Episode 366 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


Study Shows Playing Video Games Really Can Make Your Brain Bigger

playing Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day over two months increased adult volunteers’ brain volume in their right hippocampus, the right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum. These regions in the brain are responsible for memory formation, strategic planning, muscle control, and spatial navigation


Researches  found “significant gray matter increase” among the gamers and theorize that playing video games could be useful to treat brain disorders:

Lady Gaga to Sing in Space — Seriously

Lady Gaga will soon be performing among the stars, blasting off into outer space in 2015 on a Virgin Galactic ship.

Her unearthly jam session will reportedly coincide with the Zero G Colony tech festival in New Mexico, and she will become the first celebrity musician to sing in space.

Last year, astronaut Chis Hadfield recorded a song aboard the International Space Station. He also made the first intergalactic music video, when he covered David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in a zero-gravity video



Blockbuster to Close Its Last Remaining Stores in the U.S.

Dish Network, which acquired Blockbuster in a bankruptcy auction in 2011, announced Wednesday that the video chain will close its all but 50 remaining retail stores in the U.S. by January of 2014. The brand will instead move to a streaming-only model.


Blockbuster had 9,000 retail stores worldwide as of 2004, but the chain struggled in the face of competition from movie delivery services like Netflix. It filed for bankruptcy in 2010.



250 Hard Drives Used To Make One Epic F1 Car


400 hours

The WD F1 car looks like a real RC car and is comprised of 5 spindle motors and two Voice Coil Motors (VCM) from WD hard drives that are all still functional but only the drivers head is powered.


The front wheel hubs are from 10,000RPM drive motors and the rear hubs are from 7200RPM 4D motors. The hubs were CNC milled down in order for them to work.  The wheels and tires were made from a High-Performance Acetal Resin by Dupont called Delrin.


The swooping body sides are the anti-disks from WD Red hard drives.


The race card drivers head is a four disk motor populated with disk spacers. The V-12 engine hood scoops above the drivers head are the full anti-disks from four disk drives and were trimmed to fit. Rob Ryan used 12 matching WD Scorpio notebook drive actuators to make the motor. The brass tube that holds the motor together with torx screws was cut, tapped and flattened for it to work.


The F1 cards suspension is made from WD Black 4 Disk actuators.  Brass tubes and torx screws clamp the actuator bearings to the base plate. The VCM magnet plates were trimmed to fit closer together. Special standoffs were hand made to hold the magnet plates correctly without the base casting and rear support. The front wheels steering bar is connected with brass tube and rod pushed over the latch bias pins of each actuator. It is stiff and does not move much. It is not powered at this time but could be powered to make the front wheels steer.


The center actuator was trimmed and tapped to screw to the elevated base plate with more torx screws


The F1 hard drive cars rear wing is made from WD Velociraptor actuators and held up with Scorpio actuators.


The rear diffuser is a stack of VCM magnets and steel from Velociraptor drives.


The slick looking V-12 engine is made of from WD Scorpio actuators from smaller notebook hard drives.  The transmission directly behind the motor is made up of stacks of Scorpio VCM magnets and the differential is a stack of spindle motor windings from many different motors. This is the first time that we have ever seen the inside of a spindle motor!

Rear suspension is held down with Scorpio disk clamps. Rear suspension is supported by machined aluminum bosses screwed to the base plate. You can see the Scorpio 1 disk front and 2 disk rear actuators holding up the rear wing.


The body of the WD F1 car has a few LED lights on a hard drive circuit board that work. The LED lights are on circuit board sections from WD My Passport portable hard drives, so even that was custom done. The LED lights and drivers head motor are controlled by a Pololu Baby Orangutan robot controller. The motor driver is a Castle Creations Sidewinder Micro RC brushless motor driver and it is powered by a 12V power supply.  Rob Ryan wasn’t done there and then wrote custom code in C to bring the creation to life, so there are different lighting modes and the drivers head can spin at different speeds and reverse direction!


Aussie sales of Windows Phone double as Android sinks

Windows Phone’s share of Australian smartphone sales has doubled in the past year, while Android has slumped.

According to the latest figures from Kantar WorldPanel, Windows increased its sales share from 4.6 percent in the three months to September 2012 to 9.3 percent in the most recent quarter.

