Episode 384 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


Source code for MS-DOS and Word released


Microsoft has released the source code for both MS-DOS and the original Word for Windows.


Both have been released to the Computer History Museum, in a bid to help scholars understand how those iconic pieces of software were built.


“We think preserving historic source code such as these two programs is key to understanding how software has evolved from primitive roots to become a crucial part of our civilisation,” said Len Shustek, chairman of the museum.


Microsoft has made the source code of two versions of MS-DOS available: MS-DOS v1.1 and MS-DOS 2.0. MS-DOS 1.1 has less than 300KB of source code, reflecting the limited hardware it was designed to run on in the early 1980s.


The source code for Word for Windows – first released in 1989 – can be downloaded here.


Both sets of source code are released for non-commercial use


The Computer History Museum has the source code for several other landmark pieces of software, including the first version of Photoshop and Apple II DOS.



XP hackers ready to pull trigger on 8 April


Australian technology security firm Pure Hacking has warned that hackers have malicious Windows XP attacks ready to deploy and are merely waiting for 8 April to target vulnerable computers.

“Any computer on XP is a sitting duck,” said chief technology officer at Pure Hacking Gordon Maddern . “It just takes one compromised machine sitting in a Windows domain to bring down the whole system.”


Maddern also said that the vulnerability of point-of-sale devices and ATMs is a serious concern.


“Most ATMs are running XP and they certainly haven’t upgraded,” he said.


Australia has abandoned Windows XP faster than the rest of the world according to some reports. According to Symantec, the support period has been extended to 12 January 2016 for devices running Windows XP Embedded.


Aside from moving off Windows XP, Pure Hacking advised customers to:


  • Segregate XP computers to its own network or zone to contain any security breaches

  • Apply whitelisting on XP machines to only allow trusted software to execute

  • Disable all unnecessary programs and settings on XP



Criminals rob Windows XP ATMs via SMS


Glenn: Would this even be true – needing access to the machine – not half obvious!


According to Symantec, Windows XP is the OS behind 95% of ATMs and is being targeted by increasingly sophisticated attacks that use a mobile phone to gain access to cash points and force them to dispense money to mules working for criminal gangs.


The threat first emerged as malware known as Backdoor.Ploutus in South America late last year, but according to Symantec the hackers have developed the tool with English-language versions and a modular architecture that makes it more flexible.


Effectively, Ploutus allows cybercriminals to send a text message to an infected cash machine, then walk up and retrieve the money that’s ejected. “It may seem incredible but this technique is being used in a number of places across the world at this time,” said Regalado.


However, while this mobile bank job is already in progress, the raiders need more than a mobile phone number for the targeted ATM.


The criminals first need to install a mobile phone within the ATM, often using USB tethering to both access the ATM and keep the phone charged.


Once installed, the phone acts as a packet sniffer and detects messages sent in a specific format, before converting them into network packets that it forwards to the ATM via the USB cable.


“Using SMS messages to remotely control the ATM is a much more convenient method for all of the parties in this scheme, because it is discrete and works almost instantly,” said Regalado. “The criminal knows exactly how much the money mule will be getting and the money mule does not need to linger for extended periods around an ATM waiting for it to issue the cash.”



Kogan opens shop in New Zealand


online retailer opening its store for Kiwis yesterday


Chief executive and founder Ruslan Kogan told CRN that while there would be local New Zealand staff hired to assist with the operation, it will be managed from the Melbourne headquarters.


Chief executive and founder Ruslan Kogan told CRN that while there would be local New Zealand staff hired to assist with the operation, it will be managed from the Melbourne headquarters.



Microsoft searches Hotmail without court order


Microsoft says it’s legal for the company to search customers’ Hotmail correspondence without a court order, after it admitted rifling through the account of a blogger accused of receiving Microsoft trade secrets.


Former Microsoft employee Alex Kibkalo is currently facing criminal charges after he was accused of leaking details of Windows 8 to a blogger in France


Kibkalo is also accused of stealing Microsoft’s “Activation Server Software Development Kit,” a proprietary system used to prevent the unauthorised copying of Microsoft programs. In addition, law enforcement accuses Kibkalo of leaking large portions of Windows 7 prior to its release.


According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Microsoft was aware of Kibkalo’s activities early on and confirmed its suspicions after allegedly tracking his online activities via a Hotmail account under an assumed name.    


