Episode 313 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


EU warns Microsoft over Windows 8 browser option

EU antitrust regulators have told Microsoft not to repeat the mistake of denying consumers a choice of rival web browsers in its new Windows 8 operating system, in a dispute that has already cost the software giant more than a billion euros in fines.

After discussions with the Commission, we are changing some aspects of the way the browser choice screen works on Windows 8 and will have those changes implemented when Windows 8 launches later this week,” Microsoft spokesman Robin Koch said in a statement.

Microsoft promised three years ago to offer browser choices, to settle an EU antitrust investigation and avoid a penalty that could have been as much as 10 percent of its global turnover.
But the European Commission said Microsoft had not fulfilled its pledge between February last year and July this year.

Microsoft could face a significant fine as it is the second time it has failed to comply with an EU order.

What is anti trust
Antitrust laws, also known as competition laws, are legal rules to promote fair competition in the marketplace. These laws can apply to both businesses and individuals. Antitrust laws are designed to prevent actions that might hurt consumers or unfairly harm other businesses, such as the formation of monopolies, illegal cooperation between competing businesses, and certain mergers between companies. These types of laws are in effect in many countries, and are even shared between countries in some cases, such as in the European Union.


Windows 8

Three years in the making and more than a year in beta testing, Windows 8 was released to manufacturing on Aug. 1 and will become generally available on Oct. 26.

a new “Refresh your PC” feature offers to replace the operating system without affecting user files, and is accessed right from within Windows. Another will perform a factory reset, and is described to allow people “to recycle your PC or start over completely.”

Windows RT:
This edition will include touch-optimised versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote Office applications as well as Mail, Calendar, and other messaging and productivity apps. Additional apps for devices running Windows RT will be available only through the Windows Store.
Windows RT does not support domain joining, and will therefore be unsuitable for some organisations. However, Windows RT systems are manageable with Microsoft’s cloud-based Windows Intune management system.

Windows 8 (basic):

Windows 8 (basic) is targeted at consumers and most people who would otherwise purchase Windows 7 Home editions.

It’s available for x86 and x64 desktops, laptops and tablets and includes the Windows 8 Start screen and Desktop environments, basic networking with connected standby, Internet Explorer 10 and support for Live Tiles. The Windows 8 basic edition will have access to the Windows Store, but it’s unclear whether it will be able to download and run apps installed from elsewhere.

This edition supports multiple monitors and touch sensitivity, can integrate with a Microsoft account as well as those of social networks and operate only as a Remote Desktop client.

Windows 8 Pro:
On top of all Windows 8 (basic) features, this edition can join a Windows Server Domain and accept Group Policies, operate only as a Remote Desktop client or host, boot from a virtual hard disk, optionally install Windows Media Centre and run Hyper-V (64-bit version only, if supported by the processor), BitLocker drive encryption and Microsoft’s file-level encryption.

Windows 8 delivers MBAM 2.0, an all-new, enterprise-ready version of Microsoft’s BitLocker Administration and Monitoring drive encryption solution. Now with enterprise management capabilities, reporting and key management, MBAM 2.0 also includes compliance reporting for individual PCs and complete organisations, easier key provisioning and a self-service portal for key retrieval.

Intended for enthusiasts and business professionals, the successor to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate

Windows 8 Enterprise:
Windows 8 Enterprise adds to Windows 8 Pro the benefits of AppLocker application-level security; BranchCache WAN-connection optimisation; DirectAccess for automatic and secure VPN-enabled connections and Group Policy enforcement; and RemoteFX virtualisation capabilities for VDI deployment.
Windows 8 Enterprise also enables Windows To Go, providing not only the long-awaited ability to boot Windows from USB devices but implement the user’s personalised Windows desktop with folder redirection and synchronises all changes.

Windows To Go provides tremendous flexibility to work from different places — at airports and on airplanes, in coffee shops or hotels — and from any number of devices. Windows To Go images are fully manageable in System Centre 2012, can be remotely wiped and can take advantage of DirectAccess for application of group policies and security updates.

Not a virtualisation solution, Windows To Go executes a full set of binaries, discovers devices and installs drivers for the host machine. It even remembers those settings to make subsequent boot-times faster but doesn’t affect the host system in any way (it doesn’t even allow access to the host hard drive).

Microsoft to webcast Windows 8 launch event

The keynote, which starts at 1:15 a.m. 26 Oct, is the only part of the day-long event in New York that will be publicly broadcast. Throughout the day, Microsoft will show off Windows 8, its own Surface RT tablet, and new hardware from some of its partners to the press and industry analysts.


