Episode 496 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

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Ransomware is only going to get worse: Cisco

Cisco’s 2016 mid-year cybersecurity report noted fragile infrastructures, poor network hygiene and slow detection rates are the primary reasons corporations are falling victim to ransomware attacks. This has led, the report noted, to ransomware becoming the dominant and most costly malware ever. The firm believes it will become even more dangerous in the coming months as new varieties come online.

The report stated that 20 percent of Google Chrome users were not operating the newest version, even though the browser has auto updates, and this situation gets even worse with regular software. Cisco noted that 33 percent of systems examined still ran Java SE 6 instead of the current Java SE 10, while only 10 percent of those running Microsoft Office 2013 version 15x have the latest service pack installed.

To help stem and eventually reverse this situation, Cisco said companies must give malicious actors less time running free inside their systems – time that is used to not only take data, but to find more weak points to exploit. This can be accomplished by eliminating vulnerabilities simply by applying needed patches.


Microsoft reveals new features for Windows 10 Anniversary

Facial recognition tool Windows Hello can now be integrated into third-party applications like Dropbox. Users can log in to applications by scanning their facial features through their device’s camera without having to type a password.

Edge is also getting a handful of new updates like support for extensions, web notification integration with the Windows 10 action centre and automatic browsing history wipes.

Microsoft has big plans for stylus users. The new Windows Ink introduces a new panel with different applications like Sticky Notes, which can be accessed by pressing the stylus button. Windows Ink can also be activated from the lock screen.

Sticky Notes can detect hand-writing with Cortana enabled and schedule meetings based on whether the user writes key words like dates, times or contacts.

Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana can be activated from the lock screen. The application allows users to perform tasks using their voice like checking weather, playing music and setting reminders without having to log in.

The update will begin rolling out on 2 August.


Apple celebrates one billion iPhones

At an employee meeting in Cupertino this morning, CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple recently sold the billionth iPhone.

Android devices were able to beat Apple to the one billion milestone, with Google reporting 1.4 billion active Android devices worldwide as of September last year

Apple yesterday announced that it sold just 40.4 million iPhones in its most recent quarter, a drop from 47.5 million during the same quarter last year. While 40 million iPhones is nothing to scoff at, Apple’s profit has dropped 27% as a result

DON’T CELEBRATE TOO MUCH COOKIE MONSTER, THE IPHONE WASN’T YOUR IDEA YOU SYCOPHANT C IS FOR COOKIE THATS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME!


GOOD NEWS SYDNEY, UBER NOW DELIVERS FOOD

UberEATS – is now live in Sydney, working in partnership with over 100 restaurants. While UberEATS is a standalone app, users are able to login with their existing Uber account, and pay with the card they’ve already got stored on file.

Restaurants offering delivery through the service include Three Blue Ducks, Saké, Butter, Thievery, Fratelli Fresh, and Love Supreme.

At launch, UberEATS is limited to Sydney’s inner suburbs; “from Bondi to Surry Hills, Pyrmont to Newton, and everywhere in between”.

To celebrate the launch, delivery will be free for a limited time. Eventually, a AUD$5 flat fee will be charged. Customers can make orders between 11am and 10pm, seven days a week.

Melbourne was the first Australian city to get a local UberEATS launch, where the service has been operating since April.


This Incredible Collection of 400 Vintage Boomboxes Is Up For Sale

a New Zealander who’s collected boomboxes for fifteen years is auctioning off his entire collection, and it’s huge.

According to Kenton, he’s starting the bid at $20,000 but says he could easily just sell the top 20 units for that much,

You have until August 1


How the ABS plans to use your Census name data

the 2016 Census on August 9, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has reversed its long-held policy not to use people’s names and addresses for the datasets it produces from the count in the hope it will be able to better inform national policy-making and decisions.

Historically, ABS researchers stripped the Census data – which includes things like marital status, religion, and employment details – of identifying markers like names and addresses before they analysed it and created datasets for use in policy making.

This has been the approach for over 100 years since the first national Census was conducted in 1911.

last year, the ABS decided it would keep names and addresses this time around so it can better link Census data with other information to create a “richer and more dynamic statistical picture of Australia”.

increasingly since the 2006 national count, and was finding itself more and more hindered in its ability to produce valuable statistics…says Duncan Young Census Program manager

The linkage process that we had to use previously, after names and addresses were destroyed, was to do probabilistic linkage; linkage based on someone’s date of birth, marital status, and the region of Australia they live in,” Young said.

“Using those kind of characteristics you can do some pretty reasonable quality linkage – we could link at about an 80 percent success rate for the population overall.

“However, it’s significantly less than 80 percent for some population groups, like those that are more mobile and move often, so your ability to produce reliable statistics is poorer. That leads to you either not having information that Australia needs to make decisions, or leads you to have to run extra surveys and collect even more data.”