Investigators tracked down Kibkalo via correspondence with the unnamed French blogger. His actions came to light when the blogger tried to confirm Kibkalo’s leaked code with a second Microsoft employee. Instead of confirming the legitimacy of the code, the second Microsoft employee, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, notified investigators within Microsoft.


Corporate investigators tracked down Kibkalo’s Hotmail account (which was under a false name) and cross-referenced it with a public forum post regarding Windows 8 “hot fixes.”  

Microsoft vice president and general counsel, Frank Shaw, defended the search, claiming it was perfectly legal for the company to search its own servers.


“Courts do not issue orders authorising someone to search themselves, since obviously no such order is needed,” Shaw said in a statement. “So even when we believe we have probable cause, it’s not feasible to ask a court to order us to search ourselves.”

Microsoft claims that in the interests of transparency, it will reveal how many customer accounts have been searched in its bi-annual transparency report. However, it won’t include searches of Microsoft’s own employees’ accounts in the report.


“The privacy of our customers is incredibly important to us, and while we believe our actions in this particular case were appropriate given the specific circumstances, we want to be clear about how we will handle similar situations going forward,” Shaw added. “That is why we are building on our current practices and adding to them to further strengthen our processes and increase transparency.”


The revelations are made even more embarrassing for Microsoft, given that its Scroogled campaign attacks Gmail for invading users’ privacy by scanning inboxes for advertising purposes.





Irish funerals ‘go live’ on the internet


They are offering to film memorial church services and burials for the benefit of mourners who are unable to attend the ceremony in person.


Their target clients are Irish emigrants who are unable to travel home for family funerals and elderly people confined to hospitals or homes.


The clients will be charged a fee to view the funeral proceedings online.


Mr Foudy said he hoped Funerals Live would create up 10 new jobs over the next 18 months.


The businessman came up with the idea when he was asked to make a DVD of a memorial service for mourners who could not attend their loved one’s funeral.


He now provides live footage and audio feeds of funeral and graveyard services, after securing permission from the family of the deceased and their parish priest.


Mr Foudy said the live stream service was “password protected so as to ensure only people who you want to see it will see it”.



Drone almost collides with Westpac Rescue chopper


One of two Bell 412 choppers the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service operates was involved in a near miss with the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) near its Newcastle base in NSW on March 22 at about 10pm.


During the flight, according to the ATSB’s open investigation, the chopper’s crew spotted a UAV at about 1000 feet above ground level, which then turned and tracked towards the helicopter.

The UAV was well above its maximum allowed altitude – drone pilots need approval to operate above 400 feet.





Man behind famous Windows XP wallpaper wishes he’d negotiated a better licensing deal

The default Windows XP wallpaper containing rolling green hills, blue sky and fluffy white clouds may be more recognisable than the Mona Lisa, but it earned its photographer a pittance.


Charles O’Rear, now 73, says he wishes he negotiated a better deal with Microsoft when he licensed it to accompany the launch of the operating system more than 13 years ago.


While he won’t reveal how much he was paid for the photograph, a stock image library item at the time, he said had it been licensed to earn even just a fraction of a cent per copy of Windows XP sold he would’ve earned much more than he did under the deal he struck.




“If I had known how popular it would become and how many computers it would’ve been on I should’ve negotiated a [better] deal and said, ‘Just give me a fraction of a cent for every time it’s seen’ and that would’ve been a nice arrangement,” O’Rear said.


“It was not a royalty type of situation,” O’Rear added. “It was a flat ‘here’s what we’re paying you, thank you very much and let’s get it on the [computer] screen and get moving'”.


Technology commentators recently estimated that O’Rear’s photograph, which Microsoft chose in 2001 as the default wallpaper for its XP operating system, had been viewed by no less than 1 billion people. If all 1 billion purchased a copy of XP (they didn’t) — and Microsoft paid O’Rear 1 cent per copy sold — he would’ve made $10 million.


Optus warned over $8.8 million billing error


The communications watchdog has formally warned Optus over its poor handling of an IT error that caused more than 237,000 customers to be billed for a voicemail transcription service they didn’t request.


The error, which dated back to April 2009, was discovered in July 2012 and not resolved until September, even though Optus began receiving complaints from at least October 2011 “and most likely even earlier”, an Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) report said.


