Episode 331 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


EU fines Microsoft $711m for broken promise


  • The European Union fined Microsoft Corp 561 million euros ($A711m) on Wednesday for failing to offer users a choice of web browser
  • MS had broken a legally binding commitment made in 2009 to ensure that consumers had a choice of how they access the internet, rather than defaulting to Microsoft’s Explorer browser.
  • Microsoft had failed to honour that obligation in software issued between May 2011 and July 2012, meaning 15 million users were not given a choice.
  • It is the first time the European Commission, the EU’s anti-trust authority, has handed down a fine to a company for failing to meet its obligations
  • Microsoft said it took full responsibility for the incident, which it has blamed on a technical error. The board cut chief executive Steve Ballmer’s bonus last year partly as a result.
  • While the sanction is sizeable, representing 1 percent of Microsoft’s 2012 fiscal-year revenues, the Commission could have charged the company up to 10 percent of its global revenue.

In 2009, in order to resolve other competition concerns, Microsoft undertook to offer users a browser choice screen allowing them to download a browser other than Explorer.
The Commission made that obligation legally binding for five years, until 2014, and initially the company complied. From March 2010 until November 2010, 84 million browsers were downloaded via the screen, the Commission said.
But the Windows 7 service pack 1 rolled out between mid-2011 and mid-2012 failed to offer the choice, leading to the investigation that resulted in Wednesday’s fine.


Evernote breach means 50 million password resets

Evernote, which counts 50 million users of its mobile apps for storing video, text, photos and other information, revealed a data security breach on Saturday. Security experts said the breach highlights the risks associated with storing data in the cloud.

  • Evernote issued a software update over the weekend that automatically prompts users to change their Evernote account password.
  • In our security investigation, we have found no evidence that any of the content you store in Evernote was accessed, changed or lost,” the company said
  • Evernote said the passwords were protected by one-way encryption, meaning that they were hashed and salted, a process that makes it more difficult for an attacker to crack.


‘Fibre-like’ satellite broadband promised to Australia


  • Jersey, Channel Islands-based company 03b — which counts Google as an investor — will launch four medium orbit (MEO) satellites on May 29.
  • orbit the earth at roughly a quarter the height of of geostationary satellites such as NBN Co’s ones, providing considerably lower latency or packet delay.
  • 03b can offer up to 1.2 gigabit per second bandwidth for service providers and the roundtrip latency for the ka-band satellites orbiting at 8,062 kilometres above the earth will be below 150 milliseconds. In comparison, geostationary orbit satellites have roundtrip latency of 500 milliseconds or higher.
  • Customers need antennae 1.8 to 4.5 metres in size, and up to 7.3 metres in American Samoa. Two are needed to connect to ascending and descending satellites, meaning the cost of terminals are somewhat higher than for traditional geostationary satellite deployments.
  • Two terrestrial gateways will handle traffic in Australia: one in Perth and another in Dubbo. A total of seven gateways will be built around the world by O3b.
  • Pending the succesful launch of the satellites, 03b expects them to be operational by August this year.

Apple iWatch due this year


  • until recently it’s been little more than rumour. Now a Bloomberg report predicts the iWatch will make more money for Apple than the Apple Television.
  • According to Bloomberg, Apple has over 100 designers working on the wristwatch with features that include making calls, identifying callers, and checking maps. Plus a built-in pedometer and heart rate monitor could make it a personal health assistant. The goal is for a four to five day battery life but apparently prototypes are only managing two right now.
  • With 79 Apple patents featuring the word ‘wrist’ it’s expected to land later this year with iOS style software


ALDI enters Aussie mobile market

Pay As You Go lets you recharge with either $15 or $30 worth of credit which has an expiry time of 365 days. Calls to national fixed, mobiles, 13, 1300, 1800 and voicemail services costs 12 cents per minute charged at per minute rates. Text messages to national mobile numbers are also 12 cents per message, while an MMS will set you back 35 cents. The Pay As You Go tier doesn’t include any bundled data when you recharge, rather it is charged on a per use basis at 5 cents per megabyte.