The ABS’ plan is to turn a person’s name into an anonymous key that can’t be reversed.

Names and addresses will be removed from other Census information after the data has been collected and processed. The two data types will be stored separately from each other, while anonymised versions of names will be stored in another separate database for use in data linking.

The original names and addresses will be destroyed after four years, as compared to the current 18 months.

None of the agency’s researchers will be able to view name and address data while working with other Census information, and addresses and anonymised names will only be able to be used for projects approved by a senior-level committee.

We have no interest in individuals, and that’s why we can use anonymous keys and take names away from Census data and never put them back. Because we don’t want to know, and we don’t need to know that this is joe blow’s record. We just want to know that Person A here is Person A there.”


Hackers can pick off, inject wireless keyboard keystrokes from 8 vendors, maybe more

A vulnerability across at least eight brands of wireless keyboards lets hackers read keystrokes from 250 feet away

The problem is that the keyboards transmit to their associated PCs without encryption, and it’s just a matter of reverse engineering the signals to figure out how to read what keys are being hit

The keyboards examined are made by Hewlett-Packard, Anker, Kensington, RadioShack, Insignia, Toshiba, GE/Jasco and EagleTec. They use transceivers from MOSART Semiconductor except for Toshiba, which uses one from Signia Technologies, and GE/Jasco, which uses an unknown transceiver. Jasco licenses the GE brand name for the keyboards it makes.

EBF

iPhone Rumored to Include Iris Scanning Capabilities Starting in 2018

Monday July 25, 2016 9:55 am PDT by Juli Clover

Apple is working on iPhones with iris scanning capabilities that could debut in 2018, reports DigiTimes in a wider piece about increasing interest in advanced biometric functionality in smartphones.

Iris scanning would potentially be used in place of Touch ID as a way to verify a user’s identity, performing functions like making payments and unlocking an iOS device. Each person’s iris, or the circular colored muscle of the eye, contains a complex and random pattern that is unique to each individual.

Apple has been rumored to be looking into iris scanning in the past and it is a technology that is gaining interest in the smartphone arena. Samsung is said to be planning to debut its iris recognition technology as soon as next month with the introduction of the Galaxy Note 7.

Current iris scanning implementations have some notable benefits over Touch ID, including no need for direct contact to unlock a device and faster unlock speeds, but there are also drawbacks such as poor functionality in low lighting and issues with performance following alcohol consumption and eye surgery.

DigiTimes is not always a reliable source of information, so the rumor should be viewed with some skepticism until confirmed, but KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also believes Apple is planning on introducing new biometric features in a future iPhone, which could include either facial or iris scanning. Kuo’s rumor pertained to the 2017 iPhone, but it’s always possible such an advanced feature won’t be ready to debut until a later date.

There are no rumors about the 2018 iPhone as of yet, but it will follow the 2017 iPhone, which is rumored to feature radical design changes in the form of an edge-to-edge OLED display with no home button and a camera and Touch ID sensor that are integrated into the screen. Wireless charging, a faster A11 processor, and a fully glass body like the iPhone 4 are also possibilities for the device and will likely also be seen in the follow-up 2018 iPhone.

http://www.macrumors.com/2016/07/25/iphone-iris-scanning-rumors-2018/

Apple Appoints Bob Mansfield to Oversee Electric Vehicle Team

Monday July 25, 2016 8:06 am PDT by Joe Rossignol

bob_mansfieldApple has appointed former longtime executive Bob Mansfield, who last served as Senior Vice President of Technologies at the company, to oversee development of its widely rumored electric vehicle, according to The Wall Street Journal. All senior managers on the project now report to him.

Apple announced that Mansfield was retiring in June 2012, but a few months later said he would remain with the company as an advisor. He last worked on Apple’s “Special Projects” team, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook, and has made regular appearances on campus despite stepping down from day-to-day work four years ago.

Until recently, Mr. Mansfield—who, along with design chief Jony Ive, was one of the few executives to appear in Apple’s carefully-crafted product announcement videos—had all but retreated from the company aside from the occasional visit, these people said. Earlier this month, employees at Apple noticed in the company directory that all the senior managers on the car project were now reporting to Mr. Mansfield, they said.

Apple has reportedly recruited hundreds of engineers from the likes of Tesla, Ford, GM, and elsewhere to work on the so-called Apple Car, codenamed “Project Titan” internally. The electric vehicle could be street-ready between 2019 and 2021 according to various reports, with R&D based in Sunnyvale, California. Many question marks remain about the extent of the vehicle’s design, autonomous capabilities, and other features.

