Episode 476 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


Dick Smith closes doors: 2,500 jobs gone

The shutdown will see 301 stores in Australia and 62 outlets in New Zealand stop trading, and lead to the loss of 2,460 jobs in Australia and about 430 in New Zealand.

“The offers were either significantly below liquidation values, or highly conditional, or both.”

Harvey Norman fends off Microsoft price gouging accusations

A Reddit post showed that up until Friday, Harvey Norman was selling the Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse for $68, compared to $20 at Officeworks.

Rival electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi also sells the same mouse for $49. Seventeen hours after the thread was posted and received over 1000 up-votes, Harvey Norman changed the price to $48, just $1 less than JB Hi-Fi.

Microsoft advertises the product with a recommended retail price of $59.95

The spokesperson added that Harvey Norman had not received the “the price drop”.

“As soon as we were made aware we immediately contacted the supplier and got the updated info. Pricing changed immediately.”

Telstra to unleash 1Gbps mobile this year

Telstra is upgrading its mobile network to support the LTE category 16 standard and provide peak speed boost on its 4GX network to 1Gbps in the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane CBDs later this year.

The network upgrade will mean theoretical peak download speeds of 1000Mbps and peak upload speeds of 150Mbps.

Telstra and Ericsson are set to begin 5G field tests in Australia later this year ahead of trial services during the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

John McAfee: I’ll crack San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

The McAfee founder said “that his team of “some of the best hackers on the planet” who have “talents that defy normal human comprehension” could use social engineering to crack the code in three weeks.”

“I will, free of charge, decrypt the information on the San Bernardino phone, with my team” so that Apple doesn’t have to place a backdoor on its product, he said.

“I would eat my shoe on the Neil Cavuto show if we could not break the encryption on the San Bernardino phone.”

McAfee also criticised the FBI for not being able to crack the phone on its own despite its resources. He said that the best hackers in the world don’t work for the bureau because “the FBI will not hire anyone with a 24-inch purple mohawk, 10-gauge ear piercings, and a tattooed face who demands to smoke weed while working and won’t work for less than a half-million dollars a year.”

Apple backflips on bricked iPhones

The company Friday said Error 53 was intended as a factory security test and should not have been seen by customers.

“This test was designed to check whether Touch ID works properly before the device leaves the factory,” Apple stated. “We apologise for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers.”

Apple said affected users who update their phones via iTunes should now be able to restore their devices, however the fingerprint scanner will still not work. Touch ID, which stores fingerprints on the secure enclave co-processor on iPhones, won’t be restored by the update as it would be a security risk, according to the vendor.

It means users who have had their phones repaired at unauthorised shops need to contact Apple to get the home button replaced, otherwise the Touch ID feature will fail to function.

Customers who have paid for out of warranty replacements of devices because of Error 53 should contact Apple Care for a reimbursement, the company said.

Skype group videos unleashed on Android, iOS

Skype has announced the rollout of group video calling on iPhone, iPad and Android phones, starting today. Western Europe and North America will get the feature first, and Skype has said it plans for group video calls to be available worldwide in March.

Up to 25 people can participate in a Skype video call.

Microsoft will in fact be working with Intel to enable the company’s SILK audio codec to work with Azure cloud servers powered by Intel’s processors.

Skype is also updating its chat invite feature, which lets users add people to group chats even if they aren’t on that user’s contact list. Even if the person being invited doesn’t have Skype, they’ll be able to join in using Skype for Web.

Player Discovers Secret Menus In Mortal KombatGames After Over 20 Years

Through a series of button inputs, a player has found previously undiscovered menus that lay dormant in the arcade versions of Mortal Kombat1, 2 and 3

The newly discovered menus were personally programmed by MK creator Ed J Boon, and display as “EJB Menu” after his initials.

The MK1 and MK2 menus allow you to watch various character endings, input initials directly into the leaderboard, run debug and diagnostic tests on the game cabinet, and do something called “coin bookkeeping.” There’s also a “Hello” option, which YourMKArcadeSource speculates is simply a list of people Ed Boon wanted to give a shoutout to. Fittingly enough, the first name on the list in MK2 is “mom.”

MK3‘s Ed Boon menu is considerably more robust, and includes an option to immediately unlock hidden characters. It also allows you to watch every fatality—a demonstration normally reserved for players who have beaten the game on Master difficulty. There is also something called the “Penacho/Miller Game,” which fires up an impossibly difficult Galagaclone.

