Left 4 Dead 2 Ban-Hammered In Australia

17 09 2009

l4d2_banned

That’s right you heard it right Aussie gamers. We will not be getting Left 4 Dead 2 in Australia as it has been refused classification by the Classifications Board this week.
The report on the game said it contained “”realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence” and therefore was refused classification, as the current classification system Australia does not have an R18+ rating for computer games similar to that for movies.

Early reports the games’ success is going to be huge in Australia and the rest of the world.

It’s a shame really instead of gamers buying a game locally in Australia and spending their money here they’ll just resort to a) importing overseas, b) pirating the game or c) just not play it at all.

This issue has once again put into the limelight that Australia still does not have an R18+ rating and that the classification system is in much need of reform. This is not an old issue though as there has been attempts at introducing an R18+ rating for games in Australia with all Attorney Generals of each of the states agreeing, except for Michael Atkinson an attorney general from South Australia who voted against.

Currently he is the only one preventing a new rating system being implemented, according to him he is ‘protecting the children’ from being exposed to such material. But wait! I though it was up to the parents to monitor what their children are viewing, but then I guess it’s just easier to blame the developers when you find out your kid is playing a violent game instead of looking at the big fat red sticker on the game box.
Why raise your children when the government can do it for you?

I for one had strict parents who didn’t even let me watch movies or play games they considered were not suitable for me that was until I hit 15 which then I was allowed the freedom to watch/play most games and movies barring buying porn (but that’s what the internet is there for right?).
It’s not very hard to see what games your kids are playing as being a parent means you have absolute control, monitoring what content passes through your house hold and the simple act of reading the rating does help somewhat when you’re buying computer games for your kids hell I was asked to be accompanied by my dad back then when I tried to buy Fallout Tactics which had an MA15+ rating.

Anyway I’d say write polite complains to the Classification Board to protest their decision might help sway their decision but writing to or estimed Michael Atkinson would just result in typical political spin.

Electronic Arts(EA) the distributor for Australia is still working with the classification board to resolve this issue and it will be allowed to be sold in Australia in its pure undiluted form like F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin which had a similar story but having its’ ban lifted.
Instead of a gimped release in the case of Fallout 3.

Although I do enjoy living in Australia and enjoy its’ many freedoms, I have to say it is akin to living in a country town: nice to living in but not modern.

Edit: After a bit of digging around on the internet Atkinson apparently posted a letter to the editor for the Adelaide Advertiser about the very subject of video game censorship in Australia only to be later rebutted by a gentlemen of  57 years of age; Terry O’Shanassy. The rebuttal was done  in such a fashion that Atkinson very much got ‘owned’.

Source News.com.au





Best Interviewee Ever

22 05 2009

A man was shot twice in Kings Cross.
9RAW interviews some witnesses.

Listen to the chick they interview as she impersonates the two men who were bickering with each other before one of them was shot.

Pure gold.





Snakes On A [Qantas] Plane

16 04 2009

snakes_on_plane

Just in this morning, a Qantas flight was grounded in Melbourn because four snakes had gotten loose from their container.
The snakes were four in a shipment of twelve non-venomous baby Stimson pythons, the snakes were packaged properly in a calico styrofoam bay with air holes. Their disappearance was discovered when Australia Air Express noticed that four of the snakes were missing from their container.

The aircraft was later fumigated, two flights were cancelled while Qantas staff searched for the snakes and passengers were put onto other flights.
It is still not known how the snakes managed to escape their containers as they were placed in appropriate packaging, there will be no investigations as to how the snakes escaped.

The plane was returned to service the following morning.

Sourced from News.com.au
Link





Australia To See Electric Cars?

9 04 2009

fiat_car_gaston

Recently the Australian government has given the okay for an electric car designed, and manufactured in Japan by Mitsubishi to be introduced to Aussie roads after it passed 83 safety requirements.

The car can apparently travel 160km at speeds of up to 130km/h at full pelt.

The introduction of this car is in response to the increasing problem of smog in Australia cities, according to Transport Minister Anthony Albanese:

“Given that 85 per cent of Australians drive less than 100km a day, this vehicle would suit the lifestyles of most in our community…”

So obviously this vehicle will be targeted at the people living in the urban sprawls of Australia, and not at people who live in the country. Although there is no infrastructure for electric cars to charge just yet the vehicle can be plugged into household supplies.

The government has stated that this particular car is purely a commercial venture by Mitsubishi and has no extra government incentives.

