Monday, December 10, 2007

Gaming stereotypes

Computer games are always a hot and contentious topic. They're often at the centre of heated debates about censorship and their influence on young minds.

The gaming world is traditionally seen as a male one, with war games, medieval role plays and gangster shoot-ups all themes long assumed as typically masculine.

Recently the mobile gaming company 'Champagne for the Ladies' released 'Coolest Girl in School'; a game they see as targeting a largely untapped female gaming audience.

So, if guns and violence are the attraction for males to games, what ingredients are seen to lure women?

Holly Owen co-producer, writer and director of 'Coolest Girl in School'gives producer Aimee McInstosh a description of the game.

"Coolest Girl in School lets players live out their high school fantasies by inviting them to experiment with fashion, spread rumours, while avoiding real-life embarrassment. Lie, bitch and flirt your way to the top of the high school ladder".

Holly adds the game doesn't claim to meet every woman's interests.

"The thing that's important to remember when we talk about making a game specifically for women is no two women are the same, their likes and dislikes are going to vary significantly. We're not claiming that every woman on earth will love this game".

"We wanted to make a game that focussed on things central to that teenage girl's universe. It draws very much on high school movies and television shows".

Even though 'Coolest Girl in School' has not yet been released it has attracted a lot of attention from parent groups, angry that a game would promote behaviours they see as unsuitable.

Debate about how influential computer games are on people are common in many fields. Aimee asked James Tulip, head of the Games Technology course at Charles Sturt University, if he believed games can influence the way people see the world.

"It's got to be said there are some games that are the equivalent of violent pornography, and it's been shown time after time that consumers of violent pornography are more likely to indulge in those behaviours.

So bottom line is if your game shows bad attitudes toward women, kids are going to pick up bad attitudes towards women, if your games show racism, they are more likely to show racist attitudes".

Computer gaming is coming to be seen as more significant in popular culture and entertainment than Hollywood so it would seem that it's potential influence is hugely significant.

So what are the images being displayed in these games? In the area of gender there actually seems to be a mix of both male and female heroes. In some games they battle against each other and females are not the weak and submissive stereotypes women have tried to fight for so long.

However Kate Seymour, a lecturer in gender politics at Charles Sturt University, said this new power woman might just offer another unattainable stereotype.

"It's a fraught issue because it's definately a positive thing to be presenting different images of women around women being strong. However, I'd be hard pressed to think of any female heroine that hasn't also been very much sexualised.

I think it's a bit of a double edged sword in that messages about power and strength for females to be taking on are good, positive messages. However those imgages tend to be very much associated with those very stereoptypical bodies".

Aimee asked Holly if she felt 'Coolest Girl in School', which requires players to manipultate in order to succeed was also reinforcing negative female stereotypes.

"Not at all, this game is about playing with stereotypes, it's about critically engaging with them and subverting them".

Kate Seymour wonders how much of a challenge can be made to stereotypes in the context of a game like 'Coolest Girl in School'.

"I can't really imagine how a mobile phone game could in itself challenge stereotypes. If if stimulates discussion and debate on a broader level than that's potentially productive but how that would actually work on an individual level I can't see how that would work".

So how much responsibility should the gaming industry be taking for its influence on the way people see and interact with the world?

"Gaming or popular culture can have a role in shifting stereotypes but I don't think it can produce change in itself, it can only gradually shift. But, having said that, I think that is the answer around shifting stereotypes in the way of presenting figures that aren't stereoptypical in all sorts of ways." Kate said.

'Coolest Girl in School' is a joint production of Holly Owen of Champagne for the Ladies and Karyn Lanthois of Kukan Studio

Friday, November 02, 2007

Virtual tours

Have you ever looked at a picture or photo of an object or a room and wondered what the surroundings and angles of it would look like?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to scroll side to side up and down to get a better perspective of things?

Some of you may be familiar with java virtual tours which are available on online sites; especially in the real estate industry.

It is another clear example of what the online environment can provide computer users without the need to leave a computer.

Homepage producer Elizabeth Leong spoke to Greg Solon from Dynamite photography about how these virtual tours and panoramic images are created and then placed online for our viewing.
Greg Solon talks about using a unique ultra-wide lens SLR camera to capture the image before using photo stitching software and java viewers to create the interactive experience.

Photo stitching software is quite intelligent – using control points to create a smooth image to create the 360 degree by 180 degree images seen in virtual tours.

Compared to photography, offer a more interactive experience visually and can enhance what would normally be communicated by a photo. Virtual tours can also incorporate voice overs or natural sounds in the environment to make the experience more real. But it is highly unlikely to take over what photos have to offer: a solid image in the mind and the simplicity of producing them.

Greg Solon says the potential of virtual tours will be limitless as technology and software develops in both photography and imagery software; but one of the limitations of virtual tours is that it will never ever replace the actual experience.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Online gateway to Burma

For the past month the media has been plastered with images of thousands of Buddhist monks marching the streets of Rangoon, as they try to bring world attention to the rule of an oppressive militant government.

There have been rallies world wide and huge media coverage to try and gain international momentum for the situation.

However it's not the first time Burmese civilians have taken action agains tehir government. Last decade rallies of a similar scale were happening in Burma but they were shut down much more quickly.

Homepage producer Aimee McIntosh spoke with Cheri Mangrai, a Burmese language journalist for SBS and radio free Asia and co-founder of Burma Gateway, a website that aims to bring information about Burma to Australians.

Aimee asked Cheri what had changed to give the Burma movement a stonger impact this time. Cherie says Burma becoming more connected to the world has opened up channels for information to be exchanged.

"For a long time the military regime has been very successful in having a media black-out in Burma. However, recently the Generals have become more confidnt so they have become a bit more sophisticated. They have gone cyber to catch u8p thwith the world in the name of development. Of course this has got its drawbacks for the governemtn; it simply means that the people have a means of sending our graphic images, news and events almost instataneiously."

Cherie says it's important that information about the Burmese situation is accessed by outside

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Politics Online

It's that time again when everyone is asking...who will you be voting for?

A different source of information and influence is on the rise in the political sphere, and today on homepage we explore what role the internet might play in the 2007 federal election campaign.

