Australian Internet Filter: What Can I Do?

What is it?

The Australian Federal Government is introducing a mandatory ISP-level filtering of all Refused Classification (RC) rated content. This means all websites (or part thereof) which have been refused classification under Australia’s classification laws will be blacklisted.

See the Electronic Frontiers Open Internet website for more information.

What can I do?

The simplest thing you can do is sign the EFA’s online petition.

Additionally, you can contact your local member of parliament or contact Senator Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Take Action!

iiNet Vs AFACT: The Verdict

As a lot of people are probably already aware iiNet was taken to court by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) for allegedly allowing its customers to illegally download copyrighted material (e.g. movies, music, etc).

This morning Justice Cowdroy has ruled in favour of iiNet stating that “I find that iiNet simply can’t be seen as approving infringement”. His verdict was that the “copyright (infringement) occurred as result of use of BitTorrent, not the Internet” and that “iiNet has no control over (the) BitTorrent system and (is) not responsible for (the) BitTorrent system.”

Common sense and Australia’s Internet Freedom prevails, for now (see mandatory Australia Internet Censoring).

It Was Only A Matter Of Time

Internet filtering plan may extend to peer-to-peer traffic, says Stephen Conroy.

The Federal Government’s controversial internet censorship scheme may extend to filter more online traffic than was first thought, Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy revealed today.

In a post on his department’s blog, Senator Conroy today said technology that could filter data sent directly between computers would be tested as part of the upcoming live filtering trial.

Update 24/12/08Internet filter ‘technically impossible’… let’s hope so 🙂

Singles Dish Up The Dirt

In today’s mx newspaper there is a completely pointless, but laughable, article titled Singles Dish Up The Dirt which talks about A US matchmaking service (It’s Just Lunch) being sued by its clients because they were sent on bad dates. Most of the cases seem to be what you would expect from a blind date, i.e. the person turns out not to be who you were lead to believe they are. While some of them are bad, such as a lady being matched up with an alcoholic (surely these people should be screened out of the service?), there was one mention which seems like It’s Just Lunch were deliberately matching people up with the “wrong” kind of partner.

“Dating nightmares included women matched with married men, and a Minnesota woman who requested no Republicans or religious types only to be set up with a Catholic Republicans and and (sic) Seventh Day Adventist” 

New Kid Coming To The Block: Powerset

Powerset Inc, a Silicon Valley company, is developing a new type of search engine which does not function based on the typical Google, Yahoo or Microsoft technique of keywords. Rather it is a natural language search engine, which uses a natural language processing techniques to “read and understand every sentence on the Web”.

Although the company has not released the search engine for use, for public or private testing, they have a Powerset Labs section on their site where invited users can provide feedback on the design of the search engine. Users are also given a peek at technology demonstrations that show off the search engine’s capabilities, which currently for the lab’s purposes has only indexed Wikipedia pages. At least, that is what they are saying on their blog. You can sign up for the labs at http://labs.powerset.com/, however, there is no guarantee that you will get an invite.

There does appear to be a few problems with the site, such as the lab’s login and extended the sign-up pages timing out, but I guess these things are expected with a start-up. Especially a start-up which is gathering more and more recognition – Powerset recently presented at TechCrunch40. A video of Powerset presenting at the TechCrunch40 2007 conference can be seen on the TechCrunch20 site.

Windows Safari

Apple has just recently released Safari 3 beta and with this release, they have included an XP and Vista version, for the previously Mac only browser. Steve Jobs announced the release of Safari 3 during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (see video here) and showcased some of its features and benefits. Aside from the claims of being “the best browser ever”, Jobs also claims that Safari is 2x faster than IE7 and 1.6x faster than FireFox 2.

Personally, I’m not a fan the Mac look and feel, especially that big grey toolbar, however, there are a few features which are useful, if not at least intriguing. For example, while tabbed browser, you can drag a tab off the tab toolbar and a new window will be opened with that tabs contents displayed. Another useful feature is the ability to resize text areas, without the need for this to be implemented by the website (of course this is available in FireFox through the use of a Resizeable Form Fields extension by Justin Watt).

