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Nissan’s Leaf electric car will use Microsoft’s software to power its in-car entertainment as well as a program that will calculate the location of the nearest re-charging stations. Research in Motion, the Canadian company behind the BlackBerry smartphone, bought QNX Software, a leading in-car software company, earlier this year. Thilo Koslowski, of Gartner Inc, said: “Consumers are increasingly demanding access to new multimedia content, productivity solutions, and connected services for entertainment and communication from their in-vehicle system, similar to what they expect from their other devices.”

Fiat is the only car company in Australia to use a system developed with Microsoft – Blue&Me.   Another big change will be the ability for car companies to use Microsoft’s Silverflight media player, a rival to the popular Flash player. It allows drivers to control car functions by voice. The integration of Silverlight means improved 2D and 3D graphics on car video screens. QNX already has deals with leading brands including Audi, BMW and Hyundai. Kevin Dallas, of Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Business Unit, said: “Microsoft deeply understands that technology collaboration is paramount to the evolution of integrated, in-vehicle infotainment systems.”

Microsoft is not the only big-name software company to get involved in cars.

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MICROSOFT could be about to invade your car. Microsoft says you will be able to send a text message from your car just by speaking. The new system can control the car’s stereo, connect music players via Bluetooth and sync with smartphones to access phone contacts and calendars. Not content with launching its latest Windows-powered smartphone, the company has launched a new assault on the software that powers your car. It can be operated either by a touchscreen or voice commands. Although the software giant already provides systems for Ford, Kia and Fiat, it wants to improve in-car connectivity with Windows Embedded Automotive 7.

Rabbe said the issue, which began last Wednesday, started when a group of servers running offline instant messaging overloaded. A software glitch caused Skype’s major outage last week, the internet calling and messaging service said. This caused some computers to get delayed responses from those servers, and an older version of Skype’s Windows software improperly processed the responses, crashing Skype for about 20 per cent of users. In a blog post, chief information officer Lars Rabbe said the 24-hour outage that cut service for nearly all of Skype’s users stemmed from a problem in a version of Skype’s software for computers running Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

On average, 124 million people use Skype each month, though the total number of registered users is more than four times that. By Thursday afternoon, things had improved to the point where about 21 million users were logged in, said CEO Tony Bates. In a video posted on the Skype blog, Bates said the problems “completely took almost every user offline.”

The service went down for almost all of its users starting at midday Eastern time on Wednesday. Skype’s software offers a range of free services, including the ability to make voice or video calls and send instant messages to other Skype users. At that point, voice calling, video-chatting and text-based instant messaging were working for most users, Bates said, but other features, such as offline instant messaging and group video calls, were still down. A year ago, eBay sold its majority stake in the business for about $2 billion to an investor group that includes Skype’s founders. That was 10 per cent less than the usual traffic for the time of day, as some people still could not log on. Users pay for services such as making calls from a PC to a landline or cell phone. Subscribers will be credited with a week’s extra subscription service. Earlier this year, AT&T Inc.’s Internet-based “U-verse” phone system went down for several hours, affecting 1.15 million customers. Skype’s popularity around the globe stems in large part from the free or cheap calls it provides. The Luxembourg-based company said customers who pre-pay for service or are on pay-as-you-go plans will receive an e-mail with a voucher for 30 minutes of free calling to landlines anywhere in the world. AP Skype has since returned to operating normally. Skype has indicated that it wants to list its shares on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Computers that crashed included numerous “supernodes” – computers Skype likens to phone directories, helping users connect with each other – which resulted in a much larger outage as other available supernodes couldn’t handle all the user traffic. Other internet-based calling services that compete with the traditional phone system also have problems with consistent service.
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ONE in four Gen Yers expect to be self-employed at some time in their working life, according to independent research which has found an increasing number of under-25s are selling door-to-door style products such as Avon, Amway and Tupperware.   A social researcher, Mark McCrindle of McCrindle Research, which studied Australian entrepreneurial activities with 1000 Gen Yers aged between 18 and 25, found a quarter of them wanted to run their own business, which is much higher than the national rate across all age groups, which is not even one in 20. ”The whole future of online social media goes arm in arm with direct selling which is why it is popular with a younger tech-savvy sales force,” he said. Direct selling companies report an increasingly younger sales force and are changing their product range accordingly: Avon has introduced a skincare range for the under 20s to target university and high school student sellers and Amway has introduced protein shakes and vitamin supplements to attract a younger clientele. Scoring the job at the big Fortune 500 company is not the status symbol of success like it was in their parents’ day.”