Mansfield joined Apple in 1999 and has been instrumental in the company’s recent success, overseeing the development of past MacBook Air, iPhone, and iPad designs. Under the Special Projects team, he also played a role behind the Apple Watch. His decision to remain at Apple in 2012 was influenced by both a generous compensation package and former iOS chief Scott Forstall’s departure.

Mansfield is highly-regarded and many at Apple believe that if anyone can help bring the car to market, it’s him.http://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-taps-bob-mansfield-to-oversee-car-project-146945858

Project Titan as a whole was previously under Dan Riccio, Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering, according to Rene Ritchie. Steve Zadesky, who held a senior role at Apple related to the electric vehicle project since 2014, left the company earlier this year for personal reasons. Zadesky reported to Riccio until his departure, as the leader of one of multiple teams working on the electric vehicle.

http://www.macrumors.com/2016/07/25/apple-car-bob-mansfield/

Apple Car’s Rumored 2020 Launch Target May Have Slipped to 2021

Thursday July 21, 2016 8:13 am PDT by Joe Rossignol

Apple-car-silhouetteIn an in-depth profile about Brian, Kevin, and Michael Sumner, three brothers said to be working on the Apple Car, The Information reports that Apple’s rumored 2020 target for launching the much-rumored electric vehicle, codenamed Project Titan, may have slipped to 2021.

The group has run into challenges, say people briefed about aspects of Titan along with other reports. Its top executive left in January, a sign that things there weren’t going well. One person who worked briefly with the Titan team was told during their tenure at Apple that the company had been trying to deliver a vehicle by 2020 but the target slipped to 2021.

The report refers to the January departure of Apple VP of Product Design Steve Zadesky, who was believed to be leading Apple’s electric vehicle development efforts since 2014, as one of multiple challenges that may be pushing back the target date for launching the vehicle. Tesla CEO Elon Musk previously said the so-called Apple Car is unlikely to be ready by 2020, calling it a “missed opportunity.”

With seemingly another three to five years of research and development ahead, Apple’s roadmap could change. Last September, for example, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Apple Car was labeled as a “committed project” with a prospective 2019 shipping date. Tesla, meanwhile, has sold the Model S since 2012 and received some 400,000 pre-orders for its lower-priced Model 3 due in 2017.

The bulk of Apple’s electric vehicle development is believed to be underway in Sunnyvale, California, a short drive from the company’s Cupertino headquarters. Apple has reportedly recruited hundreds of engineers from Tesla, Ford, GM, Samsung, A123 Systems, Nvidia, and elsewhere to work on the project, said to have been approved by Apple CEO Tim Cook in 2014.

http://www.macrumors.com/2016/07/21/apple-car-target-slipped-2021-report/

JASON

Nintendo’s next game console will be a powerful tablet that allows gaming on the go while also connecting to a television for big-screen experiences, new reports indicate, but the most surprising rumour concerns how the machine will handle multiplayer.

Citing “a number of sources” within the games industry, Eurogamer reports that the screen on the new device will sit between two panels of buttons and control sticks — which is standard for a gaming handheld — but that the panels will be removable for impromptu two-player gaming sessions. The panels are wireless, so moving from solo play to multiplayer while on the go will apparently be as simple as disconnecting the controls and passing one to a friend.

When playing at home the machine can be inserted into a dock that will display games on your TV, the reports say, with the dock presumably also powering and charging the device. It would stand to reason that more traditional controllers will be used with the console in its docked mode, although that was not mentioned in the reports.

It has been previously reported that Nintendo’s new machine — which the Japanese company has publicly acknowledged with the codename “NX” — will use cartridges as a game medium rather than discs. Static media makes sense given the portable nature of the device, and this has been reiterated by sources in Eurogamer’s article.

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If you’re willing to sit around poking at your phone settings, there are a million photo apps that will help you get professional-looking results. For the rest of us who are far too lazy to do this, Microsoft just made a slick new photo app that does all of the tinkering for you.

Microsoft Research has been publicly dabbling in photo apps for some time, with apps like Microsoft Selfie and its incredible Hyperlapse app. Today the company is bundling many of its computational photography tricks into Pix, an insanely simple photo app. Pix is loaded with features, but the coolest thing about it is that you can’t really see any of them. The idea is that you bust out your phone, take a photo and technology inside the app makes the image look as good as possible. No brain required.

Every time you take a photo with Pix, it’s actually capturing 10 frames from which it selects up to three different photos as the best, optimising for a series of criteria such as whether the people in the photo are actually looking at the camera, and which photo has the most interesting composition. The remaining frames are used to help calculate some of the post-processing the app does, but then they’re discarded so that they don’t eat up space on your phone.

After it’s selected the image it thinks is the best, Pix starts trying to make the photo as good as possible, adjusting exposure, colour balance and so on. The app begins by optimising for people, which means that if it spots a human face in an image, it’s going to do its best to make the person look good. From there, the app has a cascading set of priorities. The end result is hopefully a better image that doesn’t look like it was taken by a child.