A $35 recharge lasts for 30 days before expiring and gives you free, unlimited calls to national fixed, mobiles, 13, 1300, 1800 and voicemail services, as well as free, unlimited standard national texting and MMS. On the Unlimited plan you get 5GB worth of data to use.
Neither the Unlimited or Pay As You Go offerings carry flagfall/call connection charges.

Mobile Internet it gets you 2GB of data for $15. Much like the Unlimited plan, however, that $15 value has a 30-day expiry time.

AldiMobile has tied itself to Telstra for its coverage n to be what’s known as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) of Telstra’s wholesale 3G (Next G) network. What that means is that you’ll have coverage to 97 per cent of the population and data speeds ranging from 550kbps to 3Mbps.

testing, download speeds on the Aldi Mobile network were quite consistent. Speeds ranged from a low of 6.42 megabits per second (Mbps) to a high of 6.62Mbps.
Upload speeds varied slightly from 1.27Mbps up to 3.58Mbps.
All speed tests were recorded in North Sydney, with a full coverage indicator.


ATO passwords stored in clear text

The ATO discovered the lax practice after software developer Alex North noted that the office’s Publications Ordering Service (POS) — hosted and operated by a third party — had emailed plain text passwords as part of its account recovery service.

The POS ships hard copy forms from the ATO’s warehouse to businesses and individuals who register with the service. Piece Of Shit lol

  • Billabong, AllPhones and Yahoo! are just some organisations which have faced embarrassment in recent months after hackers accessed their stored plain text passwords.
  • So common was the misstep that a dedicated website dubbed Plain Text Offenders brimmed with organisations who emailed human readable passwords to their users.
  • Among those accused of shipping readable passwords include: The Good Guys; Kennards; Australia Post; MyDeal.com.au; TPG; TicketTek; AGL; Pearsons; Melbourne IT; MoshTix; PizzaHut, and BigPond.

Surface Pro to land soon (..er or later)

Microsoft has confirmed the Surface Pro will be available  in Australia later in the year, following a new round of international shipments commencing at the end of this month.

  • Microsoft, which is yet to provide local pricing, or set a specific launch date for the Surface Pro, said the product would be rolled out to Australia along with China, France, Germany, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

NRL games go live with Telstra smartphone app


  • Telstra has launched an app that allows National Rugby League (NRL) fans to watch the games live on their Android or iOS smartphones. The new service is not restricted to Telstra’s customers
  • The NRL Live 2013 app gives users access to live scores, live press conferences, full match relay and highlight videos, the 2013 NRL Telstra Premiership draw, match details with kick-off reminders, news updates, pre- and post-game reports, ladder and stats.
  • Users pay for the service, which costs $5.49 per week, or can be paid for on a monthly or annual basis for $14.99 and $89.99, respectively. Week-by-week billing is not available for Android users.
  • Telstra customers have the added benefit of incurring no data streaming and App browsing costs and superior coverage across the Telstra network, ensuring a richer on-the-go experience,” Telstra’s media group managing director, Rick Ellis, said in statement.


Microsoft pulls last lever, discounts Windows 8 to OEMs to spark sales


  • Both the Wall Street Journal and the Asian electronics supply chain publication DigiTimes published reports claiming that Microsoft has cut prices of Windows 8 and Office 2013 in an attempt to spark sales
  • The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said Microsoft was slashing the price of a combo deal for Windows 8 and Office 2013 to $30 from around $120. The discount applies to OEMs for PCs and other devices with touch screens smaller than 10.8 inches


Microsoft retreats from Office 2013 restrictive licensing


  • a sweeping change in its licensing for retail copies of Office 2013, saying that customers now have right to move the software from one machine to another.
  • “We received customer feedback that they wanted this flexibility, and we thought this was reasonable, just and fair,” said Jevon Fark, senior marketing manager with the Office team, in an interview Tuesday. “We will honor these new terms starting this morning.”
  • The revised policy lets customers who purchased a retail copy of Office 2013 — the $140 Home & Student, $220 Home & Business or $400 Professional editions — reassign the license to another PC they own or control.





