Technical Website Issues and Web News

This site designed and maintained by
Prof. Glenn Fulcher

Page Navigation


Current Server Time:
My Time Zone:

Your IP address:
The browser you are using is CCBot/2.0 (

This website uses dymaic web slicing on some pages that are updated on a daily (or sometimes an hourly) basis. A page contains a web slice if you see this icon in the toolbar. This feature was introduced with IE 8, which allows users to subscribe to content and receive notification of updates on the browser tool bar. This was implemented for the employment page in January, 2010 and the Article Alert service in March 2010. The video link is an introduction to the use of web slicing. Further details about web slicing and how it works can be found here.


RSS stands for 'Really Simple Syndication'. It has become the standard method to send news and information from websites directly to the user who wishes to keep up to date.

Extensive use is made of RSS feeds on this website. The most obvious is Bulletin, which you can subscribe to by clicking on the RSS symbol . Whenever I make a major addition or change to the site it will be announced on this feed. I sometimes also use it to notify subscribers of more general language testing news.

Many pages also contain information that is generated by RSS feeds, but filtered using software that selects content using keywords and strings, before aggregating the information on the page. Examples of this are the article aggregation, and article alert services, which scan journals for language testing content and updates this page whenever new articles are published. This makes keeping up to date extremely easy, especially in the latter case where it is combined with web slicing. Developing the filters for some pages has taken over a year, such as on the employment page. However, some 'rogue' jobs still get through, particularly from the fields of computing, health care, and engineering. I continually update the filters to reduce such instances, but cannot eradicate them completely.

If you would like to know more about how aggregation works, there is a useful Wikipedia entry that you can consult.

DigitalP: Uber controversy in Sydney; Safer social networks for children; Wel...
Uber has been criticised for raising its tariff during the siege in Sydney; Digital Awareness UK and Project Rockit's plans to curb cyberbullying; Wellcome Collection's exploration of the mind ? from Franz Mesmer to Freud in Mindcraft; David Glowacki glimpses into the invisible molecular world in danceroom Spectroscopy

US mulls putting NK on terror list
21 December, 2014
The US is considering putting North Korea back on its terrorism sponsors list, President Barack Obama says, after a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.

Fighting Talk: The last thing we need is more anonymity on the internet
21 December, 2014

Wasn't the coolest thing about using the internet for the first time thinking up your first anonymous username?

In the early days of the internet, everyone had a clever pseudonym based around something they liked, a favourite song, character off the telly or a talking animal from a PlayStation game.

But the internet was different back then. The hate mobs hadn't formed. Women didn't get word-lynched for saying they liked the wrong thing. There weren't so many channels in which people could post their rape jokes unchallenged.

Anonymity in the early days of the internet was because the rules hadn't been set and it seemed like fun to call yourself Captain Shoes when talking to strangers, not because anyone had anything to hide, but because it didn't really matter and you owned some shoes.

Now, though, the internet is part of life. It's not just a thing you do sometimes, it's the only thing we do all the time. It's very important to everyone. All of the time.

And it's splintered in half. Only maniacs use pretend names now, with the opposing normals happy to post their mundane/racist comments under their actual identities, linked to Facebook profiles that give away every secret about their lives, families and homes.

So who's doing the internet right in 2014?

Rude boy's outta jail

The emergence of anonymous messaging apps like Yik Yak and the relaunched Secret suggest there's a healthy desire for anonymity on the internet, presumably because there's always a continuous flood of people coming of age (about 13 years old) who are being allowed to run riot on their own online for the first time. And you need a pretend name to be really nasty.

It seems that a lot of the new wave of anonymous apps are used for little more than bullying by these newly anonymised and therefore empowered internet users, and the last thing the hate-filled internet of 2014 needs is more ways in which people can slag off others for a laugh.

The location-aware anonymous chat services make it even easier to be aggressive without consequence. Newcomer Yik Yak appears custom built to let schoolkids bully each other and workers pick on the office weaklings until they crack and massacre everyone at the Christmas party, with its blend of anonymity and hyper-locality perfect for spreading rumours, lies and bad feeling in the immediate proximity.

Building apps that allow anonymous comments with the hope of one day generating money through ad revenue or selling yourself to Facebook for $1bn is quite the poor taste business model.

Luckily, though, people tend to tire of negativity pretty quickly. It's funny for a bit to have an anonymous ding-dong with someone who doesn't know you are in fact you, but having an endless stream of nastiness in your life is actually quite unsustainable.