Apple reveals Aus government requests for user data

According to Apple, the Australian government has made 74 requests relating to information on 75 accounts, over the first half of 2013 until the end of June.


“Responding to an account request usually involves providing information about an account holder’s iTunes or iCloud account, such as a name and an address,” the company said.

“In very rare cases, we are asked to provide stored photos or email. We consider these requests very carefully and only provide account content in extremely limited circumstances.”

Microsoft arrives at top 5 CEO shortlist

Ford’s current chief Alan Mulally

former Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop

former Skype CEO Tony Bates

Satya Nadella, the company’s cloud and enterprise chief,


Apple’s new OS X buggy with Western Digital drives

Storage company Western Digital has warned Apple users against upgrading their software to OS X Mavericks after some external drives were wiped clean of data.

The problem appears to be a conflict between Mavericks and Western Digital’s own management software.


As one forum poster noted, Western Digital had been previously warned of problems by users testing the beta of Mavericks, well before the OS was released. The first post on the subject was made on 7 October.


the company said. “Until the issue is understood and the cause identified, WD strongly urges our customers to uninstall these software applications before updating to OS X Mavericks (10.9), or delay upgrading.”


The WD Drive Manager, WD Raid Manager, and WD SmartWare software applications are not new and have been available from WD for many years, however solely as a precaution WD has removed these applications from our website as we investigate this issue,” it added.

If you’ve already upgraded to Mavericks, Western Digital recommends that you remove the affected applications and restart your computer to avoid data loss.


Helium-filled HDDs: a data-centre game changer?

HGST The Western Digital subsidiary has started shipping the 6TB Ultrastar He6, a high-capacity drive that it claimed is considerably faster, cooler and more power-efficient than normal HDDs.

Unlike standard HDDs, which contain five platters rotating in filtered air, the Ultrastar He6 uses helium, which is less resistant, lighter and cooler than air. The reduced friction and temperature mean disks can spin for longer on less power – allowing HGST to pack in seven platters and increase storage to 6TB from the usual 4TB.

Since the drives shouldn’t experience the same wear and tear as standard HDDs, HGST claimed its devices will last longer and therefore cost less in the long run, although the company hasn’t revealed prices yet.

Katy Perry overtakes Justin Bieber on Twitter followers

The latest figures show the US singer has 46,534,966 followers compared to the Canadian teen star’s 46,510,838.

Shea Bennett from the All Twitter news blog said Perry was now likely to be the first to get to 50 million.




Google says floating barge for showing off new tech


SAN FRANCISCO — Google broke its silence on the floating barge structure it is building in San Francisco Bay.  “Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above,” Google said in a statement. “Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”


Western Digital’s New Hard Drives Are Filled With Helium


Digital storage is always getting cheaper and more capacious — but Western Digital has a plan to fill it with helium to make hard drives way more efficient than ever before.


If you could see inside a normal hard drive, you’d find it was a pretty brutal environment. The plates on which data are stored spin at incredibly high speed — thousands of revolutions per minute — and while you might not expect it, it’s the drag from those plates spinning through the air inside the drive that limits the number that can be stacked together. Yup, just like air resistance stops vehicles going fast, it does the same to your data.


But instead of air, Western Digital is now creating hard drives that are filled with helium,reports All Things D. Lighter than air, helium cuts the drag forces right down. Indeed, Western Digital can now squeeze in seven where previously it could only manage five; the first drive to roll off the production line has a capacity of six terabytes, versus four for conventional drives, for instance. All Things D explains what that means:


Deploying 11 petabytes of storage using current drive technology requires 12 racks and 2,880 hard drives, and about 33 kilowatts of power to run them. With the new helium-based technology, you could do it with eight racks and 1,920 individual drives, and run them on 14 kilowatts.


Woz: I Wish To God That Apple And Google Were Partners


If there’s one man who talks tech sense it’s Woz — and never more so than in a recent interview with the BBC. Woz would love it if Apple and Google played friendly, and he makes a very, very good point.


Both have strengths and weaknesses, after all. He explains:


“Sometimes I say ‘Go to Joe’s Diner’ and [Siri] doesn’t know where Joe’s Diner is. And very often usually I find out that Android does… That is actually the future of intelligence probably for computers getting smarter and getting artificial intelligence. I wish to God that Apple and Google were partners in the future.”


