Internet access life changing

NBN thumb1 Internet access life changingA federal parliamentary committee has been told that internet access can be life changing for some people living in regional communities.

John Lindsay, from internet service provider Internode, told the inquiry his company was a strong supporter of the national broadband network (NBN).

But he said the cost of the service to consumers would be a big factor in its success in opening up regional communities to high-speed internet access.

Mr Lindsay said Internode had taken numerous testimonials from customers as the company had rolled out its own high-speed connections.

They had allowed many business people and other professionals, who were facing the prospect of having to move into bigger cities, to continue to live and work in regional communities.

‘Their professional lives meant they needed that level of connectivity,’ Mr Lindsay told the House of Representatives Standing Committee into the role and potential of the NBN.

‘So it really has been life changing for these people.’

In the debate over the merits of fixed line fibre connections and competing wireless services, Mr Lindsay said Internode considered them complementary technologies.

He said long-term contracts that accompanied fixed line services often did not appeal to young internet users or lower income earners who preferred pre-paid wireless connections.

But he said those same people might be lured into using the NBN if the price of connection was kept low.

In its submissions to the inquiry the South Australian government said the commonwealth’s commitment to providing high-speed, affordable broadband was to be applauded.

It said the government commitment was also important in that it recognised the need for priority in regional areas.

‘Achieving equity, affordability and priority will also enable considerable benefit to all communities,’ the government said.

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Social Networking Accounts for 1 of Every 5 Minutes Spent Online in Australia

Comscore Logo thumb Social Networking Accounts for 1 of Every 5 Minutes Spent Online in AustraliacomScore, today released The State of the Internet in Australia, which looks at the latest trends in digital consumer behavior in the market.

The findings of the report were also recently presented at a comScore-hosted industry event in Sydney. Among the report’s key findings was that Social Networking now accounts for the largest amount of total time spent online at 22 percent, an increase of 5.3 percentage points from the previous year, as social media plays an increasingly prominent role in Australians’ digital lives.

A complimentary copy of The State of the Internet in Australia can be downloaded at the following link:

“2010 was dynamic year for the digital media industry in Australia,” said Will Hodgman, comScore executive vice president for the Asia Pacific region. “Consumers are turning to the Internet with increasing frequency for a vast array of activities including entertainment, commerce, news & information and communication, as digital media becomes embedded in the daily lives of Australians. Look for 2011 to be another year of continued innovation and increased competition as brands vie for consumers’ attention in this rapidly fragmenting digital environment.”

Social Networking Accounts for Nearly 22 Percent of Time Spent

Social Networking accounted for 21.9 percent of Australians’ time online in December 2010, up 5.3 percentage points versus the previous year, and leading as the top online activity. Portals accounted for 19.7 percent, down nearly 10 percentage points from the previous year, while Instant Messengers accounted for 11.6 percent of time, down 7.7 percentage points, as both categories lost share to Social Networking throughout the year. Entertainment which accounted for 9.1 percent of time in 2009, increased 2 percentage points to 11.1 percent.

Comscore thumb Social Networking Accounts for 1 of Every 5 Minutes Spent Online in Australia

Additional key insights from the report include:

  • In December 2010, Microsoft Sites led as the most-visited Internet property in Australia, followed by Google Sites and When looking at the top sites by total minutes spent, assumed the #1 spot followed by Microsoft Sites and Google Sites.
  • More Australians visited Retail sites compared to last year, outpacing increases in the global average. Amazon and Apple led as the most-visited retail destinations.
  • Group-buying sites continued to gain traction over the past year. Cudo, an MSN property, currently leads the space with 418,000 unique visitors in December 2010.
  • 3 out of 4 online users in Australia watched online video in December 2010, with an average viewer watching more than 7 hours of video during the month.
  • Nearly 12 million Australians conducted an online search query in December, with an average searcher performing 115 queries. Google Sites accounted for 80 percent of searches in December.

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Internet running out of IP addresses

ip address thumb Internet running out of IP addressesThe internet is running out of addresses.

