Episode 564 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes | 0

 

Consumer electronics vendor Belkin rapped for “lifetime” warranties that only lasted five years

The vendor has accepted a court-enforceable undertaking following an investigation by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

Belkin sold products between 2016 and 2017 that were supplied with “lifetime warranty” or limited lifetime warranty” with products like wireless routers, switches and cables.

 

However, Belkin only applied these policies for repairing or replacing within five years of the purchase date.

 

This limited time warranty was not disclosed on the products’ packaging, and was only referred to on Belkin’s website.

As part of the undertaking, Belkin will honour the lifetime warranty on products sold for the next three years and has agreed to not make lifetime warranty representations unless it is truly applicable to the lifetime of the product.

Online reseller Electronic Bazaar’s owner imprisoned after misleading customers on refunds

 

Electronic Bazaar, which listed products such as notebooks and mobile phones from the likes of Apple, Acer, Asus, Dell, Sony, Toshiba and Samsung.

 

In May 2015, Chopra was fined $100,000 for misleading customers on their consumer rights. The ACCC said that Chopra made claims such as “consumers were not entitled to a refund, repair, or replacement for goods in various circumstances, such as where the goods were no longer under an express warranty, where the goods had been used, or were not in their original packaging, or unless a claim was made within a specified time period”.

The ACCC filed proceedings against Chopra in November 2016 for contempt, alleging that he breached his court orders by making similar misleading claims through another online retailer, Dream Kart. He was found guilty in April.

Chopra was ordered to serve one month of his imprisonment sentence immediately. The remaining two months will be suspended if he complies with his original court orders not to make false or misleading representations about consumer rights and wrongfully accept payments for goods and failing to supply them within a reasonable time.

 

Apple reveals plans for new Federation Square, Melbourne store

Apple has unveiled plans for its new flagship store in Melbourne’s Federation Square, including a design that it says complements the original vision of for the precinct, increases public space and “provides a daily program of activity to inspire and educate the community”.

through a partnership with the Victorian Government, Apple Federation Square would be powered entirely by renewable energy. It will also become Apple’s most significant store in the Southern Hemisphere.

When complete, the new store will also offer free education sessions on photography, music creation, app development and other creative pursuits as part of a community engagement program called Today at Apple.

Apple moves to ban apps made with commercial templating tools

Apple updated its App Store guidelines on 8 June, including the following clause: “4.2.6 – Apps created from a commercialised template or app generation service will be rejected.”

While the guidelines were initially thought to be an attempt to clean up clone or spam applications, TechCrunch reported earlier this month that dozens of small business apps created using such tools had received notices from Apple, which stated their content was inappropriate for the App Store.

“For templated apps related to SMBs (churches/schools/non-profits/restaurants), we are trying to propose that Apple removes these apps from App Store search categories. This could potentially be a great middle ground for the 4.2.6 and 4.3 clause,” Bizness Apps managing director Andrew Gazdecki  said.

Facebook steps up facial recognition use

 

Facebook users will be notified every time their face is uploaded to the platform, even if it is not tagged.

The algorithms that power Facebook’s facial recognition technology – which analyse the pixels in photos – are extremely sophisticated, not least because of the vast amounts of data they have to “learn” from.

Facebook has been using the technology since 2010, when the company began offering suggestions for whom to tag in a photo.

For the new feature, Facebook creates a template of a person’s face by analysing pixels from existing photos and comparing them to newly uploaded images.

Users who do not want to take part can opt out in their privacy settings.

 

DanTDM: 2017’s richest YouTuber on responsibility to young fans

DanTDM, the world’s highest-earning YouTuber, has told Victoria Derbyshire he feels “loads” of responsibility to his young fans and their parents.

The 26-year-old made more than £12m over the past year.

He became successful by streaming videos of himself playing Pokemon and Minecraft.

 

Telstra makes calls free from home phones and payphone 24 to 26 December 2017

Telstra, is turning out the Christmas cheer, offering free local, national and standard mobile calls from Telstra home phones and 16,000+ payphone across Australia.

The Christmas cheer continues cheering when we also learn that Telstra is offering “free Wi-Fi at selected Telstra Air public hotspots”, too.

Telstra’s 2016 free payphone calls campaign with more than 271,000 free payphone calls made over three days

This year, Telstra  expect to see this figure rise by at least 10 times.”

Now, given that Telstra says the calls from home are from “Telstra home phones”, this would presumably mean that you need to be a Telstra customer for your home service. However anyone can use a payphone or free Telstra Air Wi-Fi no matter who their current provider is.

Telstra reminds us that the offer “excludes international calls, 13 numbers and premium and directory services”.

