Episode 245

posted in: Show Notes


Unfairly sacked for online chat

bloke had been employed by Outdoor Creations, in Melbourne. He had resigned and was about to leave the job when he was abruptly sacked for more than ”3000 transactions on a chat line during work time”.
His employer claimed, after searching his computer, that he had been using the Google Mail chat service when he was supposed to be working.

Employer  said in a letter of termination that engaging in personal activities for such a period of time while at work was akin to the theft ”of hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of paid time”. Mr O’Connor denied using the chat service to the extent claimed.

The Fair Work Australia commissioner Anne Gooley said neither party had provided independent evidence about the net use. She said that while excessive use of social media during work hours may justify dismissal there was insufficient evidence to dismiss Mr O’Connor. He had also not been given an opportunity to respond before being sacked.

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/unfairly-sacked-for-online-chat-20110627-1gnlt.html#ixzz1QkYDGaMr

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/unfairly-sacked-for-online-chat-20110627-1gnlt.html#ixzz1QkY4F6ix


NBN stage two begins in Tasmania

CONSTRUCTION on the second phase of the $35.9 billion National Broadband Network has begun in Tasmania.
Deputy Tasmanian Premier Bryan Green on Thursday turned the first sod on the second stage of the NBN at Sorrell, east of Hobart.
Mr Green said that from March next year, services would be available on the super-fast fibre optic network to 11,000 homes in Triabunna, Kingston Beach, Deloraine, St Helens, George Town and South Hobart.

The Digital Dreamer \ General \ The NBN Is Here! – A Preliminary Review
The NBN is finally here in Willunga, South Australia.

I’ve done a few speed tests and also a bunch of screenshots. As you can see from the tests on Speedtest I was averaging 95Mbps downstream and 35Mbps Upstream. On Ozspeedtest it was fairly similar although I am not so sure how accurate it is since it is only pulling in a small file. The FTP local mirror was amazingly fast at 11 MB/s. I also uploaded a bunch of pics to my web server and it went at lightning speed. Most users will appreciate the upload speeds. Notice the Ping of 3ms. Gamers will be in heaven with low pings

The downstream test. Averages between 94 and 95Mbps.

Speedtest showing the upload speeds.


Internet is becoming a daily habit for more than half of us

seven out of 10 households connecting to the internet, and more than half of them going online daily.

four out of five children aged between five and 14 using the internet.
Nearly six million households, or 72 per cent of homes, had internet access in 2008-09, up from just one million, or 16 per cent, in 1998

And in 2009, nine out of 10 businesses were connected compared with just 29 per cent in 1998.
More than nine in 10 Australians who had the internet at home used it weekly, and 58 per cent used it daily.

Ninety-six per cent of people who used it at home did so for personal reasons such as emailing, banking, playing games, writing job applications and shopping.
Forty-six per cent of people using the internet at home did so for work purposes and 39 per cent used it for education purposes.
more stats, goto link above


Google ups the ante against Facebook with Google+ social network

The new service, a top priority for new Google chief executive Larry Page, is aimed at exploiting what has been considered a weakness of Facebook — that by default people using Facebook share all their information with a big group of friends.

Google+ lets users do video chats, much like a feature of its Gmail email service, but with a big upgrade: users can talk to and see many friends at once.

called Sparks, suggests articles to read and videos to watch based on what the service knows about users’ interests. Its Huddle feature lets users send text messages to several different people at once, a process known as group texting


GPs get bonus for e-health video consultations

DOCTORS who work as close as 20km from the nation’s capital city centres will get a $6000 incentive payment the first time they help a patient take part in a videoconference consultation with a city specialist.

There are no rules to prevent a doctor doing just one telehealth service to claim the $6000, but the Department of Health and Medicare will monitor the ratio of incentives to services and make adjustments if rorting emerges.

The Australian Medical Association has warned that the new scheme could be hampered as many specialists do not use computers. WTF???

The telehealth program will cover 62 per cent of the population. Only patients living in inner metropolitan areas will be excluded.

AMA president Steve Hambleton welcomed the incentives and said the AMA and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners were seeking advice on what equipment doctors would need to make best use of telehealth. The association had been told it would be possible for doctors to use a Skype connection initially but cameras that connect to a computer costing as little as a few hundred dollars would be sufficient for the purpose, he said.


AFP readies list for ISPs to block child porn links

THE Australian Federal Police has started preparing its first ISP censorship notices under a voluntary internet filtering scheme targeting online child abuse material.
yesterday the Telstra confirmed it would commit to a scheme to block a narrowly focused list of material maintained by Interpol and vetted by the AFP.
Optus also confirmed that it would comply with the scheme based on the Interpol list but that it would not start blocking sites until late July.


Insiders suspected in distribute.IT hack

The 30-minute hacking episode that led to the downfall of Victorian-based distribute.IT has been referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation.
The distribute.IT hack sought to destroy both live and backup data, rendering recovery virtually impossible.
In about 30 minutes, hackers wiped four of  eight servers, destroying 4800 accounts and taking down websites representing about half the customer base of 10,000.
The devastation extended to reseller network, its main revenue stream, and people and organisations that resold domain names and developed websites as client services.
Netregistry Group chief executive Larry Bloch, who is in charge of the data recovery effort, said that the attack had sought to destroy the company’s data rather than steal it, and that included data from an independent backup system.

The hackers wiped distribute.ITs hard-drive address blocks, rendering unreadable disk storage content containing the web-hosting files of thousands of distribute.IT customers, and then targeting the company’s back-ups.
Mr Bloch said distribute.IT had a “fairly sophisticated” snap-shot back-up regime, which he believed was accessed independently of the main system.
Mr Bloch said Netregistry had partly recovered distribute.IT’s data from a three-week-old back-up that was not destroyed.

