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Energy Prices Skyrocket in South Australia ( 269

Slashdot reader sycodon quotes an article from AFR: Turmoil in South Australia's heavily wind-reliant electricity market has forced the state government to plead with the owner of a mothballed gas-fired power station to turn it back on. The emergency measures are needed to ease punishing costs for South Australian industry as National Electricity Market prices in the state have frequently surged above $1000 a megawatt hour this month and at one point on Tuesday hit the $14,000/MWh maximum price...
"A planned outage of the Heywood Interconnector to Victoria, coupled with higher than expected gas prices and severe weather conditions have contributed to large-scale price volatility in the energy spot market in recent days," said South Australia's energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis. The Australian Associated Press adds that "The state Labor government has invested heavily in wind and solar energy at the expense of baseload power, a move critics say has left the state exposed during poor weather. Mr. Koutsantonis has described the energy volatility as a failure of the national energy market because a lack of interconnection means South Australia often produces more renewable power than it can sell into the grid. But opposition spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the government had been too hasty to invest in renewables."

Valve Loses Australian Court Battle Over Steam ( 178

angry tapir writes: Valve Software has lost court action launched against it by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The Australian court case centered on the refund policies of Valve Software's Steam digital distribution service. Some of Steam's refund policies contradicted the statutory guarantees of the Australian Consumer Law, the court found. A hearing on penalties is yet to be held.
Such "false or misleading representations about guarantees" include: consumers were not entitled to a refund for digitally downloaded games purchased from Valve via the Steam website or Steam Client (in any circumstances); Valve had excluded statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality; and Valve had restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties of acceptable quality. Valve has contested ACCC's arguments on a number of grounds.

Draconian Aussie Science Censorship Law Takes Effect Next Month ( 265

An anonymous reader writes: The Conversation reports that beginning next month Australian scientists and engineers face 10 years imprisonment for communicating without a government permit on biotech, robotics or manufacturing. Geoffrey Roberston QC says the laws are "sloppily drafted" and threatens research with "no sensible connection to military technology". But the government is barreling ahead, despite warnings from Defence Report it will kill Australia's high-tech economy. The law is opposed by Civil Liberties Australia where scientists are petitioning against it.

Extreme Heat Knocks Out Internet In Australia 103

An anonymous reader writes with news that bad weather caused internet connectivity problems for users in Perth, Western Australia on Monday. But it wasn't raging storms or lightning that caused this outage — it was extreme heat. Monday was the 6th hottest day on record for Perth, peaking around 44.4 C (111.9 F). Thousands of iiNet customers across Australia found themselves offline for about six and a half hours after the company shut down some of its systems at its Perth data center at about 4.30pm AEDST because of record breaking-temperatures. ... "[W]e shut down our servers as a precautionary measure," an iiNet spokesman said late Monday night. "Although redundancy plans ensured over 98 per cent of customers remained unaffected, some customers experienced issues reconnecting to the internet." ... Users in Western Australia, NSW, Victoria and South Australia took to Twitter, Facebook and broadband forum Whirlpool to post their frustrations to the country's second largest DSL internet service provider.

Final Days For Australia's Analog TV 192

jones_supa writes "The switch to digital TV broadcasts in Australia has entered its final few days, with Sydney's analog signals being fully switched off today, 3 December. That just leaves Melbourne plus remote central and eastern Australia — and those areas will be switched over on 10 December, completing the country's transition to digital TV. The government runs an information site to assist the remaining crusty luddites with the switch-over."

PAX Prime: An Extra Day In 2013, and Plans For Australia 45

PAX Prime, probably by far the largest ongoing event spawned by a web comic, is in progress right now in Seattle, with an attendance of 70,000 gamers (and a smaller number of dancing stormtroopers). Two big announcements about future PAX events were announced on Saturday. The first is that next year's event will be a four-day gathering rather than the thus-far usual three; the second is that, some time next year, PAX will make its first international foray, with an event in Australia — exact time and place to be determined.

2 Year Data Retention For Australian ISPs 86

freddienumber13 writes "Following similar acts passed by foreign governments, the Australian government is now seeking feedback on its plans to bring into law the requirement for ISPs to retain user data for up to 2 years. They're also seeking changes to the law that would allow undercover ASIO agents and its sources to commit crimes which would include, for example, hacking into your computer."

Australia To Review Copyright Fair Use 87

New submitter freddienumber13 writes "The Australian Government has announced a review of the copyright act to look at the provisions of fair use and exceptions with a view towards considering whether or not the law has kept pace with technology and thus if further provisions are required to ensure the act remains relevant and effective." Don't hold your breath; the committee has until November 30th, 2013 to create their report. Maybe Australians will see their Fair Use rights expanded in a time when it's in fashion to expand copyright protections.

