Episode 272 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


Glenn’s Shownotes

LG smart fridge tells you what to buy, cook and eat

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a voice-controlled fridge that helps you diet and keeps track of your groceries, as well as ovens and washing machines that can be controlled via smartphone.
LG’s Smart Refrigerator, announced today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, comes with a “food management system” that allows users to check what’s in their fridge from their smartphone, with granular details right down to the expiration date.
There are multiple ways to tell the fridge what items are inside. One way is to select from a range of preset items using the fridge’s touchscreen but there is also voice recognition and the ability to scan grocery receipts or barcodes using your smartphone.

a “health manager”, which will tell you recipes for things you can make based on what is in your fridge and the personal profiles of family members. LG says it takes into account age, gender, weight and body mass index to develop daily or weekly meal plans based on personal profiles.

LG’s smart oven, fridge and washing machine can be monitored – and controlled – remotely from a smartphone or TV set, regardless of the user’s geographical location.
Another LG fridge announced at CES contained a “blast chiller” that LG said was able to chill a warm beer in just a few minutes.

300k gamers help feed world’s poorest

MORE than 300,000 Australians have found a way to help to feed the world’s poorest people – by signing up to play an online game.
Freerice.com is run by the United Nations World Food Program. In the game, players earn grains of rice by correctly answering questions on geography, art, mathematics and chemistry, as well as German, Spanish, Italian, French and English.

When one of the multiple choice questions is answered correctly, an advertising banner appears at the bottom of the page. The program uses the money generated by the ads to buy the corresponding quantities of rice.


Ninety-four billion grains, enough to feed five million people for a day, have been bought as a result of people choosing to play the game. ”Freerice not only feeds the hungry, it supports local markets and farmers,” the World Food Program head of web, Pierre Guillaume Wielezynski, said.

From June last year, the rice distribution has been going to Cambodia

Online message puts halt to shark fin sales

The largest supermarket chain in Singapore will stop selling shark fin products from April after one of the chain’s shark fin suppliers, which made the comment ”Screw the divers!” in an online promotional message for a new product to be launched at FairPrice outlets. The comment, apparently directed at divers campaigning against the shark fin trade, went viral on Facebook and Twitter.

Many of the reactions advocated a boycott of the supplier and FairPrice.
FairPrice’s chief executive, Seah Kian Peng, said the chain would cease sales of shark fin products by the end of March. ”This will be the last Chinese New Year in which customers can buy shark fin products at all our stores,” he said.

Online reviews worry some operators

005 http://www.careforkids.com.au
The online childcare directory CareforKids is preparing to launch ratings system for users of childcare services, the first system of its kind in Australia and two years ahead of a promised federal government rating website.

In a report for the industry, CareforKids said: ”We are developing the rating system as a way for parents to provide informed comment which will hopefully assist other parents make their childcare decision.”
Parents can rate a centre on criteria including staff, environment and facilities, food, communication, and warmth and empathy, or the ”cuddle factor”. There is also an overall star rating out of five and parents can post and read testimonials.

parents rating a service must have had a child at the service in the previous 12 months. CareforKids vets all ratings before they are posted. A copy of the review is also sent to the relevant operator before it is published.

food and restaurant reviews, car reviews, camera, tv, fridge, bars, nightspots, tourist spots, why not child care.

Microsoft set to go ‘hands off’ with Kinect for Windows launching Feb 1 for US$249

video the kinnect effect http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diy7rkWkDtU&;feature=player_embedded#!

The device, which will simultaneously go on sale in Australia and 11 other countries with a “suggested retail price of US$249”

Academic pricing at US$149 for educational users will become available later in the year

Craig Eisler, General Manager, Kinect for Windows, said “With Kinect for Windows, we are investing in creating a platform that is optimized for scenarios beyond the living room, and delivering new software features on an ongoing basis… We are excited for the new possibilities that Kinect will enable on the Windows platform, and to see how businesses and developers reimagine their processes and their products, and the many different ways each Kinect could enrich lives and make using technology more natural for everyone.”