Distribute.IT reseller portals were operating again and Netregistry hoped to have most of the hosted websites online in a few days.
Mr Bloch last week said Netregistry had bought all of distribute.IT’s business, but not the legal entity.

News Corp sells Myspace at bargain price

News Corp has sold Myspace for US$35 million, a fraction of what it paid for the once-hot social media site even as a new generation of Web-based start-ups is enjoying sky-high valuations.
Advertising company Specific Media will team with the singer Justin Timberlake to acquire Myspace in a deal that caps a tumultuous period of ownership under Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which swooped in to buy Myspace for US$580 million in 2005.
For the quarter ended March 2011, News Corp reported a segment operating loss of US$165 million, mainly due to declines at Myspace.

Microsoft releases first service pack for Office 2010 The service pack is available through a number of channels including the Download Centre. Users with Office Automatic Updated enabled will be able to download the pack manually from Microsoft Update initially, but after 90 days an automatic update will be available.Microsoft has launched Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010.

JK Rowling says the Harry Potter series will be sold as e-books | Information, Gadgets, Mobile

JK Rowling says her Harry Potter novels will be sold as e-books, ending the boy wizard’s status as one of the highest-profile holdouts against digital publishing.

The magical stories that conquered the world in print form will be available as audiobooks and e-books in multiple languages through a new website, “Pottermore”, from October.

Rowling also has written 18,000 words of new Potter material for the interactive site, which promises to immerse users in her world of wizards, combining elements of computer games, social networking and an online store.

Rowling says the site includes “information I have been hoarding for years” about the books’ characters and settings.

“Pottermore” has been the subject of intense speculation among Potter fans since it appeared on the Internet with the words “coming soon.”

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The project unveiled in London lets Potter fans delve into the world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Sections let users shop for wands in Diagon Alley, travel to Hogwarts from the imaginary Platform 9 3/4 at London’s King’s Cross train station and be sorted into Hogwarts school houses by the perceptive Sorting Hat.

Along the way are wand fights, games and new information about characters beloved around the world, including Harry’s reviled relatives, the Dursleys.

The site goes live July 31, when 1 million registered users will be chosen to help flesh out the online world. It will be open to all users from October, in languages including English, French, German and Spanish.

“(It’s) a way I can be creative in a medium that didn’t exist when I started the books back in 1990,” Rowling told reporters, a way to incorporate the thousands of “stories, drawings, ideas, suggestions” she still receives from fans, four years after the last Potter book was published.

Harry Potter fans who have been sharing enthusiasm and stories online for years should be delighted by the new digital world. But Rowling said she wanted to keep the emphasis of the site firmly on the written word.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for online games,” she said. “I wanted to pull it back to reading.”

The seven Harry Potter novels have sold more than 450 million copies and made Rowling one of the world’s richest women.

The last book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was published in 2007, and Rowling said she still has no plans to write an eighth.

But she said Pottermore was a way to reconnect with a character and a universe she loved.

“It is exactly like an ex-boyfriend,” Rowling said. “Finishing writing Harry – I have only ever cried in that way and that much when my mother died. I have never cried for a man the way I cried for Harry Potter.”

The latest Warner Bros. film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” has its world premiere in London on July 7.

IT may sound impossible to believe but Australians know next to nothing about internet pornography.

University of Western Sydney postgraduate student Emma Pinn is undertaking a study of internet pornography to fill an academic research void.

Her study will aim to identify links between adult fantasy tendencies and use of pornography as well as the impact technology has had on viewing habits.

The internet and the relative privacy it provides to obtain materials has changed the face of pornography in the past 20 years.

While research has been conducted overseas a Canadian study “couldn’t find two guys who haven’t looked at pornography” there have been very few Australian studies.

“We don’t know a lot about the Australian population and their use of pornography, their patterns,” Ms Pinn said.

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“While we know a few things about internet pornography, we do not know a lot, and what we do know is mostly clinical anecdotes.

“There’s not a lot of data to back those up so I’m undertaking a study to find that empirical data and also the impact pornography can have on relationships and sexual desire of partners.”

She defines pornography as “the graphic depiction of sexual activity showing exposed genitalia between two people engaged in a sexual act”.

Ms Pinn is seeking people to complete an online survey that examines the impact looking at online porn could have on romantic relationships as well as how people view pornography.

Survey results will be kept anonymous.

If you are aged over 18 and want to take part, go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/onlinepornresearch.

IMAGINE a world where you could legally and freely watch any episode of any TV show ever made.

A world where you could stream high-definition movies to your television for a couple of dollars a week, with an almost unlimited selection to choose from.

Customers in the US can almost experience this right now through internet services like Hulu and Netflix.

Hulu offers over 1000 seasons of television programming with more than 29,000 episodes available for free with a few minor advertisements, or $US8 a month for even more content.

Meanwhile, Netflix users pay $US8 a month to stream as many movies as they want as many times as they want.

But thanks to copyright law, anyone living outside of the US is blocked from using these amazing services.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to get around this restriction by using a commonplace technology called VPN.

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VPN stands for virtual private network.

It’s most commonly used by businesses to let employees remotely connect to the company network without compromising security.

But it can also be used to convince overseas websites that you are in a country that has access to its services.

Here’s how it works: you set up your computer with either a free or paid VPN service and, once activated, point your computer’s browser at the Hulu or Netflix website.

The services you previously couldn’t access will now be available to you. It’s as simple as that.

There are, however, a few downsides.

Firstly, VPNs can be slow. If your internet connection isn’t fast enough, you could find streaming video continually stopping to buffer, which would make the whole process more effort than it’s worth.

