Xbox Live … combine the interactivity of the internet with old-school television viewing, Microsoft says.Interactive advertising, where you can wave or talk to commercials, is coming to a screen near you after Microsoft unveiled “NUads” for its Xbox Live online entertainment service.

The “NUads”, like interactive advertisements on the web, allow viewers to respond to commercials through its Kinect sensor by answering questions and waving at the screen, Microsoft said yesterday.

And the software giant’s advertisers may one day be able to read your moods while you watch television, according to a patent application last week, MSNBC reported.

‘New era for TV advertising’

Microsoft, which is behind the Xbox 360 videogame consoles, said Toyota, Unilever, and Samsung Mobile USA were developing campaigns tailored for “NUads” that will be rolled out on Xbox Live in three months or so.

“NUads marks the beginning of a new era for TV advertising,” Xbox Live entertainment and advertising general manager Ross Honey said.

“It delivers the one thing traditional TV advertising is missing – engagement.”

Viewers of NUads can provide feedback, such as taking surveys or answering questions, using button-and-toggle controllers or motion or voice control capabilities of Kinect accessories for Xbox 360 consoles.

Advertisers get the potentially insightful data, plus generalised demographic information about respondents.

“We developed NUads to breathe new life into the standard 30-second spot,” Honey said. “With NUads, brands can get real-time feedback from audiences, making TV advertising actionable for the first time.”

Mood reader?

In the June 7 application to the US Patent & Trademark Office, Microsoft said it wanted to develop a ‘‘computer system’’ that would be able to ‘‘target advertisements based on emotional states’’.

As pointed out by MSNBC, the system could use a device like Kinect to identify a viewer’s emotions through their voices and gestures:

‘‘[T]he voice and gestures from the computing device, eg. Microsoft Kinect.TM. 270, may be analysed for speech patterns, body movement, and facial expression to determine whether the user is smiling, frowning, screaming, etc.

“If the user on the videos or images from the computing device, eg. Microsoft Kinect.TM. 270, is screaming, the advertisement engine 120 may assign a negative emotional state, such as, upset, to the user.

“If the user on the videos or images from the computing device, eg. Microsoft Kinect.TM. 270, is pacing back and forth, the advertisement engine 120 may assign a negative emotional state, such as, worried, to the user.”

Growing revenue from TV ads

Microsoft expected to charge premium prices for the internet age television ads. Global revenue from television advertising this year will top $US187 billion and climb in the years ahead, according to market trackers.

Microsoft this month stepped up its quest to be at the heart of home entertainment by syncing Xbox 360 consoles to smartphones and tablets while adding more blockbuster content.

Microsoft unveiled Xbox SmartGlass software for linking the world’s leading consoles to iPhones, iPads, Android-powered gadgets and, of course, devices powered by the firm’s new Windows 8 operating system.

SmartGlass capitalises on the growing popularity of using Xbox Live to stream movies, music and other entertainment from the Internet.

The application lets people start watching a film on a tablet and then easily switch to home television screens without breaking continuity, a demonstration showed.

After a film routes to a television, the tablet automatically begins displaying supplementary information about actors or other topics related to the movie being watched.

smh苏州美甲培训学校.au and AFP

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Furry critter … the wombat will be respectfully nudged on to a new burrow.There are many things that could block a stormwater drain.

But a wombat?

Imagine the surprise on the faces of the people at the Launceston City Council when they stumbled across a furry critter while viewing video from a stormwater pipe survey recently.

The shy little squatter was discovered by engineering development officer Sonia Smith, The Examiner reports.

Ms Smith said that one of the tasks council asked developers to undertake when building a new subdivision was to ensure all their stormwater pipes were working.

“They do that by conducting a remote video camera survey, and they then send the videos into us,” Ms Smith said.

“The equipment they use is basically a remote controlled camera, driven by a joystick.

“Sometimes in these videos you see the odd rat or spider, but this is the first time I’ve seen a wombat.”

Ms Smith said the wombat found his or her way into the pipe because it was open at one end.

