Episode 321 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes

Thanks to Bubble for their song at the end of this episode ‘Christmas Here on Mars’



Samsung ends Nokia’s reign as top mobile maker

marks the end of a 14-year reign for Nokia, which has occupied the top seat in the global cellphone market since 1998

Samsung 29%
Nokia 24%
Apple 10%

Samsung dominated the smartphone market as well, accounting for 28 percent of the global market compared to the 20 percent it held last year. The Korean tech giant widened its lead against rival and runner-up Apple, which held a 20 percent share.

Nokia, HTC and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion tied for the third spot, each holding a 5 percent share of the global smartphone market.

Lumias sell out, but don’t prove Nokia turnaround

he Lumia 920 and 820, which use Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 8 software, were launched last month with expectations of a “make or break” for Nokia

new Lumia smartphones sold out in many stores across Europe and America, as retailers say supplies have been short ever since their launch.

Nokia burning through cash and having already sold off assets such as its head office

Many believe Nokia will need to change its strategy – and its leader – if there is no clear improvement in Lumia sales in the coming quarters.

Speculation of a buyout by Microsoft have periodically lifted Nokia shares, but with so much uncertainty over future sales, few analysts recommend pricing in any potential buyout premium.

Telstra sparks new hopes for terabyte BigPond plan

Director of digital, Gerd Schenkel, told aTelstra-convened online forum on December 12 that Telstra did not have firm plans for a terabyte plan, but “[hoped] to be able to offer one economically at some stage”.

Schenkel’s “hope” to provide such a planis a departure from Telstra’s 2010 statement that offering a terabyte quota plan was more about “attention grabbing headlines” and did not reflect the data demands of the average internet user.

currently maxes out at 500GB courtesy of a June 2011 revision.

Schenkel noted that a terabyte quota plan would be predicated on “cost and also the effect a few customers’ consumption can have on other customers’ experience”.


Simplistic malware strain wipes hard drives

According to Kaspersky’s Threatpost blog, the bug is capable of deleting all files on drives D through I, as well as on the desktop. Once the data is deleted, the program then launches a checkdisk command in an apparent attempt to divert attention towards a possible system failure, as opposed to a planned attack.

At this point, the malware, which has been dubbed Trojan.Batchwiper

The attacks launch only on specifically programmed dates, including last week from Dec. 10 through Dec. 12. The configuration of the code leads experts to believe it will become active again for two days starting on Jan. 21. At that point, it appears likely to stand down until May 6. Subsequent attacks appear likely for July and November of 2013, February, May and August of 2014, and February of 2015.

According to a post in the AlienVault blog, the malware is likely deployed through USB drives and spearphishing

Phishing: Phishing is a social engineering tactic where the attacker attempts to get a user to divulge sensitive information. It uses “bait” such as telling the user that they are their bank asking for the information or posing as some other authority like the system administrator. Usually it is delivered by email

Spearphishing:Whereas general phishing targets a wide range of people trying to get some of them to divulge general information, spearphishing targets key individuals who are expected to have very special access or information that the attacker wants.


Reseller saves Byron Bay school from scammers

A Byron Bay primary school has had its records encrypted by scammers who demanded a $5000 ransom.

Byron Community Primary School financial manager Frank Binkley said the school recovered most of the records by running a forensic probe on the affected hard disks, with help from local reseller Hi-Performance Technologies and its manager Liam Dufty.

“We were bloody lucky, we came out a lot better than we could have,” Binkley said.

The past month’s financial data and some historical photos of the school were unrecoverable and remained bound in the AES 256 encrypted RAR file.

Staff at the 100-student school initially agreed to pay the ransom. Binkley then pleaded with the scammers, who used the alias Jack Williams, to lower the ransom price which they subsequently dropped to $1235.

similarity to an attack last month against a small business some 500 kilometres away in Foster.
Deanes Buslines operator Brenton Deans had his company’s records encrypted by the same scammers. The records contained data on school kids the company ferried around the area, and were critical to the daily operations of the business. As a result, hepaid the $3000 ransom.

