Episode 352 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes



Dick Smith turns regional network into e-commerce channel

Dick Smith is transforming its stores into mini fulfillment centres for internet orders as it seeks to grow e-commerce to 10 percent of sales.


recently shifted from Blue Martini to Ebay-owned Magento e-commerce platform.


The new stores feature a new décor as the brand tries to reinvent itself in the age of the “experience store”



Windows 8.1 Enterprise preview released

Many of the features have been previously announced, but didn’t make it into the first Windows 8.1 preview.


includes the Windows To Go creator, which lets admins create a Windows 8.1 desktop on a USB drive, as well as AppLocker, which restricts which files and apps can run on a device.


Windows 8.1 will have the same lifecycle policy as Windows 8, with support ending in October 2023


The preview version expires on 14 January 2014.

If you do try out the enterprise version, Microsoft warned that it’s won’t be possible to upgrade to the final version of Windows 8.1. “Personal data will be kept on your test computer, but the Windows OS and your applications will need to be reinstalled when moving from the preview to production bits,” it said.


Intel ships cheap open source PC

Intel has launched its first “open-source” PC, $A220 , Atom-powered MinnowBoard, produced in partnership with CircuitCo.


The MinnowBoard features a motherboard fitted with a

1GHz Atom E640 processor with integrated graphics. It comes with

1GB of RAM and 4MB flash memory,

and supports HDMI, USB,

microSD for more storage and


Runs the Angstrom Linux distribution.

There’s also the option to add expansion boards – dubbed “lures” – to boost connectivity options or input/output.

measures in at a tiny 4.2 inches square,


Scott Garman Intels Linux Engineer said the PC was ideal for hobbyists, students and pros making embedded apps. He added the hefty memory would allow developers to make “memory-intensive” apps involving databases, high-level programming languages and more.


Microsoft drops SkyDrive name

Earlier this year, High Court Judge Mrs Justice Asplin ruled that the cloud-storage service infringed Sky’s trademark, saying there was “a likelihood of confusion in the average consumer”.


It’s not been revealed what SkyDrive’s new name will be, but Sky is giving Microsoft “a reasonable amount of time” to work out its branding after the software company said it wasn’t going to appeal.


Microsoft Office heads to Android

Office Mobile for Android is now available for download.

The app allows Office 365 subscribers basic editing tools for Word, Excel and PowerPoint files as well as document synchronization.

The app is available through the Google Play store.

Price inquiry calls for end of geoblocking

12 months – a 150-page report.

titled At What Cost


Treasury department reported to the inquiry that “intellectual property laws provide various rights for the protection of economic investment in innovation and creative efforts. To the extent that these rights allow rights holders to control the marketing and distribution of goods and services, there is a potential for price discrimination, should the rights holder choose to do so.”


The report t recommends that “the Australian Government amend the Copyright Act’s section 10(1) anti-circumvention provisions to clarify and secure consumers’ rights to circumvent technological protection measures that control geographic market segmentation.” The report further recommends that the Government actively educate consumers about geoblocking and the techniques used to circumvent it.


the inquiry has considered recommending an outright ban on geoblocking,


the report recommends “that the Australian Government consider enacting a ban on geoblocking as an option of last resort, should persistent market failure exist in spite of the changes to the Competition and Consumer Act and the Copyright Act recommended in this report.”


Microsoft throwing ‘retirement party’ for Windows XP



On April 8th, 2014, after many years of service, the time will come for Windows XP to retire,” Microsoft says

Windows XP is still running on 37.7 percent of the world’s PCs



Vodafone launches $5 global roaming flat rate

Vodafone has launched a new global roaming offering which will allow customers to use the same text, data and calls in their normal plan overseas for an additional $5 a day when travelling to select countries, in an effort to combat global roaming bill shock.


Users travelling to the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand will be able to access the same features in their Australian plan for an extra $5 flat fee per day.


