Episode 472 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes



Apple can read your iMessages despite encryption

if users backup data using iCloud Backup, they need to be aware that, although Apple stores the backup in encrypted form, it uses its own key.

Motherboard has reported that if a user enables iCloud Backup on their Apple device, copies of all messages, photographs and data including iMessages are encrypted on iCloud using a key controlled by Apple and not the user.

This allows Apple and by extension anyone who breaks into their account, to see all personal and confidential data.

A widow’s battle to access her husband’s Apple account

A Canadian widow for example, recently tried to get her deceased husband’s Apple ID password in order to continue using apps on their shared iPad.

The widow, Peggy Bush, ended up being told by Apple support that she would need to produce a court order before they would be able to give her access to her husband’s account.

Peggy’s daughter spent weeks going back and forth with Apple before writing to Apple CEO and going to the media with her family’s story. Apple eventually agreed to help the family with their issue but has not said whether this will include giving the family full access to Peggy’s husband’s account.

In Apple’s words:

“Unless otherwise required by law, You agree that your Account is non-transferable and that any rights to your Apple ID or Content within your Account terminate upon your death. Upon receipt of a copy of a death certificate your Account may be terminated and all Content within your Account deleted.”

Google has an automated system for example that handles accounts that have been inactive for a certain period of time. This allows for people to be notified and email and other content to be downloaded or transferred. It also allows a user to decide to delete everything in that event

Drone Racing


They have spent hours custom building their multi-rotor machines and fitting them with onboard cameras.

Known as FPV racing – or first person view – the racers use special goggles, some held together with gaffer tape, giving them a drone’s-eye view as they manoeuvre around the course.

Clocking speeds of more than 60 kilometres an hour, Darren French loves the adrenaline rush.

The first US national drone racing championship took place last summer in California, but few braved the heat to watch it. A new company, however, thinks it has figured out how to turn the visceral excitement of watching drones fly through courses at high speeds into a sport. Today, the Drone Racing League (DRL) announced its inaugural racing season. The league hopes to be the Formula 1, NASCAR and MotoGP of drone racing, and has secured backing from venture capital firms and celebrities to make that a reality.

its first official race was in the Dolphins’ stadium, and its next one will be in an abandoned mall in Los Angeles—and after each event, the DRL will produce a series of episodic videos of the races. The league adds to the drama at their events by lining the buildings in bright neon lights and pumping in dry ice fog. Not only does this make the course and the drones a bit easier to spot with the naked eye, it gives the races a wonderfully 90s-cyberpunk vibe.

NAB lets customers tap and pay on Android phones

dubbed NAB Pay, in partnership with Visa.

bank announced its own mobile payment service for Android phones, allowing customers with NFC-equipped Android phones and a NAB Visa debit card to tap and pay at merchants with contactless payment terminals.

Payments can be made directly from the Android device’s home screen, inside apps and from NAB’s own app, by tapping the phone on the reader.

There is a $100 per transaction PIN-free limit, after which customers must enter their personal identification number to complete the payment.

Android devices that use near-field communications and run at least version 4.4 “Kitkat” of Google’s mobile operating system will work with NAB Pay, the bank said.

However, Sony’s Xperia Z1, Z2, Z3, Z4, Z5 and M4 are listed as not compatible with NAB Pay, along with Google’s Nexus 6P.

NAB Pay marks another blow to the success of Apple Pay in Australia

Banks are resisting Apple’s push to take 15c of the 83c banks receive for every $100 worth of transactions processed on Visa or MasterCard.

Many of Australia’s big banks have instead signed with Google’s Android Pay, which is understood not to demand a cut of interchange fees.

Google’s VirusTotal now picks out suspicious firmware

Google’s VirusTotal service has added a new tool that analyzes firmware, the low-level code that bridges a computer’s hardware and operating system at startup.

Advanced attackers, including the U.S. National Security Agency, have targeted firmware as a place to embed malware since it’s a great place to hide.

It will now be possible for people to extract their own firmware and submit it to VirusTotal, which has the potential to create a database of various firmware images that could contribute to research into bad ones.

Santos included tips for extracting a firmware image without revealing sensitive information that may be contained in the code.