The second issue is that Hulu and Netflix know all about VPNs, and many popular VPN services are actually blocked by these sites.

Quite often this can be overcome by stopping your VPN and starting again, though.

The third issue is how you get the geo-restricted content onto your television.

Screen-sharing devices like the McTiVia, which bundles VPN software with each $299 purchase, encourage Australians to access Hulu on the big screen, but it’s a substantial investment.

The other alternative is good, old-fashioned cables.

NOTE: The legality of using VPNs to access international entertainment services is debatable – copyright campaigners will argue it’s illegal, but under Australian parallel import law it’s not.

A spokesperson for Attorney-General Robert McClelland told The Australian last week: “In relation to the use of VPNs by Australians to access services such as Hulu and Netflix, on the limited information provided there does not appear to be an infringement of copyright law in Australia.”

However, using VPNs to access services from Hulu or Netflix definitely contradicts each companies terms of service, although like the conditions attached to iTunes, they aren’t necessarily enforceable by law.

So here’s our list of the top five VPN Clients:

HotSpot Shield, (free)
Hotspot Shield is one of the most attractive VPN services on the market. It’s free, and it’s incredibly simple to setup. Simply download and install the software, and it will do the rest of the hard work for you.

Hulu does recognise computers using it though, so you might need to try a few times to get it to work for you.
Link to Hotspot Shield

UnblockUS, ($US5 a month)
UnblockUS is designed to work with devices that aren’t your computer, like an Apple TV, Roku box or games console. That’s great if you have an imported device that supports that stuff, but everybody else will simply enjoy the simplicity of a service designed to support video streaming.

It does require some settings adjustments on your PC to work though.
Link to UnblockUS

VPN.S ($8 a month)
The VPN partner of the McTivia device mentioned above, VPN.S understands that certain people are keen to access international video streaming content.

They focus on delivering bandwidth especially for Hulu and Netflix customers in Australia, but consequently come in at a slight premium over other VPN providers.
Link to VPN.S

Hostizzle, ($US4 a month or free)
Hostizzle has a couple of plans on offer, although they mostly offer the same service, with easy installation and plenty of bandwidth for streaming video.

The free service does require you to manually update your VPN certificate every 30 days, a process that takes a bit of time, but could save you money. The choice is yours.
Link to The Best VPN  (Hostizzle no longer exists as at 05.07.17)

Strong VPN, ($US7 a month)
One of the stalwarts of the VPN field, Strong VPN is primarily focused on bringing secure connections to business and enterprise. It will also work quite well for streaming video.

With servers all over the world, it also makes it useful if you want to access video streamed content from other countries.
Link to StrongVPN

Huili County Government officials star in world’s worst Photoshopped picture | Information, Gadgets,

IT IS the picture that has the web talking about the wonders of tarmac inspection in south west China – for all the wrong reasons.

Huili County Government has become a joke after posting on its website what may be the worst faked picture in history.

The picture shows three local officials inspecting a newly completed highway in China’s Sichuan province but the men appear to hovering several centimetres above the tarmac.

What’s astonishing about the poor display of picture editing is that it happened at all. Other photos show the men did visit the road and on the same day. And yes, the road was even completed. But for some unknown reason the photographer decided to ditch the original photos and go for a doctored picture instead.

Floating officials

Floating officials
Other pictures show the men did inspect the highway but for some reason the photographer didn’t like this shot. Picture: Supplied
Source: Supplied

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Huili County Government was ridiculed soon after the picture went up on Monday. The authority took down the picture and immediately apologised, a rare thing in China.

“A government employee posted the edited picture out of error . . . The county government understands the wide attention, and hope to apologise for and clarify the matter,” a Huili official told the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The picture has gone viral and inspired countless parodies, including showing the men on the moon, at the final of 2006 soccer World Cup and surrounded by dinosaurs.

World of Warcraft finally hitches a ride on the free-to-play bandwagon | Online Video Games Reviews

THAT impenetrable fortress of online gaming, World of Warcraft, has made a concession to the free-to-play hordes that gather in an effort to chip away at the empire – it’s also free.

At least, WoW‘s new Starter Edition is free.

Replacing a more customary 14-day trial and scrubbing its time limit, the Starter Edition nonetheless carries over the trial’s restrictions.

In place of a time limit is instead a cap that halts character progression at level 20 out of a possible 85.

Coincidentally, it takes about two weeks playing a couple of hours each day to reach level 20, but on the other hand, those with the Starter Edition can grind out as many sub-20 characters as they like.

So what can’t they do? Well, the social experience is significantly diminished: there’s no voice or public chat, no guilds, no item trading (a key part of WoW‘s internal economy), and Starter users are prevented from creating or joining parties that contain members over the level 20 threshold.

Oh, and there’s a wealth limit of 10 gold – but that’s actually a decent amount in WoW terms.

For now at least, WoW remains steadfastly focused on converting new players into paid subscribers, bundling in the Burning Crusadeexpansion for those that pony up.

Other massively multiplayer games (MMOs) that become free-to-play – Lord of the Rings Online, Champions Online, and (soon) LEGO Universeand City of Heroes – make money by means of an in-game shop that offers extra items and quests, with optional premium memberships taking the place of a subscription tier.

Some, like Allods Online and Vindictus, launch as free-to-play from the off.

Guild Wars 2 will require a one-time retail purchase only; and then there are the brave few, such as RIFT, that pursue a fully fledged subscription model in an effort to beat the 12-million subscriber WoW at its own game.

Queensland hacker has Red Rooster revenge – Oddware – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Attempts revenge by chicken.