Perth man survives garbage truck dive for laptop

A man searching for his laptop in a Perth CBD dumpster has escaped uninjured after being tipped into a garbage truck.

A Fire & Emergency Services Authority (FESA) of Western Australia spokeswoman told iTnews that two fire trucks were sent to rescue the man, after receiving a call from police at approximately 4.30am Perth time (7.30am Sydney time).

A garbage truck had emptied the dumpster from a property opposite the Perth Concert Hall on St Georges Terrace, when the driver heard screams coming from the back of the truck, and called police.
The FESA spokeswoman said the trapped man had been unable to escape because there was no ladder inside of the truck. It took about 20 minutes to free him,

The man did not locate his missing laptop,

Amazon Web Services outage shutters popular sites

Major popular internet locations such as Reddit and Foursquare went out this morning thanks to an issue affecting Amazon’s Elastic Cloud Compute in North Virginia, United States.

Cloud application platform site Heroku reported “elevated error rates” and set its application programming interface in read-only mode while engineers worked on recovering the databases affected by the outage.
Construction game Minecraft — with over ten million players — is unreachable currently, and Reddit, Foursquare, Airbnb and Pinterest are notifying users via tweets that their sites are down.

Microsoft says Skype ready for Windows 8

The redesigned Skype will appear on the Windows 8 start screen as a live tile. Along with using the tile to launch Skype, the tile will show when the user has a missed call or new message waiting.

A new release of skype for Windows 8 will be ready this 26/10, the same day the long-awaited Windows 8 operating system is officially launched.

The new Skype is also linked to the Windows 8 People application — the operating system’s new take on contact lists and address books. Skype contacts will show up in the People app when users log into Skype with their Microsoft user account.

“We’ve designed Skype for Windows 8 to focus on the way you use Skype,” Gillett wrote. “Your conversations are more accessible to you than ever, and you can switch fluidly from chat to video or audio calls.”

Free upgrades for Office 2010 buyers

Microsoft is offering free upgrades to its Office 2013 productivity suite to new buyers of the existing Office 2010 software.

Office 2013 is currently available as a downloadable preview, and expected to launch in final form later this week or early next week.

Existing Office 2010 customers and those who have bought the productivity suite through the Volume, Home Use and Student Select programmes are not eligibile for the offer.

Although competing productivity suites have emerged, such as the web-based Google Docs and the free OpenOffice and LibreOffice, Microsoft’s variant still commands a 90 percent market share for PCs, analyst firm Gartner’s research shows.

Inside Harvey Norman’s Windows 8 ‘blitzkrieg’

metro stores across Sydney and Melbourne will start selling Windows 8 products at midnight on October 26th, with hourly offers, prizes and incentives available in the lead up.

He confirmed metro stores will stay open through to the midnight launch, while other stores around Australia will close at normal time and open earlier on Friday morning, between 7am and 8am.

In order to train staff on the new operating system, Harvey Norman ran a week-long certification course to verify 350 retail workers as “Windows 8 specialists”. The specialists will be dressed in green and on hand at launch to advise customers on the 30 Windows 8 gadgets Harvey Norman will have in store.

Apple iPad mini: All the Aussie details

Australian pricing



CyanogenMod developers remove code that logged device screen-lock patterns

discovered and removed a line of code that posed potential security risks because it logged and stored device screen-lock patterns in a file.

The unwanted line of code was added back in August in CyanogenMod version 10, which is based on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), as part of a new feature that allowed the size of the lock screen’s dot grid to be configurable — for example from the default 3×3 size to 6×6.

“The line of code has been introduced by a respectable member of the Cyanogen community and I don’t suspect it has been added with malicious intent,” Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst at antivirus vendor Bitdefender, said Tuesday via email. “Most probably, it is a snippet of code used during debugging and forgotten when committing the code.”

According to statistics, the official builds of CyanogenMod are installed on 1,137,335 devices and unofficial builds on 1,366,560 devices. The nightly builds of CyanogenMod 10 are currently the most popular versions of CyanogenMod and account for over 240,000 official installs.

Android malware exploding, says Trend Micro

The amount of mobile Android malware has surged this year, from a count of 30,000 malware specimens in June to almost 175,000 last month, according to Trend Micro’s Security Roundup report for the third quarter of this year

The Trend Micro report notes the fake versions of legitimate Android apps are the most prevalent type of Android malware, counted at 29,309

despite the surge in mobile malware, it’s still far below the many millions of Microsoft Windows-based malware variants.