AI pioneer Marvin Minsky dies aged 88

The mathematician and computer scientist was one of the world’s foremost AI experts.

As a student, he built one of the first neural-network learning machines, using vacuum tubes.

He went on to cofound the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, in 1959, with John McCarthy.

Prof Minsky’s ideas and influence were wide-ranging – from computational linguistics, mathematics and robotics – but underpinning it all was a desire, in his own words, “to impart to machines the human capacity for commonsense reasoning”.

He viewed the brain as a machine whose functions could be replicated in a computer.

And his 1985 book, The Society of Mind, is considered a seminal work in exploring the diversity of mechanisms that interact in intelligence and thought.

His last book, The Emotion Machine, continued the theme, offering a new model for how minds worked.

He was also a talented pianist and, in 1981, wrote an influential paper on the connections between music, psychology and the mind.

He also invented the earliest confocal scanning microscope.

He received many awards over the years, including the Turing Award – the highest honour in computer science – in 1969.

Marvin Minsky


Stan signs multi-year content deal with premier US network Showtime

AUSTRALIAN Netflix will face its biggest threat with competitor streaming platform Stan signing a multi-year content deal with premium US network Showtime.

Showtime is HBO’s biggest cable competitor in the US and behind hits including Homeland, Weeds, Dexter and The Affair.

The deal will offer the exclusive rights to new series Billions and the anticipated return of Twin Peaks in 2017. It also includes fan favourites such as Ray Donovan, Californication, Penny Dreadful and House of Lies.

Existing contracts for Showtime content with other platforms will remain until they expire, at which point they will be given exclusively to Stan. Showtime programming currently airs on Foxtel and Channel 10 and some of it is also streaming on Netflix.

The exclusive partnership between Stan and Showtime is a big blow to Netflix because it will lock highly talked about TV shows away from the world’s biggest streaming platform in the Australian market.

Stan chief executive Mike Sneesby said the new agreement is one of the most significant Australian content licensing deals in recent times.

“Showtime is one of the world’s greatest creators of television programming, and we are delighted to enter this long-term partnership, cementing our position as Australia’s leading local SVOD service,” he said.

“The deal with Showtime rounds out an amazing first year for Stan, with more than 1.5 million Australians having used the service across almost 700,000 subscriptions since our launch.”

This is the second licensing agreement in international markets in less than a week for Showtime, with the networking striking a similar deal with pan-European network Sky.

President of Showtime’s parent company, CBS Global Distribution Group, Armando Nunez said he was excited to be expanding into the Australian market.

“The growth of SVOD services internationally has created a huge demand for premium content globally. Showtime’s prestigious brand and growing portfolio of programming align perfectly with this marketplace,” he said.

The deal will see Aussie customers getting access to each episode of Showtime’s latest 12-part series, Billions, at the same time it is released in the US.

In addition to Showtime programming, CBS shows such as Madam Secretary, Limitless, Elementary and Under the Dome will also be added to the catalogue.

iPhone’s Safari browser crashed for millions of Apple users – and here’s how to fix it

By Rhiannon Williams

27 January 2016 • 1:40pm

iPhone users are reporting difficulty in opening native browser Safari after it repeatedly crashes upon attempted launch.

The problem, which also appears to be affecting iPad and Mac users, appears to be linked to the browser’s search engine suggestions.

Turning off safari engine suggestions by going to Settings > Safari > Safari Suggestions appears to fix the issue.       

Apple said the problem has now been resolved. Users still experiencing difficulty using Safari may find clearing the browser’s cache will help – Settings > Safari > Advanced > Website Data > Remove all website data.

Google, ever one to seize an opportunity, tweeted a helpful suggestion to try its own app instead.

The issue has surfaced in the wake of site crashsafari.com, a website which, true to its name,forces Safari to crash once a user clicks on a link to it. Clicking on the site won’t affect your device in any long-lasting way.

Safari was first developed for Mac, and was released alongside Mac OS X Panther in 2003. It has been the iPhone’s default browser since the first model in 2007.

Apple predicted its sales willdecline for the first time in more than a decade on Tuesday night, despite posting record results for the final three months of 2015.