A 23-year-old former fast food worker at Red Rooster has escaped conviction after an apparent ‘revenge’ attack where he remotely accessing a work computer to order $67,000 of chicken.

The man had resigned earlier in the day after a heated argument allegedly over safety issues, according to a report by the Queensland Times.

He reportedly placed the huge orders after resigning over the row.

The order was flagged by a supplier who reported the issue to the Queensland store before it was fulfilled. The owner then reported it to police.

Telstra: Hi-def voice won’t impact network – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Telco flicks soft switch on digital voice encoder.

Telstra has switched on high definition voice on its Next G network, saying the higher quality won’t impact its wireless network capacity.

The feature was built into an upgrade of Telstra’s core packet network at the outset of its Next G rollout in 2006, which cost $2.2 billion to date.

The feature remained dormant and was only turned on in recent weeks due, according to Telstra executive director of networks Mike Wright, to the continued momentum of high definition voice markets globally.

The feature has become available in 18 countries this year, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GMSA), with Orange in Europe becoming the first notable carrier to deploy the technology in 2009.

Telstra has six HD voice compatible phones available and planned to launch an additional six with the feature from manufacturers Nokia, Sony Ericsson and HTC by the end of September.

The HD Voice feature used digital Wideband Adaptive Multirate (AMR) encoding to effectively double the frequency voice range from the traditional 3.5 kilohertz to seven kilohertz.

The original limited voice frequency ranges were determined up to 100 years ago to adapt to the limitations of the copper telephone network as well as save money, according to Wright.

However, Wright claimed the new technology, which operates at the same approximate bitrate of 12.65 Kbps as current voice calls and also utilised noise cancelling technology, would not add strain to the network’s capacity as it is taken up.

Up to 200,000 users currently own HD Voice-capable handsets on Telstra’s network, although device management and operations director Andrew Volard couldn’t clarify how many calls were actually being made through the network.

Telstra has looked to leverage additional soft-switch functionality implemented during its core packet overhaul in order to simplify network management and lower strain on the network capacity.

Planned upgrades to 84 Mbps on the existing Next G network have been flagged as using “gas left in the HSPA+ tank”.

Its rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology had also been aimed at introducing greater spectral efficiency and easing network strain, rather than necessarily introducing higher bandwidth speeds.

Wright said HD voice use would increase in the next18 to 24 month as consumers changed handsets, but could be accelerated by early adoption in targeted industries and verticals such as remote radio workers, construction companies and those deemed to work regularly in noisy environments.

Calls still transited the “circuit” aspect of Telstra’s network, relying largely on the encoder in the phone itself, but would only work when two handsets with HD Voice capability connected to each other. These handsets would automatically switch to traditional voice calls in other cases.

Wright said carriers would have to build new interconnects in order to enable the function across competitors, but that it would likely happen over time.

Some global carriers have skipped the capability in favour of deploying the newer Voice over LTE standard as the next-generation networks were rolled out.

“It would take quite some years before we see a penetration layer for Voice over LTE,” Wright said.

“We see a lot of life left in traditional circuit-switched boards, and why wait?”

ISPs opt into Interpol child abuse filter – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

ACMA blacklist sidelined.

Australian ISPs were likely to filter the internet against an internationally recognised list of child abuse sites by the end of the year, according to the Internet Industry Association (IIA).

Australia’s largest telco Telstra last week revealed it was considering use of an Interpol blocklist as part of an internet filter it was preparing to implement across its user base.

The move could be mirrored by other ISPs as the Interpol list was integrated into a new voluntary industry code aimed at blocking child abuse material.

The move sidelined an initiative by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to maintain its own local blocklist.

IIA chief executive Peter Coroneos told iTnews that the Interpol list was chosen collectively by industry after consultation and negotiation with multiple blocklist sources, including ACMA.

“We never committed to where we would source the list,” Coroneos told iTnews.

“What we did commit to was introducing a voluntary scheme that would block child pornography online.”

The code, to be finished and distributed to member ISPs within weeks, would align Australian filtering standards with those established by Interpol.

Coroneos said the code would likely be applied by ISPs representing up to 90 percent of the Australian internet user base by the end of year.

ACMA would retain a role in forwarding complaints received by Australians to the Australian Federal Police, an Interpol member organisation.

“If an Australian internet user happened to find child pornography on the web and reported that to ACMA then ACMA would be bound to pass that on to Interpol and the credible agencies,” Coroneos said.

“We thought that was a more appropriate approach and Interpol is comfortable with ACMA having that role. We’re not trying to cut them out.”

ACMA’s blacklist had contained 450 web addresses deemed to contain child sexual abuse material.

Age laws

The Interpol ‘worst-of child abuse’ blocklist was first formulated in 2009 as part of an international crackdown.

The international agency shopped the list to ISPs in October last year, including Australian providers.

The IIA-proposed program would filter whole domains where real children under or perceived to be aged under 13 were visualised as abused or in sexual contact.

The criteria of Interpol’s list may conflict with local law in at least one area, as Australian law holds children as those under 18, rather than 13. Interpol had previously defended the age classification as a compromise between differences in global law and cultures.

Individual domains would have had to be active within three months of being considered and vetted by at least two policing agencies or countries for addition to the blocklist.

A generic Interpol-created block page would allow visitors to complain to the European division of Interpol about wrongly blocked domains.

Authorities would be able to summon material from ISPs relating to viewing and use of child abuse material on their networks under section 313 of the Telecommunications Act.

The Interpol blocklist has been implemented by some providers in Britain and northern Europe but was yet to be mandated by any one country for use.

The European Union had long considered mandating blocking child abuse sites for all member countries but, as of last week, had removed such provisions from proposed directives.


