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Australia

Aussie Telco Caught Handing Over User Mobile Numbers To Websites Without Consent 35 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the upside-down-morals dept.
AlbanX writes: Australian telco Optus has been nabbed passing its customers' mobile phone numbers to third-party websites without the customers' knowledge or consent. The practice, known as HTTP header enrichment, aims to streamline the process of direct billing for customers, but they're not happy. The discovery was made by a user on the telco forum Whirlpool, and Optus confirmed it. They said, "Optus adds our customers' mobile number to the information in select circumstances where we have a commercial relationship with owners of particular websites."
Censorship

Australia Passes Site-Blocking Legislation 57 57

Posted by timothy
from the status-quo-but-more-of-it dept.
ausrob writes: Cementing their position as Australia's most backwards and dangerous government in recent memory comes this nasty bit of legislation, riddled with holes (which is nothing new for this decrepit Government): "The legislation allows rights holders to go to a Federal Court judge to get overseas websites, or "online locations", blocked that have the "primary purpose" of facilitating copyright infringement. If a rights holder is successful in their blocking request, Australian internet providers, such as Telstra and Optus, will need to comply with a judge's order by disabling access to the infringing location." Adds reader Gumbercules!! links to another story on the legislation, writing: Aside from the sheer inefficiency of trying to spot piracy by blocking individual sites, there's also the risk that servers which house other, more legitimate sites, will be caught up in the net. Unsurprisingly, the bill does nothing to remedy the fact that Australians pay far more for access to media than other places in the World or that media is often not available or extremely delayed, here.
Censorship

In 6 Months, Australia Bans More Than 240 Games 136 136

Posted by timothy
from the it-gets-easier dept.
dotarray writes with this snippet from (apropos) Player Attack: In the 20 years from 1995 to January 2015, there were 77 games Refused Classification in Australia. After January though, more than 240 games have been effectively banned by the Classification Board — an average of 40 per month. Most of these games are mobile- or digital-only releases you're unlikely to have ever heard of, with names like League Of Guessing, 'w21wdf AB test,' Sniper 3D Assault Zombie, Measure Bra Size Prank, and Virtual Marijuana Smoking showing up in just the first few pages. What games are banned in your country?
Network

June 30th Leap Second Could Trigger Unexpected Issues 233 233

Posted by Soulskill
from the quick,-everybody-expect-them-instead dept.
dkatana writes: On January 31, 2013, approximately 400 milliseconds before the official release of the EIA Natural Gas Report, trading activity exploded in Natural Gas Futures. It is believed that was the result of some fast computer trading systems being programmed to act, and have a one-second advance access to the report. On June 30th a leap second will be added to the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to keep it synchronized with the slowly lengthening solar day. In this article, Charles Babcock gives a detailed account of the issues, and some disturbing possibilities: The last time a second needed to be added to the day was on June 30, 2012. For Qantas Airlines in Australia, it was a memorable event. Its systems, including flight reservations, went down for two hours as internal system clocks fell out of synch with external clocks.

The original author of the NTP protocol, Prof. David Mills at the University of Delaware, set a direct and simple way to add the second: Count the last second of June 30 twice, using a special notation on the second count for the record. Google will use a different approach: Over a 20-hour period on June 30, Google will add a couple of milliseconds to each of its NTP servers' updates. By the end of the day, a full second has been added. As the NTP protocol and Google timekeepers enter the first second of July, their methods may differ, but they both agree on the time.

But that could also be problematic. In adding a second to its NTP servers in 2005, Google ran into timekeeping problems on some of its widely distributed systems. The Mills sleight-of-hand was confusing to some of its clusters, as they fell out of synch with NTP time. Does Google's smear approach make more sense to you, or does Mills's idea of counting the last second twice work better? Do you have a better idea of how to handle this?
Australia

Drone Racing Poised To Go Mainstream 98 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the make-sure-they-wear-helmets dept.
New submitter Strepto writes: Using video cameras and special goggles or screens, First Person View has been a thing in the RC world for a while. In the last couple of years though, mini quadcopters have taken things to a whole new level, and the inevitable racing has begun to happen with these incredibly quick and agile little machines.

