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