Episode 286 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

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NBN Co picks Merimbula for first satellite earth station

NBN Co has chosen Merimbula on the NSW Far South Coast as the site of its first of 10 satellite earth stations it plans to build to relay traffic between NBN’s satellite connected customers and terrestrial networks. It is scheduled to be up and running in 2015.

Matt Dawson, NBN Co’s satellite project director, said: “Merimbula was chosen for a number of reasons: The climate is perfect for our needs. It’s also located close to reliable power and other infrastructure including the NBN’s core fibre transit network.”

Apple faces class action over in-app buys

Plaintiffs told the court they downloaded or allowed their children to download and play free apps, “unaware that their children could, for fifteen minutes [after the app download], purchase game currency” in them without using a password

According to the allegations, Apple did not disclose the embedding of game currency in the apps, nor that the currency could be bought for up to 15 minutes without requiring re-entry of an iTunes password.
Children of the plaintiffs allegedly ran up in-app bills of between $US99 ($A95.59) and $US338.72 ($A327.04).
The court noted the 15-minute period was stopped by Apple in “early 2011”.

Microsoft to release enterprise Windows 8 flavour


Windows 8 is the official product name for the next x86/64 editions of Windows

PCs and tablets powered by x86 processors (both 32 and 64 bit), we will have two editions: Windows 8and Windows 8 Pro.

Windows 8 Pro includes all the features in Windows 8 plus features for encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity. Windows Media Center will be available as an economical “media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro

Windows RT is the newest member of the Windows family – also known as Windows on ARM or WOA

Windows RT will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. For new apps, the focus for Windows RT is development on the new Windows runtime, or WinRT, which we unveiled in September and forms the foundation of a new generation of cloud-enabled, touch-enabled, web-connected apps of all kinds.

Table on the blog page that show different specs on the different versions.

Apple patch to purge Flashback infections

Apple has released a Java patch that comes with a detection and removal capability for the most common strains of the prolific Flashback trojan.
The update, for Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and 10.6 (Snow Leopard), will kill the malware, which is capable of stealing data and hijacking search traffic, among other malicious actions.

The fix from Apple also disables the automatic execution of Java applets, which are most commonly used by the average user to play games and view certain images on websites.
Individuals who want Java to automatically run can adjust their settings by visiting the software’s “Preferences” application.
Lion users must make use of Java within 35 days, or it will automatically switch off again.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of anti-malware provider F-Secure, tweeted on  Friday: “I like the idea of Safari disabling the Java plug-in if unused for 35 days. Next, we need to do the same on all browsers. For all plug-ins.”

Ian Melven, a senior security engineer at Mozilla, responded in a tweet that he and his team are working on similar features for the Firefox browser.

Meanwhile, on Friday, security firm Symantec said it has discovered a trojan that is taking advantage of the same (now-patched) vulnerability in Java that Flashback used to spread.
Known as “Sabpab,” the “very low” risk trojan, when installed on a machine, opens a back door that can enable a remote attacker to create new processes, download files, take screenshots or install additional malware.

Sydney, Melbourne make ‘top 25’ startup hubs

Startup Genome, a project kicked off last year that measures the “startup ecosystems” of the top 25 hubs around the world, has ranked Sydney and Melbourne 21st and 22nd respectively.

falling well behind traditional homes to technology startups, such as US hubs in Silicon Valley and New York CIty.

These hubs were ahead of the London, Toronto and Israel’s second largest city, Tel Aviv, according to the project’s latest figures given to TechCrunch.  
The closest location to Australia that made the top 10 was Singapore, which was in seventh spot ahead of Sao Paulo, Brazil and Moscow, Russia.   

One of the major perceived weaknesses for Australian startups is access to funding compared with the US, according to discussions Werber Vogels, Amazon Web Service’s chief technology officer, had with Australian startups last year.

Despite New Zealand’s rising reputation as a startup hub, neither Auckland nor Wellington made the top 25.