 

JASON

======

http://www.news.com.au/technology/gadgets/mobile-phones/apple-does-slow-down-your-iphone-as-the-batteries-wear-out-new-study-claims/news-story/8a185cbc6c6d6107cdb16fd675faea04

APPLE updates slow down ageing iPhones by cutting performance power to save the batteries, researchers have claimed.

Scientists at tech firm Primate Labs analysed performance data from thousands of the devices and discovered speeding up a slow iPhone could be as simple as getting a new battery — if you’re willing to give Apple $A119 for the privilege.

Primate Labs founder John Poole said deliberately slowing the processors can have the effect of hiding a dying battery, while also encouraging users to upgrade, reports The Sun.

“Users may believe that the slow down is due to CPU performance, instead of battery performance,,” he told Geekbench.

“[This will cause] users to think, ‘my phone is slow so I should replace it’ not, ‘my phone is slow so I should replace its battery’.”

The huge analysis revealed that iPhone 6S performance took four massive nosedives after each update that followed iOS 10.2.1.

“The distribution of iPhone 6S scores for iOS 10.2.0 appears unimodal with a peak around the average score,” he said.

“However, the distribution of iPhone 6S scores for iOS 10.2.1 appears multimodal, with one large peak around the average and several smaller peaks around lower scores. Under iOS 11.2.0 the effect is even more pronounced.”

Researchers believe the device is designed to encourage iPhone processors to slow down if they detect battery degradation, meaning customers would need to upgrade or pay Apple for a new battery to get their device back to standard.

Batteries naturally degrade over time, with the iPhone designed to last for just 500 charge cycles.

 

http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/thats-a-record-south-australias-tesla-battery-responds-to-coalfired-plant-failure/news-story/d9e02c0dbf6774ffea948a1b919f3b7f

SOUTH Australia’s giant battery is already showing its worth, state Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis says.

The world’s largest lithium-ion battery, built by tech billionaire Elon Musk, responded quickly last week when the coal-fired Loy Yang power plant tripped and went offline.

The battery delivered 100 megawatts into the national electricity grid in 140 milliseconds.

“That’s a record and the national operators were shocked at how quickly and efficiently the battery was able to deliver this type of energy into the market,” Mr Koutsantonis told 5AA radio on Wednesday.

The minister said that the battery’s quick response time showed its worth over other forms of power generation.

“Now if we got a call to turn on our emergency generators it would take us 10 to 15 minutes to get them fired up and operating which is a record time compared to other generators,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“Torrens Island power station would take half an hour to an hour to energise and synchronise into the market; the battery can do it in milliseconds.”

The battery, in the state’s mid-north, was switched on early this month after being built by Mr Musk’s company Tesla in under 100 days.

It is paired to the neighbouring Hornsdale Wind Farm, owned by French company Neoen, to bring added reliability and stability to the state’s electricity grid.

 

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/update-1-twitter-to-put-warnings-before-swastikas-other-hate-images-20171218-p4yxu9.html

Twitter has said it will begin issuing a warning before a user can see pictures with Nazi swastikas and other items it determines are hateful imagery, as well as prohibit their use in any profile photos.

The new policies also ban users who associate either online or offline with organisations that promote violence against civilians.

The step is one of several that Twitter said it will take to crack down on white nationalists and other violent or hateful groups, which have become unwelcome on a service that once took an absolutist view of free speech.

Twitter said in a blog post that it would shut down accounts affiliated with non-government organisations that promote violence against civilians, and ban user names that constitute a violent threat or racial slur.

It said it would also remove tweets that it determined celebrate violence or glorify people who commit it.

Twitter suspended an unknown number of accounts this week, including one belonging to Jayda Fransen, the Britain First leader whose videos critical of Islam were retweeted multiple times by US President Donald Trump last month.

 

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/innovation/australians-health-records-unwittingly-exposed-20171218-p4yxt2.html

One in 10 Australians’ private health records have been unwittingly exposed by the Department of Health in an embarrassing blunder that includes potentially exposing if someone is on HIV medication, has terminated a pregnancy, or is seeing a psychologist.

Unique patient records matching the online public information of seven prominent Australians, including three former or current MPs and an AFL footballer, were revealed in a study by the University of Melbourne’s School of Computing and Information Systems.

A report published on Monday by the university’s Dr Chris Culnane, Dr Benjamin Rubinstein and Dr Vanessa Teague outlines how de-identified historical health data from the Australian Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) released to the public in August 2016 can be re-identified using known information about the person to find their record.

“We found that patients can be re-identified, without decryption, through a process of linking the unencrypted parts of the record with known information about the individual such as medical procedures and year of birth,” Dr Culnane said.

“This shows the surprising ease with which de-identification can fail, highlighting the risky balance between data sharing and privacy.”

While a unique match may not always be accurate, Dr Rubinstein said there was the possibility to improve confidence by cross-referencing other data.