“It’s a 300mm pipe, which is the smallest we use, but it appears that it might be a perfect size for a wombat burrow,” she said.

Ms Smith said the wombat will be respectfully nudged on to a new burrow and access to the pipe will be blocked.

The Examiner

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A leading Melbourne QC says Melbourne Water has acted unlawfully and outrageously by refusing to repay immediately millions of its customers who have been overcharged for their water in a billing blunder.

David Galbally, QC, has drafted a letter for customers to fill out and send to the state government-owned water agency demanding to know when they will be repaid their share of the $306 million mistakenly billed to customers for the Wonthaggi desalination plant before it was finished.

After acknowledging its error, Melbourne Water initially said consumers would be refunded over five years in the form of offsets to future water bills.

However yesterday the authority raised the possibility of some alternative repayment methods.

Mr Galbally said Victorians should stand up for their rights and make statutory bodies and governments accountable.

‘‘I think the conduct of Melbourne Water is nothing short of outrageous, not to ignore the fact that they have taken this money unlawfully, they have no entitlement to it,’’ he told radio 3AW.

‘‘If the boot was on the other foot they’d be screaming to get money out of customers and taking all sorts of legal action.

‘‘This is not their money. It’s the Victorians’ money. There are going to be elderly and other people who can’t afford to have this sort of money taken out of their accounts and not repaid back to them. Can you imagine if somebody didn’t pay their water bill? They’d immediately get a letter of demand, and I think that it’s conduct that we should not put up with. The standard has got to be equal across the community.’’

Despite becoming aware of its error months ago, Melbourne Water will continue charging people for the operation of the desalination plant while it remains a construction site. After a series of delays, the project is not due for completion until next February.

Melbourne Water has said it cannot afford to repay consumers immediately and in fact has to continue to overcharge for water because the extra money has been factored into its latest five-year financial plan.

Mr Galbally has drafted a template letter for customers to complete with their personal details and send to Melbourne Water.

The letter demands that the water agency provide details within the next week of the amount overcharged, when the money will be repaid, and at what interest rate.

The letter states that if the money is not returned, the customer ‘‘shall have no alternative but to deduct it from your future accounts together with the current overdraft interest or existing overdraft interest at the time’’.

Mr Galbally urged customers to send it immediately.

‘‘The money is not entitled to be held by Melbourne Water,’’ he said.

‘‘If I was to take money out of my bank account that had been put in by accident by the bank, I would be made to repay that. If I didn’t repay it, I could well be charged for theft because there is no entitlement to have the money. Accident or no accident, once you’ve been told that the money you have in your hands doesn’t belong to you, you need to return it to its owner. It’s simple.’’

He said customers could launch a class action against Melbourne Water.

Below is a the template letter drafted by Mr Galbally (or open here in a new window):

Dear Sir,I advise I am a customer of Melbourne Water [or whichever authority is the relevant authority].  My account number is [insert details].  I have been advised that over the last 3 years or so I have been overcharged with respect to my water bills.  Would you provide me within the next 7 days the following:• Details of the amount or amounts overcharged in respect of each account rendered; • When you will repay the overcharged amount and at what interest rate?Should you not be able to repay my money within a reasonable time, I shall have no alternative but to deduct it from your future accounts together with the current overdraft interest or existing overdraft interest at the time.I look forward to your reply as soon as possible.

Yours faithfully,[insert name]

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A man has been sentenced to 22 months in a juvenile detention centre after he was caught with more than 20,000 child pornography images on his computer and almost 3000 videos of child pornography.

Sean Monagle, 20, of Mount Helen, south of Ballarat, pleaded guilty to three charges of making available, accessing and knowingly possessing child pornography.

County Court judge Joe Gullaci said Monagle had been intermittently downloading child pornography since he was 14.

When arrested during a raid on his home on August 3 last year, Monagle told Australian Federal Police that the children looked as though they were enjoying themselves and “they are curious to try things”.

Monagle had been accessing and trading the images and videos with between 100-150 contacts using the software program GigaTribe.

Judge Gullaci said Monagle had been involved in a disgraceful and depraved trade involving other like-minded sexual deviants.

