Episode 498 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


there was no cyber-attack on Census, data was untouched

national Census ended in catastrophe after citizens were unable to access the website to complete the online form.

The ABS received 2.3 million Census forms before the website was taken down.

yber security adviser Alistair McGibbon said a “confluence of events” led to the website failure. This included ineffective geo-blocking, issues with the performance monitoring system and a router failure due to the high website traffic.

McGibbon said that the Australian Signals Directorate was investigating the source of the attack, but that most of the traffic came from the United States. Although the website was only supposed to be accessible from within Australia, the geo-blocking measures failed, according to Kalisch.

Despite the federal government warning Australians could risk fines for not completing the Census on time, McCormack said the deadline for completion was 23 September.

The government spent millions of dollars on outsourcing services and software licenses for the Census, including $9.6 million to IBM to host the eCensus, and more than $1 million across multiple contracts to Melbourne-based Revolution IT for load testing.

Census boss Chris Libreri told News.com.au on the morning of 9 August that: “We have load tested it at 150 percent of the number of people we think are going to be on it on Tuesday for eight hours straight and it didn’t look like flinching.

“We wouldn’t do it unless we were able to safely do it, we have evolved it and we are confident.”

Contracts include $325,000 for “licences for Census load testing” (link), $34,650 for “load testing script development services for Census” (link), $51,975 for “2016 Census Script Development” (link), $82,225 on a contract “software licences to support load testing services for Census IT products from HP” (link) and almost $150,000 across two contracts in May and June 2016 for “load testing services for Census 2016”.

Microsoft backflips on Australian Office 365 migrations

Microsoft has backflipped on its decision to automatically migrate Australian Office 365 customer data to local availability zones, with data to remain in Singapore by default.

Customers will now have to opt-in to get their Office 365 tenants migrated to the Australian data centres

If customers fail to opt-in before the 31 October deadline, they will not be able to migrate their data from Singapore to one of the Australian data centres in Sydney and Melbourne.

new Office 365 customers, who will continue to see their data automatically stored in Australian data centres.

Customers can request a migration through the Office 365 admin portal.

Last year, Microsoft was promoting the fact that local hosting would overcome latency concerns. “The locally hosted services provide faster performance and offer geo-redundant back-up,” Steven Miller, Microsoft Australia director of applications and services group, told CRN in September.

In a new blog post, Microsoft claimed that being located closer to an Office 365 data centre doesn’t guarantee better network performance.

Telstra prepares for 5G network

Ericsson’s 5G radio test bed will arrive in Australia and Telstra will test the 5G capabilities in a real-world environment in September.

Although 5G networks are not expected to be ready before 2020 intends to test the 5G network during the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

According to Telstra, 5G radio tests Ericsson’s 5G lab boasted 20Gbps download speeds.

Telstra prepares for 5G network

Seagate announces 60TB 3.5in solid-state drive

Seagate has announced the world’s largest single solid-state drive, adding a whopping 60TB of unformatted capacity

Seagate has claimed it has a roadmap to increase its capacity to at least 100TB in the future.

anyone eager to get their hands on the new 60TB drive will have to wait: the device isn’t due to enter mass production until early next year, and while its single-controller architecture may have driven down the cost-per-gigabyte the overall price of the drive is likely to be high indeed.

Microsoft slashes Windows 10 rollback period

Microsoft has issued an update to its Windows 10 operating system which slashes the time an upgrade user has to roll back the installation from 30 days to 10, in a move it claims has users’ storage space requirements in mind.

Quadrooter flaws menace 900 million Android devices

Four serious vulnerabilities have been discovered in the software drivers for Qualcomm chipsets used in hundred of millions of Android devices worldwide, allowing attackers full remote control.

Security firm Check Point Software estimated some 900 million Android devices worldwide that use the affected Qualcomm chipsets are vulnerable. Check Point Australia spokesperson Chris Rodridgues told iTnews around ten million devices locally are impacted.

hipsets are found in newer devices from major Android makers such as Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Sony and LG, as well as in security and privacy-oriented handsets like the Blackberry Priv and Silent Circle’s fully encrypted Blackphone 1 and 2.

The Google-branded Nexus 5X, 6 and 6P also contain the Quadrooter flaws.

To mitigate against the flaws, Check Point suggested users download and apply Android updates as early as possible, and don’t “root” or remove privilege restrictions on their devices unless the risks of doing so are fully understood.