With everything from smartphones to internet-linked appliances and cars getting online, the group entrusted with organising the web is running out of the ‘IP’ numbers that identify destinations for digital traffic.

Google engineer Lorenzo Colitti says one solution is to switch to a standard called IPv6 which would allow trillions of internet addresses, the current IPv4 standard only provides about 4 billion.

He says the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, has been calling for a change to IPv6 for years.

Google, Facebook and other major internet players will add IPv6 addresses to their systems in a one-day trial run on June 8 to let all parties involved check for trouble spots.

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Internet Armageddon all my fault: Google chief

Vint Cerf thumb Internet Armageddon all my fault: Google chiefThe “father of the internet” says the world is going to run out of internet addresses “within weeks” – and it will be all his fault.

Google’s chief internet evangelist, Vint Cerf, who created the web protocol, IPv4, that connects computers globally, said he had no idea that his “experiment” in 1977 “wouldn’t end”.

“I thought it was an experiment and I thought that 4.3 billion [addresses] would be enough to do an experiment,” he said in group interview with Fairfax journalists.

The protocol underpinning the net, known as IPv4, provides only about 4 billion IP addresses – not website domain names, but the unique sequence of numbers assigned to each computer, website or other internet-connected device.

The explosion in the number of people, devices and web services on the internet means there are only a few million left.

The allocation of those addresses is set to run out very shortly but the industry is moving towards a new version, called IPv6, which will offer trillions of addresses for every person on the planet.

“Who the hell knew how much address space we needed?” Cerf said.

“It doesn’t mean the network stops, it just means you can’t build it very well.”

Google’s leadership shake-up

Cerf said Google’s surprise leadership shake-up was essential because the search giant was beginning to move too slowly.

Today the company announced that Google co-founder Larry Page would take over as chief executive from Eric Schmidt, who has become its executive chairman. Until this point Page and co-founder Sergey Brin ran the company with Schmidt as a “troika”.

“’As we got larger it was harder for us to move as quickly as we would like so I think this is part of the whole practice of speeding up decision processes,” he said.

“Quick rapid execution is absolutely essential, especially in a highly competitive world like this.”

Recent ex-Googlers who left the company to join Facebook, including former Google Australia engineer Lars Rasmussen, have said Google has become too unwieldy as it has grown.

Schmidt gave similar comments in a blog post today, saying that, as Google had grown, managing the business had become “more complicated” and the trio had been “talking for a long time about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making”.

Cerf said Schmidt, 55, had been chief executive for 10 years – “a nice round number” – and Page, now 37, was ready to lead the company into the future.

“Larry and Sergey are 10 years older than they were when they thoughtfully hired Eric to be the CEO … so everybody’s growing up,” Cerf said.

“He was the only guy that stood up to them – these were two young, smart, incredibly brilliant guys who literally had just dropped their PhDs to go start this company.”

It has long been held that Schmidt was brought on at Google to counter the lack of business experience of Google’s founders, and Schmidt alluded to this in a tweet today.

“Day-to-day adult supervision no longer need!” he wrote after the leadership change announcement.

Taking on Facebook

Cerf would not be drawn on whether Google was developing a social networking site to compete with Facebook, as has been rumoured. But he said “our interest is less in the social networking aspect as it is in the patterns of behaviour”.

“We really don’t care about you personally we care about the patterns that you make. If we can match the patterns that you make with the patterns that the advertisers are trying to get in front of you, you benefit as well as the advertisers,” he said.

“This is quite independent of the sort of things that go on in Facebook, which is more about personal information and personal interactions.”

Praising the NBN

Cerf heaped praise on the National Broadband Network, saying Australia was making a long-term investment that would “serve you incredibly well in ways that even I can’t figure out”.

“The idea of being able to export your talents without having to export your people … this is a very attractive proposition,” he said.

“I honestly envy the political will to make this kind of long-term investment.”

Google as ISP?

But despite Google’s work in building municipal Wi-Fi and experimental fibre broadband networks in the US, he said it was unlikely Google would ever become an ISP.

