Episode 401 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES 

 

Cortana: Microsoft’s answer to Siri coming to Australia

 

Microsoft will release its mobile voice assistant Cortana to Australia in the next update for Windows Phone 8.1.

A spokesperson for the vendor said that Australia is one of only three countries receiving the alpha version of Cortana in the coming update. Canada and India are the other beneficiaries,

Other features coming in the update include live folders, “enabled by simply clicking and holding an existing tile on the Start screen, then dragging it over another app to create a new folder”.

“Folders can be renamed by tapping on a field above the open folder, while tiles inside a folder can be rearranged

SMS capabilities will also be reformed, with users granted the ability to delete individual messages out of thread and to copy and forward individual messages.

A play area named Apps Corner will allow Windows Phone 8.1 users to “set up a sandboxed environment with the apps and features they choose”.

The Windows Store will show recommendations and information about the latest apps on the Store Live tile itself.

The Microsoft spokesperson said the Windows Phone 8.1 update will be deployed in the “coming months”.

 


 

Apple lops $200 off top MacBook Pro, boosts speed

 

The top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now has a recommended retail price of $2,999, with an upgraded quad-core Intel i7 2.5GHz processor. The previous top model, with a 2.3GHz chip, was selling for $3,198 at JB Hi-Fi.

The 13-inch models now all have 8GB of RAM, up from 4GB previously. The formerly 2.4GHz dual-core Intel i5 models are now 2.6GHz, with the previous 2.6GHz MacBook bumped up to 2.8GHz.

“The MacBook Pro with Retina display gets even better with faster processors, more memory, more affordable configurations and a free upgrade to OS X Yosemite this spring,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing.

 


 

Kogan undercuts competition with $229 4G phone

 

Kogan and BenQ have launched a $229 4G smartphone called the Agora 4G, which the online retailer is claiming is the “best value 4G Android smartphone in the world”.

CEO of Kogan Technologies Ruslan Kogan claimed the phone offers “4G connectivity for a price point never seen before anywhere in the world”.

The Agora 4G has a five inch HD display, 4G LTE connectivity, a 1.2 gigahertz quad core processor, an 8 megapixel rear facing camera and a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera.

The phone runs the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system and has 1 gigabyte RAM as well as 8GB of internal memory, expandable to 64 GB via a Micro SD card.

 


 

Kogan launches Fortis sports brand in Australia

 

Online retailer Kogan has signalled its move beyond technology into the sports and fitness industry with the launch of the Fortis brand in Australia.

As well as TVs, tablets and phones, the Kogan site is now selling yoga mats, dumbells, gym balls and golf clubs.

Other products from the Fortis line include Fortis TrackFit, an activity and sleep tracking wristsband, the Fortis magnetic bike trainer, an indoor exercise bike, and Fortis SmartBells, which features 15 different weights in one dumbbell.

founder Ruslan Kogan was named on the BRW list of the 200 richest Australians, with his wealth ranked at an estimated $320 million.

 


 

Apple reaps massive US$7.7 billion profit

 

Apple reported quarterly net profit of US$7.7 billion, up 11.5 percent from a year earlier.

Sales of the iPhone in the quarter grew by 13.9 percent to 35.3 million. Meanwhile, iPad sales totaled 13.3 million, off 8.9 percent from a year earlier.

Although the company credited strong iPhone and Mac sales for its overall quarterly results, it also saw growth from other parts of its Apple services ecosystem, including a 25 percent gain in iTunes billings.

 


 

Officeworks issues recall after USB charger melts

 

Officeworks has issued a nationwide recall of USB wall chargers after one of the device reportedly overheated causing the case to “melt”.

As many as 3,400 of the chargers have been sold according to NSW Fair Trading. Approximately 1,050 of the affected products with model number MS10071223 were sold in NSW.

The chargers were sold between 19 July 2013 and 2 August 2014 from Officeworks shops as well as the Officeworks website.

NSW Fair Trading has been undertaking hundreds of inspections looking for unapproved electrical devices. This week it revealed 17 penalty infringement notice fines have been issued and there are ongoing investigations into two matters.

