Mac – without feeling like a traitor.

Also helping out with festivities at Bilson’s restaurant at the Sydney Radisson Hotel were Bob Savage who ran the joint from 1996 to 1999 and oversaw selling off the Wangaratta, Victoria PC plant as well as birthing the IBM GSA joint venture with Telstra and Lend Lease.

He was ‘dragged kicking and screaming’ back to Australia from a favoured overseas posting. Stitching up the IBM GSA deal put the company firmly back in the services game. “We went from being a supplier of hardware and software to somebody who was embedded in the client,” said Mr Savage.

Former CEO David Thodey (1999-2000) got IBM through both Y2K and the Sydney Olympics where it supplied the computing gear before leaving to join Telstra and eventually taking the telco’s reins as CEO in 2009.

At the IBM birthday bash today, he looked a little care worn. Mr Thodey is in the last stage of finalising the deal between Telstra, the government and NBN CO as well as trying to shift Telstra’s culture around to being more service oriented.

Did he miss the quieter days at IBM?

“I had a wonderful career at IBM and, of course, it’s a very turbulent time at the moment with the amount of change we are going through internally and externally at Telstra. Do I miss it – no I’ve moved on and we have to create a new and wonderful Telstra.”

The spread of years meant the older men had once bossed the younger and Mr Thodey recalled being “beaten up” by Mr Savage for not making his sales figures.

Phil Bullock succeeded Mr Thodey and was in charge until 2005. He managed both 3000 people coming in to IBM Oz through the acquisition of Price Waterhouse Coopers consulting arm (one of them Mr Stevens) and the exit of a bunch of employees with the sale of the company’s PC business to Lenovo.

With the influx of upmarket consulting types from PWC, IBM got its fingers into more lucrative slices of the services pie.

“We go into the business process,” said Mr Bullock. “All of a sudden we were not just in pure hardware software and services from a technology point of view, but how the business was run.”

Glen Boreham had the CEO gig up until late last year and watched as the marketing message changed from pushing technology speeds, feeds and services to the latest “smart planet” spruik.

“For the first time it wasn’t about technology, that was almost a secondary issue, it was about how the world works,” said Mr Boreham, who is currently learning how government and media interests work as he chairs the Federal government’s Convergence Review Committee, due to report in March next year.

Current IBM boss Mr Stevens finished the centenary history lesson, saying the technology game had changed subtlety.

“When PWC came into IBM the term we used for people we did business with was ‘customer’ which implied a transactional relationship despite a very significant services component. Today the term we use is ‘client’ which implies a longer term partnership. It’s not new but it is deeper.”


Looxcie 2 wearable camcorder slims down, adds some accessories — Engadget

The original Looxcie may not have quite made wearable camcorders as ubiquitous as Blueooth headsets, but the company’s not giving on that dream, and it’s now back with its all new Looxcie 2. As you can see above, things have slimmed down considerably this time around — the new Looxcie is about half the size and 20 percent lighter than the original — but the camera still packs all the same “lifecasting” capabilities you’d expect, including support for Looxcie’s iOS and Android companion apps. You’ll also get the same Bluetooth hands-free support as before, plus 480p video recording, a promised four hours of battery life, and support for some new accessories that will let you attach the camera to a cap or helmet. Look for this one to set you back $179 for the basic five-hour model, or $199 if you want enough space for ten hours of video.

Hyperkin SupaBoy portable SNES console hands-on (video) — Engadget

Hyperkin SupaBoy portable SNES console hands-on (video)

By Tim Stevens
Hands-On




Sure, all the morning’s news may have been surrounding a vowel-augmented console from Nintendo, the Wii U, but a certain other Nintendo console that has fewer vowels is also seeing some well-deserved love here at E3 2011. It’s the classic SNES, and its been reborn as the SupaBoy, courtesy of Hyperkin. It’s a handheld version of the console that’s basically intended to fulfill a gamers’ desire for portable classic gaming but without having to ask for advice in the Ben Heck Forums. Click on through for some impressions of this handheld wunderconsole.
Hyperkin SupaBoy Hands-On






The device we were given access to is an early unit that represents where the current prototypes are, but won’t represent final hardware. For one thing, the 3.5-inch screen isn’t the final unit, so we’re not able to quote any vitals about resolution or brightness. Likewise the battery pack also is subject to change — it’s 1,500mAh right now, but Hyperkin hopes to get it up to 1,800 before release. You know, for better longevity when untethered.

