Episode 333 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes



Samsung Galaxy S4’s hottest features


  • benchmark tests that it’s the world’s fastest phone US version only

  • 5in Super AMOLED 1080p screen is stunning

  • American version of the Galaxy S4, which comes packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core running at 1.9GHz, rather than the international version’s Samsung-built Exynos 5 Octa SoC processor.



Aussie stores get Google Chromebooks


  • ChromeOS, has finally made its way to Australia, with the official launch of Acer’s C7 and Samsung’s Chromebook. Priced at $299 and $349 respectively

  • it is a thin, browser based Linux variant that is designed to hook almost exclusively into Google services. This means that it relies heavily on web connectivity and the two models have varying levels of inbuilt storage – in Samsung’s case it is a minimal 16GB of flash, but the Acer C7 has a decent 320GB hard drive for those times when you lack a net connection.

  • C7 It has a dual band 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi chip as well as Gigabit Ethernet. There is also a HD camera for those Google Hangouts, three USB 2 ports, a SD/MMC card reader, HDMI and VGA. The only really baffling thing about the specification is the quoted battery life, a mere four hours.

  • The C7 is due to go onsale today from both Acer’s own acerstore.com.au website and selected JB Hi-Fi stores. Google’s website points people to JB HiFi and Harvey Norman for the Samsung Chromebook


Crims outed by Vic cops’ facial recognition system


  • used by Victoria Police has achieved a flawless track record in the identification of suspects.

  • The home-grown iFace biometric system was so accurate that police said it had outed an identical twin who tried to evade prosecution by using his brother’s name.

  • iFace was introduced in 2010 across hundreds of police stations to help identify persons of interest with criminal histories.

  • iFace received some 120,000 new facial images each year from 40,000 individuals processed at police stations.

  • On average, 20,000 were scanned for matches each year of which 6000, or 30 percent, were positively identified. No false positives were found within the identified photos meaning every match was accurate.

  • Officers were able to use their mobile phones to snap photographs of people in the street to be uploaded to establish identification.

  • Photos have also been lifted from Facebook and run through iFace.

  • Victoria Police said this did not breach police policy which only ruled out use of the system for personal benefit.

  • No national biometric system exists and iFace does not yet interface with other facial recognition systems or photograph databases.



NATO releases how-to guide for cyber warfare


  • final version of a NATO document expected to shape cyber warfare policies among Western nations was published last week, clarifying when and how countries can legally conduct online aggression against one another.

  • Edited and published by the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) set up in Estonia, in 2008, the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare is available for free fromCambridge University Press.

  • Twenty legal experts worked on the manual for three years, compiling 95 black-letter rules that address various topics such as sovereignty, the criteria to check before going to cyber war against a foe, state responsibility and international humanitarian law.

  • 215 pages, the Tallinn Manual makes it clear that a full-scale war can be triggered by network-borne attacks on computer systems and that civilian activists that participate in those are considered legitimate targets.

  • attacks on critical civilian infrastructure. Nuclear power plants, hospitals, dams and similar are all out of bounds for cyber war, the manual states.

  • The CCDCOE is careful to note that the manual “is not an official document, but instead an expression of opinions of a group of independent experts acting solely in their personal capacity.”

  • As such, the manual does not reflect official NATO doctrine.


Google moves to shut Reader, users vent


  • Google said it will shut Google Reader on July 1, citing declining usage for the application that compiles content served by web feeds, as it forges ahead with its strategy to focus on fewer products that have more impact.

  • Dan Lewis, a New York lawyer, started a campaign on petition website Change.org to save Google Reader that garnered about 54,000 supporters in about 16 hours.

  • Change.org, a for-profit platform funded through non-profit advertising, is paid by human and animal rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Humane Society to host their petitions. It has 20 million users.

  • Demonstrating the site’s effectiveness, PepsiCo recently removed a controversial chemical from its Gatorade drinks following concerns from consumers and an online petition on Change.org started by a Mississippi teenager.

  • Some Google Reader users pointed out alternative readers such as Feedly, RSSowl and NewsBlur, and Feedly was quick to capitalize on Google’s announcement by offering tips to Reader users for moving their data to its website.

  • seven other products and services over the next few months, including its voice app for BlackBerry to go

  • Google said the latest closures meant it has now pulled the plug on 70 features or services since it started streamlining its product base in 2011.


Huge order leads to Blackberry share surge


  • one of its established partners has placed an order for 1 million BlackBerry 10 smartphones, with shipments starting immediately.

  • this order marks the largest ever single purchase order in BlackBerry’s history, indicating strong demand for its Z10 smartphones powered by its new BlackBerry 10 operating system.

  • shares jumped 8 percent to $A15.14 in afternoon trading


Dell launches 18in tablet that’s also a desktop


  • the XPS All-In-One, a desktop PC that doubles up as an 18.4in Windows 8 tablet. The XPS All-In-One weighs around 2.5kg

  • half the weight of its rival, the 20in Sony Vaio Tap 20

  • Asus Transformer All-In-One, which also sports an 18.4in screen but uses Android 4.1 in tablet mode rather than Windows 8.

