Episode 367 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


Microsoft Australia telework initiative goes global

Next week is National Telework Week and Microsoft Australia jumped in early and told staff to stay home last Thursday.

The initiative, led by Microsoft Australia managing director Pip Marlow, saw the software giant’s 830 local workers asked to avoid the office.

The ‘Spring Day Out’ followed a similar ‘Summer Day Out’ at Microsoft Australia back in February; it was seen as such a success that it has since been embraced globally, with all of Microsoft’s 99,000-plus staff taking part this year.


BlackBerry shock: Aussie sales triple

BlackBerry’s sales share has increased in Australia – the only region of nine audited by Kantar WorldPanel where sales didn’t fall.


The figures showed BlackBerry sales increased by 0.9 points, from 0.4 percent sales share in the quarter ended September 2012 to 1.3 percent in the most recent quarter.

The numbers pale in comparison to iOS, which rose from 25.9 percent to 32.9 percent and Android, which fell from 66.1 percent to 55.3 percent.

Fellow mobile outlier Microsoft also saw some good news in the report, with sales of Windows Phone reaching 9.3 percent for the quarter, a 4.7 point rise year-on-year from 4.6 percent.

Elop will bring Office to Apple, Google if named Microsoft CEO

Stephen Elop would change Microsoft’s longstanding strategy of using Office as a lure for Windows PC and mobile device sales if he’s named to replace the departing Steve Ballmer as chief executive, Bloomberg reported Friday.


Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw dismissed the accuracy of the report with a dash of sarcasm. “We appreciate Bloomberg’s foray into fiction and look forward to future episodes,” he told Bloomberg.


HTC One to get Android KitKat upgrade

HTC’s  One will receive an update to Android 4.4 KitKat in January, complete with an update to HTC’s custom Sense 5.5 overlay


HTC also confirmed that owners of the Google Play edition of the One will be able to upgrade their handsets from the end of November, and Google Play edition S4 owners are also expected


There is however no word on exact dates for regular Samsung Galaxy S4, Note 3 or LG G2 owners to look forward to for the time being


Nexus 5 owners, are already enjoying Android 4.4 KitKat


Snapchat rejected $3bn bid from Facebook

founded by Evan Spiegel, 23, rebuffed a $3bn (£1.9bn) acquisition offer from Facebook,according to the Wall Street Journal.

If Snapchat had accepted, it would have been Facebook’s biggest purchase.

reported Snapchat was being pursued by others, including Chinese e-commerce company Tencent.

Popular with teenagers, Snapchat has doubled its usage recently.

According to the firm, more than 350 million images, or “snaps” are sent daily between mobile devices. Once received by users, they are erased after a few seconds.

Created in 2011, Snapchat raised more then $60m from investors last June, which valued the company at more than $800m.

New ‘invisibility cloak’ type designed

A new “broadband” invisibility cloak which hides objects over a wide range of frequencies has been devised.


“Our active cloak is a completely new concept and design, aimed at beating the limits of [current cloaks] and we show that it indeed does,” said Prof Andrea Alu, from the University of Texas at Austin.

“If you want to make an object transparent at all angles and over broad bandwidths, this is a good solution.

“We are looking into realising this technology at the moment, but we are still at the early stages.”

Optus serves up throttle-free unlimited broadband


$135 monthly for unlimited, top-tier NBN speeds 100 Mbps up and 40 Mbps down.


Optus customers can get unlimited broadband data—with apparently no throttling


The plans are available across Optus’ copper, HFC and NBN fixed networks


The only condition is our acceptable use policy – which applies to all plans,” an Optus spokesperson said.

That policy mostly seeks to stop users from sending spam and conducting illegal activity. However it does define as “unreasonable” any usage of the service that “affects other customers’ access to the network.”

unlimited calling to local, national, 13/1300 and Australian mobile numbers, and unlimited international calls to landlines in 25 countries and mobiles in seven countries


Customers must sign a two-year contract to get the unlimited plans at those prices. However, Optus said it will waive the contract on all of its bundles for an extra $10 a month.

Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7

Microsoft has extended access to the latest version of Internet Explorer, which previoulsy only came with its newest Windows 8.1 operating system, to users of Windows 7 the company said today.

Internet Explorer 11 features hardware accelerated rendering of web pages and 3D graphics for improved performance, and Microsoft claims the browser is 30 per cent faster for “real world sites”.