Player Discovers Secret Menus In Mortal Kombat Games After Over 20 Years

Player Discovers Secret Menus In Mortal Kombat Games After Over 20 Years

Shayne – 25.2.16

I have a new toy – TL-SG1024DE

Apple Reported To Argue Code Should Be Protected As Free Speech In FBI Fight

  • Apple is currently developing a legal response to the government’s request it assist with unlocking the iPhone involved in the San Bernardino shooting.

  • The response is going to rely on two arguments.

    • 1   The demand over steps the powers granted to the government under the All Writs Act.

    • 2  That code is a form of Freedom of Speech, which is protected under the First Amendment.  Apple will try to argue that someone cannot be forced to write an article under Freedom of Speech & code is a form of writing.

Facebook rolls out ‘reactions’ for when a like isn’t enough

  • Facebook has finally launched its new ‘reactions’ feature across the globe including in Australia.

  • Facebook will now let you react to a post with a ‘love, haha, wow, sad or angry’ emoticon, a move it says is designed for situations where a mere ‘like’ may not be appropriate.

  • The expanded reactions feature had been tested in several markets including Spain & Ireland last October and is now rolling out globally

Nokia: We’re In No Rush To Get Our Brand Back On Phones

  • Nokia could be returning to the phone market, after selling its mobile division to MS in 2013 for $7.2Billion (USD).

  • There is a clause in the sale contract that could allow it to use the Nokia brand on handsets again starting from this year.

  • Last summer NOKIAi told a German magazine it intends to find a licensing partner to design and build phones this year.

EBF  25.2.16

Tesla Model S for kids

Tesla has joined forces with toy maker Radio Flyer – the same company behind the iconic little red wagon – to build a Tesla Model S for kids. But unlike its rivals the toy Tesla boasts more modern battery technology and is available to be personalised.

The mini Model S is powered by a lithium-ion battery that can provide both a longer charge and charges faster than traditional toy car batteries. An optional, more powerful battery can also be ordered that can add another “50 per cent playtime” according to the makers.

It also has a scaled down version of the real Tesla’s Insane Mode acceleration. In standard mode the tiny Tesla has a 4.8km/h top speed but a switch in the boot unleashes the full potential – 9.6km/h.

Buyers can tailor the little machine to their own tastes with several options. There are three genuine Tesla colours to choose from – red, blue and grey – and the option to select with black or silver finished ‘Turbine’ wheels. Custom number plates and a parking sign are also available, as is an indoor car cover to complete the ownership experience.

The car is equipped with working headlights and a spacious under bonnet storage space. It also comes standard with a sound system that allows you to plug your iPod in.

Tesla has no plans to sell the downsized Model S in Australia directly but it can be purchased via the Radio Flyer website.


iphone 7 Rumours

THE next generation iPhone is expected to be released towards the end of the year and the rumour mill has kicked into overdrive.

Apple fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the iPhone 7 and speculation is rife as to the new features the device will provide. Among the rumoured new features is a completely waterproof handset, wireless charging, a dual camera and an improved battery life.

It’s also anticipated that Apple will introduce an obscure new technology that will allow the individual parts of the device to be shielded from electromagnetic interference, allowing the phone to better communicate with cellular and Wi-Fi connections.

The technology was used by the company in the Apple watch and since the parts are more effectively shielded from interfering with each other, the phone can be fitted with more elaborate chips which frees up space for a larger battery.

In great news for anyone who has dropped their phone in the toilet, pool or ocean, there is plenty of chat about the new handset being water proof.

Japan Display — the company which provides the majority of Apple’s iPhone LCD panels — has come out with a new technology called Pixel Eyes which is said to respond to touch input even when the user has wet fingers. This has led many to rationalise that as opposed to creating a device that can simply withstand spills and raindrops, allowing for wet finger response paves the way for a totally waterproof device.

Earlier in the week, Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy S7 model which is completely waterproof — a quality that T-mobile went to extreme lengths to test byunboxing the phone at the bottom of a pool.

While the camera quality on the iPhone 7 is expected to improve by featuring a dual camera system, allowing for SLR quality photos, the design around the camera lens will also change. The camera protrudes on the current iPhone 6, resulting in a less than perfect finish for design aficionados. But according toMacRumours, the iPhone 7 could rectify this with a smooth finish to the back of the device with the camera sitting flush.

The new design is also expected to be slimmer with an edge-to-edge screen.

There is also speculation that a desire for a thinner design will result in the removal of the head phone jack. Such a move would force customers to use bluetooth or other wireless technology to listen to music and apps.

