Episode 291 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


Thunderbolt arrives on Asus/MSI motherboards

Asus and MSI are the first vendors out the door with Thunderbolt-equipped PC motherboards.
The Asus P8Z77-V Premium, Asus P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt and MSI Z77A-GD80 all have the Intel I/O standard onboard; boasting a maximum bi-directional data transfer speed of up to 10Gb/s – around 20 times faster than USB 2.0.

The new motherboards also have the ability to daisy-chain up to six devices with a single cable while maintaining maximum throughput.


IBM bans Siri from workforce

IBM welcomes its nearly 400,000 employees to bring their own devices to work — as long as Siri

IBM’s Chief Information Officer Jeanette  Horan explained that the app sparked concern because users’ spoken queries are potentially stored on Apple’s servers, where they’re susceptible to falling into the hands of unauthorised listeners.

Apple’s iPhone Software License Agreement allegedly confirms Big Blue’s belief, in which it states the following: “When you use Siri or Dictation, the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple in order to convert what you say into text.”

IBM employees can still use iPhones in its offices, but they have been asked to turn the Siri functionality off.

IBM’s BYOD environment is risk-free. Before a device is even granted access to the company’s network, for instance, IT configures it so that its memory can be remotely erased if lost or stolen.

Windows 8: multiple monitors? Not a problem

Microsoft’s Windows 8 will offer more tools and support for multi-tasking users who attach multiple monitors to their desktop and laptop PCs, the company revealed yesterday.

But Microsoft is dropping the Aero Glass user interface.

More than 13 percent of desktop PC users have two monitors attached to their system Almost one percent have three attached monitors, while 0.34 percent use four.
More than 4 percent of laptop PC users have two monitors, according to the data.

Windows 8 will provide multimonitor support to the taskbar, making it easier to manage multiple windows. It also will allow users to choose personalised background screens for multiple monitors — Windows 7 users can only select a single image that is duplicated across all.

Users also will be able to launch Metro-style applications on one monitor and traditional Windows desktop applications on another. And corner and edge controls, including the Start menu, clock and other icons, or “charms,” will be accessible from every monitor.

Apple CEO earns US top dollar

Tim Cook has topped the list of highest paid CEOs in the United States, beating second place Oracle boss Larry Ellison by over $US300 million.

Cook’s total compensation in 2011 came in at $US378m, thanks to restricted stock grants. His annual salary came in at $US0.90, and $US0.90 for his annual incentives. according to a Wall Street Journal survey.

Chrome steals crown from Internet Explorer

Chrome has overtaken Internet Explorer (IE) as the most used desktop browser globally for the first time, according to one web metrics firm.

The latest figures from StatCounter suggest Google’s competing browser overtook the mainstay between May 7 and 13, before stablising to maintain less than a percent lead over IE.

Net Applications reported that Microsoft’s IE browser still holds the lead with more than 50 percent worldwide share of desktops, while Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox browser battle out second spot with roughly 20 percent each.

either way, far cry from the high 90% that it used to hold

HP announces mass lay-offs

HP will slash between 10 and 15 percent of its workforce as part of a global cost-cutting campaign instigated by CEO Meg Whitman following her appointment as HP boss last year.
According to several reports, HP will let go anywhere between 25,000 and 48,000 of its 324,000 employees.

London cops get 350 mobile fingerprint scanners

The MPS said the devices would not store fingerprint data, but would accelerate the identification of suspects.

Britain’s London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will be issued hundreds of mobile-phone-sized biometric fingerprint scanners to help identify anyone suspected of committing an offence.
A total of 350 devices dubbed “MobileID” will be issued to police across 12 boroughs in London in the next year, following lengthy trials by the UK’sNational Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).

Privacy watchdog Privacy International said pushing forensics processes from the laboratory to the street was a possible breach of human rights law because it could be used to extract data before an arrest was made.

Apple’s Sir Jonathan Ive reaffirms desire to stay at company

He said he wanted to stay with “the same team I’ve been fortunate enough to work with for the past 15 years.”

Jonathan Ive – the British designer responsible for Apple’s iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad – has been knighted at Buckingham Palace.
The 45-year-old said the investiture in front of the Princess Royal was “really thrilling and particularly humbling”.
Now based in the US, Apple’s senior vice-president of industrial design flew in to the UK with his wife and eight-year-old twin sons for the event.
He was born in Chingford, east London, and studied at Newcastle Polytechnic.

He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the New Year Honours list for services to design and enterprise.