How soon can we expect to join other countries in voting online? When will internet popularity impact on the polls? To answer these questions homepage producer Amy Spear talks to David Marshall, Professor of New Media at the University of Woollongong, James Griffin, founder of iVote Australia and Greg Smith from Edith Cowen University.

Professor David Marshall suggests the internet is allowing for a new kind of access to politics and voting. This is being achieved through various mediums such as blogs and videos - and the result could be a change in our political culture. The internet makes a wider field of politics more accessible to the general public where in the past newspapers, television and radio have shaped our opinion forming during election campaigns.

Professor Marshall says it's important for politicians and political parties to embrace online culture, but unless it's developed to be interactive it can certainly backfire. If you don't understand how the internet engages audiences then you can end up looking out of touch - even when you're trying to be edgy.

Some suggest it's inevitable that voting will someday move online but the transition might not be received as readily as other aspects of our online life. Voting in democracies is ritualistic, according to Professor Marshall. The voter doesn't impact greatly in the lead up to an election and contemplating online voting would possibly reduce political engagement even further. Alternatively online voting could be very effective for plebiscites or referendums.

In choosing to found a website such as iVote Australia which is dedicated to raising political awareness in young people, James Griffin was seizing on the popularity of the internet for spreading a message.

The internet ensures that people aren't just consumers anymore, it's an interactive medium and James believes it was only a matter of time before it trickled into Australian politics having been embraced by the USA. James suggest it's a good way for young Australians to get involved.

In Australia where the population is sometimes apathetic towards politics, providing information to people through the internet could be a good way of getting people more active. In the lead-up to, and during the first weeks of the 2007 federal election campaign we've seen our politicians adopt the internet as a communication tool and interact with voters in a new way.

James suggests there are two points to note for using this campaign strategy. The first is having inspirational leaders or candidates who are standing up to be counted in politics, and the second is having powerful social tools like the internet to demonstrate that interest in politics covers a broad cross-section of our community.

James goes further to suggest that the introduction of an online voting system might change the the traditions associated with voting day.

They've had glitches in America with the system and some question whether online voting can ever be safe - will the results of an election be true if using online voting? Professor Smith has considered the idea of a smaller party having its membership vote online for policy, achieving results and action a lot faster.

Concern for malfunction and cyber crime might delay the introduction of online voting in Australia. However Greg argues that convenience, particularly for people living in remote areas or who are away from home on polling day, must be a determining factor for implementation.

We've already seen political activity on the internet for this election and even though we're not yet able to vote online, will the internet play an influential role during this election?

Probably not says Greg. The quality of the websites from the candidates is not likely to influence anyone. The problem also lies in the fact that if you want to get information from the net, you often have to be connected at the right time or set up your own account - you really have to be keen to look for it. Greg suggests the problem with politics on the net is that it isn't done seriously. The site managers need to better target their audience and be better presented. Greg further suggests that candidates on the internet for this election haven't really thought through their online intention - they look like their imitating what's coming from USA. Greg reckons that Kevin Rudd has had a better shot than John Howard's online team, because the Kevin07 site is a stand alone site which is easier to locate.

So will you be jumping online to learn more from our politicians during this election campaign. Would you consider taking the next step and voting online too?

Politicians, political parties and the voters are increasingly embracing the internet as a political medium. While it might now still be in relatively early stages, we can only sit back and watch as it grows. Recently Ten's Meet the Press announced their program will include a segment where MySpace users can use videos to ask politicians questions. Good, bad or ugly, political culture is on the move...and it's coming to a computer near you.

Monday, October 08, 2007


The homepage team regularly surfs the web to discover new and interesting sites. We've found there is a growing number of sites offering support and resources to deal with medical, social and lifestyle challenges.

Aimee looks at a website offering a support network for single mothers. It's called Providing Rousources for Independent Single Mothers after Separation or PRISMS. Kate Wet is the founding director of this web based organisation.

Kate says the site aims to offer women information and resources but it's main focus is to provide connections between women who have experienced or are experiencing single parenting and relationship separation.

"Probably the cornerstone of the whole website is that online forum which is an opportunity for women to share their stories and hear about other people's experiences".

Kate says she was inspired to launch the site based on her own experiences of separation. "The idea came about when I first separated almost three years ago. I really formed it (the site) because of the lack of information (available) and particularly the idea that the internet is such a vital tool now for people getting information and networking and finding support."

Kate suggests the advantage of online support networks is the flexible access. "The internet is an incredible tool, one of the key reasons why I formed PRISMS was that I wanted there to be a responsive organisation essentially based online that would be there for me when I needed it, even if it was at 1 o'clock in the morning. Often as a single parent you get very little time to yourself, when finally your kids are in bed you can't go out to the office of an organisation to meet somebody at ten o'clock at night".

You can look up PRISMS at You'll find resources and advice for single parents, a forum for members and details about support groups that meet all over the country.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

using SMS at school

It seems the days of writing absent notes, signing excursion forms and having to convince your kids that they really should tell you when parent-teacher night is on, might soon be drawing to a close.

Now it's all about SMS - instant information for parents and students about what's going on in school.

While the predominant use of this system is still to confirm a student's whereabouts, we're not only seeing the use of it for general information, but more the arrival of advanced systems such as swipe cards and fingerprinting.

Amy Spear chatted to Isabella Reily, a year 12 student at Newcastle High where they have been using SMS for two years now. She also caught up with the principal Peter Kilburn and Vladimir Ostashkevich from attendance system developers Academy Photography.

Isabella Reily says the system is quite effective - you only have to be a little bit late for class and the SMS system will kick into place, informing your parent or caregiver about your absence. However, she does find that this can sometimes be too much.

Her Dad, a busy teacher himself, will often receive messages saying Isabella is absent when she has a free period and is therefore not required to be at school.

There are certainly mixed messages coming from the student body. While many don't have a problem with the system, feeling that it's merely a good thing to embrace technology, some do feel that it can be an invasion of privacy.

Isabella suggests that it should be based on the relationship between a child and a parent - for some, a text message is an effective way to know what they're up to. For others, however, it's an unnecessary precaution. She also knows of instances where students have given a false number (for example, their own or a friend's), effectively making the system redundant.

