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Submission + - Google updates App Engine, adds Java support (techworld.com.au)

brosque writes: Google has announced a new version of its Google App Engine platform with support for Java applications and the inclusion of J2EE server in the cloud. However, Google App Engine's support for Java is limited to the first 10,000 sign-ups. They are seeking feedback from the Java community. Google says the Java support is standards-based as App Engine uses standard Java APIs and libraries to allow developers to work with Java tools and frameworks they are familiar with. "And ensures the easy deployment of their Java code to all standard J2EE servlet containers, including IBM WebSphere, Tomcat and others."

Submission + - IBM nanotechnology might improve cell phones (goodgearguide.com.au)

An anonymous reader writes: Nanotechnology may someday expand your cell phone's range while improving its battery life if a prototype transistor from IBM gets to market. IBM researchers are using nanotechnology to build a future generation of wireless transceivers that are much more sensitive than the ones found in phones today. The catch is that the new chips probably won't make it into consumers' hands for another five or ten years. The scientists, sponsored by DARPA (the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), have built prototype transistors with the new material, called graphene. It is a form of graphite that consists of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb pattern. The project is part of DARPA's CERA (Carbon Electronics for radio-frequency applications) program.

Submission + - eBay's controversial PayPal only plans deferred (computerworld.com.au)

An anonymous reader writes: Controversial changes to payment methods on the online auction site eBay which would require all bidders and sellers to solely use Paypal as a payment method have been delayed indefinitely until the review process with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is complete. eBay's submission to restrict the payment method of users of its site solely to the PayPal system is under review by the ACCC, who expressed concerns that the changes will allow eBay to use its massive online market share to lessen competition in the market where PayPal operates. "PayPal currently competes with a range of other providers to supply online payment services to users of online marketplaces. If the notified conduct is allowed to go ahead, there will be no competition for the supply of such services to buyers and sellers using eBay," said ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel. In an email to eBay users today, the online auction said that changes requiring all sellers to offer PayPal, which came into effect 21 May, will remain. "These changes mean that all buyers have the option of choosing PayPal, the safer payment method for shopping on eBay.com.au. Payment methods that are currently permitted will continue to be allowed on eBay.com.au until further notice," the email said.

Submission + - Aho spills the dirt on AWK (techworld.com.au)

Fairynomo writes: Alfred Aho speaks about the development of AWK and of how it became one of the most widely-used pattern matching languages. He chats about working with Brian Kernighan and Peter Weinberger and of how the language came to be named: "When our research colleagues saw the three of us in one or another's office [at Bell Labs], they'd walk by the open door and say 'AWK! AWK!'. So, we called the language AWK because of the good natured ribbing we received from our colleagues. We also thought it was a great name, and we put the AUK bird picture on the AWK book when we published it."

Submission + - Non-tech cyber criminals can now Rent-a-Botnet (computerworld.com.au)

An anonymous reader writes: Online fraudsters that aren't highly skilled in the arts of cyber crime can now rent a service that offers an all-in-one hosting server with a built-in Zeus trojan administration panel and infecting tools, allowing them to create their own botnet with very little technical skills required. Cyber criminals utilizing Zeus trojan attacks, successor to the Limbo trojan, simply need to take control of a compromised server or have their own back-end servers; once they have a server in place, they merely need to install the Zeus administration panel, create a user name and password, and start launching their attacks. But now a new service is offering access to a bullet-proof hosting server with a built-in Zeus trojan administration panel and infection tools, and includes all of the required stages in a single package, meaning that all the fraudster now has to do is pay for the service, access the newly-hired Zeus trojan server, create infection points and start collecting data. Cyber criminals without tech skills can easily infect users and grow a botnet of compromised machines, as the package boasts an easy to use Web hosting control panel that can be used by virtually anyone. Scary stuff

Submission + - Farmers laptops set new world irrigation standard (computerworld.com.au)

chenge writes: Efficient management of water in some of the most arid, driest, and drought affected farming areas in the world — the Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia (currently suffering the worst drought in recorded history, a worrying trend spreading across huge swathes of Australia's farming regions) has reached a new world standard of 90% efficiency (previously 73%) thanks to the implementation of automated, wireless network controlled FlumeGates, which allow farmers to control their water allocations at the touch of their laptop keypads. Previously, irrigation farmers growing lifeblood crops such as rice, sorghum, soy beans, maize, wheat and barley, would have to wait for water officers to manually switch on or off their water supplies — a task that would take more than a day, resulting in either too much or too little of Australia's most precious commodity being delivered. The situation was worsened by the widespread use of archaic and inaccurate Dethridge wheels, which act as flowgates dictating the amount of water delivered. The water officers have been replaced by automated systems controlled via a radio network, and the Dethridge wheels with FlumeGates that act as the communication node on the farms, allowing farmers in the Colleambally region to control water delivery precisely via their laptops, to set a new world standard of 90% efficiency in the use of water. Previously, the world standard was 73% efficiency. IT can solve climate change after all!!!!