Despite multiplereports touting “the death of the headphone jack”, most believe the likelihood of Apple going down that path is rather low.

Last month, coder Chase Fromm took to Twitter after spotting a piece of code pertaining to Li-Fi capability in the iOS 9.1 library cache. The result was plenty of rumours speculating the new phone could operate using therevolutionary new technology, which allows devices to be connected to the internet via a light source that provides internet speeds 100 times faster than Wi-Fi.

But this one’s a long shot. It will likely be a while (if at all) before we see Li-Fi used in the iPhone. AsExpert Reviews points out, “having a bit of code is a long way from having a finished product that will appear in the iPhone 7”.

News of the various rumours has been met with a mixed reaction from Apple fans with many taking to social media to express their hopes and wishes for the new generation of Apple’s marquee device.


Qantas to introduce free high-speed Wi-Fi under ViaSat deal

Qantas says passengers will soon be able to access free inflight Wi-Fi delivering internet that is as fast as broadband connections on the ground.

The airline announced on Tuesday it would introduce the new service on a Boeing 737 this year in a trial that will see the aeroplane fitted with modems and antenna that can tap into the national broadband network’s satellites.

The service, delivered under a deal with US internet provider ViaSat, will be rolled out to Qantas’s domestic fleet of A330s and B737s from early 2017.

“Bringing high-speed Wi-Fi to the domestic aviation market has been an ambition of ours for a long time and we now have access to the right technology to make it happen,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.

“The sheer size of the Australian landmass creates some significant challenges for inflight connectivity but the recent launch of NBN’s satellite has opened up new opportunities that we plan to take advantage of with ViaSat’s help,”   Mr Joyce said.

He said internet speeds would be about 10 times faster than conventional in-flight Wi-Fi, meaning passengers could stream video and watch live news and sport.

“This service will give Qantas customers download speeds in the air similar to what they’re used to on the ground … you won’t be limited to checking your email or Facebook,” he said.

The trial will test the social acceptability of using services like FaceTime or Skype in flight before a final decision on policy is made.

“In the past the reaction to phone calls hasn’t been great,” Mr Joyce said. “We will be asking passengers what they think and what they want. Nothing has been decided on that.”

ViaSat, a Swedish-owned satellite broadcaster which delivers in-flight Wi-Fi to US airlines JetBlue, Virgin America and United Airlines, will connect Qantas planes with a KA-band satellite and ground stations that link them to the NBN.

Qantas said it was looking at options for high-speed Wi-Fi for its international and regional fleet. Mr Joyce said there were also plans to roll out Wi-Fi on Jetstar aircraft, albeit likely at a cost to passengers given Jetstar’s pay per use policy for frills.

Mr Joyce declined to comment on whether fares would rise as a result of the free Wi-Fi inclusion on Qantas, but he noted there would be a cost to the airline for investing the equipment and paying for data.

Rival Virgin Australia has also been examining Wi-Fi options but it has yet to announce any plans for services or whether they would be included in the price of the fare.

Qantas reported a first-half underlyingprofit before tax of $921 million on Tuesday and announced an on-market share buyback of up to $500 million.

The airline also said it would build a new lounge at London Heathrow, set to open in the first months of 2017, and that it was keeping on two Boeing 747-400s slated for retirement in response to high demand as well as recruiting new pilots for the first time since 2009.


Stuart – 25/2/16

Mattel’s ThingMaker 3D printer will give kids toys on tap

Mattel’s new ThingMaker 3D toy printer.

New York: When Mattel debuted ThingMaker in the 1960s, 3D printing was still decades away. As a primitive “at-home maker device,” it let kids produce bug-like Creepy Crawlers, mini-dragons, flowers and other small toys by pouring liquid plastic into special moulds, which were then heated up and cooled.

Now Mattel, in collaboration with Autodesk, is resurrecting ThingMaker as a $299.99, family-friendly, 21st century 3D printer. Mattel made the announcement in advance of the Toy Fair trade show, which kicks off in Manhattan this weekend.

A full-size, non-working replica of the printer, which works with a 3D printing app for iOS and Android – if not for its bold orange casing – could be mistaken for a funky-looking microwave oven.

Consumers can customise toy fairies, dolls, dinosaurs, robots, skeletons and jewellery (among countless other plastic things) inside the ThingMaker app, which supplies templates and a palette of drag-and-drop parts that you can assemble together on screen before tapping the print button. Parts are printed in batches; for safety purposes, the printer door automatically locks when printing starts.