News Corp. to challenge Apple’s iPad in education with Amplify Tablet

News Corporation, parent company to Fox News, will enter the education sector this fall with not only a tablet-based curriculum but its own Amplify Tablet, aimed at taking on Apple’s iPad in K-12 technology.

November will see Amplify, News Corp.’s nascent education division, rolling out both its own curriculum for existing tablets and a 10-inch, Android-powered tablet for K-12 students. A New York Times piece on the News Corp. tablet says the company will be selling it for between $299 and $349 per unit. Schools will also have the option of purchasing a $99 per year subscription to Amplify curriculum elements for each device.

Entering the education sector will put News Corp. at odds with Apple, a company News Corp. has collaborated with multiple times in the past, though not in the education market. From 99 cent TV show rentals to an ill-fated, iPad-only publication, News Corp. has often been among the first among major media corporations to put significant weight behind initiatives on Apple’s devices. The company’s Wall Street Journal publication is currently available on iOS’ Newsstand app and will likely still be so when the Amplify Tablet launches later this year.

The rise of the tablet as the new face of personal computing has sparked a race among manufacturers to get their devices into the hands of students. Apple has been heavily pushing its industry-leading iPad as a replacement for PCs in education, and the company sold a million units to K-12 schools in one month last year.

Amplify’s specs page for the device lists it as “similar to ASUS Transformer Pad TF300TL.” It packs a 10-inch display, an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU, and a 5MP auto-focus camera with back-illuminated CMOS sensor. It also runs the “latest Android Jelly Bean OS.”

The Amplify Tablet is designed with “blended learning” in mind, a method “that mixes technology with old-fashioned teaching.” Initially targeted at middle-school learners, Amplify designed the device so that school systems will be able to provide each student with an Amplify device to take home each night.

When the device launches later this year, Amplify’s parent company News Corporation will have split into two separate publicly traded companies. Cable channels such as FX and Fox News, as well as 20th Century Fox and Fox Broadcasting, will come under the entertainment group. Amplify and its tablet will fall under the publishing division, along with newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and the publisher HarperCollins. The other arms of the publishing group are expected to lend content to Amplify’s tablet. Rupert Murdoch will serve as chairman of both the entertainment and publishing divisions.    

iPhone 5S Production Rumored to Have Begun

Tuesday March 5, 2013 6:07 pm PST by Husain Sumra

Japanese blog Macotakara reports (via AppleInsider) that Foxconn is ready to ramp up production on iPhone 5S and that it would be built on the same production lines that currently build the iPhone 5.

Macotakara is also reporting that Japan’s number one cellular provider, NTT DoCoMo, which doesn’t currently carry iPhones, is reducing orders for Android phones for the Fall 2013 season. This move has caused rival carriers to speculate that DoCoMo is preparing to carry the iPhone.

Earlier today, iMore’s Rene Ritchie confirmed that iPhone 5S would likely arrive this summer in August. The iPhone 5 geared up production in the summer for a fall release, which would mean a spring production for a summer iPhone 5S makes sense. Previously, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek reported that the 5S would enter production in March.

The iPhone 5S  is reportedly going to have improved internals while having the outside shell unchanged, which matches the design for previous “S version” iPhones. It’s also rumored to have a fingerprint sensor on the home button and improved flash for the rear camera.

Macotakara has been accurate in the past, like details on the redesigns of the iPod nano and iPod touch. They’ve also had some misses, however, like a rumor about how the iPod nano would include Wi-Fi capabilities to support iTunes in the Cloud.                                         


Samsung’s investment in Sharp could prick Apple

While the Korean electronics giant says it’s not going to intervene in Sharp’s business management, it could end up with early insight into new tech and influence future products. And that could be a risk for Apple.

