Episode 522 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

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Apple will fight proposed “right to repair” legislation

in the US, legislation has been proposed in eight states that would force companies to sell spare parts to the public and private repair shops, as well as making service manuals readily available.

The first state to have a hearing date scheduled is Nebraska, and a source has told Motherboard that Apple is not taking this threat lying down – they will be sending a “representative, staffer or lobbyist” to Lincoln to speak on behalf of the company, alongside someone from AT&T. Allegedly, the industry’s argument will hinge on the idea that fixing smartphones is dangerous, and could cause lithium ion batteries to catch fire.

The “right to repair” bills – which have also been introduced in New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Kansas, Illinois and Tennessee – are being lobbied for by Repair.org, which has had to deal with similar arguments about safety in the past. Gay Gordon-Byrne, Repair.org’s executive director, claims that industry lobbyists warned Minnesota lawmakers last year that broken glass could cut fingers of untrained members of the public who try to replace cracked screens.

****They’ll just make parts expensive ?

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AWS launches Chime to compete with Microsoft Skype and Cisco

Amazon Web Services has announced Chime, the cloud giant’s own unified communications service that works across desktops, iOS and Android devices to compete with the likes of Microsoft’s Skype and Cisco’s WebEx and Spark.

Amazon Chime uses noise-cancelling wideband audio and clear HD video that works across all devices and many conference room video systems with no upgrades required.

Chime calls participants when it is time for the meeting to start, allowing them to join with a single click, with the option of “running late” button. Users are able to visualise who has joined, who is running late, and who can’t make it to the meeting – the vendor said it is “the end of who just joined?”.

Chime was built for mobile and offers Android, iOS, Mac and Windows apps. Amazon Chime also keeps meetings and chats synchronised across devices, and users can easily switch devices even in the middle of a meeting. During meetings, users can share their screens instantly. For ongoing collaboration outside of meetings, Amazon Chime offers chat rooms that allow people to work together in a single place, securely storing chat history and files for ongoing reference.

Amazon Chime is available in three versions Amazon 2, a free version where users can attend meetings, call another person using voice or video, and use Amazon

Chime’s messaging and chat capabilities. Amazon 2lus Edition adds user management, such as the ability to manage an entire e-mail domain, disable accounts or configure active directory, as well as 1GB per user of message retention, all for US$2.50 per user, per month.

Amazon Chime Pro Edition adds the ability to host meetings with screen sharing and video for up to 100 users and also includes support for mobile, laptop, and in-room video along with unlimited VoIP support, all for US$15 per user, per month.

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Australia will get mandatory data breach notifications this year

The Labor and Liberal parties today united to pass the government’s Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Bill 2016 into law

The scheme applies only to government agencies and organisations governed by the Privacy Act, meaning state government organisations and local councils, plus organisations with a turnover less than $3 million a year, fall outside the legislation.

The newly-passed law means organisations that determine they have been breached or have lost data will need to report the incident to the Privacy Commissioner and notify affected customers as soon as they become aware of a breach.

The notification must include a description of the data breach, the kind of information involved, and how customers should respond to the security incident.

Those that fail to notify face penalties including fines of $360,000 for individuals and $1.8 million for organisations.

The legislation considers a serious breach to have occurred when there is unauthorised access to, disclosure or loss of customer information held by an entity, which generates a real risk of serious harm to individuals involved.

Such information includes personal details, credit reporting information, credit eligibility information, and tax file number information.

The bill gives the example of when an entity becomes aware that it has “mistakenly emailed the information of one individual to another individual, asks the second individual to delete the information without using or disclosing it, and is confident that the second individual has complied with that request”.

It also uses the examples of when a lost or stolen device has been remotely wiped before its content can be accessed, or when a device is left in a taxi and the individual can be certain the driver did not access the device.

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Telstra launches Gateway Frontier to get users back online during an outage

The Telstra Gateway Frontier allows users to connect to the telco’s 4G network if their fixed services go down. Services will automatically switch over to 4G, but use broadband quota while waiting for their connection to come back.

It’s also aimed at customers who expect service disruption while moving homes or switching to a new broadband service, such as the NBN.

The router features 802.11ac wi-fi, which Telstra said would increase in-home wi-fi speeds by up to four times, though download speeds are limited up to 6Mbps to avoid congestion.

The Telstra Gateway Frontier costs $216 outright or $9 per month on a 24-month plan for existing Telstra customers.

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Macquarie, ING join Apple Pay to challenge Big Four

Macquarie Group and ING Direct have announced they would start using Apple’s mobile payment service in Australia this month, hoping to snatch market share from the major retail banks through digital technology.

So far only one of the major banks, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group , has adopted the Apple Pay system, creating an opportunity for smaller rivals in a market dominated by the so-called Big Four lenders.

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Is Nokia bringing back the 3310 and who would want a retro phone?

Rumours suggest that Nokia is planning to bring back their iconic Nokia 3310 phone.

If you were in the market for a new phone in the year 2000, then the 3310 may have been on your wish-list.

“You can take a £20 phone to a festival and leave your expensive, glass-fronted iPhone at home.