“All the children in these images and videos are victims, let there be no doubt about that,” the judge said.

He said vulnerable children, including babies, were being abused and people like Monagle contributed to the child pornography trade.

“You are not some young man who looked at this material out of curiosity. You are part of a disgusting, depraved trade,” the judge told Monagle. “And because of people like you this trade grows.”

Judge Gullaci said it had been his unfortunate duty to view the material before sentencing Monagle and for anyone to claim the children were enjoying themselves was “an affront to the decency of this world”.

“These are not victimless crimes,” he said.

The judge however said Monagle had good prospects for rehabilitation and would be vulnerable in an adult jail.

Monagle’s father was in the Army and his mother a midwife at a local hospital and both were supportive of Monagle.

A psychologist said Monagle had never been sexually active with a partner and the child pornography had been his exclusive sexual outlet.

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A duck hunter takes aim near Howlong on the Murray River during last year’s season.As Victoria’s duck hunting season begins this weekend — albeit quietly in the rain-starved south-west — activists are still fighting criminal prosecutions arising from last year’s protests.

Among the unresolved cases as hunting resumes are a charge against one protester of failing to kill a duck he was trying to rescue and five other activists contesting charges of harassing hunters.

Laurie Levy, campaign director for the Coalition Against Duck Shooting, says such criminal charges haven’t been laid in decades and he fears this year’s protest will be made more difficult with the court matters still outstanding.

“This will be our toughest rescue in the last 27 years,” he said.

“It’s going to be a tough one. But on the plus side there aren’t as many duck shooters around these days.”

Under wildlife laws, birds have to be killed as quickly as possible to avoid prolonged suffering.

During the last weekend of the 2011 season protester Anthony Murphy, 56, picked up a wounded duck that had survived being shot.

Mr Murphy had been taking the bird back to a veterinarian to save it when it died, Mr Levy said, which prompted a wildlife officer to then charge him with failing to kill game taken alive.

The matters returned to court briefly this week but all were adjourned to another date.

Mr Levy said the criminal charges were proof wildlife officers, who are now working under the Coalition government’s newly-created gaming unit, have been told to target protesters and protect hunters.

“They now see us as the enemy,” he said.

Game Victoria has been tasked with both promoting hunting and wildlife conservation.

But a spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries noted a number of agencies are involved in monitoring the activities of hunters and protesters, not just officers from Game Victoria.

“DPI has full confidence in its authorised staff to undertake their legislative responsibilities with professionalism and impartiality,” the spokesman said.

Victoria’s duck shooting season opened yesterday morning, with hunters allowed to kill up to 10 birds a day for the next 12 weeks.

The size of this year’s hunt has been criticised by the RSPCA, which called it a barbaric sport.

But the state government continues to actively promote duck hunting and is encouraging as many shooters as possible to head to wetlands this year.

“Victoria has some fantastic game reserves and duck hunters shouldn’t be disheartened by the recent flooding,” Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said in a statement.

“There are still many areas of northern Victoria not affected by floods that are open for business for the upcoming duck season.”

However, the season across the south-west promises to be subdued with many wetlands drying up in the past six weeks.

The region’s shooters are likely to target Yambuk, Tower Hill and Lake Colac, or travel to Gippsland or northern Victoria in pursuit of ducks.

More than 100 protesters are expected to head to Lake Buloke Wildlife Reserve in north-western Victoria to rescue birds.

Victoria Police will also monitor the situation at the lake and across the state, a police spokeswoman said.

Due to the main duck season action being in other areas of the state, anti-duck shooting protestors are not likely to be prominent in the south-west.

South Australia is the only other state that hasn’t banned or stopped duck shooting seasons.

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WARRNAMBOOL fire fighters have attended the second suspicious small fire at The Flume off Merri Street in the past few days.

Warrnambool fire brigade fire officer David Ferguson said there was a small grass and scrub fire near the wooden lookout platform at The Flume, which was reported to emergency services at 1.30am.

He said about a dozen volunteers only took minutes to bring the small blaze under control but access from the car park to the platform had been an issue.

