Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cyber notes


Back to our horrible reality… COA found out that computer packages worth P138.84 million in public schools were not used "due to lack of resources, facilities and technical capability to operationalize the PCs for Public Schools Project." The COA discovered that 349 computer packages worth P115.7 million were used by the school administrative offices instead of the students because they schools were not ready to implement the computerization project.

The project is spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry together with the DepEd, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Finance and the private sector. Funds were also secured from the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) of congressmen. It aims to provide computers to schools for students to use as a learning tool. This DepEd failure negates all the best intentions for the project.

E, kung yung mas maliit na project hindi kaya, CyberEd pa kaya? I have two words for Secretary Lapus — WHITE ELEPHANTS.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

OFWs, affluent Pinoys plan to buy cell phones

THE majority of affluent Filipinos and beneficiaries of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) plan to buy cellular phones, the country’s primary source of growth in the services sector, in the next 12 months, according to Nielsen Media Research.

In a report, Nielsen said 45 percent of affluent Filipinos and OFW household members intend to buy cellular phones, with Nokia leading the pack of preferred brands at 78 percent, followed by Sony Ericsson and Motorola, 14 percent each; Samsung, 5 percent; and Panasonic and Siemens, 1 percent each.

Nielsen sampled 300 respondents, aged 18 years and above, from all socioeconomic classes and a remittance recipient.

The report also said the mobile phone is the most preferred medium for communicating with loved ones at 90.5 percent, followed by landline telephones, 44.8 percent; desktop computers, 23.3 percent; and home Internet, 4.4 percent.

Among the users, OFWs used prepaid cards at 97.4 percent; postpaid plans, 1 percent; and both plans, 1.5 percent.

Communication between an OFW and a loved one is often done once a week by 34 percent of respondents, once a month by 17.5 percent, and two times a week by 17.3 percent. The majority of OFW households spend between P101 and P499 a month, another 13.7 percent, P500 to P999; about 4.6 percent, P1000 and more; and the remaining 2.3 percent, P100 and below.

Upper class households also favor prepaid subscription with 60 percent, while 33 percent opt for postpaid plans. In general, Filipinos choose prepaid 60 percent of the time, with only two percent opting for postpaid.

In terms of service provider, Smart edged out rivals with 64 percent of respondents, followed by Globe with 36 percent, Sun Cellular with 17 percent, Talk ‘N Text with 5 percent and Touch Mobile with 2 percent.

Among the upper class, Globe emerged as the favorite with 61 percent; Smart, 45 percent; Sun, 17 percent; Touch Mobile and Talk ‘N Text with 1 percent each.

OFWs allocate 59 percent of their remittances to savings, 18.7 percent for businesses, 11.6 percent for appliances, 10.5 percent for insurance and 9 percent for real estate.

Nielsen estimated 800,000 households in the Philippines spent most of the $12.7 billion in annual remittances last year.

Among 3.2 million teens with mobile phones, 33 percent will spend between P100 and P200 per month; 31.2 percent, below P100; 20 percent, from P201 to P300; and 11.8 percent, from P301 to P500.

Among the teens, favorites applications are SMS or text messaging, 97.9 percent; download ring tones, 59.7 percent; MMS, 33.8 percent; Camera, 21.3 percent; radio, 21.3 percent; MP3, 9.6 percent; Internet, 5.5 percent; video streaming, 5.2 percent; and video calls, 4.8 percent.
--Darwin G. Amojelar - Manila Times


Monday, October 08, 2007

NTC reports P2 billion in revenues

By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has collected close to P2 billion in revenues to date, the agency said.

As of October 1, 2007, NTC Deputy Commissioner Jorge Sarmiento said that the agency's revenue collection has reached P1,980,805,854.

"This is already above the P1.8 billion target set by the NTC for the period," the agency said in a separate statement it issued Monday.

The NTC is expecting to collect some P200 million more by year's end, raising its projected revenues to P2.180 billion, Sarmiento added.

Last year, the NTC has also collected about P2.1B in revenues.

The NTC said it derives income from spectrum user's fees, supervision and regulatory fees , and from the payment for various licenses and permits needed to operate a telephone company (landline and cellular), a television, radio or cable company.

"All these revenues go back to the National Treasury," Sarmiento said.