You can quite quickly go mad from spending your nights awake and mentally composing angry replies to anonymous threats. Users of these anonymous messengers are all involved in one massive, hate-fuelled race to the bottom of the internet, where comments alternate between Hitler and your mum's genital health for all eternity, and no one's having any fun.

These apps are going to burn out, as people realise there's no need to be quite so nasty all the time and how draining it can be. Secret has already shown this. It was fun for a few weeks, and some tech sites sourced a few useful stories from angry users with chips on their shoulders, but it soon fizzled out.

Momentum was lost because you can't trust or believe anything that anonymous people say, funnily enough. Hence the hasty relaunch of Secret as more of a chat tool than an aggressive whistle-blowing app.

Being yourself is an asset nowadays. A nice, unbroken history of nice comments and an old Twitter account you haven't had to hastily close out of shame shows you're a nice person. An internet black hole between 2009 and 2015 when you were anonymously raging under a name with lots of Xs in it shows you're perhaps prone to being a bit of an idiot.

Growing up a bit, using your real name, and moderating your behaviour so you only think bad things instead of saying them is the only sensible choice.

After all, one slip and your anonymous hating could be discovered.

RIP Browser Ballot Screen
20 December, 2014
Proves to be utterly pointless. Remember the infamous browser ballot screen? The one that was initiated by the Opera Software in 2009 when it complained to the EU? Then the $731 million fine when Microsoft messed up? Well, the agreement between both sides has now expired and Microsoft will no longer ask users to pick […]

In depth: Microsoft in 2014: your new "platforms and productivity" provider
20 December, 2014
Introduction and Windows 10

As the clock struck 12 on January 1, 2014, Microsoft still had a soon-to-be-departing Steve Ballmer in charge, we had no idea who was taking over and Windows 10 was still known as Threshold. Since Satya Nadella was named Ballmer's successor on February 4, the firm has been rebranded as a "platforms and productivity" company and undergone a transformation that has seen significant changes at every turn.

Nadella's arrival and reshaping of Microsoft

One of the first decisions that had to be made was who would take over the reins from outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer. After much speculation that the selection committee would go for an external candidate, it was decided that internal was the way to go, and Nadella the man to take the firm forward.

With an $84 million (around 54 million, AU$103 million) pay packet, Nadella has set about shaping the firm by taking the company away from devices and products to focus on services, especially since the introduction of subscriptions for some of its products.

One of Nadella's first moves was an unpopular one as he cut 18,000 jobs across the firm, in what is the biggest jobs purge in company history as 14% of the total workforce were given P45s. Many of these positions were sacrificed at Nokia, specifically in its home territory of Finland, and are geared towards saving the company considerable amounts in the long run.

It didn't get any easier for Nadella later on in the year as he was forced to apologise over comments he made that suggested women should not ask for a pay raise and instead have "faith in the system". It's hard to judge Nadella's first 10 months in the job this early, although his decisiveness in making hard decisions has to be commended.

Windows 10 arrives

One of the key pieces of the puzzle that will make or break Nadella as Microsoft CEO was realised in September when the firm skipped the number nine and unveiled Windows 10 as its next OS.

Hands on: Windows 10 review

Microsoft answered the prayers of users everywhere by bringing back a full Start menu as part of the new version of its OS that is already out as a developer preview. Windows 10 will also be on every single Lumia smartphone and link together with its Cortana voice assistant. An early release of Windows 10 is expected in January 2015 and we will find out then if Microsoft plans to offer it as a subscription-based OS to fit in with Nadella's new revenue model.

Subscription becomes the key

One of the biggest success stories of the year was the decision to roll out Office to the iPad, and in hours the product had shot to the top of the App Store charts. Just six weeks after its release, the Office for iPad family had been downloaded 27 million times before a paid subscription option was added in September to reflect the company-wide move to this model.

Since Microsoft began giving away licenses for an increasing number of its products, it's also rumoured that Windows 10 will be offered on a subscription basis with details to be ironed out before January. Subscriptions are a huge part of Nadella's plan to reinvent the firm as one that relies less on revenue from devices or products (licenses) themselves and more on rolling payments for its renowned stable of services.

The end of Windows XP? sort of

April 8, 2014, is a date that will go down in the annals of personal computing as the day Microsoft delivered the death knell to Windows XP by stopping security patches and support. Even though many organisations have moved away from XP, there is still a reluctance to use either Windows 7 or 8 with many waiting for Windows 10 ? a situation that could cause a security headache. The UK government even agreed to pay 5.5 million (around $8.6 million, AU$10.6 million) for a year's extension to support for XP, reflecting the continued reluctance to move away from the outdated OS.

