Episode 417 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes

Hacker Group Takes Down Xbox Live, PSN

A hacker group called Lizard Squad has taken credit for shutting down Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) separately over the past several days. And now the group says it will continue wreaking havoc throughout December, and will take down Xbox Live on Christmas day.

The group communicates largely via Twitter, where it delights in its takedowns—with messages like “Xbox Live #offline” and “PSN Login #offline #LizardSquad,” lampoons attempts to stop it, and makes threats.

Lizard Squad used distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against both Xbox Live and PSN, effectively clogging the networks with traffic so that real users couldn’t use the services. Neither Microsoft nor Sony has confirmed that a DDoS attack was used, and both have offered just generic maintenance information during the outages.


On December 25 aka Christmas, we will tap in to Microsoft and shut down Xbox Live, FOREVER! So enjoy it while it lasts.”



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Microsoft exec: Windows 10 coming in northern autumn


Microsoft expects to have its new Windows 10 operating system on the market by spring in Australia


Microsoft unveiled the name Windows 10 in late September, saying the jump in numbers from 8 to 10 marked a leap as it looks to unify the way people work on tablets, phones and traditional computers.

An early test version of Windows 10 – which blends the traditional look and much-loved start menu with newer features – has been available for download from Microsoft’s website for more than two months.

Windows is still a core part of Microsoft’s business and dominates the desktop computing market with 1.5 billion users. But the growth of smartphones and tablets means Windows now runs on only about 14 percent of computing devices worldwide

Will Windows 10 be a free update?

many analysts have speculated that Windows 10 could move towards a subscription based service, much as they have with Office 365

Apple’s offer of a free update to their latest OS, Yosemite, has already set a precedent for this, and the announcement that users of the Windows 10 technical build will be able to upgrade to the final release version at no cost would appear to corroborate it. If Microsoft are willing to sacrifice the revenue from many virtually guaranteed customers, it indicates that it wouldn’t represent a significant loss for the company, and that they were already planning to make it up in other areas.                                                         


Office 365 to be hosted in Australia

Microsoft will go live with locally hosted Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online by the end of March 2015.

The software-as-a-service applications will be hosted at Microsoft’s two local data centres in Sydney and Melbourne, which launched in October to house Azure Australia.

local hosting will “provide customers with faster performance, offer geo-redundant backup and help address data residency considerations”.


From March 2015, new customers will be automatically provisioned in Sydney and Melbourne, and existing customers will be transitioned across to the Australian points of presence, said Steven Miller, Office division business group director at Microsoft Australia.


having Office 365 and CRM Online hosted in-country will mean “we don’t have to deal with some of those issues that have been raised with us around data sovereignty or performance”.



RIP Microsoft Clip Art

Microsoft admitted that “usage of Office’s image library has been declining year-[on]-year as customers rely more on search engines” and shut down the Office.com Clip Art and image library.

Microsoft is nothing if not opportunistic, however, and is replacing Clip Art with Bing Images as the default option for users wanting to insert images into their Office documents.

The tool will also help to preserve the copyright of image owners by offering an option to search only for Creative Commons licensed pictures – a service that has been offered by Google Image Search for a number of years.

Unlike Clip Art, however, the images offered by Bing won’t be vector images.



Victoria to release real-time bus data

Public Transport Victoria is set to release long-awaited real-time arrival APIs for the state’s buses and trams by March 2015, meaning Victorian commuters should soon be able to rely on GPS-based arrival information rather than a static timetable.


The move will see Melbourne commuters catch up with their counterparts in Sydney, soon-to-be Perth and some parts of Brisbane. Yarra Trams, Melbourne’s third party tram operator, has offered customers real-time arrival estimates via a phone app for several years.

The release of the API has been delayed by an aborted GPS equipment rollout and subsequent upgrade across Victoria’s metropolitan bus fleet.




Pirate Bay goes offline after Stockholm police raid

Swedish police seized servers in Stockholm after a complaint was filed by a group targeting internet crime.

It is the first time in several years the site has been taken offline rather than simply blocked by filters.

Unexpectedly, the site’s co-founder Peter Sunde – who is no longer involved – called for its permanent closure.

The pirate bay exists on other domains, however they are only mirrors and no new content exists.




Video-game pioneer Ralph Baer dies age 92

Mr Baer is widely seen as the “father of video games” for his pioneering work that led to the creation of the Odyssey games console.

The Odyssey, licensed to TV-maker Magnavox, went on sale in 1972 and inspired many other firms to make their own consoles.

in 1966, saw him create a “brown box” console that let two people take each other on in several different games including a crude, by modern gaming standards, version of table tennis.

The brown box became the Odyssey and went on to become a huge hit. Its success helped to kick off the first wave of TV-connected gaming consoles and inspired an entire industry.

The Odyssey was the first of many game-related electronics devices that Mr Baer created. Among these was the first light gun that could be used to shoot on-screen targets. In later work, Mr Baer also helped Coleco develop some of its games consoles and did work on collaborative play via cable networks.

Mr Baer also came up with the electronics underpinning the Simon electronic game and by the time of his death had more than 150 patents to his name.

In 2004, he was awarded the US National Medal of Technology and in 2010 was inducted into America’s National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Ralph Baer



Rare Steve Jobs Photos



Many called the period between 1985 and 1996 (when Mr Jobs returned to Apple) the start of the “digital revolution”, when computers became commonplace and first appeared in homes. On his return, Mr Jobs brought Apple from near bankruptcy to profitability by1998. Photographer Doug Menuez had rare access to this exciting time.


Netflix to offer 4K content in Australiain March

Ultrahigh definition, or 4K, is four times the resolution of 1080p high definition content. But users will pay more for it. It is one of three tiers of Netflix membership available here, the others being standard definition and 1080p.

While it’s uncertain how much 4K content Netflix can offer initially, it says all original content that it makes available next year will be produced in 4K quality.

In Australia Netflix says it will offer programming suggestions based on 250 tags and subgenres. It will detect over time if a user has a particular liking or disliking for certain actors, genres, producers, or strong male or female leads, and make recommendations accordingly.

In addition to availability through Netflix apps, the Australian service will be accessible through Apple TV, Sony’s PlayStation console and Google Chromecast. Users can pause watching a movie on their home theatre screen and pick up from where they left off on their tablet or smartphone.

Netflix director of Corporate Communications and Technology Cliff Edwards said the company had been in talks with Australian ISP’s and was confident it could deliver high quality streaming to customers.

One issue is whether ISPs will include or exclude the high data usage in monthly allowances associated with 4K streaming, and whether CODECS that compress a 4K stream can alleviate this.


Netflix is aiming at about 6 million subscribers in Australia, a figure based on attaining market penetration similar to the US. It says it has 53 million subscribers worldwide, and this year it spent more than $US3.2bn on content.

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