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Comment Re:Huh? (Score 2) 203

Exactly! Living in a large metropolis of a low population state, I hadn't appreciated how very little land is not used for some purpose until moving to the country. Any apparently unused land just lacks economic value. I appreciated from a few years of working for this state's water supply utility that all regularly flowing surface water streams had been dammed for water. There were no naturally flowing water courses unless water flow was so infrequent as to make it uneconomic to dam the stream...


Submission + - ASUS iKVM Epic Fail (

rabtech writes: In yet another vendor epic fail, it turns out ASUS' implementation of busybox for iKVM/IPMI ships with hard-coded anonymous access enabled, with a regular shell (not the Server Management shell). And passwords are stored in the clear. Including root with a default password of 'superuser'. So if you have anything with their iKVM or IP Management Interface your devices can be remotely rebooted by anonymous users. Enjoy!

Submission + - Domestic Drones... What Could Possible Go Wrong (

shadesOG writes: A group of researchers led by Professor Todd Humphreys from the University of Texas at Austin Radionavigation Laboratory recently succeeded in raising the eyebrows of the US government. With just around $1,000 in parts, Humphreys’ team took control of an unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the US Department of Homeland Security.

Submission + - Megaupload search warrants ruled illegal by New Zealand High Court (

cyssero writes: A New Zealand High Court judge has ruled that police search warrants used to seize property from Megaupload's founder Kim Dotcom were illegal. Justice Helen Winkelmann found that the warrants used did not properly describe the offences to which they were related. Justice Winkelmann has also ruled it was unlawful for copies of Dotcom's computer data to be taken offshore. She ordered that no more items taken in the raids could be removed from New Zealand, and instructed the attorney-general to return clones of the hard drives held by New Zealand police, a big win for paying users of the service.

The High Court judge said the search warrants were invalid because they were general warrants which lacked specificity about the offence and the scope of the items to be searched for and without a valid warrant, police were trespassing and exceeded what they were lawfully authorised to do.

Submission + - Aust Parliamentary Committee No to Anti-Copy Treaty 1

AussieNeil writes: It is rare that Australia's federal parliamentary parties agree on anything, but yesterday, 27th June, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, comprised of Labor, Green and Coalition members, unanimously recommended that Australia not ratify an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The Federal Trade Minister, Craig Emerson, previously signed this international treaty "which will help the fight against the piracy and counterfeiting of artistic, scientific and industrial endeavour" on the 1st of October in Tokyo last year. Submissions from the Copyright Agency Limited, the Australian Copyright Council and a joint submission from ARIA, MIPI, AIR and AMRA (jointly representing Australian recording artists, musicians, performers, composers, music publishers, record companies and music retailers), recommended that the Australian Federal Parliament ratify the treaty. Alphapharm, Australia’s leading supplier of prescription medicines to the Government-subsidised Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), recommended Australia NOT ratify the treaty.

The parliamentary committee found that the wording of the treaty was vague with terms such as "aiding and abetting", "piracy", "counterfeiting" and "intellectual property" dangerously open-ended. Mr Thomson, the committee chairman said, "We should also have regard to what is going on overseas. There is a rebellion in Europe. Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Poland are all putting the thing on hold. There was a vote in the European Parliament's international trade committee last week in which AFTA went down 19 to 12. Even the US has not ratified it." Greens senator Scott Ludlam said the treaty seemed to be a foundation agreement for a serious crackdown on file sharing.

The Age article

Australia to sign Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

Australian Foreign Affairs defends ACTA (March 2012), dismissing criticism that Australia's ratification of (ACTA) will lead to internet service providers being copyright police

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties devoted a full chapter to the vagueness of terms in the treaty

Transcripts of evidence from public hearings into ACTA are available from:

Submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties on ACTA can be viewed by searching for "ACTA submission" on the Parliament of Australia's website:

Comment Re:How about (Score 1) 104

Yes it rather negates the savings of getting say 10% more wafers out of a boule when you lose maybe 20% more in production. Post diffusion, once a wafer shatters (the usual way fragile manifests itself), you are pretty well limited to manual processing of the larger wafer fragments if that is possible. It is rather embarrasing to admit that you've lost your year's production of one particular IC batch because your one wafer shattered. :)

It would be nice to see monocrystalline silicon solar panels come down dramatically in price when 450mm wafers are used though...

Comment Re:It doesn't always work... (Score 1) 54

Functional MRI scanning has shown that areas of the brain normally involved in vision processing has been reallocated in such individuals.

Coincidentally, I've just finished reading a great book on this very subject: "Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See", by Robert Kurdson. He describes Mike May's frustrations with not being able to read or process shadows to determine 3D information after having his sight restored, decades after losing it due to corneal scarring from chemical burns when he was 3 years old. Mike's restored vision - due to stem cell and corneal transplants, gave him better than average vision, but Mike found it extremely hard work to read or extract depth information from shadows. His ability to detect motion was excellent however. Curiously, Mike isn't fooled by optical illusions that take us in.

Unfortunately, depression has been found to be extremely common in people that have had their sight restored after a long period without it - most likely due to the frustrations of not being able to fully use their restored vision.

Mike needed donor stem cells and cornea, whereas this improved technique uses the patients', thus avoiding the risks associated with taking anti-rejection medication for life. Now if only we can find a way to restore brain function! That would be an incredible breakthrough helping far more people than those assisted by this new technique and would hopefully help with the depression risk. There are some interesting references in the above book, which include the article by Oliver Sacks referenced above.

Comment Re:CSIRO are still good guys (Score 1) 308

Given Australia's population compared to the world market, we will still come out in front paying for the patent component of hardware made in the USA. Hopefully that means the CSIRO and anyone that benefits from their research and not just a few lawyers. I doubt anyone minds paying a small amount for the benefit of using this patent. If you don't want to pay the patent 'tax', just use network cable - security is better too.

The CSIRO, like many research facilities, has been under increasing pressure over the last decade or so to rely on self funding by generating and patenting IP thus reducing demand on the public purse.

Comment Life, The Universe and Information Theory (Score 1) 714

The Anthropomorphic Principle and Information Theory with respect to live haven't had much mention here. The sheer complexity of cellular life is such that we still don't understand how it could have come into existence via evolution. Probability is so much against it that some scientists have proposed life arose elsewhere than Earth and we got infected (doesn't solve the problem, just shifts it outside where we can easily study it). Other scientists have suggested cells arose from another platform such as clay.

Then there is the problem of natural selection which selects for a reduced level of information - it doesn't add information. That has to come from mutations from radiation or stealing genes from other life (which again shifts the problem without solving it).

Slashdot readers have a far better appreciation than most of what it takes to create something that performs a useful function. Given the majority here belief in Evolution, I'm surprised no developers have suggested that they just write one program that will naturally select what the customer wants and let it run on a supercomputer for a while to spit out the solution. Oh, perhaps that's because it requires Intelligent Design to write that program...

Comment Re:Double-you tee eff, mate (Score 1) 714

A Federal election is likely to be called any time between August and November this year. Both the main party leaders claim their Christian faith is very important to them. (Note however that espousing Christian ideals in Australian politics is far less important to the success of political parties than it is in the USA.)

Queensland is the third largest state by population and has a independent election cycle from the federal elections. The last state election was last year and the next can be called any time - but must be called by 2012.

In Australia, minor parties are becoming increasingly important for the governing parties to get their legislation through the review house where it exists (Queensland doesn't have one). Christian and Green parties are significant minor parties federally and in most states.

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