“The intent is that as we build these [networks] out we will then turn them over to some other parties to operate and to make openly accessible,” he said.

“This is not our business model. Our purpose was to document what the costs and problems are … we’re not in the business of building physical infrastructure except for our internal operation.”

Asked whether recent privacy breaches at Sydney University and Vodafone – both of which kept detailed customer records online – highlighted the pitfalls of moving toward hosting everything in the online “cloud”, Cerf said the cloud was not at fault.

“Just because it’s sitting in an enterprise server doesn’t mean that you’re any better protected than you would be in the cloud,” he said.

“When you’re in the cloud business you better be good at securing your systems otherwise you lose all your customers.”

Story source: Asher Moses and Ben Grubb

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Facebook unveils new messaging system

Facebook thumb Facebook unveils new messaging systemSwatting down recent rumors that it’s launching an e-mail killer, Facebook today unveiled a new messaging system that will envelope e-mail, instant messages, Facebook messages and SMS.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched what he calls a "modern messaging system" to handle the convergence of different kinds of messages and bring them together under one social umbrella. The system, which has been in the works for about 15 months, is designed to save all messages for five years, meaning users will have a history of their communications.

Although people will now be able to have a e-mail address, Andrew Bosworth, a software engineer at Facebook, noted that the new system will work with other e-mail systems, such as Gmail and Yahoo mail.

"People should share however they want to share," said Bosworth. "If you want to send me an e-mail and I want to get it in a text message, that should work."

At this point, the messaging system — code-named Titan — will not include voice chat. Zuckerberg said that should be coming down the road, but offered no timeline.

More than four billion messages are sent every day on Facebook, with the vast majority of the messages between two people, according to Zuckerberg. And about 350 million people use Facebook to message their friends and family members.

He said he started thinking about those numbers after talking with a group of high school students who told him that they rarely use e-mail. It’s too slow, they told him. "I was kind of boggled by this," Zuckerberg said. "I remember having a similar conversation with my parents about why e-mail was good and regular mail was slow…. At Facebook, we’re all so used to using e-mail. It’s interesting to see that all kinds of folks don’t see it that way."

So Facebook decided to create a new messaging system that would include e-mail, expand on the concept and tie in other means of communication as well. "It’s not e-mail," said Zuckerberg. "It handles email, in addition to Facebook messages, and IM and SMS. People are going to be able to have email addresses but this won’t be the primary way people use this system."

For the last three or four days, the Internet has been abuzz with speculation that Facebook was getting ready to launch an e-mail killer. Zuckerberg kicked off today’s news event by saying that’s not the case.

"There was a lot of press leading up to this saying this is an e-mail killer," he added. "This is not an e-mail killer. It’s a messaging system that has e-mail as one part of it. I don’t expect people to wake up tomorrow and say, ‘I’m going to shut down my Yahoo account or my Gmail account.’ We expect that more people will IM and more people will message just because it’s simpler and easier and it’s more fun and valuable to use."

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Google admits to accidentally collecting e-mails, URLs, passwords

Google admitted in a blog post Friday that external regulators have discovered that e-mails, URLs and passwords were collected and stored in a technical mishap, while the vehicles for Google’s Street View service were out documenting roadway locations.

According to Google, data was mistakenly collected in more than 30 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, some of Europe, and parts of Asia.

In the blog, posted by Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research, he noted "we failed badly here" and added that Google has spent months analyzing how to strengthen their internal privacy and security practices.

"We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and I would like to apologize again for the fact that we collected it in the first place," Eustace wrote.

Google announced in May that it had collected unencrypted WiFi data by mistake through its Street View service, but the severity of the situation was unknown.

According to a Google spokesperson, the company first became aware of the problem when the Data Protection Authority in Germany asked Google to review all of the data collected through its Street View cars as part of a routine check. The spokesperson added that in addition to street locations, Street View cars also collect WiFi data about hot spots in order to improve the location database for things such as Google Maps for mobile.