A recent event in Melbourne, Australia, was covered by various media including the ABC, Gizmag and Mashable. Our little media race (first and last place videos here) went down well, but there are still a number of regulatory barriers to jump in Australia and overseas. It's hard to judge public perception though. I was just wondering what the Slashdot crew thinks about this; does it look dangerous, irresponsible or just plain cool? What do you think the future holds?
Australia

Australian ISPs Will Be Forced To Block (Some) Pirate Websites 45 45

Posted by timothy
from the selective-vision dept.
angry tapir writes: Senators representing Australia's two main political blocs have issued a report backing a bill that will allow copyright holders to apply for a court order forcing ISPs to block access to piracy-linked websites. The proposed law has met with a less-than-enthusiastic from anti-censorship activists and consumer advocates. Even the federal parliament's human rights committee has been concerned about whether the law is a proportionate response to piracy.
Medicine

Man With the "Golden Arm" Has Saved Lives of 2 Million Babies 97 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the save-every-drop dept.
schwit1 writes: James Harrison, known as "The Man with the Golden Arm," has donated blood plasma from his right arm nearly every week for the past 60 years. Soon after Harrison became a donor, doctors called him in. His blood, they said, could be the answer to a deadly problem. Harrison was discovered to have an unusual antibody in his blood and in the 1960s he worked with doctors to use the antibodies to develop an injection called Anti-D. It prevents women with rhesus-negative blood from developing RhD antibodies during pregnancy. "In Australia, up until about 1967, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn't know why, and it was awful," explains Jemma Falkenmire, of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. "Women were having numerous miscarriages and babies were being born with brain damage." It was the result of rhesus disease — a condition where a pregnant woman's blood actually starts attacking her unborn baby's blood cells. In the worst cases it can result in brain damage, or death, for the babies. Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody, so it was quite revolutionary at the time. Last year we ran a story about another person with "golden blood" named Thomas.
Programming

Australia's Prime Minister Doesn't Get Why Kids Should Learn To Code 306 306

Posted by samzenpus
from the seeing-the-forest-for-the-trees dept.
New submitter Gob Gob writes: The Prime Minister of Australia has come out and ridiculed an opposition policy aimed at teaching kids to code. In response to the leader of the Labor Party's question about whether he would commit to supporting Labor's push to have coding taught in every primary school in Australia, the Prime Minister said: "He said that he wants primary school kids to be taught coding so they can get the jobs of the future. Does he want to send them all out to work at the age of 11? Is that what he wants to do? Seriously?"
Hardware Hacking

Glowforge is a CNC Laser Cutter, not a 3D Printer (Video) 45 45

Posted by Roblimo
from the some-machines-add-material-while-others-cut-it dept.
Co-Founder and CEO Dan Shapiro says, right at the beginning of the interview, that the Glowforge machine is a CNC laser cutter and engraver, not a 3-D Printer. He says they've "simplified the heck" out of the hardware and software, and are making an easy-to-use, non-costly ($2500 has been bandied about as the unit's likely price) device that can fit on a kitchen table -- or, more likely, a workbench at a maker facility. Although Dan did very well on Kickstarter (and afterwards) with his previous venture, Robot Turtles, this time he seems to have raised his first $9 million in the venture capital market, with participation from several MakerBot executives.

Glowforge is not the only CNC laser cutter/etcher device out there (or about to be). In Australia, Darkly Labs appears to have raised $569,397 (AUD) on Kickstarter to bring their LazerBlade to life, and already makes a small laser device called the Emblaser. There are others, too, including Boxzy, which did the Kickstarter thing and will now sell you a device that "rapidly transforms into 3 kinds of machines: CNC Mill, 3D Printer & Laser Engraver while enhancing precision & power with ballscrews." All this, and their top-of-the-line "does everything" machine sells for a mere $3500. Obviously, devices to give makers and prototypers the ability to make ever more complex and accurate shapes are coming to market like crazy. We'll continue to keep an eye on all this activity, including a second video interview with Glowforge's Dan Shapiro tomorrow.
The Media