  • Dell has yet to reveal a price or Australian launch date for the XPS All-In-One.


Apple keeps warranty switch under wraps

  • Apple’s Australian stores will now fix faulty iPhones, iPads and Macs under warranty if they were purchased in the past two years

  • Until now, many Apple consumers have reported on forums that store staff have only ever discussed with them a standard 12-month manufacturer warranty when selling, fixing or replacing Apple goods.

  • Apple has now changed this from 12 months to 24, which appears to bring it in line with Australian Consumer Law

  • often Apple customers visiting the company’s stores in Australia with an item outside the 12-month Apple warranty have had to pay a fee for their goods to be fixed or replaced if they don’t know their rights and didn’t purchase AppleCare, which extends their manufacturer warranty.

  • Apple’s new policy applies to iPhones, iPads and other iOS devices as of Monday, according to a note on Apple’s reseller portal. It will apply to Mac products (i.e. Macbook Airs and Pros) within a fortnight.



Skype instant messaging in China is censored, spied upon

  • The Chinese version of Skype contains spyware that searches for blacklisted words and phrases, blocks instant messages that contain them, copies them to servers and captures the rest of IM chats that have been flagged in this way, according to researchers.

  • The spying and censorship is carried out with the knowledge of Microsoft, which owns Skype and its peer-to-peer communications software and describes TOM-Skype as “a modified version that follows Chinese regulations.” TOM is Chinesewireless Internet provider

  • According to a Skype support Web page, TOM-Skype is a custom version of Skype used in China. “As our majority joint venture partner, TOM Online provides access to Skype for Chinese customers, using a modified version that follows Chinese regulations, called TOM-Skype.”


Twitter celebrates its seventh birthday


  • Twitter celebrates its seventh birthday today with 200 million users worldwide, who now send an average of 400 million short messages – or tweets – every day.

  • It took three years, two months and one day for the first billion tweets to be sent

  • Of Twitter’s global users, 60% check the service on their phones

  • Some 40% of Twitter users choose not to write any tweets themselves, but use the platform to follow news and interests

Canadian man to sell house for Bitcoin virtual currency


  • Entrepreneur Taylor More listed his two-bedroom Alberta bungalow, asking 405,000 Canadian dollars (£261,000; $395,000) – or the equivalent in Bitcoins.

  • Bitcoins are now a widely used alternative payments system and one Bitcoin is currently worth about $54

  • Bitcoins are not issued by a central bank or other centralised authority.

  • They first appeared in 2009

  • People generate or “mine” Bitcoins by participating in that network – for instance, by solving a complicated mathematical problem using their computer.

  • A growing number of web stores and online firms accept Bitcoins as payment.

  • Bitcoins can be exchanged for “real” money, and they can be used to make transactions that are difficult to trace, offering privacy to their users.

  • The currency has been adopted by Wikileaks and other sites to receive donations.

  • The use of Bitcoins has been slowly spilling from the online into the physical world – for example, it is now possible to use the currency to buy pizza.

  • “Bitcoins are really hard to get your hands on if you want to get them in large quantities,” Mr More told the BBC. – so who has large quatities to buy a house – plus a house sale is traceable.



Apple founder Steve Jobs’s mate Steve Wozniak step closer to becoming Australian




STEVE Jobs’s former right hand man and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is one step closer to becoming a permanent Australian resident and citizen.




who quit the company in 1987 after 12 years, today told Australian tech blog




he is finalising the paperwork for a move down under, a plan he flagged during his visit to Australia in September.


“It is a high priority this month for me to finish some medical and police reports for my residency application,” he said.


“Once I have a residency permit I might get a place to live but I plan a few years before living in Australia full time. That is because my current occupation as a world speaker requires too many air flights constantly.”


The former Apple guru also confirmed he was still keen on getting Australian citizenship.


“Once I’m living in Australia full time, or a major amount of it, I can work toward citizenship.


“It’s not something you get without qualifying and working for. At least not in my case.”


In September Wozniak told the Australian Financial Review the national broadband network was one of the reasons he wanted to become a citizen.

How to fake a US street address




ONLINE shopping is a fantastic pursuit but one filled with pitfalls. Some internet bargains are just a few clicks away and others are only available to residents in certain countries.


There are tricky but legal ways around these geographical boundaries, however, using mail-forwarding services. Three are detailed below.


* HopShopGo


Backed by the payment service PayPal, this mail-forwarding service covers a lot of bases.


Once you sign up with a PayPal account, it gives you an Oregon street address you can use to buy goods yourself or, if the site will not allow this, you can direct HopShopGo to place the order for you.


Users pay for repackaging and shipping and are alerted when their orders arrive at their US location. Only shoppers using PayPal accounts can use this service.