NTC Commissioner Ruel Canobas said in a statement that the agency is thinking of increasing its revenue collection by encouraging broadband connectivity in under-served areas in the country.


Virtual playgrounds for children: BBC joins cyberkids' world

Virtual playgrounds for children: BBC joins cyberkids' world
Agence France-Presse

CANNES, France--Cyber playgrounds for digitally-savvy kids look set to be the cool new space after global broadcasting giant, the BBC, unveiled its children's online virtual world at the MIPCOM audiovisual trade show taking place in southern France.

Children "don't want passive viewing experiences any more," Marc Goodchild, who heads the BBC's Children's Interactive and On-Demand, told a MIPCOM conference. "They want to recreate their playground experiences at home."

The BBC's "Adventure Rock" is the newest virtual kid-on-the-block, joining family entertainment giant Disney's "Club Penguin," Nickelodeon's "Neopets," Stardol.com and others.

But new digital entertainment spaces need to be safe, secure environments so there will be no chatrooms for the 9 to 12-year-olds targeted. "As a public broadcaster, it's paramount to make sure children are as safe as possible," Goodchild said.

The BBC's new interactive CBBC service will also be free, without any of the paying "add-on" features found in adult virtual worlds such as "Second Life," which pioneered the new online virtual universes where users can create cyber-clones or "avatars" of themselves.

Disney's snowy paradise world "Club Penguin," which is inhabited by penguins that children can dress-up and join in their games, is also free, though members can choose to pay a small monthly subscription to access premium content.

Neither the Disney nor the BBC cyber worlds come with advertising.

"Club Penguin has taken a firm stand and will not include any advertising or subtle cross-marketing opportunities," Club Penguin communications director Kate Mason said in an interview with MIPCOM News. "There's a coffee shop begging to be a Starbucks, but that will never happen," she added.

But not all virtual worlds for children are so altruistic.

Some have copied "Second Life" and created their own virtual cash, such as Zwinktopia with its Zbucks and Stardoll's Stardollars, which can be used to buy virtual must-have accessories or decorations for their virtual rooms.

The main aim of the burgeoning online entertainment platforms for kids is to make the experience as interactive as possible, said speakers at the MIPCOM Junior trade show preceding this week's five-day MIPCOM audiovisual entertainment trade gathering.

Set-in a colourful 3D virtual landscape, the BBC's "Adventure Rock," due to launch towards the end of this year, will enable children to play games, learn dance routines and songs, or invent new ones, which could then be danced or sung live by a group in a BBC studio.

Children's programme makers and broadcasters hope these new worlds will help make up for the decline in the number of new programs being made.

According to a recent study by media research group Screen Digest, broadcasters' spending on children's programs last year fell by $80 million.

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Australia: We Can Block Porn

Australia is on the verge of passing a law that would restrict porn and other "offensive" content on the Internet and levy fines on ISPs that fail to respond to takedown orders.

While free-speech activists rally against the Online Services Bill, and ISPs bemoan what they say is unenforceable, the bill's supporters say it's about time someone made an effort to limit access to Net porn.

Senator Richard Alston, Australia's minister for communications, information technology, and the arts, authored the controversial bill. Alston, in Silicon Valley on a trade mission, spoke with Wired News about the proposed law, which he said has been a "non-issue" on his trip.

Wired News: Your legislation is being decried by Australian activists and Internet users worldwide as a threat to free speech on the Internet. Is it?

Richard Alston: There are always going to be constraints on crying fire in a crowded theater. Similarly, this is no more than an attempt to limit access to materials that [most] of the adult population regard as either illegal or highly undesirable. There is no reason, in principle, why that shouldn't apply to any medium. The real issue here is, to what extent is it practical given the size of the Internet?

The starting point [for critics] is to say "We shouldn't even try." And I don't hear that at all from the [Internet] industry itself, which has actually tried to develop practical tools to deal with this issue now for some years.

[Free speech critics of the bill and] activists have consistently declined to get down to the details, but rather have engaged in an exchange of prejudices.

There are significant differences between the US First Amendment approach and the heavy-handed initiatives that came in the Communications Decency Act. That's a long way away from what we've got in mind, which is eventually an industry-driven kind of code of practices, which encourages [ISPs] to block material that has been complained about.

If industry doesn't get those codes of practices right, then there might be a role for us to play -- an arrangement to have the authorities take action if the industry doesn't.