“Backpackers and the like probably appreciate them too, given their tough build, cheap price and long battery life.”

Many smartphone users complain about their handset’s battery and this could prove the main selling point for users……..Alistair Charlton, deputy technology editor at the IB Times

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Hater – The dating app that matchmakes by hates, not likes

a new dating app matches you with people who hate the same things.

Hater CEO Brendan Alper believes you’re more likely to hit it off with people who share mutual hates, and reveals that top current hates include coriander and the US 2016 Presidential campaign.


WordPress blogs defaced in hack attacks

One estimate suggests more than 1.5 million pages on blogs have been defaced.

The security firm that found the vulnerability said some hackers were now trying to use it to take over sites rather than just spoil pages.

WordPress urged site owners to update software to avoid falling victim.

The vulnerability is found in an add-on for the WordPress blogging software that was introduced in versions released at the end of 2016.

Security firm Sucuri found the “severe” bug and informed WordPress about it on 20 January.

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Facebook Videos to Auto-Play With Sound Turned On (Ugh)

Facebook Engineering Manager Alex Li and Product Manager Dana Sittler announced the change in a Tuesday blog post, writing that “as people watch more video on phones, they’ve come to expect sound when the volume on their device is turned on.”

The social network has been testing this new “sound on” feature, and received “positive feedback” about it, Li and Sittler added. So it’s slowly rolling out to more people.

there is a way to disable this feature from the Settings menu. Just head over to the Settings, navigate to the Videos section, and disable the option “Videos in News Feed Start with Sound.”

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How much can you really save by going solar?

POWER prices are on their way up so it is time to follow the Prime Minister’s lead and install solar panels on your roof?

Details of Malcolm Turnbull’s heavy-duty solar set up were revealed on Monday, after an eventful week where South Australia lost power and NSW residents also came very close to forced outages as high temperatures sent electricity consumption soaring.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Mr Turnbull upgraded the solar panels on his Point Piper mansion last year to a 14.5 kilowatt hour system, and also added a 14 kilowatt hour LG Chem battery stack, that would likely shield him from potential blackouts.

While most Australians may not be able to afford the estimated $25,000 the PM’s system cost, with power prices expected to keep rising, is it time to consider a solar set up?

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

Mr Johnston said prices for solar panels had come down by about 10 per cent compared to last year, and a system for the standard home would cost upwards of $5000 for a 5 kWh system of about 20 panels.

If you want to add battery storage, this will double or even triple the price of the system.

Prices for storage start from $2000 for an entry level device, compared to the trendy Tesla Powerwall 2.0, which will set you back $11,000.

Mr Johnston said the Powerwall 2.0, which has 14 kWh battery, was big enough to cover the typical Australian consumption of 16 kWh a day.

“That can last you almost a full day, even if it’s cloudy,” he said.

HOW QUICKLY WILL IT PAY ITSELF OFF?

Mr Johnston said prices could vary dramatically depending on whether you also decided to install a battery to store power for later use.

This is because batteries can cost double or even triple the price of getting solar panels installed.

“Without storage, payback will commonly take about five years,” he said.

“A five-year payback on a system that can last about 25 years is a significant return on your investment.”

But if you get battery storage installed, this can extend the payback period to about 10 years, depending on which state you live in.

Even though it would take longer to pay off, Mr Johnston said installing a battery could give you power during blackouts.

“You are unlikely to be able to go off-grid … but you will be far less reliant on the grid,” he said.

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The reason we have to wait for The Lego Batman movie

AUSTRALIAN moviegoers were left with a bitter, yet familiar, taste in their mouth in December when the distributor of the The Lego Batman movie announced it would have a delayed release date, premiering Down Under more than six weeks after it hits US cinemas.

The decision was not only rankling for fans but seemed like it went against all common sense.

The same thing happened with the hugely popular original Lego Movie which was released in Australia 54 days after the US — with disastrous results.

Having to wait long periods for movies and TV shows to become available in Australia is an often cited reason for high rates of illegal piracy.

Back in 2014 when the Lego movie was trending to become the most illegally downloaded film of the year, Graham Burke the chief executive of Village Roadshow — who own the distribution rights — said the high level of piracy cost the company somewhere between $3.5 million and $5 million in sales.

Mr Burke said it was a “difficult judgment call” to release the movie in Australia more than six weeks after the US in order to line up with the school holidays.

“Yes, we will lose a lot to piracy, but the other side of the coin is the film is available when the audience that goes to these sort of films wants to see it,” he said.

“When certain films go out in non-holiday periods, our audiences get very cross because the kids are not available to take them.”

Despite being developed by local animation studio Animal Logic in Sydney’s Fox Studios, The Lego Batman movie will released in 42 other countries before Australian viewers will get their chance.

The decision by the rights holders provides a stark contrast to comments made by Mr Burke in front of an audience at the Online Copyright Infringement Forum in 2014.

“We made one hell of a mistake (with the Lego Movie),” he said. “We held it for a holiday period, it was a disaster. It caused it to be pirated very widely.”

Doing it again is certainly a gamble and we’ll have to wait until March 30, when it hits Australian cinemas, to see if it pays off.