Penalties for sale of unapproved items range from on-the-spot fines of $500 to prosecutions, with a maximum penalty of $87,500 and/or two years imprisonment for an individual. The maximum penalty for corporations is $875,000.

 


Microsoft Surface Pro 3 to launch in Australia with $979 entry price

 

Microsoft has announced its Surface Pro 3 will go on sale in Australia on 28 August from retailers

Prices for the new tablets will start at $979 for the 64GB Intel i3 model, increasing to $2,279 for the most expensive 512GB Intel i7 model.

Pre-orders are now possible via Microsoftstore.com, with the site stating that the product will ship by 28 August.

 

Microsoft wants the device to be seen as a rival to the MacBook Air, with the Microsoft online store comparing a range of capabilities between the two devices.

The Surface Pro 3 has a larger 12-inch screen compared to the Surface Pro 2, as well as being lighter and thinner than the previous model.

 


 

 Australian finds way to bypass PayPal two-factor authentication

Australian researcher Joshua Rogers has discovered a method for getting past PayPal’s two-factor authentication, which is possible due to an issue in the way that PayPal accounts integrate with eBay accounts.

A PayPal spokesperson told SCMagazine.com in a Tuesday email correspondence that the company is aware of the issue, which is limited to a small amount of integrations with Adaptive Payments, and is working on getting it addressed as quickly as possible

Rogers said PayPal told him something similar on 5 June when he notified the company of the bypass exploit, but apparently the problem was never fixed, so he decided to disclose the issue in a Monday post

 

 

Google finds illegal images in Gmail, leads to child-abuse arrest

police found child-abuse images on Skillern’s smartphone and tablet, as well as emails and text messages discussing his interest in children. In 1994, he was convicted of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old boy.

Detective David Nettles of the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce told the news agency: “[Skillern] was trying to get around getting caught, he was trying to keep it inside his email. I can’t see that information, I can’t see that photo, but Google can.”

 

 

Wikipedia reveals Google ‘forgotten’ search links

 

Wikipedia has begun naming links to its online encyclopaedia that have been removed from EU search results under “right to be forgotten” rules.

The deleted links include pages about European criminals, a musician and an amateur chess player.

The Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the site, said the internet was being “riddled with memory holes” as a result of such takedowns.

A dedicated page on Wikipedia states that they include:

 

 

“We only know about these removals because the involved search engine company chose to send notices to the Wikimedia Foundation,” theorganisation’s lawyers wrote in a blog.

“Search engines have no legal obligation to send such notices. Indeed, their ability to continue to do so may be in jeopardy.

 

 

Cryptolocker victims to get files back for free

 

All 500,000 victims of Cryptolocker can now recover files encrypted by the malware without paying a ransom.

The malicious program encrypted files on Windows computers and demanded a substantial fee before handing over the key to the scrambled files.

Thanks to security experts, an online portal has been created where victims can get the key for free.

The portal was created after security researchers grabbed a copy of Cryptolocker’s database of victims.

“This time we basically got lucky,” said Michael Sandee, principal analyst at Fox-IT – one of the security firms which helped tackle the cyber-crime group behind Cryptolocker.

All they have to do is submit a file that’s been encrypted from that we can figure out which encryption key was used,” said Greg Day, chief technology officer at FireEye.

Mr Day said people wishing to use the portal should submit a file that did not contain sensitive information to help it verify which key they needed.

 

JASON’S SHOWNOTES

 

 

Almost a year after launch, Australian Xbox One owners still cannot walk into a room and say “Xbox on” to activate their console.

 

In the US, saying “Xbox on” will switch on the console, the TV, and home theatre receiver and set them all to the appropriate settings. None of this is currently enabled for Australian users, even though the hardware that makes it possible is present on the local version of the machine, and it otherwise deals perfectly well with our Australian accents.

 

A significant missing feature is integration of TV content, both free-to-air and pay-TV. In the US, a cable TV receiver or digital set-top box is plugged into the Xbox, which then outputs the signal to the TV. This set up allows users to change channels with voice commands, see information overlays on the TV screen, and more. Currently this feature is disabled for Australians.