How a Scientist Fooled Millions With Bizarre Chocolate Diet Claims 260 260

Posted by timothy
from the tongue-in-cheek-sandwich-diet-works-too dept.
__roo writes: Did you know chocolate helps you lose weight? You can read all about this great news for chocoholics in the Daily Star, Daily Express, Irish Examiner, and TV shows in Texas and Australia, and even the front page of Bild, Europe's largest daily newspaper. The problem is that it's not true. A researcher who previously worked with Science to do a sting operation on fee-charging open access journals ran a real—but obviously flawed—study rigged to generate false positives, paid €600 to get it published in a fee-charging open access journal, set up a website for a fake institute, and issued press releases to feed the ever-hungry pool of nutrition journalists. The doctor who ran the trial had the idea to use chocolate, because it's a favorite of the "whole food" fanatics. "Bitter chocolate tastes bad, therefore it must be good for you. It's like a religion."
Google

NSA Planned To Hijack Google App Store To Hack Smartphones 94 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: A newly released top secret document reveals that the NSA planned to hijack Google and Samsung app stores to plant spying software on smartphones. The report on the surveillance project, dubbed "IRRITANT HORN," shows the U.S. and its "Five Eyes" alliance: Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, were looking at ways to hack smartphones and spy on users. According to The Intercept: "The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012."
Piracy

Australian ISP Offers Pro-bono Legal Advice To Accused Pirates 66 66

Posted by timothy
from the they-got-really-skinny-for-the-role-too dept.
New submitter thegarbz writes: As covered previously, after losing a legal battle against Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage Pictures the Federal Court of Australia asked ISP iiNet to hand over details of customers allegedly downloading the movie The Dallas Buyers Club. iiNet has now taken the unprecedented move to offer pro-bono legal advice to all of its customers targeted over piracy claims. "It is important to remember that the Court's findings in this case do not mean that DBC and Voltage's allegations of copyright infringement have been proven," Ben Jenkins, financial controller for iiNet wrote. Also, as part of the ruling the court will review all correspondence sent to alleged copyright infringers in hopes to prevent the practice of speculative invoicing. Unless it can be proven exactly how much and and with how many people a film was shared the maximum damages could also be limited to the lost revenue by the studio, which currently stands at $10AU ($7.90US) based on iTunes pricing.
Encryption

Australian Law Could Criminalize the Teaching of Encryption 208 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the technophobes-writing-laws dept.
New submitter petherfile writes: According to Daniel Mathews, new laws passed in Australia (but not yet in effect) could criminalize the teaching of encryption. He explains how a ridiculously broad law could effectively make any encryption stronger than 512 bits criminal if your client is not Australian. He says, "In short, the DSGL casts an extremely wide net, potentially catching open source privacy software, information security research and education, and the entire computer security industry in its snare. Most ridiculous, though, are some badly flawed technicalities. As I have argued before, the specifications are so imprecise that they potentially include a little algorithm you learned at primary school called division. If so, then division has become a potential weapon, and your calculator (or smartphone, computer, or any electronic device) is a potential delivery system for it."
The Almighty Buck

World's Rudest Robot Set To Simulate the Fury of Call Center Customers 150 150

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-thousand-different-kinds-of-angry dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A New Zealand-based company called Touchpoint Group has unveiled the world's angriest robot, which is designed to help train call center employees in the art of dealing with frustrated customers. The project, named Radiant, will involve one of Australia's biggest banks, which is providing researchers with recordings of real-life interactions with customers. Once finished Radiant will simulate hundreds of millions of angry customer interactions, helping companies better understand what triggers heated calls.
Security

'Breaking Bad' Crypto Ransomware Targets Australian Users 38 38

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-am-the-one-who-hacks dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new strain of the Trojan.Cryptolocker.S targeting Australia is using the branding of popular TV crime drama 'Breaking Bad' to theme its extortion demands. After encrypting all the files on the victim's computer, the ransomware presents a message that uses a logo and character quotes from the show, in addition to a YouTube video from the game Grand Theft Auto V, thought to be a tribute to Breaking Bad.
Australia

Australia: Your Digital Games (and Movies!) Could Be About to Jump In Price 125 125

Posted by timothy
from the your-lunch-money-was-jangling dept.
dotarray writes with a snippet of news from Australia about expanded taxation for digital goods. From Player Attack comes the gist: Australians really are about to start paying more for digital services — including Steam games — as Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has confirmed plans to introduce a 'Netflix tax' in this week's Federal Budget. As mentioned last week, this is not a new tax, but an extension of Australia's current Goods and Services Tax to include digital services, adding 10% to virtual items and services purchased online. Details have not yet been revealed, but potential services include not only Steam games but also Netflix subscriptions and even Uber trips.
Earth

