Episode 275 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

Police smash Aust arm of illegal pay TV

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Detectives raided a unit at Ashfield, in the city’s west, about 12.10pm (AEDT) on Wednesday.
They seized USB devices, computers and documents related to alleged copyright offences involving pay TV channels and movies.

Police arrested a 42-year-old man at the unit and charged him with several copyright offences.
The man was allegedly involved in a large-scale and sophisticated operation based in China, which supplies illegal access to copyrighted material involving subscription TV channels and movies from multiple companies

We will be alleging the revenue generated by this illicit operation was about $70 million per year,” Detective Inspector Coffen said.
“So it seems there are a lot of people out there who seem to think it is an acceptable thing to do.”


Facebook files for IPO, valued at between 75 billion and 100 billion dollars

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FACEBOOK filed for an initial public offering (IPO) that could value the company at between $72 billion) $100 billion.  

Facebook said it produced $US3.71 billion in revenue in 2011, up from $US1.97 billion a year earlier.


Mobile madness: Optus decision bad news for codes

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The AFL has said it is “highly likely” that it will appeal the decision, and surely the NRL and Telstra will follow suit. The case is fairly simple – the Optus TV Now service allows people to record and watch TV (free-to-air not pay TV, which is important to note) on their computers and phones.

In a two-day hearing in December, Optus argued the service allowed customers to time-shift their viewing, which was allowed under copyright law.
In a judgment that totally trounced the codes, Federal Court Justice Steven Rares ruled: “Optus’ TV Now service did not infringe copyright in the broadcasts of the AFL and NRL games in the particular ways that the rightsholders alleged.”
Justice Rares found that it was the user of the TV Now service, not Optus, who made each recording of a broadcast by clicking on the “record” button of his or her device.

This did not infringe the copyright of the AFL and the NRL because the users made the recordings using TV Now solely for their private and domestic use, he said.
He also found that it was the user, rather than Optus, who was then responsible for electronically transmitting the recording, or making it available online, by clicking the “play” button.
However, Justice Rares said some issues might still need to be resolved, including whether Optus infringed copyright with the particular technology it used to make a recording in a format suitable for Apple devices.

Before the decision Telstra had warned that an adverse decision could scuttle its $153 million exclusive deal with the AFL.
However, after the ruling Telstra spokesman Craig Middleton said the deal would not be affected.

At the moment, Telstra pays the AFL $153 million for its online and mobile rights. The NRL only gets about $4 million from Telstra for its rights, as well as $10 million in sponsorship, but it is currently negotiating for a much bigger upgrade as part of its larger improved broadcast deal. This decision puts that possibility in danger.


Amazon hit as profits slump

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the company reporting disappointing fourth quarter 2011 earnings , including a dramatic 58% decline in net income.
Many analysts were unsure where Amazon would stand this past quarter with the launch of the much-hyped US$199 Kindle Fire tablet. The device wasn’t expected to be immediately profitable for Amazon, but the company expected people to purchase media for their devices

From a revenue standpoint, the company did fairly well with $17,4bn in sales — a 35% increase from the year-ago period. But the company missed wide on profits, with net income decreasing 58% to $177m, or $0,38 per diluted share, compared with net income of $416m, or $0,91 per diluted share, a year ago. Operating income was $260m in Q4, compared with $474m in the year-ago period.


Quickies

Israel sets its sites on its own National Broadband Network

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ISRAEL’S state-owned electric company hopes to roll out its own high-speed national broadband network.

The technology is known as “fiber to the home,” or FTTH.

Aussie domain reseller Netfleet hacked

Netfleet bills itself as Australia’s largest and most active domain name trading website operated by “a small team of developers and domain enthusiasts”.
It admitted that hackers may have stolen customers’ name, email and street addresses, phone numbers and encrypted credit card numbers with expiry dates.


Caution on Twitter urged as tourists barred from US

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Holidaymakers have been warned to watch their words after two friends were refused entry to the US on security grounds after a tweet.
Before his trip, Leigh Van Bryan wrote that he was saying: “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America.”

He insisted he was referring to simply having a good time – but was sent home.

The Irish national told the Sun newspaper that he and his friend Emily Bunting were apprehended on arrival at Los Angeles International Airport before being sent home.

In another tweet, Mr Bryan made reference to comedy show Family Guy saying that he would be in LA in three weeks, annoying people “and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up”.
Mr Bryan told the newspaper that he was questioned for five hours about his Twitter messages.