Apple just can’t get away from Samsung.
With Apple reportedly trying to reduce its reliance on Samsung, things just got a bit harder with the Korean company investing $111 million for a 3 percent stake in another big Apple supplier: Sharp.
While Samsung says it won’t get involved with Sharp’s business management in “any way or form,” it will be getting a “steady” supply of LCD (liquid crystal display) panels used for smartphone and tablet displays. And it probably will get a line of sight into Sharp’s future products and customers, as well as early access to Sharp’s cutting-edge technology. It may even influence Sharp’s future products.

None of these prospects are particularly comforting for the folks in Cupertino. Apple is believed to buy about a third of its LCD panels from Sharp, and it closely relies on the company for some of its most advanced products, according to analysts. When Sharp has problems, it can slow down the release of Apple devices. So if Sharp starts to favor Apple’s chief rival, Samsung, that could have big implications for Apple.
“It’s not like Samsung is going to write a memo to Sharp to have unfavorable terms with Apple,” said Susquehanna analyst Mehdi Hosseini. “But they could influence Sharp or indirectly influence Sharp’s relationship with Apple…and it gives them better market intelligence on their competitor and is a way of putting more pressure on Apple.”
Samsung declined to comment. We’ve contacted Apple and will update the report when we hear back.

The concept of “frenemies” or “coopetition” — competing with companies in certain areas while partnering in others — is nothing new for the tech industry. Apple and Samsung are fiercely battling in court, but Apple still buys a lot of components from Samsung. There’s talk that Apple is trying to move away from Samsung, including by having its processors built somewhere else, but it has yet to make any such moves (at least not publicly).

Apple may not see a big impact in the short term from Samsung’s new partnership with Sharp, but issues could pop up longer term. Apple is known for tightly controlling its vendors, but it may one day find Samsung has priority when it comes to Sharp’s LCD shipments. If a lot of Sharp’s “steady” supply is going to Samsung, it could mean fewer panels for Apple. And that could result in delays, or shortages in new hit products, like the iPhone, which uses Sharp displays.
Also, Samsung executives won’t be influencing business matters, but Sharp could still end up tailoring its road map to fall more in line with Samsung’s needs than those of Apple.

In addition, Samsung could benefit from its access to Sharp’s LCD innovations. Display technology has become more important as electronics makers strive to build the top-selling smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Screens are one of the most power-hungry components in a mobile device, and they also can limit what a device looks like and how much it costs. If a smartphone maker uses unique technology, it could provide a big boost.

And relying on Sharp for LCDs could free up Samsung to focus on its OLED business, an area where panel makers have the potential to actually make money.

All of this means Apple may need to beef up its display supply chain outside of Sharp or get contract manufacturer Foxconn to pull the trigger on an investment in Sharp. (Remember that? Foxconn was going to invest in Sharp but then backed out because of Sharp’s falling value. The companies have since been talking, but their negotiations are reportedly scheduled to end this month.)
If Foxconn makes the investment in Sharp that it had planned, it would give Apple more heft over its vendor. Even if that doesn’t happen, Sharp isn’t likely to do anything that would hurt its biggest customer. After all, it needs Apple just as much (or possibly even more) than Apple needs Sharp.

Apple has brushed off concerns about its supply chain sources before, most recently during the company’s latest quarterly earnings conference call in January. CEO Tim Cook attempted to assuage fears that the company had cut its order of iPhone 5 components, including screens, saying it used “multiple sources for things,” and that any “single data point” was “not a great proxy for what is going on.”

But if Samsung becomes an even bigger customer for Sharp and takes more market share in mobile, things could change. And with all the issues Apple has had in recent weeks, the new Samsung/Sharp tie-up is just something else it has to worry about. The top brass in Cupertino is likely looking at this situation pretty closely.
Your move, Apple.