But can that ever happen, Woz?


“I don’t know. If I were there, it would be pretty likely. I’m probably wrong, there’s probably an awful lot I don’t know about the business concerns and one thing you’ve got to remember is a company has always got to make money. I wish everybody just did a lot of cross-licensing and sharing the good technology, all our products would be better, we’d go further. I do wish they were more compatible”


Australian Electoral Commission Says E-Voting Is Coming, But It’s Hard


Speaking to ABC Radio this morning, Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn said that it’s likely Australians will experience some sort of e-voting platform in future, but the road to digital democracy is a tough one.


“There is a trend or certainly a good debate that is needed about electronic voting, and i think it is inevitable that there will be some e-voting in the future,” Killesteyn said, adding that throwing some internet at the problem isn’t an instant fix.


“We have to be careful that we suggest that there’s an easy solution to [eliminating error]. If I was to provide the same voting facilities for all 14.7m voters [via electronic means], I would need 120,000 e-voting machines deployed across the country, and I would have 33 days to do it because the [election] date is not known. The notion that there is a simple solution through e-voting needs to be considered,” he added.


US Authorities Approve Use Of Electronics On Flights


After years of will they or won’t they, the US Federal Aviation Administration has finally given permission for airlines in the US to allow passengers to use personal electronics for the entirety of their flights.


The decision couldn’t come soon enough. The ill-conceived electronics ban started back in 1991 when both the FCC and the FAA restricted aeroplane mobile phone use, largely because no one actually knew what a mobile phone was, much less how they actually worked. Better safe than sorry. A year later, they ran actual tests to see if there there was any valid argument for their blind terror. Surprise! There wasn’t.


Once airlines do get approved, personal electronic devices such as ebooks, handheld games, laptops, etc. will finally be non-contraband, with a few limitations. In cases of low-visibility, for instance, the airline crew might tell passengers to shut off these devices during landing. Additionally, heavier items will have to be safely stowed during takeoff in landing, although this is mostly to avoid a potential concussion as opposed to any potential danger posed by the batteries within.


It is still recommended that you keep your phone in aeroplane mode. According to an FAA spokesperson though, there is (as we’ve all suspected) absolutely no safety problem if it’s not; you’ll just “arrive at your destination with a dead phone.” Because good luck trying to get 4G at 10,000m. [FAA]


A Future Internet Might Not Use Servers


A project named Pursuit aims to make the internet faster, safer and more social by implementing a completely new architecture. The system does away with the need for computers to connect directly to servers, instead having individual computers being able to copy and re-publish content on receipt. That would allow other computers to access data — or, at least, fragments of data — from many locations at once.


If that sounds like peer-to-peer sharing, it’s because it is. But the difference here is that it would be rolled out on a huge, unprecedented scale: it would be internet-wide. Dirk Trossen, one of the researchers from the University of Cambridge Computer Lab, explains why that’s a good thing:


“Our system focuses on the way in which society itself uses the internet to get hold of that content. It puts information first. One colleague asked me how, using this architecture, you would get to the server. The answer is: you don’t. The only reason we care about web addresses and servers now is because the people who designed the network tell us that we need to. What we are really after is content and information.”


Essentially, the idea is to remove the concept of the URL from the internet. In fact, the researchers explain that online searches would stop looking for URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) and start looking for URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers). URIs, then, specify where data is — and where to go in order to find it — rather than being the single point of call. Trossen explains what that means for the user:


“Under our system, if someone near you had already watched [a] video or show, then in the course of getting it their computer or platform would republish the content. That would enable you to get the content from their network, as well as from the original server… Widely used content that millions of people want would end up being widely diffused across the network. Everyone who has republished the content could give you some, or all of it. So essentially we are taking dedicated servers out of the equation.”


The upshot? Speed, efficiency, and reliability, with no central server to buckle under the load of demand. Admittedly, it’s a very bold aim — but if it can be pulled off, it could radically change our experience of the internet




Google Finally Acknowledges Mystery Barges


After two weeks of free press, Google finally confirmed the existence of its so-called “mystery barges” parked near San Francisco and Portland, Maine (and who knows where else). That doesn’t mean it has explained what’s inside, however.