Microsoft explains on their blog – We saw Kinect being used by therapists and physicians as part of a rehabilitation program for stroke victims, as a skill-building technique for children with autism, and as an application for hospitals in Spain enabling surgeons to scroll through medical images in the operating room with gestures so they could avoid the need to rescrub

Xbox 360 Factory Workers Threaten Mass Suicide

According to Chinese anti-government website,China Jasmine Revolution, the former employees at the plant in Wuhan, China, threatened to throw themselves off a rooftop, apparently after Foxconn refused to pay them severance compensation.
On January 2nd the workers asked Foxconn for a raise. The company refused to increase their pay, but allegedly told the workers they could quit, and would receive compensation for doing so. The majority of the workers chose to quit, but the agreement was apparently terminated soon after, and the promised compensation never arrived

microsoft commeted We have a stringent Vendor Code of Conduct that spells out our expectations, and we monitor working conditions closely on an ongoing basis and address issues as they emerge. Microsoft is committed to the fair treatment and safety of workers employed by our vendors, and to ensuring conformance with Microsoft policy.”

Bond University offers cloud computing course to students


Dubbed ‘infrastructure’, the course is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the country. It will be available at both undergraduate and post-graduate level for students. Cloud computing is expected to continue to grow in popularity over the next few years, therefore specialists in this field will be in high demand as the computing industry continues to shift towards cloud technology.

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s pay package valued at $US378m


An Associated Press review of a securities filing shows Cook’s pay package was valued at $US378 million ($368m).
The vast majority came in a grant of a million restricted stock units worth $US376m at the time. Half of the stock units will vest in August 2016, the other half in August 2021.
His salary and performance bonus, about $US900,000 each, made up the rest.
In comparison,

Jobs took $US1 annual salary for years and owned about 5.5 million shares, worth about $US2.3 billion today.
Cook’s restricted shares are now worth $US422m.

Apple app tracks down iPad thief


two men discovered an iPad had been taken from their car in Brunswick, in Melbourne’s north, they used an application to track the device to nearby Reservoir.
They confronted a 30-year-old man in a park and detained him until police arrived.
The man was charged with several offences, including theft and handling stolen goods and will appear at the Heidelberg Magistrates Court today.

ANZ botches bank statement reboot


Shuts down online statements service within 24 hours

About 60 customers downloaded bank statements that were not their own on Sunday, when ANZ attempted to reinstate the service after a three-week hiatus.
ANZ suspended its online statement service in mid-December after discovering a security flaw in how statements were stored permanently in web browser histories once viewed.
It attempted to reinstate the service last weekend, but statements were online for only 24 hours until the service was shut down again on Monday morning.

Will’s Shownotes


Then there was the time Microsoft said ‘Go ahead. Hack our Kinect.’

Chaotic Moon’s motorised Kinect skateboard is capable of hitting a top speed of 50km/h. Picture: Peter Farquhar
Microsoft has realised how far the world could push its Kinect device. Picture: Courtesy of Microsoft.
A FUNNY thing happened on the way to console stardom.


Microsoft took it easy.

Back in November, 2010, it launched Kinect – its all-seeing, all -hearing body motion capture device that would “revolutionise” gaming.

Microsoft’s critics scoffed. How was it any different from Nintendo’s Wii controller or Sony’s Move?

And fundamentally, it wasn’t, apart from the fact that when you’re tooling around with the Kinect, you’re doing it hands-free.

Revolutionary gaming? Meh. Dismiss. Revolutionary technology? Now you’re talking.

From launch day, Microsoft made it clear it wouldn’t accept any third-party tomfoolery with Kinect, wouldn’t release the source code and it probably couldn’t be hacked anyway.

They had every right to. They paid a lot of money to acquire the means to develop the Kinect from an Israeli firm that had recently had its gesture recognition technology rejected by Apple.

The potential was huge. Minority Report-style interaction with every chipset in your house, hand, car? Yes please – as long as it carried the Microsoft brand.

Fast-forward 14 months and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s delivering what would be his final CES keynote speech. It’s the usual self-congratulatory, kinda awkward, kinda goofy appealing 90 minutes of Ballmer schtick.

