Microwaves for weed control

A laboratory model used to trial the effectiveness of microwave radiation in weed control.By Olivia McInnes

The ever increasing issues of weed resistance to chemical control have got farmers and scientists alike wondering where to go next.

Melbourne University’s Master of Agricultural Science, Dr Graham Brodie, may just have the answer the agricultural industry is looking for.

Dr Brodie said when microwave radiation is applied to a plant, it heats up the stem causing small steam bubbles to form. These steam bubbles block the plants nutrient and water transport passageways, causing it to wilt an die.

Dr Brodie has been working on technology designed to control weed problems on the ground using microwave energy.

“I started working on this idea in response to the need to avoid problems with chemicals and resistance” Dr Brodie said.

“There is also some interest in controlling weeds without the use of chemicals at all in environmentally sensitive areas, for example water reservoirs” he said.

Dr Brodie is currently working on converting the technology from a small scale laboratory model, to a miniature prototype that can be towed behind a tractor.

He says that although microwave radiation technology would be a less economical option when compared to chemical control, he is hoping to eventually incorporate it with weed seeker technology, increasing its cost effectiveness.

“Ideally, this new technology could be used as part of an integrated weed program to combat resistance and clean up paddocks for a fresh start” he said.

Wireless network increases options for Condobolin TAFE students

Darcy Whitla and Donna Edwards are both currently studying Certificate III in Employment Education and Training at Condoboin TAFE. DGBy Dominic Geiger

Condobolin TAFE students no longer have to travel huge distances just to attend classes thanks to the recent introduction of TAFE Western’s Wireless Network.

The wireless network access has been commissioned at all TAFE Western colleges, which stretch from Broken Hill to Lithgow and from Lightening Ridge to Cowra.

Education Support Officer at TAFE Western Condobolin, Sue Henley, said the technology would allow for increased flexibility in how students chose to study.

“I think it’s great; the students can bring their own laptops and can hook up to video conferences which are taking place in Orange,” she said.

“In the same way, teachers in Condobolin can present video conferences here to students in Parkes or Forbes.

“It also gives students scope to take part in outdoor learning if it’s a nice day as they can just use their laptops to connect to classes.”

Sue said far from replacing other forms of learning, the Wireless Network would simply exist as an option for those students who were already tech savvy.

“It all depends on the student,” she said.

“The technology just allows for more learning options.”

TAFE Western Institute Director, Kate Baxter, said TAFE teachers were now able to use online material, video and other resources on the wireless network in every building including trade workshops.

“In addition to the wireless network, TAFE Western has also been developing more online training courses in project management, financial services, information technology, electrical and mechanical engineering, retail, tertiary preparation, children’s services and welfare,” she said.

“We have a goal to have 20 course areas previously not online, delivered using new technology which allows the participation of geographically dispersed students.”

Editorial-Social media makes defamation as easy as one, two, tweet

By Dominic Geiger

Anyone who uses Facebook or Twitter should undergo defamation training.

There, I’ve finally said it. That sense of irritation after viewing countless jaded lovers, frustrated friends and embittered families commit defamation against those who have wronged them on Facebook or Twitter’s public forums has finally got to me. As a member of the media, I, along with everyone else who publishes information, am bound by the laws of libel. I am not allowed to make public, slanderous, false accusations under the guise of truthful statements. Such offenses are punishable in a court of law. It doesn’t even matter if only a small number of people read these statements, as it only takes three people for a defamation case to be instigated: the perpetrator, the victim and a member of the public. So if I can be fined and even imprisoned for making false, damaging accusations to even one member of the public, why should someone with 500+ friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter feel as though they will be treated any differently?

The truth of the matter is that historically, social media defamation victims have been less likely to press charges against perpetrators of libel than if they were defamed in, for example The Sydney Morning Herald. Recently however, this has begun to change. Many criminal cases of defamation committed via social network sites have started appearing around the world.

