Episode 396 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES 

 

Apple releases cheaper iMac

 

The new 21.5-inch all-in-one is priced at $1,349, compared with the previous entry-level machine, a 21.5-inch iMac priced at $1,599.

The price cut comes with a drop in specs: the new iMac boasts a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 500GB hard drive and Intel HD Graphics 5000. In comparison, the next model up packs in a 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, 1TB hard drive and Intel Iris Pro Graphics.

 any good? would you buy?

 


 

Aussie channel bosses are sleeping on the streets?

 

CEOs and directors from Australian technology companies and resellers have raised well over $100,000 to support homelessness.

 Dozens of IT execs are taking part in Vinnies CEO Sleepout, which takes place across the nation this Thursday night.

 taking part include Lenovo Australia & New Zealand managing director Matt Codrington, Bulletproof chief executive Anthony Woodward and Websense ANZ country manager Gerry Tucker.

 Another notable names include Harvey Norman chief operating officer John Slack-Smith ($5,050) and Peter Robertson, chief executive of Brisbane-based systems integrator Intelligent Pathways ($5,100).

 Andrew Thomas, chief executive of Melbourne-based systems integrator Thomas Duryea, is taking part in the Sleepout for the fifth year.

 Many more are taking part and a list of other names can be seen on the shownotes with a link to donate to them.

 


 

Former Microsoft employee gets prison term for leaking code

 

Alex Kibkalo, a Russian national and seven-year employee of the tech giant, plead guilty to one count of stealing trade secrets.

 Kibkalo stole the information and released it to an unknown technology blogger, who then released the company software code online. Although he originally faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine as high as US$250,000, in April he and federal prosecutors came to an agreement for a penalty consisting of a three-month prison term and a fine of US$22,500.

 


 

Hackers hold Domino’s Pizza to ransom

 

Hackers claim to have swiped the passwords of 650,000 Domino’s Pizza customers in France and Belgium, threatening to publish them if €30,000 (£23,892) ransom is not paid.

 “We downloaded over 592,000 customer records (including passwords) from French customers and over 58,000 records from Belgian ones … [including] the customers’ full names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and delivery instructions. (Oh, and their favorite pizza topping as well, because why not),” they said.

 The hackers are a group known as Rex Mundi

 


 

Nokia ‘paid blackmail hackers millions’

 

MTV – not the music channel – said hackers threatened to reveal parts of Nokia’s source code for its mobile operating system.

 Finnish television channel MTV said hackers had acquired encryption codes relating to Nokia’s Symbian software – and had threatened to make the information public.

 If they had done so, it could have made it difficult for Nokia to prevent the spread of malicious software on its smartphone devices.

 MTV reported that Nokia contacted Finnish police and had arranged to pay a ransom fee in a car park.

 The money was picked up, the broadcaster said, but police “lost track” of the culprits.

 “Paying can only further show other hackers that they have a chance of making a lot of money from these corporations,” he said.

 “Nokia seems to have gotten incredibly lucky that the hacker didn’t release the key anyways.”

 


 

Google balloon broadband hits 22Mbps

 Google’s broadband-delivering balloons will actually be able to deliver internet connectivity to users next year, and can already offer 22Mbps download speeds.

 


 

Intel must pay $1.5bn fine after losing appeal

 Intel must pay a A$1.5 billion fine after a European court denied its appeal.

 Intel was hit with the fine in 2009 after the European Commission ruled the chip maker had abused its dominant market position by offering “rebates” and direct payments to PC makers to keep them from using AMD’s products.

 The company appealed, arguing that the fine was too heavy handed; at the time, it was the largest fine doled out by the EC. Now, the General Court has upheld the EC’s decision.

 The EU executive found Intel guilty of paying computer makers to postpone or cancel plans to launch products that used AMD chips, paid secret rebates to computer makers to use Intel chips, and paid a major retailer to stock only computers with its chips.

 any different to pubs being paid to carry one beer on tap?

 


 

African firm is selling pepper-spray bullet firing drones

 The maker of a drone that fires pepper spray bullets says it has received its first order for the machine.