Top Advisor To Australian Gov't Says Climate Change is a UN Conspiracy 525 525

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-the-UN-is-totally-competent-enough-to-pull-that-off dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Maurice Newman, the top business advisor to conservative Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, today published an opinion piece (paywalled) in which he claims, "It's a well-kept secret, but 95 per cent of the climate models ... have been found ... to be in error." He goes on to write "This is not about facts or logic. It's about a new world order under the control of the UN." While Newman's 'skeptical' views have long been on record, it's unclear when he came to believe in this vast global conspiracy. Last year, the Abbott government removed Australia's Emissions Trading Scheme, and recently gave $4 million in funding to contrarian Bjorn Lomberg, while cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from science across the country.
Space

17-Year-Old Radio Astronomy Mystery Traced Back To Kitchen Microwave 227 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-it-another-30-secs dept.
New submitter Bo'Bob'O writes: The BBC reports that the scientists at the Parkes and Bleien Radio Observatories in New South Wales, Australia, have tracked down earth-based signals that had been eluding observation for 17 years. These signals, which came to be called Perytons "occurred only during office hours and predominantly on weekdays." The source, as it turned out, was located right inside the antenna's tower where impatient scientists had been opening the kitchen microwave door before its cycle had finished. As the linked paper concludes, this, and a worn magnetron caused a condition that allowed the microwaves to emit a burst of frequencies not expected by the scientists, only compounding the original mystery.
Lord of the Rings

Why Scientists Love 'Lord of the Rings' 179 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the even-the-very-wise-cannot-see-all-the-ends dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Julie Beck writes in The Atlantic that though science and fantasy seem to be polar opposites, a Venn diagram of "scientists" and "Lord of the Rings fans" have a large overlap which could (lovingly!) be labeled "nerds." Several animal species have been named after characters from the books, including wasps, crocodiles, and even a dinosaur named after Sauron, "Given Tolkien's passion for nomenclature, his coinage, over decades, of enormous numbers of euphonious names—not to mention scientists' fondness for Tolkien—it is perhaps inevitable that Tolkien has been accorded formal taxonomic commemoration like no other author," writes Henry Gee. Other disciplines aren't left out of the fun—there's a geologically interesting region in Australia called the "Mordor Alkaline Igneous Complex," a pair of asteroids named "Tolkien" and "Bilbo," and a crater on Mercury also named "Tolkien."

"It has been documented that Middle-Earth caught the attention of students and practitioners of science from the early days of Tolkien fandom. For example, in the 1960s, the Tolkien Society members were said to mainly consist of 'students, teachers, scientists, or psychologists,'" writes Kristine Larsen, an astronomy professor at Central Connecticut State University, in her paper "SAURON, Mount Doom, and Elvish Moths: The Influence of Tolkien on Modern Science." "When you have scientists who are fans of pop culture, they're going to see the science in it," says Larson. "It's just such an intricate universe. It's so geeky. You can delve into it. There's the languages of it, the geography of it, and the lineages. It's very detail oriented, and scientists in general like things that have depth and detail." Larson has also written papers on using Tolkien as a teaching tool, and discusses with her astronomy students, for example, the likelihood that the heavenly body Borgil, which appears in the first book of the trilogy, can be identified as the star Aldebaran. "I use this as a hook to get students interested in science," says Larson. "I'm also interested in recovering all the science that Tolkien quietly wove into Middle Earth because there's science in there that the casual reader has not recognized."
Australia

Australia To Grade Written Essays In National Exam With Cognitive Computing 109 109

Posted by timothy
from the oh-this-will-work-well dept.
New submitter purnima writes: Australia keeps on giving and giving. Each year school kids in Australia sit The National Assessment Program (NAPLAN) which in part tests literacy. The exam includes a written page-long essay aimed at examining both language aptitude and literacy of students. Of course, human-marking of such essays is costly (twenty teacher-minutes per exam). So some bright spark has proposed that the essays be marked by computer. The government is convinced and the program is slated for the 2017 school year. Aside from the moral issues, is AI ready for this major task?