Episode 477 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

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The Dick Smith customer database is for sale

Receivers Ferrier Hodgson has placed a newspaper advertisement seeking parties interested in purchasing everything from brands and trademarks to domain names – also all the data that Dick Smith has gathered from customers signing up for newsletters and other promotions.

Garth Wylie, executive officer of the Consumer Electronics Association which represents suppliers and importers, said there was a serious issue if Ferrier Hodgson was proposing to sell the database without checking first with customers if they were happy for their information to be sold

The Privacy Commissioner’s office was aware of the advert and said it had contacted the receiver, based in Australia, which referred the enquiry to its public relations company.

Privacy Principal 11 of the Privacy Act, “personal information” such as personal details of customers can only be used for the purpose for which it was collected or with authorisation from the person.

The act also required people to be told what that purpose is, when the information is being collected


Sony recalls VAIO laptop batteries

The recall includes battery packs sold with Sony’s VAIO E Series notebooks with product codes SVE15137CGP, SVE15137CGS and SVE15138CGW.

The notebooks were sold nationally by authorised VAIO resellers, including Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi, from 1 December 2012 to 1 September 2013

We are implementing a free replacement program for the affected battery packs,” Sony said in a statement.

With the battery pack removed, you may continue to use your PC safely with an AC adapter.”

Sony also pointed out that the affected battery packs were provided by Panasonic.

This is the fourth laptop battery recall the ACCC has flagged this year. Microsoft commenced a mass recall of power cords in January, which affected all Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 devices sold before 15 July 2015.

Toshiba and Panasonic were also forced to recall laptop batteries last month.


Telstra offers 200GB of free OneDrive

The offer is only available to Telstra consumer customers with a pre-paid, mobile broadband or home broadband plan.

The offer, which starts today, makes it cheaper than buying from Microsoft direct. Microsoft charges $2 per month for 50GB, or $9 per month for 1TB bundled with Office 365.

https://www.telstra.com.au/latest-offers/onedrive


Google admits ‘some responsibility’ after self-driving car hits bus

Google said the crash took place in Mountain View on 14 February when a self-driving Lexus RX450h sought to get around some sandbags in a wide lane.

Google said in the filing the autonomous vehicle was traveling at less than 2 miles per hour, while the bus was moving at about 15 miles per hour.

The vehicle and the test driver “believed the bus would slow or allow the Google (autonomous vehicle) to continue”, it said.

the Google car caused minor damage to the bus, striking the “pivoting joint”, or flexible area in the middle of the articulated bus. After the crash, 15 passengers on the bus were transferred to another bus.

An investigation to determine liability is pending, spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

The crash comes as Google has been making the case that it should be able to test vehicles without steering wheels and other controls.

In December, Google criticised California for proposing regulations that would require autonomous cars to have a steering wheel, throttle and brake pedals when operating on public roads. A licensed driver would need to be ready to take over if something went wrong.


Watch Steve Ballmer dunk

Los Angeles Clippers basketball team owner Steve Ballmer has dunked during a halftime event.

Ballmer – who will turn 60 later this month ran onto a trampoline to dunk the basketball in front of the Staples Center crowd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKWJiDXbQLw


7-Eleven app lets users lock in cheapest petrol price

7-Eleven Australia has released a mobile application that allows motorists to ‘lock in’ the lowest price for fuel for up to seven days based on their location and near real-time fuel price data.

The app – designed to compete against fuel discounts offered by Coles and Woolworths – searches prices at outlets closest to the user

Once the app locates the lowest price, the customer can then register for a 7-Eleven digital wallet and select a voucher for the type and volume of fuel they would like to purchase, between 10 and 150 litres.

Motorists can redeem the voucher within seven days at any of the chain’s stores by scanning a barcode in the app in-store.

The discount barcodes can only be redeemed once, even if a customer purchases more or less fuel than the amount chosen in the app, and only one voucher can be used per fuel type per transaction.

Users can check pricing 100 times each week, and can only lock in two prices within a 24 hour period


Kanye West uses The Pirate Bay just like everyone else

Kanye West trying to encourage his fans to sign up to Tidal to download his latest album rather than use torrents it looks like he’s a pirate just like everyone else.

It looks like West was torrenting Serum, a popular WaveTable editor that costs just $189 for a license after Googling “the best VST software.


EBF

Apple Planning to Debut OLED iPhone in 2017

Apple is reportedly aiming to push up the debut of the OLED iPhone to 2017,reportsNikkei (viaAppleInsider). The move would see Apple make the switch to OLED a year earlier than previously estimated.