 It is marketing the device as a “riot control copter” that can tackle crowds “without endangering the lives of security staff”.

 Skunk octacopter drone is fitted with four high-capacity paintball barrels, each capable of firing up to 20 bullets per second.

 In addition to pepper-spray ammunition, the firm says it can also be armed with dye-marker balls and solid plastic balls.

 The machine can carry up to 4,000 bullets at a time as well as “blinding lasers” and on-board speakers that can communicate warnings to a crowd.

 


 

YouTube to block indie labels as subscription service launches

 

YouTube will remove music videos by artists such as Adele, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead, because the independent labels to which they belong have refused to agree terms with the site.

 Google, which owns YouTube, has been renegotiating contracts as it prepares to launch a music subscription service.

 A spokesperson for the indie labels said YouTube was making a “grave error of commercial judgment”.

 YouTube said it was bringing “new revenue streams” to the music industry.

 

 JASON’S SHOWNOTES

Amazon unveiled its first smartphone on Wednesday at an event in Seattle near its headquarters, four years after the company started working on the project.

On the surface — and even under the hood — the 4.7-inch Fire phone looks like any other Android phone on the market, but Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and team have baked both big and small touches into the Fire phone to make it stand out in such a crowded market.

The Fire phone boasts a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, an Adreno 330 graphics processor, 2GB of RAM and runs on Amazon’s custom version of Android, called Fire OS. While none of the specs are true differentiators, Amazon is taking some risks to get noticed.

Although other phone manufacturers have failed in the 3D-display space before, Amazon is embracing what it calls “Dynamic Perspective,” which creates the illusion of depth behind the screen, as opposed to outward. This is noticeable right away on the lock screen, which will ship with 18 options, including slowly moving balloons and jungle or casino scenes.

To create the 3D-like effect, the phone uses four front-facing cameras that detect the head’s position. When you move your head slightly to the left or even closer to the screen, the dimension and perspective slightly changes. Amazon confirmed you can turn this function off but, if you’re buying this phone, why would you want to? It’s one of its biggest draws.

But one of Amazon Fire’s strongest features is Firefly, which lets you scan any product for more information. And like the popular Shazam app, Firefly scans audio from songs and TV shows.

An online community of furniture enthusiasts has had the rug pulled out from under it after international furniture powerhouse IKEA threatened legal action.

The cease and desist notice has put at risk the future of IKEAhackers, made up of thousands who alter, modify or repurpose IKEA furniture.

From covering wardrobes with quirky wallpaper, to turning a cabinet into a wall-mounted rat cage, to even creating completely new pieces of furniture from IKEA components, IKEAhackersis laden with tips, tricks and pics for aspiring indie furniture modders.

The group’s Facebook page has over 130,000 subscribers, many of whom have been posting their projects and feedback on the site since it launched in 2006.

Malaysian-based founder Mei Mei Yap describes herself as a naive “crazy fan”, who chose an IKEA chair name as her online pseudonym, Jules.

After receiving the legal letter, she engaged in several months of negotiations with IKEA, which has agreed to allow her to continue to use the IKEAhackers domain name.

But in order to keep the domain, she has agreed to stop running ads on the site from June 23.

The move puts the future of the community in doubt as Jules may no longer be able to fund a hobby that became a job.

“It is my main source of income. I am a full time blogger and I cannot continue funding this site without an income,” she told Fairfax Media.

Funding the blog site includes managing the content, monitoring submissions and coordinating competitions such as the annual Hack of the Year.  Jules says she had no intention of exploiting the IKEA brand and argues that her site was pro-IKEA.

 

The NSW government has begun cracking down on the “ride-sharing” component of the smartphone app Uber by issuing $2500 fines and threatening legal action against motorists who offer the service.

The Uber app allows any motorist – not necessarily a licensed taxi or hire-car driver – to receive money for providing lifts, in addition to offering authorised taxi and private hire-car services.

The crackdown by NSW’s Roads and Maritime Services follows similar action by the Victorian government in early May. It issued more than $50,000 worth of $1700 fines to drivers.