When Google went back and looked at the data, it turned out that in addition to WiFi hot spots, they were mistakenly collecting information that was being sent across unencrypted networks.

For the information to have been collected by Google, a person had to have been sending something over an unencrypted network at the same time that a Street View car was collecting data in that same location.

According to Google, the vast majority of the data is in fragments, but in the past week several countries have issued reports that they have found entire emails and passwords.

The data has since been segregated and secured, and WiFi data is no longer being collected from Street View cars.

Google has deleted the data collected from Ireland, Austria, Denmark and Hong Kong, but other countries have opened their own investigations, and Google has not been given permission from authorities to delete the data.

In a statement, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said, "This alarming admission that Google collected entire e-mails and passwords validates and heightens our significant concerns. Our multistate investigation, led by Connecticut, into Google’s alleged invasion of privacy through wireless networks is continuing."

In the blog post, Eustace outlined the steps that Google is taking to strengthen its internal privacy and security practices including appointing a director of privacy across both engineering and product management and enhancing the core training that engineers and employees responsible for data collection receive.

"We are mortified by what happened, but confident that these changes to our processes and structure will significantly improve our internal privacy and security practices for the benefit of all our users," Eustace wrote.

Story by Marina Landis, CNN –

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Good Experiences Motivate Women to Share Product Info

Females care more about relating positive vs. negative word-of-mouth

Marketers looking to spur brand advocacy among women—or those worried about the possibility of negative brand buzz facilitated by social media—have another piece of evidence that good experiences are a key motivator of brand discussions.

A survey of online women in North America by female-focused marketing and communications firm Harbinger found that 92% of them turn to friends and family for product information, making word-of-mouth their top source. They consider it important to seek and share information on a variety of product categories, with appliances, restaurants, automobiles and entertainment leading the list.

In the food and beverage category, which more than two-thirds of female internet users said they were likely to share information about, 58% said they would do so because of a good experience. A bad experience would motivate 46% of respondents to speak up.

120757 Good Experiences Motivate Women to Share Product Info

Experiences with appliances—which 80% of women surveyed said they would spread the word about—were even stronger motivators. Four in five respondents reported they would share good experiences with others, while just under three-quarters said the same of bad experiences.

120758 Good Experiences Motivate Women to Share Product Info

In every product category studied, sharing good experiences, and often a desire to help other consumers make smart purchases, came ahead of sharing bad experiences as a word-of-mouth generator. A truly negative brand experience may still garner negative buzz online or offline, but the women surveyed were more inspired by the positive.

And despite the popularity of social media among women—and marketers’ propensity to target them there and turn them into online brand advocates—those studied preferred to share information with friends and family face-to-face (92%). They were also more likely to share info in person with strangers or acquaintances (36%) than via a website (32%) or social networking site (27%).

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Fewer Women Online Spending More Time

Women account for slightly fewer than half of global internet users but spend more time online than men, according to a new study from comScore.

Women Account for 46% of Global Web Users
“How Women Are Shaping the Internet” indicates that globally, women represent 46% of internet users age 18 and up. However, this percentage varies by region. For example, women represent 50.4% of North American internet users.

North America has the highest percentage of its adult internet-using population represented by women. In Asia Pacific (42.1%), Europe (47%) and Latin America (48.1%), women are still underrepresented.

comscorewomenonlineregionalpopulationjuly2010 thumb Fewer Women Online Spending More Time

Broken down by individual country, Singapore, the US, New Zealand, Russia and Canada have the highest proportion of adult female web users – all with 50% or more. Countries with the lowest proportion of female web users include two countries where internet penetration is still extremely low – India and Indonesia, with 28 and 35%, respectively.

Asia-Pacific Has Most Female Web Users
Asia is undoubtedly the largest regional online market, and is still growing rapidly. Women online in Asia outnumber women in North America by more than two to one. China alone accounts for more women online than all of North America and, together with Japan, South Korea and India, account for more women online than Europe, according to comScore figures.

comscorewomenonlineregionalnumbersjuly2010 thumb Fewer Women Online Spending More Time

In Most Regions, Women Spend More Time Online
The average 15-plus female spends 8% more time online than her male counterpart. In April, the global average was 24.8 hours per month for women, compared to 22.9 hours for men.

