My Mental Dumping Ground

An outlet to share things that interest or amuse me….

Stunning film technique used on V8s in Sydney

According to V8 Supercars Australia, the Sydney Telstra 500 was the biggest and best race of the year, but looking at Sydney photographer and filmmaker Keith Loutit’s work from the race, you’d think the opposite.

Reknowned for pioneering the tilt-shift/time-lapse filming technique, Loutit is able to use the combination of time and focus to support the illusion of miniaturisation in film.

Telstra commissioned Loutit to try his amazing photographic style on the V8 Supercars at the season-ending Sydney Telstra 500 – and the outcome is outstanding.

In his scaled down and sped up realities, real world subjects become their miniature counterparts. Boats bob like toys in a bathtub, cars race like slot-cars and crowds march as toy armies.

According to Loutit, his aim is create a sense of wonder in our surroundings by “challenging people’s perceptions of scale, and helping the viewer to distance themselves from places they know well.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

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December 10, 2010 Posted by | Australia, Media, Technology | Leave a comment

Meet the Tango EV

Vodpod videos no longer available.
The world’s fastest urban car…The revolutionary Tango combines the speed and agility of a motorcycle with the security of a high-performance sports car.
Trade your boredom for freedom

The Tango’s ability to maneuver through traffic is second to none. Being 5″ narrower than many motorcycles, it can get through traffic like no other car in history. Where lane splitting is permitted (i.e., driving between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic), the advantage can be staggering. In extremely heavy traffic, a Tango or motorcycle can travel in 20 seconds the distance that cars travel in 20 minutes.

 

 

 


Help forge a congestion-free future
The Tango can fit in a 6-foot half-lane with more clearance than a truck has in a full 12-foot freeway lane. This virtual doubling of lane capacity can make the traffic jam a fading memory. It can also park perpendicularly to the curb like a motorcycle, allowing up to four Tangos in one parallel parking space.

 

Acceleration and top speed
With over 1,000 ft-lbs of torque starting at zero rpm and a 600 kW (805 hp) motor controller, the Tango accelerates from 0-60 mph in under four seconds, finishes the standing 1/4 mile in about 12 seconds at over 100 mph, and can reach over 130 mph with no gear shifting.

 

Safety and Stability
Don’t let the size of the Tango fool you . . . while it may appear small its FIA-certified roll cage is actually the structure required for race cars traveling over 200mph. It has 4 times more side protection bars, for example, than the largest SUV. Its 4-point harnesses, low center of gravity, and weight (comparable to a midsize sedan) combine to make the Tango extremely safe. With 2,000 lbs under the floor (mostly batteries), it is ballasted to achieve the rollover threshold of a sports car.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Auto Industry News, Environment, Technology | , , | Leave a comment

Australian censorship minister tries to censor critic

Australia’s ongoing debate over internet censorship has taken an interesting turn, with the Minister in charge of implementing internet censorship attempting to censor a critic of the Government’s proposal.

The Labor Government elected in late 2007 promoted a policy that would make it mandatory for internet service providers to offer a “clean feed” to homes, that blocked content deemed illegal, pornographic and inappropriate. Until recently, Minister Conroy had publicly stated that internet users would be able opt-out of the filter, but in a backflip has since disclosed that the filter will be compulsory, with two levels: one for children, and one for adults. Australia’s strict and sometimes bizarre censorship regime would see online adult games blocked (such as Second Life) because Australia doesn’t offer an R (adult) classification for games, and would also see soft pornography banned online despite being freely available a petrol (gas) stations.

The latest drama was reported by the Fairfax newspapers, who obtained copies of an email, and details of a phone call from the Ministers office directed towards a critic of the Government’s plan.

Mark Newton, an engineer at Australia ISP Internode, has heavily criticized the Government and its filtering policy on popular Australian broadband forum Whirlpool, and went as far as saying that the censorship regime would enable child abuse by ignoring non-web applications which are will not be censored under the plan (the tech behind the censorship plan doesn’t block P2P and chat for example).

The Ministers office wrote to the Internet Industry Association (IIA) board member Carolyn Dalton based on Newton working for Internode, despite his criticism being offered in a personal capacity.