Right now this early version feels a bit flimsy, but in terms of features and functionality it hits all the right marks. On the back of course is the full console slot for accepting proper SNES titles, including a cartridge lock to hold in finicky ones. Naturally the full complement of SNES controls are here — four face buttons, start, select, D-pad, and shoulder buttons — and there are dual controller inputs as well if you brought your own.


We played a little F-Zero and TMNT on the system and everything played just as we remembered it, though in the case of the former the Mode 7 graphics haven’t exactly aged well. Currently Hyperkin is hoping to get the system shipped by the end of the year and has an estimated price of $79.99. We’ll find out in about six months whether it manages to hit its marks.


Car-to-car communication trialled in SA – Hardware – News – ZDNet Australia
New smart technology that allows cars to talk to each other and avoid crashes will be trialled in South Australia.
Cohda Wireless, which manufactures the dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology, said a small wireless box provided vehicles with 360-degree awareness.
“Essentially, it [DSRC] allows cars to talk to each and exchange information about their position and speed they are heading,” chief executive Paul Gray told reporters in Adelaide last week.
“It then allows on-board systems to access the threat of other vehicles and bubble up warnings to the drivers.”
SA Road Safety Minister Tom Kenyon said the device, which combines GPS and wireless technology, was revolutionary.
“This is a potential silver bullet in the fight against road deaths in this country,” he told reporters.
Kenyon said it may help prevent tragedies such as the February death of an Adelaide mother of five killed by an Italian tourist who crashed into her while driving on the wrong side of the road.
Gabriele Cimadomo, who this week received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to dangerous driving, called for rental cars to be fitted with reminders for foreigners to drive on the left.
Kenyon said he would eventually like to see the device installed in all cars, including rentals.
Still, he said the human element remained critical.
“The best thing a tourist can do when driving is to pay attention,” he said.
“Roads don’t kill people … people’s inattention causes accidents.”
During the three-month trial, 100 DSRC-fitted vehicles will be tested in different conditions.
“The key part of the trial is to make sure false alarms are minimised,” Gray said.
The technology was also being trialled in Germany and the US. If successful, the device could be released and retro-fitted in cars by 2015.
The company has previously demonstrated intersection collision warning, electronic brake lights and rear collision warning using DSRC. Other uses include car-to-car communication for lane change assistance and congestion reduction, and car-to-infrastructure communication for in-vehicle signage and toll collection.

Erik’s Notebook

Tax-time secrets: do you know where your tech deductions are?


The taxman is looming, so it’s time to start organising your tech and find out what you can and can’t claim to optimise your return.


It’s nearly the end of another financial year. But if you don’t have a clear plan about how to optimise the cost of your capital and other tech-related purchases, don’t fret: it’s not too late to make a few more tech purchases that will increase your deductions and help you get ready for the year ahead.

The first area to consider in EOFY planning is your hardware. It’s a great time to review your inventory of desktops, laptops and servers to figure out exactly what you need – and what you’re not using anymore.

Depending on its initial purchase price, existing equipment is likely already working through a multi-year depreciation schedule that will let you depreciate a certain percent of the residual value from last year – or, if you’ve chosen the straight-line depreciation method, a fixed value amortised across the useful life of the equipment.

Replacing computers costs thousands, so the key thing to consider here is not just to fill your office with brand-new-shiny things, but to consider whether some of your ageing equipment might not offer more value to the business if it were refreshed for faster, more updated versions. Many companies hold onto equipment until it literally falls apart – by which time it’s offering little tax advantage, and probably holding your employees back in productivity you didn’t even know you could have.