Currently, the surprise is that Saudi Arabia has suddenly come from nowhere to become the top spam-sending country.

Flossie restored: Early computer back to life in Kent

One of the world’s oldest commercial computers has been brought back to life by two enthusiasts in a barn in Kent.

The ICT1301 computer, known as Flossie, was restored to working order on its 50th anniversary by engineers Roger Holmes and Rod Brown in Bethersden.
The 20ft (6m) by 22ft machine was built to replace rows of clerks doing office work and featured in the 1974 James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun.
Bought for £200 in 2003, it has 100th of the power of a smartphone.

Mr Holmes, a Computer Conservation Society volunteer, said it was a unique machine important for putting modern technology into context.

Flossie originally cost £250,000 to build in 1962, the equivalent of £4.2m today.
It has 100,000 punch cards and 27 reels of magnetic tape, both to record data, and its 12 kilobytes of memory alone weigh half a tonne.

Each piece of memory has five lengths of wire threaded by hand.

Mr Brown said: “You have to remember that file reels in those days were multi-reel, so at 10 meg a reel, 27 reels, we’re up to a quarter of a gigabyte – and 50 years ago that was a lot of data.”

Flossie’s computing power is roughly equivalent to a digital watch.
The computing power of the huge machine is tiny by modern standards at a miniscule 2kb of memory running at 1mhz speed.
Technology has progressed so much that its 16,000 transistors and 4,000 logic boards could fit onto two 10mm silicon chips today, while its 27 reels of magnetic tape and 100,000 punch cards would fit on less than a third of a CD.

Flossie was used as a prop in Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun starring Roger Moore and also in two BBC TV series – Doctor Who and Blake’s 7.


Apple launches new iPad Mini, 4th Gen iPad and more


Apple is notorious for the levels of secrecy that pervade the company; while many embrace open discussion, Apple is more a closed bunker kind of place – or at least that’s the impression it gave the world up until now. Journalists of every type would pre-prepare the line that “Apple does not comment on rumours or speculation” when writing up any Apple-related article where comment was sought, simply because it was a foregone conclusion that Apple would indeed not lift the veil and actually respond; local employees simply weren’t allowed to on orders from Cupertino.


That was the old Apple, but the launch of the iPad mini in San Jose in the early hours of Wednesday morning (Australian time) showed that the company appears to be shifting its focus and opening the curtain just a bit. For a start, while it’s been a number of years since Apple made its product announcement launches available online, the entire thing was available to stream from Apple’s website or to anybody who’d purchased an Apple TV. Yes, both of them.




Apple iPad mini hands-on


Apple’s new, smaller iPad is here, and we’ve got a first hand look at what it’s like to use


Yes folks, it’s arrived: Apple’s new iPad mini. As you can see, it’s certainly smaller than the regular iPad, although at 7.9 inches it’s not as small as you’d expect — compared to something like the Nexus 7, it does feel more hefty in your hands, though the thinness of the device seems to make up for a bigger surface area. To be clear, it’s an incredibly thin and light design, with a lean profile despite being larger than some of the devices it challenges.

Like most Apple products, the build of the smaller tablet is excellent, easily surpassing the competition on the market. By comparison, the Nexus 7 and Fire HD feel like toys. Other manufacturers are going to have to up their game with this product in town. It’s just a striking difference in materials and solidness.
So in short, the $329 iPad mini seems a lot like an iPad… just smaller.

The thinness and sleekness of the casing cannot be overstated. It feels as high-end as the new iPhone, but even sharper in the hand — like a slice of solid aluminum. The chamfered edges present on the iPhone 5 have been continued here, as well as the all-black treatment seen on the latest phone. The display on the mini looks incredibly sharp, and even though the resolution is lower than the 3rd and 4th generation full-size iPad, it doesn’t immediately seem like a 1024 x 768 display. The smaller, 7.9-inch surface area certainly helps squeeze the pixels.



Apple, Microsoft tablet tactics leave consumers disgruntled     

IT appears the tablet honeymoon may be at an end, and Apple and Microsoft are being relegated to the doghouse.

APPLE snuck a new iPad 4 through the gate during the much-hyped release of its iPad Mini yesterday. And iPad 3 owners are fuming.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has just finished pulling together early, pre-release reviews of its new flagship Surface tablet.

And, by many reports, they’re far from glowing.