No Australian ISP has firmly committed to participate in a voluntary filter program announced by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last year.

At the time, Conroy confirmed negotiations with Australia’s two largest telcos Telstra and Optus, as well as Primus to filter out a list of child abuse sites.

Although Telstra and Optus had widely been reported to be implementing the filter from next month, it remained uncertain whether they would progress, amid fear of retribution from internet freedom hacktivists.

ISP Primus was reportedly uneasy about the scheme with now-deleted comments made by a representative of the ISP on the Whirlpool user forum indicating the company had “no current plans to impose the voluntary filter on July 1”.

When contacted by iTnews about the issue, Primus chief executive Ravi Bhatia could not clarify the company’s current position.

The Government’s voluntary scheme also counted ISPs Webshield and ItXtreme among planned participants.

Support for the Government’s wider, mandatory internet filtering proposal which would, under Conroy’s purview, be implemented by all service providers by 2013 has flagged in recent months.

An interim report from a joint Parliamentary committee on cyber-safety reserved support for the filter proposal, while staff moves within Conroy’s own broadband department had seen the branch once responsible for the program scrapped and the initiative moved to become a cyber-security, rather than cyber-safety, matter.

The Government had used the most recent budget to scrap a separate, $9.8 million incentive for ISPs to voluntarily implement their own filter programs.

Vodafone ends P2P, VoIP free ride – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Telco warns users to upgrade data plans.

Vodafone will begin charging for internet services previously unmetered in what it has told customers is a “correction to its billing systems”.

In SMS messages and emails sent to Vodafone customers late yesterday afternoon, first reported by iTechReport, the telco advised services including peer-to-peer (P2P) network traffic, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services and internet services using the secure HTTP protocol would be charged on standard data rates from July 8 this year.

Users would be charged for accessing the services on handsets and tethered device connections.

“The data usage charges are in line with customers’ existing contracts but were not previously billed,” the telco wrote in one email to customers.

A Vodafone spokesperson did not return requests for further clarification on the issue at time of writing.

The three data types had gone uncharged for users on both pre-paid and post-paid plans.

“These charges were always intended to be charged,” said Tim H, a representative of the telco, on the company’s official community forum.

Although the changes appeared only to affect those services not previously advertised as unmetered, Vodafone has bundled access to some of the services in the past.

Use of the popular VoIP service Skype through a particular Vodafone-sponsored application has been available under bundled metering plans for some time. The telco has previously indicated in fine print that other VoIP services and non-prescribed Skype services would attract standard data rates.

In addition, the telco’s previous failure to charge for some internet email and banking data appeared to be caused by unmetered use of all services that used the secure HTTP protocol.

Official Vodafone email and application services had continued attracting standard data rates.

“This does not mean you are now going to see extra or excess charges, but instead more accurate data usages, as we will be now capturing all data traffic,” a representative of the telco, Dave, said on the Whirlpool user forum yesterday.

“Data usage will continue to be charged at the same rate and from under your plan’s data allocations.”

The telco encouraged users to adopt higher data plans and check their usage more regularly ahead of the changes in an effort to avoid higher bills.

Vodafone had begun offering unlimited social networking through its ‘Infinite’ plans earlier this year, but continued to charge standard data rates if a user followed a link to an external website.

AARNet tests 40 Gbps network – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Deploys first phase of 100 Gbps backbone.

Research network operator AARNet has enabled 40 Gbps connectivity along 1,300 kilometres of its fibre network in its first step towards terabit connectivity.

The trial service connected three CSIRO radioastronomy facilities in New South Wales: the Parkes Radio Telescope; Narrabri Observatory near Tamworth; and its radioastronomy headquarters in Marsfield, Sydney.

The upgrade quadrupled the maximum speed currently available via the operator’s AARNet3 network, which offered speeds of between one and 10 Gbps.

To reach 40 Gbps, AARNet installed four new 40/100 Gbps coherent detection transponders from Cisco onto its backbone. Two were installed in Sydney, one in Parkes and one in Narrabri.

Traffic was injected at Sydney, sent to Parkes and Narrabri, and back, with AARNet monitoring round trip time and packet loss statistics to verify that the network was performing to specification.

Some 2,400 terabytes of data was delivered over three days of continuous operation on the trial network.

Other aspects of AARNet’s infrastructure – based on the Cisco ONS 15454 platform – remained unchanged.

The operator did not reveal the cost of the upgrade.

The upgrade, which commenced on May 2, was part of the operator’s next-generation AARNet4 network, which would deliver 40 Gbps to customers via a 100 Gbps nationwide backbone.

The transponders were capable of transmitting more than 80 parallel wavelengths that could collectively deliver 3.2 Tbps without any further hardware upgrades.

AARNet CEO Chris Hancock said the operator had no immediate plans to activate that capability, because “there’s not a need”.

Hancock said AARNet4 would be deployed within the next two years. Last November, he told journalists that the operator would “stay ahead of the curve”, delivering 100 to 500 Gbps by 2017.

By contrast, Australia’s National Broadband Network aimed to deliver 100Mbps to customers currently, and could deliver peak speeds of 10 Gbps within five years.

“The plan [for AARNet] is to have 80 wavelengths at 100 Gbps each,” Hancock told ITnews last week, describing future terabit-per-second trials.

He said the 40 Gbps trial demonstrated AARNet’s ability to support future, large-scale astronomy projects like the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP).

Aussies to pay huge premium for Office 365 – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Telstra charges 40-75 percent premium as sole reseller of Singapore-hosted service.

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Office 365 user web homepage.
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Exchange online experience in Office 365.
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Colour-coded appointments in Exchange calendar.