It may also be important to upgrade your systems as they move out of warranty, points out Sean McColl, director of small-business IT support firm WIT Technology. “I can put companies on a five-year cycle for desktops, but if your server is coming up to being three years old, you need to replace it,” he advises. “The hardware vendor warranty is going to expire and you’re not going to get any help from those guys if it dies.”

If you have some good candidates for replacements, weigh up alternatives and don’t be afraid to purchase them. Consider, for example, whether a switch to Macs might offer some peace of mind: many converts find the more-than-adequate functionality and increased stability they get from Mac laptops and desktops is well worth taking the plunge.

It’s also a great time to invest in iPads or other tablet computers, or new smartphones offering important mobility features that will benefit your business. If their price is less than $1,000 – and many of today’s laptops and desktops are – your business can deduct their entire purchase price in its 2010-11 tax return.

If you’re a sold trader or employee buying devices or systems for personal use, you’ll need to depreciate anything over the $300 deductable limit, which changes the purchasing dynamics somewhat; consider exploring salary-packaging options to get a more tax-effective way of purchasing mobile devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Before you get carried away by gadget lust, however, remember that just because something is tax-deductible doesn’t mean it’s free. A $1,000 purchase, deducted at the 30% business tax rate, will save you just $300 – meaning you’ll still be $700 out of pocket.

“A lot of people think if they spend $1,000 and deduct it, they save themselves $1,000 in tax,” says Adrian Raftery, a chartered accountant who goes by the moniker ‘Mr Taxman’ and recently released a book of tax-saving tips. Raftery sees many people spending up big before they realise the benefits are less than they expected: “As a general rule,” he says, “don’t spend money unless you have to.”

The OPEX secret

One substantial EOFY strategy that many people may not be aware of is the prepayment of regular service fees. You can prepay up to 12 months’ worth of regular service fees before June 30, then deduct the lot during 2010-11 even if it relates to services provided during the 2011-12 tax year. This strategy provides a convenient way for small businesses to shift recurring service revenue into the current tax year – offering a way of reducing assessable income from an unusually high business year.

If you look around, you’re probably paying more and more subscription fees: monthly wireless broadband fees, internet fees, phone fees, utility bills, support contracts, even subscriptions for online news sites and other business-related web sites. If you have a bit of extra cash lying around, prepay part or all of the year to ease bill pressure next year – and get the tax benefit this year.

Prepaying operational expenses is particularly relevant these days, where more and more businesses are exploring the use of cloud-based services rather than shelling out hundreds of dollars to buy software for themselves. This includes everything from Google Apps for Business to Salesforce.com customer relationship management, Netsuite ERP, Web hosting, Xero accounting, antivirus and security services from the likes of Symantec and McAfee, online storage services like Mozy and Carbonite, and even personal storage services like Dropbox.

If you haven’t already explored the potential benefits of these and other cloud services, it may be a good time to do so now, as a matter of course. And if you like them, prepaying provides you with access to cutting-edge technology with a host of financial benefits – and, since these apps run through any web browser, they could actually save you the capital expense of buying new computers.

This, that and the other

Another important category to consider is consumables: if you’re running low on laser printer toner or inkjet cartridges, for example, make sure you top up your supply cabinet. The same deduction limits apply and you’re going to have to buy them some day – so stocking up for the year ahead can be a great way of getting a healthy deduction. Just make sure your printer is in good working order and, if possible, still under warranty: you don’t want to buy a dozen inkjet cartridges only to have the unit die on you, and be forced to test your supplier’s consumables exchange policy if you can’t repair the printer.

Another consumable you may not immediately think of is USB storage drives and external hard drives, which are generally twice as large for the same price this year as last. If you don’t have a formal backup strategy in place, take this opportunity to fix that situation.

At the very least, have one external drive attached to each desktop and server, with the same capacity as the system it’s attached to and automatic backup software running continuously. If you have more than a handful of systems, you may also want to invest in one big network-attached storage (NAS) unit and back up your data from all the computers onto this box. Discuss the best option with your tech support people.