For the three months to the end of March, Apple said it expects to report sales of between $50bn and $53bn (£35-37bn), which will mark a decline on the $58bn during the same period last year. If the company’s own forecasts are accurate, it will be the first revenue decline since the first quarter of 2003, just over a year after the first iPod was released.

Apple said that one billion iOS devices are now being used around the world, a 25pc increase on a year ago, but that the market had not peaked. “There are a lot of people in the world who will buy smartphones and we ought to be able to win our fair share of those,” he said.

In fact, he said 60 per cent of iPhone owners before September 2014, which is when the iPhone 6 and 6S launched, have not upgraded to the new, bigger phones. This could be good news for Apple, with millions of new potential upgrades when the new iPhone 7 launches this September.

Apple’s position as the world’s biggest company is at risk from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, whose market capitalisation is around 10pc smaller.

Apple set to report flatlining iPhone sales

By James Titcomb

25 January 2016 • 7:30pm

Apple’s unbroken run of growing iPhone sales could come to an end on Tuesday when it releases results for the final three months of 2015, a crucial period for the world’s biggest listed company after a substantial decline in its share price.

While Apple is expected to post an $18.2bn (£12.8bn) profit – breaking its own record for the biggest quarterly profit in US history – investors fear that the incredible run the company has been on since it released the iPhone in 2007 could be coming to an end.

Market forecasts are for Apple to have sold around 76m iPhones in the quarter, just a slight increase on the 74.5m it sold in the same period a year ago. Some analysts are even predicting that Apple will record a decline, after gloomy announcements from some of the company’s suppliers.

Even if it does not report a fall in iPhone sales tonight, the company is widely expected to do so for the current year as a whole, due to a strong dollar and tepid consumer interest in upgrading from older models.

The same quarter last year received an enormous boost from the success of the newly-released iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which featured a new design and larger screen sizes. The upgrades in the most recent 6s models, however, were less pronounced. “There has been concern that consumers are less enthusiastic about the feature and performance gains with the latest iPhone 6s/6s Plus models,” UBS analysts said last week.

An iPhone 7 is expected to be released in the second half of this year, featuring more significant changes that analysts believe will kickstart sales again.

Apple’s position as the world’s biggest listed company, which it has held for more than two years, is under threat: its shares have fallen by 23pc since its summer peak, and its market capitalisation is just 10pc higher than Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Apple has launched a number of new products in the last year, including the Apple Watch, its music streaming service Apple Music, and a revamped Apple TV set-top box, but the dominance of the iPhone means that sales of the new products pale in comparison. The iPhone accounted for 63pc of revenues in Apple’s last quarter, against 56pc a year earlier and 52pc the year before that, with reliance on the popular smartphone rising as iPad sales fall.

Growing smartphone screen sizes and an increasingly saturated market has meant sales of the tablet declining from a peak of 26m in the final three months of 2013 to an expected 18m for the last quarter of 2015. Sales may have received a boost from the release of the iPad Pro, its larger-screened tablet aimed at eating into laptop sales.

Rumours that Apple is developing an electric car are gathering pace, although the notoriously-secretive company has confirmed nothing despite hiring hundreds of engineers and executives from the car industry.

Apple: Has the tech giant finally lost its bite?

A staggering one billion people now own one of its iPads iPhones or iPods – but the company has not had a blockbuster product launch since 2012

All is not well on board the spaceship. Apple’s futuristic headquarters in Cupertino, California, is not due to open until later this year, but for pessimists the $500m (£350m) building already reeks of hubris. Where to now, Apple?

It seems churlish to be critical of a company that just announced record quarterly sales of $74.8bn with gross margins remaining at almost 40 per cent. In 2015, Apple generated 14 times more revenue than Facebook. In a technology hardware market that has lost lots of steam over the past 12 months, those are still mightily impressive numbers. And yet its critics grow, happy to see it forced into a corner.

So how much trouble is Apple really in? Almost nine years after its launch, the iPhone still dominates Apple’s revenue. According to Tim Cook, the chief executive, the company sold 74.8 million of the handsets in the last quarter of 2015.

Speaking on a conference call, he added: “To put that number into some perspective, that is an average of over 34,000 iPhones per hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 13 straight weeks.”