Australian Gov't Asks eBay To Name Big Sellers 215

beaverdownunder writes "In an effort to combat fraudulent claims lodged within its Centrelink welfare-payment agency, the Australian Government has asked auction-site eBay to name all Aussies who sold more than $20,000 worth of goods in the last year. Should someone be found to have been doing such a high-volume of business on eBay while claiming Centrelink benefits but not declaring that income, they could potentially face prosecution. However, the president of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, Terry O'Gorman, says this action is a gross invasion of privacy. 'What we say should happen is that if police have probable cause for investigating someone, they go to a magistrate, they get a warrant and they access that person's eBay records that way,' he said."

Botched Repair Likely Cause of Combusting iPhone After Flight 181

aesoteric writes "The combustion of an Apple iPhone 4 after a regional flight in Australia was likely caused by a botched repair of the handset by an unauthorized repairer, according to air safety investigators in the U.S. and Australia. A small metal screw had been misplaced in the battery bay of the handset. The screw punctured the battery casing and caused an internal short circuit, making the iPhone emit dense smoke (PDF)."

Australian WiFi Inventors Win US Legal Battle 193

First time accepted submitter Kangburra writes "Australian government science body CSIRO said Sunday it had won a multi-million-dollar legal settlement in the United States to license its patented technology that underpins the WiFi platform worldwide. Scientists from the agency invented the wireless local area network (WLAN) technology that is the basis of the WiFi signal employed by computers, smartphones and other Internet-ready devices around the world."

Aussies Could Use Elephants To Fight Invasive Species 274

A type of invasive African grass is a major cause of wildfires in Australia. The giant gamba grass is too large for cattle and the native marsupial grazers to eat, but David Bowman, a professor of environmental change biology at the University of Tasmania has a plan. He says that elephants or rhinoceroses could eat the pest grass. "... the only other methods likely to control gamba grass involve using chemicals or physically clearing the land, which would destroy the habitat. Using mega-herbivores may ultimately be more practical and cost-effective, and it would help to conserve animals that are threatened by poaching in their native environments," he said. This plan makes you wonder just how big a Chinese needle snake can grow.

Google Scares Aussie Banks 150

mask.of.sanity writes "Google could be the biggest threat to Australia's big four banks because of the trust online users place in it and its ability to engage with customers, banking executives say. They told an audience from the finance sector that companies like Google and PayPal are more responsive and trusted than banks, and cited emerging technology with an emphasis on online applications as a means for the smaller credit unions to challenge the position of incumbent banks. It's welcome news for Australia's credit unions: the nation's banks have taken turns in being the first to lift interest rates above the official reserve bank rate, with others collectively following suit, leading some to speculate they are in collusion."

Renewable Energy To Power Aussie SKA 48

schliz writes "New solar and geothermal energy facilities are being built in Australia to provide sustainable energy for the region's Square Kilometer Array (SKA) bid. The Australian Government yesterday announced A$47.3m in funding for a full-scale, hybrid solar and diesel plant for the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, and geothermal energy facilities for the Pawsey High-Performance Computing Centre, where data from SKA radio telescopes would be processed. ASKAP is part of the Australasian bid to host the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which involves 20 countries and will investigate galaxy evolution, dark matter, and the existence of life. IBM expects the whole of the SKA to produce an exabyte of data per day."
The Internet

Australian Net Filter Gets One Step Closer 129

Condobolin sends in an update to the Australian government's ongoing efforts to implement ISP-level filtering. One of the hurdles they had to overcome was to build a system that would allow them to filter content without impairing other internet usage. A trial of the system has just concluded, and the results are positive — at least, for the government. Quoting: "More than half of the Internet service providers (ISPs) taking part in the Federal Government's ISP filtering trial have reported minimal speed disruptions or technology problems. Of the nine participating ISPs, iPrimus, Netforce, Webshield, Nelson Bay Online and OMNIconnect told ARN they had seen no slowdowns in Internet speeds or problems with the filtering solutions in place. Of the remaining four ISPs, Tech2U and Highway1 were unable to respond by time of publication while Unwired and Optus refused to comment. ... 'From a technical perspective we're more than confident that if the government decided to roll out a mandatory Internet filter based on or around an Australian Communications and Media Authority blacklist or subset thereof, then it can be done without any impact whatsoever to the speed of the Internet,' [said Webshield managing director Anthony Pillion]."

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