Kinect for Windows gesture sensor launched by Microsoft

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the main changes to the Kinect hardware are designed to reflect the up close and personal nature of PCs. Actual hardware changes appear limited to a shorter USB cable and inclusion of a dongle to ensure the device plays friendly with PCs hosting a range of USB devices. Meanwhile, new firmware will enable a new “Near Mode” that will allow the device’s depth camera to accurately see objects as close as 50 cm (19.6 in), with “graceful degradation down to 40 cm (15.7 in).”

Windows-compatible hardware’s recommended price is $249 (£157).
By comparison the Xbox version is sold for $130 (£82).

Kinect for Windows’ general manager Craig Eisler told the BBC that the company also subsidised the Xbox version and recouped the money from games and other related sales.

Kinect holds the world record for being the fastest-selling consumer device in history, shifting over eight million units between November 2010 and January 2011.

It has resulted in several innovative uses, including a control mechanism for a search-and-rescue robot, and a scanner to create blueprints for 3D printers.
Recent figures suggest more than 18 million devices have now been sold.


Apple presses pause on high-def music, says Neil Young

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Apple, along with other digital music retailers, were talking with executives in the record industry about selling high-fidelity tracks in iTunes and retooling iPods to be compatible with them.
Most music downloads are currently sold in either the MP3 or AAC formats, both of which compress sound in order to produce smaller files.
Jobs was personally involved in the high-def initiative

Industry-standard MP3 files have only about 5% of all the sounds that were contained in the original recording, which is called a “master.” Because high-def music files are significantly larger, Young described a system that would allow the device to download it while the user is asleep.
Despite the availability of high-quality music sold by niche e-commerce websites, consumers so far have expressed little interest. Many musicians are embracing the idea of giving fans pristine recordings, often at a premium price. The Rolling Stones issued their first 27 records to one such store.

https://www.hdtracks.com/index.php?file=catalogdetail&;valbum_code=HD00018771966722

“Piracy is the new radio,” said Young, whose music has long had a rebellious streak. “I look at the Internet as the new radio. I look at the radio as gone.”


Google won’t pull suspected malicious Android apps

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Symantec is trying to call attention to 13 applications that have showed up in the official Android Market over concerns that they contain software development tools that enable the theft of data.
The baker’s dozen of applications, carrying names like Counter Elite Force and Balloon Game, allows downloaders to play action, adventure and puzzle games,

they also contain a software development kit (SDK), known as “Appherhand,” that not only installs a search bar on the user’s phone but also allows the distributors to change the user’s home page and add and remove bookmarks and shortcuts.
“I’m not sure why you would need to pull someone’s bookmarks,” symantec Haley said. “I’m not aware of the benefit.”

Google, however, will not remove the apps because they do not violate its terms of service, Symantec said in a blog post Monday. A Google spokesman declined to comment.

but it detracts from the whole experience – they should be pulled – but what about reviews, don’t people read them before downloading?


Hungry Jacks public wi-fi goes national

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Fast food franchise Hungry Jacks has begun rolling out free wireless hotspots to 340 locations around Australia in hopes of gaining an advantage over its competitors.
Visitors to Hungry Jacks stores will be given free 30-minute sessions with 100 MB of downloads over any of the hotspots, but can access an hour-long wireless session in exchange for email registration and a short survey.
The rollout follows an 18-month trial of the service in four Victorian Hungry Jacks stores, which parent company Competitive Foods Australia’s IT manager Joey Butler indicated was “very convincing”.

Store internet connections were upgraded to ADSL2+ connectivity



ERIK’S SHOWNOTES

Status update: Facebook to go public, raise $5B

Friending Wall Street? Facebook hopes to raise $5 billion in highly anticipated IPO


NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is friending Wall Street: The Internet social network is going public in a stock offering that could value it at up to $100 billion, eight years after its computer-hacking CEO Mark Zuckerberg started the service at Harvard.

The much-anticipated status update means anyone with some cash will be able to own part of a Silicon Valley icon that quickly transformed from dorm-room startup to cultural touchstone.

If its initial public offering of stock makes enough friends among investors, Facebook will probably make its stock market debut in three or four months as one of the world’s most valuable companies. Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, Calif., hopes to list its stock under the ticker symbol, “FB,” on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq Stock Market.

In its regulatory filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook Inc. indicated it hopes to raise $5 billion by selling a small percentage of its shares to the public in its IPO. That would be the most for an Internet IPO, easily surpassing the $1.9 billion raised by Google Inc. in 2004. The final amount will likely change as Facebook’s bankers gauge the investor demand.