In another attack this month, scammers used the remote desktop protocol tobreak into a Gold Coast medical centre, encrypt 65000 files including medical records within a SQL database, and demand a $4000 ransom.

And in September, a Northern Territory business wasforced to pay a $3000 ransom to hackers who had encrypted its financial records.

Sophos director of technology strategy James Lyne predicted that ransomware infections will increase in 2013 with a massive increase in the quality of implementation.

Google offers free Quickoffice app to Google Apps subscribers

a free version of the Quickoffice iPad app, is the latest development in an ongoing battle for mobile users of office software. Google acquired the makers of Quickoffice in June as part of its efforts to challenge Microsoft on the emerging tablet and smartphone platform

Google  will offer a version of Quickoffice at no charge to paying subscribers of Google Apps, its online bundle of applications for working with text, spreadsheet and presentation files. Quickoffice is an iPad app for creating and editing Microsoft documents that works with Google’s online storage service, Google Drive.

it will offer a version of Quickoffice at no charge to paying subscribers of Google Apps, its online bundle of applications for working with text, spreadsheet and presentation files. Quickoffice is an iPad app for creating and editing Microsoft documents that works with Google’s online storage service, Google Drive.


Instagram won’t sell user photos, vows co-founder

The company’s new policy seemed to state that while it does not own users’ photos, it does have the option to license them and sell the photos to advertisers or other companies.

That news immediately raised a furor, particularly on Twitter, with users,angered over the idea that Instagram could make money with their own photos without any permission. Many users threatened to stop using the service

Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram  –  “Since making these changes, we’ve heard loud and clear that many users are confused and upset about what the changes mean. I’m writing this today to let you know we’re listening and to commit to you that we will be doing more to answer your questions, fix any mistakes, and eliminate the confusion.” “To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear,” he added.

upcoming policy change. That states, in part, “To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

Google adds to Dead Sea Scroll images online

Google, working in partnership with the Israel Antiquities Authority, posted about 5,000 images of the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls online Tuesday.

Pieces of the text going online include one of the earliest known copies of the Book of Deuteronomy, which holds the Ten Commandments. The images also include part of the Book of Genesis, which describes the creation of the world.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, which are considered to be of great historical and religious importance, are Biblical manuscripts written more than 2,000 years ago on parchment and papyrus. They include the earliest known surviving copies of biblical documents.

There are about 972 texts that were discovered on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between 1946 and 1956.

Only five conservators worldwide are authorized to handle the Dead Sea Scrolls,

Seinfeld fans go online to create a whole plot of nothing

Two American friends have created a new account on twitter

Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer face all the pitfalls and challenges of life in 2012 and deal with LinkedIn, Fifty Shades of Grey, molecular gastronomy and Fox News.

The success of the Twitter account – it has attracted almost 160,000 followers in just three days – appears to be how each ”plot” reflects the well-known characteristics of each of the four characters.

Jack Moore, who works for BuzzFeed as a sports editor and as a comedian,told the Wall Street Journal he was inspired to create the account when fellow comedian Josh Gondelman sent out tweets from his own account that dropped the “Seinfield” characters into 2012.




This Week in Tech History

Dec. 19, 1974: Build Your Own Computer at Home!

Dec. 18, 1878: Let There Be Light — Electric Light

Dec. 17, 1790: Accurate Calendar Requires Sacrifice, You Dig?