John Holloway, the executive director of the Direct Sellers Association of Australia, whose members sell $1.6 billion worth of products annually in Australia, says a 12.5 per cent sales rise in the past three years has been driven largely by online sales in the under 25 age group. ”The heroes in the Gen Y world are the guys who start a small business in the garage or the friends who start an eBay-like business online. Tracy Pratt, of Tupperware Australia & New Zealand, says recent research found the bulk of its sales force (49 per cent) were under 34, making Australian Tupperware sellers the youngest in the 100 countries in which its products are sold. Gen Yers use their online social networks to sell Amway products and organise Tupperware parties. ”It’s not the old Amway of door-to-door sales – that’s not the model I am using,” she said. ”It’s not daggy like it was in the past to sell products such as Amway and Avon,” Mr McCrindle said. ”Our brand seems to be speaking to a younger age group again who are using the internet as a gathering tool,” she said. But instead of leaving the catalogue in the letterbox, it’s more likely to be in your email inbox. Mylie Dantier, 25, a former IT account manager living in Balmain, gave up her office job and now sells about $35,000 to $40,000 a month of Amway products to her online network of between 500 and 600 people, who come to her for recurring sales of toothpaste, protein shakes, vitamins and dishwashing liquid – products they would go to the supermarket to buy. The generational group portrait which paints Gen Y as having an increased sense of entitlement has a flip side that seems to be leading to increased entrepreneurial activity in this age bracket.

”If infrastructure is built, we will ensure we make the best use of it.” He ruled out removing cables that are being installed around the country by the government-owned NBN Co. ”Clearly, we would not be tearing anything up,” he said at a banking conference. After being appointed to ”demolish” the Gillard government’s planned network, Mr Turnbull yesterday told a business audience in Sydney the Coalition would take a ”hard-headed” look at the project if elected. The opposition’s communications spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, has conceded the Coalition would not ”tear up” what had already been built of the national broadband network if it won the next federal election, saying it would put any infrastructure to good use.
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The opposition has so far focused on attacking the cost of the network and calling for a cost-benefit analysis, but it is understood some senior Liberals see developing a clearer policy on how they would support wider access to broadband as a high priority. NBN Co is expected to provide fresh details soon on how the government’s promise to prioritise rural areas will affect the costs and timetable of the installation. The executive chairman of NBN Co, Mike Quigley, will also speak today in Melbourne, making his first public comments since the election campaign. In a possible clue into the opposition’s thinking, Mr Turnbull explored a ”structural separation” of Telstra – of its wholesale and retail arms – without building a whole new broadband network. Mr Turnbull is expected to provide further details on his thinking on competition in the sector in a speech in Melbourne today. However, he did not endorse this approach. Mr Turnbull’s concession reflects pressures on the Coalition to explain where it stands on broadband. Paul Budde, a telecommunications consultant who supports the network, said Mr Turnbull’s comments made sense because the public was growing tired of the Coalition’s ”black-and-white” attacks on the network. So far, the network has been introduced to test sites in Tasmania and work has also begun in mainly rural areas.

”It is expected that if consumers want to maintain a fixed-line service they would be seeking a fibre connection. The Council of Australian Governments’ national broadband development group and local government groups recently discussed hurdles to a universal roll-out of the infrastructure project, Mr Stanton said. Some states and council laws prevent strangers from entering a property, with some exceptions for utility employees to read meters. However, unless laws were changed to allow NBN contractors onto property without permission, many households could be left without a fixed-telephone service, a spokeswoman for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy confirmed. ”To install the fibre connection, a property owner’s consent must still be obtained to enter their premises to connect the network, or an alternative approach, like opt-out, needs to be developed,” she said. However, this has not been mandated.”

Tasmania’s laws would ensure NBN Co contractors were not charged with trespass if they entered a property to lay fibre to the home or attach network equipment to a house, unless a property owner explicitly refused permission.
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”In the future, when copper networks have been decommissioned, consumers will have a choice of [retail service providers] to connect to the NBN, and in many cases they will also have the choice to opt for a wireless-based service that is independent of the NBN.” MORE state governments will have to change trespass or property laws to ensure households are not left without fixed-telephone connections, following the Tasmanian government’s move to introduce legislation for property owners to opt out of the government’s fibre network. ”All state governments are now turning their minds to the practical issues that will go along with migration and the roll-out of the network,” said the chief executive of Communications Alliance, John Stanton.

Rocket-propelled grenade becomes a lifesaver

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Samuel Adelojou has invented a rocket propelled grenade buoyancy device or ‘Buoyancy Bazooka’.