Any activity over the normal plan limit will be billed at Australian rates


The telco has been battling a slew of customer losses over the past few years. For the first half of this year it posted a loss of 551,000 users and $95.8 million for the six-month period.



Alan Kohler and Malcolm Turnbull go live in a head-to-head debate.





Full-Sized TIE Advanced, Built Using A Model Kit As Reference

The closest you’re going to get to flying an actual TIE fighter from Star Wars is to fire up a copy of LucasArts’ X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. If that’s not good enough for you, well, you could always buy a plane ticket to Germany and beg the folks who built this fantastic, full-sized replica to let you sit inside theirs.

The official site for the project has a specifications page, which Google Translate kindly reworked into a language I’m familiar with. The final prop, which was constructed by a crew of eight, measures 5.3 x 4.8 x 4.3m and weighs 1.43 tonnes.

From what I can gather, the project was started in 2011 and completed last month (the Facebook page has a bunch of photos from the “finishing” party).

Dad Of The Year Build Builds Functional 737 Cockpit In Kids’ Bedroom

Aigon is not a pilot by trade; he’s a waiter who always wanted to be a pilot. And since 40 is a little late in life to start that process from scratch, he did the next best thing: Methodically order parts from the internet, at a cost tallying thousands of euros, until he had assembled a control panel and screen that functions precisely the way the real thing would.

He didn’t stop there; by attaching five networked monitors to his set-up, he’s made it possible to simulate journeys to destinations as far-flung as Sydney and Rio de Janeiro. His copilots, presumably, sleep in the bunkbeds to his right.

Just Look At How Much Worse Android Fragmentation Got Last Year

Android fragmentation has been a point of contention for many, many years. And the latest report from OpenSignal, the world’s largest source of crowdsourced coverage information, suggests that it’s only gotten worse over the last year.

Based on the number of and types of devices around the world that have downloaded its app, OpenSignal believes that Android’s fragmentation has tripled since last year. The above image shows just how many different devices there are running different versions of Android.

In 2012, there were some 3997 distinct Android devices. This year there are a whopping 11,868. Eight versions of Android are currently in use and 37.9 per cent of users are running Jelly Bean, the latest version of the mobile OS. Samsung’s apparent share of the market is 47.5 per cent.

Whether it’s the skins that manufacturers lay over Android to create a unique product or the different size screens, it’s probably not going to get any better. What’s actually important to take away is that Android fragmentation is based around socio-economics more so than anything else. Android is free and not everyone can afford an iPhone or HTC One. Fragmentation or whatever you want to call it will always exist.


Forbes Reporter Remotely Hacks Smart Homes

The connected house you can control from the internet or your smartphone? They might be called a smart homes, but some of them have some very dumb vulnerabilities. In fact, some of the houses made smart by a company called Insteon were insecure enough that a Forbes reporter could hack them from the comfort of her living room.

Thanks to a glaring Insteon vulnerability, Forbes reporter Kashmir Hill she was able to access the houses of complete strangers. From San Francisco, she turned the lights of complete strangers’ houses in Oregon and Connecticut on and off, identified their homes’ physical locations, and could have done much worse:

Googling a very simple phrase led me to a list of “smart homes” that had done something rather stupid. The homes all have an automation system from Insteon that allows remote control of their lights, hot tubs, fans, televisions, water pumps, garage doors, cameras, and other devices, so that their owners can turn these things on and off with a smartphone app or via the Web. The dumb thing? Their systems had been made crawl-able by search engines — meaning they show up in search results — and due to Insteon not requiring user names and passwords by default in a now-discontinued product, I was able to click on the links, giving me the ability to turn these people’s homes into haunted houses, energy-consumption nightmares, or even robbery targets. Opening a garage door could make a house ripe for actual physical intrusion.

Hill said she could find lots of sensitive information from eight different houses, including but not limited to IP address, children’s names, and even real-world locations. Yes, many systems are protected by password and username, but there’s no authentication beyond that.