TV remote control inventor Eugene Polley dies at 96

Zenith Electronics said Eugene Polley passed away of natural causes on Sunday at a Chicago hospital.
His 1955 invention, Flash-Matic, pointed a beam of light at photo cells on each corner of the TV, turning it off and on and changing the channels.


Spotify launches in Australia

ONLINE music service Spotify has become Australia’s first free streaming music provider after launching in Australia today.
Sweden-based Spotify offers 16 million songs under a “freemium” model which gives subscribers the choice of listening for free with advertisements or paying to upgrade to ad-free and mobile-based services.

The Commonwealth Bank, McDonald’s, Virgin Mobile and Carlton United Breweries have signed up as exclusive advertising partners for the first three months, meaning Spotify free users will hear only ads from those organisations.
Signing up to Spotify can only be done through a Facebook account –




NBN build gaining momentum daily: Quigley

NBN Co boss, Mike Quigley, says momentum on the National Broadband Network (NBN) is building despite the delays and setbacks in delivering on the government’s $36 billion project.

NBN Co has the task of delivering fibre-optic broadband cable to 93 per cent of homes, schools and business across Australia by 2021, with the rest to be provided by fixed-wireless and satellite services.
Quigley says NBN Co is “daily gaining momentum” in its build.

Changes to the assumptions in the initial corporate plan released in December 2010, due to several factors, were “not surprising”, he said.

These included the assumption when the deal would be completed with Telstra, how NBN Co would implement the competition watchdog’s decision on points-of-interconnect, how to execute the government’s policy for new housing estates which was not finalised at that time and other policy matters.
He said much work had been done by the company since December 2010.

“So that we are now in a position to finalise an updated corporate plan, and submit it to government following board approval by the end of May,” Quigley told the budget estimates hearing in Canberra on Thursday.

He said the new corporate plan would incorporate all of the policy decisions over the past 18 months, which would be consistent with NBN Co’s 12-month and three-year rollout schedules released in February and March.

Connections on NBN’s three technologies — optic fibre, fixed wireless and satellite – had increased to about 11,000 from 5500 in February, Quigley said.

Work had begun in areas with about 318,000 premises also, he said.

There were more 7300 activated services on the interim satellite services, with the long-term satellite project progressing well ahead of the launch in 2015.

The company’s fixed wireless service was running a completed trial in Armidale, Quigley said.

“This is a significant milestone for us because it means that for the first time all three delivery technologies — fibre, satellite and fixed wireless — are now in operation,” he said.

Quigley said the highest share of NBN fibre broadband connections, 37 per cent, was for the fastest speed of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download/40 Mbps upload.

He said only 18 per cent of active services on NBN Co’s fibre network was for its entry-level speed tier of 12 Mbps download/one Mbps upload.

For 25/5 Mbps it was 35 per cent and 10 per cent for 50/20 Mbps.

“The data for April shows this trend is even stronger, with almost 50 per cent of new active services being on the highest speed tier,” he said.

A challenge for NBN Co’s planners was the accuracy of existing address files as it impact on nearly every aspect, from planning and designing the network, to building it and ultimately operating it, Quigley said.

The data inaccuracy meant NBN Co had to direct its contractors to walk down every street in every file to verify addresses.

“This is time consuming, costly and itself prone to error,” Quigley said.


Ad zapper DVR has TV networks worried about sales

THE maker of a new DVR that lets consumers zap away broadcast TV commercials at the touch of a button suggested that the networks are being short-sighted in opposing the technology.
The Dish Network, which has offered its new Auto Hop feature on new digital video recorders since March, said it believes that people who buy the machine are watching more network television than they had before. The Auto Hop automatically records every minute of prime-time programming on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and stores it for eight days.
“It’s a win-win for both consumers and the networks,” said Vivek Khemka, Dish Network vice president of product management.
That opinion is anecdotal, however. Dish officials say they don’t yet have hard data to back up the contention that more of their customers are watching network shows because they are automatically stored on their DVR.

Network executives are angry about how Auto Hop allows viewers to eliminate commercials on the recorded shows through one button, no fast-forwarding required. It didn’t help their moods that Dish, the satellite service with about 14 million customers in the US, was advertising the new feature on the week that networks were touting their new fall programming. The feature isn’t available for cable network programming.

Dish said Fox and NBC have refused to allow its ads for the new DVR on their networks.
“Ads are key to our business, so we’re not supportive of anything that doesn’t support our advertisers,” said president of the ABC Television Group, Paul Lee.