In December, Apple contacted LG and Samsung about the potential to ramp up OLED production in time for the 2017 iPhone. However, the OLED technology would likely be limited to a higher-end iPhone like the 7 Plus or the rumored iPhone Pro due to possible supply constraints.

Apple, who isreportedly close to a deal with Samsung for flexible OLEDs, has been interested in using curved OLED displays in future iPhones, but Nikkei notes that Apple’s accelerated development may leave those plans temporarily stalled. Apple is apparently looking to quickly switch to OLED displays to juice iPhone sales, which analysts expect to stall.

In November, Nikkeireported that Apple expected to switch to OLED displays in 2018. Apple supplier Japan Display is planning formass production of OLED displays for iPhones beginning in early 2018. Samsung and LG, however, areexpected to provide the bulk of the OLED panel production, with Samsung planning to ramp up OLED production to 45,000 panels per month this year. The ever-reliable KGI Securities Ming-Chi Kuoreported in November that Apple was unlikely to fully adopt OLED displays until 2019.

http://www.macrumors.com/

iPhone 7 May Feature Flush Camera, Stereo Speakers and Thinner Lightning Port

Monday February 29, 2016 9:45 pm PST byHusain Sumra

Over the past six months there have been reports indicating that the iPhone 7 would include several new features, like a flush rear camera and stereo speakers. Tonight, Mac Otakara hasissued a new report corroborating several of those rumors, including that the iPhone 7 could include a thinner Lightning port, no 3.5mm headphone jack and more.

The site reports that the new phone will not have antenna bands across the rear and will have a flush rear camera, corroborating aMacRumors report in early February. The site notes that it’s likely the iPhone 7 will also come with stereo speakers, which wasfirst predicted by Barclays analyst earlier this month.

Last September, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuoissued a report that the iPhone 7 would approach a thinness similar to that of the 6.1mm iPod touch. Mac Otakara’s report roughly agrees with that, noting that the iPhone 7 could be 1mm thinner than the 7.1mm iPhone 6s.

Mac Otakara also reiterated its earlier reports that the iPhone 7 would not include a headphone jack, instead using an all-in-one Lightning port. The site claims that the Lightning port enclosure may be thinner than it currently is, but that it will still be fully compatible with current Lightning cables.

A source on Chinese social media site Weiboclaimed that the iPhone 7 would be waterproofed and use new composite materials for its shell last September. However,Mac Otakara says the iPhone 7 will include neither, instead using the same aluminum material and will be as water resistant as the iPhone 6s.

Thus far, reports have indicated that arumored new dual-lens camera system would be included on the iPhone 7 Plus to differentiate it from the regular iPhone 7. Mac Otakaracorroborates that the iPhone 7 will not have a dual-lens camera system, but notes that it doesn’t know if the feature will be included in the 7 Plus. Earlier today it was reported that Apple is considering introducing a new high-end iPhone 7 Plus with a dual-lens camera system called theiPhone Pro to better differentiate it from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Apple is expected to announce both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus at an event in September. Unlike the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which sourced A9 chips from both Samsung and TSMC, Applewill turn to TSMC exclusively for the iPhone 7’s A10 chip. Apple is alsoexpected to announce the iPhone SE, a new 4-inch iPhone, this March alongside a new 9.7-inch iPad.

http://www.macrumors.com/

iCar release date rumours, features and images: Apple CEO Tim Cook comments on Apple Car rumours

Reports suggest that Apple is developing an electric iCar to rival Tesla. With reports that Apple is negotiating with BMW, and poaching Samsung employees (especially battery specialists) and reassigning large numbers of staff for its Project Titan, is Apple manufacturing an iCar, and when will the iCar be launched? We look at all the evidence.

Since February 2015, there have been various reports that Apple is working on a car that will “give Tesla a run for its money” after Business Insiderspoke to an Apple employee with knowledge of the subject. This coupled with a sightings of cars registered to Apple, clad with sensors/cameras (which were later debunked) got everyone talking.

The iCar project is codenamed ‘Titan’, according to The Wall Street Journal,which originally stated that there were “several hundred” Apple employees working on the project. With some reports describing an electric car and others describing a self-driving car, is there any truth to the claim or is it like the Apple TV set everyone was talking about a couple of years ago? Well…

There are eight main sections to this article, and you can navigate to each by clicking on the relevant link below:

Evidence that Apple is working on an iCar

Here is where we list some of the most prominent rumours suggesting Apple is making an iCar.