WN: What are those codes of practice? How does the Internet industry go about carrying out that code?

Alston: We prescribe the classification regime so they understand the benchmark. But from there on, we are entirely agnostic about the means that they apply. So we are very deliberately not going technology specific, not mandating any particular solutions, but simply saying "You work it out in the best ways in which you can tackle the problem." That seems to us to be a very flexible approach that allows the industry to respond to new technology developments.

WN: The Internet service providers themselves are among those protesting the legislation most loudly. Censorship issues aside, isn't this a financial and legal burden unduly placed on the ISPs?

Alston: There are over 630 ISPs in Australia and they vary enormously. Most of the major ones already have proxy servers because of the very significant additional costs incurred in having to access services on the Net without caching all the material in Australia.

It's got to be a matter of ISPs and their Internetworks to take whatever action is appropriate. It might be the large ones selling [blocking] services to the smaller ones. And there will be the opportunity for ISPs to get blanket exemptions. Schools, for example, that already have their [blocking] technologies may be excluded from the scheme altogether. It's quite possible that you could find individual users getting exemptions. The ISP would not have to take any action on the request of a particular user.

WN: What about mom-and-pop ISPs?

Alston: There are a lot of those and the obligations on them will be correspondingly [light], because they've only got to observe what's technologically favorable and commercially [feasible].

WN: So if they make their best effort to perform blocking services, but still fail to block some percentage of the targeted content, then they're legally OK?

Alston: If they're doing their best, that's right. If they're simply turning a blind eye, then they're not complying with the law. But we've never pretended that you're going to get 100 percent compliance.

And I know that a lot of the criticism proceeds on the basis that we might as well [ban] all of them, because some people can find a way around it. Now, in most other areas of legislation you don't get total compliance, whether it's for the criminal code or the riot traffic act or anti-smuggling, or drug running, or whatever it is. You do your best. The community would expect us to do our best, rather than say, well, a few smarties can find a way around. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do what you can to protect mainstream Australia.

WN: Critics of filtering techniques say that you split hairs and inevitably catch so much content in the Net not meant to be caught.

Alston: The basis isn't going to be sort of blindly blocking sites because of the appearance of particular keywords. This is going to be a matter of a complaint made about a particular site, which will then be investigated to see if there's a reason [to block it]. It's a case-by-case analysis.

WN: Then all blocked content would first require human review?

Alston: Not necessarily. Some of the technologies I've been told about recently involve what are called "guessing engines," which enable you to detect the characteristics of [content] without actually inspecting the site. And that gives you a very high level of probability about pornography, which has a number of unique characteristics. So it certainly doesn't have to be keyword-driven. You're able to do a hell of a lot mechanically.

WN: But even search engines still struggle to present relevant results. The filtering technology you describe is certainly not evident on the Net today, is it?

Alston: [A "guessing engine"] simply raises a high level of probability, and then you actually visit the particular site. In other words, you don't say because the site is thrown up by a guessing engine or a keyword search that then it's automatically banned without checking what's on them.

WN: That brings us back to the human resources issue. Won't this take a Herculean effort?

Alston: Well, I suspect that the bulk of the offensive services will be international and subscription-based. They'll be readily identified.

I don't think you can be perfect. If you can keep out the bulk of it, [then] by a reasonable measure maybe you can look at it as a success. If we can get the Net to a point where people don't accidentally stumble across the sites they're not looking for, and those who are [looking] actually have to make a reasonably determined effort, then I think we're probably halfway there.

WN: Many are going to say that's a pipe dream, taking that kind of control over Internet content.

Alston: Well, I think it will continue to evolve. There's no exceptional solution to any of this. That's why you have a test which operates all the way through. Different solutions may get adopted as time goes by.

WN: Then people worried that important, needed information might be blocked can rest assured?

Alston: If it's contained on a site, I can't see how that site can be blocked. Because it's only after the complaint's been made and investigated that the action would have to be taken. If the site is actually having a [legitimate] purpose then there would be no basis for blocking it.

WN: A human being would make that decision?

Alston: The broadcasting authority [which regulates film and TV content] would.

WN: Critics say the solution to this problem is to educate parents on how to control what their kids see.