Google updates Chrome for Android

It’s added 31 more languages and brought the update to every country where Google Play is available

Chrome for Android now lets you bypass the mobile site of your url redirect without using a third-party app, a particular boon for tablet users.

the ‘omnibox’ now takes URLs and search queries, plusGoogle has made it easier to switch between unlimited stacked tabs. And syncing with your desktop has been made easier, as has making pages available for offline reading.
There’s also a load of customisation tweaks, including the ability to add bookmarks as homescreen icons and choose which apps you’d like to use to open different types of links. Incognito mode has been taken mobile, too.
Flash is still not supported. The upgrade is currently in beta.

“One hundred” Thunderbolt devices to launch this year

Intel plans to have a hundred Thunderbolt devices on the market by the end of the year.

“We have dozens already in the marketplace, things like storage devices. But we’re actually on track to deliver approximately a hundred different devices by the end of the year, and by the time we get into 2013, hundreds of different Thunderbolt devices,” Intels PC Client VP Kirk Skaugen said.

Thunderbolt allows the ability to plug multiple things into the one port. Its transfer speeds also outclass USB 3.0, making it ideal if you’re shuffling HD video files around.

MSI’s Z77A-GD80 is the first motherboard to sport Thunderbolt.


Dr Who’s sonic screwdriver ‘invented’ at Dundee University

The Dundee University researchers have created a machine which uses ultrasound to lift and rotate a rubber disc floating in a cylinder of water.
It is said to be the first time ultrasound waves have been used to turn objects rather than simply push them

Like Doctor Who’s own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around.”

The results of the sonic screwdriver experiment are published in the American Physical Society’s journal Physical Review Letters.

Doctor Who uses his sonic screwdriver to perform medical scans, remotely control other devices and pick locks.



Google CEO grilled over emails he couldn’t remember

Google CEO Larry Page spent nearly an hour in a federal courtroom Wednesday deflecting questions about his role in a copyright dispute over some of the technology in his company’s Android software for smartphones.

The taciturn Page often looked uncomfortable on the witness stand as he sparred with David Boies, a tenacious lawyer who made headlines for grilling former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates in an antitrust lawsuit filed by the US government in 1990s.

In this trial, Boies is working for business software maker Oracle, which accused Google of building its Android software by stealing pieces of the technology from Java, a programming platform that Oracle now owns.

Oracle is seeking hundreds of millions in damages and royalties for Google’s future use of Android, which powers more than 300 million smartphones and tablet computers.

In a measure of the trial’s high stakes, Oracle has already called two multibillionaire executives to the witness stand. Oracle’s own CEO, Larry Ellison, appeared Tuesday, as did Page for a brief round of questioning before his Wednesday return for more extensive interrogations. In both appearances, Page sported a suit and tie, a departure from the casual attire he wears around Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters.

Page looked like he wished he could have stayed in Mountain View Wednesday. During his time on the stand, he rarely looked at Boies and frequently said he couldn’t remember seeing some of the internal Google documents that Oracle is using to build its case.

Page’s foggy memory seemed to exasperate Boies, perhaps because the haze may have worked to Google’s advantage.

Boies’ attempts to display exhibits containing inside information about Google were blocked by US District Judge William Alsup because Page couldn’t recall seeing them. Although it’s unclear what was in the exhibits, it was clear Google’s own lawyers didn’t want the contents to be exposed in a public courtroom.

Some of the evidence currently being kept under court seal is believed to include disclosures about how much money Google has made from Android since the software hit the market in 2008 – a financial nugget that Google has never revealed.

Although Google gives away the software to mobile device makers, Android brings in revenue from digital advertising and sales of mobile applications that run on the system.

Boies spent much of his interrogation trying to prove Page and other Google executives realised that the company probably would have to pay a licensing fee to use elements of Java as far back as 2005. That’s when Page orchestrated the deal to buy the Silicon Valley start-up that hatched Android and brought in Android founder Andy Rubin to oversee an effort to make Google’s online search engine, advertising and other services more accessible on mobile phones.