Impressive thought that is, it is not past performance that counts, it is future performance – and on that front Mr Cook was much more downbeat. Almost every industry is facing tough headwinds right now and Apple is no different. Mr Cook went so far as to admit that falling commodity prices and failing currencies were drastically reducing the numbers of people who can afford to buy its products. “We’re seeing extreme conditions unlike anything we’ve experienced before just about everywhere we look.”

He remained bullish about the long-term potential of Asian markets and Apple has no plans, yet, to cut investment in the region.

So are Apple’s critics on to something? In some ways, it is a victim of its own success. Having set the bar absurdly high and then cleared it comfortably for years, there had to come a time when it could no longer maintain that pace. And so the revenue plateau and disappointing growth forecast that came along with Tuesday’s earnings announcement should not really come as a huge shock.

Although anyone following Apple closely should have been ready for it, its shares still fell 5 per cent when Wall Street opened, the biggest one-day fall in nearly five months. The real problem is that Apple hasn’t had a blockbuster, a product to revolutionise a market, since the introduction of the iPhone 5S in 2012. Siri might never win The Voice but as far as Apple’s phone innovations go, it was the last big breakthrough.

While much of the excitement about the next iPhone, the 5SE, surrounds the size of its screen or changes to the headphone jack, as it does right now, the magic doesn’t feel quite so … well … magic. Giving an old phone a makeover is not the same as bringing a brand new device to Apple’s devoted customers.

Those iPhone sales, gargantuan though they may be, are themselves a headache for Apple. The smartphone dominates sales – producing almost 70 per cent of all revenue – to an extent that should have everyone at Apple concerned. Several of its other products, including the iPad and the Mac, are in steady decline. The iWatch, launched to great fanfare almost a year ago, has barely made it on to the sales radar. A second generation iWatch – rumoured to be launched in March or the autumn, depending on where you read about it, is unlikely to turn the ship around.

AppleTV is also yet to make much of an impression on revenue, despite heavy investment. It is a up against a crowded marketplace, where it is competing against Netflix and Amazon, two rivals that are a match for Apple’s technology and are capable of slugging it out.

A huge investment in cars, Apple’s so-called Project Titan, is a long way from payday – a project that management is rumoured to be so unhappy about that a hiring freeze has been in place.

To add insult to injury, Apple is also facing a problem over which it spent many years beating up Microsoft: technology glitches. Safari, the in-house web browser installed on all Apple products, has experienced crashes and there are new threats to its entire iPhone iOS operating system. These are problems that Apple’s customers are not used to dealing with, problems that if not successfully tackled could do lasting damage to the company’s market dominance. And yet, 99 problems or not, all is far from lost. Apple is sitting on a huge amount of cash, probably more than $140bn even if it repatriates the whole pile to the US and pays its tax bill. That limits its downside, no matter where that cash happens to be stashed.

A period of stagnant growth is not the end of the world, particularly against a backdrop of increasing global economic uncertainty. The fact that about one billion people now own an Apple product gives the company an incredible platform to leverage against. Most analysts (and few on Wall Street appear willing to bet against it) believe that its future growth is more likely to come from embedded services such as Apple Pay and Apple Music rather than hardware like the iPhone – recurring revenue sources rather than one-off hardware purchases.

But until those services start driving a bigger chunk of revenue, doubts will remain and critics will shout louder. At the worst possible time, Apple is facing its toughest challenge since the iMac dragged it out of the ashes almost 20 years ago.

Shayne –

International Data Privacy Day: How Secure Are You?


  • Today is International Privacy Day

  • In recent years, data theft has become one of the world’s most prevalent crimes with billions of dollars being lost each year through credit card fraud, identity theft and scams.

  • Correct disposal of information is often overlooked.

  • “People and organizations need to be as security conscious in the destruction of documents and records as they are in protecting them on their premises,” said Paul Hurst, National Association for Information Destruction, Australia and New Zealand (NAIDANZ) Chairman.

  • According to NAIDANZ, ere’s what you should be asking yourself:

    • Who looks after data destruction in your work place and do they understand the inherent security risks and legal implications in the mismanagement of secure information disposal?

    • Are you completely certain that your old hard-drive will not yield sensitive information in the hands of an experienced data thief?