“In your capacity as a board member of the IIA I would like to express my serious concern that a IIA member would be sending out this sort of message. I have also advised [IIA chief executive] Peter Coroneos of my disappointment in this sort of irresponsible behaviour ,”

The email was accompanied by a phone call demanding that the message be passed on to senior Internode management.

As Asher Moses points out in The Age, the irony in the Ministers response is that the Minister himself has constantly branded critics of the censorship plan as being in favor in child pornography.

Although this shouldn’t come as a great surprise, it is none the less unacceptable in a democratic country that a Minister would seek to censor critics who are doing nothing more than exercising their rights to publicly disagree.

Enough is enough. I call on the Minister to resign, or should he not do so, I call on the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to sack the Minister at the first available opportunity. This abuse of power has no place in a modern, free and democratic society in the 21st century.

Via The Inquisitr

June 3, 2009 Posted by | Australia, Media, Politics, Technology, WTF Mate? | , | Leave a comment

Great Firewall of Australia

Many in Australia, and those overseas interested in censorship would have now read a post from the Australian Minister for Censorship Stephen Conroy responding to concern over the implementation of the Great Firewall of Australia.

I won’t rehash what’s already been reported, but having read it several times since publication, it’s what’s left out that makes the proposal even more scary.

Free Speech

The Minister has stated that political speech will not be filtered under the proposal, but fails to define acceptable free speech and does nothing more to articulate his previous comments that “unwanted” material will be filtered under the scheme.

The problem here is the extraordinary mish-mash of Australian laws relating to open speech. In Victoria for example inciting religious hatred is an offense, so theoretically arguing against a particular religion would constitute hate speech instead of fair political speech.

Australia has a long track record of banning books, but for all the hatred are we now not better today having access to something like Mein Kampf so we can understand how wrong it is. There is a blurred line between political and hate speech, and blocking such speech on the internet will not stop people accessing it.

Conroy is disingenuous in suggesting that the Government is pro-free speech, yet pro-censorship: the price of free speech is that we must put up with the stuff we don’t like. The alternative system is not free speech, it’s totalitarianism.

Adult Games

Australia still has the bizarre situation of refusing to categorize video games for adults. The Minister says nothing of such games online, so we can still only presume that adult games online that would be refused categorization in Australia will be blocked under the filter.

Such games include online virtual world Second Life among many.

It should be remembered that Australia is a country that refused classification to Duke Nukem 3D, let alone far more seriously violent games.

Pornography

Whether you like pornography or not, the hypocrisy of the Governments proposal remains the same. Senator Conroy continues to point to existing guidelines being extended to International content, but ignores the absurdity in the current guidelines.

R rated pornography is legal in Australia and can be purchased at newsagents or service stations. Under the guidelines proposed, R rated pornography online would be illegal unless those pages included a thorough adult verification scheme. That doesn’t mean enter your date here to proceed: as has previously been the case for age requirements for mobile content and R rated content hosted in Australia (of which there is little to none) that would include handing over credit card details, or in some cases being forced to register with the provider first, including the provision of adequate identifying measures to prove ones age.

The net affect is that 99.99% of R rated pornography, or any R rated material under this proposal will be blocked by the filter, as overseas providers will not bend over backwards to cater for a small market like Australia. Secondly: Australian’s will be none to keen to hand over details to these sites should they meet the criteria.

X Rated pornography is treated more strictly in Australia currently, but is quite legal, and available for purchase from the ACT and Northern Territory. X rated material under this proposal will be completely banned: so while it is legal to possess, look at or own in print or video, it will now be completely blocked online. Again: whether you agree with porn or not, the hypocrisy is rich. In terms of freedom of speech it also raises other issues: who is the Government to play moral guardian online over a picture of two consenting adults having sex? Presuming they are doing nothing illegal, why in the 21st century does the Government seek to prevent others seeing it? Government finally got out of the bedroom in the 80s when homosexuality became legal, some would argue that X Rated porn is no different again.