In one letter sent to an unidentified Sydney Uber driver and posted on the broadband forum Whirlpool, Roads and Maritime Services says it is in receipt of information that the driver “may be operating a public passenger service without the appropriate authorisation, accreditation and license”. Roads and Maritime Services confirmed to Fairfax Media that the letter was genuine.

“The information indicates that you obtain requests for travel through the low cost Uber X option on the Uber Australia Pty Ltd phone application,” the letter states. “The Uber X services are provided by unauthorised drivers in unaccredited and unlicensed vehicles.”

It goes on to say that Roads and Maritime Services views matters of this nature “very seriously” and quotes the Passenger Transport Act, which says fines of up to $121,000 can be issued.

“You are advised that legal action may be taken against any person found to be illegally providing public passenger services,” it says. “You are warned that if you are detected offering public passenger services in breach of the Act, then this will result in prosecution action.”

In a statement, a Roads and Maritime Services spokeswoman said motorists providing Uber ride-sharing services were “acting illegally” under the Passenger Transport Act and risked penalties.

“Investigations have determined while Uber is not breaching the Passenger Transport Act 1990 by offering the service, motorists transporting passengers for a fare are,” the spokeswoman said.

Australians will be able to watch the TV shows they’ve missed at the press of a button, once the FreeviewPlus streaming video service, built into a new generation of smart TVs, is rolled out.

Unlike the mishmash of catch-up TV apps in use with smart TVs, FreeviewPlus is expected to deliver access to online video from the five main Australian television networks. The service is built into a new onscreen electronic program guide that lets viewers scroll back in time and click to watch shows they’ve missed.

Slated to launch in July, after several delays, FreeviewPlus will be available through new internet-enabled televisions from makers such as Panasonic, Sony, LG and Samsung.

FreeviewPlus relies on the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) standard, which is already popular in Europe. A handful of HbbTV-compatible televisions are already on Australian shelves. It is also coming to set-top boxes from producers such as South Korean electronics company Humax.

Once Freeview flicks the switch on FreeviewPlus, compatible televisions and set-top boxes will display the green FreeviewPlus icon at the top left of the screen when you change channels. The long-ignored green button found on most TV remote controls will launch the FreeviewPlus electronic program guide over the top of whatever you’re watching. It displays the week’s listings for each channel, along with the ability to look back and play missed programs from the internet – complete with advertisements.

 

Facebook is ready to take on Snapchat with a new ephemeral messaging app, for the second time.

The social network relaunched Slingshot in the US today, an app for sending disappearing photo and video messages similar to those sent via Snapchat.

Users can send photos or videos up to 15 seconds long using Slingshot, and once those messages are viewed and cleared by the recipient, they disappear from the recipient’s phone for good. The only catch: Users are required to respond with an image or video in order to “unlock” those they receive. For example, if you receive a message from a friend, you’ll need to send a message back to that friend before you can open what they sent you.

This is a way for Facebook to encourage – or force – users to share more frequently. It also alleviates the “pressure” that comes with creating and sharing content, Slingshot design lead Joey Flynn said.

“What we found is that you don’t feel the need to respond immediately,” Flynn told Mashable. “It’s more [like], I want to share what I’m up to whenever I can, and then they’re going to feel almost no pressure to share back whatever they’re doing because it’s a shared experience.”

Slingshot users don’t need a Facebook account to use the app. Instead, accounts are tied to a user’s cellphone number; once a username is created, contacts can be imported from the phone’s address book or the user’s Facebook account.

While the ephemeral messaging app is similar to Snapchat, Slingshot has a number of small features that set it apart. Unlike Snapchat, photos sent through Slingshot don’t self-destruct after 10 seconds. Images and videos can only be viewed once, but the duration of that viewing period is up to the recipient.

During this viewing period, a recipient could take a screen grab of an image, preserving it after the image is wiped from the app. The message creator will not receive an alert if someone they send a message to captures a screen shot, Ruben said, as happens in Snapchat.

 

 

 

 

 

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