It’s only seven months since the “new” iPad 3 was released, sporting its upgraded camera and glossy ultra-high resolution display.

But, with yesterday’s surprise release of the iPad 4 it lost top billing and now consumers are crying “foul”.

Tech website Mashable.com reports a study of 2000 consumers found 45 per cent of iPad owners are up in arms about the timing of the new release which leaves their devices obsolete.

A full half, 50 per cent, of iPad 3 owners say they felt “disgruntled” about the launch of the iPad 4.
Fertile ground for Microsoft to capitalise upon with Surface?

Businessinsider.com has pulled together reviews of the new Microsoft tablet from many of the tech industry’s big players.

Some are suggesting it doesn’t deliver the goods. Many are complaining it doesn’t have enough apps, and those it does have are buggy. Others say it does half the job of a tablet and half the job of a laptop.

But Apple does not have time to gloat.
It is already offering United States customers who bought the iPad 3 in recent weeks a refund, but the resale value has plummeted. Those hoping to offload their current generation device before the release of a new one have been caught on the hop.

The reaction comes at an unusually tough time for Apple, already struggling with the intensely negative reception of its new Maps application – which often gets locations wrong and distorts its much-touted 3D features. Apple’s recent change of power/data adapter sizes wiped out years worth of accessories in a single stroke.

When asked what smaller tablet they would prefer to buy, the consumer survey dealt Apple another blow.

The Amazon Kindle was the clear winner with 46 per cent support, followed by the iPad Mini at 40 per cent and Google’s Nexus – possibly the most powerful of all three – languishing down at 14 per cent.

And how does Microsoft’s Surface tablet stack against the new iPad 4?

The early reviews suggests Microsoft’s tablet is priced similarly, has snappy hardware performance and attractive lines. Its camera and communications options are also comparable.

But, the tablet cannot run regular Windows PC programs – as many had hoped – or Android applications. And it so far has very few of its own.

Read more:http://www.news.com.au/technology/tablets/apple-microsoft-tablet-tactics-leave-consumers-disgruntled/story-fn6vigfp-1226502993326#ixzz2AHOAlTAz

Microsoft’s Surface Tablet Lacks Apps to Compete With IPad

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) will be constrained in a contest against Apple Inc. (AAPL) in the market for handheld computers by unveiling a tablet that doesn’t work with some of the most widely used downloadable applications.

The Surface RT, a tablet that runs the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system and goes on sale tomorrow, won’t feature applications for Facebook Inc.’s social-networking service or Apple’s iTunes music store.

Microsoft packed the new Windows with touch-screen capabilities, gave it a new look and feel and ensured that it’s compatible with some popular apps, including Hulu LLC and Nextflix Inc.

Still, the company won’t say how many apps are available for the operating system, and the lack of a broad range of games, tools and other downloadable software will detract from the Surface in a head-to-head comparison against the iPad and its plethora of more than 275,000 apps.

“Part of me had hoped that we’d see more killer apps,” said Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Washington. “Consumers who buy into the platform on Friday — unless we start seeing an abundance of apps — are buying into a promissory note that the apps will arrive.”

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer is introducing the biggest overhaul of his company’s flagship software in almost two decades at an event in New York today. The new Windows reflects the rising stakes of a contest with Apple and Google Inc. for the loyalty of customers shunning personal computers for mobile devices. It goes on sale tomorrow.


To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

Skype 6 with improved social integration now available

New versions of Skype for Windows and OS X were released. These latest versions add support for signing in through Facebook and Microsoft.

New versions of Skype for Windows and OS X were released Wednesday by Microsoft. These latest versions add support for signing in through Facebook and Microsoft accounts.

For subscribers to Microsoft’s services like Hotmail, Outlook.com, and Windows Live Messenger, the new Skype 6 will allow you to communicate with other subscribers of those services via instant messaging.

For Mac users, the new Skype now allows chatting in multiple windows and support for Apple’s Retina display. Mountain Lion users, however, will find that the profile-picture picker doesn’t work as well as it does in the Windows version.

Recent images can’t be seen, and effects can’t be applied to the pictures.

Microsoft is also working to allow Windows Live Messenger subscribers to place audio and video calls to one another using Skype. That feature, Microsoft promises, will be available “in coming weeks.”

Also for Windows users, the new Skype has been localized for six more languages: Thai, Croatian, Slovenian, Serbian, Catalan, and Slovak. Microsoft has spruced up the user interface for the new Skype for both Windows and iOS users, making it simpler and less cluttered.