“All the physical behaviours are as it would be when it was actually printed out, so you can get an idea for how it is going to mechanically move and what the limits of all the joints and sockets that you create are,” says Dan Pressman, creative director at Autodesk. You pick the individual object colours in the app as well; come print time, separate jobs print each batch of colours.

The app is live now and can be used to design items for other standard 3D printers as well. But Mattel’s new 3D printer won’t be released until October, but you can pre-order it on Amazon now.

“We’re going to use these seven months to really learn and gain analytics of how people are using it,” says Aslan Appleman, a senior director at Mattel.

For all their potential, and their use for industrial, professional, and hobbyist purposes, 3D printers have been slow to catch on in the home. Such printers have generally been too pricey, too slow and too complicated, and the motives for owning one have eluded most consumers.

Mattel comes at it as a toymaker, of course, but the company is viewing its upcoming 3D printer more as a consumer electronics product than a toy per se. In fact, the printer is designed for users ages 13 and up. (The small printed parts are rated as safe toys for children three years old and up.) Beyond Amazon, Mattel hasn’t finalised its distribution strategy.

Mattel has been tracking the evolution of 3D printing for awhile now. Appleman says, “We think this is the perfect time for us to come out in the market with a product that’s disruptive in our opinion.”

Time will tell if ThingMaker can conjure up the same nostalgic appeal with newer technology. (It was almost a year ago that Mattel teamed up with Google to produce a Google Cardboard-based version of the ViewMaster stereoscopic viewer.)

Mattel’s printer will rely on standard PLA (Polylactic Acid) filament just like other 3D printers do. Mattel hasn’t announced the precise branded colours it may make available or pricing for the filament, but the printer is likely to come with at least one spool, and you’ll be able to use standard filament sold by third parties. (You can find spools online today for around $23.)

“Our thought is we want to make this open to makers,” Appleman says. “What we want to highlight is the ThinkMaker ecosystem.”

How much you can print off a single spool will vary with the size and type of objects printed . Rough estimate: with an average 1 kilogram spool of filament, you can print up to 20 figures, more than 30 jewellery items or about 100 rings.

There’s no word yet on if or when you’ll be able to print Barbie or Hot Wheels or other famous Mattel toys.

“Obviously we have quite a few iconic brands in our portfolio as well as access to partner brands. You can imagine that’s part of our long term strategy,” Appleman says

Printing itself will not be a quick process. A small ring may take 30 minutes to print; a large toy could take six to eight hours.

“We think it’s pretty magical to watch these things being printed but after a while you don’t want to sit there for hours,” Appleman says. “For bigger prints, click print before [you] go to bed and wake up to a brand new toy.”

USA Today​

Monopoly money is no more in the new Ultimate Banking edition

Hasbro has released a new edition of Monopoly called Ultimate Banking, that should help keep familial infighting to a minimum. Instead of paper money, which can easily be laundered or stolen when you aren’t looking, this new edition uses debit cards. It also does away with the easily-corrupted Banker position, replacing the human with an electronic card reader (aka an ATM).

Both the players’ debit cards and the property cards themselves will be machine readable. So, when purchasing property, players will first scan the property’s bar code and then their own cash card. If they have enough money for the transaction, the funds will automatically be deducted from their account. Funds can also be transferred between players, if necessary. Removing the human influence should certainly help keep the financial shenanigans to a minimum — just hold on to those debit cards. Monopoly Ultimate Banking will hit store shelves later this summer for $25.

HTC Vive Will Cost $800 and Hit Shelves in Early April

Here are the tantalizing final details about HTC’s virtual reality headset. The HTC Vive will be available for pre-order starting February 29th in advance of hitting shelves in early April. It’ll cost a whopping $799 (read: $800), far more than the Oculus Rift, which starts at $600.

For $800, you’ll get the headset (duh), two wireless controllers, two wall units for tracking your position, and a hub that collects all the data and sends it to your PC. Additionally, the system will come bundled with two popular game titles: Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption. The system has a few more components than the Oculus offering, but the extra parts make the HTC Vive more immersive, which helps to justify the higher cost.

There are also a couple of small improvements and new features in the new HTC Vive. The headset now has a microphone , and is far more comfortable than before. The two little cameras that track your motion across the room are now wireless, which is a huge, huge step forward—the previous cameras were very bulky and wired.

The Vive will launch in April in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, Taiwan, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand.