Then, almost a footnote.

Ballmer starts raving about the “other” uses for Kinect.

Queue a 30-second advertisement that celebrates the achievements of, basically, Kinect hackers.

Call the “Kinect Effect”, it has an elegant soundtrack and inspiring images showing doctors using Kinect in surgery rooms, musicians, astronomers, physicians finding the sensor was so much more than a gaming peripheral.

It goes something like this:

“We thought it would be fun to play with,” the voiceover announces. “And it was.

“But something amazing happened. Something we hadn’t even thought of.”

“Even while the rest of the world keeps asking us what will we do with Kinect next, we’re just as excited to ask the world the same thing.”

It’s been on YouTube for two months, garnering more than three million views. But Ballmer’s vocal support for it in the most public of technology spaces was the ultimate tick of approval.

Go forth and hack. A far cry from the days following Kinect’s release when Microsoft got all chesty and threatened to sue those who had managed to get the device to talk to Windows PCs.

In the months that followed their backdown, a slew of sometimes amazing, sometimes ridiculous and sometimes hilarious uses for Kinect other than gaming hit the YouTube viral charts.

A couple of high school students in the US won a $100,000 National Science Prize for using the Kinect to help diagnose movement-impairing ailments.

Over at Sony, the execs went in guns blazing, targeting online hactivists Anonymous and George Hotz for releasing web code that allowed PS3 owners to play pirated games.

Microsoft kept quiet, kept notes on just how far the world could push its device.

And now, it’s about to really find out. On February 1, “developers” (time to stop mentioning the h-word) can buy a Kinect that comes packaged with a Product Development Kit (PDK), for around $250.

The higher price point figures in a licensing fee, so not only can you develop new uses for the Kinect, you can start cashing in on them, right?

“My understanding is that the products you create using the technology, you can just run with it,” a senior PR executive from Microsoft told news.com.au.

“People will be able to create great things – that’s it.

“It’s a very unique opportunity. Rarely you see something that sparks people’s imagination in this way.”

So what if a developer finds a unique use for the Kinect and quickly slaps an IP order on it. Will we see Microsoft one day pay third parties a licensing fee for applications for their own Kinect?

Maybe. Our man at Microsoft says: “You pay Microsoft the fee for using the licence. That’s it.”

“We just want people to have the right tools so they can do something meaningful with it in the commercial space

Outside CES 2012, a couple of odd Texans are doing just that.

Calling themselves Chaotic Moon, they’re led by Whurley, whose official title is “Evil Genius”.

They’ve mounted a Kinect on a mountain skateboard with a motor capable of hitting a top speed of 50km/h. You steer it, speed up and slow down with hand gestures.

Whurley says Microsoft knows about its creations – they’ve been using the Kinect for 12 months and creating business assets from Kinect-inspired toys.

But do they support the “Board of Awesomeness“? Uh, no.

“Their lawyers said we can’t participate in the (Kinect Effect ad),” Whurley told news.com.au.

“They find it, uh, dangerous.

“They love the idea and were like ‘this is great, we’re going to introduce you to everybody in CES’, but their lawyers said’ we can’t actually officially introduce you to anyone’.”

Now, they won’t have to.


Russian probe Phobos-Grunt to crash-land in days – but no one knows exactly where

Russian space engineers prepare the Phobos-Grunt probe before the ill-fated mission. Picture: AP
RUSSIA is hoping a failed space probe will fall into the Indian Ocean, far away from any populated areas, but still has no guarantee of the crash site.

Space agency Roscosmos says the midpoint in a three-day window when Phobos-Grunt’s debris is expected to fall is at 8.18pm (AEDT) on Sunday, when the probe will be above the ocean, about 1700km west of Jakarta.

The forecast will be clarified as the probe’s orbit draws closer to Earth.

The agency has predicted the debris could fall between Saturday and Monday anywhere along a broad swath between 51.4 degrees north to 51.4 degrees south. That spares most of Russia’s ground territory, along with Scandinavia and a large part of Canada.