During a presentation to advertisers at Radio City Music Hall, Ted Harbert, chairman of NBC Broadcasting, called the Dish Network feature “an insult to our joint investment in programming.”

In one respect, the issue is a rerun for TV networks. In 2001, they sued the maker of Replay TV, another DVR, to stop a similar feature. The feature wasn’t included in the next model of DVR that Replay TV put out, and the company that made them filed for bankruptcy before the lawsuit could be resolved.

Kevin Reilly, Fox entertainment president, said it was surprising that Dish would make such a move against its largest content provider.

“More broadcast is watched there than anything else, so this seems like a strange thing to do,” Mr Reilly said. “But we’re still evaluating it.”

Mr Khemka said Auto Hop has features that are sensitive to the broadcasters’ concerns. The commercial zapping feature has to be activated; the recorded programs will still contain the ads if the button isn’t used. The feature also won’t allow the commercials to be skipped until at least 1.00am. Eastern time the next day, and studies show that a significant amount of recorded programming is viewed the same night it airs.
Dish has also supported broadcasters by paying significant rate increases for their content, said company spokesman Robert Toevs.

If people are deciding between a cable or satellite provider, the feature gives the company a competitive edge, Mr Khemka said. Indeed, Auto Hop is the feature that Dish focuses on during its current ad campaign.

Dish said it’s exemplifying its belief in the advertising structure by spending tens of millions of dollars on television ads, the kind of ads customers would be allowed to zap through.

At this point, Auto Hop is likely in the hands of relatively few viewers, but Dish wouldn’t say how many of their customers have it. As a point of comparison, an estimated 700,000 new homes signed up for Dish in the first three months of the year.

The jury is also still out on the ultimate impact of ad skipping. Nearly half of US households with televisions now have DVRs, and there hasn’t been any measurable impact on the rates that advertisers are paying for broadcast commercials.

Ratings indicate that DVR usage has increased viewership of some network TV shows, said Jack Myers, publisher of the industry newsletter The Myers Report. In an odd way, fast-forwarding through commercials often makes people concentrate more intensely on the TV and stop if something interests them, he said.
Allowing a customer to eliminate the commercials entirely, however, is “too big a game-changer,” he said. “It brings to question Dish’s understanding of the fundamentals of broadcast television.”

Read more:http://www.news.com.au/technology/ad-zapper-dvr-has-tv-networks-worried-about-sales/story-e6frfro0-1226364152203#ixzz1vg09hCOR

Can Spotify beat the iTunes ‘800-pound gorilla’?

IT’S free – and it promises to slash piracy and revive the Australian record industry’s “heyday of the ’80s and the mid-’90s”.

Finally, after months of delays, Spotify launched in Australia.

Spotify gives users access to 16 million songs for free as long as they are willing to listen to advertisements every 10 minutes.

An ad-free version and smartphone access can be purchased for $6.99 or $11.99 per month.
But experts warn the company is up against an “800-pound gorilla” in Apple’s iTunes and small record labels are unlikely to see much financial benefit from the new streaming service.

Australia and New Zealand managing director Kate Vale said several delays were due to negotiations with local record labels and app makers, and a decision to launch it in tandem with Spotify’s iPad app.

“Lots of things needed to be teed up in order for us to launch and we wanted to make sure that we launched with the best possible music service and the largest number of tracks,” she said.

Spotify can be used for free on PCs or Macs, and can also be accessed using Apple, Google Android, BlackBerry or Symbian devices. A hold-up in the Australian launch of its Windows Phone is now being investigated.

Users can access up to 16 million songs through the service, communications head Jim Butcher said, either by “paying with their time” via 30-second ads played every 10 minutes or subscribing to its computer or mobile phone services with a monthly fee.

A Facebook account is required to access the service and users are encouraged to share songs and playlists on the social network.

Artists are compensated according to the number of times their songs are played, with the service paying record companies more than $US250 million since it was founded in 2008.

Mr Butcher said Spotify would target young music lovers who were no longer “used to paying for music” in an effort to limit illegal music downloads in Australia.

“We think we can get back to the heyday of the ’80s and mid-’90s for the industry by offering a legal music-streaming service,” he said. “It’s going to take a while for everyone to get on board with streaming but free services are fundamental to making this shift happen as soon as possible.”

Spotify is one of several music streaming services to launch in Australia recently, with others including Rdio, Rara, JB Hi-Fi Now and Samsung Music Hub.
If all this begins to sound a little confusing, you’d be right.
Fear not, News.com.au has taken the hard work out of choosing a streaming service.