Joining corporate America’s elite would give Facebook financial clout as it tries to make its service even more pervasive and expand its global audience of 845 million users. It also could help Facebook fend off an intensifying challenge from Google, which is looking to solidify its status as the Internet’s most powerful company with a rival social network called Plus.

The intrigue surrounding Facebook’s IPO has increased in recent months and not just because the company has become a common conduit for everyone from doting grandmas to sassy teenagers to share information about their lives.

Zuckerberg, 27, has emerged as the latest in a lineage of Silicon Valley prodigies who are alternately hailed for pushing the world in new directions and reviled for overstepping their bounds. In Zuckerberg’s case, a lawsuit alleging that he stole the idea for Facebook from some Harvard classmates became the grist for a book and a movie that won three Academy Awards last year.

Following the model of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Zuckerberg set up two classes of stock that will ensure he retains control as the sometimes-conflicting demands of Wall Street exert new pressures on the company. He will have the final say on how nearly 57 percent of Facebook’s stock votes, according to the filing.

Even before the IPO was filed, Zuckerberg was shaping up as his generation’s Bill Gates — a geek who parlayed his love of computers into fame and fortune. Forbes magazine estimated Zuckerberg’s wealth at $17.5 billion in its most recent survey of the richest people in the U.S. A more precise measurement of Zuckerberg’s fortune will be available once the IPO is priced and provides a concrete benchmark for determining the value of his nearly 534 million Facebook shares

The IPO will also mint hundreds of Facebook employee as millionaires because they have accumulated stock at lower prices than what the shares are liked to be valued at on the open market. Facebook employed 3,200 people at the end of 2011.

Depending on how long regulators take to review Facebook’s IPO documents, the company could be making its stock market debut around the time that Zuckerberg celebrates his 28th birthday in May.

When most companies go public, they let Wall Street investment banks handle everything. That means the stock being sold is reserved for big institutional investors, shutting out the average investor. Despite speculation that Facebook would try something different, it appears the IPO will be a traditional one.

The IPO filing casts a spotlight on some of Facebook’s inner workings for the first time. Among other things, the documents reveal the amount of Facebook’s revenue, its major shareholders, its growth opportunities and its concerns about its biggest competitive threats.

The documents show, as expected, that Facebook is thriving. The company earned $668 million on revenue of $3.7 billion last year, according to the filing. Both figures nearly doubled from 2010.

“The company is a lot more profitable than we thought,” said Kathleen Smith, principal of IPO investment advisory firm Renaissance Capital.

Although she considered Facebook’s numbers “very impressive,” she said Facebook needs to talk more about where it sees its growth coming from.

“What new areas of business is it expecting to pursue beyond display ads?”

What’s not in the documents, yet, is Facebook’s market value. That figure could hit $100 billion, based on Facebook’s private valuations and the expectation that it will continue to grow at a rapid pace. Facebook also did not say what percentage of its shares it plans to sell.

Facebook heads a class of Internet startups that have been going public during the past year to some disappointing results. Among them: Daily deals company Groupon Inc., Internet radio service Pandora Media Inc. and Zynga Inc., which has built a profitable business by creating games people can play on Facebook.

Facebook stands apart, though. As it rapidly expands, people from Silicon Valley to Brazil to India use it to keep up with news from friends and long-lost acquaintances, play mindless games tending virtual cities and farms and share big news or minute details about their days. Politicians, celebrities and businesses use Facebook to connect with fans and the general public.

It’s becoming more difficult to tell whether going to Facebook is a pastime or an addiction. In the U.S., Facebook visitors spend an average of seven hours per month on the website, more than double the average of three hours per month in 2008, according to the research firm comScore Inc.

More than half of Facebook users log on to the site on any given day. Using software developed by outside parties — call it the Facebook economy — they share television shows they are watching, songs they are playing and photos of what they are wearing or eating. Facebook says 250 million photos alone are posted on its site each day.

To make money, Facebook sells the promise of highly targeted advertisements based on the information its users share, including interests, hobbies, private thoughts and relationships. Though most of its revenue comes from ads, Facebook also takes a cut from the money that apps make through its site. For every dollar that “FarmVille” maker Zynga gets for the virtual cows and crops it sells, for example, Facebook gets 30 cents.

Last year, Facebook got about $3.2 billion in advertising revenue, which accounted for 85 percent of its total. The rest came from what it calls “payments and other fees,” namely the app payments. Zynga alone accounted for 12 percent of Facebook’s revenue in 2011.