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Microsoft has marked the launch of what it considers a “cloud” version of Office, Office 365, confirming that Telstra T-Suite will be its sole reseller to Australia’s small business market.

The service, hosted in Microsoft’s Singapore data centre, includes Office (productivity), Exchange (messaging), Sharepoint (document collaboration) and Lync (instant messaging and presence) as a utility service on a monthly bill.

The prices announced for Australian customers today are considerably higher than what US customers will enjoy.

Telstra T-Suite will offer Microsoft’s ‘P’ or “professional and small business plan” for up to 25 employees for AU$7.99 a user a month, a premium on the US$6 charged by Microsoft directly in the United States. This version is limited to the basic viewing and editing of documents via Office Web Apps.

For mid-sized (over 25 employees) and enterprise customers, Telstra offers the E1 plan, which is AU$15.70 a user a month, which can be purchased from Microsoft directly for US$10 a month.

This enterprise plan adds administrative options, active directory integration, and integration with on-premise versions of Exchange, Sharepoint and Lync.

But to be able to edit and share Office documents online, customers require the E2 plan, which Telstra will sell for AU$25.10 a seat a month, as opposed to US$16 a seat a month directly from Microsoft.

Those enterprise customers that want the feature-rich equivalent of Office Professional served up online, plus integration options with legacy Access databases and Visio visualisation, unlimited email storage and hosted voicemail can opt for the E3 plan, which Telstra will sell for AU$40.10 a seat a month versus US$24 a seat a month from Microsoft.

And finally, those enterprise organisations that want to replace their PBX with a hosted Lync server can have the lot for AU$45.10 a month, versus US$27 a month direct from Microsoft.


Telstra price ($AU)

Microsoft US price ($USD)

Cost premium for Australian customers*

Plan P



40 percent

Plan E1



65 percent

Plan E2



65 percent

Plan E3



76 percent

Plan E4



76 percent

* Based on today’s exchange rate.

According to Microsoft’s Office 365 FAQs, customers must choose one edition and won’t easily be able to move between any of the options and “may not have data preserved” if its attempted.

Office 365 replaces the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which offered customers Exchange and Sharepoint as a service. Microsoft said these customers will be offered a transition at some stage within the next 12 months.

For small business customers, it promises a basic Office productivity, messaging and collaboration suite, available via the browser.

But what it can’t immediately replace is the on-premise infrastructure and licenses enterprise customers will continue to pay for if they want federated identity or a feature-rich experience.

The full, feature-rich enterprise versions of Office 365 still require the user to have an up-to-date version of the Windows operating system on desktops (XP and above).

Microsoft’s enterprise customers will also need to retain Windows Server (2008 and above) in order to maintain Active Directory for single sign-on.

Over the top?

Oscar Trimboli, director of the information worker business group at Microsoft Australia said Telstra was chosen as a partner because of the investment in its T-Suite SaaS portal, and the ability for small business customers to have their monthly Office 365 spend arrive on the same bill as other telecommunications services offered by Telstra.

Trimboli said Microsoft was already signing up hundreds of businesses that had used or trialled the hosted office productivity suites of “over-the-top” web providers such as Google and Zoho.

Microsoft invited small business and enterprise customers to the launch, several of which had previously been Google customers or had trialled the Google Apps alternative.

Three times Trimboli made reference to Google’s shelved ‘Wave’ platform.

“We’re not going to create a roadmap and then wave goodbye to them as some have,” he said. “That wasn’t a joke for those customers that had to say goodbye to an investment decision they had made.”

Trimboli said many customers had “thought the definition of success” was documents and email collaboration, but soon came to desire a richer set of tools.

He said Microsoft would have moved sooner to offer a hosted version of Office, but waited for convergence between the availability of mobile networks and devices that could be accessed anywhere, any-time.

Trimboli said Microsoft wouldn’t lose any annuity revenue, as customers would simply pay monthly bills rather than annually.

More importantly, he said, the hosted offering will address bigger problems Microsoft has with pirated versions of Office in use within the small business market.

“Right now I have a lot of people use a product they don’t pay for,” he said.

Screenshots: Microsoft Office 365 – Photo Galleries – iTnews.com.au
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Screenshots: Microsoft Office 365

Jun 29, 2011
A brief screenshot tour of the Office 365 software-as-a-service product.

Microsoft settles with Queensland pirate – Security – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

EBay seller fined $90,000.

A Queensland man accused of selling more than 100 copies of counterfeit Microsoft software on eBay has been fined $90,000 in the Federal Magistrates Court.

Twenty-seven year old Howard Tsang faced criminal and civil lawsuits filed by the Queensland Police in Brisbane and Microsoft in Sydney after a police raid on his home on 9 February.

Tsang was accused of operating at least 38 different eBay aliases to sell counterfeit copies of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Office 2010.

The Queensland Police Fraud Squad was allegedly alerted to the case by Tsang’s eBay customers.

Based on evidence obtained during the raid, Tsang was found guilty of 35 counts of fraud in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, and placed on probation for a year.

Police also assisted Microsoft in its civil lawsuit, which was filed in Sydney’s Federal Magistrates Court on 8 March, and settled yesterday.

Microsoft obtained injunctions to restrain Tsang from importing or selling counterfeit Microsoft software. Tsang was also ordered to pay Microsoft $90,000 in compensatory damages.

Legal counsel Clayton Noble told iTnews today that the software giant was happy with the outcome.

In a blog post yesterday afternoon, Noble warned that counterfeit software copies may contain malware that could lead to identity theft, system instability and data loss.

He urged consumers to purchase software from reputable retailers, noting that Police, online trading sites like eBay, and Microsoft were coordinating their efforts to combat fraud.