Submission + - Parasitic botnet spams 60 billion a day (arnnet.com.au)

Da Massive writes: The Srizbi botnet has stormed over its competition to become the Internet's biggest spammer. Researchers claim the botnet is responsible for 50 percent of all spam, and is the biggest of its kind in history. Its 300,000 zombie computers are being worked hard. The much larger Storm Worm required about 500,000 nodes — with some figures even suggesting anywhere between 1 million to 50 million — to deliver 30 percent of global spam.

Submission + - Al Jazeera IT harbouring Osama bin Linux (computerworld.com.au)

mr sanjeev writes: It has been maligned by the US administration because it has given a voice to its public enemy number one: Osama bin Laden, but Al Jazeera's motto of giving voice to all sides of a story is also reflected in its IT deployment. The news organisation is turning out to be a big fan open source software. Mohamed Nanabhay, head of Al Jazeera's New Media group, which is based in Doha in Qatar, said the group intentionally develops a number of internal systems on the Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) stack. "My team is looking more at the experimental side of things — new platforms, new technologies. One of the things my group is doing is trying to promote and evangelise the use of open source technology internally, partly because we see a lot of value in lots of open source tools that are being developed," said Nanabhay. "With a lot of the rapid development we do, it is just easier to build it in open source," he explained. "So for example, the Facebook applications are PHP. You have to build it in PHP and it is easier to run PHP off a Linux server than a Microsoft server. We [also] do a lot of interface work, so bringing stuff into Twitter. We run it off Linux boxes."

Submission + - CSIRO UltraBattery works 4x longer, more powerful (computerworld.com.au)

Bergkamp10 writes: Australian scientists at the CSIRO have developed an UltraBattery that unites a supercapacitor and a lead acid battery inside a single cell to create a hybrid, high powered charge and discharge device that boasts a life cycle at least four times longer and 50 per cent more powerful than conventional battery systems. The UltraBattery was initially designed for use in hybrid electric vehicles, but could solve the major problem of intermittency in energy taken from renewable sources like wind and solar farms. The UltraBattery achieves this by "smoothing out" the flow of energy fed into the grid: In a wind farm setting, the UltraBattery assures network owners a steady flow of energy by temporarily storing wind power coming in and feeding it smoothly back into the grid, eliminating "noise" caused by uneven wind flow. By integrating the lead acid battery and supercapacitor into one unit, the expensive electronic controller and complicated algorithms to switch power between the two are no longer needed. "Because we build the supercapacitor inside the UltraBattery, it can provide and receive high power from the wind and protect the lead acid battery, therefore enhancing the life of the battery," said Dr Lan Trieu Lam, inventor of the UltraBattery.

Submission + - Linux whooping Windows in North American schools (computerworld.com.au)

grey_poupon writes: IT heads from two large north American school districts explain why they are serving up lessons on Linux to thousands of kids. "Once the students see how much they can customize and tweak KDE desktop and play with Beryl 3D, they like Linux more than Windows. When it comes down to it, Windows is a window manager with WordPad, Web browser and Email — Linux has all of that and more" — said a tech co-ordinator at School District #73 in British Columbia, which utilises between 30-60 diskless Debian flavoured workstations in each of its 55 elementary and secondary schools. "In 15 minutes I can update OpenOffice on thousands of diskless workstations. This beats ghosting Windows hard drives." Another district, Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District in Ohio explains why it's investigating deploying the Eee PC with Linux instead of Windows XP, in addition to its wide range of open source software. "On the server side, almost everything we use is open source. We run Linux servers with Apache, MySQL, WordPress, Moodle, Samba, Xmail, Dovecot, SquirrelMail, etc. In almost every case, we've been able to implement better technology for less money because of the availability of open source and open standards technologies."

