Episode 470 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

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GLENN – 140116

Better to sell Mac1 separately from Dick Smith: creditors told

The future of Dick Smith-owned Apple reseller Mac1 is up in the air

The Apple reseller was acquired by Dick Smith 18 months ago but was placed under administration last week along with Dick Smith’s other subsidiaries.

At the first meeting of creditors this morning, administrator Joe Hayes told attendees he believed that if Mac1 was sold as a separate business, it would produce a better return to creditors than if it was sold along with Dick Smith.

Mac1 is one of only three Dick Smith subsidiaries that is not in receivership. However, a deed of cross guarantee applies, which means if any of Dick Smith’s companies are wound up, every creditor of Dick Smith also becomes a creditor to that company.

This means in order for Mac1 to be sold off separately, Dick Smith creditors who weren’t originally Mac1 creditors may have input in the decision.

In May, Dick Smith revealed its “store-in-store” strategy to open dedicated Mac1 kiosks to service Apple products within existing Dick Smith stores. Mac1’s website currently lists 13 services desks in Adelaide, Albury, Armidale, Campbelltown, Canberra, Hobart, Innaloo, Marion, Melbourne, Narre Warren, Newcastle, Perth and Wollongong, and two dedicated retail stores in Canberra and Wollongong.

Founded in 1990, Mac1 provided Apple servicing as well as running an education technology business with account executives in Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Tasmania.


Coles, Kogan, Woolworths offer relief for useless Dick Smith gift cards

Disadvantaged Dick Smith customers now have some relief, with Coles, Kogan and Woolworths offering to provide credit for Dick Smith gift vouchers that were declared worthless earlier this week.

Coles and woolies have revealed that it would offer to exchange any Dick Smith vouchers purchased from any of its supermarkets, in return for a Coles gift card of equal value.

The supermarket giants announced that while the revenue from Dick Smith gift cards had already been passed onto the electronics reseller, the gift card exchange offer has been initiated as “a gesture of goodwill”.

Meanwhile, online electronics retailer Kogan.com is offering $25 credit for customers left stranded with a Dick Smith voucher.


Apple’s Finally Improving Its Data-Munching Wi-Fi Assist

In iOS 9, Apple introduced Wi-Fi Assist, a theoretically good feature that defaults to cellular data when your wi-fi connection is sucking. Unfortunately, in doing so, it chews through 4G data . In the latest beta of iOS, Apple is fixing that

Wi-Fi Assist is still present in iOS 9.3 beta 1; the difference is a tiny counter underneath the toggle to enable Wi-Fi Assist, which tells you how much data has been used by the feature.


SA govt to trial digital drivers’ licences

The South Australian government is set to follow in the footsteps of New South Wales by running a trial of digital identity cards – including drivers’ licences – which can be displayed on a smartphone.

The pilot program will see the state government issue digital tokens that are stored online and can be accessed from mobile devices, which it hopes will eventually supersede physical printed licences.

Alongside drivers’ licences, the scheme will eventually incorporate other forms of identity such as seniors’ cards, national parks passes, boat licences and trade certifications.

However the pilot program will be offered on an opt-in basis and plastic cards will still be available to people who do not use a smartphone.


Apple reveals pay packets of top execs

Tim Cook – A$14.6 million

chief financial officer Luca Maestri – A$35.9 million

senior vice president for retail and online stores Angela Ahrendts – 25.8 million US

Cook also sat below senior vice president in charge of internet, software and services Eddy Cue, senior vice president in charge of hardware engineering, Dan Riccio, and general counsel and secretary Bruce Sewell in the pay rankings.

All three earned roughly $US25 million in the year.

Where’s Johnny Ive?


David Bowie: The internet pioneer

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35279234  16 minute video interview

In a time before Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or even MySpace, most artists provided little if any online material to their followers.

But Bowie’s platform not only offered a wide variety of exclusive content, but also several ways to interact with the singer himself.

BowieNet also operated as a full internet service provider (ISP) in the US and UK, competing with AOL, Claranet and others.

For a monthly fee, members got an @davidbowie.com-ending email address and exclusive access to audio recordings, music videos and chat rooms, which the singer participated in himself.