By taking the time to re-evaluate your business and the technology that supports it, you may be surprised at how many deductions you can come up with. And with so many opportunities to improve your business in the process, why not make this the year you stop saying “next year”?

Five tips for a bigger deduction

True to its title, chartered accountant Adrian Raftery’s new book offers ‘101 Ways To Save Money On Your Taxes – Legally!’. Here are five of Raftery’s biggest tips for small businesses staring down the barrel of EOFY.

1. Purchase depreciable assets under $1,000
As discussed, small businesses can write off any capital expense under $1,000 without depreciating the equipment. Just remember not to overspend: you’re only saving 30% of the money you pay, so deductable equipment still costs money.

2. Prepay expenses
It’s not only about prepaid internet and mobile broadband: given the number of online services that now come with monthly subscriptions – including hosted applications, antivirus services, online backup and storage and more – there are many ways to get a big deduction now while reducing your expenses during the next financial year.

3. Rationalise trading stock
If your business involves managing inventory, don’t forget to do a detailed stocktake and write down obsolete stock. You may be surprised what you find.

4. Write off bad debts
This one isn’t purely tech-related, but it’s good business practice: make sure you track your debtors and write down debts that will never be collected.

5. Good record keeping
As a general rule, staying organised is the best way to track your expenses (and deduct them) as effectively as possible. This also extends to managing your assets as effectively as possible: keep receipts for purchase of your tech gear and mark the dates your warranties expire on your calendar so you’re never surprised later on.

Platform Networks makes NBN connections

By James Hutchinson on Jun 16, 2011 1:48 PM (32 minutes ago)
Filed under Telco/ISP

Five service providers test sub-wholesale service.

Platform Networks has brought five service providers onto a wholesale aggregation service that now includes connections to the National Broadband Network.
The company was one of several to stake its claim for the aggregation space in the past week. Nextgen Networks and AAPT were also vying for share in the space.
Platform’s managing director David Hooton said its wholesale aggregation product had been operating the past month in Armidale.
“We want to provide a safe harbour for the smaller guys, the guys who are probably going to be edged out of the market, who can’t afford the infrastructure to directly interconnect [with NBN Co],” he said.
Platform’s aggregation product would be expanded to take traffic from the other five mainland NBN first release sites as they came online later this year.
Customers had engaged in a two-tier on-boarding process through Platform Networks to connect to the company’s leased backhaul as well as the NBN test site.
Trial NBN aggregation services were being offered free to customers, with Platform absorbing the costs of network traffic outside NBN Co’s connectivity virtual circuit.
NBN Co was yet to charge sub-wholesale or retail service providers for accessing the networks at either its trial Tasmanian or mainland sites.
It was expected to begin billing for services from October 1.
Hooton said he envisaged offering a “remarkably similar” product to Nextgen’s in future, with active connections to all 121 NBN points of interconnect.
Service providers would interconnect with Platform at one of ten points of presence at each major capital city bar Darwin, with three each in Sydney and Brisbane.
Hooton said that while Platform would remain focused as a Tier 2 carrier, the NBN wholesale aggregation offerings would not differ significantly from its current product set.
“We view the NBN as yet another carrier we’ll be adding on, they just might have a slightly more complicated interconnect requirement,” he said.
Competition within the sub-wholesale market was expected to grow with the wholesale divisions of Telstra and Optus expressing interest in providing similar aggregation products in future.
Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


New AAPT chief eyes network aggregation, IaaS



Bundled virtual server product takes off.