However most embrace the system for what it is - Principle Peter Kilburn describes it as just a quicker, more convenient update of the old note system, one that can quickly cover 80% of the student population.

He says that the general response from the school's community has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, it's now not just absent notes that are distributed through SMS, but information about parent-teacher nights and other school functions. Guess that means that there will be no 'forgetting' to get the note out of the bag anymore!

Mr Kilburn admits that mistakes can be made, and plenty of parents will tell you that they've received a message when their child was simply on role-duty. However, the school feels that it would rather err on the side of caution, then fail to take up their duty of care.

But what about issues of privacy? Mr Kilburn can't understand how a message could invade privacy - it's simply doing what has been done forever in schools, marking attendance and informing parents.

There are now other systems on the market, such as fingerprinting and swipe cards, which are creating quite a stir amongst some groups, claiming that it is going too far. A sentiment that Newcastle High will stick to now, with no foreseeable plans of this kind of system in the future.

Vladimir Ostashkevich, of Academy Photography and Attendance, is a company who develops these systems from SMSing to student fingerprinting. It became apparent a few years ago that there was a demand for newer student administration technology and, as they already provided bar-coded library cards as part of their photography package, this seemed the logical next step.'

Vladimir agrees with Mr Kilburn, in that the technology is simply the next step forward. When he was in school, attendance was kept in a number of books and notes sent home to Mum. Now it's simply a matter of reading a barcode and a quick SMS - or fingerprinting and card swiping which is being introduced over the next few years. Therefore he too doesn't believe it's anymore of a privacy concern than old systems - it's instantaneous rather than over a period of week or so.

His suggestion to combat giving the school false number or the accidental response of "yes, I'm sick" is to have the parent call, rather than SMS back as often as possible.

It's great to see schools embracing the technological age and now that everyone is so adept at using a mobile phone for example, it certainly is convenient. But whether some measures are going too far will remain to be seen.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Online counselling and grieving

Life is full of obstacles and it is inevitable at some point most of us will face challenges in our lives that will cause us to grieve and look for others to offer support and advice. Death networking is a recent online trend where people are turning to the internet to grieve and make memorials and tributes for their loved ones. They can also meet people over the internet that are also in the same position. This in turn can help people through their grief.

This trend inspired Homepage producer and presenter Elizabeth Leong to look at how the internet can help people that are experiencing tough times in their lives.

Elizabeth talks to Roger Chappell, the manager of a company called Media-two which runs an online memorial site. Roger explained people are more comfortable expressing themselves online because it’s like writing in a diary – there’s no need to hold back.

There are also many other factors which make the internet an attractive medium – convenience is an important one because the internet is easily accessible by most people and can be accessed any time; proximity is another because people all over the globe can access the one memorial.

The Chief Executive of the Australian Counselling Association Peter Armstrong argues this point: people are going online to express themselves not because they’re more comfortable in doing so, but because of convenience. He uses Princess Diana’s death as an example: people were not able to travel across the globe to pay her a tribute, so many opted to go online to express their thoughts instead.

However Kids Help Line senior researcher Phillipa Hawke says telecommunication mediums are attractive because of the anonymity it offers users for users behind the phone and a computer. It helps people who want to talk about issues which may bring up feelings of embarrassment and/or shame – communicating through telecommunication mediums provides these people with a safer environment.

On the other hand Phillip Armstrong says people need to be mindful when they’re seeking for help online because one negative comment can have potentially shattering effects. He says someone could come in and make a remark or a comment which could send many people into crisis because it can confuse, be hurtful and cause complicated grief. However, comments made online can also be therapeutic because it can reassure someone that there are people who can understand and relate to their situation.

Phillipa Hawke also looks into the dangers of not going to an online accredited counsellor, saying seeking help from other online venues requires stepping in with caution. She says older people can take advantage of vulnerabilities in younger people and information can be misused.

Phillip Armstrong and Phillipa Hawke also discuss the pros and cons of going online over face-to-face counselling and discuss future aims and developments in this field concerning telecommunication mediums.

Services include the Kids Help Line, which is a free 24 hour telephone and online counselling service aimed at young people between the ages of 5 and 25. Lifeline 131 114 is another 24 hour crisis line offer counselling over the phone not only for the grieving and abuse/violence, mental illness, life direction, suicide related issues and, but not restricted to – loneliness.

Health Online

The World Wide Web is beginning to compete with human interaction as the amount and range of services provided on the net meet and sometimes even exceed those available to us in our neighbourhoods.

But can the internet meet all our needs?

One service that is being offered over the internet through thousands of websites is healthcare information and advice.

Some argue that these resources are a danger to people who have health problems because the internet is so difficult to mediate or standardise, however the accessibility of the internet does seem to open up a lot of possibilities to the world of medicine and health.

Dr Peter Garcia-Webb is the chairman of the Australian Medical Association IT committee. Aimee McIntosh speaks with Peter to find out about the world of online health.

"I think it (online medicine) offers a huge amount. Obviously there are some areas like anything where the information is not such good quality, but there also are some quite good quality sites. And particularly when an individual is considering the follow up of disease and looking to get a bit more information."

Dr Webb explains that the online world can be good for follow up and information, however it faces obstacles in the area of diagnosis, and so online health has to be approached together with consultation with a doctor.

"One of the difficulties in a person trying to find out what's wrong with them from using the web, is that they might miss the real problem. There's got to be a balance between trying to fix it yourself and getting professional advice."

Some websites offer online consultation with a qualified doctor. Aimee asks Dr Webb if these 'medical chat-rooms' could substitute face to face consultations.

"One of the major difficulties of just chat-room type medicine is that the doctor doesn't end up seeing the patient, and although you could say you could easily manage over the phone, in point of fact if the patient is blue and I don't know that, that is slightly different to if they're pink. So it's quite possible to miss things quite seriously if we're dealing with just words."

There are many excellent health resources available on the internet but like anything on the net, it's important to be careful and critical of information, look out for sites run by organisations that you know and trust, and always make use of information along with advice from your doctor.