When shown emails from Rubin and others mentioning the need to license some of Java during 2005 and 2006, Page linked the references to Google’s attempts to build Android in a partnership with Sun Microsystems, Java’s owner at that time. Oracle entered the picture in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems for $US7.3 billion.

Page later elaborated on Google’s discussions Sun under while he was under more cordial questioning from one of his company’s lawyers. “We really wanted to use Sun’s technology,” Page said. “It would have saved us a lot of time and trouble to use Sun’s technology. When we weren’t able to have our business partnership, we went down our own path.”

Oracle’s case hinges on whether Android infringes on 37 copyrights for “application programming interfaces,” or APIs, that provide the blueprints for making much of Java work effectively. Other major companies, including IBM, have licensed some of Java’s APIs, but Google hasn’t – one of the few things that Boies was able to get Page to confirm during his testimony Wednesday.

Google contends the Java APIs aren’t covered under US copyright law because they aren’t a form of creative expression.

But various Google emails presented in the trial so far have included internal recommendations to work out a license for some elements of Java. One August 2010 email from Google engineer Tim Lindholm to Rubin mentions being asked by Page and Google’s other co-founder, Sergey Brin, to review possible alternatives to Java.

Lindholm advised Rubin all the other choices “suck” and urged him to negotiate a license for Java.

When Boies asked about Lindholm’s email in Wednesday, Page wouldn’t acknowledge telling Lindholm to look into the issue, let along knowing him. Page did point out that Lindholm’s email had misspelled Brin’s first name as “Sergei.”

In an apparent attempt to cast Google’s stance on Java as hypocritical, Boies asked Page if his company copyrighted the APIs that run its services. “I am not sure,” Page responded. “I think things are copyrighted by default, but I am not a lawyer.”

Boies then asked Page if Google might use copyright to prevent an outsider from improperly using its technology. “Google is a company based on intellectual property,” Page said. “That’s one of the major intellectual property protections.”

Page left the courtroom smiling, but still didn’t look completely relaxed. Maybe that’s because the judge told him that Oracle would probably call him back to testify before the trial is over.

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Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/business-it/google-ceo-grilled-over-emails-he-couldnt-remember-20120419-1x8vk.html#ixzz1sTIxHsFn

IKEA launches new flat-pack TV range

ALREADY the one-stop shop for smart and compact home furnishing, IKEA is venturing into the world of technology – with the IKEA TV.

The new furniture range, named UPPLEVA, the Swedish word for experience, integrates an LED TV, a sound system with wireless bass speakers, an internet connection and CD, DVD and Blu-ray players – all in one self-assembly piece.

Although the TV and the other electronics are made by Chinese manufacturer TCL, IKEA has built everything around them, hiding the masses of cables that can be a nuisance and make a living room look shabby.

o further simplify things, IKEA and TCL have combined all the controls into a single remote. The furniture surface is especially designed to allow the remote’s signals through, so the devices can remain hidden from view.

The TV screens are available in four different sizes, from 60cm to 117cm, and in a range of colours including grey, black and blue. Users are also able to plug in their iPods or other MP3 music players.

Like most IKEA furniture, the UPPLEVA is purchased in a flat-pack and is ready for assembly at home for those handy with screwdrivers and other tools.

The furniture comes in three designs and will be sold first in Sweden, France, Poland, Germany and Italy in June, with a few more markets due to launch in the second half of the year.

By the first half of next year, it will be available worldwide, with the cheapest costing about 6500 Swedish kronor ($955).

To test market appetite for its latest innovation, IKEA had a survey conducted by pollster YouGov. The poll showed that three out of four people want less visible cables in their living rooms and 50 per cent wanted to reduce the amount of electronics lying about.

The study, done in five countries with more than 5200 respondents between February 29 and March 15 this year, also showed that 60 percent of the people asked have between three to four remote controls at home.

“We’ve realised that people are watching more TV and are using electronics in their living rooms more and more,” IKEA spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said.