Twitter founder leaves for Obvious reason – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Back to the future.

Biz Stone, one of Twitter’s three co-founders, has left the company to relaunch The Obvious Corporation, which salvaged Twitter when many ridiculed it as a “useless” platform.

“Lately, it has come to my attention that the Twitter crew and its leadership team have grown incredibly productive. I’ve decided that the most effective use of my time is to get out of the way until I’m called upon to be of some specific use,” Stone wrote on his personal blog Tuesday.

Stone is the last of Twitter’s co-founders to have left the company and was responsible for Twitter’s corporate culture, according to the All Things Digital blog.

Fellow co-founder Evan Williams, the original head of Obvious, was replaced last year as Twitter’s CEO by Dick Costolo, founder of the Google-owned Feedburner.

The other Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, also CEO of up-and-coming mobile payments company, Square, recently returned to head up Twitter’s product team and serve as its executive chairman.

The Obvious Corporation was formed in 2006 when Stone, Williams and other employees of podcasting company Odeo brought out the assets of the ailing company from its venture capital backers.

“The assets of Ev’s freshly acquired failure included Twitter—a project I had put much effort into with Jack Dorsey and others,” Stone said.

“It was something we were endlessly ridiculed for as being “useless”, but we believed in it and Evan believed in us so he kept funding us until Twitter started spreading like wildfire. In 2007 Jack, Ev, and myself founded Twitter, Inc with outside capital.”

The co-founders of the relaunched Obvious are Stone, Williams, and the former vice president of product for Twitter, Jason Goldman, who was also the former product lead for Google’s Blogger service.

Obvious has yet to divulge what it is working on, but it is seeking expressions of interest from designers and engineers who can “create great Internet products”, as well as businesses interested in partnering with it.

The company claims to make “systems that help people work together to improve the world”.

“We’re are not ready to discuss specifics except to say that our thesis is building systems that help people work together to improve their lives and the world,” Obvious explains on a Q&A page.

Dirty energy keeps data centre builders at bay – Networking – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Why aren’t cloud providers setting up shop in Australia?

Australia’s ‘dirty’ energy sources and carbon tax debate could be deterring international cloud service providers from establishing on-shore data centres, according to Gartner analysts.

Gartner research vice president Marcus Blosch believes multinational IT service providers are concerned that electricity costs could become prohibitively high should a carbon tax be introduced.

Australia was found to be among “high-emission intensity countries” that uses fossil fuels to generate the majority of its electricity, according toa report Gartner published earlier this year.

Ninety-two percent of Australia’s energy was sourced from fossil fuels, Blosch found, reporting that this was “far from conducive to the development of a long-term green IT services sector”.

“What you see among data centre vendors is the recognition that 50 percent of costs is from power consumption,” Blosch told iTnews this week.

“In Australia, if carbon starts costing $20 a tonne, what some companies are asking is – does it make sense to keep data centre operations on-shore?”

As soon as next week, the Federal Government could announce a carbon price that would be used to tax the burning of fossil fuels from July next year.

Blosch speculated that uncertainty around carbon pricing in the past few years, as well as the relative scarcity of renewable energy sources in Australia, might have curbed local data centre investments.

Microsoft served Australian users of its Azure cloud platform from data centres in Singapore and Hong Kong; Amazon from Singapore and Japan; and Salesforce.com from Singapore and the US.

Blosch highlighted IBM’s recent launch of a $61 million Auckland data centre for white-labelled cloud computing service providers, noting that New Zealand generated electricity from geothermal, wind, tidal and hydro sources.

“New Zealand enjoys a strong brand reputation as a green country,” he reported.

“IT services could and should fully consider the potential benefits of relocating storage to optimise and use emissions arbitrage alongside energy efficiency to achieve cost-effective and truly sustainable cloud, SaaS and other outcomes.”

Profits over sustainability

Longhaus research director Scott Stewart argued that service providers were more influenced by demand than they were by environmental sustainability and a carbon tax.

“The push for getting a slice of the cloud market is more dominant in [vendors’] minds than the cost of the carbon tax further on,” he told iTnewsyesterday.

“Over time, we will see more sustainability-type initiatives come into play, [but] I haven’t seen any [vendor] saying that the carbon tax is going to inhibit or stall investments.”

Stewart speculated that economic drivers such as market size, labour and set-up costs – rather than environmental concerns – were behind vendors’ decisions to establish data centres in Asian countries, instead of Australia.

He said many of today’s data centres still used large, power-hungry chiller plants, highlighting a 2011 Greenpeace International report that criticised Google, Facebook and Apple for building data centres in places “where cheap and dirty coal-powered electricity is abundant”.

Greenpeace found that coal-generated electricity accounted for 34.7 percent of Google’s US power consumption; 54.5 percent of Apple’s; and 53.2 percent of Facebook’s (pdf).

It accounted for 49.4 percent of power consumption by HP’s UK and US data centres; 34.1 percent and 28.5 percent by and Amazon Web Services in the US and Ireland, and 51.6 percent by IBM in the US, Ireland and Singapore.

A spokesman for Amazon Web Services refused to speculate on the impact of carbon pricing on data centre plans, saying only that the company “plans to have more data centres in different countries and regions over time.

“When deciding on a data centre location we look at several different dimensions, such as the quality of the infrastructure, proximity to technical and business talent, and proximity to our customers,” the spokesman said.

Australian banks and government agencies are currently obliged to keep customer information on-shore; however, both Stewart and Blosch forecast the emergence of ‘hybrid’ data storage models under which less sensitive testing and development environments could use off-shore facilities.