Also read:Apple rumours and predictions for 2016

‘Engine noises’ heard late at night at Apple Car campus

If Apple isn’t developing a car, this rumour will be pretty hard to explain: AppleInsider hasreported that someone who lives near Apple’s mysterious campus in Sunnyvale, Calfornia (believed to be where Apple is developing its car) complained about “motor noises” coming from the facility at night.

“[Do] there have to [be] motor noises at 11:00 p.m. at night like last night? Even with the windows closed I could still hear it,” the resident reportedly remarked.

However, the resident may be mistaken – construction sounds sound similar to the revving of an engine, especially at a distance. Last year, Sunnyvale issued permits to Apple allowing the company to build a “windowless repair garage” at one of the buildings Apple operates at, so it’s possible that is what was heard – although why the construction would take place at night is a mystery.

It’s also worth noting that if Apple is building a prototype car at the facility, the noises could be the sound of the lathes and mills required to shape the metal, a notoriously noisy process.

Ford exec welcomes Apple to automotive industry

The Apple Car is shrouded in mystery, with the only real information we have (if that’s what you can call it) is in the form of leaks and rumours, but that hasn’t stopped people from forming opinions – in fact, even car company executives are chiming in on the rumours. During aninterview with TrustedReviews at CES 2016, Don Butler, Executive Director of Ford Connected Vehicles said that Ford welcomes the competition from Apple and that he thinks that techie companies including Apple and Google “can do it”.

“We welcome others joining. We welcome the activity that’s in the space. We think it’s exciting. It’s actually changed that we are embracing,” said Butler when discussing the automotive industry. “So I think Apple can do it. I think Google can do it.”

While it’s far from confirmation that Apple is creating the iCar, it goes to show that if/when Apple does enter the automotive industry, it’s presence will be welcomed by the likes of Ford. From the above, it seems as if Ford believes that the likes of Apple and Google can (if they aren’t already) change the automotive industry and the way we interact with cars for the better.

Apple buys car-related domain names

As firstreported by MacRumours, it appears that Apple has bought a number of car-related domain names including apple.car, apple.cars and apple.auto. The purchases took place in December 2015 and were brought to light via Whois, a service that finds information regarding specific domain names and IP addresses. Whois records were updated on January 8 2016 to show that Apple had registered the domains through registrar MarkMonitor Inc, although it’s worth noting that none of the registered domains are currently active.

While this may seem like confirmation that Apple is working on an Apple Car, it may not be the case; Apple could be buying the domains for use with Apple’s in-car system, CarPlay. It could also be to stop potential scammers looking to make money from people in light of the recent Apple Car rumours. Although with this being said, Apple bought iCloud.com months before its announcement and that was alsopicked up by MacRumours.

Elon Musk ‘confirms’ existence of Apple Car in an interview

As well as Apple buying car-related domain names, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk recently ‘confirmed’ the existence of Apple’s iCar whenspeaking to the BBC, claiming that it’s an “open secret” that the company is building a rival car. Musk went on to say that “companies like Apple will probably make a compelling electric car, it seems like the obvious thing to do” and regarding Apple’s privacy, he remarked “It’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it”.

Although he’s fairly confident that Apple is creating a rival car, Musk isn’t worried. When asked if Apple was a threat by a German newspaper, Musk mockingly replied: “Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch?”. The cheek.

New electric car company could be a ‘front’ for Apple

The latestreports on the web claim that a new car manufacturer, Faraday Future, could, in fact, be a front for Apple’s rumoured electric car, allowing the company to develop the vehicle without the prying eyes of the media watching them.

Faraday Future is a relatively new manufacturer, first appearing on the scene earlier this year as a Tesla competitor – both companies are named after famous scientists, Nikola Tesla and Michael Faraday, and interested in electric vehicles. Though Faraday Future’s plans were initially unclear, the company recently announced that it’d be investing a whopping $1 billion in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in either California, Georgia, Louisiana or Nevada.

The company plans to create an electric vehicle, while it also explores “other aspects of the automotive and technology industries, including unique ownership and usage models, in-vehicle content and autonomous driving”. That’s according to Nick Sampson, senior vice president of Faraday Future, who continued to say “Our range of 100% electric and intelligent vehicles will offer seamless connectivity to the outside world.” Very Apple-esque, wouldn’t you agree?

