I was surprised recently when I heard the the Australian book chain, Dymocks, was thinking about getting into the digital book world. Today it announced that it would be selling the iliad in it’s stores, for AUS$899, wow! That’s a bit rich!
I had been dying to get my hands on an eReader for years. So 6 months ago, when it didn’t like one was going to be released in Oz I bit the bullet and sourced a the Sony e-reader from the US for AUS$500. Then and now I thought I was getting slammed. I have to admit I like it a lot but I think I would have baulked at paying nearly 900 bucks.
It’s great that eReader are finally in Oz but there is going to have to be a major price drop before they can rope in enough early adopters to make it worth their while.
There is one good thing about the Dymocks choice at least the reader they picked can support open formats like HTML and PDF. Amazons offering, the Kindle, is fairly locked down at the moment and may be the reason it fails.
The Sydney Morning Herald is today reporting that the iPhone has been hacked to work on the Telstra network. While this is not a full hack, it can only make calls. It cannot receive calls or send and receive SMS messages.
The hack was reported over the weekend by a user called ozbimmer over on the hackint0sh forum board, link. There was a video posted on YouTube demonstrating the hack, however it has since been pulled by the user.
The hack is not an easy one and it require the user to trick out a AT&T SIM card so that it registers with the Telstra network. Not a task that comes easy to most users but hopefully the first step towards and more user friendly hack.
It may seem strange that Australia is the place where this hack might originate from. However with no release date for the iPhone confirmed in Australia, though 2008 has been mentioned, and the fact that it took over four and a half years for the iTunes store to open it’s virtual doors in Australia I guess ozbimmer wasn’t willing to wait.
It is also some what ironic that Telstra was the network that was hacked, in Feburary of this year Telstra’s operating chief, Greg Winn, was reported in the media of not being impressed with the iPhone, his opinion was summed up with this statement :
Apparently Telstra is the only mobile phone that is currently running the EDGE network, which the iPhone is designed to use and not the more advanced 3G network which Telstra’s competitors, Vodafone, Optus and 3 are already using.
There are a few things in life that are scary, terrorists and clowns are obviously at the top of the list. However officials can freeze my soul from time to time. It can’t be easy running a country or even small parts of it. Some times they might be privy to information that they would rather not know. The Sydney Morning Hearld has an article today with comments from the Commissioner for the Australian Police (AFP) Mick Keelty. In it he discussed the rise of more technical savvy criminal and the challenges that it places on the Federal government to have a matching policing response. I don’t think any body would doubt that this is true, online fraud is one of the fastest and most profitable industries today.
What did give me pause however was his comments on cloning :
- That the aliens that crash landed in Roswell 60 years ago brought with the more fantastic technology than just velcro. During that time the wussy public face of robotic and cloning have hidden the real fact that a full human clone can now be grown and bits of the clone that are not up to the task can be married with fully functional bonic replacements that are not only as good but better than the human body. The result of these experiments are now, obviously, just about to break out as super criminals.
- That the Commissioner got wasted last night while watching DVDs of “The 6 million dollar man” and “The Island“. The pizza was a bit funny and in the morning things hadn’t quite settled down so the barrier between reality and fantasy broke down briefly which resulted in the brain fart.
All jokes aside, comments like this are actually more dangerous than people might realise. Most of the Commissioners comments are entirely accurate, but when these very same comments are recorded and hit the intertubes it is no surprise when there is much dirision and the sanity gets drowned out by the nonsense.
Originally Uploaded by NWT2005
Once or twice a week I cycle into work and I usually cycle along the promenade down by the beach front of Bondi to check out the surf. For locals (you become one after about a year given this exceeds the amount of time a back packer will be there) we are always amused by the Asian tourist that arrive every morning still wearing their black suits, a very un-beach looking attire, and will watch them filter onto the beach like a black tide. One morning I was even asked to have my picture taken with an Asian couple who were fasinated to see me dressed up in my cycling gear, previously either wearing a surf life saver uniform or wet suit would be the pre-requisite to earn the honour of having you picture taken.
However I always felt there was something darker to the whole experience and so I was shocked, but not very surprised, to find out that Asian tourist companies are fleecing these visitors. The list starts with charging $100 to walk to walk Bondi beach. God knows what they think when they see me on my bike with my helmet on as I buzz past them, maybe that I dropped a load of cash on a season pass.
Though for an observant person some thing foul should have been flagged a long time ago. If you spend any time around Sydney you find these tourist/souvenir shops dotted around the city that are never normally open, except when a tour bus arrives. They are usually fairly non-discript office buildings, but you can see the slew of stuffed Koalas and Kangaroos inside. When the bus pulled up there are usually people standing outside with the implied threat not too enter. It never really entered my mind why. I suppose naively I had assumed that the tourist were getting a better deal than the locals, but the reality appears to be much more sour with the tour operators :
“Locking tourists in shops and confiscating passports until they spend big on overpriced goods”
Having been a tourist in another country a few times and well aware of the two prices for items taking advantage of visitors might seem fair game. However it is one thing to have them innocently make the mistake and have every opportunity to walk away, it is another thing to have it mandated by greedy tour operators.
Not having the language obviously puts them at a disadvantage with virtually all communications these tourists get are from the operators. One way to break the chain might be at the customs check point. If the government could supply a pamphlet with what is and isn’t acceptable in there own language possibly with a phone number to contact to report violations. I have seen this work before, either for quarantine or during the SARs scare a few years ago, I suppose it comes down to how much of a dent to Australian reputation they are willing to tolerate.
The SMH has a very interesting article on road rage in Australia :
I have been living in Sydney for nearly 5 years now. I grew up in Ireland and lived (and drove) in America for 2 years. I don’t know what happened or is happing in Sydney but the inconsiderate driving that I see every day either driving or cycling to work always blows my mind. Cars driving behind other cars at 60-80 KPH with mere inches separating them. Selfish driver racing up the inside of a merging lane and then barging in.
The biggest thing I missed is the death of the in car wave there used to be a time that if you oblige some one, let them out from an intersection when traffic was busy, you’d get the one handed wave, not any more.
I briefly thought that it might just the way western society in general is going, consumerism is making people more and more selfish. However on a recent trip home to Ireland I was surprised to see that the in car wave and a more general air of courtesy was there. This especially surprised me in Dublin which has traffic much more chronic than Sydney, current cross town driving speeds are slower than walking. I would love to know what it is about Sydney or Australia that has made driving like this but I guess it is something I’ll just have to endure.