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The Palaszczuk (Polazzachuke) government spent $300,000 building an app that had already been developed and made available by the private sector.

Roads Minister Mark Bailey was queried over the learner driver e-log book app, which allows learner drivers to record the 100 hours driving practice they are required to complete before becoming eligible to complete their driving test at his Thursday estimates hearing.

The smart phone and tablet app links with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, to allow for the logbook’s processing.

Under questioning, it was revealed the app cost $300,000 to create, with an ongoing annual budget of $100,000 for maintenance.

Opposition transport spokesman Andrew Powell pointed out the RACQ had already created an app which fulfilled the same purpose, without the cost to taxpayers.

Mr Bailey defended the government app and said he believed it was “a good thing” for the market to have choice, also highlighting the ability of the government to push road safety messages out through the app.

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Internet service providers, you’re on notice: Stop putting pictures of fast athletes on your broadband advertising and tell us how good your service actually is.

That’s the call from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which has today announced a review into the advertising and promotion of broadband services and the speeds and performance that ISPs offer their customers.

It’s certainly timely for an industry that has seen its fair share of dissatisfaction. In the first quarter of 2016, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman received more complaints about internet services than any other telco service. And in an industry flooded with plenty of plans from big and small providers, a little more clarity could go a long way.

The ACCC argues that ISPs are not giving consumers clear information about broadband speeds and performance when they’re advertising plans and services.

“At the moment, it is difficult for consumers to access accurate information as broadband advertising is not focusing upon speed and performance,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims.

“Consumers are being presented with little information or vague claims like ‘boost’ and ‘fast’, or just pictures in advertising of athletes or animals. Consumers need accurate information about broadband speed and performance so that they can understand if what they are being offered will actually meet their needs.”

As part of the review, the ACCC has released a discussion paper calling on the industry to provide input about how consumer information could be improved. Ultimately, the watchdog is aiming to increase competition and get better results for consumers when they’re spending money on this modern necessity.

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After a number of network outages that left Telstra red faced this year, the telco has announced a AU$250 million investment to improve “network resilience” and increase capacity across its network nationwide.

In February, Telstra admitted that a significant number of customers were left disconnected after an “embarrassing human error” knocked out its network. The telco was hit with similar issues a month later. Both incidents led to widespread customer criticism, with Telstra offering “free data days” to make the peace.

Now, Telstra CEO Andy Penn is promising cold hard cash to fix the problem.

The AU$250 million will be spent on “enhancing the mobile network’s resiliency,” improving reliability in Telstra core network and increasing ADSL broadband capacity to meet increasing demand.

It’s not new money — Telstra’s total spend for the next 6 to 12 months remains the same. But speaking to media today, Penn said Telstra was “prioritising” network improvements with this investment, though he didn’t confirm how much the telco had originally set aside.

But there was an indication that the telco was keen to make up for embarrassing problems in the past.

After reiterating that Telstra had gone through “a very, very long period of no issues of this magnitude,” it had faced “two or three incidents” that had caused a “more widespread impact” than before.

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The Pfitzner family have received their first quarterly energy bill since Natural Solar installed their Tesla Powerwall and solar system in January 2016, with the price for their power plummeting from $660, to a mere $40.46 in energy charges.

That’s a payback period of an extraordinary 6-7 years on the system.

Managing Director of Natural Solar Chris Williams said that they knew the result would be good. “But having the data to back it up just cements it for us.”

“It’s extraordinary to see such a significant decrease for the Pfitzner family and clearly demonstrates why we are experiencing such strong demand for our home and commercial battery storage solutions.”

Williams describes the Pfitzners as being energy conscious customers. When speaking to Nick Pfitzner he revealed that he simply does “the standard things anyone would do when having a solar system installed”.

The functionality of the Tesla Powerwall is simple, with this device storing solar energy during sunlight hours allowing homeowners to use it at night, avoiding the need to sell excess energy back to the grid. The Powerwall, which carries an impressive 10-year warranty period, has such a range of new and varied functionalities.

Based in Sydney’s Hills District, the Pfitzner family home includes four bedrooms, internal laundry, a pool and outdoor entertaining area.

Their personal renewable energy solution includes the Tesla Powerwall, an array of 5kWp of solar panels, a SolarEdge inverter and fully integrated, bi-directional cloud-based monitoring software to see the direct output of energy from the entire system and the Tesla Powerwall.

The family “schedules everything” so as to preserve the power stored for nighttime usage. Devices are run during the day, the dishwasher in the morning the pool pump in the afternoon (and not at all if it’s cloudy). Oven use isn’t limited, though. “My wife is a great cook,” Pfitzner laughs.

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