Azure, Surface and Windows PhoneAzure grows and grows

Nadella's posturing towards becoming a company that is focused on "productivity and platforms" means that its Microsoft Azure cloud offering takes on even more prominence than it had under former CEO Steve Ballmer. In line with its competitors, Microsoft has cut Azure's pricing on countless occasions throughout the year and has made it one of the key parts of its plans to rely on a subscription-based model going forwards.

Office 365, which arrived on a number of new platforms this year, includes a free 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage for the opening year before becoming a paid-for option after the first 12 months.

The growth is by no means only limited to consumer products and the Azure Government cloud, which was made generally available in December, caters for government customers that require a secure, locked-down version of the cloud service. Over 100 customers have already signed up and it gives Microsoft a real chance to throw down the gauntlet to BlackBerry.

Surface Pro 3

2014 will always be remembered as the time Microsoft tried to convince us all that we don't need a laptop anymore, and its Surface Pro 3 is the answer to the Apple MacBook Air we almost chucked in the bin. After the disappointing Surface and Surface 2 efforts it was third time lucky as the tablet/hybrid sold at twice the rate of the predecessor, and the Surface business had topped almost $1 billion (around 640 million, AU$1.23 billion) in revenue at the last check in October.

Skype for Business and Skype Translator

The Lync-Skype collaboration grew in stature after Skype voice, IM and video became part of the enterprise messaging service for the first time to bring a new level of collaboration to workplaces already using Lync. Bringing the two products closer together reflects the blurring of boundaries between work and home by making it easier to work from home using the popular enterprise collaboration tool.

Skype Translator got its beta release in the last days of 2014 with Spanish and English part of the debut offering that translates one language in text or speech into another. Eventually over 40 languages will be a part of the product and with even Klingon (from Star Trek) on the list, there are potentially hours of fun to be had. Should the translation feature be a success, there is scope for it to become part of Skype for Business and present a chance for more effective interaction with colleagues working across the globe.

Microsoft Lumia and Windows Phone 8.1

Nokia's presence on the Lumia line of smartphones was served notice as the first Microsoft Lumia smartphones were unveiled in October before the Nokia name was ditched entirely the following month. The demise of the Nokia moniker came just seven months after Microsoft finally tied up its deal to acquire Nokia's mobile business for a hefty $7.2 billion (around 4.6 billion, AU$8.9 billion) after several months of regulatory wrangling. Now all it needs to do is get its Windows Phone OS to turn heads.

To do this it unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 in April, and with it came Microsoft's answer to Apple's Siri and Google Now ? the Cortana voice assistant. Since it was released in March, the virtual assistant has been hard at work trying to make friends by correctly predicting the outcome of World Cup and NFL games, and its arrival on Windows 10 will only strengthen its reputation.

Other business

We got a first peek at the Microsoft Band wearable wristband that works with all operating systems and packs so many features that its battery life struggles to cope for a day of normal use.

Could health and wearables be the saviour of Microsoft?

Towards the end of the year, Microsoft finally began to accept Bitcoin payments for digital content including games, apps and videos through its app store, with the success of the US rollout likely to dictate its progress across the world.

The open source community let out a yelp of excitement when the doors to Microsoft's .NET framework were thrown open to developers and it is now available on Linux and Mac OS X for the first time. It marked one of the first occasions that Microsoft truly recognised the open source community as a software development model that has its place in the industry as a whole.

Minecraft became a part of Microsoft's arsenal as it acquired the game's developer Mojang for a huge $2.5 billion (around 1.6 billion, AU$3.1 billion) to take on a title that generated $326 million (around 210 million, AU$400 million) in revenue last year.

Finally, Microsoft said a collective farewell to former CEO Steve Ballmer in August as the energetic ball of fun departed to take over the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers franchise from disgraced owner Donald Sterling.

Facebook doubles its next F8 conference for a two-day extravaganza
19 December, 2014

After resurrecting the once-annual F8 developer conference in early 2014, Facebook has announced it's expanding the event for a two-day extravaganza next March.

The 2015 F8 Facebook conference will mark the first time the event has gone longer than one day.

"Facebook's developer community is bigger today than it ever has been," reads an announcement Facebook sent out today. "The scope of the company's products has broadened, and there's more content to share than can fit into a single day. The additional day means double the number of technical sessions, product demos, and onsite experiences for Facebook's growing developer community. "

The announcement said registration details will be sent out in early 2015, but for now you can mark your calendar and create a Facebook event for March 25 and 26.

The OnePlus One stands alone