The look of the instant messaging and SMS areas is also improved, and the online user counter has been removed so that more friends can be seen in the program’s contacts window.

Additionally, the new Skype will show you all your previous profile pictures when you change your profile mug shot.

This latest release of Skype for the desktop comes on the heels of the new Skype app for Windows 8.

That app appears as a Live Tile on the Windows 8 start screen. Within the tile, you can preview missed calls or new messages and, since the app runs constantly in the background, it will deliver notifications of new calls and messages as they happen.


Gartner’s Top 10 tech trends for 2013

ORLANDO -First came the heavy adoption of Apple’s mobile platform by consumers whose heavy use of the devices for business tasks forced the IT operations at their companies to support them.

Android was the next mobile platform pushed onto IT and now comes Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest effort keep its PC empire intact and gain market share in mobile devices.

For Gartner, the arrival of Windows 8 makes the “mobile device battles” its top technology trend for 2013.

Gartner announced its list of Top 10 tech trends at its annual IT/expo here this week.
The battle among mobile device vendors for the attention of consumers is forcing IT managers into increasing heterogeneity.

Tom Minifie, CTO at a software vendor he asked not to be named, said developers at his company have built Apple and Android mobile apps for employees, including a smartphone tool that can separate workplace and personal communications.

His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com


4G wars: Telstra betting big on 4G

Telstra has been a leader in the 4G war and has clear plans for building up its network to 4G capabilities.

With 4G competition heating up around Australia, telcos are keen to stamp their mark on the technology.
Telstra, the number one telco in Australia, has clearly led the race in the 4G war and was the first company to announce 4G plans.

4G wars: Can Optus and Vodafone compete with Telstra?

[ Receive up-to-the-minute news on telcos in Computerworld’s Telecoms newsletter ]
4G wars: The road to 4G for Telstra

Over the next two years, Telstra will invest $500 million in developing its 4G network and adding another 1000 sites to its portfolio by June next year, growing the network as more 4G compatible handsets are released. The upgrade to 4G has already been a major contributor of the telco’s $3.6 billion spend in fiscal-year 2012.

How Telstra has rolled out 4G

Michael Wright, executive director of Telstra operations/network and access technologies, says the decision to refarm Telstra’s 1800MHz spectrum, which it was previously using for 2G services, allowed the company to offer a 4G service earlier than it could have otherwise.

With the spectrum secured for the technology, Wright says Telstra has tried to reuse existing mobile base stations. By reusing the 2G spectrum, the telco has also been able to reuse a large amount of its infrastructure for that 1800MHz frequency.

“Sometimes we wire up tunnels and buildings and shopping centres and sporting complexes so it means it makes it a bit easier to put the new technology on them,” he says.

“So effectively we go to all of our existing towers or infrastructure, [such as that] in building coverage systems and we fit a new radio transmitter and technology that’s based on the 4G standard. That’s a radio bit of hardware – it can be the size of a suitcase or a bit bigger, depending on the equipment we use.”

4G upgrades could also mean using an existing antenna or installing a new antenna. A connection also needs to be created back to the core of the network, which Telstra runs on a high-speed fibre optic cable to its towers.

“When you add all that up you get yourself a radio signal coming out of the towers that operates on the 4G frequency and with 4G speeds and characteristics,” Wright says.

Depending on the tower and whether structural work needs to be carried out on it, Wright says the process could take from one day to a few days.

“Sometimes you’ve got to weld some new brackets [on] and get some planning approvals, so the physical time at site typically is only, including if you had to get up the tower, anything from a day to a few days. But months ahead of that is planning and consultation and getting structural designs done, so the actual process probably starts a year before,” he says.

With more than 7500 towers across Australia, manual labour at the site of mobile base stations can play a role in how quick the telco can roll out its 4G coverage, with Wright saying one of the main challenges of upgrading to 4G is co-ordination.

“Really, it’s about just making sure that you co-ordinate this very complex series of events well ahead of time. If you miss a step, you’ve just got to make sure all of your planning [and] all of your designs are right and that the program flows,” he says.

“But once you get that bit right, it really is just a case of getting the technology deployed in the right spot and in the right order. If you get it out of order, obviously you get missing bits of coverage.”


Wright says the optimal spectrum bands for operating 4G in are two-fold – high and low ranges, with Telstra currently operating its 4G technology in the 1800MHz spectrum. For rural and regional areas, he says Telstra will opt for lower frequencies – and the telco has made no secret of the fact that it wants to acquire some of the 700MHz spectrum in the Digital Dividend.