Internet Explorer 11 can be manually downloaded, and is also offered through Windows Upgrade for Windows 7 users who have versions 9 and 10 installed already. Windows 8 users however must upgrade to Windows 8.1 in order to get IE 11





Your Face And Name Will Appear In Google Ads Starting Today


Google has updated its terms of service, allowing the company to use your profile information in ads. That means your face, name and personal details will start popping up all over your network. Yay!


As we learned from Facebook’s foray into social ads, plenty of people don’t like their face and name to show up in ads, so much so that they sued the company (and won). You can opt out by unchecking the box on the bottom of this page.


You can also read more about the new Terms of Service here. But seriously: opt out here.


Xbox One Isn’t About To Revolutionise TV In Australia


Microsoft this morning revealed the first wave of entertainment apps coming to the new Xbox One console at launch, and given the fuss it’s making about watching TV on the Xbox, you’d expect them to be pretty compelling, right? Not so much in Australia.


Here are the TV and entertainment apps that Australia will be getting on November 22:


• Crackle


• Machinima




• Network Ten’s tenplay


• Quickflix


• SBS On Demand




• Twitch


Let’s compare that to the list in the US, shall we?


North America:


• Amazon Instant Video


• Crackle


• The CW








• HBO GO (coming soon)


• Hulu Plus


• Machinima




• Netflix


• Redbox Instant by Verizon


• Target Ticket




• The NFL on Xbox One


• Twitch


• Univision Deportes


• Verizon FiOS TV




Admittedly, it’s not Microsoft’s fault that a lot of these services will skip Australia: it’s the fault of the services themselves for not setting up shop here.


Every user around the world will get access to these apps:


• Xbox Fitness


• Xbox Video


• Xbox Music


• Internet Explorer


• Skype


• SkyDrive


• Upload


‘So, that’s why it’s called Bluetooth!’ and other surprising tech name origins


Here we present the hidden—and occasionally accidental—histories behind some of the biggest names in tech.


Bluetooth – Harald Bluetooth was the Viking king of Denmark between 958 and 970. King Harald was famous for uniting parts of Denmark and Norway into one nation and converting the Danes to Christianity.


EBay –  The site that would become eBay started life as “AuctionWeb,” which was part of a larger personal site run by former Apple software engineer Pierre Omidyar.  As AuctionWeb grew in popularity, Omidyar decided to spin it off into its own entity, which he wanted to call “Echo Bay” after his consulting firm, Echo Bay Technology Group. Unfortunately the echobay.com domain was already taken, so Omidyar shortened it to the available “ebay.com.”


Google – The word googol (note the third “o” and the lack of an “e”) is a mathematical term for the number 10 to the 100th power (or a 1 followed by 100 zeros).  Sean Anderson misspelled the word Googol when registering the name.  


Amazon – Founder Jeff Bezos had originally dubbed his company “Cadabra” (as in “abracadabra”). But when his lawyer misheard the name as “cadaver” (as in “dead person”), Bezos decided his company needed a new, less morgue-friendly name.  Bezos went rummaging through the dictionary’s first chapter in search of a likely business name—and eventually settled on “Amazon.” Why? According to him, because it referred to the biggest river in the world. The biggest by a long shot.


On a tangential note: Take a look at the subliminal messaging in the current Amazon logo, which features a slightly askew smirk beneath the Amazon name. Note how the smirk resembles an arrow connecting the first “a” in “Amazon” to the letter “z,” subtly driving home the point that the store delivers everything from A to Z.


Nintendo – Nintendo traces its roots back to 1889, when the company produced hand-made playing cards painted on mulberry tree bark and used in a game known as Hanafuda. Hanafuda is a game of chance that dates back several centuries and is closely associated with gambling and the Yakuza (indeed, the name ya-ku-za translates as “8-9-3,” a losing hand in a Blackjack-like game). The name “Nintendo” in Japanese roughly translates as “leave luck to heaven” or “in heaven’s hands.”  After trying its hand (excuse the pun) at numerous endeavors over the next century, the company eventually found its way into the toy industry, which by the 1970s was a natural jumping-off point into the burgeoning video game market.