A couple of helpful and reliable websites include:

Lab Tests Online - This is a website launched last month by the federal health minister Tony Abbott, which offers in depth but easy to understand explanations of all the tests your doctor prescribes for you

Department of Health and Aging - This website for the government's department of health and aging which provides information on health services and health products in Australia and links to to other reliable health information on the internet

Monday, September 03, 2007

Technology & Farming

The face of farming as we know it is changing. Now you need to be just as adept in using a computer as being able to identify a good animal when you see one. How are farmers adapting to the change? Is farming technology a welcome development for those working on the land?

Neil Inall of the Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology suggests the image and practice of farming is shifting and technology is playing a role in that shift. While there are some in the farming sector adopting to new technology, there is still some resistance among many long-time farmers. Neil suggests that, in order to see the value of new innovations, the farming community need to be shown how they can use different systems to the benefit of their work.

It's been the subject of many debates, and one that always finds its way in to the media...are people living on the land serviced adequately in terms of communications technology? All these new systems and software are well and good, but they'll make no difference if people living on the land can't access them. Neil believes a policy to address this situation in rural Australia might be a vote-winner in the upcoming election.

Will farms be able to operate in the future without the level of communications as we know them now? "Yes," says Neil, "but don't expect them to make any money."

To take a closer look at the software and technology available, there's a whole range of products that come under the farm management title. You've got programs to calculate estimated breed value and manage entire herds of animals. Records can be kept and easily accessed in order to monitor breeding plans and keep track of, for example, a temperamental cow that is treading a very fine line between paddock or sale yards. They cover the financial side which enables farmers to watch over income and expense. There's mapping and climate information at your fingertips and of course, you can delve into automated irrigation and tractors that can be programmed to drive themselves.

But how important are having all these gizmos and gadgets? homepage producer Amy Spears asks Stephen Lil from cattle company Chadwick Downs if technology is an essential tool for every day farm life and business? Stephen says when it comes down to whether or not technology and software can assist with the basic task of breeding cattle, a farmer needs to look beyond the surface of the software because cattle and farming don't fit to a calculated equation. While breeding software programs can help you identify, monitor and predict herd traits, you can't truly track nature.

Stephen is a avid adopter of computer technology and uses a website and email for 80-90% of business dealings. Additionally he uses technology to keep records of his farming activities. One thing that technology can't do though, is bring the rains.

Monday, August 27, 2007


How many electronic items do you have in your home? And how often do you replace them? It seems like every time a new computer program is release you have to buy a new computer to use it.

We live in a fast changing world, and as technology becomes faster and cheaper, upgrades seem to become more essential.

But of course with all these upgrades the old computers, phones and TVs have to end up somewhere. Electronic waste, or e-waste is a problem that's growing as fast as technology's advancing. In fact 20 to 50 million tonnes of e-waste are generated every year worldwide.

Griffith University in Queensland has established a research project which is working with councils and large organisations around Australia to develop better ways to manage the problem of e-waste. homepage producer Aimee McIntosh talked with Dr Georgina Davis, a researcher involved with the project.

Dr Davis pointed out there are many dangers posed to the environment by chemicals contained in the materials electronic items are made up of, but also dangers posed by irresponsible energy consumption and unnecessary use.

Through looking into these projects Dr Davis has found councils committed to e-waste initiatives can sometimes find it hard to fund relevant projects. Dr Davis believes that more awareness about the importance of responsible e-waste management will provide the resources councils need.

While there are projects that need to happen at a community and council level to deal with e-waste, Dr Davis also gave some tips on how the individual can deal responsibly with e-waste. Some of these include:

  • buying a computer from a company that offers a pick up and recycle service at the end of the computer's usable life
  • sharing computers and printers
  • refilling inkjet cartridges with soy or non-petroleum based inks
  • printing only what is necessary
  • recycling paper waste
  • giving away your old computer to charity, family or friends
  • choosing computers that minimize energy consumption (laptops are the best)

There are plenty of options we can make use of in dealing responsibly with e-waste. There are also plenty of resources on the net that explain how to deal with e-waste and a variety of other green computing initiatives. Some useful web links are:

EPEAT is an organisation that calculates environmental ratings for computers

Griffith university's e-waste project website is:

Homepage is produced in the studios of 2MCE, Bathurst for the Community Radio Network and is supported financially by the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can hear homepage on the 2MCE streaming service each Monday at 3pm EST via

Monday, August 20, 2007

Where's CDMA going?

Are you a current user of the Telstra CDMA network?

Then you've probably heard by now that it won't be long before you'll be upgrading to the new 3G or NextG fact, perhaps you already have.

Telstra's latest move has caused quite a stir from both those who are affected by the change and by government officials.

There's concern from rural citizens that the new networks won't have the same coverage and signal as experienced now, and therefore are reluctant to change. This week on tech talk we explore the time frame, the effects, the opinions and the basics of this very hot topic. homepage producer Amy talks to independent candidate for Calare, Gavin Priestly, CDMA customer Marilyn Tillig and Senator Andrew Bartlett of the Queensland Democrats.

So first of all a bit of a rundown of the networks.

The CDMA network is in the process of being phased out after the announcement to build the Next G network in 2005. Customers can keep their existing CDMA phone until they choose to update...but it's crunch time, with the phase out expecting to take place early next year.

The Next G network is said to cover 98% of the population - 1.9 million square km as opposed to the current 1.6 million. Telstra has promised that it will be faster and provide access to new technology such as video calling and high internet speeds.

3G covers 50% of Australians and provides access to advanced mobile technology.

Unfortunately, at this stage there are concerns about blackspots throughout the country - areas that aren't receiving the same service under the new networks. It is Telstra's ambition to remedy this, to make the network equivalent or better, before phasing CDMA out.

One such place affected was the NSW regional town of Orange, however Telstra has just unveiled the last of three towers intended to improve signal. The independent candidate for Calare Gavin Priestly believes this is a step in the right direction. He says that previously coverage had been quite varied throughout the town - Telstra had acted to improve the overall signal. While this is a promising solution, will we have to see new towers pop up in all affected areas throughout Australia? Mr Priestly believes that they will attempt to improve the Next G signal from the current towers, but may need new ones in high density areas.