Android users should also avoid side-loading apps from other sources than the official Google Play store, read permissions carefully when software is installed, and only use known, trusted wi-fi networks when travelling.

Check Point has also built an Android app that lets users scan their devices to see if they are vulnerable to Quadrooter, which is available for free on Google’s Play store.


Apple Said to Plan First Pro Laptop Overhaul in Four Years

Apple Inc. is preparing the first significant overhaul of its MacBook Pro laptop line in over four years, according to people familiar with the matter, using one of its older products to help reverse two quarters of sliding sales.

The updated notebooks will be thinner, include a touch screen strip for function keys, and will be offered with more powerful and efficient graphics processors for expert users such as video gamers, said the people, who asked not to be named.

The new computers have been in advanced testing within Apple since earlier this year, said one of the people, who didn’t want to be identified discussing products before their release. The MacBook Pros aren’t likely to debut at an event currently scheduled for Sept. 7 to introduce next-generation versions of the iPhone, according to one of the people. Apple spokesman Bill Evans declined to comment.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs heralded tablets as possible laptop replacements by calling the iPad a “post-PC” device after it launched in 2010, but products like the MacBook Pro have shown surprising resilience. Sales of Macs, including the Pro line, rose 6 percent to $25.5 billion in the last fiscal year, while iPad sales fell 23 percent to $23.2 billion.

This year’s MacBook Pro overhaul is aimed at increasing notebook sales at a time when consumers are taking longer to buy or replace iPads. Apple research suggests customers upgrade iPads roughly every three years, while they buy new iPhones every 18 to 24 months, according to a person familiar with Apple’s strategy, which helps explain why iPad sales numbers have fallen from a peak in 2013.

The most significant addition to the new MacBook Pro is a secondary display above the keyboard that replaces the standard function key row. Instead of physical keys, a strip-like screen will present functions on an as-needed basis that fit the current task or application. The smaller display will use Organic Light-Emitting Diodes, a thinner, lighter and sharper screen technology, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier this year.

Apple’s goal with the dedicated function display is to simplify keyboard shortcuts traditionally used by experienced users. The panel will theoretically display media playback controls when iTunes is open, while it could display editing commands like cut and paste during word processing tasks, the people said. The display also allows Apple to add new buttons via software updates rather than through more expensive, slower hardware refreshes.

The new top-of-the-line MacBook Pros will be slightly thinner than the current models but are not tapered like the MacBook Air and latest 12-inch MacBook, one of the people said. The new MacBook Pros have a smaller footprint than current models and the casing has shallower curves around the edges. The pressure-sensitive trackpad is also slightly wider, the person added.

An option for a version featuring a higher-performance graphics chip from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. will be available, another person familiar with the matter said. It’s unclear which provider Apple will use for the main processor, but Intel Corp. has supplied this in the past.

Apple is using one of AMD’s “Polaris” graphics chips because the design offers the power efficiency and thinness necessary to fit inside the slimmer Apple notebook, the person said. The new graphics card is more than 20 percent thinner than its predecessor, AMD said earlier this year. AMD declined to comment, referring inquiries to Apple.

The new design will include USB-C technology, a multifunctional type of port that can handle charging, data transfers, and display connectivity, one of the people said. Apple has also considered bringing gray, gold, and silver colors to the new line, as it has done with other products like the iPhone, iPad, and the 12-inch MacBook, a person said. It’s unclear whether colored Pro laptops will be available when the new line is released.

Apple is planning to bring over its Touch ID fingerprint technology from the iPhone to the new MacBook Pro line. Apple has tested versions of the upcoming laptops that integrate the scanner beside the new function key display, according to one of the people. The sensor would allow users to log in more quickly and theoretically authenticate Apple Pay purchases. Like with iPhones, the new Pro laptops will encrypt fingerprint data so it can’t be removed from the devices.

Apple will also release a new version of its Mac operating system named Sierra this fall that brings Siri, new messaging and photo-management features, deeper iCloud integration, and more efficient file storage to Apple’s desktops and laptops, the company said in June.

Apple’s shares have begun to recover after tumbling to as low as $90.34 in May amid concerns of slowing iPhone sales. They are up 3.4 percent now for the year to $108.81.


iCar release date rumours, features and images: Apple has tripled its R&D budget to $10bn | Project Titan to roll-out in 2021 | Supply chain 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 Insider spoke to an Apple employee with knowledge of the subject. This coupled with 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…

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

Supply chain rumours

In August 2016, Neil Cybart the founder of Above Avalon, an analyst firm who concentrate on Apple, mentioned on Twitter the new developments of Apple’s supply chain.