So, where is the connection to Apple? First things first, the company claims to have a team of around 400 “automotive and technology experts” along with a number of key employees, including ex-Tesla director of vehicle chassis engineering, Nick Sampson. This matches up with the reports earlier this year claiming that Apple was poaching a number of Tesla staff for its iCar project – but that’s not all.

Apple has reportedly just bought a huge amount of land in California, which is claimed to be around twice the size of its new Spaceship campus. Just to put that into perspective, Apple’s spaceship campus and surrounding land measures in at around 2.8 million feet. Now, where did Faraday Future say they’d be investing in a manufacturing facility? Oh…

The company has also received a massive $1 billion in funding – a move that’s almost unheard of for a new company, and many suspect that it’s Apple footing the bill. Apple has around $200 billion in the bank, so $1 billion would (as ridiculous as it sounds) be only a drop in the water for the company. The rumours gained more traction when the New York Times reached out for more information on its backers, with Faraday Future claiming that they are “keeping their partners confidential”. Intriguing, right? Well, there’s one more piece to this puzzle…

The CEO of the company has not yet been revealed, a move that shrouds this company in mystery. If Faraday Future is a front for Apple’s iCar development, it’d make sense not to announce a CEO; pushing an Apple exec to the position of Faraday Future CEO would immediately give away the company’s plans, possibly years before the launch of its electric car.

Of course, nothing has been confirmed or denied, and it does seem like a lot of effort to disguise its own efforts, but it is possible – and if it was going to be any company, it would, of course, be Apple to do it.

Secret iCar facility

Therehas also been talk of a secret automobile R&D facility where Apple is recruiting experts to potentially build the iCar. It’s apparently run by the ex-head of R&D at Mercedes, Johann Jungwirth, and will be staffed with “experienced managers from its iPhone unit”, according to The Times. They carry on to say that the seniority of the executives involved would suggest that an iCar could be in the works. They’ve also reported that Jony Ive and members of his industrial design team, who are responsible for most of Apples products, have been holding regular meetings with automotive execs and have even tried hiring them.

Project Titan team growing

According to a recentreport from the Wall Street Journal, Apple is taking the iCar project more seriously. Why? Apparently, the company has decided to triple the 600-person strong team to an 1800-person strong team to help reach the iCars all-new 2019 announcement target (see below for more information).

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wjkm58kvyenvmqf/AACvZgXO_0HY3StRpmDe3uUPa?dl=0


Stuart – 3/3/16

The Raspberry Pi 3 Adds Built-In Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Gets a 50% Speed Boost

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the Raspberry Pi and today a new model is available. The Raspberry Pi 3 features a new, faster processor, but more importantly, it finally comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on the board. It’s still just $35.

The big news here really comes from the built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on the Raspberry Pi 3. Previously, you needed to shell out around $10 for a USB Wi-Fi adapter and waste precious USB space on Bluetooth dongles. Now, all that’s built in, which means you not only get to save a little money, you also get access to more USB ports.

The other big news comes from the speed bump, which ups the CPU to a 64-bit 1.2 GHz chip (which should work out to be about 50% faster than the Pi 2) and a slight speed boost in the graphics chip, which is now 400 MHz.

After spending some hands-on time with the Raspberry Pi 3, it’s clear the speed boost is useful, but not totally revolutionary. All told, the Pi 3 feels pretty similar to the Pi 2 when using Raspbian. However, an updated version of Raspbian is also being released today that should improve compatibility. We did try to run some benchmarks, but without the new version of Raspbian to test, they weren’t particularly reliable, so we’ll need to revisit them later.

The good news is that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth work pretty much out of the box and if you’re booting into the Raspbian graphic interface, setting up both work just like they would on any modern operating system. Right-click the Wi-Fi Network icon in the top right corner of Raspbian, then enter your network information. As far as setting up Wi-Fi from the command line goes, that’ll work the same as it always has, but you won’t need to track down drivers for that adapter anymore.

The Raspberry Pi 3 retains the form factor of the Raspberry Pi 2, so any cases you may have picked up will work just fine with the newest version.

As with previous iterations of the Pi, you’ll need to wait for operating systems other than Raspbian to update for compatibility. This includes the much loved RetroPie, which turns your Pi into a retro game consoleand Kodi. Historically, both are usually quick to update. As usual, if you want to update your current build of Raspbian in anticipation for the Pi 3, you can do some from the command line. Just type this in at the command line and then tap Enter:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Your Pi will now update to the new version of Raspbian, which means you can just swap that microSD card into the Pi 3 when it arrives.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is available from the usual list of distributors at launch, with more being added afterwards. Hopefully it’s not as difficult to track down as the Pi Zero is.