Research firm eMarketer had expected higher ad revenue — $3.8 billion — and higher overall revenue of $4.27 billion.

Analyst Debra Aho Williamson offered one reason that Facebook’s revenue is lower than she expected: its focus on the user experience. The company, she said, has been “very deliberate” about how it displays ads. There are no splashy banners plastered across users’ home pages and no intrusive video ads popping up left and right.

“Advertisers possibly want more,” she said. “They want more proof that advertising works.”

For all of Facebook’s success, the company has had its troubles. It has gone through a series of privacy missteps over the years as it has pushed users to disclose more and more information about themselves. Most recently, the company settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it exposed details about people’s private lives without getting legally required consent. And the legal fights over Facebook’s origins have been embarrassing and sometimes distracting, though Zuckerberg has consistently denied allegations that have depicted him as ruthless.

Zuckerberg has made it clear he isn’t especially keen on leading a public company. He has said many times that he prefers to focus on developing Facebook’s products and growing the site’s user base, rather than trying to hit quarterly earnings targets in an effort to keep investors happy.

In a letter included in Wednesday’s filing, Zuckerberg paints a rosy, idealistic picture of Facebook.

“Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg also pledged to stay true to Facebook’s scrappy roots even on the road to becoming a multinational corporation.

“The word ‘hacker’ has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers,” he wrote. “In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done.”

Lately, Zuckerberg has matured into the role, said Scott Kessler, a Standard & Poor’s equity analyst who follows Internet stocks.

“Clearly he is a very smart and shrewd person,” he said.

Zuckerberg has surrounded himself with other savvy executives, who are often more experienced. They include Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who helped build Google’s advertising business before Facebook lured her in 2008. Facebook’s finance chief is David Ebersman, a former executive at biotech firm Genentech.

Amid the buoyant optimism about Facebook’s prospects as a public company, some analysts see troubling parallels to the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, which turned into a devastating bust in the early 2000s. The biggest fear is that some investors will become so enamored with Facebook’s brand and brawn that they will try to buy the Facebook shares the day the company goes public with little financial analysis or recognition of the risks.

“It’s a one-day circus,” said John Fitzgibbon, founder of IPOscoop.com.

The IPOs of Zynga and LinkedIn showed that success isn’t guaranteed even for profitable companies with huge followings. Zynga’s stock is currently trading just slightly above its IPO price. LinkedIn closed at $72.37 Wednesday, far below the $122.70 record that it hit on its first trading day.

Morgan Stanley is the lead banker for the IPO. The other banks involved are JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, BofA Merrill Lynch, Barclays and Allen & Co.

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Liedtke reported from San Francisco.                

Mark Zuckerberg to float as the $28 billion dollar man

MARK Zuckerberg could soon be worth the same amount as Facebook costs US employers every year in lost productivity.

The site’s 27-year-old founder could rake in a whopping $US28 billion ($26.1 billion) if the social networking giant reaches a valuation of $100 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Ironically, this is the same amount workers are costing the US economy by spending their days chatting on the social networking site, according one study done last year.

Michael Fitzpatrick, CEO of ConnectionSolutions made his calculation based on the estimate that the average US worker spends seven minutes of his or her workday on Facebook.

Facebook filed paperwork to go public today and if it hits the $US100 billion market valuation predicted by analysts, Mr Zuckerberg, who owns 28 per cent of the company, will break into the list of the top 10 richest people in the world

His net worth will be the same as Azerbaijan’s GDP for the first six months of 2011, the same as the amount of money the US Government spent on the War on Terror in 2002 and the annual revenue of global business advisory firm Deloitte, which employs 180,000 people in 153 countries.

The IPO papers filed today also revealed that on top of his stock, last year Mr Zuckerberg was paid $US1.49 million in salary and other bonuses in his role as chief executive.





Police raid Sydney piracy outfit and warn customers – ‘We’re coming for you”

POLICE have raided a second store in Sydney as part of a worldwide $70 million pirate television outfit.

And customers who subscribe to these pirate stations have been warned they will be pursued by police and treated as “receivers of stolen property”.

Computers, USB keys and documents seized from the QMC Mart store in Ashfield, in Sydney’s west, were allegedly used to sell pay TV subscriptions offering more than 1000 channels for $50 a month.

A 42-year-old man was arrested and charged with copyright offences.

Police allege the man was part of a global pirating organisation based in China.

The man from Lane Cove, in Sydney’s north, was granted conditional bail to appear at Burwood Local Court on February 22.

The police raid was the second in as many months.