“We’re certainly interested in acquiring spectrum in the next generation Digital Dividend spectrum … next year because we see that as important for the longer term future,” Wright says.

[ Receive up-to-the-minute news on telcos in Computerworld’s Telecoms newsletter ]
Wright says Telstra would use the 700MHz spectrum to act as a “complementary” band for 4G to add coverage and capacity to its network.

“The NextG network today – or the 3G network – uses 850MHz and 2100MHz…” Wright says. “Those frequencies need to be rearranged. Once that’s completed then you can actually go and build a network and operate in that frequency band.”

Telstra currently has spectrum across five bands – 850MHz; 900MHz; 1800MHz; 1900MHz; and 2100MHz.

The 4G future for Telstra

Wright says take-up to Telstra’s 4G network has been rapid and expects to see an even quicker shift to the technology in the next 12 months as handsets with high definition voice filter into the market.

“…you’ll not only get this continuous 4G footprint that we’re currently building, you’ll start to see wherever the traffic is in highest demand where people want to use the network the most … So over time the network will naturally fill up with more and more 4G coverage wherever people want to use it,” Wright says.

Traffic on Telstra’s 4G network is now growing at around 14 per cent per month, according to Wright, and says Telstra will release another five 4G devices by the end of this year.

“I would say that, in all my career, I don’t think I’ve seen a new wireless technology emerge so quickly and so strongly…” he says.

“All around the world we’re seeing 4G networks emerge very, very rapidly and I think a lot of operators and customers are saying ‘that’s what I want’. That’s the thing about competition – it’s up to us to respond to it.”


Podcasting 101 – Make Sure You Don’t Sound Like Crap

So you wanna do a podcast? Awesome! Podcasts are fun. Luckily for you, the equipment to do so, at broadcast quality, has never been cheaper or easier to use. I can’t help you with the content of your podcast (unless you’re Louis CK, nobody wants to hear your 3 hour rants, on anything), but I can help you make it sound good and that’s half the battle. You could have the best content in the world, but if it hurts my ears, I ain’t gonna listen to it. This guide is focussing on doing a podcast with other people in the same room, kinda like a mini radio studio, because that’s what I’m asked about the most. Plus they’re the most fun type of podcasts to record!

The most important thing you need is a location to record, that has a good audio environment. The aim here is to record somewhere with lots of soft surfaces and in a relatively small room. A big room will introduce echo, and a room with hard surfaces will create reflections – these are bad. You probably can’t make your own soundproof booth, but some simple acoustic treatment will make a major impact, more than buying a fancier microphone.

If you’re in a large room, create a smaller room inside of it with tripods and thick blankets. If you’re after something more permanent, stick acoustic tiles on the walls of your room. Basically, you want to be enclosed in a padded cell. Check out this YouTube video of someone reviewing acoustic blankets:


Grab a few of those, wrap your room in as much of it as you can and you’ll have a great sounding podcast, regardless of your gear. Obviously, you want to turn off any fans/air conditioners/noisy computers/external HDDs, etc. silence is required except for the voices on the podcast.

USB microphones are awesome for doing quick recordings on your computer, but if you want to use multiple mics at once, then USB mics are useless. You need a mixer and some XLR microphones. There’s hundreds of microphones out there, but there’s some particularly suited for audio and are excellent bang for buck. There’s two types of microphones – condensor and dynamic. Don’t worry about the pros and cons of each one, what matters is the condensor mics need phantom power and dynamic mics don’t (generally), so if you grab condensor mics, make sure the mixer you’re plugging them in to supplies phantom power on the XLR socket you plan to plug the mic into.

If you’re really strapped for cash, the ‘Behringer C-1 goes for only $60 and sounds perfectly acceptable. If you’ve got a little more money to spend, the Audio Technica AT2020 is great bang for back at $129. My favourite is the Rode Procaster, when used with a shockmount (which absorbs vibrations), it’s as good as any broadcast mic out there and only costs $195 (the shockmount is $49).

If you’re really well off for cash, the Shure SM7B and the Electrovoice RE-20 are in pretty much every radio studio in the world.

This video from Rode is an excellent guide on how to talk into your microphone properly, regardless of brand or type:

You need a stand for the microphones too, so grab a few desk mount stands, like these from Swamp Audio. If you want something more permanent, the Rode PSA-1 microphone boom arm can be clamped or drilled into a desk and is perfect for setting up your own radio studio. Oh, and don’t forget XLR cables – one end goes into the mic, the other into the mixer. You need one cable per mic.