Alston: Well, that's the ultimate pipe dream. [Education] is important and we'll certainly be encouraging [it] as much as possible. But at the end of the day, the reality is that there is a significant percentage of the population that is not only computer illiterate but profoundly uncomfortable with the technology. Kids can be on the Net for hours on end before their parents come home. And we just don't think that they're doing much more than turning a blind eye.

The fact of the matter is that hard pornography is something we do ban in other mediums. Generally speaking, [this is not just about] the protection of children. We ban the publication of illegal materials.

WN: Is your stance putting your Silicon Valley trade mission at risk? You've been seeking support for Australian companies.

Alston: In about eight appointments, this issue has been raised by one company only. That's Yahoo. And they generally endorsed what we were doing. They weren't aware of the detail until I explained it to them in general comments. I said that we're tackling a serious problem which I think they recognize will be a significant inhibitor to the actual growth of the Internet.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Governments shouldn't cut Internet--UN telecoms chief

Agence France-Presse GENEVA--UN telecommunications agency chief Hamadoun Toure said Friday that no government had the right to cut their citizens off from the Internet, following recent incidents in Myanmar.

Toure, who heads the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), underlined that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had recently described safe access to the Internet as a basic human right.

"Yes, I believe no government has a right to cut off its citizens from cyberspace," Toure told journalists in response to a question about a temporary cut in Internet services in Myanmar during recent unrest there.

"The right to communication is a basic freedom and a basic human right that needs to be preserved, no matter what," the ITU Secretary General added.

An Internet blockage in Myanmar late last week severely reduced the flow of video, photos and first-hand reports of the violence there that had helped galvanise an outcry against the ruling generals.

The cut was widely blamed on security forces there. A telecom official in Myanmar confirmed that the nation's main link to the Internet was down, but blamed the problem on a damaged undersea cable.

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Global approach needed on cybercrime, says experts

Agence France-Presse
Switzerland -- Telecoms and computer executives, legal officials, and United Nations agencies on Friday warned that the world needs to take a global approach to tackling cybercrime and security issues on the Internet.

International Telecommunications Union chief Hamadoun Toure said individual national or regional approaches to tackle spam, hackers, remote attacks on computer systems, and use of the Internet for crime would inevitably be flawed.

"Cyber security is a global problem and it needs a global solution," he told journalists after a meeting here.

The attempt to set up a global agenda to tackle cybersecurity has gained momentum following a concerted wave of cyber attacks on Estonia's websites and computer infrastructure in May, participants said.

"It can happen again, anywhere in the world," said Norwegian judge and computer crime specialist Stein Schjolberg.

"Whatever applies in the conventional world can apply in an amplified way in the cyberworld," he added.

The meeting decided to set up five working groups to examine possible legislative and technical measures, more international cooperation, and reinforcing finance and security infrastructure.

Toure said the experts were aiming to report on their findings next March, and he would introduce recommendations on concrete steps at an ITU council meeting in September 2008.

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US woman fined $.22m for sharing songs online

CHICAGO—In the first US trial to challenge the illegal downloading of music on the Internet, a single mother from Minnesota was ordered Thursday to pay $220,000 for sharing 24 songs online.

Jammie Thomas, 30, a single mother, was the first among more than 26,000 people sued by the world’s most powerful recording companies to refuse a settlement after being slapped with a lawsuit by the Recording Industry of America and six major music labels.

She turned down an offer to pay a few thousand dollars in fines and instead took the case to court.

Unlike some who insist on the right to share files over the Internet, Thomas says she was wrongfully targeted by SafeNet, a contractor employed by the recording industry to patrol the Internet for copyrighted material.

Her lawyer said earlier this week that she had racked up some $60,000 in legal fees because she refused to be bullied.

And while Thomas insisted on the courthouse steps that she had never downloaded or uploaded music, her lawyer tried to convince jurors there was no way to prove who had uploaded songs on the Kazaa file sharing network.

A jury took just five hours to decide that evidence provided by the music labels showed otherwise and found Thomas guilty of copyright infringement, court records showed.

Thomas, an employee of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, an Indian tribe, was ordered to pay a $9,250 fine for each of 24 shared songs cited in the case, including Godsmack’s “Spiral,” Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills” and Sara McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery.”

It could have been a lot worse.

The fine could have reached $150,000 a song if the jury had found “willful” copyright infringement.

Had the record companies sued her for all 1,702 songs found in the online folder, the fine could have run in the millions.