Spotify has been out for less than 12 hours, but some users are complaining they have had problems accessing the app.
Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi said he estimated music-streaming services would make up a third of all music revenue in Australia by 2015, but they would have a fierce struggle to compete with downloads and in particularly “iTunes… the 800-pound gorilla in the market”.
Mr Fadaghi said consumers would also have to become accustomed to paying for something “they don’t physically own” before the services could really take off, and warned that smaller record companies may be no better off.
“Smaller labels have difficulty making money out of the small payments made from streaming services,” he said
“You get fractions and fractions of a cent for each play, so streaming services will only suit very, very large artists.”

Read more:http://www.news.com.au/technology/spotify-lands-in-australia-is-it-worth-the-hype/story-e6frfro0-1226363714387#ixzz1vg0N172n

Thomson’s high-tech conspiracy claims questioned

Phone cloning and identity theft were two offerings made by suspended MP Craig Thomson in his attempt to explain how escorts were booked through his mobile phone during a statement to Parliament.
IT security experts are divided as to whether phone cloning could be a legitimate reason.

Mr Thomson was responding to findings that in 2005 and 2007 he visited prostitutes and escort services using union funds, revealed in Fair Work Australia’s report into Mr Thomson’s activities during his tenure at the top of the Health Services Union.

Mr Thomson had alibis for some of the allegations but for the rest he did not have a “neat explanation”. He then added a “possibility [was] the issue of phone cloning” and identity theft.

Ty Miller, chief technology officer at the security firm Pure Hacking, said phone cloning, or SIM cloning, is a technique used by attackers to capture secret authentication details stored on the SIM which are used by phone companies to identify handsets.

“SIM cloning is extremely easy to do and most of the hardware that you need can be purchased on eBay,” Mr Miller said.

Attackers would need equipment such as a SIM card reader, a SIM card programmer, an empty SIM card and SIM card editing software, he said. “If the attacker doesn’t have physical access to the phone then they would need an IMSI-Catcher to act as a fake phone tower.”

Because no changes to the original phone would be made, a person wanting to find out if it was cloned would need to look at phone company records and audit trails.

But IT security expert Chris Gatford, director of Hacklabs, said phone cloning was archaic because it was done on analogue mobile phones which were phased out over a decade ago.

“The GSM network is what we have now and cloning a GSM device even back in 2005 would have involved a lot of technical challenges,” he said. “It’s outside the realm of the most semi-professional security enthusiasts so I think phone cloning is very unlikely.”

There were rumours less than a week ago that Mr Thomson would blame caller ID spoofing to explain how escorts were booked through his phone. He did not mention this technique in his speech.

Caller ID spoofing, which allows a caller to spoof someone when calling or messaging a third-party’s phone, would not affect the bill of the person being spoofed, Mr Gatford said.

“With ANI (automatic Number Identification), which is the billing side, you would have to compromise a telco and twist quite a few knobs and change quite a few things to affect someone else’s bill,” Mr Gatford said.
“Spoofing is a party trick,” he said. “I find it very unlikely that phone cloning and Caller ID spoofing are the causes of these items (calls to an escort service) on someone’s phone bill.”

Read more:http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/thomsons-hightech-conspiracy-claims-questioned-20120522-1z1w4.html#ixzz1vg17cST9

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer sees ‘rebirth’ with Windows 8

Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 series – featuring an upgraded cloud computing service – marks a “rebirth” of its operating systems, chief executive Steve Ballmer says.

Ballmer described Windows 8 as the “deepest, broadest and most impactful” Windows software ever created by the US tech giant, after the current Windows 7 sold at unprecedented rates to businesses.
“It’s really, in some senses, a dawning of the rebirth of MS Windows… It’s certainly the most important piece of work we’ve done,” he said on Tuesday in a speech to the Seoul Digital Forum.

Windows 8, whose preview version will be released in June, allows users readily to store and share personal data among various devices under the “SkyDrive” cloud computing service. Rival Apple already offers such a service.

The new Microsoft system will support a wider range of devices, including touch- and stylus-based smartphones and tablet PCs as well as desktop and laptop machines, Ballmer said.

The software giant has been trying to expand its presence in the booming software market for smartphones and tablets, which is currently dominated by Apple and Google.

Ballmer predicted that the cloud computing market would become dominated by a few big players.
“The number of core [cloud] platforms, around which software developers will do their innovation, is not ever-broadening,” he said.

“It’s really a quite smaller and focused number – Windows, various forms of Linux, the Apple ecosystem.”
In three to five years from now, “there will be just a few ecosystems that really can get the critical mass”, he said.