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The device is also equipped with flares for night-time. He also took the idea of adding a whistle from a popular toy called a Vortex. Made from hydrophobic foam, the buoy can expand up to 40 times its size on contact with water so the swimmer can stay afloat without risk the buoy will spring a leak. The idea came to Mr Adeloju during Army Reserve training, when his instructors demonstrated grenade and flare launchers. Sam Adeloju with his Longreach device. GRENADES are not exactly synonymous with life-saving, but they have inspired a young Sydney designer to create an award-winning device that could save swimmers from drowning. Photo: James Alcock Making waves … Sam Adeloju’s design, named Longreach, with the unofficial name ”Buoyancy Bazooka”, shoots an emergency flotation device 150 metres out to sea.

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”They’re [Surf Life Saving Australia] keen to get some money to do further testing and maybe get it into production,” he said. I wanted to give them something that gave them time to assess the situation properly.”

After observing the grenade launchers in action, Mr Adeloju thought of ways he could improve on previous designs. ”I realised how ineffective a [standard] life ring would be if the drowning victim was a great distance from their rescuer. A product’s functionality couldn’t be more important when it’s used to save someone’s life.”

The runners-up included a solar-powered emergency water desalination device and a device that makes cardiopulmonary resuscitation more efficient. Last night Mr Adeloju won the $16,000 James Dyson Award, which is named after the British designer of bagless vacuum cleaners and bladeless fans. Mr Dyson said the Longreach was a ”smart solution to a very real problem. Mr Adeloju, the first Australian to win the award in its five years, is in talks with Surf Life Saving Australia about conducting field trials, but winning the prize will give the Longreach international exposure. ”In my research I found a lot of surf-rescue teams ended up putting themselves in danger. It’s the difference between a basketball and a bullet.”

The Longreach has a lightweight styrofoam casing, meaning if it hits a swimmer it is like ”being hit with a paper cup full of water”, he said. My system spins as it travels through the air, which makes it easier to spot. The University of NSW, from which he graduated in industrial design, will also receive $16,000. Included in his prize is a trip to the Dyson laboratories in Britain. ”Existing launch devices use compressed air and only have a range of 60 metres.

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Jones, 58, has generated international attention and has been widely condemned for arguing that as an American Christian he has a right to burn Islam’s holy book because “it’s full of lies.”

One of two websites, used to drum up publicity ahead of Jones’s planned Koran book-burning on Saturday, used the domain name “Islam is of the Devil.”

Goodgame said Dove World Outreach Center had violated “hate speech” provisions of its contract with Rackspace. “What we did was to terminate them as a Rackspace customer because they had violated the contract,” Goodgame said. “We’re not trying to restrict anyone’s free speech rights We just feel that as a business we have the right to set rules,” he said. Dan Goodgame, a spokesman for popular web host Rackspace Hosting, said two websites operated by the Dove World Outreach Center, the tiny Gainesville, Florida church run by pastor Terry Jones, had been shut down. He said executives at Rackspace, which has more than 100,000 business customers in 140 countries, were unaware that Dove World Outreach Center was even a customer of theirs until they got the complaint several days ago. “We looked into it and made a determination that the two sites were in violation of the hate-speech provisions of our acceptable-use policy,” Goodgame said. He said the move had been requested by a complaint about the content posted by Dove World Outreach Center, but declined to say from where it had come. Reuters The obscure Christian pastor who planned to mark the ninth anniversary of September 11 attacks by burning copies of the Koran has had his website pulled from the internet, the hosting company said.

David Howarth, a senior policy officer at Choice, said the consumer group’s own surveys had also found deep dissatisfaction with the industry’s behaviour. The survey’s 1100 respondents said they did not pursue redress because they did not believe it would achieve anything, they thought it was too hard or they were unaware a solution existed. MORE than half of all customers have had a problem with their phone or internet service provider in the past year, and one in three of them was dissatisfied with how their complaints were resolved. How to make a complaint that gets heard

The survey found the main complaints involved technical problems and, ironically, how telephone companies and ISPs handled the complaint. Those unhappy customers – 2.3 million people – were entitled to seek redress from an industry ombudsman, but few did, according to research by the advocacy group Australian Communications Consumer Action Network. ”It’s evidence of increasing problems being experienced across the industry.”

She said the research showed only 7 per cent of dissatisfied customers turned to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, despite generally high marks from those who did. She said unless consumers used the right ”buzz words” some companies were neglecting to direct people to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. ”So for every person who makes it to the [ombudsman], there are more than a dozen others who are worn down by the frustration of dealing with their telco,” Ms Freeman said. The industry’s self-drafted code requires members to tell unhappy customers about the ombudsman scheme, but the wording is ambiguous, said Elissa Freeman, the network’s director of policy and campaigns. ”Every way you cut up complaints figures in this industry tells us there’s something wrong,” Ms Freeman said. Nearly a third of people threw up their hands without even bothering to lodge a complaint.