Aside from the aforementioned features of Safari, it does appear to render HTML quicker than IE7 and FireFox. However, there are a few bugs or unimplemented features which should be included. One notable downfall is the lack of support for the scroll wheel click feature (I’m not sure if this is lack of support for my Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000 or if it’s not included at all), which is presumably a direct side effect of the mac mouse having a 360 scroll ball instead of a wheel. Another downfall I noted was that the tab toolbar does not always close once you close all of the tabs (excluding one), but granted it is only a beta I’m sure that bug will be fixed before the final release.

All-in-all I think Safari is just another standard browser really, and I’ll be sticking with FireFox for now. However, if you would like to try out the new Safari you can head to http://www.apple.com/safari/ and download your free beta copy. Or alternatively, you can download the real “best browser” from http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/. :-p

Update June 13th: Apparently there have already been several vulnerabilities found in Safari.

News.com.au Maps

Although it appears to be about 7 months old, I recently stumbled across a useful Google Maps mash-up from News.com.au. The ‘News Map‘ places 10 articles (they say 10 on their site, but it appears to be a lot more than that) from the news.com.au World and National sections on to the Google Map interface, allowing users to see where particular stories are taking place. In order to determine the geographical coordinates, Metacarta is used to extract place names from the articles and convert them into longitudinal and latitudinal references.

Of course, this isn’t the only mash-up of its kind, with others providing such Google Maps displays with articles from the Associate Press, and news.bbc.co.uk. You also have your alternative implementations, such as a map by multi.co.za, which allows users to click on a country and be presented with a list of articles, from an array of aggregated news sources, which reference that selected country.

F.E.A.R COMBAT

Awesome news for gamers, F.E.A.R has released the multiplayer section of the game as a FREE multiplayer component called F.E.A.R COMBAT. The free multiplayer download includes 19 maps, 12 weapons, 10 game modes and supports PunkBuster. To download the game simply use one of the following download links and then head over to the official site to register and get your free CD-Key. Now the download is quite large, about 1.8GB, so you may want to use either a BitTorrent program or a download manager.

Download Locations:

Ridiculous Tech Obsessions

A recent article – Ten Signs You’re Tech Obsessed – on the Sydney Morning Herald website lists ten signs which may indicate that you are “too close to your technology”. The ten signs include:

  1. You forget basic bodily functions
  2. You collect ridiculous accessories
  3. You check your email on Sunday … at 3am
  4. You know your mates by their online ‘handles’ rather than their real names
  5. Your favourite song goes “beep”
  6. Instead of laughing, you say ‘LOL’
  7. You answer your mobile phone when you’re on a date
  8. You change their ‘outfits’ depending on their ‘mood’
  9. You own a BlackBerry
  10. You speak in a secret language

Now I don’t own a BlackBerry, but I’m pretty sure that I can relate to more than one of those signs. Ok, so maybe I might be highly “involved” with my technology but I just can’t understand what the people in their real-life example were thinking to go as far as losing their life or taking the life of another. Some of the more ludicrous examples included:

  • A 24-year-old South Korean man dies after an 86-hour gaming session.
  • An Alabama man who killed a policeman blames his addiction to Grand Theft Auto for the crime. A jury later dismisses the excuse and finds him guilty.
  • Conscripts in Finland use internet addiction to avoid military service.
  • A South Korean man dies after 50 hours of non-stop computer gaming.
  • China opens its first internet addiction clinic; and
  • An English bus driver is sacked for playing games on his handheld device while driving.

Drink up baby

Scottish scientists are now saying that fizzy drinks can help improve your memory. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the experts believe “consuming the equivalent of two cans of soft drink can boost memory retention by a fifth and combat dementia in older people”.

They believe that as a result of this increased memory retention “people studying for exams could benefit”.

It was determined that drinking 25g of sugar in orange-flavoured water (about the same as a can of Coca-Cola) increased word memory by 11% and drinking double that amount would result in a 17% improvement.