Fabulous NUU MiniKey Keyboard Case Comes to The iPhone 5


Eli Milchman (7:51 pm PDT, Mar 6th)


Our Killian Bell tossed around words like “terrific” and “impressive” when he reviewed the Nuu MiniKey for the iPhone 4/S two years ago. Now, the little backlit Bluetooth keyboard-case has almost arrived (it drops March 15) for the iPhone 5, with a whole slew of improvements.


Naturally the new, iPhone 5 version of the 42-key slide-out keyboard is bigger. But it’s also got improved Bluetooth connectivity, which means it’ll last longer between charges.


We didn’t really find longevity an issue with the older MiniKey; we did, however, find it kind of bulky — and that’s been improved too, with a thinner, lighter frame. NUU says they’ve also made the keys more ergonomic, added a quick charge function and given it an on/off switch


There’s one area, though, where the MiniKey has been downgraded: It’s price has dropped from $69 to $59. Win-win.


Read more athttp://www.cultofmac.com/218743/fabulous-nuu-minikey-keyboard-case-comes-to-the-iphone-5/#pU7s4LAQIiWVSybY.99


U.S. Senator Proposes Bill To Make Cellphone Unlocking Legal Again

Buster Heine (12:21 pm PDT, Mar 6th)
As of January 26th, it is now illegal for you to unlock your smartphone if you want to use it on another network. Carrier unlocking has been legal in the U.S. for years, but in October the Library of Congress ruled that unauthorized unlocking is a crime.

The Obama Administration has already voiced its opinion that citizens should be allowed to unlock their smartphones without risking criminal penalties, and a senator from Oregon just introduced a bill that would making unlocking legal again.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced on Twitter Tuesday that he has created the Wireless Device Independence Act to ensure citizens can unlock their devices.

Wyden’s bill would attempt to amend Section 1201(a)(1)(B) of title 17 of the United States Code which deals with the circumvention of copyright protection systems.

The Obama Administration said that it would support a range of approaches to address the issue, including legislative fixes. A few other U.S. lawmakers are trying to rush bills out as well. Rep. Anna Eshoo from California plans to introduce her own bill in the House of Representatives soon, too.

Read more athttp://www.cultofmac.com/218657/u-s-senator-proposes-bill-to-make-cellphone-unlocking-legal-again/#b2SmzHsCeIzs86UG.99



Judge lowers Apple’s $1B Samsung award, orders partial retrial

IDG News Service – A judge has ordered a partial retrial in Apple’s patent lawsuit against Samsung in California, and has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the US$1 billion in damages Apple was awarded last summer.
Judge Lucy Koh, in an order published Friday, said the jury had applied an “impermissible legal theory” when calculating the damages Apple should receive for Samsung’s infringement of its patents.
Koh struck about $450 million off of Apple’s award and ordered a retrial to determine the correct damages related to about a dozen of the Samsung smartphones and tablets at issue in the trial.
She let stand Apple’s damages of $598.9 million for another 14 of the products.
The order doesn’t mean Apple won’t receive more than the $598 million, but it will have to go back to court to see how much money it can get.
The jury originally awarded Apple $1.05 billion, but Samsung asked for a retrial, arguing that the award was improperly calculated.
One of the issues concerns the date on which Apple notified Samsung that it was infringing some of its patents. Apple set that date too early in some cases, Koh said, which means the resulting damage calculations were too high.
Apple could have avoided the problems, Koh suggested.
“[I]t was Apple’s strategic decision to submit an expert report using an aggressive notice date for all of the patents. The need for a new trial could have been avoided had Apple chosen a more circumspect strategy or provided more evidence to allow the jury or the Court to determine the appropriate award for a shorter notice period,” she wrote.
Still, it was a complex case involving multiple patents and more than two dozen Samsung products, and many observers suspected at the time that the jury had miscalculated the damages.
Different types of patents call for different methods of calculating damages, and not all the products at trial were accused of infringing the same patents. For example, calculations for “design” patents can take into account how much profit Samsung made from selling the infringing devices, but “utility” patents can only take into account Apple’s lost profits and the royalty payments it would have received.
In some cases, Koh said, the jurors included lost profits in their calculations when they should not have.
The jury also had to consider the date on which Apple notified Samsung of the infringement. Apple told Samsung about one of the patents on Aug. 4, 2010, but Koh said it gave no evidence at trial that Samsung knew about other patents until Apple filed its lawsuit eight months later, and for still other patents until two months after that.
Koh said she didn’t have enough information to recalculate the damages herself, so she ordered the retrial for the products where errors were made. They include the Galaxy Tab, Prevail, Nexus S 4G, Galaxy II AT&T, Droid Charge and Epic 4G, among others.
Apple had also asked the court to award it additional damages for sales that took place since the trial ended. Koh said Apple was entitled to more money but that she wouldn’t make the calculation until appeals in the case have played out.
The case was heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose. Early last year, Apple filed a second lawsuit in the same court that involves some newer Samsung products. Koh has said she’d prefer that case be put on hold until the first one gets resolved.