“We came up with this because we found that people want to get rid of the cables and they don’t want those mountains of remote controls either.”

Martin Rask, a 38-year old from Stockholm, said the all-in-one concept sounded interesting but wondered how it could keep up with new technologies.

“The furniture is a tempting idea – I’m wrestling with a bundle of cables at home myself at the moment – but the problem is that so many new things are released all the time,” he said.

“I’ve had three different internet suppliers in the past year for example, and imagine if you had an old VHS player built into your furniture that no one is watching.”

Ms Magnusson at IKEA said that although the electronic devices are physically attached to the furniture, there is plenty of room for customers to put in IKEA-designed add-ons.

IKEA employs more than 130,000 people and has 280 stores in 25 countries. Last year it drew 655 million customers.


Apple, Samsung CEOs to meet on patent disputes

THE chiefs of iPhone-maker Apple and smartphone giant Samsung have agreed to meet in the coming months to try to resolve patent disputes before the matters go to trial, legal filings showed.

At the behest of a San Francisco federal court, Apple boss Tim Cook and Samsung chief Gee-Sung Choi will take part in settlement talks presided over by a judge, according to filings posted online at Foss Patents blog.

“The parties have indicated they are willing to participate in a Magistrate Judge Settlement Conference,” San Francisco district court Judge Lucy Koh said, according to a copy of a legal order posted on the blog.

“Therefore, the parties are hereby referred to an MJSC with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero with a 90-day deadline.”

Ms Koh is presiding over two patent lawsuits pitting the companies against one another and wants them to resolve their differences before looming trials, the first of which is slated to begin in July.

Apple and Samsung, a leading maker of smartphones and tablets using Google-backed Android mobile software, are fighting patent battles in more than half a dozen countries.


Air Aroma and Australians create Macbook Pro fragrance     

LOVE your Mac? Well now you can smell like it.



No, it’s not the new offering from Calvin Klein or Apple CEO Tim Cook cashing in on the celebrity-scent bandwagon.

Three Australians have created a perfume they say replicates that “fresh out of the box” smell you get when unveiling a Macbook Pro for the first time.

Melbourne-based artists Gavin Bell, Jarrah de Kuijer and Simon McGlinn used “scent solutions company” Air Aroma to source the ingredients, the company’s website said.

The scent encompasses the smell of the plastic wrapping, printed ink on the cardboard, paper, plastic and the aluminum laptop, Air Aroma said.

But you won’t find it in any shop. The artists – who go by the collective name of Greatest Hits – sourced the scent for the De facto Standard exhibition in Melbourne.

“A distinctive scent can be observed when unwrapping a newly purchased Apple product from its packaging,” Air Aroma said.

“Apple fans will certainly recognise this smell.”

The company said to replicate the smell, it sent unopened Macbook Pro laptops to their fragrance suppliers in the South of France. The perfume makers then used the scents they observed when un-boxing.

The fragrance will be diffused for the duration of their exhibition – which runs at West Space until May 12.


Warning as another Mac Trojan virus discovered

THERE’S more bad news for Mac users.


An online security company has found another virus that has been infecting the Apple computers via a Java plug-in, spreading across computers when people open email messages with links directing them to malware.

The virus is the second to be discovered in a week, after news earlier that more than 650,000 Mac computers had been infected with a Trojan virus known as “Flashback”.

The chief security expert of anti-virus software provider Kaspersky Lab, Alex Gostev, said the latest virus is called “SabPub” – an abbreviation of its formal name, “Backdoor.OSX.SapPub” and has the potential to infect more computers than Flashback.

“SabPub is classic backdoor Trojan, so it opens full access to a victim’s system for attackers,” Mr Gostev told Mashable.


“Flashback and its known variants is a downloader and clickjacking bot, which means it conducts click fraud scams by hijacking people’s search engine results inside their web browsers.”

This incarnation of SabPub is also more powerful than its previous versions.

“In February, SabPub was exploiting a Microsoft Word vulnerability, which was fixed a long time ago,” Mr Gostev said.