Dec. 14, 1996: Big Holiday Bonus Shows Workers the Money

Dec. 13, 1809: First Removal of Ovarian Tumor

NORAD switches from Google to Bing to track Santa

Once again, on Christmas Eve, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will be tracking Santa’s progress as he and his reindeer make their way across the globe delivering presents to children. With NORAD’s help, children and their parents can watch Santa’s travels and see how close he’s gets to their house.  NORAD’s tracking Santa
After working with Google for the past five years, NORAD is teaming up with rival Microsoft.
On Microsoft’s blog, the company noted that NORAD, which has been tracking Santa for the past 62 years, will be using Microsoft Windows Azure cloud computing platform and Bing Maps this year.  Kids also will be able to track Kris Kringle’s progress on a Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps. A NORAD tracks Santa app also is available for Apple’s iPhone and iPad and Android devices.  NORAD and Google mutually decided to part ways on this project, according to Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis, a NORAD spokesman.  Google helped us increase the program globally, and were very grateful for all the support we get from all our partners, Lewis told Computerworld. Were very happy with them& Its not a technical issue. Weve been together for four years. It was a mutually agreed upon split.”

Facebook Could Now Advertise To Children, Thanks To Updated Federal Privacy Rules

New advertising rules may have lifted a major barrier to Facebook’s long-held desire of signing up children under 13 years of age. The Federal Trade Communication revisedthe Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to exclude parental consent from ads that are based on behavior, rather than personal information. So-called “contextual advertisements” would permit Facebook to monetize children’s activity without violating rules about collecting their private information. Alan Simpson, Vice President of children’s online advocacy network, Common Sense media, tells us that though they agree with some of the rule changes, with regard to contextual ads, “Common Sense doesn’t like this part, and the industry lobbyists probably do.”  The brunt of the FTC’s COPPA update was designed to strengthen children’s privacy. New rulesexpand COPPA to websites collecting photos, geolocation data, and tracking online behavior. But, the new laws exempted app stores and other platforms.  “I am confident that the amendments to the COPPA Rule strike the right balance between protecting innovation that will provide rich and engaging content for children, and ensuring parents are informed and involved in their children’s online activities,” said FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz.

Ousted From Microsoft, Steve Sinofsky Is On His Way To Teach At Harvard

Ousted from Microsoft, former Windows President Steve Sinofsky tweeted this morning that he is on his way to Harvard Business School to teach project management and collaboration, among other things.  First reported by The Next Web, Sinofosky said this on Twitter about his new gig at the Harvard Business School, as well as the writing that he plans to do, too
Sinofsky will spend his time at Harvrd as an executive in residence, writing and teaching about product development, planning, collaboration, and more. He cited two papers he co-authored as examples of the writing he plans to do: “Microsoft Office: Finding the Suite Spot“ and “Learning from Projects: Note on Conducting a Postmortem Analysis.” Both were published in 1999.  Postmortem analysis? Kind of ironic I’d say in wake of his sudden departure from Microsoft where he had just completed the long, arduous journey of launching Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface. Soon after the Windows 8 launch, the news came from Redmond that he and CEO Steve Ballmer had agreed that it was time for Sinofsky to go.

The Defense Intelligence Agency Is Looking For Contractors To Help It Exploit Mobile Devices

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency is looking for a few good contractors to help it kick up its mobile information gathering capabilities, according to a new request for information (RFI) posted to its website Dec. 12 and spotted today by Fierce Wireless. The request has the government organization soliciting information sources for technology aimed at exploiting digital media and hardware, with a special request for exploitation of mobile devices with methods not generally available on the commercial market.  The request looks to be a general effort by the government to find ways of better unlocking the potential of information on cell phones and tablets.

Dropbox Acquires Snapjoy And Puts Photos Into Its Focus

Less than one week after Dropbox aqui-hired Audiogalaxy to beef up its cloud music ambitions, today comes news of another acquisition, this time focused on another form of media, photos: the cloud-storage giant is buying Snapjoy – like Dropbox, a Y Combinator-alum — which lets users aggregate, archive and view all of their digital photos from their cameras, phones and popular apps like Flickr, Instagram and Picasa, and then view them online or via an iOS app.  We first got wind of this deal via an anonymous tip — and then tracked down what was happening. The news has also been confirmed by Dropbox and Snapjoy themselves.