Even our own rural community of Condobolin hasn’t managed to escape such controversies, with Condobolin police currently investigating a complaint from a teenager who was defamed via Facebook. Speaking to The Condobolin Argus late last month, a Parkes police spokesperson said the page, which has been designed to impersonate a Condobolin teenager, contained “names and comments of a distressing nature.” Police have since been liaising with Facebook officials, however as Facebook requires a court-issued subpoena before they will hand over material, the case has been progressing slowly.

Then there was the case of Condo Goss, the notorious Facebook page created by an ‘anonymous’ user who used the site for the sole purpose of spreading malicious rumours about different Condobolin residents. Recently, the site has disappeared, however a reactionary Facebook page attacking the Condo Goss site still remains.

Nothing is easier than feeling anonymous on social media websites. The ability to create fake profiles, view online information without contributing and the relative ease of hacking a friend’s Facebook or Twitter account have all led internet users to feel as though they can do as they please on the web. The problem with this sense of anonymity is that it is false. Every computer has an IP address, its own little electronic signature if you will. Though difficult to achieve, police can obtain IP addresses from both Facebook and Twitter.

So next time you’re sitting with your laptop or iPhone in a huff because your significant other, friend or family member has wronged you, think twice before you publish something hurtful and untrue. You’re nowhere near as anonymous as you might think.

Improved viewing at the Condo Sports Club

Manager of the Sports Club Michael Waller and Chairperson Doug ParnabyCondobolin Sports Club patrons will now be able to keep up with all the latest news and entertainment with the addition of three new digital television screens to the club’s main bar area.

Installed last week, the screens are connected to a computer which allows the user to choose what will appear on the monitors.

Sports Club Office and IT Assistant, Karyn White, said the installation was good progress for the club.

“Instead of having a noticeboard with [large amounts of] paper all over it, people will now be able to get a clear message from the screens,” she said.

“It’s great for communicating to everyone who visits the club what’s coming up, what’s happening, and what’s just happened.

“We can put golf and bowls results, menus, winners of various championships and messages for people’s birthdays up.”

Manager of the Condobolin sports club, Michael Waller, said he was thrilled to finally have the screens up and running.

“They’ll be used for running our Monday afternoon Bingo as well as badge draws and raffles,” he said.

“We’re also able to jump online and get current news to scroll along the bottom of the screens.”


Mice munch through Condo High’s fibre optic cables

By Dominic Geiger

A mouse plague has caused over $16,000 worth of damage to the Condobolin High School’s fibre optic cabling.
Despite the mice chewing through the connecting glue in the cables, quick thinking by the school’s two computer co-ordinators Michael Baker and Dinesh Dodhy ensured the network was only unavailable for a day.
Principal at Condobolin High School Bob Carline said he couldn’t thank Dinesh and Michael enough for their work.
“What they did was absolutely fantastic,” he said.
“They did emergency repairs and set up a landline connection; I don’t know where we’d be without them.
“I also want to praise the quick response from the Department (of Education).
“We had two guys come from Bathurst who pretty much worked for two days straight to fix the cables.
“We’ve replaced the cables with mechanically sealed units rather than glue this time to hopefully prevent it happening again.
Bob said the mice problem was evident all over the school, though health risks prevented baiting to control the pests.
“Walking through the oval you notice them and I’ve had them in my office,” he said.
“Poisoning or spraying isn’t a real option in a school environment given the danger to students.”

Free internet education for Condobolin Seniors

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By Olivia McInnes

The Condobolin Library has recently installed new computers for Condobolin seniors as part of Senior Citizens week. The program is part of a Government initiative which provides free access to computers, broadband services and training to older Australians through computer kiosks at participating organisations.
The addition of these computers to the library gives seniors the opportunity to discover how the web can play a valuable role in helping them stay in touch with friends and family, along with offering access to a wealth of knowledge.
There are two volunteers at the library whom offer free training to seniors. They are more than happy to teach seniors how to surf the internet, and also to set up an email account.
With next week being Senior Citizens week the computers will be free for seniors to drop in and take advantage of this opportunity, and the library intends to make this service an ongoing one. Library opening hours are; Mondays and Tuesdays from 1pm – 5:30pm, Wednesday to Friday 10-12pm and 1-5:30pm, and Saturday mornings from 9-12pm. All seniors are most welcome!