The recording industry hopes the judgment will be enough to dissuade music lovers from downloading songs from the Internet without paying for them.

“This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not okay,” Richard Gabriel, the lead lawyer for the music companies that sued the woman, said Thursday after the three-day civil trial in this city on the shore of Lake Superior.

In closing arguments he had told the jury, “I only ask that you consider that the need for deterrence here is great.”

Thomas maintained she had done nothing wrong.

“She was in tears. She’s devastated,” Thomas’ lawyer, Brian Toder, said. “This is a girl that lives from paycheck to paycheck, and now all of a sudden she could get a quarter of her paycheck garnished for the rest of her life.”

Toder said the plaintiff’s attorney fees were automatically awarded in such judgments under copyright law, meaning Thomas could actually owe as much as a half-a-million dollars. But he said he suspected the record companies “will probably be people we can deal with.”

Gabriel said no decision had yet been made about what the record companies would do, if anything, to pursue collecting the money from Thomas.

Since 2003, record companies have filed some 26,000 lawsuits over file-sharing, which has hurt sales because it allows people to get music for free instead of paying for recordings in stores.

Before the verdict, an official with an industry trade group said he was surprised it had taken so long for one of the industry’s lawsuits against individual downloaders to come to trial.

Illegal downloads had “become business as usual. Nobody really thinks about it,” said Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, which coordinates the lawsuits. “This case has put it back in the news. Win or lose, people will understand that we are out there trying to protect our rights.” AFP and AP

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Trigger-happy video game players battle for cyber supremacy

Agence France-Presse
SEATTLE, Washington -- The roar of virtual racing engines and rat-a-tat of screen killers echo in a Seattle arena, as 700 trigger-happy video game players from 74 countries flex their thumbs for bragging rights at the World Cyber Games (WCG).

This is only the second time the WCG Grand Final has been held in the United States.

As gamers walk into the Qwest Field Exhibition Center in this northwestern US city, they are greeted by a sensory overload of music blaring, giant digital displays, and LED screens pulsing with video games played all around the room.

A giant world globe made from a balloon hangs from the ceiling in the entryway. It's big enough to hold a Mini Cooper sports car.

But don't be fooled into thinking this young crowd and wall-to-wall gaming is just about fun and play. There is big money at stake.

Gamers of this e-Sport tournament are competing for gold medals, national glory, and a share of $500,000 in cash and prizes -- and the title of the "world's best" in 12 different gaming titles.

Nicholas Timmerman, 19, is representing Germany and will be playing the racing game "Need for Speed" with his team.

It's his fourth year in the tournament. He's not too worried about the competition.

"They suck," he says.

It took Ken Hartson and his team from the Netherlands 18 hours to make the trek to Seattle, in the Pacific coast state of Washington. His gaming tag name is "Experience."

"Gaming isn't as big in my country," Experience says. "At home, in my country, they think we are stupid or something" for playing video games.

That's not the case in other countries.

In South Korea, players are treated like rock stars, stadiums are named after videogames and many professional South Korean players make six-figure salaries.

Geoff Robinson is the only member of the US team from Washington state. The Oregon State University student says he has been playing the space battle game "StarCraft" for more than 10 years and looks forward to his family coming to the WCG to "see what I've been doing in their basement for the past 10 years."

In an Olympics-inspired opening ceremony, players from each of the 74 countries took to the stage waving the flag of their homeland.

While there is no Olympic Village at this event, there is a Players Lounge filled with bean-bag chairs for players to rest on between matches and a Players Restaurant.

Gamers proudly wear their country colors and in some cases even drape their country flag over their shoulders.

While playing in the game pit, teams scream, bang on their keyboards, and yell into their headsets -- all in attempt to advance to the next round of games like "Command & Conquer-3," "Need for Speed," "Gears of War," and "Dead or Alive-4."

On the main stage players go head-to-head in a spaceship-like capsule to play their game without distraction.

The video game is projected on the stadium-sized screen, and close-up shots of the players can also be seen as an announcer gives a play-by-play of the action.

There are more than 50 game development companies in the Puget Sound area where Seattle is located.

This city is also home to major IT companies such as Microsoft and RealNetworks.

The tournament opened Thursday evening and runs through Sunday. The next WCG championship will be held in Cologne, Germany.

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