Google offered this not-so-revealing explanation:


Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above. Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.


Wrist assured, coders: Pebble smartwatches bag iOS 7 app, shiny new SDK


Pebble smartwatches gained new capabilities on Wednesday, thanks to a second version of the Pebble software development kit (SDK) and a new iOS app that offers improved iOS 7 notifications.


Pebbles were always able to display caller IDs, SMS messages, and email notifications from an iPhone linked via Bluetooth. With thenew iOS app, they’re now fully integrated with the iOS 7 Notification Center, so that any notifications you enable on your iOS device will appear on your wrist.


That means the Pebble’s notifications display now works with Apple iOS devices just as well as it works with Android devices, which have always been able to share notifications from third-party apps with the smartwatch.


Another improvement with the new iOS app is that for the first time it enables Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) support, which has always been available in the Pebble hardware but so far hasn’t been used. Major firmware updates and other data-heavy functions will still be sent over classic Bluetooth, but notifications will be pushed to the Pebble via Bluetooth LE from devices that support it, which should help conserve battery power on both the Pebble and the associated device.


Microsoft Australia Concerned About Turnbull’s NBN


Microsoft Australia’s managing director has voiced concerns over the fibre to the node strategy currently being considered by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, revealing that it is lobbying the government over the plan.


Speaking at a CEDA Event in Sydney, Microsoft’s Australian MD Pip Marlow said that fibre to the home would be superior for upload speeds over the current fibre to the node (FttN) system.


She added that Microsoft Australia is currently lobbying the government to try and understand how people will be using the FttN system in the long run.


Googlers say “Screw you” to NSA, company encrypts internal network


Google has started to encrypt its traffic between its data centers, effectively halting the broad surveillance of its inner workings by the joint National Security Agency-GCHQ program known asMUSCULAR. The move turns off a giant source of information to the two agencies, which at one point accounted for nearly a third of the NSA’s daily data intake for its primary intelligence analysis database—at least for now.


Yesterday, the Washington Post shared additional slides produced by the NSA on the MUSCULAR program, which tapped into the fiber-optic networks carrying traffic to and from Google’s and Yahoo’s overseas data centers. The slides indicated that data from the networks frequently reached the daily intelligence briefing provided to President Barack Obama. They cited the joint operation with GHCQ as the fifteenth-largest source of intelligence data for those briefings.


The slides also revealed that the NSA obtained an intimate understanding of the internal operations of these networks, which suggests it either launched a significant reverse-engineering operation to pry apart Google’s and Yahoo’s secrets or it obtained this information from people who worked for the two companies (maybe even some combination of the two). Either way, the effort amounts to a major intelligence operation to discover the trade secrets of two major American companies.


YouTube Starts Rolling Out Its New Commenting System Based On Google+


In September, YouTubeannounced that it would soon roll out a new commenting system powered by Google+. After testing it on channel discussion tabs for a few weeks, it’s nowstarting to roll it out to all videos on the site.


Given the size of YouTube, this roll-out will start this week, but it will take some time before it is fully effective. Until then, you may see both systems on the site, depending on which video you are watching.


It’s no secret that YouTube comments aren’t exactly a hotbed forsmart conversations, so the company hopes that this change will increase the quality of comments by putting the emphasis on conversations and not on one-off comments. The idea here, YouTube says, is to ensure that “YouTube comments will become conversations that matter to you.”


Instead of organizing comments by chronology, YouTube will now rank them by relevancy, taking into account who wrote a comment, +1s, the number of replies and other signals to surface the best comments. Updates from the video’s creator or comment threads they participate in, as well as updates from people in your Google+ circles, will also rank highly. Users who prefer the old way can still switch from the “Top Comments” view to “Newest First.”


To comment, YouTube users have toconnect their accounts to a Google+ page or profile, however. By allowing users to connect their accounts to Google+ pages, they’ll still be able to use the service without using their real names, though for the majority of users, that’s probably an extra step they won’t take. In total, though, four out of five people have already connected their YouTube channels to their Google+ accounts, Google tells me.


For video creators, the Google+ commenting system introduces better ways to moderate comments. They can now block certain words, auto-approve comments from certain fans (based on the circles they are in) and still review comments before they are posted.





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