The $US170 million ($165.31 million) probe – also known as Phobos-Ground – was to explore one of Mars’ two moons, Phobos, but became stranded while orbiting Earth after its November 9 launch.

Engineers in Russia and the European Space Agency have tried but failed to propel the spacecraft toward its target.

Phobos-Ground weighs 13.2 metric tonnes, which includes 11 metric tonnes of highly toxic fuel.

Experts have warned that if the fuel has frozen it could survive re-entry through the atmosphere and pose a serious threat if it falls over populated areas.

Roscosmos has insisted that it is sure that all the fuel will burn on re-entry some 100km above the ground and pose no danger.

It said that a tiny quantity of Cobalt-57, a radioactive metal contained in one of the craft’s instruments, will not pose a threat of radioactive contamination.


Google gets personal with search results

Different people should start seeing different search results more frequently as  Google imports content from Plus. Picture: File

GOOGLE is sifting through the photos and commentary on its blossoming social network so its internet search results can include more personal information.

The additional personal touches mark another step toward one of Google’s most ambitious goals.

The internet search leader eventually hopes to know enough about each of its users so it can tailor its results to fit the unique interests of each person looking for something.

Different people should start seeing different search results more frequently now that Google is importing content from its six-month-old Plus service, a product that the company introduced in an attempt to counter the popularity of Facebook’ and Twitter.

Google’s main search results page also will start highlighting more content from an older online photo service called Picasa.

Facebook and Twitter pose a threat to Google because they don’t allow Google’s search engine to log the avalanche of photos, links and observations tumbling through those services. That’s troublesome to Google because its search engine could become less useful if its system can’t analyse what people are signalling is important to them so those preferences can be factored into the results.

Google is tackling that challenge with an addition to its results called “Search, plus your world”.

The feature will be automatically turned on from Tuesday for all English-language searches made by users logged into Google. Turning off the personal results permanently will require changing a setting in Google’s personal preferences. The personal results can also be excluded on a search-by-search basis by clicking on an icon of the globe on the results page (the personal results will be denoted by a button featuring a human’s silhouette).

If the new formula works as Google expects, the search results will include pertinent information culled from the requestor’s Plus account. For instance, a query about the San Francisco 49ers might include links and comments made about the football team by other people in one of the social circles on the user’s Plus account. A search request that includes the name of a dog owned by the user or a friend might turn up photos of the pet that have been posted on Plus and Picasa.

“This is going to open up a whole new avenue in search,” said Ben Gomes, a Google fellow.

Google isn’t the first to do this. Microsoft’s Bing search engine has been mining some of the preferences and other information shared on Facebook since May. But Google’s emphasis on more personal results expects to attract more attention because its search engine is so dominant. It handles about two-thirds of the internet search requests made in the US while Bing processes less than one-third, including the activity that comes through a partnership with Yahoo.

Facebook, though, has greater insights into personal tastes. That’s because its nearly eight-year-old social network boasts more than 800 million users who share more than 1.5 billion photos alone each week.

In October, Google said Plus had more than 40 million users. Google hasn’t updated the information since then, although some external studies have estimated Plus began the new year with 60 million to 70 million users.

Some of Google’s changes may help prod more people into joining Plus. As part of Tuesday’s expansion, the profile pictures of Plus account-holders will appear in the drop-down suggestions on Google’s search box. In another twist, searches on general topics such as “music” and “sports”, will generate suggestions on people, companies and places that have Plus accounts.

While Google is hoping the addition of more personal results will make its search engine even more useful, the changes also could spook some people as they realise how much information is being compiled about them.

Google tried to minimise privacy concerns by recently switching to technology that encrypts all its search results to protect the information from slipping out.

Previous privacy missteps by both Google and Facebook resulted in both companies entering into settlements with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC agreements require Google and Facebook to submit to external audits of their privacy practices every other year.


Stephen Hawking defies science to celebrate 70th birthday

WHEN Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease aged just 21, he was given only a few years to live. But the British scientist marks his 70th birthday today, as questioning as ever.
Stephen Hawking in one of a series of portraits that will appear at an exhibition to honour him at London’s Science Museum. Picture: AFP

Despite spending most of his life crippled in a wheelchair and able to speak only through a computer, the theoretical physicist’s quest for the secrets of the universe has made him arguably the most famous scientist in the world.

