Daily Archives: July 15, 2009

I have temporarily removed Firefox 3.5 from my computer

This follows a highly critical alert from Secunia. I like Firefox, so I’ll probably reinstall it asap. Meanwhile I have made Google Chrome my default browser. It gets 100% thumbs up from Secunia. IE8 doesn’t, but the risk there is rated moderate, but I don’t use IE8 often.

Update 16 July

I have reinstalled Firefox, despite the warning, hoping my various cyber condoms make the problem less significant. I am nonetheless keeping Chrome as my default browser for the time being. It is less resource hungry than it was when I first tried it and it certainly looks good.

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Posted by on July 15, 2009 in awful warnings, computers, web stuff


Oh dear, I agree with Peter Costello!

Peter Costello, Treasurer in the Howard Government, is famously about to drop out of parliamentary politics, even if the majority of voters would have him rather than Malcolm Turnbull as Opposition Leader. Nowadays he writes regularly for The Sydney Morning Herald. Today he weighs into the China syndrome. I am sure many Costello-haters, and there are many, would love to pin “racism” on this article, but I don’t believe that would be fair. What he says, based on my own limited experience of doing business with China, is actually true.

…Stealing state secrets is not a common crime in Australia, and it is certainly not a crime to obtain information about your customers and how they might approach a commercial negotiation. If you do obtain such information, it cannot be a state secret because companies are privately owned.

In China, where the state owns so many companies, commercial information becomes a state secret, which tells you that these are not corporations in the way we understand them.

Supporters of the Chinalco proposal argued Chinalco was just like any other corporation. However, Chinalco was even more intertwined with the Chinese Government than other companies, as its chairman was an alternate member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

We should remember that the Australian Government did not rule that the Chinalco bid was contrary to our national interest. It never expressed a view about the application.

Rio pulled out of the proposal under pressure from its shareholders. As it turns out it could raise money elsewhere, and it recognised there was more benefit from an association with the Australian producer BHP than Chinalco – an association it had previously spurned…

As I found, only in China can you get copyright clearance for a whole group of authors by approaching the Department of Culture in Beijing. The state, rather than the authors, controls the copyright.

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Posted by on July 15, 2009 in Chinese and China, current affairs


“Slavery” may be a bit strong, but bad nonetheless…

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald exposes what would appear to be a racket in the overseas student business. Make sure you read the associated stories.

THOUSANDS of overseas students are being made to work free – or even to pay to work – by businesses exploiting loopholes in immigration and education laws in what experts describe as a system of economic slavery.

The vast pool of unpaid labour was created in 2005 when vocational students were required to do 900 hours’ work experience. There was no requirement that they be paid.

Overseas students remained bound to the system as completion of such courses became a near-guaranteed pathway to permanent residency.

Since then the number of foreign students enrolled in the vocational training sector has leapt from 65,120 to 173,432 last year – about half of all our overseas students.

The changes have created a $15 billion industry – comparable countries do not offer residency – but experts, teachers and students say many of the private college courses are little more than visa mills. Since 2001 the number of private colleges has leapt from 664 to 4892

That last figure should make one suspicious. How many of these “schools” would pass muster?

A disclaimer: my little bit of tutoring is organised by a migration agency, but it has been in business for twenty years and deals only with universities, TAFE, established state and non-government schools, and the better English colleges. I can vouch for the integrity of the business having known the principals for some time and would add that they also go to some lengths in ensuring the well-being of their clients. But there is no doubt there are some very shonky outfits in operation, some with suspicious links – such as husband to wife – to the “colleges” students are recruited to.

Of course this is a background issue in some of the cases regarding Indian students we have been hearing about lately.

The unfortunate effects on the industry in this case were enabled by the Howard government.