Production for this car will be in full swing in Japan as early as June for their domestic market. But don’t be rushing out to your Mitsubishi dealer just yet approval to sell the car in Australia has yet to be Okayed.

I find the prospect of a clean urban center quite appealing with little electric cars running around. But on a serious note the idea of an electric car is badly flawed as you’re not dumping CO2 into the atmosphere; but you’re putting more demand on power plants so in the end you still contribute to the problem of climate change anyway.
The problem is worse in Australia’s case as most of our power comes from good old fashioned Coal so instead of pumping out petrol fumes, we’re getting the power plants to burn more coal.

I’m not sure what sort of batteries Mitsubishi plan to use in their car but if they end up using lead acid batteries it’ll end up being worse for the environment than a normal 4 banger.

I’ll bet the greenies will be all over this car driving around in their electric cars, feeling guilt free because they’re not polluting while driving around. The old expression ‘Out of Sight, out of Mind’ truely applies here with people feeling guilt free in their electric cars without noticing the fact that we’ve got coal power plants working harder and burning more coal.

So until we get a decent number of nuclear power plants to replace the coal ones, and battery life of the car will last more than one charge  or fuel cell cars become mainstream.
I’ll stick with my petrol fueled 2001 Holden Vectra thanks.

Sourced From News.com.au
Link





The Saga Continues

26 03 2009

coppers_at_door

Was checking my rss feeds from news.com.au and stumbled upon this interesting article in the technology section.
According to the article the police have raided homes of Wikileaks associates in Dresden and Jen after the site published the Australian ACMA’s blacklist.
Meanwhile the owner of the domain Wikileaks.de; Theodor Reppe’s home was raided by German police possibly over the publication of the ACMA blacklist.

A Twitter update by Wikileaks recently posted:

“Police raid home of Wikileaks.de domain owner over censorship lists – stay tuned”

Wikileaks claim that the police are investigating Mr Reppe on suspicions of the “distribution of pornographic material” and “discovery of evidence”.

Now this situation is becoming very disturbing as only a few days after the leak occurred people assosiated with Wikileaks have their homes raided by police on questionable charges, its not certain at this point weither the raids were in response to politicians in Australia making a racket.
As of right now the ACMA and Stephen Conroy are denying that the published lists belonged to the ACMA although they have warned that the AFP (Australia Federal Police) will be investigating this matter in depth.
Unfortunately for mister Conroy his recent denial of the list being a complete fake has admited it ‘looks’ similar to the list the ACMA uses.

Right now I personally believe the list is probably true with people associated with wikileaks being arrested, Conroy’s vigorous denial of this affair, then his flip flop admitting that it looked similar to the ACMA’s list only adds to the mounting suspicion that the government or atleast Conroy has alterior motives for this filter.

Ladies and gentlemen the battle for the internet has begun.

Update:

I don’t believe I didn’t pick this up but Senator Conroy has admited that there is a possiblity that the blacklist will ‘creep’ to cover URLs from legitimate websites that are found inappropriate not just the stated links to child pornography.

This is news is extremely disturbing and should be for each and everyone of us, with legitimate sites in the firing line who knows what content will be blocked now?
Could news articles that certain politicians not like be blocked or whistleblower sites like the already blocked Wikileaks be added to the list aswell?





Australia The Nanny State?

20 03 2009

internetwinswz2
As the title suggests is Australia slowly becoming a Nanny State?
My personal view is that we are indeed slipping towards this title as the current Labor government lead by our esteemed leader Chairman Rudd had proposed last year to implement an internet filter at the ISP level to ‘filter’ Australia’s internet to prevent ‘prohibited content’ from being viewed.

Now the filter is a two teir system; there is a mandatory blacklist that everybody must submit to and an additional filter to make your internet connection ‘child friendly’ which we have the option of ‘opting out’. So you’re probably asking yourself what sort of content will the government block?

The government is planning to block the aforementioned ‘prohibited content’ now; the catch is who exactly gets to decide what is ‘prohibited’, according to the Concise Edition English Dictionary from Webster’s Reference Library (ISBN 1 85534 961 2) to prohibit means: to forbid by law. This responsibility falls on to the shoulders of the ACMA who will be maintaining the government blacklist of ‘prohibited content’ unfortunately this blacklist is not viewable by the general public which puts everyone who wants to know what content is blocked in the dark as to what can and cannot be viewed.
This idea of creating a system to filter Australia’s internet is not a new idea, this idea was already on the cards with the previous Howard Government but was found to be unworkable as it would in the words of the previous Minister of Communications Helen Coonan:

“…filter the Internet will only result in slowing down the Internet for every Australian without effectively protecting children from inappropriate and offensive content…”

This is supported by government commissioned contracted to various companies all coming to the conclusion that it would in one way or another cripple Australia’s already slow internet connections the latest figures stand at 22%~87% slower browsing speeds with a rough false positive rate of 1%~3%.
With some quick maths I can roughly estimate what sort of speeds I’ll be getting while browsing the internet; I currently run an ADSL2+ connection and paying about $50AU with a 50GB cap on it before being shaped down to dial up speeds.
My connection seems to peak at around ~570kb/s which is when I’ve completely saturated my connection, lets assume the best case scenario that the filter does kill my connection by 22% which gives a respectable 444.6kb/s, but the problem is that this is when I’ve completely saturated my connection. Most of the time when loading websites it barely peaks the ~200kb/s mark which gives around 156kb/s this keeping in mind that I am the only user on our home network with 4 people all accessing the pipe the internet slows down to mind numbing speeds.
But at least we can bare with it as we’re the luck few who has access to a fast broadband connection, what happens to those who live in rural areas who have to make do with slow, expensive satellite connections, old fashioned dial up (yes believe it or not people we still have people who use dial up) or home owners who can only afford say a 512/128 plan (again I know people who still use this type of broadband) what happens to their already slow speeds?
What happens if it’s not the above best case scenario and the internet is crippled with a 87% performance hit what will this mean to big business who need fast transfers, and the home users who pay lavish amounts of money to get a fast connection only to have it function at 13% capacity?

With a slow connection all sorts of bad things happen, the worst being drop outs when loading websites with sites not loading altogether or half working.
This is especially worrying for those of us who use online banking not knowing if our information was sent or not or worse lost on the other end.

Conroy has been going on about how it will not effect us in anyway as we have fast 12-50mbit connections but in the real world none of these connections live up to their claims.
Another technical aspect that would ultimately slow the internet down for Australia was that the filter to effectively detect ‘prohibited’ content it had to check every incoming and outgoing packet which is equivalent to Australia Post (our country wide postal service) opening every single letter and package at their sorting centers and checking them before letting them through which is simply not workable. This checking of everything going in and out effects our personal details that are sent over the net what happens to our passwords, our bank details and other important data that is sent over the internet sometimes over unsecured channels.
Even checking all packets going to and fro this does not guarentee that the system will not accidentally block legitimate websites even with a rather positive 1% false positive rate it still equates to a fair number of sites being inadvertantly blocked – for example it is safe to assume that there are at least 1 billion websites on the internet with a quick calculation we come up with 10 million sites that could be accidentally blocked which is a very large amount of content.
A good real world example is at my workplace the in-house content filter blocked access to supplier sites for our own goods that need to be ordered or returned.

The filter is also unable to filter encrypted traffic such as Tor traffic it is these encrypted channels that illicit material such as child pornography is traded as anyone with the right mind to commit to such activities would not be foolish enough to be posting or acquiring their material over unsecured channels.

The recent leak of the ACMA’s blacklist onto Wikileaks has confirmed the suspicions of many people that the government is planning to block more than just child pornography, with various Youtube videos, Wikipedia entries and news articles being on the block list, and recently Wikileaks has been added to the blacklist.
The blatant actions of the ACMA were apparent when they served Whirlpool.net.au‘s (an Australia broadband information and forum) host a AU$11,000 fine if they did not remove a banned hyperlink that a user had posted on the site, this was about two days before tthe eventual leak of the current ACMA blacklist onto Wikileaks (which convieniently is inaccessable as of right now).
Currently the government’s position on this leak was that it was a complete fabrication according to Stephen Conroy’s press release.

So in conlusion the internet filter will not only slow Australia’s internet down to a crawl, the fact that it has to look at everything that passes through it to determine if the content is suitable poses security questions as to what happens to our personal information.
Possible erratic blocking of content resulting in legitimate sites being banned, the inability for the filter to check encrypted lines of communication would result in most illicit content elluding detection.
Finally, the questionable state of the ACMA blacklist which is unviewable by normal citizens, the general actions of the ACMA and the government claiming that the leaked blacklist was just a fabrication.
Should raise red flags as to the erratic behaviour of the government.

I personally believe that the money spent on this project would be better allocated towards education programs to teach children save web browsing habits, and The Police – theses are the people who investigate and eventually bust the deviants. Not some internet speed crippling political tool designed to blindfold the populace and restrict our freedom of expression.

I’ll leave you all with a though and for those who think this will never effect them:

“In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Source Link for Poem