Android botnet abuses people’s phones for SMS spam

In a new twist, spammers have built a botnet that sends SMS spam through infected Android phones, shifting the potentially pricey cost of sending spam to victims.  The trend, spotted by security vendor Cloudmark, poses a new challenge for operators. Victims whose phones are sending the SMS spam often do not know their phone is infected, and they could have their account suddenly shut down by their operator if abuse is detected.  “I think they [operators] are still working out how to deal with this,” said Andrew Conway, lead software engineer with Cloudmark, which makes antispam products for operators. “This is fairly new.”  Cloudmark noticed that a server located in Hong Kong was hosting two Android games, “Angry Birds Star Wars” and “The Need for Speed Most Wanted,” for the Android mobile operating system

Dick Smith recalls portable DVD/media players

The Dick Smith portable DVD products being recalled.
Electronics retailer, Dick Smith, is recalling a range of its portable DVD and media players dating back to November 2009 due to fire risks posed by the internal batteries.
The retailer said that four Dick Smith-branded devices purchased across Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) between November 2009 and July 2012 should be returned as the “internal lithium-ion rechargeable battery may overheat and pose a fire risk.”
The models include (see image above):
• Dick Smith 7-inch portable DVD media player (D6200)
• Dick Smith 7-inch dual screen portable DVD media player (D6201)
• Dick Smith 9-inch dual screen portable DVD media player (D6203)
• Dick Smith 7-inch portable DVD player (GE4203)
The catalogue numbers can be found on the rear or base of the products.  Dick Smith is advising customers to stop using the products, and return them to a store for a full refund.
Customers who require more information are invited to call Dick Smith’s customer service department (P:  1300 366 644) and select option ‘2’.

Instagram to share data with Facebook


SMARTPHONE photo sharing service Instagram has refined its privacy policy to clear the way for sharing data with Facebook, which bought the company earlier this year.  “Nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them,” Instagram said in a blog post.
“Our updated privacy policy helps Instagram function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups.”  The changes were slated to take effect January 16.
Instagram maintained that the coming updates to its privacy policy and terms of service will help it improve the reliability of the service and fight spam.  Policy tweaks include allowing sharing of user information with “affiliates” in a move that could open the door to targeted advertising.

Techspert: Facebook’s couples pages

Facebook recently introduced couples pages that link people who nominate each other as being “in a relationship”, whether they wanted their relationship documented or not.
> > What it is
It’s a Facebook profile page that shows all the publicly shared information between the two members of the couple.  It shows a timeline of the updates, photos and events in which both of you have been tagged, even nominating a group photo from the archives as a header.  This is not an opt-in page you request. If you have indicated a relationship status as “engaged,” “married” or “in a relationship” to a specified Facebook member, Facebook will have generated the page for you. It is similar to Friendship pages that have been a Facebook feature for several years, but it is easier to find with a dedicated web address.

Optus tells ALP: get real on price


OPTUS has accused the Gillard government of asking more than 3 1/2 times the price of comparative jurisdictions for wireless spectrum, as the nation’s No 2 telco actively considers a boycott of next year’s spectrum auction.  On Friday afternoon Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced the federal government would set a $3 billion floor price for wireless spectrum, a price hoped to provide much-needed funds for the Gillard government’s attempt to return to a budget surplus.

Telco ‘bill shock’ in firing line as Perth woman threatens to take legal action against Telstra over $148,000 mobile bill ‘nightmare’

A MOTHER who racked up a mobile phone bill of almost $148,000 while on an overseas holiday says she is threatening to take legal action against Telstra over the ordeal.  Mystery still surrounds how the massive bill was accrued given Nella Panetta’s insistence she manually switched off her global roaming setting on her handset just a few days into her two-month trip to Italy.  Ms Panetta, 33, said she used her phone for the first four days of holidays to check Facebook and Skype her three children before getting a local SIM card.  “When I got home from my holiday and opened up the first phone bill I thought it was a misprint.  “The first one was for about $75,000, and then it just kept getting bigger and bigger.”  Ms Panetta claims the nightmare has dragged on for over a year and she is still being pursued for an account that has now blown out to $161,000.  “I want this to be gone and for them to apologise,” Ms Panetta, of Marangaroo, said.

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