Country people need to make sure that all of their services, particularly in communication need to be kept on a par with the city. There needs to be some sort of comparison so that these areas can grow and develop. Let's face it. In this day and age, the convenience of a mobile phone is a great comfort, particularly to those living on property.

Marilyn Tillig lives in a rural area halfway between Albury and Wagga. So how important is mobile coverage for her? It means that in a time of emergency she can call who she needs to call without the network breaking up.

Marilyn would be happy to upgrade to the new networks - provided they really are upgrades. She's not so concerned about making video calls and downloading music videos - all she wants is for the new networks to improve coverage and fix blackspots.

Like others in her situation, she is expected to update to the NextG network and a suitable handset by early next year. It is understood that many will have to do this anyway as plans expire.

Senator Andrew Bartlett also has concerns for regional Australia. He notes that is is always good to update and improve - as long as it is just that. There has certainly been a lot of debate over whether this is the case.

Senator Bartlett believes much of the debate is a result of the Government's decision to privatise Telstra without sufficient control.

The National Party has decided to lobby Telstra to keep the CDMA network until the emerging networks have been proven.

It appears there are advantages to the new network, but there's also plenty of concern. If this topic hits close to home, you've still got until early 2008 to get things sorted and make sure you've got the best telephone system for you.

(homepage requested an interview with a representative from Telstra about this issue, but at the time of going to air, we had no response.)
Homepage is produced in the studios of 2MCE, Bathurst for the Community Radio Network and is supported financially by the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can hear homepage on the 2MCE streaming service each Monday at 3pm EST via

Monday, August 13, 2007

Online Mapping Technology

Ever find your self lost or wondering where is it?

With the continual rise in popularity of the internet (52.5 million users nationally) maps and aerial photos have made their way online- giving users a more interactive and detailed way of finding their route from A to B.

An example of one of these sites is an online digital map and aerial photo database which offers maps and photos for locations all over Australia with the options of finding precise directions and locations.

Homepage producer Elizabeth Leong spoke to the senior product manager of Belinda Lang about the website and about what options are available online compared to traditional street directories.

Belinda explained the process of capturing aerial and satellite images of capital cities:
Aerial photos are taken with in a low flying plane with a digital camera. It allows users to view an actual picture of a specific area – with 15cm being equivalent to 1 pixel on screen, so objects can be zoomed in and be seen in specific detail instead of just seeing a map.

There are 2 key things a person can do on the site: they can search for a map or they can search for specific directions giving turn by turn directions, or directions can be provided for walking on foot with directions on pathways.

One of the advantages of using maps online is the convenience of not having to flick from page to page like with a normal street directory. This is because the option of panning is available, where a mouse can be used to slide the map across the screen to see what’s in the surrounding area.

To cover a larger area, online maps have the option of zooming out and panning across; or the user can zoom in to see specific roads and details in the area. They also have the option of searching what facilities are available in certain areas; for example: police stations or camping sites, which can be useful for various purposes.

There are two general options when searching for directions: the fastest time or the shortest distance. The fastest time gets the user to the destination quicker as there is the likelihood of travelling along freeways or highways. But shortest distance is shortest distance by kilometres which involves travelling through side streets but may not be the fastest due to lower speed zones.

There is a wide variety of mapping services available online many differing to accommodate specific search categories. offers geoscience maps of Australia (topographic maps, geology maps, mineral maps and satellite images), offers satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings, allowing you to explore locations in 3D views. offers physical maps and political maps as well as key facts and statistics around the world. offers information and maps of rail networks all over Australia. shows the location of more than 14,000 public and private public toilet facilities across Australia.

Homepage is produced in the studios of 2MCE, Bathurst for the Community Radio Network and is supported financially by the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can hear homepage on the 2MCE streaming service each Monday at 3pm EST via

Monday, August 06, 2007

Robots in our Oceans

Did you know there are robots in our oceans?

homepage producer Aimee didn't until she spoke with senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology Julie Evans, about the Bureau's latest website Blue Link.

The website which was developed by Australian Scientists in collaboration with the Royal Australian Navy, the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, makes use of new technology using buoys in oceans all over the world called Argo Ocean Profilers.

These buoys collect data beneath the oceans surface and transmit it to satellite every few days.

Information from the Argo Ocean Profilers is combined with satellite images to give forecasts of ocean currents, temperatures, levels and salinity.

Accessing this information has been a crucial part of developing the Blue Link service that gives forecasts of ocean conditions in real time.

Looking at the visual map of the ocean forecasts is a bit like the opening of a James Bond or Austin Powers film; fluorescent, psychedelic patters swirl along the Australian coastline showing changes in ocean temperature and depth.

Jule explained that these patters are very exciting for oceanographers.

"For oceanographers, who study the ocean, it's probably a bit like meteorologists when they first got satellites that could see cloud patterns from space."

Aside from scientific use though, Julie said the forecasts would be useful for many different industries and individuals.

"Anybody operating in our offshore currents; the locations of fish and other marine animals tend to be very sensitive to these eddies and whirls in the ocean that we can't see just normally looking from space. And also marine environmental management, disaster mitigation and safety of life at sea I guess, there will be quite a few users out there".

The Bureau of Meteorology have also updated their radar, offering more detailed maps when you look at a weather forecast, for the advantage of people in more isolated areas so they can find their position on weather charts more accurately.

"You can select to have major roads or railways, rivers, lakes, catchments on or off on your radar image. So especially for people in rural areas who perhaps aren't near a town and wonder where a particular thunder storm is appearing on the radar relative to them, they'll have a lot more information to be able to place themselves on the radar".

Julie said they were just waiting for a bit of rain to test it out.

The Blue Link website is:

The Bureau of Meteorology's improved radar system can found at:

Homepage is produced in the studios of 2MCE, Bathurst for the Community Radio Network and is supported financially by the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can hear homepage on the 2MCE streaming service each Monday at 3pm EST via

Monday, July 30, 2007

Smile for the Camera

This week homepage producer Rochelle Nolan interviews Steven Hutcheon (Digital Editor of SMS and The Age online) about digitally manipulating images. It is ethically unacceptable for journalists to manipulate images, but in an age of citizen journalism propelled by advancements in communications technology, even the best journalists can be fooled by a photo someone sends in that appears untouched but has in fact been manipulated.