It is stated that Apple has recently signed off an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with a major South Korean battery developer for cylindrical lithium-ion batteries.

This is an indication that Apple is looking into electric cars and potentially driverless cars, among other uses new battery technology can impact Apple’s technology product-line.

We will be sure to update this article if we learn of any developments in Apple’s supply chain.

New roles working at Apple

According to the WSJ, Apple has appointed Bob Mansfield (previously Senior Vice President of Technologies at Apple) to work and oversee the Electric Vehicle Team at the company. He previously was set to retire in June 2012, but has been involved in numerous special projects at the company. This further solidifies claims that Apple is committed to releasing their very own iCar, Apple Car or Titan project.

It has also been reported by appleinsider that the project is delayed until 2021, a year after its inital rollout. As with all things, take this date prediction with a pinch of salt.

Money spent on R&D

It has emerged that Apple has spent $10bn in research and development costs, which is more than triple of what it spent just four years ago ($3bn). This massive increase in R&D costs, does suggest that Apple is developing something a lot bigger than simply a new iPhone, iPad or Mac device.

Apple’s future competitors

In a recent interview with the BBC, Ford boss Mark Fields claims that the future rivals of the company may not be the likes of BMW and Audi, but instead tech companies like Google and Apple. Fields went on to explain that Ford’s working assumption is that Apple is indeed building a car, and that the assumption provides Ford with “the right motivation to make sure we stay very focused not only on the product but overall on the experience that the customer has interacting with the product and the services that we have.”

This is following the opening of a new Ford-owned technology business in Palo Alto where employees will be working on autonomous cars that can drive automatically, as well as working with IoT companies to see how people interact with their vehicles. If nothing else, it’s an interesting look at what big companies like Ford expect to see on the road within the next five to ten years regardless of Apple’s efforts.

Apple CEO Tim Cook comments on Apple Car rumours

It takes a lot for the CEO of a company to openly discuss rumours surrounding their own upcoming products, especially when it’s the CEO of a secretive company like Apple. However, as unlikely as it seems, Tim Cook has recently teased the media about the possibility of an Apple Car in the future. While he didn’t directly comment on the likelihood of an Apple Car, during a recent interview with Fortune, Cook said:”we don’t have to spend large amounts to explore”.

Apparently, Apple becomes “committed” to a project once the company begins spending huge amounts of money on tools, company acquisitions and other processes (as rumours suggest the company has), although hiring experts don’t seem to count. “We explore things with teams of people. And that’s a part of being curious,” Cook said.

It wasn’t the last that Cook had to say about the iCar, either. Only days after speaking to Fortune, Cook teased attendees at an Apple shareholders meeting about future possibilities. “Do you remember when you were a kid, and Christmas Eve… it was so exciting,” Cook reportedly said. “You weren’t sure what was going to be downstairs. Well, it’s going to be Christmas Eve for a while.” We’ll obviously be waiting some time for an Apple-branded car, but the latest comments from the Apple CEO will definitely add fuel to the fire.

‘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 has reported 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 an interview 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.

In an interview with the BBC, Ford boss Mark Fields claims that the future rivals of the company may not be the likes of BMW and Audi, but instead tech companies like Google and Apple. Fields went on to explain that Ford’s working assumption is that Apple is indeed building a car, and that the assumption provides Ford with “the right motivation to make sure we stay very focused not only on the product but overall on the experience that the customer has interacting with the product and the services that we have.”

This is following the opening of a new Ford-owned technology business in Palo Alto where employees will be working on autonomous cars that can drive automatically, as well as working with IoT companies to see how people interact with their vehicles. If nothing else, it’s an interesting look at what big companies like Ford expect to see on the road within the next five to ten years regardless of Apple’s efforts.

Apple buys car-related domain names

As first reported 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 also picked 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 when speaking 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 latest reports 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.

Apple Car ‘could have digital license plates’

According to website Electrek, Apple’s upcoming iCar could be the first to boast digital license plates. Why? Amongst the horde of employees that Apple has snapped up over the past few months is Rónán Ó Braonáin, ex-Director of Engineering at Reviver, a start-up working on what Braonáin called “the world’s first digital license plate”.

According to his LinkedIn, he spent five years as a software engineer at BMW before becoming CTO at Vision Fleet, a company offering electric vehicle fleet management software, before moving onto Reviver and finally ending up at Apple as a “Secret Agent” on “Special Projects”.



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