Incoming AAPT chief David Yuile has talked up the telco’s infrastructure-as-a-service and network aggregation prospects as he prepares to take on the top job from next month.
Yuile will replace Paul Broad who is rumoured to have taken up a public sector role.
Yuile told iTnews today that he was pleased to have been asked to lead the company and that he was focused on “where we can take it”.
His current role at the telco had him doing “a lot of things behind the scenes”.
“It will be great to take [those initiatives] on from the front,” he said.
“We’re very focused, we have a clear purpose, and we can really execute well.”
Yuile said AAPT had been “working really closely with NBN Co behind the scenes” in recent months, gaining its service provider accreditation.
AAPT planned to act as an “independent aggregator” of telecommunications services from the likes of NBN Co, Telstra and Optus.
He said that AAPT’s advantage over some of the NBN aggregators was its access network assets.
“I’m relaxed,” he said of the aggregation space. “I think there’s a lot of noise in the space that will play out but we’ll still be standing [afterwards].”
AAPT was also focused on the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market.
Although a standalone ‘Solaris-as-a-service’ storage product revealed in March would “take a bit more development” before it was commercially ready, Yuile said the telco had soft-launched virtual server hosting bundles.
“We’re getting great traction with early customers on IaaS and I think that part of the business is going to get bigger and better,” he said.
“There’s a really sweet spot in the market for virtual servers with attached storage and backup.
“We’ve got customers coming online now. Directionally [for the business], IaaS is absolutely critical”.
AAPT wished Broad well “in his future endeavours” in a statement issued today.
There was no word on who would succeed Yuile in the chief operations role.
Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


Fibre deployment in new homes resolved



CONFUSION between Telstra and the NBN Co over who bears responsibility for the installation of the government’s $36 billion fibre network into new housing developments appears to have been resolved after the government was forced to clarify its own rules on the process.


Residential property developers had been plagued by the uncertainty since the ruling was first introduced last year as it failed to properly identify whether Telstra-supplied infrastructure would be suitable for installation of the NBN Co’s fibre network.

“We’ve seen a lot of buck passing between NBN Co and Telstra,” said Aaron Gadiel, the chief executive of property development industry group Urban Taskforce.

“These organisations have clearly been feuding with one another and it’s been impossible for developers who have been caught in the middle.

“We hope that the new rules will, once-and-for-all, clear up any misunderstanding between the NBN Co and Telstra as to who is responsible for what.”


Under the new rules — which were announced yesterday by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy — Telstra will be responsible as the communication infrastructure provider of last resort for housing developments of less than 100 lots or units approved after January 1, and it will also be responsible as provider of last resort for developments approved before January 1 that are still awaiting communications infrastructure.

The new rules will also see Telstra retain ownership of the passive infrastructure it had rolled out in greenfields developments with less than 100 units.

The previous rules had caused a backlog in applications from developers keen to install communications infrastructure into new estates, but unaware whether Telstra or NBN Co would be the responsible party for installation.

Under the new rules developers will still be responsible for installing pit and pipe infrastructure, however before NBN or Telstra supply copper or fibre networks through those conduits, developers will be required to transfer ownership of the pit and pipe to NBN Co or Telstra.

The refined arrangements will come into effect immediately.

The installation of the NBN into new housing developments will play a vital role for the NBN Co hitting its connection metrics. NBN Co has said it plans to pass 172,000 greenfield premises with fibre, activating at least 132,000 of those, over the next year.




Tasmanian public schools locked out of NBN



By their existing contracts and security concerns.