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Looking at time spent by women 18 and up compared to men of the same age by region, Asia-Pacific has the widest gap. Women spend an average of 17.9 hours per month online, 7.2% more than the 16.6 average hours spent online by men.

comscorewomenonlineaveragetimespentregionjuly2010 thumb Fewer Women Online Spending More Time

North America is the one region where men spend slightly more time online per month than women. Men average 38.6 monthly hours, 2.6% more than the average 37.6 monthly hours spent online by women.

Women spend more time online than men in Europe and Latin America, but the gap is narrower than in Asia-Pacific. European women spend an average of 26 hours a month online, 3.8% more than 25 hours spent by men. In Latin America, women average 27.1 monthly hours online, only 1.5% more than 26.7 monthly hours average by men.

Women Do More Social Networking
Social networking sites reach a higher percentage of women than men globally, according to other comScore study results.

“How Women Are Shaping the Internet” indicates 75.8% of all women online visited a social networking site in May 2010, compared to 69.7% of men. Globally, women demonstrate higher levels of engagement with social networking sites than men. Although women account for 47.9% of total unique visitors to the social networking category, they consume 57% of pages and account for nearly 57% of total minutes spent on these sites.

Women spend significantly more time on social networking sites than men, with women averaging 5.5 hours per month compared to men’s four hours, demonstrating the strong engagement that women across the globe share with social sites.

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Antisocial Social Media: The British Monarchy Joins Flickr

britishmonarchy260 thumb Antisocial Social Media: The British Monarchy Joins FlickrFor such a classical institution, the British Monarchy has tried surprisingly hard to be tech and social media savvy in recent years, but it has failed to embrace the “social” side of the term. The latest example of that is the royal family’s Flickr account, which just launched with hundreds of photos.
The Monarchy’s profile hosts images new and old, ranging from a wedding photo featuring Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to more recent photos from the Queen’s visits to New York City and Canada. There are even photos of the Queen as a baby. Each member of the family has his or her own set of photos, and there are a few more general sets such as “Latest News” and “Royal Events.” The categories match those found at the family’s website.

Buckingham Palace already maintains a Twitter profile, and it launched a YouTube account a couple of years ago. The Twitter account has a little bit more than 50,000 followers. It’s not used conversationally, of course; it’s merely a publishing platform for links to news stories and updates on the website.

The YouTube channel is a bit more interesting (though no more engaging) because it features interviews, speeches and documentary coverage of the activities and travels of the royal family. The videos are all promotional or informative in nature, and comments are disabled.

According to the AP, officials have said that bloggers are welcome to embed and share the photos from Flickr, however the images are watermarked “© Press Association” and no Creative Commons leeway is given. As is also the case with YouTube, you can’t comment at the royals’ Flickr account.

It’s interesting to see an institution so immersed in tradition embracing new and social media, but unsurprisingly, that embrace is a measured one. The propriety of distance is maintained even in the digital realm. Aren’t they missing the point?

Story by Samuel Axon Mashable

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Facebook membership hits 500 million

The number of people using Facebook has hit the 500 million mark, meaning one in every 14 people on the planet has now signed up to online social-networking service.

"As of this morning, 500 million people all around the world are actively using Facebook to stay connected with their friends and the people around them," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post.

"This is an important milestone for all of you who have helped spread Facebook around the world."

To celebrate, the California firm introduced an application that lets members of the online community "tell the incredible stories of the moving and interesting ways they’ve used Facebook."

Examples given by Zuckerberg included NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen jogging with Facebook fans during his term as Danish prime minister and a US woman using the service to battle breast cancer.

"Our mission at Facebook is to help make the world more open and connected," Zuckerberg said.

"Stories like these are examples of that mission and are both humbling and inspiring. I could have never imagined all of the ways people would use Facebook when we were getting started 6 years ago

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