Nokia – Nokia began its existence far from the world of mobile technology—as a paper mill. The nascent company’s second groundwood pulp mill was built near the town of Nokia (about 100 miles northwest of Helsinki), which the company decided to adopt as its name when it became a public share company in 1871.


Over the decades, Nokia dabbled in all sorts of industrial ventures, which eventually led to its forming a telecommunications department in the late 1960s. By the 1980s, the company had become one of the first manufacturers of early mobile phones, such as the nearly 2-pound Mobira Cityman 900 in 1987.


Sony – In its first decade of existence, the company went by the name Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo—or in English, “Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Company.”  The company’s founders felt that they needed to change its Japanese name if it was to successfully compete in the developed post war markets of Europe and the United States.  At the time, in those markets, “Made in Japan” was synonymous with cheap junk.  The company’s founders chose the word “Sony”as a combination of the Latin word sonus, meaning “sound,” and the common American colloquialism “sonny-boy.”


Yahoo! – The company began as a hobby. Stanford University Ph.D. candidates David Filo and Jerry Yang kept a list of all their favorite sites. As the list began to grow to include categories and subcategories, the pair realized they might have a service that would be useful to early Web surfers.  It was originally matter-of-factly called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” The pair eventually decided on the fun exclamation-enlivened brand “Yahoo!”—which was bacronymed to encompass “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” (the full name lacking an exclamation point, for some reason).


Apple – As Jobs and Wozniak were mulling over a name for their nascent company, Jobs had just returned from a visit to a communal apple farm. Off the cuff, he proposed the name “Apple Computer.” The term, he explained to Isaacson “sounded fun, spirited, and not intimidating. Apple took the edge off the word ‘computer.’ Plus, it would get us ahead of Atari in the phonebook.”


Report: CIA Pays US Telco Over $10 Million A Year To Spy On Phone Calls


Turns out the CIA has reportedly been paying AT&T over $US10 million a year to spy on phone calls. The CIA simply gives AT&T a list of numbers, and AT&T voluntarily serves up the data. (No subpoena or warrant required!) They’re mainly after the phone records of overseas terrorism suspects, but sometimes Americans find their way into the mix. In this case, AT&T “masks” several digits of the Americans’ phone numbers, though if the CIA wants to find out who those people are, they just have to ask the FBI to issue a subpoena. And let’s not forget that when the CIA pays for AT&T’s help, the money’s coming right out of taxpayers’ pockets.


This is the same company that let the NSA tap directly into its fibre optic cables during the Bush era. It’s also the same company that embedded employees in the FBI as well as drug agencies to help them tap phones better. They didn’t just look at phone records in real time, either. AT&T built a massive database of every phone call that’s passed through their switches for nearly three decades.


You’ll Be Able To Get Google Glass With Prescription Lenses Next Year


Google is going to let you get Google Glass with prescription lenses in early 2014.  A company called Rochester Optical is the one that will be building these RX lenses. Rochester is also going to be making “fashion and sport lenses” for Glass. There’s no word on pricing or styles or anything right now, but that information will almost certainly come to light in the next few months, because Google is planning to let anyone buy Glass starting at the beginning of next year.


Edward Snowden Tricked NSA Coworkers Into Giving Him Their Passwords


“Snowden may have persuaded between 20 and 25 fellow workers at the NSA regional operations centre in Hawaii to give him their logins and passwords by telling them they were needed for him to do his job as a computer systems administrator, a second source said.” The report notes that these coworkers were later relieved of their duties, though it’s unclear if they were reassigned or fired.  While giving up your password to a sysadmin is not unheard of, it’s perplexing how Snowden ended up in such a position of power. Bear in mind that this happened after the CIA had let Snowden go for trying to break into classified documents and even written a warning note of sorts in his file, a note that the NSA apparently never saw.  This latest revelation serves as further proof that Snowden didn’t just stumble across the documents he later leaked but rather actively sought them out. In fact, Snowden himself said back in June that he took the contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton specifically because it “granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked”. And evidently NSA employees unwittingly granted him access to everything else.





Snapchat turned down a $3 billion buyout from Facebook


The Wall Street Journal is reporting thatSnapchat turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook.The offer was said to be a completely cash transaction, but Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel held out. Those familiar with the situation say Spiegel likely won’t consider any further offers until early next year.