Many news services take advantage of technology and invite citizens to send in their own photographs or footage of events. This can be really helpful for news teams (think mobile phone footage captured in the London bombings where news teams were able to broadcast footage their crews wouldn't have been able to access) but it can also prove disastrous.

Technology such as Adobe Photoshop and other image alteration programs are now so advanced it's easy to change photos in so many ways, and not be able to tell at all.

Steven suggests there seems to be one set of rules for news journalists and another set of rules for the people who design fashion magazine covers and apply digital manipulation technology in order to create a sort of 'preferred reality'. Steven also says people can use this technology in their own personal photo collection to create their own preferred reality.

There is no current code of ethics or guidelines in place specifically dealing with image alteration.

Homepage is produced in the studios of 2MCE, Bathurst for the Community Radio Network and is supported financially by the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can hear homepage on the 2MCE streaming service each Monday at 3pm EST via

Monday, July 23, 2007

Automated Self Service

It's been a concern for the last twenty years...that developments in phones and internet capabilities have seen an increase in technology replacing human tasks. Sometimes this also means a risk of people losing jobs.

For insight producer Elizabeth Leong investigates automated self-service, a style of system and software that's offering reliability, intelligence, productivity, convenience and speed for mundane customer service tasks. These include general customer service, help desk, directory assistance and support. Elizabeth asks the questions: how effective and reliable is this technology and what about security and the decline in personal service?

To find out the answers Elizabeth speaks with Hank Jongen, General Manager of Centrelink and Chief Technology Officer of VE Commerce, Brett Feldon.

Brett says in recent years we've seen the rise of self-service in general due in part to more and more organisations doing business over the internet. He adds, more recently we've seen the development of self-service over the telephone with speech recognition software which is able to recognise words and direct a caller. For most businesses self-service technology is implemented for convenience sake.

Centrelink is an example of an organisation that has adopted automated technology into their services and Hank Jongen says the decision to do so was based on customer expectation. Today Centrelink customers can choose to use self-service for about 50 different transactions including accessing details of Centrelink payments. For Centrelink the decision to implement self-service technology was about providing a choice for customers.

hompage is produced in the studios of 2MCE, Bathurst for the Community Radio Network and is supported financially by the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can hear homepage on the 2MCE streaming service each Monday at 3pm EST via

Monday, July 16, 2007

Getting your face on FaceBook

Maybe you've heard of FaceBook? It's known as the older, less personalised version of MySpace. It's the 7th most visited site in the U.S. and it's currently sweeping across Australia and garnering huge support and usage. So much so in fact that our politicians are using it and creating their very own FaceBook page. It seems politicians are increasingly making use of technology to reach people in new ways.

homepage producer Rochelle Nolan speaks with journalist and avid FaceBook user Guy Logan to find out what FaceBook is and get some insight why it's such a popular tool for politicians in campaigning as well as where this might lead in the future.

Rochelle discovers that FaceBook is a networking site which was designed along the lines of an interactive university year book. On FaceBook you upload a photo of yourself with as little or as detailed accompanying information as you like.

Guy says that FaceBook is used by politicians in the U.S. because it's in the top 10 most visited sites on the web. Politicians use FaceBook to talk to almost 30million users world-wide...almost 100 000 users logging on to FaceBook every day. With these numbers, politicians can use FaceBook to connect with their communities and gauge what the public are talking about.

homepage is broadcast nationally each week to community radio stations across Australia via the Community Radio Network. The program is produced with financial assistance from the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can stream homepage Monday 3pm EST via

Monday, July 09, 2007

Addiction to Games

You can't live without it....everything pales in comparison to getting your next fix...well, at least that's what some people are saying. No, we're not talking about drugs or alcohol...homepage producer Amy Spear investigates recent claims that gaming can be addictive. Amy asks what makes gaming appealing to so many people? Is it the status you achieve or the social aspects? Is it the content, the graphics or is it merely something to do? Perhaps it's more the chance to escape from reality and live an entirely different life where you're a warrior saving the world from ultimate destruction...or maybe that's just Amy!

To answer these questions Amy speaks with IT Sales & Service Professional Tom Wilding, and games expert Chris S. Johnson from the University of Technology in Sydney.

Games technology is now the fastest growing segment of the entertainment industry. The world of mass multi-player online gaming is changing the way we interact with other people, the way we kick back and have fun, and even the way we view our world. Over the past few weeks it's been brought to our attention that some doctors are calling for gaming addiction to be classified as a psychiatric disease. While the medical and games industries have both expressed the need for more research into the area, there can be no denying the seriousness of the claims. And with 40million gamers world wide this is one issue that can't be put on the back burner.

Chris S. Johnson reckons humans find anything addictive. He says "games are addictive in as much as they present people with challenges. They're an active form of entertainment as against, say TV". Chris agrees games can be addictive but adds he doesn't believe games are any more addictive then other things like TV.

Tom Wilding works with computers and is a keen gamer himself. Tom likes the social aspect of multi-player gaming which allows people to meet and interact with likeminded people.

Ever changing, always growing and undeniably appealing, there's no doubt that games technology is set to become even more a part of our lives. But do we need to take action to cerb unhealthy use? When is too much really too much? The calls to identify gaming addiction as a serious illness are there. How far will it go?

homepage is produced in the studios of 2MCE Bathurst and is distributed nationally via the Community Radio Network. The program is made with financial assistance from the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can listen to homepage on 2MCE via our streaming at

Monday, July 02, 2007

Broadband in the Bush

New to the homepage team is Aimee McIntosh and for her first episode of homepage, Aimee looks at how the internet affects farmers across Australia and whether or not the Federal Government's plans to bring broadband access to more Australians will make a difference to farming communities.

The 2006 census revealed that 60% of Australians have the internet connected to their homes and over half of these are connected to broadband. The Federal Government's recent announcement of a plan that will see 99% of Australians able to access broadband is hoped to boost business and productivity across Australia.

Aimee has fond memories of growing up in Bourke and first connecting to the internet. She recalls:

"Growing up in Bourke I remember when one of my friends got internet at their house. We would all come over to check emails and the surf the net, but the thrill pretty quickly wore off when we decided we didn't want to wait the ten minutes for a page to load. Since leaving Bourke and experienceing faster internet I don't have the patience to wait 60 seconds for a page to load. It seems obvious that the internet will not be popular among farmers as long as they only have access to dial up."