“He would never announce it in advance, but he would get on to the chat board and talk to us. The handle he always called himself by was Sailor,

Bowie also used the service to create what became known as the world’s first “cyber-song”.

Fans were invited to send in lyrics to help co-write a track, and 80,000 people responded.

The singer said he had read through many himself – “there were a lot of potty ones”, he told one journalist – and eventually chose a submission by a 20-year-old American about the idea of having a virtual life on the internet.

Fans were invited to watch the track being recorded via a 360-degree interactive webcast – a technology that is only just becoming commonplace today.

The song, What’s Really Happening?, later featured on the Hours… album.

He was also one of the first artists to release an “internet-only” single. Telling Lies was downloaded by more than 300,000 people before later being sold as a physical single.

Bowie also took part in 1999’s Netaid charity concert, which was streamed on the web to more than two million people, a record for its time.

about seven or eight years ago, although you could still log into BowieNet, there didn’t seem to be many updates

In 2006, Bowie’s ISP business was quietly retired, but it was not until 2012 that his Facebook page confirmed what many already knew.

“BowieNet, as we have known it, is kaput!” it said.

BowieNet



Shayne – 140116

Bitcoin company to finally list on ASX

  • After months of delays, Australian bitcoin company Bitcoin Group will finally make its share market debut in February.

  • The Melbourne-based company is the first cryoptocurrency miner in the world to offer shares through an initial public offering, which opened on December 24.

  • It is offering investors 100 million shares at 20 cents each to raise $20 million in the IPO, which closes on January 25.

  • For those who don’t know: Bitcoin is a digital currency, a medium of exchange that is electronically created and stored with no central authority, and no physical notes or coins.

  • As a bitcoin miner, Bitcoin Group earns money from validating peer-to-peer bitcoin transactions which are recorded on the `blockchain’ — the digital currency’s publicly accessible money ledger.

  • The “mining’ process involves solving complex, time-consuming mathematical equations known as `blocks’ using purpose-built supercomputers.

  • Bitcoin Group, which has five computer centres in China, is able to crack one to two blocks a day using 6,000 machines.

  • With the float, the company is offering tech-savvy investors the opportunity to invest in the digital currency and the technology behind bitcoin.

  • “This is a billion dollar opportunity rather than a million dollar one,” Mr Lee said.

  • About $18 million from the IPO will be spent on more computers to bolster the group’s mining power.

  • Bitcoin Group shares are due to start trading on February 2.

  • Another bitcoin miner, Digital BTC, joined the local share market through a backdoor listing in July 2014.

Dutch Police Claim They Can Crack Emails On Special Encrypted Blackberries

  • In a report on Dutch blog misdaadnieuws.com, since confirmed by Motherboard, the Netherlands Forensic Institute has claimed to break a series of encrypted emails held on Blackberrys modified by Canadian firm Phantom Secure.

  • According to leaked documents, the NFI managed to pull 325 emails off a device, and decrypt 279 of them.

  • The technique only seems to work when authorities have physical access to a device,

H.265/HEVC vs H.264/AVC: 50% bitrate savings verified

  • BBC R&D video coding research team focused on evaluations of UHD content and definition of analytics as part of standardisation process and presented in this paper.

  • The High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard has been developed jointly by the two standardisation bodies ITU and ISO

  • The main goal of the process was to provide significantly improved video compression compared with its predecessors; H.264/AVC being the most recent.

  • HEVC standard was ratified in 2013 as H.265 by the ITU-T and as MPEG-H Part 2 by ISO/IEC.

  • The purpose of the subjective tests was to verify using human viewers the compression gains of the new video coding standard that had previously been estimated using objective metrics (e.g. Peak Signal to Noise Ratio – PSNR).

  • The subjective tests used a carefully selected set of coded video sequences at four different picture sizes: UHD (3840×2160 and 4096×2048), 1080p (1920×1080), 720p (1280×720) and 480p (832×480), at frame rates of 30Hz, 50Hz, or 60Hz.