Also rebuffed was an investment offer from Tencent Holdings, a Chinese company that has interest in messaging platforms like KaKao and WeChat. Their offer was an investment of $200 million, with a valuation of Snapchat at $4 billion. In June, Snapchat raised $60 million in venture capital on the back of an $800 million valuation.


Amazon launches Australian Kindle Store


Amazon has made a number of announcements about the expansion of its operations in Australia, announcing that the Australian Kindle Store is now open, and that a range of hardware is now available in Australia both online and through retail partners.


Firstly on the Australian Kindle Store, over 2 million eBooks are on offer including 26,000 free English-language titles. A range of current best sellers in fiction, sports, cookbooks and even graphic novels are available. Over 700,000 books are priced at $3.99 or less, and 1.4 million are priced at $9.99 or less.


Apple II DOS source code released by Computer History Museum


The Computer History Museum and the Digibarn Computer Museumannounced it is publishing the original DOS source code for Apple’s 1978 Apple II. The Apple II was the first fully assembled computer with a monitor that Apple sold following the Apple I and originally retailed for $1298 for the base model with just 4K of memory.


In April of 78, Steve Jobs and Shepardson signed a contract that would see Apple pay $13,000 for a file manager, a BASIC interface, and utilities. The source code being released today is scans of original documents that Laughton kept over the last 30+ years


Steve Wozniak soon created a brilliant hardware design for a floppy disk controller, but it needed software to organize the disk… On April 10, 1978 Bob Shepardson and Steve Jobs signed a $13,000 one-page contract for a file manager, a BASIC interface, and utilities. It specified that “Delivery will be May 15″, which was incredibly aggressive. But, amazingly, “Apple II DOS version 3.1″ was released in June 1978.  In an incredible tour-de-force, Paul Laughton, a contractor for Shepardson Microsystems, wrote the Disk Operating System for the Apple II in only seven weeks, and Apple delivered it to eager customers in June of 1978.


‘Temple Run’ could become the latest mobile game to be turned into a movie


The producer of the Harry Potter series of films is in talks to bring best-selling game series Temple Run to the big screen, according to a new report. Warner Bros. is considering a movie adaptation of the 2011 game from Imangi Studios,according to the Hollywood Reporter, with the Potter series’s David Heyman as the producer. The film would reportedly adopt the premise of the game, which follows an explorer who is chased by angry temple dwellers after stealing an idol from them. Warner Bros. is seeking a writer for the project, the report said.


Aspiring coders hone their skills at CoderDojo


In a bid to tap into the city’s “start-up spirit”, Brisbane City Council has launched a new program where kids can learn basic software development skills from volunteer mentors.


It’s called CoderDojo, and it’s a worldwide movement with clubs in more than 200 cities. Brisbane is the first in Australia to get on board.


He says the participants – aged between seven and 17 – helped decide which programs they would learn.


John says one seven-year-old girl was able to develop a simple computer game using Scratch in a minute.


“It looked like a pretty fun game,” he says. “The platform was so compelling for her, and she grasped the concept behind it so quickly, that she was able to develop this simple game in 60 seconds.”


He says some of the more advanced participants will also get exposure to the Python environment.

The Instagram Scam That Tricked 100,000 Users Into Giving Away Passwords


Insert your username and password, get free followers and Likes. This is what tens of thousands of Instagram users thought was happening.


More than 100,000Instagram users fell for a bold, effective scam called InstLike, an app that promised free Likes and followers on the photo sharing platform. The app asked users to share their usernames and passwords after downloading, turning them into willing participants of a giant social botnet.


After users signed up for the free app, InstLike would begin Liking random photos and following random users. It also asked users to buy virtual coins to accrue more Likes and followers, according to a new research by security firmSymantec.


“We don’t steal your account,” the app developers promised in the login screen. But InstLike did just that.


The app allocated 20 free coins per day to users. One Like would cost you one coin and one follower cost 10 coins. After those 20 daily coins, a user had to buy more with real money. The minimum purchase of 100 coins would set you back just $1, and if you referred another user to InstLike, you received 50 free coins, encouraging users to recruit new players.


The app included an auto-Like feature that sent 500 Likes to pictures with common hashtags, in hopes of receiving Likes in return or follow-backs. For 20 coins, a user could purchase a one-day premium service that allowed him to send up to 1,500 Likes and customize the target hashtags.





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