    • Is your data destruction service provider AAA Certified for 100% guaranteed disposal of information?

US Netflix Blocked? Here’s How To Fix It And Watch Everything

  • Aussie Netflix addicts went ballistic last week after the streaming service started blocking them from accessing its much bigger US catalogue.

  • But less than a week after the crackdown came into effect, third-party “unblocking” providers say they’ve already found ways to circumvent the problem, with their customers happily tuning into US Netflix again.

  • Melbourne-based proxy service uFlix, which uses “smart DNS” technology to trick Netflix into thinking you’re based in the US, said it was “still digging into” the detail of the issue but things were up and running again for its customers.

  • Another popular unblocking service, Getflix, said it too had found a way around the geo-block.

  • According to website Netflixable, which tracks new titles as they are released to Netflix in each region, Netflix’s US catalogue is almost three times as large as Australia’s, at about 6900 titles compared to about 2500.

  • NetFlix CEO Reed Hastings, also said the company’s decision to step up enforcement of geo-blocking was at the behest of the film and television studios which own the rights to its streaming content. – I think Netflix just needs to give the impression that they want to block international users.

  • Introducing “uNoGS” – or the unofficial Netflix online Global Search – a new website that lets you search Netflix’s catalogue across all countries

  • It’s simply a matter of finding out which country has the title you’re after, and changing your (not blocked) internet proxy or VPN settings so that Netflix thinks you’re in that country.

  • uNoGS also provides its own pointers on which VPN, proxy or DNS provider to use for the region you want, although we can’t guarantee any of these has found a workaround to the recent crackdown.

Google Wants To Forget It Ever Tried To Sell Humans Google Glass

  • Google’s finally scrubbed the internet clean of its weird wearable consumer experiment known as Google Glass.

  • Spotted by 9to5Google, Glass-related accounts on Google+, Twitter and Instagram have been shutdown with only Google+ giving any kind of parting farewell.

    • From the Google+:

    • Hi Explorers, we’ve had a blast hanging out with you on G+ throughout the Explorer Program. From now on, if you have any questions about your Glass, you can get in touch with us here.

  • The Twitter and Instagram accounts are simply gone.

  • With its social death, Google Glass’ public face turns inward, and the implication doesn’t need too much explaining

  • Glass never should have been presented as a consumer technology — not even close.

  • Though the company seems to have abandoned any short-term hope for consumer Glass, Google’s actually launching into a new era with the tech, in the form of an Enterprise Edition model, now under the direction of the new Project Aura.

  • Google’s just left those involved in the Explorer program out in the cold.

iPhone, Mac users warned not to click viral link

  • A viral link being circulated through social media, included Twitter, is shutting down people’s iPhones and computers and forcing them to reboot.

  • 9To5Mac issued a warning today about the website that is going viral as people are trying to trick unsuspecting folk into crashing their device.

  • If you click on a link to the website CrashSafari.com with an iPhone or Mac, a JavaScript code on the website will force your iPhone to reboot and crash your Mac.

  • While the name of the website does give fair warning, the problem is people are sharing it online as a shortened link that disguises the web address.

  • 9To5Mac said the website does not damage the device but crashing a phone or computer can cause you to lose the tabs you have opened in a browser and to lose any unsaved work.

  • While the link clearly has been designed to attack Apple users, people have reported it has also affected other browsers on Windows machines.

Zach Sims Of Codecademy On Running A Company That (Still) Doesn’t Charge Users

  • The four-year-old online platform Codecademy now teaches employable tech skills to 25 million users around the globe, it still doesn’t charge for its services, some early testing notwithstanding.

  • The company is choosing instead to remain focused on growth before introducing what CEO Zach Sims describes as a “prosumer” business.

  • In today’s market, that’s an unusual stance to maintain. It’s even more unusual  because Codecademy has raised just $12.5 million over the years, a small sum by the standards of most online learning platforms. The six-year-old, San Francisco-based online learning and teaching marketplace Udemy, for example, has raised $113 million to date.

  • Sims thinks that Codecademy is far better positioned to survive and thrive than the many startups that have raised piles of cash and are now having to “right-size” their businesses.


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