All those microphones plug in to a mixer. Traditionally, you would plug the mixer into a computer soundcard and the computer will record it. In the past year or so, there’s a bunch of mixers available that record directly on to their own flash memory. I love these units because it removes the computer from the recording equation. Computers like to crash and make noises and generally get in the way.

The Zoom R16 and R24 are the best of the bunch. They’re priced very well, with the Zoom R16 going for only $400 including postage off eBay from the USA (its around $600 locally). Just plug in the mics, insert in an SD card, set your levels and press record. When done, take the SD card out, chuck it on your computer and edit away.

Here’s a review of the R16 from YouTube. The R16 and R24 are similar, but if you need more than 4x phantom power XLR inputs, get the R24. You can also plug either one into your computer and use it as a USB mic interface *and* it can run off a battery. Very handy little things:


If $400 is still too much cash, there is a cheaper way to achieve similar quality, albeit with more complexity. Grab a cheap Behringer mixer, the XENYX 1202FX wil do fine ($139) and get a 2x RCA to 3.5mm cable and plug one end in to the line-in socket on your computer and the other into the Tape Output on the mixer. It won’t sound as nice, but it’s fine if you’re on a budget.

At least one person in the group should have on a pair of headphones, to make sure everyone sounds good. Get a pair of comfortable headphones (the AKG K44 studio headphones are only $45), plug it in to the headphone socket on your mixer and that’s all you need to do. If you want everyone in the group to have a pair of headphones, so everyone can monitor their own audio, get a headphone amplifier like the Behringer HA400. The headphone amp is also useful if you’re playing back audio in your recording session (e.g: a pre recorded clip or a phone call) and want your fellow podcasters to hear it, as you can’t use speakers – they’ll cause an echo.

I’m not going to give you a tutorial on how to edit audio, but here are some handy tips I’ve learned that are not common knowledge:

Record at 16-bit, 44.1kHz and in mono. Mono audio is fine for a podcast. Putting one person in the left channnel and another in the right is plain annoying. Keep is simple, you aren’t good enough to toy with audio effects if you’re reading this article. Don’t bother putting each mic into its own channel either. If you’re using the Zoom R16 for example, just downmix it to audio directly on the device.

Use the Levelator. I love this thing. Just feed it your raw audio before you edit it and it will even out people who were talking quiet and those shouting in to the mic. It’s works so well to make your group conversation sound less jarring to the listener.

Audio editing programs can be difficult to use, so just use whatever you’re comfortable with, it makes no difference in the end what app edited the show. I personally like Adobe Audition.

Choosing an exporting format for your show can be tricky. I personally like to keep it modern and use HE-AAC at 48kbit/sec and mono 44.1kHz (which everything made in the past 5 or so years supports), but for the widest compatibility, just use MP3, CBR, 64kbit/sec, mono 44.1kHz. Any higher bitrate is a waste of time for audio only podcasts.

This also isn’t a tutorial on how to put your podcast on the Internet. But if you want something easy and quick, use Libsyn. Great service and works well. Make sure you write a proper synopsis for the episode/show – people like to know what they’re gonna listen to. Good cover art for your podcast is important as well. Don’t leave it blank.

Hope this helped you get a grip on podcasting! If you do end up making a show with the help of these notes, please let me know, so I can take a listen. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment and I’ll try my best to answer it.


   by decryption



Windows RT Surface:  Microsoft’s greatest fiasco ever? http://www.zdnet.com/windows-rt-surface-microsofts-greatest-hardware-fiasco-ever-7000006341/




This story tries to make the case that WindowsRT is a cut down version of Windows & therefore why use it.  It does make the point that it has more functionality than the iPad though.  The article highights that some of the Metro Apps that have to be used on the tablet are not compatible with the Desktop counterparts.  It also mentions that it will not be the best solution for business either given the lack of Active Directory support.  Another unknown limitation, to me anyway, was that only Microsoft approved sites will work with flash & only through IE10.  To back up these claims her refers to Paul Thorrott’s Super Site for Windows.  The article concludes by stating that the RT Surface is not good enough, cheap enough or nifty enough.




Microsoft Sells Out of 32GB Surface tablets In Australia http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/10/microsoft-sells-out-of-32gb-surface-tablets-in-australia/




This articles seems to disagree with my previous story that the RT Surface is a fiasco.  The articles states that based on pre-orders in Australia, the 32GB Surface sold out.  The articles doesn’t mension numbers, so it is possible that only 1000 were available.




