Parents, It Is Up To You

 Australia’s pre-historic classification laws do nothing to protect kids from violent video games and place even more onus on parents to protect kids from violent content.

Every time a block buster video game that contains violence hits retail shelves I hear the same outcry: ‘It Should Be Banned!’
I can understand the argument that kids with a predisposition to aggression that play violent video games can become more aggressive and should not be exposed to this kind of content – Agreed! But if you ban a game from sale will the kids stop playing it? No, like any black market item, it will go underground and they will source it another way.

Our current protections against this underground network are the classification laws. With the development of more realism in video games, these laws need some touching up. Morals aside, Australia is not going to have a classification system that adequately protects young gamers without an R-18 classification. The R-18+ is not just a rating, but a ‘Don’t even think about’ sign for kids. No R-rating means publishers instead work really hard to get their games classified into an MA15+ category. They do this so they can sell the game! The game is presented to the Classification board, they follow the laws of the classification process and the game is classified or denied from sale.

I would love to see violent games classified differently, however while our laws remain the way they are, denying a product from sale is seen by many as the best solution.
My best advice to parents, “Watch your kids playing video games – we are depending on you”.

Bye Bye CDMA

Another technology bites the dust! At the end of this month Australia will close down the national CDMA network and all its remaining customers will need to move onto an alternate mobile platform. For many customers in remote regional Australia this means moving to the Telstra NextG mobile service, some kind of mobile satellite phone (yes there are options and more are coming and I can’t wait to tell you more on this!) OR sign up to one of the competing 3G/2.5G networks, however regional coverage is not strong and chances are not available.

CDMA was established in Australia to provide a national mobile network that was mostly targeted at regional customers. This was the chosen mobile network technology used at the phasing out of analogue mobile services at the end of the 1990s as digital services grew in penetration. As it did then, digital offered better call security, extra services like SMS and better call quality (I know some of you will argue about that one!). For the telco’s CDMA offered a cheaper, more efficient method to service large geographic areas, populated with fewer customers, requiring fewer base stations than alternative network options.

The CDMA network shutdown has been widely publicised, and has been coming for some time. Senator Conroy says –
“I am satisfied that Telstra has met the equivalence tests in its licence condition and has sufficiently rectified the problems I identified in January, including handheld handset coverage, customer information provision and the availability of equipment and services”.
So with the stroke of a pen and issue of a press release, we say RIP CDMA. If you live in regional Australia and are on the CDMA service you MUST move across to the newer mobile networks or stop using a mobile phone.

With every new technology born comes the need to to let an old technology die. CDMA is the latest to join the list, what technology have you said good bye to and which one do you miss most?

We're Changing The Telecommunications Act – Great Idea!

So the Feds are saying that we need to change the Telecommunications Act so that bosses can monitor all the activities of your office PC, like employee emails and actions while on social networking sites. Why? So we can catch terrorists and ensure that they do not knock out our major areas of electronic infrastructure…

How will this be different from the office IT department being in the know about personal information you are looking at while using your office PC? Well, I guess the government is larger, able to put you in jail and run a tax audit. However your office IT department is closer to your desk, and more embarrassing when you meet them at the water cooler and they pass on their condolences about your relationship breaking up on the weekend.

The bottom line is your personal details, when maintained on an office PC, are not private. If you want privacy, purchase your own PC and internet connection, then you can lock it down with anti-virus, firewalls and everything else under the sun to ensure your information stays yours.

I do however think it’s a good idea to be revisiting the Telecommunications Act. Apart from allowing for snoops to search for online terrorist activities, what else can we recommend to the Feds for inclusion in the act when these changes are made? Here are a couple of my ideas:

– The prosecution of Cyber Bullies?

– Those annoying Mobile content people who ring your phone and hang up, then when you call them back they offer some rubbish java game in return for ringing their 1900 number – can we outlaw this?

Broadband providers who sell us into a really low priced internet plan and then charge their customers hundreds of dollars for going over their monthly data allowance. Can we add something about that practice?

Well, I have got you started – make your recommendations and I will email them over to the Feds for potential inclusion in Telco Act revision.