Evernote hit in hacking attack, users must reset their passwords

IDG News Service – Evernote, which makes business and consumer productivity software for things like taking notes and doing research, is forcing all of its 50 million users to change their passwords after detecting a hacker intrusion on its sytem.
The attacker gained access to Evernote accounts’ usernames, email addresses and passwords. Although passwords are encrypted, the company “in an abundance of caution” is implementing a password reset, the company said in a blog post on Saturday.
There is no evidence that the malicious hackers accessed user content nor that they got a hold of customers’ payment information, according to the company.
The network “suspicious activity” that Evernote detected and blocked was an apparent “coordinated attempt” to break into secure areas of its service, Evernote said in the post.
“After signing in, you will be prompted to enter your new password. Once you have reset your password on evernote.com, you will need to enter this new password in other Evernote apps that you use. We are also releasing updates to several of our apps to make the password change process easier, so please check for updates over the next several hours,” reads Evernote’s blog post.
Evernote is the latest victim in a recent string of hacking incidents against high-profile technology companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook.
Evernote makes free and fee-based applications that can be accessed via web browsers, mobile devices and desktop computers.

US wins legal appeal in ongoing battle to extradite Kim Dotcom

THE United States has today won a court appeal in its battle to extradite Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom from New Zealand.
A New Zealand appeals court overturned an earlier ruling that would have allowed Dotcom broad access to evidence in the case against him at the time of his extradition hearing, which is scheduled for August.
The appeals court ruled that extensive disclosure would bog down the process and that a summary of the US case would suffice.

Manning admits leaking to WikiLeaks

US Army private Bradley Manning has told a military tribunal he leaked incident logs from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks in order to start a “public debate”.
“For me they represent the underground realities of the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan,” Manning told the court on Thursday, after his lawyer said he plans to plead guilty to some of the charges levelled against him over the leaks.
The 25-year-old, who is being held in military custody pending trial, said he would plead guilty to 10 of the less serious of the 22 charges against him, but would deny aiding America’s enemies, a crime that carries a life term.
Even if the court agrees to pursue only the lesser allegations, Manning still faces 20 years in military custody for leaking classified material to Australian activist Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks whistle-blower website.

EU to fine Microsoft over browser ballot fiasco, says report

Computerworld – European antitrust regulators will slap Microsoft with a fine before the end of March for failing to offer customers a browser choice screen, according to a report today by the Reuters news service.
Citing several unnamed sources “familiar with the matter,” Reuters said that the European Commission, the EU’s antitrust arm, would level a fine “before the Easter break.”
Easter is March 31 this year.
Reuters did not name the amount of the likely fine, but said it could be significant.
Microsoft declined to comment on the Reuters report, and instead pointed to previous statements it made in July and October 2012 in response to commission actions.

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