The ACMA said Optus’ sluggishness in identifying and resolving the issue contravened the telco industry’s consumer protection code.




The error caused the telco to accidentally charge post-paid mobile and small business customers for a service called SurePage – a voicemail alternative that diverts unanswered calls to an operator, who relays a message via SMS.


According to Optus’ website, users are charged $1.20 each time the operator takes a call.


The telco went public with the error in October, issuing a public apology and pledging to refund the $8.8 million it accrued as a result.


About 30,000 customers will receive refunds of more than $100 and a further 30,000 will be refunded between $50 and $100.The remaining 175,000 will receive refunds of less than $50.


Gamers lament Facebook’s Oculus takeover deal


Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey called Facebook’s $2.2 billion purchase of his virtual reality headset company a move that will help transform industries. Some fans weren’t so upbeat.


Across Twitter, gaming websites and Oculus’ own blog, players and developers panned the company’s decision to sell for least $US400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook. One was an investor in the company’s Kickstarter fundraising campaign and said he was betrayed.


Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Luckey said on Tuesday that joining forces will push virtual reality into the mainstream. The feedback suggests they’ll have to convince game developers that Oculus will still be a great place for their titles after the deal is done, particularly among those counting on working with a smaller, start-up-stage company.


Swedish game programmer Markus Persson, who created the popular block-building and busting title Minecraft for computers and mobile devices, voiced his displeasure in a post on Twitter.


“We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus,” Persson said. “I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.”


“I did not chip in 10 grand to see a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition,” said Persson in another tweet that later appeared to have been deleted. “I definitely want to be part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook.”


The latest gaming craze is 2048


The (Flappy) Bird is no longer the word – the latest craze is a puzzle game called 2048.


The game requires players to pair tiles containing similar numbers together to create tiles with larger figures.


The ultimate goal is to add up enough tiles to get one worth a total of 2048, but the user must do so without filling up the playing field and preventing him or herself from making anymore moves.


The game was created by Italian developer Gabriele Cirulli. It is playable on the web via computers, smartphones and tablets – there is no dedicated app – and was inspired by two other games released earlier this year: 1024 and Threes.


2048 has Twitter users buzzing about the puzzle game while Google Play and the Apple App Store have both been inundated with clone versions of the game. Currently, the top free game in the Apple App Store is one called 2048 that was not created by Cirulli.


2048 seems to have filled the void left by Flappy Bird, a game that had risen to the top of the charts before its developer suddenly yanked it from digital stores last month.


Since Flappy Bird was removed, numerous clone versions of that game have been released, but their popularity seems to have finally begun to die down and be replaced by clones of 2048.


Adam Carolla Joins Fight Against Podcast Patent Troll


Patent troll Personal Audio has sued top podcasters including Adam Carolla and HowStuffWorks, claiming that they own the patent for delivery of episodic content over the Internet. Adam Carolla is fighting back and has started a Fund Anything campaign to cover legal fees. From the Fund Anything campaign page: ‘If Adam Carolla loses this battle, then every other Podcast will be quickly shut down. Why? Because Patent Trolls like Personal Audio would use a victory over Carolla as leverage to extort money from every other Podcast.. As you probably know, Podcasts are inherently small, owner-operated businesses that do not have the financial resources to fight off this type of an assault. Therefore, Podcasts as we know them today would cease to exist.’


Google Now has finally arrived on the desktop. Google today announced Google Now is being pushed to the Chrome stable channel for Windows and Mac “starting today and rolling out over the next few weeks.” This means Google Now notifications will finally be available to desktop and laptop Chrome users, in addition to Android and iOS users.


To turn the feature on, all you need to do is sign in to Chrome with the same Google Account you’re using for Google Now on mobile. If you use Google Now on multiple devices, you will need to manage your location settings for each device independently (change Location Reporting on Android and iOS).okaygoogtest2 Google Now arrives in Chrome for Windows and Mac


Cards will only be visible on your computer if you use Google Now on your mobile device and if you’re signed into Chrome. The ones you can see are a subset of Google Now’s mobile cards: they include weather, sports scores, commuter traffic, and event reminders. Some cards may be based on the location of your mobile device (which hopefully is near the computer you’re using) but others will work independent of location.




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