Here are the recommended PC specs for using Vive:

  • GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 970, AMD Radeon™ R9 290 equivalent or better

  • CPU: Intel® i5-4590 / AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better

  • RAM: 4 GB or more

  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer

  • USB Port: 1x USB 2.0 or better port

  • Operating System: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 or later, Windows 10

Qantas will struggle to deliver on high-speed wi-fi promise, says expert

Qantas will struggle to deliver streaming entertainment and video calls over its new inflight wi-fi system as promised, a prominent telecommunications expert says.

The airline announced on Tuesday it would trial free wi-fi connecting passengers to the National Broadband Network, giving them internet as fast as what they are used to on the ground.

But Rod Tucker, laureate emeritus professor at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said Qantas was being “very optimistic” with its high-speed claims.

Professor Tucker, who advised Labor on the establishment of its NBN, said a satellite dish in remote Australia could deliver speeds of up to 20 megabits per second (mbps), which was fast enough to stream movies and make video calls.

Qantas is understood to be aiming for speeds of 12 to 20 mbps per passenger.

On a plane, however, that bandwidth would be shared among passengers, with speeds deteriorating for each additional device connected to the service.

“I think it’s a great innovation – it means that people will be able to check their email during their flight,” Professor Tucker said.

“But I strongly doubt it’s going to provide reliable service to a large number of passenger for streaming video.

“I’ll certainly be looking forward to using it, I just hope the person next to me isn’t.”

Qantas reported a first-half underlying profit before tax of $921 million on Tuesday. Photo: Brent WinstonePhoto by: Photo: Brent Winstone

Professor Tucker said Qantas could achieve faster speeds by using multiple satellites on a single plane, but that would risk draining the network and depriving people in rural areas of bandwidth.

“You’d be using up a lot of the capacity of the Sky Muster satellite and there would be nothing left over for the people in the outback who really deserve it.”

Professor Rod Tucker said Qantas was being ‘very optimistic’ with its high-speed claims. Photo: Stan GrimesPhoto by: Photo: Stan Grimes

Qantas has brought in US internet service provider ViaSat to deliver the service, as it is already doing for US airlines JetBlue, Virgin America and United Airlines.

ViaSat says passengers there can get speeds of up to 20mbps each, with as many as 148 devices being used simultaneously on a flight and “many of those devices using streaming media.”

I’ll certainly be looking forward to using it, I just hope the person next to me isn’t.

Qantas is understood to be aiming for speeds of 12 to 20mbps per passenger, with a trial on a single Boeing 737 this year expected to reveal if that is possible.

Independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said Qantas’s promised speeds were possible but the airline would have to negotiate for more bandwidth with NBN.

“The way the satellite gets configured is to share capacity around… [Qantas] will have to have a deal with NBN that allows them to have that sort of capacity in the plane where it can be shared with the passengers,” Mr Budde said.

Qantas reported a first-half underlying profit before tax of $921 million on Tuesday and announced an on-market share buyback of up to $500 million.

Google Is Laying Picasa in the Grave, Moving Over to Google Photos

Hope you like Google Photos. Starting May 1st, Google is going to start phasing out Picasa from its product lineup entirely. Fortunately, you still have some time.

If you have any photos stored in Picasa Web Albums, you can access most of them via Google Photos already right now. If you want to continue adding to and editing those albums, you’ll have to use Google Photos to do it in the future.

If you don’t like Google Photos, Google is going to release a tool that will allow you to view your Picasa Web Albums data. This won’t allow you to make any changes or add new albums, but all the data will be available for viewing or export.

The desktop Picasa application will no longer be supported, nor available for download (at least from Google) after March 15th. If you already have it on your computer, it will still work like normal, but it won’t receive anymore updates. Google suggests using the Google Photos desktop uploader instead, and managing photos from the web.


This is a bummer for any die hard Picasa fans left, and Google Photos probably isn’t a perfect replacement. Fortunately, it is pretty damn good. Google has been steadily improving the service from its already impressive beginnings back in 2014. Picasa had a good run, but it’s a good time to move on.

Dick Smith to close its doors for good

Dick Smith is set to close its doors for the last time, ending a near 50-year era in which it helped Australians fill their homes with TVs, radios and computers.

Receiver Ferrier Hodgson said on Thursday it has been unable to find a buyer for the troubled electronics retailer, which hit the rails in January with debts of about $400 million.

The retailer, which blossomed with the CB radio boom of the 1970s and went on to sell computers and stereos to generations of consumers, will close 363 Australian and New Zealand stores within eight weeks.

A total of 2,890 staff will lose their jobs, with their only consolation that they will be placed ahead of secured creditors when it comes to receiving money they are owed.


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