In Sweden, McDonalds Happy Meal Boxes Turn Into Google Cardboard-like VR Headsets

Watching the rapid evolution of VR technology in recent years has been pretty fascinating. Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now available for preorder, but as we’ve pointed out before, Google has shippedmillions of Google Cardboard viewers. While the Cardboard experience is (obviously) nowhere near as good as what the Rift or Vive can offer, the accessibility is comparatively totally off the charts. Most people already have a smartphone capable of running Cardboard VR games and apps, they’re just missing the actual set of plastic lenses and the folded up cardboard to bring the whole experience together. Surprisingly enough, that’s where McDonalds comes in.

McDonalds locations in Sweden are kicking off a promotion calledHappy Goggles. As the above video shows, the iconic red cardboard Happy Meal boxes are going to come packed with the lens kit and clever perforations in the box itself to carefully punch out and fold up your own Google Cardboard-like VR headset. The Happy Googles site mentions this is being tested in Sweden, but they hope to roll out the promotion to other countries soon.

It’s crazy to think that it could be promotions like this that take virtual reality mainstream. No one is ever going to be able to argue that a greasy folded up McDonalds box is going to rival the experience of the Vive or Rift, but consumers have shown time and time again that price and accessibility are king when it comes to adopting new technology. It’s difficult to think that many “mainstream” consumers are going to gravitate towards a $600-$800 headset they need to pay with a $1,500+ PC over using a smartphone they already have and a cardboard setup they got for free through a promotion like this

I guess you could argue that these viewers could be a gateway setup to consumers investing heavily into “real” VR, but it feels like even then the next logical step seems to be a bit more robust mobile device headset like the Galaxy Gear or many other higher quality plastic Google Cardboard-like setups. Either way, it’s pretty insane to think back to the basic prized included in Happy Meals when I was a kid to today, where you get a pair of VR goggles instead.

The future is weird.

Now Coca-Cola is Getting in on Cheap Cardboard VR Headsets

One of the reasons why mobile VR is such a big opportunity for VR to spread compared to expensive dedicated headsets is because something like Google Cardboard can be made from, well, cardboard. We’ve seen McDonald’s introduce Happy Meal boxes that become VR headsets, yes. But Coca-Cola, a company that sells a ton of products packaged in cardboard, seems to be pushing the idea that hey, you could easily turn a box of Coke into a VR headset:

https://youtu.be/eamKy74n-vM

The custom solutions that Coca-Cola includes in the video above seem like the most practical ways for people to make VR headsets, and there are some real branding opportunities there. Still, it goes to show just how accessible and potentially widespread mobile VR can be. You could make an entry-level headset from literal scraps of cardboard and the phone you already use. There are going to be countless VR experiences that are focused around basic, entry-level experiences like these – or at least the smart creators are going to not ignore mobile VR.

Windows 10 Updates Are Deleting Some Apps Without Notifying Users

If you’ve applied a major update to Windows 10 recently, you might notice that a couple of your apps have gone missing. It’s not a bug. Windows 10 is removing apps it considers incompatible or outdated.

As tech site the How-To Geek points out, critical Windows 10 updates (like the big November update) sometimes remove apps from users computers. On my own machine, I found that system information tool Speccy was no longer on my computer. Other users are reporting that apps including CCleaner, HWMonitor, and CPU-Z are also missing after an update.

It’s unclear why Windows is doing this right now. While the primary theory is that the upgrade is removing outdated apps and drivers, Microsoft hasn’t officially commented on the reasoning behind it. For now, if you want your apps back, you’ll have to reinstall them manually. Check out the How-To Geek’s post for more details on how to potentially recover your files as well.

Dubai hosts the first World Drone Prix on March 11th

While there are plenty of efforts to make drone racing a serious sport, Dubai is determined to outdo them all. It’s about to host the World Drone Prix, which will robotic fliers against each other in high-speed (over 62MPH) competition. Over 100 teams will participate in “American Idol-style” qualifiers between March 7th and 8th; the top 32 from that bunch will make it to the actual races on March 11th and 12th.

This isn’t about to usher in a Formula 1-like pro racing league, but this does have a shot at succeeding where other leagues might struggle. Besides the lavish production values (see the supercar-laden promo video below if you need proof), it’s handing out a total of $1 million in prizes, including $250,000 for the winner. Although that pales in comparison to what top-tier race car leagues offer, it’s a big enough incentive that it could keep teams coming back for future events.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PPdSok1AZR8

 

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