Episode 546 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


Sydney man gets suspended jail sentence for giving 8000 people free Foxtel

A 33-year-old Sydney resident has been handed an 18-month suspended jail term for providing free access to Foxtel for 8000 people across the country.

Detail on how the network operated was not disclosed

Haidar Majid Salam Al Baghdadi reportedly ran the operation from his home in Sydney’s south west. He was arrested and charged in 2013

Microsoft patches first critical Linux on Windows bug

Microsoft’s monthly Patch Wednesday/Thursday bundle of fixes sees a total of 25 critical vulnerabilities in several products taken care of, including the first fix for a security flaw in the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

The Windows Subsystem for Linux appeared last year. It is the result of a collaboration between Microsoft and Canonical, which develops Ubuntu, and allows users to run Linux binary executables on Windows 10.

Patches are also available for Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol, Sharepoint collaboration tool, SQL Server database and other software including the built-in  😮 Adobe Flash Player in the Edge and Internet Explorer web browsers.

The AEC is building an app for enrolment, polling info

two mobile applications

one for public usage

and the other for its election workforce – to provide better access to its services and information.

The public app will allow citizens to check their enrolment status and details of federal, state or local electoral divisions, and use GPS to identify the closest polling station and wait time.

It will also hook into the AEC’s tally room API to provide access to results in real-time, and offer ‘voters voice’ functionality to help people with communication difficulties participate in elections.

The AEC has already drafted an API and conceptual user interface design specification in the two years :-O  since the project first began, and it now wants help building the apps.

no mention of the use of the app for electronic voting, and it remains unlikely that this will change in the short term

Cuscal glitch sees Woolies shoppers charged twice

A “processing error” at Woolworths payments provider Cuscal has resulted in shoppers being charged twice for purchases made in March.

The issue affects both online and physical transactions

“We are working closely with Cuscal and can confirm any payment errors will be corrected as soon as possible.

Password guru regrets past advice


Bill Burr had advised users to change their password every 90 days and to muddle up words by adding capital letters, numbers and symbols


Current guidelines no longer suggest passwords should be frequently changed, because people tend to respond by making only small alterations to their existing passwords – for example, changing “monkey1” into “monkey2”- which are relatively easy to deduce.


Mr Burr’s original advice was distributed by the US government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Prof Alan Woodward, from the University of Surrey.

“But we’ve known for some considerable time that these guidelines actually had a rather unfortunate effect.

“For example, the more often you ask someone to change their password, the weaker the passwords they typically choose.

“And, as we have all now so many online accounts, the situation is compounded so it encourages behaviours such as password reuse across systems.”


Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre issued its own guidance on the matter in 2015.

It recommended that organisations abandoned a policy of pushing their users into regular password resets, and that they should support the use of password managers – programs that securely store hundreds of different logins, avoiding the need to memorise each one.

Podcast patent ruled invalid by court


The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) argued that Personal Audio LCC had “not invented anything new” when it acquired the patent in 2012.


Personal Audio had tried to develop a digital audio player in the 1990s.

The product never went on sale.

In 2013, founder James Logan said he had spent $1.6m (£1.2m) on his creation.

“During the life of Personal Audio, I invested $1.6m, and lost it all,” he said


Fromi wikipedia
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, California. The foundation was formed in July, 1990 by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow and Mitch Kapor to promote Internet civil liberties.

EFF provides funds for legal defense in court, presents amicus curiae briefs, defends individuals and new technologies from what it considers abusive legal threats, works to expose government malfeasance, provides guidance to the government and courts, organizes political action and mass mailings, supports some new technologies which it believes preserve personal freedoms and online civil liberties, maintains a database and web sites of related news and information, monitors and challenges potential legislation that it believes would infringe on personal liberties and fair use, and solicits a list of what it considers abusive patents with intentions to defeat those that it considers without merit.


The technology at the heart of the legal dispute allowed websites to be updated with new video and audio podcasts.

Companies targeted by Personal Audio for using it included the broadcasters CBS, NBC and Fox, and consumer electronics giant Samsung.

EFF began legal proceedings in 2013 and crowd-funded for costs

However, the EFF said people had already been uploading podcasts before Personal Audio filed for the patent in 2009.


Game of Thrones hackers demand ransom


In a new dump, they also published a script for the as yet unbroadcast fifth episode of the current series.

Company documents and video episodes of other HBO shows were also shared.

The hackers claim to have 1.5TB of data in total, but HBO has said it does not believe its email system has been compromised.


The ransom note featured in a video containing scrolling text, addressed to HBO chief executive Richard Plepler.

However, the hackers have not made public how much they want.

“Our demand is clear and non-negotiable: we want XXXX dollars to stop leaking your data,” the redacted note reads.

“HBO spends $12m for market research and $5m for [Game of Thrones series seven] advertisements. So consider us another budget for your advertisements.”

It was signed: “Mr Smith”.