“Because only 10 per cent of Australians are included in the sample data, there can be a coincidental resemblance to someone who isn’t included,” he said.

“We can improve confidence by cross-referencing with a second dataset of population-wide billing frequencies. We can also examine uniqueness according to the characteristics of commercial datasets we know of, such as bank billing data.”

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/software/firefox-prepares-to-mark-all-http-sites-not-secure-after-https-adoption-rises/

“HTTPS deployment is starting to get some momentum,” said Richard Barnes, a former Mozilla software engineer, now with Cisco. “We should start preparing for a shift toward marking non-secure sites as insecure (as opposed to marking secure sites as secure).”

“As a first step, let’s add a negative indicator for all non-secure sites, gated by a pref that’s off by default,” Barnes wrote in a feature request he made last year.

Mozilla approved his request, and Firefox Nightly 59 now includes a hidden preference named “security.insecure_connection_icon.enabled” that when enabled will show the above strikethrough lock icon on all HTTP pages.

To enable this feature, users must navigate to the about:config settings section, search for the above preference, and double-click to enable it.

The increased adoption of HTTPS among website operators will soon lead to browsers marking HTTP pages as “Not Secure” by default.

For example, the current Firefox Nightly Edition (version 59) includes a secret configuration option that when activated will show a visible visual indicator that the current page is not secure. In its current form, this visual indicator is a red line striking through a classic lock that’s normally used to signal the presence of encrypted HTTPS pages.

 

https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/20/uk-government-10mbps-broadband-uso/

Over the past decade, the UK government has attempted to lock in a basic level of broadband service across Britain. The idea is that by 2020, members of the public will have the legal right to request speeds of at least 10 Mbps from their ISP, whether they happen to live in a big city or in the countryside. It’s all part of the government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO), which was laid out in the Digital Economy Act passed earlier this year.

Ministers originally considered adopting BT’s voluntary offer, which would have seen it spend up to £600 million giving 1.4 million rural residentsaccess to speeds of at least 10 Mbps. However, in a statement today, the government confirmed that it now will go down the regulatory route as it provides “sufficient certainty and the legal enforceability that is required to ensure high speed broadband access for the whole of the UK by 2020.”

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: “We know how important broadband is to homes and businesses and we want everyone to benefit from a fast and reliable connection. We are grateful to BT for their proposal but have decided that only a regulatory approach will make high speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live or work.”

The government will now begin setting out what the Universal Service Obligation (USO) must include. It’s expected that legislation will be passed in early 2018 and that it will take roughly two years to formally introduce the minimum expected speeds previously laid out by Ofcom.

While it’s certainly a blow for BT, the government is confident it’s made the correct decision. It believes that by introducing legislation, minimum speeds can be increased as consumers’ requirements evolve and that no household will be left behind (subject to a cost threshold).

The good news is that fixed line “superfast broadband” connections — which provide speeds of 24 Mbps or more — currently cover an estimated 95 percent of UK homes and businesses. Thanks to the Government’s subsidised Broadband Delivery UK programme, that figure could reach 98 percent by 2020. It means that by the time the USO is enforced, only a small percentage of UK premises will fall into the gap.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-20/apple-is-said-to-have-plan-to-combine-iphone-ipad-and-mac-apps

Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad introduced a novel way of interacting with computers: via easy-to-use applications, accessible in the highly curated App Store.

The same approach hasn’t worked nearly as well on Apple’s desktops and laptops. The Mac App Store is a ghost town of limited selection and rarely updated programs. Now Apple plans to change that by giving people a way to use a single set of apps that work equally well across its family of devices: iPhones, iPads and Macs.

Starting as early as next year, software developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it’s running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac hardware, according to people familiar with the matter.

Developers currently must design two different apps — one for iOS, the operating system of Apple’s mobile devices, and one for macOS, the system that runs Macs. That’s a lot more work. What’s more, Apple customers have long complained that some Mac apps get short shrift. For example, while the iPhone and iPad Twitter app is regularly updated with the social network’s latest features, the Mac version hasn’t been refreshed recently and is widely considered substandard. With a single app for all machines, Mac, iPad and iPhone users will get new features and updates at the same time.

Unifying the apps could help the iOS and macOS platforms “evolve and grow as one, and not one at the expense of the other,” says Steven Troughton-Smith, an app developer and longtime voice in the Apple community. “This would be the biggest change to Apple’s software platform since iOS was introduced.”

Apple is developing the strategy as part of the next major iOS and macOS updates, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal matter. Codenamed “Marzipan,” the secret project is planned as a multiyear effort that will start rolling out as early as next year and may be announced at the company’s annual developers conference in the summer. The plans are still fluid, the people said, so the implementation could change or the project could still be canceled.

 

Jingle Bells 7 by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Artist: http://incompetech.com/