Opinion: The iPad mini puts Apple in a pickle http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/439883/opinion_ipad_mini_puts_apple_pickle/


This article centres around the price of the new iPad Mini.  It argues that the price is too high to complete with the other 7-8 inch tablets & for aroundthe same price or a little more you can get a 10 inch.  According to the article, the other strange thing Apple has done is drop the recently introduced iPad 3rd generation but have kept the iPad 2.

UK court sides with Samsung over patton disputes. http://www.news.com.au/technology/uk-court-sides-with-samsung-in-apple-suit/story-e6frfro0-1226499067147

The articles includes some of the judges comments/justifications for dismissing Apples case.  The judge basically said that the Samsung product is not as cool.  The jusdge ordered Apple to publically state that Samsung did not copy Apples products, stating that it would be better coming from the horses mouth.

Windows 8 Is The New XP http://www.zdnet.com/windows-8-is-the-new-xp-7000006095/

Ed Bott, world renound Tech Journalist, illustrates the simlarities with the early opinions between XP & Windows 8.  In the article he highlights that XP was bagged in the early days, like Windows 8 appears to be.  Yet we all know how XP turned out, it’s Microsoft best selling & longest lasting version of Windows.

Rover Curiosity Sees More Shiny Objects On Mars. http://www.zdnet.com/rover-curiosity-sees-more-shiny-objects-on-mars-7000006081/

This is just a little story to follow on from previous ones that the rover Curiosity has found more shiny objects.  The article contains picture of these objects.  Scientists now believe that these are native to the planet Mars.

Hackers Attack US Weather Service  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/hackers-attack-us-weather-service/story-e6frgakx-1226499796122

This article reports that the US National Weather Service computer network was hacked last Friday.  A group from Kosovo is claiming credit and posting sensitive data.  Data released by the Kosovo Hackers Security group includes directory structures, sensitive files of the Web server and other data that could enable later access, according to Chrysostomos Daniel of the security firm Acunetix.  “The hacker group stated that the attack is a protest against the US policies that target Muslim countries,” Daniel said.  “Moreover, the attack was a payback for hacker attacks against nuclear plants in Muslim countries, according to a member of the hacking group who said, “They hack our nuclear plants using STUXNET and FLAME-like malwares, they are bombing us 24-7, we can’t sit silent — hack to payback them.”

 Large Number Of Dell, HP Printers, MFP’s Incompatible With Windows RT http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/439530/large_number_dell_hp_printers_mfps_incompatible_windows_rt/
HP and Dell have published compatibility lists of printers and multifunction devices for the upcoming Windows 8 and RT tablet OSes, with a large number of models listed as bring incompatible with Windows RT.  Microsoft earlier this year warned that some older printers will not work with Windows 8 and RT, which is the software maker’s first OS for ARM processors. While a majority of printers don’t support RT, the compatibility lists reveal wider support for the Windows 8 OS, which is the successor to Windows 7 and written for x86 processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.  Microsoft explained that it was changing the Windows 8 and RT printing architecture to reduce system overhead and simplify the printing process. Windows RT tablets such as Microsoft’s Surface have limited resources as ARM’s 32-bit processors have a memory ceiling of up to 4GB. Existing Windows applications will work on Windows 8 but not RT, an issue that also extends to device drivers.  HP has listed 200 LaserJet and ColorJet laser printers and multipurpose devices, of which only 34 are fully compatible with Windows RT, while a majority are compatible with Windows 8. The printers and multifunction devices not compatible with RT total 83, and 83 offer “limited support” for RT. HP has not yet released a compatibility list for inkjet printers.
Google Maps Popular Grand Canyon Trails – Street View Style  http://www.news.com.au/technology/google-cameras-map-popular-grand-canyon-trails/story-e6frfro0-1226502775873
This article reports that Google is attempting to map a number of world famous national parks & other tourist attractions, street view style.  The article details Googles efforts to map the popluar Grand Canyon trails by reporting that, Luc Vincnt, Google Enginerring Dirctor, strapped on a 18 Kg Google Camera backpack & started on the 16 Km Bright Angel trail to the Colorado River.  The backpack has 15 cameras & captures images every 2.5 seconds.  The article also goes on to say that Google really has no competition with regard to a “Street View” style service.  Unless you count the efforts by Apple as competition.



Leave a Reply