There was another small fire in the same area earlier this week on a footpath.

The fire brigade has referred the matters to the Warrnambool police who are believed to be treating the causes of the fires as suspicious.

Detective Senior Constable Jason Bourke, of the Warrnambool police crime investigation unit, said it was of obvious concern that two fires had been lit in an area where there was a large amount of flammable material.

He said there was also a fire believed to have been deliberately lit on a wooden bench at the Our Lady Help Of Christians Church at Selby Road.

The fire was reported to the fire brigade at 10.54pm Thursday and firefighters only took minutes to extinguish the blaze.

Anyone who has seen anything suspicious in either The Flume or Selby Road area is requested to contact Warrnambool police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Nurses and widwives rally outside Warrnambool Base Hospital in December.WARRNAMBOOL nurses have won a pay increase of up to 21 per cent and will maintain current nurse-to-patient ratios following an agreement struck with the state government and hospitals.

After a bitter nine-month dispute, Warrnambool Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) member and South West Healthcare nurse Jenny Charles said the prevailing feeling among nurses was relief.

“Most importantly the patient ratios are staying,” she said.

“The highest pay increase will be for grade two nurses and then gradually decrease to grade seven.

“Just to maintain the ratios is important.

“We’re very angry this has gone on so long. It’s been very stressful for everyone.

“This could have been solved a long time ago. Everyone is very relieved that it is all over.”

ANF state secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick told a packed meeting of nurses and midwives in Melbourne on Friday that the nurses had emerged from negotiations with much more of what they wanted than what the government wanted.

The resolution will include pay increases of between 14 and 21 per cent over four years, no health assistants, no split shifts and a maintenance of nurse-patient ratios, which was one of the sticking points in the dispute.

Last week, the government agreed to the nurses’ demand for an independent umpire on the condition that they stop industrial action.

The ANF, the government and employer group the Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association had committed to reaching an outcome by Friday.

The negotiations took place under the watch of an independent Fair Work Australia (FWA) tribunal member.

The union had been seeking a pay rise of 18.5 per cent over three years and eight months and maintenance of current nurse-to-patient ratios.

The government’s public sector wages policy is 2.5 per cent annual pay rises, with any extra gains offset by productivity measures.

– with AAP

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LADDER-leader Nestles won’t finalise its side for the knockout semi-final against reigning premier Allansford until tomorrow.

Captain Brett Eldridge, who missed last week’s final regular season game through suspension, is an automatic selection, creating a headcahe for selectors.

The Factory also has to squeeze teenage batsman/leg-spinner Louis Herbert back into the XI after he attended a pre-season North Ballarat Rebels football training camp last week.

Eldridge revealed Nestles was still trying to clarify the eligibility of Brayden Harkness, who has missed much of the season while travelling overseas.

But he is a proven performer with the club. “We’ve got a squad of 13 we can pick from,” Eldridge said.

“I’ll see what the weather is up to before we make any decisions.”

Eldridge said Herbert’s right-arm leg-spinners had been a revelation this season.

“He’s a nice, tall kid and he gets that little bit of bounce rather than being a traditional leggie who skids them through a bit more,” he said.

Opponent Allansford is also playing its cards close. The Gators named 12 last night, with opening paceman Tim Abraham staking a claim for a recall after missing last week with an injury.

Merrivale captain Michael Walsh last night put experienced batsman Matthew Wilkinson through a searching fitness test. Wilkinson missed the final game of the regular season with a hamstring injury.

Walsh said he would wait until tonight to assess how Wilkinson pulled up before finalising his side for the semi-final against West Warrnambool at Dennington Recreation Reserve.

With Merrivale fielding sides in the division three and four semi-finals, Walsh said a decision had to be made as early as possible, with tonight the deadline.

Opponent West Warrnambool will take an unchanged side into the semi-final. Captain Andrew Robb said teenagers Tom Smith and Will Mills would make their division one finals debuts after outstanding seasons.

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HAMPDEN White is the first team to seal a spot in the Western Regional State League 17 and under grand final after demolishing league-mate Hampden Green 58-34 last night.