Police arrested a man in December for selling set-top boxes for $500 and unlicensed pay TV subscriptions for $90 a month, alleging the south Sydney store was part of a $150 million pirating outfit that served more than 100 000 customers.

Detective Inspector Enrico Coffen said the sting was the result of an extensive investigation, which began after a private investigator working for Chinese language content company TVB discovered evidence of the company’s pirating activities.

“Persons identified with any involvement in this trade need to realise it is an offence which is punishable by criminal sanctions like large fines or jail,” he said.

“Anyone who is accessing pay TV illegally is advised to immediately cease the subscription or risk legal consequences. It’s the same as stealing,” Detective Inspector Coffen said.

The investigation was lead by former head of Music Industry Piracy Investigation (MIPI) Michael Speck who says 100 Australian customers were identified in records seized in yesterday’s raid.

Mr Speck said police would be pursuing the customers as they were “receivers of stolen property”.

Channels offered by the alleged pirating outfit included MTV, Fox, CNN and HBO as well as Asian language channels. It also offered television programs including How I Met Your Mother and Family Guy and films such as The Tower Heist, Tin Tin and Hangover II.

According to police reports 3D movies were also on offer as well as “several infringing adult entertainment channels offering over 600 current or recent adult movies”.

Apple set for city’s core


Brisbane looks to be close to getting its first Apple store in the central business district, with the tech retail giant posting job openings for a new inner-city store.
It is understood the store will open on the site of the former Dymocks bookstore in the historic Macarthur Chambers building, part of the Macarthur Central complex on the corner of Edward and Queen streets.
Last April, plans were submitted to Brisbane City Council for a large three-level shop in the heritage building, which was constructed in the early 1930s.
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Those plans, which don’t mention Apple by name, were approved by the council in June and discount bookseller Bookstars closed its temporary outlet in the space that month.
Plans for the store’s Queen Street frontage submitted to Brisbane City Council include space for an illuminated sign above the front doors.
The Macarthur Central space would be the third Apple store for Queensland, with outlets at Westfield Chermside in Brisbane at Robina Town Centre on the Gold Coast.
On Apple’s Australian jobs website, there are currently positions open at Chermside and Robina, as well as the Brisbane CBD.
The website is also advertising ‘’new stores, new opportunities’’ for Brisbane and Sydney.
A request for comment to Apple was unanswered. The retailer is known for being tight-lipped about new stores, with announcements generally made only shortly before openings.
Apple discussion forum mactalk.com.au has this month been swirling with rumours, with one poster reporting the new store was due to open in March.
Macarthur Central is owned by private investment company Precision Group, which was contacted for comment.

Apple’s Glasgow store draws similarities to the plans submitted to Brisbane City Council.
According to the plans submitted to the council, the fit-out of the store, by Geyer Architects, will include the removal of interior escalators, to be replaced by a large staircase.
On the Queen Street frontage, the plans include space for a square ”internally illuminated store signage” over the existing heavy bronze doors, which are to be restored, along with the building’s bronze windows.
While Apple’s stores are known for their minimalism, characterised by the use of glass and a white-on-white colour scheme, it’s not the first time they’ve fused this aesthetic with an historic building, having done so previously in cities such as London, Paris, Glasgow and Bologna.
Apple has more than 300 stores worldwide, including 13 in Australia.

NBN to result in unfair customer costs: Telstra

Telstra Corporation Ltd has warned that the National Broadband Network (NBN) Co’s pricing strategy could result in unnecessarily high prices for high speed internet services, according to a report by The Australian.

The telecommunications company has warned the competition watchdog to examine whether NBN Co should adopt an alternative pricing model to its two-tariff pricing plan, which would have internet service providers face charges for a baseline connection fee and usage-based fees for the amount of data carried through the network.

Telstra has suggested the scheme may not be best for consumers, because the usage charge an ISP will pay to NBN Co for each of its customers on a 12-megabit a second service could jump from $1 a month to $50 a month by 2025, according to The Australian.

In a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Telstra has said that the government’s return would likely exceed the cost of its investment and that NBN Co would more than recover its costs, resulting in “unnecessarily high” wholesale prices for customers.

Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has argued that the NBN would help foster increased competition between retail service providers and result in competition that would produce lower prices for customers.

Telstra’s submission to the ACCC undermines that central argument and puts both the government and the NBN Co on the defensive.

NBN Co insisted it was “confident that as a wholesale-only open access network, we’re opening up competition in retail telecommunications in Australia,” according to The Australian.



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