Idiot Tries To Wear Handgun-Shaped Heels Through Airport Security

Considering we live in an era where the possession of too much hand sanitiser is enough to strike fear in the heart of airport security, you’d think passengers would exercise a little caution when it comes to carry on items — you know, like leaving the gun-shaped paraphernalia at home. You’d be wrong. This past week, one LaGuardia-goer tried to pass through airport security in a pair of pistol-shaped high-heeled shoes.

The shoes were, of course, totally harmless, and since the unnamed woman surrendered the shoes voluntarily, the TSA officers on duty decided to let her go on without question. Which I’m sure will get a good-hearted chuckle out of everyone who’s ever been cavity searched over a rogue tube of toothpaste.


Cameron’s proposed filters extend to more than just porn

The British prime minister’s internet filters will be about more than just hardcore pornography, according to information obtained by the Open Rights Group.

As well as pornography, users may automatically be opted in to blocks on “violent material”, “extremist related content”, “anorexia and eating disorder websites” and “suicide related websites”, “alcohol” and “smoking”. But the list doesn’t stop there. It even extends to blocking “web forums” and “esoteric material”, whatever that is. “Web blocking circumvention tools” is also included, of course.

Is this Apple’s new, cheap iPhone?

The Chinese website weiphone.com has published a photo of a large bucketful of plastic iPhone boxes, all of them with “iPhone 5C” printed clearly on the sides. The boxes certainly look real, though of course it’s not unheard of for Chinese companies to make iPhone knock-offs, with varying degrees of verisimilitude.

The designation “C” isn’t Apple’s usual one for its off-year phones. Every other year, when it couldn’t be bothered with a major upgrade to its phones, Apple releases an “S” version, with relatively minor tweaks compared to a full-blown upgrade with an incremented number.

So the thinking is that “C” could be the designation for the (C)oloured, low-cost iPhones that everyone is expecting.

Nexus 7 (2012) getting performance boost with Android 4.3 update

The new Nexus 7 is the hot tablet in the Android world right now and while there are some decent improvements in terms of the specs, that doesn’t mean your older model Nexus 7 will instantly turn into trash. Then again, some of those older model Nexus 7 tablets have been suffering from serious lag issues in recent months.

If you happen to have a 2012 model Nexus 7 that is sluggish — the Android 4.3 update should bring some improvement. It seems the issue of sluggishness with the Nexus 7 is due to a feature called TRIM. This is described as being something that basically acts as a garbage collector picking up the trash.

The folks at AnandTech mention how TRIM will run when your tablet is idle with the screen off and sitting with a battery life of 70 percent or greater. The issue with the previous model Nexus 7 is that while TRIM support has been around since Android 4.2 — it wasn’t enabled. And regardless of how good a feature can be, if it is turned off then it will not do anything.

Anyway, looking forward you will likely want to grab that Android 4.3 update because it has enabled fstrim. The one important factor to remember — this is not an instant fix. In other words, you are not going to have a magically faster Nexus 7 immediately after your tablet first boots into Android 4.3.


Xbox One to reportedly launch November 29th, beating PlayStation 4′s December 13th debut

Now that Microsoft has done away with the controversial new policies it announced during the Xbox One’s unveiling, gamers are coming around and anticipation is mounting. Pre-sales of the console have been “through the roof” according to Microsoft, and some expect Xbox One sales to crush sales of Sony’s rival PlayStation 4 console. Now, if a new leak ends up panning out, the Xbox One will have another big advantage over the PS4: Two full weeks of sales before the PlayStation 4 launches this winter.

According to the Xbox One preorder page on Toys R Us’ UK website, Microsoft’s new video game console is set to launch on November 29th. The same site states on the PlayStation 4 preorder page that Sony’s next-generation console will be available for sale beginning two weeks later on December 13th. While neither date is confirmed at this point, their presence on a website belonging to one of Microsoft and Sony’s retail partners could be a good sign.