Ballmer estimated up to 500 million users will have Windows 8 next year, promising the “best economic opportunity” for device makers and app developers who adopt the new system.
Microsoft will also soon introduce Skype powered by Windows 8, Ballmer said. His company last year bought the leading internet video and voice-calling service for $US8.5 billion.

Read more:http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/hometech/microsofts-steve-ballmer-sees-rebirth-with-windows-8-20120523-1z3ub.html#ixzz1vg1Y1nvb

Commercial spacecraft built by PayPal billionaire speeds towards Space Station

Opening a new, entrepreneurial era in spaceflight, a ship built by a billionaire businessman sped toward the International Space Station with a load of groceries and other supplies on Tuesday in the US after a spectacular middle-of-the-night blastoff.

The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and its unmanned Dragon capsule marked the first time a commercial spacecraft has been sent to the orbiting outpost.

Tracing a fiery arc across the night sky, the rocket lifted off just before 4am local time at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and smoothly boosted the capsule into orbit. The capsule is expected to rendezvous with the space station within days, delivering a half-tonne of provisions for its six crew members.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket as it heads for space carrying the company’s Dragon spacecraft from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photo: AFP

It is considered just a test flight — in fact, the capsule was packed with only nonessential items, in case something went disastrously wrong — but if all goes well with this mission and others like it, commercial spaceships could be carrying astronauts to and from the space station in three to five years.

“Falcon flew perfectly!!” billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder of the SpaceX company, said via Twitter. “Feels like a giant weight just came off my back.”

Musk later told reporters: “For us, it’s like winning the Super Bowl.”
The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket is seen during a time exsposure as it lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Up to now, flights to the space station were something only major governments had done.
The White House offered congratulations.

“Every launch into space is a thrilling event, but this one is especially exciting,” said John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s chief science adviser. “This expanded role for the private sector will free up more of NASA’s resources to do what NASA does best — tackle the most demanding technological challenges in space, including those of human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit.”
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaks to the media after the Falcon 9 test rocket was launched successfully from Space Launch Complex 40. Photo: Reuters

NASA is looking to the private sector to take over flights to the space station now that the space shuttle has been retired. Several US companies are vying for the opportunity.

“The significance of this day cannot be overstated,” said a beaming NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “It’s a great day for America. It’s actually a great day for the world because there are people who thought that we had gone away, and today says, ‘No, we’re not going away at all.'”

Flight controllers applauded when the Dragon reached orbit nine minutes into the flight. Then they embraced once the solar panels on the craft popped open. Many of the SpaceX controllers wore untucked T-shirts, jeans or shorts, a stark contrast to NASA’s suit-and-tie shuttle crowd.

A previous launch attempt, on Saturday, was aborted with a half-second left in the countdown because of a bad valve in one of Falcon’s nine engines.

Another important test comes on Thursday when the Dragon draws close to the space station. It will undergo practice maneuvers from more than a mile out. If all goes well, docking will occur on Friday. Musk will preside from the company’s Mission Control in Hawthorne, California.

Since the shuttle’s retirement last summer, American astronauts have been hitching rides to the space station aboard Russian rockets, and Russian, Japanese and European ships have been delivering supplies.

SpaceX has spent more than $US1 billion on the project.

Musk, the 40-year-old entrepreneur who helped create PayPal and runs the electric car company Tesla Motors, has poured in millions of his own fortune, and NASA has contributed $US381 million in seed money in a venture that has been likened to the public-private collaboration that built the internet and won the West.

Even Musk’s rivals were rooting for a successful flight.

“The shuttle may be retired, but the American dream of space exploration is alive and well,” said Mark Sirangelo, chairman of Sierra Nevada’s space systems, which is developing a mini-shuttle to carry space station crews in a few years.

The Dragon capsule will stay at the space station for a week and then splash down in the Pacific, bringing back experiments and equipment. None of the other cargo ships now in use are designed to return safely; they burn up on the way down.

Two more Dragon supply missions are planned this year, regardless of what happens this week.
The rocket also blasted into orbit around the Earth the ashes of more than 300 people, including Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper and actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on Star Trek. The ashes were in a section of the rocket that was jettisoned during the climb into space.

Read more:http://www.watoday.com.au/technology/sci-tech/commercial-spacecraft-built-by-paypal-billionaire-speeds-towards-space-station-20120523-1z3xh.html#ixzz1vg1m4tP3



Leave a Reply