In order to gauge how people in regional Australia use the internet, Aimee speaks to two farmers about how the internet is used in farming practice and what effect access to broadband would have on their lives.

Ian Cole is an irrigation farmer in Bourke, New South Wales, who says the internet plays a crucial role in his daily life as a farmer and that access to broadband would make a huge impact. Ian tells Aimee the slow speed of his current internet connection hinders what would otherwise be much faster work and that broadband would be a welcomed upgrade.

Jim McIntosh is a dairy farmer in regional Victoria who says access to the internet means he can stay in touch with bankers and business that he would otherwise only see once a year. Jim adds he uses the internet to stay in touch with family who live in other parts of Australia.

Aimee learns that while Ian and Jim depend on the internet for different things they both agree that they couldn't image their lives without it. Aimee concludes that broadband access will enhance business and communication for farmers and their families and help bridge the gap between urban and rural communities.

homepage is produced in the studios of 2MCE Bathurst and is distributed nationally via the Community Radio Network. The program is made with financial assistance from the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can listen to homepage on 2MCE via our streaming at

Monday, June 25, 2007

Virtual Volunteering

The Universal Declaration on Volunteering states:

Volunteering is a fundamental building block of civil society

Through volunteering you can contribute to the betterment of your local community. Technology now makes it possible to volunteer in a global community. Virtual volunteering, also known as online volunteering, opens up the traditional options of volunteering work. Through virtual volunteering you can contribute to development produces happening in Africa, India or South America without leaving your home.

For homepage, producer Michelle O'Connor investigates the field of online volunteering.

In 2000 United Nations Volunteers started an online volunteers service to see if they could link volunteering projects in developing countries with online volunteers from anywhere in the world. The project worked very well and continues to grow today. Michelle speaks with Elise Bouvet, Program Specialist for the online volunteering service of UNV in Germany who says there are benefits for both the organisation and the individuals in online volunteering projects.

Michelle also speaks with Rebecka Delforce an online volunteer living in Sydney. Rebecka volunteers to write for the e-magazine of the Volunteer Centre of NSW. She's also the founder of a not-for-profit organisation which builds eco-friendly children's villages in developing countries. Michelle discovers that for Rebecka the decision to be an online volunteer is based on time management.

While virtual volunteering is a successful program for the United Nations Volunteering service, Michelle discovers in Australia online volunteering is still very new. Julie Pollard the CEO of Volunteering Australia reports there is some interest in online volunteering and good growth potentioal. Their figures show that young people are the most likely candidates for online volunteering.

One of the major reasons most volunteers nominate for engaging in voluntary work is the social aspect....getting to meet likeminded people. In a virtual Volunteering world where your volunteer work is solitary, how eill volunteer managers meet the challenge of keeping volunteers connected? Julie Pollard suggest online volunteering programs will need to incorporate methods to help volunteers keep in touch with each other.

So how will we volunteer in the future? Wrapping up the report for homeapage this week Julie Pollard predicts that online volunttering will become a popular volunteering choice but won't replace traditional face to face volunteering work.

homepage is produced in the studios of 2MCE Bathurst and broadcast nationally via the Community Radio Network. The program is made with financial assistance from the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can listen to homepage on 2mce via our streaming at

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Webby Awards

On Homepage producer Rochelle Nolan takes us to the Webby Awards. The Webby Awards are the leading international award honouring excellence on the internet including websites, interactive advertising, online film and video, and mobile content. Now in it's 11th year the Awards effectively take a snap-shot in time of the state of the internet, the industry and the world and as you can probably imagine the past 10 years has seen some radical changes. The success of The Webby Awards corresponds to the rise of the internet. Today the web has emerged as a critical tool of business and daily life and an established media vehicle. The Webby Awards serve as the most important award honouring acheivement in interactive media. And the 2007 winners are:

Webby Lifetime Acheivement Awards - David Bowie and E-Bay
Webby Person of the Year - Co-founders of YouTube Steve Chen and Chad Hurley
Webby Best Acress - Jessica Lee Rose from New Zealand for her portrayal of Bree in the blog Lonely Girl 15.

For a full list of winners, more information and a massive list of some absolutely amazing internet sites check out

Homepage is broadcast nationally each week via the Community Radio Netwok and is financally supported by the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can listen to Homepage on 2MCE Monday at 3pm EST via our streaming at

Monday, June 11, 2007

Flickr on homepage

homepage producer Michelle is moving house and during the packing process she found boxes full of random photos...from overseas travel, birthdays, holidays and baby photos. What to do with them all! Well the answer could be found at the online digital storage website For techtalk Michelle looks at for some info about how to sort out all those photos.

Bronwen is a huge fan of the 80's global concert Live Aid organised by Sir Bob Geldolf. In 1985 either you were there at Live Aid or you watched it on television. In 2007 another global concert is being planned to spread a message about global warming. 22 years after Live Aid how will Live Earth be watched by an international audience? You won't need to be there at the concert, or even glued to a television screen. You can stream the concert to your desk top and talk about the concert in an online chatroom. Bron speaks to Ken Eustace, lecuturer in computing and mathmatics at Charles Sturt University about the effects of online communities on society in 2007.

This week's hotsite is - Australia's only national online Indigenous business and community enterprise directory. Check it out at

You can stream homepage each Monday afternoon at 3pmEST via

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

virtual classrooms in Second Life

Have you ever considered going to school in a virtual classroom?

For Insight Michelle O'Connor talks to Jo Kay about the education possibilities of Second Life. Jo tells us there are a number of education programs currently using Second Life as a platform for bringing students together to learn. Some of these are:

  • GippsTAFE where staff and students built the Paluma Bay resort - a virtual holiday resort - in Second Life. Students completed their Work Related Skills unit by becoming virtual staff at the resort.
  • Harvard Law students conduct mock trials inworld at Harvard's Berkman Centre for Internet and Society
  • Ohio University has a campus in Second Life where they offer 'learning kiosks'

Jo works in collaboration with Sean Fitzgerald researching and exploring virtual worlds and their use in educational delivery. Together they have developed a wiki space online to allow educators to explore the educational uses of Second Life. This resource also has information about how to get started in Second Life and provides links to finding Jo inworld. Go to

Peter Shanks is a TAFE teacher and he outlines some of the reasons he wouldn't choose to use Second Life to teach students. Peter prefers some of the game platforms for education/simulation projects and suggests these deal with the access issues associated with Second Life.