  • The tests for UHD and 720p picture sizes were conducted at the BBC R&D labs under controlled viewing environments complying with the ITU-R BT.500 and ITU-T P.910 recommendations on visual quality assessment.

Hard-coded password raises new backdoor eavesdropping fears

  • Ralf-Philipp Weinmann, a security researcher who helped uncover the innerworkings of the Juniper backdoor, took to Twitter on Tuesday and repeatedly referred to the custom SSH authentication as a “backdoor.” In one specific post, he confirmed he was able to make it work as reported on older versions of Fortinet’s FortiOS.

  • The company rejects the “Back Door” claims stating that this was resolved with a patch in July2014.

  • According to the exploit code, the undisclosed authentication works on versions 4.3 up to 5.0.7. If correct, the surreptitious access method was active in FortiOS versions current in the 2013 and 2014 time frame and possibly earlier, based on this rough release history.

  • While one researcher told Ars the exploit no longer works in version 5.2.3, that release is still suspicious because it contained the same hard-coded string.

  • At this point, it’s too early to definitively identify the suspect routine as a backdoor that was planted for the purpose of providing unauthorized access. Still, there’s little doubt the code had precisely that effect.

Australians Join Global Protest Against Laws To Weaken Encryption

  • A “backdoor” to allow access to any encrypted file — including personal conversations, medical and banking records — will be created if laws proposed in countries around the world are passed, according to the Electronic Frontiers Association (EFA).

  • The EFA has joined the Australian Privacy Foundation, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and hundreds of other organisations from over 53 countries to protest the changes, which would require companies to provide exceptional access to encrypted materials.

  • The protest is addressed to world leaders — including those in France, India, the UK, China and the US where the new laws are proposed — asking them to support strong encryption and to reject any law, policy, or mandate that would undermine digital security.

  • “The internet belongs to the world’s people, not its governments. We refuse to let this precious resource become nationalized and broken by any nation,” said Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access Now.

  • EFA executive Jon Lawrence says “Calls to undermine encryption in the name of ‘national security’ are fundamentally misguided and dangerous.”

  • “Encryption is a necessary and critical tool enabling individual privacy, a free media, online commerce and the operations of organisations of all types, including of course government agencies.”

  • “Undermining encryption therefore represents a serious threat to national security in its own right, as well as threatening basic human rights and the enormous economic and social benefits that the digital revolution has brought for people across the globe.”

Australian Pirates May Be Behind Record Mass Movie Screeners Leak

  • Hollywood has broken two very different records this holiday season. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has become the first movie to reach US $1 billion in gross sales in just 12 days.

  • The other record however is one that the movie industry will not be so proud of.  According to TorrentFreak, movie pirates have released 12 DVD quality movie previews, called screenersfor download on the Internet. These screeners feature movies like the latest James Bond Spectre, the new Tarantino movie “The Hateful Eight” and a list of others that include: Suffragette, Legend, In The Heart of The Sea, Joy, Steve Jobs, Spotlight, Creed, Concussion, The Danish Girl and Bridge of Spies.

  • Screener DVDs are typically sent to a range of movie producers, critics and movie awards voters under strict conditions to avoid the films being leaked. Security mechanisms are built in to the films that can theoretically tie a particular movie back to a specific person sent the screener.

  • The FBI are already investigating how a copy of The Hateful Eight, linked to Andrew Kosove, the co-CEO of film production-finance company Alcon Entertainment, wound up in the hands of the movie pirates.

  • Hive-CM8 are thought to be a loose collective of individual movie piraters associated with the website crikeym8.com which makes money from early releases of the movies to subscribers of the site.

  • The site appears to be run by an Australian(s) given the name, the Australian cultural references and the location of the Twitter account in Melbourne, Victoria.  The site is allegedly not responsible for the process of producing the pirated movies, nor does it host the content.

  • Last week, five of the UK’s most active movie pirates weresentenced to a total of 17 years in prison for their releasing over 2,500 films.

  • In all likelihood, movie piracy is going to be something that the industry will just have to live with as long as the incentives to use high quality previews still exist. It is no coincidence that Disney has chosen not to send preview copies of Star Wars to anyone.

 

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