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Comment Extention description innaccurate (Score 3, Informative) 125 125

extension of Australia's current Goods and Services Tax to include digital services, adding 10% to virtual items and services purchased online

Not quite. Digital services are already taxed. The tax is being extended to digital services provided from offshore, because Netflix have discovered they can skirt the current tax provisions by having no footprint in Australia and hosting entirely offshore. As the monthly fee falls below the threshold at which personal goods are normally exempt from taxation on import (as it's not worthwhile to collect it) they can charge no tax. However the existing rivals
(eg Quickflix) do have an on-shore presence and so have to charge their customers tax, creating a distinctly unlevel playing field.

I expect New Zealand to follow suit shortly as the same issue is present there.

Comment Re:Agilent has been split up again.... (Score 1) 553 553

The Agilent name is now used on their chemical/life sciences stuff (chromatographs, NMR, etc.).

Not NMR anymore - they've shuttered that part (formerly Varian), thereby giving Bruker an almost open field... well, JEOL was well in 3rd place and the upstarts like Magritek (with their benchtop, non-cryogenic NMRs) are almost a separate market.

Submission + - Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine 1 1

Adrian Harvey writes: The New Zealand based commercial space company Rocket Lab has unveiled their new rocket engine which the media is describing as battery-powered. It still uses rocket fuel, of course, but has an entirely new propulsion cycle which uses electric motors to drive its turbopumps.

To add to the interest over the design, it uses 3D printing for all its primary components. First launch is expected this year, with commercial operations commencing in 2016.

Comment Re:Competing with government-sanctioned monopolies (Score 2) 185 185

I'm not sure why you're assuming that a competing utility has to have separate lines. Here in New Zealand the power companies are not allowed to own lines - those are a highly regulated monopoly (The national grid is owned by the government, local grids by local lines companies.) Generating companies sell power wholesale via a trading system, Retailing companies buy the wholesale power (priced at grid-exit points) and deal with the consumer and local lines company. You can be a Generator and a Retailer, but not own transmission as well.

Interestingly the same model is being taken with the national fibre rollout - the fibre owning company will wholesale services to various ISPs and comms providers but will not be allowed to be an ISP itself. This avoids some of the effects you see where several providers build out fibre in the most populous areas, but you end up with monopolies covering less-dense areas and no-one covers the rural areas.

Comment Interactivity? (Score 1) 164 164

I wonder how much advantage of the medium a PC version of a TV series will be able to take... I''ve been homeschooling my kids whilst we've been travelling so I've tried a number of these online reading tools. Some are just a mess of unindexed content, or just libraries to wonder in and pick out books to read or subject videos to watch. The best for my 5 yr old has been ReadingEggs which has heaps of interactive mini games joined together into an overall programme that the child can follow through themselves going right from pre-literate to reading age 7 or so.

Has anyone used the iPad app of this Reading Rainbow program? What's it like ? And how much teacher support is needed?

Comment Re:Descent + SpaceOrb 360 (Score 1) 251 251

If you knew how the old game controllers worked and what the driver had to do to read from them you would be glad they're gone. See my earlier post for some hideous detail.... You can buy adapters to USB which are likely to provide much better stability (and not need calibration constantly) and will work with windows 7, though I haven't tested with the Cyberman.

Comment Re:Hell Yes! (Score 3, Informative) 251 251

Drifting off topic, but if we're talking the gaming ports, they weren't serial. They were much, much worse. The joystick potentiometers were connected across pairs of pins in the connector, but then, instead of just making them an input to a DAC or something simple they were basically hooked up as the variable resistance on a 555 microtimer so that the position could be read by triggering the timer and counting how long it took to drop back to it's base state. I know DACs were expensive at the time it was designed, but this choice led to some programs having to busy wait to measure, endless issues with different processor speeds needing to be compensated for, and the requirement to regularly "calibrate" the joystick in each game. I suspect the chances of that precision timing working well on a multi core, variable speed CPU with a real (preemptive) OS and possibly a VM in the mix too, is small.

A USB device that works as a DAC and pretends to be a modern joystick interface would probably improve the controller no end.

And yes, I bought a joystick just to play Descent too. But a simpler one than the GP.

Comment Re:But who uses Yahoo! mail? (Score 3, Informative) 83 83

Their best proposed solution is to ban Yahoo email users from mailing lists and encourage them to switch to other ISPs

What the #%^+? Since when is Yahoo an ISP?

Several ISPs outsource their customer email service to Yahoo. If you're with one of those, and especially if you use your ISP provided email address, then moving would fix it (or just move to gmail/outlook.com/whatever, you're mail is in the cloud now anyway, since your ISP moved it there)

Comment Re:Currency? (Score 1) 240 240

They're nearly the same as the US dollar these days anyway.. With economic growth, a government surplus this year (probably) to be used to pay down debt, and with people there gradually getting the idea that unlimited debt is not sustainable it's likely to stay that way for a while...

Comment Re:miniphone (Score 1) 240 240

Yeah, I often think Apple could make a great iPhone Nano, similar size to the iPod Nano, thicker for battery, etc, just like the iPhone / iPod touch, with just basic, simplified apps to show calendar perhaps preview, but not write email, etc. A kind of up-market feature phone, or just as an iPad companion...

Real programs don't eat cache.

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