Secret Blacklist/ Due Process

The Minister points out that the blacklist to be maintained by ACMA will remain a secret, and cites legislation supporting this. His reasoning, as it seems to be for everything, is that it’s all about kiddie porn

Publishing the title or internet address of child abuse material would constitute distribution of illegal material and is therefore protected from release. To do otherwise would allow a person to view and download the material in jurisdictions where ISP-level filtering was not implemented.

That may well be the case, but the Minister fails to address concerns about due process should a site be added to the list. If there is no access to the list, there is no way to appeal a site being blocked incorrectly. Imagine a commenter leaving a lurid comment or pic on this blog, or a forum, and the site being added to the list based on this one instance. No transparency can only equal unfair and arbitrary justice that remains the hallmark of totalitarian Government.

Selection Criteria

The Minister refers to the National Classification Scheme, a system where by content providers must seek classification of content prior to publication. He then refers to content complaints being made to ACMA, and ACMA making the call on classification. One again the Minister fails to address properly the selection criteria under the scheme: will website owners need to seek classification on content prior to publication? If so, this would be an onerous burden on new media owners and businesses in Australia, costing time, money and putting those businesses at a strict competitive disadvantage compared to overseas operators.

If ACMA will decide on content classification, will they only act on complaints as is currently the process (again the Minister swaps and changes between the current and proposed system). If so, how exactly will the filter know what is acceptable and not acceptable content given the millions of porn sites alone that may fall under the censorship regime.

Likewise, will the filter then decide to block content based on keywords? Could we not see the case, as has happened before that a site about breast cancer is blocked because the filter considers breasts to be pornographic?

Overblocking

The Minister notes that in the last round of tests, overblocking, that is filters blocking legal content came in at 3-6%. He only notes that this is an advance on previous tests, but fails to address the very serious implications.

Under the scheme, three to six percent of perfectly legal content gets blocked. Anything other than a 0% rate is unacceptable.

Imagine the Australian Government waking up one morning and deciding that 6% of Australian businesses could no longer open their doors to their customers, and the outcry this would cause. This is EXACTLY what this proposal will do to online businesses, and companies with a primarily Australian focus online could find themselves out of business for no other reason that the Government’s filter has decided to block them, even though they were doing no wrong.

BitTorrent

The Minister now states that P2P filtering technology is in the mix, despite its relative infancy. The question then becomes one of “unwanted.” Will the Government now extend the censorship regime to content presumed to be in breach of copyright as well? We can bet with absolute certainty that the Record and Movie Industries already have a letter on the Ministers desk.

Like general filtering, the question then becomes one of identification and process. How does the Government identify “unwanted material” and given that the blacklist or decision process is secret, what happens when content is incorrectly tagged. As we know the music and record industries don’t have a great track record of respecting existing copyright laws when it comes to accusations (for example, the defense of Fair Use, or Fair Trading in Australia).

Further will P2P network speeds be adversely affected for legal traffic?

Internet Speeds

The Minister notes falsely once again that in other countries running ISP filtering using blacklists that there was no discernable decrease in speed, despite noting the tests here proving otherwise.

What the Minister continues to fail to mention is that the countries running blacklists he mentions were running child porn blacklists in some cases on non-compulsory feeds. What the Minister is proposing is far more reaching than anything any of these countries are running, and every time he quotes those figures it’s a lie of context.

Conclusion

While it’s a positive that the Minister has finally spoken on some of the points raised by the Great Firewall of Australia proposal, it’s what he doesn’t answer that makes the proposal even more scary.

The implementation of this scheme can and will take Australia into an elite club of totalitarian societies that value state control over free speech. The Rudd Government seems hell bent on implementing a scheme with no recourse, that may kill legitimate businesses, and slow internet speeds so that Australia can truly take its place as an online backwater in the digital age.

Today I am ashamed to be Australian, ashamed that my Government should seek to implement draconian 19th century style censorship laws over the marvel of the modern age: The Internet. Free Speech may not be totally dead in Australia yet, but it’s about to be placed on life support. Conroy can say all he wants that this isn’t about free speech, but speech censored by Government isn’t free, no matter which way you want to spin it.

June 3, 2009 Posted by | Australia, Media, Politics, Technology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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