Tasmania’s Department of Education has neutered criticism from the state’s opposition over public school takeup of the NBN, revealing all schools in trial areas were serving out existing telecommunications contracts.
A department spokeman told iTnews that public schools were obliged to acquire telecommunications service through a whole-of-government contract that had run since 2007.
Although initially set to expire last year, the Tasmanian Government had renewed the contract until 2013.
The extension effectively prevented public schools in the state from signing up for NBN access.
Instead, they were obliged to procure services from Telstra, Aurora Energy or BBW.
Shadow education minister Michael Ferguson slammed state Labor earlier this week after it was confirmed that no public schools in the current NBN serving areas of Smithton, Scottsdale or Midway Point had fibre access to all classrooms.
In written answers [pdf] provided to Ferguson and published on his site, education minister Nick McKim said that the only NBN access at public schools was an Internode-supplied trial classroom at Smithon High School.
“The benefits of being the first part of the country with the NBN are slipping away as the mainland roll-out commences, yet the Green-Labor Government has done nothing,” Ferguson said in a statement accompanying the answers.
Digital Tasmania spokesman Andrew O’Connor supported Ferguson’s pressing of the issue.
Security needs
A Department of Premier and Cabinet spokesman told iTnews that there were also some technical considerations before public schools could join the NBN.
“Issues such as filtering of inappropriate content and viruses and access to the secure Government network are important pre-requisites which need to be covered before those schools can move to the NBN,” he said in a statement.
But Digital Tasmania’s O’Connor argued the state government had “two years to prepare for this but haven’t gotten that far”.
“Obviously security and access to those networks are paramount but certainly this could have all been arranged int he last year and you could go further to think that they knew the NBN was coming a year before that,” he told iTnews.
“Essentially they’ve had two years to prepare for this but haven’t gotten that far.”
On-boarding with NBN Co
State education minister Nick McKim argued that more extensive fibre connections to public classrooms would not occur until “the State Government Wide Area Network communications providers became registered with NBN Co as retail service providers”.
Telstra is both a state government contract partner and, since September last year, has trialled NBN services in the state.
A Telstra spokesman said the trial continued with a “small number of customers”.
He would not confirm whether Telstra would offer commercial services to premises in the state in the near future.
It is believed Aurora Energy, which also acts as agent for NBN Co’s Tasmanian subsidiary, is in negotiations to become a retail service provider on the network but is yet to finalise negotiations to on-board with the government wholesaler as a provider.
The education department’s deputy secretary of corporate services Andrew Finch said that Aurora Energy was “working closely with the Government” on the issue.
The telco had previously held discussions with the Federal Government to form a joint venture with NBN Co, but negotiations reportedly fell apart.
NBN-connected schools
Circular Head Christian School in Smithton has been highlighted as one of few schools having received the technology so far.
It was used as the site for the official launch of the NBN in Tasmania last year, and connected via the internet to students at the Presbyterian Ladies College in Armidale in May as an example of the types of applications that the broadband network could facilitate.
Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


Telstra cloud investment hits $1 billion




TELSTRA has announced it has found an additional $800 million to invest in cloud computing over the next five years as it chases new enterprise revenue streams.


Telstra chief executive David Thodey said the investment was part of a wider strategy to transform the carrier from being “not just an access infrastructure provider” but to place an enormous computing capacity within its network.

The telco has never confirmed the amount it has invested in its cloud infrastructure to date but it is understood that it spent $200m getting it off the ground.

He said telecom providers played a natural role in providing cloud services in the market due to their role in providing high-availability technology.

“It’s been more and more important the role we play because of what we are,” Mr Thodey said.

“It’s part of our DNA … it’s all about managing risk,” he said.




Mr Thodey said the investment would fund improvements in its next-generation data centre capacity, including a brand new facility in Melbourne, and new IT infrastructure. The investment would also be used to deepen integration between its IT infrastructure and its Next IP platform.

Telstra’s chief operating officer Brendan Riley said construction of a new Melbourne data centre was already under way. The remainder of investment would be used to transition government and business applications into its cloud infrastructure and portals, he said.

Telstra enterprise and government managing director, Paul Geason, said that the $800m investment was only an estimate and that the investment could expand to match customer demand.

“What we’ve tried to do with that number is be as approximate as we can about what we think demand will look like over the next five years but quite clearly that’s in the hands of our customers how they embrace cloud,” Mr Geason said.

Telstra’s role in cloud service would be limited to providing infrastructure at this stage, Mr Geason said. Software companies would continue to make software licensing fee arrangements with customers directly and Telstra’s revenue stream would be limited to infrastructure provision.

Mr Geason said that the company was actively working with software companies to certify their applications for its cloud infrastructure.

Telstra said it was not in a position to announce the individual applications that would be made available on its service.

Philip Jones, Telstra executive director of innovation and product management, said that it would be geared to customer demand.

“We will move to applications that customers tell us they want,” Mr Jones said.





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