“I’m sure my disability has a bearing on why I’m well known,” Hawking once said. “People are fascinated by the contrast between my very limited physical powers, and the vast nature of the universe I deal with.”

Much of his work has centred on bringing together relativity (the nature of space and time) and quantum theory (how the smallest particles in the universe behave) to explain the creation of the universe and how it is governed.

British physicist Stephen Hawking looks, on his screen, at an animated clipping of himself in The Simpsons at a public lecture. Picture: AP

In 1974, aged just 32, he became one of the youngest fellows of Britain’s prestigious Royal Society. Five years later he became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post once held by Isaac Newton.

But it was his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, explaining the nature of the universe to non-scientists, which brought him international acclaim and sold millions.

Hawking has since become a global star through cameos in Star Trekand The Simpsons, where he tells the rotund Homer Simpson that he likes his theory of a “doughnut-shaped universe”, and may have to steal it.

Stephen Hawking in one of a series of portraits that will appear at an exhibition to honour him at London’s Science Museum. Picture: AFP

Martin Rees, Britain’s Astronomer Royal and a former president of the Royal Society, said he first met Hawking when they were both research students “and it was thought he might not live long enough to finish his PhD degree”.

Hawking was just 21 when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a former of motor neurone disease that attacks the nerves controlling voluntary movement.

He has admitted that he felt “somewhat of a tragic character” who took to listening to Wagner, but he soon returned to work, securing a fellowship at Cambridge, and married Jane Wilde, with whom he had three children.

President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom, the US’s highest civilian honour, to Stephen Hawking in 2009. Picture: Getty

Even when his physical condition deteriorated, requiring around-the-clock care, he refused to let it hold him back.

“The human race is so puny compared to the universe that being disabled is not of much cosmic significance,” he retorts to questions about his health.

Brian Dickie, research director of the MND Association, says most sufferers live for less than five years and “the fact that Stephen Hawking has lived with the disease for close to 50 years makes him exceptional”.

But Rees cautioned on focusing too much on his astonishing story and his fame, when it is his work that will survive in the end.

“His fame should not overshadow his scientific contributions because even though most scientists are not as famous as he is, he has undoubtedly done more than anyone else since Einstein to improve our knowledge of gravity,” he said.

Hawking’s 70th birthday – he was born 300 years to the day after the death of the father of modern science, Galileo Galilei – is being marked by a special symposium at Cambridge focused on “the state of the universe”.

A new exhibition celebrating Hawking’s life achievements, featuring papers from his archives, also opens at London’s Science Museum on January 20.

Hawking retired as Lucasian Professor of Maths when he reached 67, but his fascination with the world remains.

He is watching the progress of the Large Hadron Collider closely, having bet $100 in 2009 that it will not find an elusive particle seen as the holy grail of cosmic science, while he has long had the ambition of going into space.

Other mysteries closer to home puzzle him, too.

In an interview with the New Scientist magazine marking his birthday, Hawking – who divorced his second wife in 2006 – was asked what he thought about most during the day, and replied: “Women. They are a complete mystery.”


Can’t stop the music: Digital sales trump retail

It’s a historic moment for the internet. Digital music sales topped retail for the first time ever. Picture: Thinkstock
DIGITAL music sales have topped physical music sales for the first time in history – accounting for 50.3 per cent of US music sales last year.

Downloads were up 8.4 per cent from 2010, according to Nielsen data and a Billboard report and only 49.7 per cent of music was sold in stores last year, down 5 per cent from the previous year.

And the music industry has Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and Adele to thank for the increase in online sales.

Gaga was the most streamed artist of 2011, and Adele’s album 21 was the top selling album of 2011 both on and offline.

Her single Rolling in the Deep was the best selling digital song, racking up 5.8 million downloads.

Nicki Minaj’s single Super Bass received 84.9 million audio streams and 71 million video streams.

Executive Producer of SF MusicTech Summit Brian Zisk said services like Apple’s 99 cent songs have revived the concept of purchasing music.