Screenshots showing the leaked launch dates from the Toys R Us website follow below.

Foxtel launches IPTV service

Telstra and News Corporation’s joint TV subscription company Foxtel has today launched a new IPTV subscription service, Foxtel Play, targeting consumers who have been reluctant to sign up for lengthy contracts with the company.

The new service has gone live Tuesday , with a free seven-day trial ahead of a larger launch on August 11.

The service is available on PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and Samsung smart TVs, starting at AU$25 per month for a basic package either including entertainment channels, drama channels, documentary channels, or kids’ channels. From there, the customers can add another package for AU$10 extra per month, two for AU$20, or have all four for AU$50 per month.

Premium channels for sports or movies and Showtime, which includes much of the critically acclaimed HBO dramas such as The Newsroom and Game of Thrones, are available for an additional AU$25 per month.

The subscriptions are month to month, and customers can cancel at any time.

Foxtel Play subscribers will also get access to Foxtel’s Go app for smartphones and tablets.

Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein said in a statement that the Foxtel Play service is aimed at customers who might not be able to access the Foxtel set-top box offering.

“Now, Foxtel Play gives even more Australians who might not be able to access the core service the freedom and flexibility to enjoy Foxtel across multiple connected devices and at price points to suit different budgets and tastes,” he said.

Sony and Panasonic Jointly Developing Beefy 300 GB Optical Discs

Two of Japan’s largest consumer-electronics competitors — Sony and Panasonic — are joining forces to develop next-generation optical discs that pack 300 GB of data.

The companies announced Monday that they aim to jointly expand their “archive business for long-term digital data storage.” Sony and Panasonic plan to develop an optical disc that can record at least 300 GB by the end of 2015.

As the companies explained, optical discs are “a robust medium for long-term storage of content.” At 300 GB, the discs are designed for use in a professional setting. In comparison, standard DVD discs currently sold at retail electronics stores only store 4.7 GB each, while single-layer Blu-ray discs typically hold up to 25 GB.


Microsoft to Google: Please remove us from internet

Microsoft appears to have asked Google to remove some microsoft.com pages from Google’s search engine.

TorrentFreak reportsthat LeakID, an organisation that provides services such as “Monitoring illegal links and sources” and “Send automated takedown notices to ISPs hosting infringing links and websites”, has sent Google a notice to stop indexing some pages on Microsoft’s site because they infringe Microsoft’s copyright.

The leaked takedown request, visible here makes for chucklesome reading, as the pages Microsoft requests be removed are entirely innocuous affairs like thisdescription of Office 2010 Service Pack 1.

The takedown request was made under the auspices of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), which has been interpreted as requiring web publishers to remove links to stolen content. The likes of LeakID send many requests for takedowns to the likes of Google in order to make it harder for Joe Public to even find sources of ill-gotten material.

Just how Microsoft.com pages passed LeakID’s tests isn’t known, but TorrentFreak says Google spotted the mistake, pointed it out to all involved and continues to index the (ir)relevant pages.

Murdoch machinations mean Microsoft must rename SkyDrive

Microsoft is going to have to rename its SkyDrive cloud storage service after agreeing to submit to a British court’s ruling over ownership of the brand name.

British Sky Broadcasting Group, the European satellite broadcasting arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, took on Redmond over the rights to the SkyDrive name, pointing out that BSkyB had got there in advance of Microsoft’s marketing cohorts. In June, UK High Court Judge Sarah Asplin found against Microsoft, and Redmond has submitted to the verdict.

“We are pleased to have reached a settlement after Microsoft agreed not to appeal the trade mark infringement judgment in relation to its SkyDrive service,” said Sky in a statement to El Reg.

“We will remain vigilant in protecting the Sky brand and will continue to take appropriate action against those companies who seek to use our trade mark without consent.”

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