“The latest version of SabPub uses the Java exploit to spread infection in a more effective way because the Java exploit is delivered via a drive by download, which occurs when people click on URLs with malware via email.”

The security expert also said the attackers appeared to attack specific targets and had a select list of victims that was not very large.

Mr Gostev said Mac users could no longer delude themselves that they were safe from viruses. Before 2012, experts had detected 300 kinds of Mac malware. This year, more than 70 viruses had been detected during the past three months.

“We recommend users update their systems immediately with the latest security update from Apple,” Mr Gostev said.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/technology/warning-as-another-mac-trojan-virus-discovered/story-e6frfro0-1226330358805#ixzz1sQdpL9ug

Amazon moves a step closer to local operation

A LONG-DORMANT Australian spinoff of the global online retailer Amazon.com has sprung into life with the appointment of two senior American executives to its board and the employment of a dozen marketing staff.

In further evidence Amazon is ramping up its local presence, Amazon.com.au changed its name to Amazon Corporate Services last year and appointed two vice presidents of the American parent –

Michael Deal, associate general counsel, and Jason Bristow, the online retailer’s treasurer – to the local company’s board.

BusinessDay yesterday reported Amazon is in the market for a warehouse in Australia. The group, which made its name as an online bookseller, is now said to be eyeing the Asia-Pacific region. Agents said it had been making it known in real estate circles that its expansion plans would include Australia.

In accounts lodged with the corporate regulator, Amazon Corporate Services said that during the year to June 30, 2011, ”the company commenced conducting business in the form of the provision of marketing and other corporate services for and on behalf of an associated company, Amazon Web Services LLC” based in Washington.

Amazon Web Services provides IT infrastructure services to businesses.

John Burford, a Sydney accountant at Burford Partners which specialises in servicing subsidiaries of foreign corporations, and the local director of Amazon Corporate Services, said the company had been ”dormant”.

”This is something that’s come like a bolt out of the blue,” he told BusinessDay. ”I’ve been a director of the company for 12 years and up until last year it did nothing. In November 2010, I was told there was going to be a change of direction.”

The Australian offshoot hired 12 marketing staff last year, he said.

Mr Burford said he was not aware of specific plans for Amazon in Australia and whether or not they included retailing. He said that ”to date” plans had included data operations but added: ”I sense it’s going to be big.”

”It’s all very embryonic,” he said. ”There could be things other than marketing. It’s an evolution.”

Online book retailing in Australia is estimated to have been worth $280 million in 2010, according to consultancy PwC. More than half of the books bought online in 2010 were bought from overseas booksellers, taking advantage of their GST-free status.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/amazon-moves-a-step-closer-to-local-operation-20120418-1x7p1.html#ixzz1sQela0cx

Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies

Publisher’s Summary

Did you know?
Freemasonry’s first American lodge included a young Benjamin Franklin among its members.
The Knights Templar began as impoverished warrior monks then evolved into bankers.
Groom Lake, Dreamland, Homey Airport, Paradise Ranch, The Farm, Watertown Strip, Red Square, “The Box,” are all names for Area 51.

An indispensable guide, Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies connects the dots and sets the record straight on a host of greedy gurus and murderous messiahs, crepuscular cabals, and suspicious coincidences. Divided into three sections, its hundreds of entries separate facts from myths.

Some topics are familiar: the Kennedy assassinations, the Bilderberg Group, the Illuminati, Area 51, the People’s Temple, and Heaven’s Gate – and some surprising, like Oulipo, a select group of intellectuals (Italo Calvino was a member) who created wild formulas for creating literary masterpieces, and the Chauffeurs, an 18th-century society of French home invaders, who set fire to their victims’ feet.

Easy to spend hours with and fun to dip into, and seasoned with just the right amount of common sense skepticism, Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies is a refreshing look at some of the most fascinating people, moments, and places in history.
©2009 Arthur Goldwag; (P)2009 Random House

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