Although the note is not dated, it gives HBO a deadline of three days to make the payment.

The broadcaster has said it continues to investigate the incident.







Disney announced its intent to pull its movies from Netflix and start its own streaming service. This upset many users across the web as the whole appeal of the streaming model becomes diluted when there are too many “Netflixes.” TorrentFreak argues that “while Disney expects to profit from the strategy, more fragmentation is not ideal for the public” and that the move “keeps piracy relevant.”

Although Disney’s decision may be good for Disney, a lot of Netflix users are not going to be happy. It likely means that they need another streaming platform subscription to get what they want, which isn’t a very positive prospect. In piracy discussions, Hollywood insiders often stress that people have no reason to pirate, as pretty much all titles are available online legally. What they don’t mention, however, is that users need access to a few dozen paid services, to access them all. In a way, this fragmentation is keeping the pirate ecosystems intact. While legal streaming services work just fine, having dozens of subscriptions is expensive, and not very practical. Especially not compared to pirate streaming sites, where everything can be accessed on the same site.



Researchers in the United States have unveiled a prototype of a battery-free mobile phone, using technology they hope will eventually come to be integrated into mass-market products. The phone is the work of a group of researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle and works by harvesting tiny amounts of power from radio signals, known as radio frequency or ‘RF’ waves. “Ambient RF waves are all around us so, as an example, your FM station broadcasts radio waves, your AM stations do that, your TV stations, your cellphone towers. They all are transmitting RF waves,” team member Vamsi Talla told Reuters. The phone is a first prototype and its operation is basic – at first glance it looks little more than a circuit board with a few parts attached and the caller must wear headphones and press a button to switch between talking and listening.



The risk of cyber attacks targeting ships’ satellite navigation is pushing nations to delve back through history and develop back-up systems with roots in World War Two radio technology. Ships use GPS (Global Positioning System) and other similar devices that rely on sending and receiving satellite signals, which many experts say are vulnerable to jamming by hackers. About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea and the stakes are high in increasingly crowded shipping lanes. Unlike aircraft, ships lack a back-up navigation system and if their GPS ceases to function, they risk running aground or colliding with other vessels. South Korea is developing an alternative system using an earth-based navigation technology known as eLoran, while the United States is planning to follow suit. Britain and Russia have also explored adopting versions of the technology, which works on radio signals.



A team of eight researchers has discovered that by altering street signs, an adversary could confuse self-driving cars and cause their machine-learning systems to misclassify signs and take wrong decisions, potentially putting the lives of passengers in danger. The idea behind this research is that an attacker could (1) print an entirely new poster and overlay it over an existing sign, or (2) attach smaller stickers on a legitimate sign in order to fool the self-driving car into thinking it’s looking at another type of street sign. While scenario (1) will trick even human observers and there’s little chance of stopping it, scenario (2) looks like an ordinary street sign defacement and will likely affect only self-driving vehicles. Experiments showed that simple stickers posted on top of a Stop sign fooled a self-driving car’s machine learning system into misclassifying it as a Speed Limit 45 sign from 67% to 100% of all cases. Similarly, gray graffiti stickers on a Right Turn sign tricked the self-driving car into thinking it was looking at a Stop sign. Researchers say that authorities can fight such potential threats to self-driving car passengers by using an anti-stick material for street signs. In addition, car vendors should also take into account contextual information for their machine learning systems. For example, there’s no reason to have a certain sign on certain roads (Stop sign on an interstate highway).



in Android 7.0, Google introduced a new feature called “Seamless Updates.” This setup introduced a dual system partition scheme — a “System A” and “System B” partition. The idea is that, when it comes time to install an update, you can normally use your phone on the online “System A” partition while an update is being applied to the offline “System B” partition in the background. Rather than the many minutes of downtime that would normally occur from an update, all that was needed to apply the update was a quick reboot. At that point, the device would just switch from partition A to the newly updated partition B. When you get that “out of space” error message during an update, you’re only “out of space” on the user storage partition, which is just being used as a temporary download spot before the update is applied to the system partition. Starting with Android 8.0, the A/B system partition setup is being upgraded with a “streaming updates” feature. Update data will arrive from the Internet directly to the offline system partition, written block by block, in a ready-to-boot state. Instead of needing ~1GB of free space, Google will be bypassing user storage almost entirely, needing only ~100KB worth of free space for some metadata.



London has an interesting idea to curb speeding — magic. The British capital has painted optical illusions on its streets as part of a pilot program to get drivers to slow down, podcast 99% Invisible notes. The idea is both pretty simple and pretty clever: use a little sleight of hand to paint the streets to look like they have speed bumps on them, but don’t use finite city resources to actually build speed bumps into the road. The 18-month pilot program was launched in September of last year, according to the BBC, and the city is still determining whether the black-and-white stencils are as effective as actual bumps to deter drivers from exceeding 20mph (as if traffic in London ever goes faster than 20 mph).