* Price USA


This Australian-based service is run by husband-and-wife team Carolina and Daniel Tillett.


Customers find the products they want to purchase and then request a quote online at priceusa.com.au.


If the quote is accepted, Price USA directs one of its American-based shoppers to purchase the item and ship it to the buyer’s address. Delivery options include the postal service or an expedited courier service.


* Forward2Me


Based in Britain, this mail-forwarding service lets buyers choose products from the UK. Sign-up costs 2 pounds, and gives users two addresses: one with basic insurance coverage and another with “enhanced” insurance.


Users order the goods from UK websites, using the provided addresses. When they arrive, they are repackaged and sent to Australia.


Chrome OS update fixes security, video bugs




Google has updated Chrome OS to plug some security holes and fix bugs affecting the operating system’s ability to play some video content.


This upgrade will be applied to all devices running in the “stable channel,” which is the official, fully tested version of the operating system. Users also have the option of receiving fixes earlier if they move to the beta or development channels.


This new version — 25.0.1364.173 — updates Flash to resolve a bug that prevented playback of some video content protected by DRM (digital rights management) technology, including video from Amazon’s Prime service.


The Chrome OS upgrade also fixes an issue that caused video playback to freeze on the new Google Chromebook Pixel computers and on Acer C7 Chromebooks.


Security fixes include a GPU process overflow, rated “high” by Google.


Microsoft starts auto-installing Windows 7 SP1 on consumer PCs Tuesday




Microsoft today said it will start automatically pushing Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) to customers as a last-ditch move before it drops the original 2009 edition of Windows 7 from support next month.


Windows 7 RTM — the latter stands for “release to manufacturing,” Microsoft-speak for a launch edition — will be retired from support, including security updates, after April 9, next month’s regularly-scheduled Patch Tuesday.


Although Microsoft has made Windows 7 SP1 available via Automatic Updates — Windows’ default consumer update service — for more than two years, customers were required to approve the new version before it installed.


As of tomorrow, any Windows RTM-powered consumer PC with Automatic Updates enabled will receive Windows 7 SP1, said Microsoft in a Monday blog.


“Installation will be fully automatic with no user action required for those who already have Automatic Update enabled,” wrote Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc.


Businesses that manage Windows updates and patches with tools including WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) and SCCM (Systems Center Configuration Manager) will not be affected by the automatic install. “[WSUS and SCCM] administrators still have full control over the release of Service Pack 1,” LeBlanc noted.


The blocker tool that some used to bar Windows SP1 from reaching their PCs has long expired — it gave up the ghost in February 2012 — so those who want, for whatever reason, to stick with Windows 7 RTM must disable Automatic Updates.


After April 9, Windows 7 RTM will no longer receive fixes or, more importantly, security updates.


Microsoft has promised to support Windows 7 SP1 with non-security bug fixes and security patches until Jan. 13, 2015, and with patches only for another five years, or until Jan. 14, 2020.


Windows 7 SP1 debuted in February 2011, but the process was marred for some customers when the upgrade triggered PC crashes and freezes.


Researcher​s find vulnerabil​ity in EA’s Origin platform




Users of Origin, the game distribution platform of Electronic Arts (EA), are vulnerable to remote code execution attacks through origin:// URLs, according to two security researchers.


Luigi Auriemma and Donato Ferrante, the founders of Malta-based security consultancy firm ReVuln, disclosed the security issue Friday during a talk at the Black Hat Europe 2013 conference in Amsterdam.


The vulnerability allows attackers to execute arbitrary code on Origin users’ computers by tricking them into visiting a malicious website or clicking on a specially crafted link, the researchers said. In most cases the attack will be automatic and require no user interaction, they said.


When the Origin client is installed on a computer, it registers itself as the handler for origin:// protocol links, which are used to launch games — including with command line options — or to initiate other actions through the client.


Some games have command line options that allow the loading of additional files. For example, the researchers demonstrated the Origin link attack against the new “Crysis 3” game, which supports a command option called openautomate.


Openautomate is a feature that allows users to test the performance of their graphics card in “Crysis 3” using the Nvidia benchmark framework. The command is followed by the path to a DLL (dynamic link library) file that’s then loaded by the “Crysis 3” process.


The researchers found a way to craft origin:// links that instruct the Origin client to open “Crysis 3” with the openautomate command followed by a path to a malicious DLL file hosted on a network or WebDAV share. A separate command option can be included in the URL to make “Crysis 3” open silently in the background without users seeing any windows.


Attackers could then trick users into visiting a website containing a piece of JavaScript code that forces their browsers to open the specially crafted link.


When an origin:// link is opened for the first time in a browser, users will be asked if they want to open it with the Origin client, which is the registered handler for this type of URL. Some browsers will display the full URL path or a part of it, while other browsers won’t display the URL at all, the researchers said.




Leave a Reply