Bronwen spent time doing what she loves the most....surfing the internet for TechTalk this week and has put together a piece on blogs...the history, their purpose and how to start one. Combining with her other love of watching television for hotsites, Bronwen discoved the website revealing all the hidden secrets the producers of the tv show don't want you to know. Bron spills the beans.

You can stream homepage each Monday afternoon at 3pmEST via

Monday, May 21, 2007

Homepage 21/05/07

On this week's episode...
Ben Harris speaks to Choice magazine spokeswoman Indira Naidoo about the latest GPS Navigation systems- are they really worth the money and hassell?
In insight, I take a look at 'Cyber Bullying'- is this just a new buzzword to gloss over the fact bullying is still rife in our schoolyards? I talk to Mubarak Rammatullah, a senior lecturer in social administration & social work at Flinders University in South Australia about whether this is a new phenomenon in bullying. I also speak to the Chief Executive Officer of the Inspire Foundation, Kerry Graham, about the new partnership between the Inspire Foundation & MySpace to raise awareness about depression and where to get help through the Inspire Foundation's many projects. I was interested in tackling this issue as I find it interesting that technology is seeming to be the scapegoat in this issue- bullying is still the issue whether you make mobiles or the internet or Myspace the means of bullying. I was suprised to find out the perception of invisibility- hiding behind monitors and mobiles- is the main reason for cyber bullying which shows the bully's themselves are really the cowards.
In Hotsites Ben takes a look at the SES and how they're here to help!
As always, you can stream Homepage live every Monday at 3pm from

Monday, April 30, 2007

Migrants and Refugees accessing Technology

Computers are commonplace in the business, social and work life of most Australians. For migrants and refugees however technology might be something new. Michelle O'Connor explores some of the issues faced by people in migrant and refugee communities as they experience the digital age and computers for the first time.

My interest in this story was sparked from media reports earlier this year that the Tamworth regional council had turned down an offer to have several Sudanese rufugee families resettle in the town. The decision was eventually reversed and the refugee families welcomed into Tamworth but the coverage made me think about how little many Australians understand of the experience of refugees (myself included).

In many cases refugees who arrive in Australia are survivors of civil war. There is a long list of things that are 'new' for refugees when they resettle in Australia, things which most Australians would consider as commonplace. Annette Sharma is the Migrant Coordinator at the Canberra Institute of Technology and she says in Insight that her students from Sudanese refugee communities view technology as the key to their new future and a universal link to the modern world. In most cases they consider learning about technology as important as learning to speak and understand English.

Philip Ross is the Cultural Arts Officer for the Blacktown Migrant Resource Centre and he talks about how limited access to computers for migrants and refugees might limit their learning opportunities for this new technology.

Both Philip Ross and Annette Sharma are interviewed by Michelle O'Connor in this week's Insight on homepage.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Game Developers' Conference '07 special

This week we join David Cameron at the 2007 Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco.
Dave talks to self-described "industry cockroach" Trip Hawkins, the founder of Electronic Arts and now a leading innovator in the design of games for mobile phones. We also hear highlights from keynote presenters including Sony's Phil Harrison, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, alternative reality gamer Jane McGonigal, and game designer Warren Spector. The program wraps up with a visit to a video game museum and a chat with Stanford University's Henry Lowood about the need to develop an archive of classic computer games.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Trip Hawkins interview

(image from

For more than three decades, the video game industry has been an arms race of new technologies and designs aimed at creating the most immersive entertainment experiences possible.

At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, much of the talk was about the latest competing technologies behind the new high-powered games consoles on offer from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.

But some industry insiders are looking to the mobile phone as the next big games platform. Trip Hawkins is a video game pioneer. He founded software company Electronic Arts and he’s now tackling the mobile games market as the boss of his new company which is called Digital Chocolate.

His keynote speech to game designers was titled 'Making mobile phones the ultimate game platform'.

You can download the full homepage interview with Trip Hawkins (.mp3, 3.19Mb).
You can also subscribe to occasional Homepage radio specials by copying the following URL to your podcast software such as iTunes:

We don't need no education...

In this week's Homepage, Dave investigates the Gecko Phone- a mobile phone targeted at young kids in Gadgets and Gizmos.
Bron looks at a 'Virtual Classroom' emerging in the Orange area in central-west NSW. Five schools in this area offer resources and subjects online to high-school kids who may not have certain classes or materials at their school. Bron interviewed Orange Schools Director Pam Ryan about what it means to have a 'virtual classroom' and how it benefits high-school kids in regional areas.
In Hotsites, Bron speaks to the NSW Director of HSC Online, Bob Dengate. Bob explains how HSC Online can benefit year 12 students by providing extra resources, past exam papers and a glimpse at what to expect during the HSC exam period.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Homepage at GDC 07, San Francisco

Homepage will be at the annual Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco March 5 - 9.
Keep an ear out for reports during future episodes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

new programs for 2007

homepage returns to community radio stations across Australia in 2007 with some great new programs. You might have heard our 'best of' episodes over the summer period - Rochelle and Patrick had great fun listening to some old programs from 2006 and picking out their favourite pits to put together for the 'best of' summer series.

We welcome David Turner to the homepage production team in 2007. Dave teams up with Bronwen Matherson who joined us late 2006, to bring you the best from the world of IT.

Early in the year and we're already on top of what's current in IT. Dave takes a look at the new ghecko phone for kids and investigates the technology behind the controversial Access Card with an interiew with independent member for Calare, Peter Andren. Bron starts the year with a story about music, looking at and takes a close look at the ever increasing blurring of the lines when using IT for business and pleasure.

You can hear homepage live on the 2MCE stream at Log in on Mondays at 3pm EST. Or check our your local community radio station for their program times.