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Dubai aims to launch hover-taxi by July

DUBAI has tested a Chinese prototype of a self-driving hover-taxi, its transport authority said on Monday, with the aim of introducing the aerial vehicle in the emirate by July.

The test of the one-man electric vehicle comes as the city state in the United Arab Emirates seeks to ensure a quarter of its means of transport are self-driving by 2030.

The EHang 184 can travel on a programmed course at 100 kilometres an hour at an altitude of 300 metres, the authority said in a statement.

A passenger simply needs to select a destination for the autonomous taxi to take off, fly the route and touch down in the chosen spot monitored by a ground control centre, it said.

The vehicle, made by Chinese drone manufacturer EHang, can recharge in two hours and make trips of up to 30 minutes.

“The autonomous aerial vehicle exhibited at the World Government Summit is not just a model,” authority head Mattar al-Tayer said on Monday.

“We have already experimented (with) the vehicle in a flight in (the) Dubai sky,” he said in English.

The authority was “making every effort to start the operation of the autonomous aerial vehicle in July 2017” to help reduce traffic congestion, Tayer said.

The quadcopter is powered by eight propellers, the authority said. It has highly accurate sensors and can resist extreme temperatures, it said. The emirate is known for its scorching summers.

In November, Dubai agreed a deal with US start-up Hyperloop One to study the construction of a near-supersonic transport link to the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi.

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One in four Aussies admit to getting into arguments over Netflix cheating

Netflix wants to remind everyone about the fragility of their relationship.

The streaming giant has released a survey which reveals the high rate of streaming infidelity among Australian subscribers.

That’s right, the time when you had to go home to visit your uncle and his new girlfriend, your partner probably watched the last episode of Stranger Things without you.

Sharing is caring, as they say, and it’s always nicer to watch a new TV series with your partner, best friend or favourite housemate. But nearly half of all Aussies (45 per cent) break this sacred commitment.

The survey was carried out by online market research company SurveyMonkey in December last year, and is based on a sample size of more than 30,000 respondents globally.

Defined as secretly watching a TV show ahead of your partner, 41 per cent of Australians admitted to Netflix cheating three or more times.

Of the 45 per cent of Aussies who said they cheated, 61 per cent said they didn’t confess.

It seems we can’t help ourselves when it comes to the likes of The Crown and House of Cards as the survey showed Australians were more likely to cheat on drama content than any other nationality in the world (57 per cent).

While the Netherlands were the most loyal viewers (73 per cent hadn’t cheated), Australia was up there with Brazil and Mexico as the worst offenders.

And for many couply couch potatoes, such treachery is serious business. Nearly one in four Aussies (24 per cent) admitted they and their partner had gotten into a verbal argument over the dishonest binge watching.

Clearly some things — like what happened at band camp — are better left unsaid, even if everyone kind of suspects it to be true.

In fact, nearly 70 per cent said they would cheat more regularly if they thought they could get away with it.

The survey is clearly a clever marketing gimmick from the streaming giant — but it is something that many couples (and housemates) do debate.

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Android security boss challenges ecosystem’s bad rap

Google’s Android security boss has challenged what he sees as frequent overstatement of malware infection rates on Android devices and the sophistication of the malicious software.

Speaking at RSA Conference 2017 in San Francisco, director of Android security Adrian Ludwig said the Android ecosystem is “an order of magnitude cleaner than traditional desktop environments”.

“Overall we’re not seeing a ton of devices being compromised, which is interesting and I think very different from what you might hear in the media,” Ludwig said.

“You’ll see a very consistent low malware rate within the Android ecosystem. … [at] about 0.7 percent of devices.”

Ludwig said there was “no good way” to compare infection rates for Android to either of the other two major mobile operating systems, iOS and Chrome OS.

“But you can certainly compare it to the desktop world,” he said.

“This number compares favourably by a little bit to managed desktop devices in an enterprise environment – including Mac OS – where you’ll tend to find about one percent of devices have malware, as opposed to a generic consumer number … in the order of 10-20 percent.

“So at a consumer-level – which is what this comparison is – we’re about an order of magnitude cleaner than traditional desktop environments.”

Ludwig said press reporting of infection rates for Android often converted percentages to “x million” devices.

“A million is less than 0.05 of a percent in the Android ecosystem,” he argued.

“It’s still a big scary number – but in the scheme of the scale of the ecosystem it’s a relatively small number.”

Ludwig also inferred that the capabilities of such malware was frequently overstated.

“You have to … then ask what those [potentially harmful] apps can do?” he said.

While reports speculated “they could be spyware, rooting your device, stealing your data etc etc”, Ludwig said in practice “what we see in mobile is almost all the malware is relatively straightforward”.

He said malware targeting Android users typically relied on social engineering as its mechanism for distribution – “please install this app” or “you’ve got a virus, install my AV”.

“It’s just asking the user to install and the user says yes,” Ludwig said.

“Even once these apps are installed, they’re not taking advantage of vulnerabilities on devices. The vast majority of the time they’re phishing or asking the user for access to SMS so they can do some scamming, or they’re doing click fraud and enabling commercial ad fraud.”

 

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