Submission + - ECMA head to OOXML, BRM critics: put up or shutup (idg.com.au)

gustoman writes: Standards expert and former Secretary General of ECMA from 1991 to 2007, Jan Van den Beld, was the man responsible for advising Microsoft to pursue the fast track process for standardisation of its OOXML format. Van den Beld has challenged critics of the ISO process and Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva to come up with a better method for standardisation, or stop their whingeing. "If people say this whole ISO process is lousy, out of date and doesn't work anymore or is broken, I challenge anybody to make a new worldwide process," van den Beld told PCWorld Australia in an in-depth article where he debunks the major criticisms of the ISO and BRM process. Van den Beld explains the motives behind the origin of the Fast Track process and why OOXML was fast tracked. He addresses claims that numerous countries suspiciously joined the JTC-1 committee at the last minute purely to vote an unconditional 'YES' on OOXML, and responds to OOXML's opponents beliefs that there is no need for an additional office document standard. He also responds to claims by head of the US delegation Frank Farance that the week long BRM in Geneva was grossly inadequate at addressing issues relating to the OOXML specification, and critiques that the BRM process should be made more transparent. Van den Beld concludes with his thoughts on the perceived changing of Microsoft's attitudes towards standards and openness. A very indepth article straight from the horses mouth- the longest serving ECMA secretary general responsible for over 200 fast track ISO standardisations.

Submission + - 3D Printer: DIY Cell phone,MP3 player 4 years away (computerworld.com.au)

An anonymous reader writes: The RepRap 3D printer project gained worldwide attention in 2005 as an open source self-copying, rapid-prototyping machine that can manufacture mechanical parts and even reproduce itself (RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper). Currently version 1.0 of the RepRap machine can replicate about 65 per cent of itself- not counting nuts and bolts and electrical components. But in this interview with Computerworld, the founder of the RepRap project Dr Adrian Bowyer says that within four years the RepRap will be able to manufacture 90% of a cell phone or an MP3 player. Version 2.0 of the RepRap will be built with an electrical conductor, allowing the machine to make its own circuitry, including simple electric motors! And what is even better — the polyactic acid material used to build plastic components with the RepRap can be made by fermenting a small starch crop which anyone can grow in their backyard — Say good night once and for all Wal-mart!!!
Hardware Hacking

Submission + - Is this Australia's geekiest man? (computerworld.com.au)

An anonymous reader writes: Why have a key to open your front door when you can have an RFID tag implanted in your arm that will do the trick? Computerworld have a story up about the outgoing Linux Australia group president's hacked home, in which just about anything from watering the lawn, to opening his blinds, or checking the mail can be controlled through a software environment. Jonathan Oxer is an electronics and coding whiz who apparently has an RIFD tag implanted in his arm that opens his front door, and his front gate is hooked up with gigabit Ethernet — able to tell him when someone enters the property or send him a virtual email or sms to say he has real mail. Apparently the iPod Touch has just inspired him to begin linking all his little hardware hacks together into the one single, software controlled handheld touch device. I wonder if Steve Jobs ever thought the Touch would end up being used this way?? http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;396147352;pp;2
Hardware Hacking

Submission + - Hacking real world objects through Second Life (computerworld.com.au)

Platini writes: Computerworld Australia is running an interview with the current Linux Australia community group president, Jonathan Oxer, in which he explains how to hack real world objects through Linden Labs Second Life environment. Oxer uses an open source microcontroller called the Arduino board (he also discusses why hardware hacking has taken off in recent years), along with an RFID tag that is implanted in his arm and some clever scripting to unlock a virtual door inside Second Life. He also explains how to use virtual buttons inside Second Life to hack real world appliances. Oxer also talks about his heavily hardware hacked home in which almost everything can be controlled through a software environment — his front gate and letterbox are Ethernet enabled, his front door can be opened by the RFID tag in his arm, his lights, skylights and garden irrigation system are all software controlled, and he has hacked his alarm clock so that it slowly opens his blinds instead of blaring a loud buzzing noise! He concludes with a description of his current plans to hack Apple's iPod Touch so that he can control all of his home modifications from the one handheld device, very cool!

Submission + - AUSTRALIA TO GET ISP LEVEL FILTERING (computerworld.com.au)

bergkamp10 writes: It has been dubbed the Great Wall of Australia. Internet Service Providers, IT managers and the Electronic Frontiers Australia among others have slammed the Australian federal government's national content filtering scheme — an opt-out scheme that requires all ISPs to filter "objectionable material" from Internet traffic according to a blacklist defined by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Australia looks to be going down the road of countries such as China, Burma and parts of the middle east that implement mandatory filtering at the ISP level- censorship by any other name — and it has created an absolute furore of debate in the land down under. Proposes under the guise of filtering the abhorrent business of child pornography, such content filtering could turn into an infringement on freedom of information and political activism, and become a moral arbiter for inappropriate content. Industry experts agree that filtering child porn is a good idea, but hold grave fears for what may be censored once the system is in place, particularly given that one of the key supporters of the filtering system is the Family First party; a conservative group that opposes abortion, contraception, homosexuality, trans sexual and trans gender people, and euthanasia among other things. Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephan Conroy, said he "makes no apologies to those that argue that any regulation of the Internet is like going down the Chinese road". Scary, scary stuff.

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