“Clearly the plastic format was not an optimal format for selling music,” Mr Zisk told CNN.

“It’s a much healthier ecosystem for folks to be selling digital formats instead of physical formats. That’s the future, and the way it’s going.”

Mr Zisk also cited increases in mobile and smartphone consumption as catalysts for the surge in digital-music sales.


Time keepers to introduce leap second June 30 to keep in sync with mother earth

THE world will not only be getting a leap day this year, we will have a leap second too.

The arbiters of time at the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERRSS) have announced they will be introducing a leap second on June 30th in order to keep up with the Earth’s rotation.

What is a leap second? Give me a minute.

Back in ye olden days of the 1950s, atomic clocks were introduced to measure the Earth’s rotation.

Atomic clocks are pretty precise and are powered to oscillate exactly 9,192,631,770 times a second. The Earth however, is less precise.

But as the Earth spins on its axis, slight deviations mean that some days end up being longer than others.

Atomic are no longer capable of keeping up with actual Earth time because the globe’s orbit tends to be irregular.

A few years from now we’d find ourselves seconds out of kilter. In a few hundred years we’d be a minute out, and after several hundred thousand years – humans would find themselves eating lunch at midnight, Wired reported.

Enter the leap second.

Adding or subtracting seconds brings atomic time and solar time back into sync.

As the clock strikes midnight on the 30th of June, it will take two seconds to transition into July, instead of one, delaying Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) by a second.

It is unlikely most of us will even notice the difference, but people whose livelihoods depend on clockwork precision – pilots, airlines and air traffic controllers are not going to have an easy time keeping everything in sync.

Leap seconds were introduced in 1972 and the last time IERRSS added a second was in December 2008.

File sharing officially recognised as a religion in Sweden

This is what we hope the Church of Kopimism looks like. Picture: AFP PHOTO
FILE sharing has become a recognised religion in Sweden after a movement successfully registered the Church of Kopimism.

The group of 3000 members were official recognised by Swedish authorities and hope to make file sharing legal.

Spiritual leader of the Church of Kopimism Isak Gerson said the group’s main ritual is the act of copying and connecting with each other by sharing information.

“For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament,” Mr Gerson wrote on the church’s website.

“Being recognized by the state of Sweden is a large step for all of kopimi. Hopefully, this is one step towards the day when we can live out our faith without fear of persecution.”

Mr Gerson said the organisation has been trying to register the religion for over a year, but kept getting rejected.

“I think it might have something to do with the governmental organisations abiding by a very copyright friendly attitude, with a twisted view on copying,” he said.

The church’s name comes from “Kopimi”, pronounced “copy me”.


IGA to deploy infrared smart trolleys

It seems that everything going forward needs to be made “smart”, including the humble shopping trolley. According to a Courier Mail report, IGA will deploy infrared smart trolleys as part of a pilot next month. The trolleys will know where they are, what you’ve bought and where you can find specific items. Now, if it could just come home with me and put everything away, we’d be getting somewhere.

Web giants Twitter and Google are locked in a public stoush with the social networking site blasting Google over changes to its search engine results.Twitter has labeled last week’s move by Google to widen its search results to further integrate Google+ as “bad” for users and web publishers.
“As we’ve seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter,” a statement released by Twitter said.
“We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone.”
In a bid to highlight the so-called inefficiency of the changes, Twitter general counsel Alex Macgillivray tweeted the example today of what happens when the term ‘@WWE’ is now typed into Google.
“Here’s what a user searching for ‘@WWE’ will be shone (sic) on the new @Google,” he wrote.
The tweet showed an image of Google search results that include the World Wrestling Entertainment’s website, Google+ page and other Google+ profiles — but no Twitter page.
In response, Google said it could not be blamed for the Twitter handle not showing up in the search results because an agreement between the two companies, which gave the search engine access to public tweets, ended in July and was not renewed.
“We are a bit surprised by Twitter’s comments, because they chose not to renew their agreement with us last summer,” a statement released by Google said.
“Since then we have observed their rel=nofollow instructions.”


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