“To be honest, there isn’t much incentive to put data centres in Australia at the moment,” Blosch said, highlighting Gartner’s recommendation that data centre operators price the cost of carbon into their financial considerations.

Google launches Facebook rival, Google+ – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Google’s social networking project goes live.

Google has unveiled Google+, a Facebook-like application the company claimed to offer a more private, personalised social network.

Google has failed with social projects in the past, notably with Buzz, but the company wants another crack at social advertising dollars and has laid out plans for a Facebook rival.

The company claimed Google+ would be more flexible and privacy-focused than Facebook, with several thinly-veiled criticisms of the largest social network.

“Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online,” said Vic Gundotra, senior vice president for engineering. “Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools.

“Online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it,” he said.

Whether Google can crack the dominance of Facebook might depend on better privacy, which has been a bugbear with Facebook. “For us, privacy isn’t buried six panels deep,” Google said.

Not easy to topple Facebook

Even with privacy enhancements, Google will find it difficult to drag customers away from Facebook, according to analysts.

“Enticing consumers to join another social networking service will not be easy,” said Rory Maher, an analyst with Hudson Square Research, told the Reuters news agency.

“It’s going to have an uphill battle due to Facebook’s network effects,” said Maher. “The more users Facebook gets, the harder it gets for Google to steal those.” But he added that Google’s popularity in search and email could help it gain a following.

Google+ will be available on Android Market and the mobile web from today – although only those with an invite will be able to login.

The service will be rolled out to desktop users in the coming days and weeks.

In the meantime, here’s a rundown of the key features:


A tool for dividing friends into groups to make it clear who gets to see what. Like Facebook’s Groups option, +Circles means users can differentiate their online profile between different contacts – such as family, college friends and work colleagues.


A feed. The company says “Sparks delivers a feed of highly contagious content”. The system enables users to enter their interests and then receive feeds for sharing and commenting on stories and content related to those subjects.


Described by Google as a combination of casual meetings with live multi-person video, +Hangouts is designed to mirror social experiences such as the pub, where groups of people can drop in and chat in a semi-private forum.


Includes location services for pinpointing where people are, and an automatic picture upload service to the cloud.


A more instant approach for staying in touch, Google describes Huddle as a “messaging experience that lets everyone inside the circle know what’s going on, right this second”. The company say this should make it easier to organise meetings and make plans without access to everyone’s diaries.

News Corp sells Myspace at bargain price – Software – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Justin Timberlake among the buyers.

News Corp has sold Myspace for US$35 million, a fraction of what it paid for the once-hot social media site even as a new generation of Web-based start-ups is enjoying sky-high valuations.

Advertising company Specific Media will team with the singer Justin Timberlake to acquire Myspace in a deal that caps a tumultuous period of ownership under Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which swooped in to buy Myspace for US$580 million in 2005.

At the time, Myspace was among the the world’s most popular websites, and News Corp’s success in beating out rival Viacom in a bidding war was viewed as a major victory for Murdoch. Since then, however, Facebook has eclipsed Myspace in popularity, and the deal has become a hard lesson in what can happen when a traditional media company imposes its will on a start-up.

It also shows how quickly audience — and investor — tastes can shift in the world of social networking. Indeed, Wednesday’s deal contrasts sharply with the current frenzy over social media companies, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Groupon, among investors looking for the next big thing.

Another of the hot start-ups, Zynga, an online social game company, plans to raise up to US$2 billion in an initial public offering that could be filed by Thursday, valuing the company at US$20 billion.

“This is a mistake that will repeat itself,” James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research, said of the Myspace saga. “I’m not sure that someone being pushed on by early round investors, someone reading their own press, which is praising them, will stop and say, ‘Wait, is this a one-year fad, a two-year fad? Or is this a five-year to ten-year change in the way things are done?'”

The Myspace transaction calls for News Corp to retain a minority stake in the website, the companies said in a statement, confirming a deal that was reported earlier.

Specific Media, which specialises in digital advertising, did not disclose financial terms. It announced, however, that Timberlake — who happens to have played Facebook adviser and investor Sean Parker in the movie “The Social Network” — would take an ownership stake and serve a “major role” in developing a strategy for Myspace.

A source familiar with the transaction said the deal is worth US$35 million and is a mix of cash and stock. News Corp will retain about 5 percent, the source said.

Additionally, more than half of Myspace’s 500-strong workforce is expected to be laid off because of the sale, the source said.

The deal comes after a four-month bidding process in which a number of different possible buyers surfaced, including other social networking sites and private equity firms. The auction had been expected to fetch in the neighborhood of US$100 million.

In the end, the sale serves as the latest example of what can happen to a once coveted company with a rocket-like trajectory that quickly loses its luster as competitors zoom past it in popularity.

Founded in August 2003 by Chris De Wolfe and Tom Anderson, Myspace was conceived as a way for friends and fans to connect with one another as well as with their favorite bands and artists.

Myspace, a kind of musical version of pioneer social network site Friendster, fast became wildly popular with teenagers and young adults, who spent hours designing their own pages with their favorite digital wallpaper, posting photos and adding friends.

At its peak in 2008, Myspace attracted nearly 80 million people in the United States, almost double that of Facebook.

The growth was too fast and Myspace had trouble scaling the number of users who were flocking to the site. Meanwhile Facebook had opened up its platform to third-party developers, such as Zynga and its popular FarmVille game. That attracted more people and kept them on the site.

By 2011, the number of U.S. visitors to Myspace fell to about 40 million while those visiting Facebook totaled about 150 million, according to online measurement firm comScore.

For the quarter ended March 2011, News Corp reported a segment operating loss of US$165 million, mainly due to declines at Myspace.

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