 

Another perpetual bugbear for Australian gamers is the scarcity of local multiplayer game servers. Many companies will not set up powerful data-crunching centres on our shores, so players have to make do with systems in Western California or South-east Asia. Both solutions can cause system slowdowns and difficulty finding locals to play with and against.

 

On this topic at least, Hinton has good news: Xbox One data centres are arriving in Australia soon.

 

“We have made the commitment to launch Australian data centres; they’re not open yet, but we do expect them to open sometime this year,” he explains. “On Titanfall we worked with EA and Respawn to come up with a local server solution for Australians, because our local data centre isn’t up and running yet.”

 

 

If Foursquare’s attempt to force users into Swarm taught us anything, it’s that people really don’t like being forced into using apps.

 

Facebook, never one to heed the lessons of history, will soon be forcing its iOS and Android users over to Facebook Messenger, and many users aren’t happy about it.

 

Facebook sent an email to users Monday, alerting them that messages will soon be disappearing from Facebook’s iPhone and Android app (for now, messages will remain available in the iPad and Windows Phone app, as well as on the mobile web and desktop.)

 

While Facebook has been suggesting users make the switch over to Messenger for some time, the social network stopped short of actually forcing users to do so. But over the next few days, users who have yet to download Messenger will see new reminders prompting them to get it. Eventually, messages will disappear entirely and users will only be able to check messages via the web or Messenger app (users of the main app will still get message notifications, however).

 

While Facebook Messenger has been available since 2011, many users who have still not downloaded the app are reluctant to do so and are not pleased about the new push to force them into the app.

 

So why would Facebook be forcing users into an app that some people still don’t want to use? The company says Messenger is “faster and more reliable” than chatting within the main Facebook app. Messenger also has more features, like voice and video calling. But the real reason may have more to do with Facebook’s bottom line.

 

 

Dustin Moskovitz is plotting an escape from email.

 

The 30-year-old entrepreneur has learned a lot about communication since he teamed up with his college roommate Mark Zuckerberg to create Facebook a decade ago, and that knowledge is fueling an audacious attempt to change the way people connect at work, where the incessant drumbeat of email has become an excruciating annoyance.

 

Moskovitz is trying to turn that chronic headache into an afterthought with Asana, a San Francisco start-up he runs with former Facebook and Google product manager, Justin Rosenstein.

 

Asana peddles software that combines the elements of a communal notebook, social network, instant messaging application and online calendar to enable teams of employees to share information and do most of their jobs without relying on email.

 

Asana users create tasks or projects that can be communally shared on a main page that acts somewhat like a social network. Workers can comment on the posts. A manager can also add workers who need to “follow” the thread, even long after a project started. Workers can also “unfollow” a project when they no longer need to be part of an ongoing discussion.

 

Asana users can signify that they have seen a comment or agree with an idea by posting a “heart” next to it, which is similar to a Facebook “like.”

 

A new website detailing 80 or so websites or services where Australian can access digital content is being trumpeted as the end to the argument that Australians only download copyright infringing TV shows, films, and music because it is not available in the country.

 

The Digital Content Guide launched by Foxtel, Music Rights Australia, Screen Australia and a number of other content groups is designed to pool all the available streaming and download services available in Australia.

 

The website has over 80 different services from Foxtel Play, to Spotify, FetchTV, and Steam, all linking to places where content can be viewed or played either for free, or for a fee.

 

At the launch of the service in Sydney, Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association CEO Simon Bush said that there are more digital services available now than any time before.

 

“Consumers have a larger range of video and music devices, and video channels now than in any time in our history,” he said.

 

“We need to listen to our consumers, and respond with content available on multiple platforms and devices sooner, whilst at the same time understanding the global nature of consumption of media.

 

He said that in pooling together the various services, Australians could now see where to go for the content they want to watch.

 

“The lack of availability is no longer an excuse [for copyright infringement],” he said.

 

But the service itself does not allow consumers to search for which subscription service contains which show or film they want to watch. A user that wanted to watch Game of Thrones, for example, would need to check in across a number of different services before being able to determine the price and availability of the show on Foxtel Play, iTunes, Quickflix or Google Play.

 

 

 

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