‘Electronic bail’

The shadow attorney-general, Greg Smith, said he supported the idea in principle. The government review recommended rewriting bail laws without making significant changes to who qualifies for bail. Asked whether the changes would make it easier or more difficult to get bail, a spokesman for the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, said they should ”make applying for bail simpler”. But the retired magistrate Max Taylor, the convener of the Bail Reform Alliance, said the government had missed a chance to remedy the Bail Act. The Bail Act is causing confusion among defendants, lawyers and judges because of 16 ad hoc amendments over 25 years, usually made in response to high-profile crimes, the review says. Courts should be left to get on with deciding bail on traditional liberal democratic criteria,” he said. The government will gauge community reaction to the idea. About one-quarter of NSW prisoners are on remand, which is twice the number of any other state. About 30 per cent of these people are later acquitted, leading to calls from civil libertarians and lawyers for changes. ”What is needed is the restoration of the presumption in favour of bail for all offences. Bail laws have also sent record numbers of people – especially juveniles – to jail without being convicted of an offence, it says.
”E-bail” or ”e-remand” has been an effective alternative to locking up the unconvicted in the US, Britain and Canada. People who have been charged with a crime but not yet tried or convicted could be granted bail and monitored electronically under a proposal to take the sting out of the debate over bail laws. It can protect the community while avoiding the social and financial costs of jail, according to an internal state government review of bail laws.

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A prank by a group of online trolls, including several Australians, has whipped conservative US commentators into a lather over what they claimed was a gang of progressive “e-thugs” formed by the Democrats to smear the Tea Party movement. Beck, a popular conservative US political commentator who appears regularly on radio and TV, published the video on his website, triggering a firestorm of protest from armchair conservatives on blogs, forums and Twitter. In a 13 minute online conspiracy video, dubbed “Twittergate”, extreme right-wing US commentator Greg Howard – dubbed the “Glenn Beck of Twitter” – accused the Democrats of hiring online thugs to harass conservative Twitter users and goad them into making offensive comments, which are then used to smear the anti-Obama Tea Party movement.

“If Musims are forbidden from going through full body scanners, then install them at every single airport and door in America,” reads another of his tweets. “It could be anything from asking someone an inflammatory question to really really crude childish stuff … The reaction was music to the ears of one of the so-called e-thugs, Samuel Birbeck, 30, from Adelaide. As with many of the online debates between left- and right-leaning commentators, the war soon turned nasty and documents showing Howard’s apparent bankruptcy and accusations that he was behind on his child support payments were posted online. to making overtly racist comments towards them and getting a response that indicates they actually seriously hold those sorts of views.”

Looking at a sample of Howard’s tweets, which are read by almost 15,000 followers, it’s easy to see why he was targeted. He doesn’t know how to handle this type of attack.” “Democratic campaign funds are being used to front this,” Howard told Gawker.com. Howard also accuses Obama of being a homosexual and claims that it’s no surprise that a majority of serial killers are registered Republicans because “they are highly intelligent as a rule”. Budding comedian Birbeck, along with several other Australians, is part of a group of online trolls called the Beandog Militia, formed to annoy and embarrass conservative bigots who spew bile online. Birbeck said Howard had been in his group’s sights for some time but the group regularly goes after conservatives, having also been partly responsible for the firestorm of criticism against Family First’s Wendy Francis over her gay slurs on Twitter. “Only thing Obama has accomplished of any use is prove someone with high melanin content in their skin can be elected,” reads another. The crew released the conspiracy theory video and have even accused the Beandogs of embedding viruses in their Twitter avatars. “I think the best way to describe it is it’s a joke gone horribly right,” said Birbeck. Some of the Beandogs also spread lewd messages about Howard’s family, which have been reported to US authorities. In response, Howard and fellow conservative tweeters formed a group to take on the Beandogs, dubbed “the Wrecking Crew”. “You try and bait people into revealing their own stupidity and ignorance and then sit back and have a good laugh at them,” Birbeck explained in a phone interview. Offending blacks and Muslims is another of Howard’s favourite topics. “A person like Greg is quick to fire up and that’s also why he’s been such a wonderful target. But Birbeck argues it’s just “words on a screen” and the “threats” were just about having a laugh at the expense of the conservatives. I am twice the man he’ll ever be,” reads one. “I proudly compare myself with Obama.
Don’t feed the trolls … Beandog Militia member Sam Birbeck.