National Broadband – is it too broad?

Are you confused about the National Broadband Network (NBN) issue? Are you worried about the Commonwealth Government establishing a new company to build and operate a new super fast National Broadband Network at the cost of $4.7 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money on one area of infrastructure?
Do you think it will be worth the cost to the nation?
Read on to find out how the NBN will work and what some experts think.
The new super fast National Broadband Network, built in partnership with private sector and an initial Commonwealth Government investment in the network of $4.7 billion, is to be the single largest nation building infrastructure project in Australian history.
Government reports say that the new superfast network will:
• connect 90 percent of homes, schools and workplaces with optical fibre (fibre to the premises or ‘FTTP’), providing broadband services to Australians in urban and regional towns with speeds of 100 megabits per second – 100 times faster than those currently used by most people extending to towns with a population of around 1,000 or more people
• use next generation wireless and satellite technologies that will be able to deliver 12 megabits per second or more to people living in more remote parts of rural Australia
• provide fibre optic transmission links connecting cities, major regional centres and rural towns
• be Australia’s first national wholesale-only, open access broadband network
• be built and operated on a commercial basis by a company established at arm’s length from Government and involve private sector investment
• be expected to be rolled-out, simultaneously, in metropolitan, regional, and rural areas.
The aim is have every person and business in Australia, no-matter where they are located, to have access to affordable, fast broadband at their fingertips.
This vision has the potential to enhance interaction between all Australians and be an integral part of the global village. Ideally, there will no longer be “the tyranny of distance”; the isolation by geography and the separation by demography.
Director of the Condobolin based Central West Connections Neil Folkers said “Broadband is a great innovation as Australia is so far behind the rest of the world with internet services. This is due to the lack of infra structure investment by the companies involved and a lack of vision from governments. The opposition’s idea of patching up the wireless service would mean spending more and more money on an old system and would end up costing more in the long run. This National Broadband scheme is a true investment for the future as nothing surpasses fibre optics for data flow.”
Neil went on to praise the advantages of broadband, “It will give us data, voice and video capabilities as fibre optic cuts out on the ‘latency’ or time it takes for information to travel. In the future fibre optic could provide remote access from Sydney hospitals to use robots to perform robotic surgery in rural and remote areas.”
One thing that Neil said was important was the education of people about broadband: “The NBN is scaring people because there is little understanding of how it will work. The Government needs to inform people in a more basic and accessible way.”
Former aerial and satellite installer Alan Press believes, “As technology develops exponentially the availability of high quality electronic carriers provides the means to participate in as yet unexplored opportunities essential for our future development as a nation.
“I see the benefits for the government in the collection of accurate real time information for the allocation of resources and timely implementation of programs. The ability to deliver internet medical skills to isolated areas is improving all the time and possibilities for the education revolution are endless.
With all this potential and immense financial investment, certain questions need to be asked.
Do we all need to be on 100 Mb? No says Computer Technician Grant Booth of Upside Down Websites Temora.
“A more economical approach would be to utilize mobile towers and sharing the reception in the more remote farming areas or smaller communities. Up to 15 farms could be linked to the one tower with 10mg of reception. Japan and America are already rolling out 4G [mobile reception]– the rest of the world has moved on and we are still on 3G! The phone carriers here have not even finished a 3G roll out.”
“1.5 mg is ok to run a computer and do what I do in my businesses. Not every house needs the 100 meg connection and the initial reported cost of $3,000 plus $50 or $60 per month rental. Depending where you are Wireless internet is better for the cost involved – though not great for movie downloading.”
“Fibre optic underground in a big country? Fibre optic costs in towns are ok from the street to the door but not as cost effective for remote areas.
“The 3G wireless hook up could effectively supply a farmer’s phones, computer and business needs – after all their paddocks are their office and that would give greater connectivity to them plus 3G or 4G has portability as an advantage.”
In conclusion, Alan says, “The worst thing that could happen would be to underestimate the long term benefits. This National Broadband Network should be done with courage and vision now. Do it once and do it well.”
Compiled by K.Tooth

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