White and Green, which finished second and first on the ladder respectively, were both missing multiple injured players.

But it was the resilient White which managed to cover the gaps seamlessly.

Victorious coach Kate Kearney said it was a solid four-quarter effort from her group.

“The key was that they got off to a really good start,” she said. “They were all fired up (and) they had a really good warm-up. They had set goals that they wanted to achieve each quarter and they ended up nailing those.”

White was missing Sarah Bullen and Carly Pulling, while Green was without Skye Billings and Chantelle Moloney and Annie Blackburn did not step onto the court from the bench.

White, which remained unchanged for the match, sprinted to a 15-9 lead before pulling away to 33-15 at half-time.

Green went goal for goal with White in the third quarter, before the energetic White regained its energy in the fourth.

Keeper Ailish Glennen continued to hold tight against Green shooter Hannah Lourey, while goal attack Kate O’Meara and shooter Cloe Pulling made sure to convert White’s hard work.

“It was one of those games where I couldn’t pick a weak link,” Kearney said.

“They were all outstanding.”

White will play the winner of Hampden Green and Warrnambool City in the preliminary final next Thursday.

City defeated Warrnambool and District 48-38 in the first semi-final last night.

“We will come out as a team and watch the (preliminary final), then we will get ready for the grand final the week after,” Kearney said.

Meanwhile, Netball Victoria awarded B grade umpiring badges to Melissa Kettle, Casey Weel and Tamara Bull last night.

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Camperdown centre Rachel Rodger beats her Warrnambool and District Yellow counterpart Anna Archie to the ball. ANY anticipation of a tight tussle between Camperdown Night Netball Association and Warrnambool and District Yellow was blown out of the water in the first term last night.

The classy Camperdown outfit crushed Yellow’s Western Regional State League finals hopes almost immediately before racing to the convincing 69-47 victory.

It was still a feisty encounter and at times the enthusiasm of Yellow suggested a fightback was brewing.

But the unflappable Magpies cruised along with purpose and precision to collect a ticket to the first round of open finals next week.

Camperdown playing-coach Rachel Rodger, who battled Anna Archie in the centre, said it was important to fire out of the blocks.

“I think our start probably threw them,” she said.

“We got a jump on them at the beginning. We got a six-to-eight goal lead early then pushed away.”

The Magpies soared to a 19-12 lead at quarter-time, dominating the midcourt and attacking ends.

“I did say before the game that our start was a focus,” Rodger said.

“Getting a good start is crucial (and) it really set the tone.”

Camperdown goal attack Kate Wilson starred in the second term, zipping around opponent Claire Wines and pulling in intercepts as a makeshift defender in the centre third.

The margin blew out to 10 early but the pace and control of Sarah Madden from wing defence and the reliable conversions of goal attack Danielle McInerney and Katie Burt reduced the difference back to 32-25 at half-time.

“Kate (Wilson) has added some real speed to our team,” Rodger said.

“She shot well and created space for (shooter) Narelle (Welsh).”

Versatile Magpie Leah Sinnott switched to goal defence, making room for Emily Stephens to step into her trademark wing defence position.

Yellow made one change, sending Stacy Rohan to wing defence.

But Camperdown opened the third term with three unanswered goals, eventually skipping out to an 11-goal lead.

Yellow’s intensity dropped, causing hesitation and mistakes.

Sinnott’s optimistic long-range rugby-like pass late in the term, which made its way down the court for a goal, epitomised Camperdown’s confident quarter.

“We’ve been playing pretty good netball,” Rodger said.

“Our defensive pressure was as good as it has been and in attack we didn’t make many mistakes.”

Trailing 52-37, Yellow reverted to its familiar attacking trio of Burt in shooter, Rhiannon Davis in goal attack and McInerney in wing attack, but its defensive line-up continued to be outplayed.

The Magpies went through the motions in the fourth, with all players proving their worth on the court.

“To be able to play this comp leading into the Hampden league season has just been the perfect preparation for us,” Rodger said.

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