Episode 606 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, leaving the company in 1983 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Forbes listed Allen as the 21st-richest person in the world with US$20.3 billion as of 15 October.

Through Vulcan, he owned the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, Stratolaunch Systems, the Allen Institute and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.


Wikileaks spills AWS Sydney data centre locations

Wikileaks website has published a document that reveals the locations of data centres housing cloud giant Amazon Web Services, circa 2015.

The document provides the exact address of facilities around the world, including Australia.

Eight data centres in Sydney are listed in the document, with six being colo sites, and two sites operated by AWS itself. Wikileaks has published the full addresses, and names and phone numbers of contact people at the facilities.

The two AWS data centres are SYD51 in Eastern Creek and SYD52 in Smeaton Grange towards Campbelltown.



WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief justified the release on grounds that “It is important for the public to know where their data is stored. It should not be clouded in mystery. This is of increased importance when the company in question is contenting for a billion dollar government contract”.




Telstra defends giving executives millions in bonuses

The new scheme, which was introduced this year, gives Telstra’s board more control over how much executives receive in bonuses each year. In its first year, the board decided executives should receive 33 percent of their maximum bonuses.


Chief executive Andy Penn pocketed $2.14 million in bonuses in 2017-18 for a total pay of $4.5 million, though this was lower than his $5.66 million pay the previous year.


Shareholders have questioned Telstra’s decision to pay millions to executives in the midst of the Telstra2022 plan, which will see a net 8000 jobs gone as the telco aims to recoup $3 billion in earnings left in the wake of the NBN.


If 25 percent of shareholders’ votes reject the remuneration scheme, Telstra will receive a “first strike,” and if that happens again next year, it could result in a board spill.

Telstra has extensively opened up about the challenges it faces with the rollout of the NBN, increased competition and the loss of a large portion of its legacy revenue. This year Telstra announced the Telstra2022 strategy, which will see a raft of company-wide changes at the telco, including spinning out its infrastructure assets into a new business and $2.5 billion in cost savings.

The company shed $345 million in profits in the 2018 financial year, though revenue was up 3 percent to hit $29 billion.


Apple will let users see and delete data it has collected

Apple has rolled out an online tool to users to download, change or delete all the data that the iPhone maker has collected on them.


Apple updated its privacy website with the tool, which was unveiled earlier this year for users in the European Union in response to the region’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.


Apple will now let users in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand see and download all information that Apple has collected on them. It also gives users a simpler way to make changes to the data, suspend their Apple account or even permanently delete it.


Apple previously offered those functions in different places but brought them together for Europe’s data privacy law. It plans to roll out the same tool for all users around the world by the end of the year.


Apple devices such as the iPhone or Apple Watch collect detailed data about users, such as whom they email, call or text message and even biometric data such as heart rates and fingerprints. But Apple’s practice has been to keep much of that data on the devices themselves and encrypt it with the user’s pass code, meaning that Apple does not possess the data and cannot unscramble it if asked to do so by law enforcement officials.


Rio Tinto runs 34 robot trains a day

Rio Tinto is scaling up its use of autonomous trains in the Pilbara following regulatory approval in late May, with the robot trains now covering 290,000km a day.


The first solo pit-to-port journey in full autonomous mode only took place in mid-July but the company is keen to have the technology operating across its 1700km rail network by the end of the year.


In a production update today [pdf], Rio Tinto said that “autonomous mode operations have increased to an average of 34 trains per day, equating to 290,000km or 45 percent of daily kilometres completed in this mode”.


By the end of the project, about 200 locomotives and 50 trains a day will be run in autonomous mode.


The total cost of the project is expected to be up to US$940 million, about 80 percent above the initial budget


Joes Podcast for 18/10/2018


A Report Finds Need for IoT Security in Connected Homes



  • Allot Communications, a global provider of network intelligence and security solutions for service providers and enterprises, released findings its latest Telco Security Trends Report.
  • The report says that Internet of Things (IoT) device security used by consumers living in connected homes is not good enough.

The Reported findings include:
– There is an average of 8.4 connected devices per home, with smartphones and tablets making up the majority of that number, expanding the attack surface for hackers
– Half of the respondents are aware of threats to their IoT devices and only 20 percent of respondents are not really satisfied with the built-in security of those connected devices.
– The top three consumer concerns around IoT device security issues are loss of privacy, over-reliance on technology, and cyber attacks.




2400 sensors and machine learning models are monitoring The Sydney Harbour Bridge




  • Did you know that Edge computing and robots are currently maintaining The Sydney Harbour Bridge ?


  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge weighs about 52,800 tonnes is being looked after a crew full time. In the upkeep of the bridges this crew are “looking for any maintenance defects, such as rust or concrete cracks” and are also doing visual inspections.


  • Over the last few years, RMS has been an edge computing network with 2400 sensors which measure vibrations in the metal. Applying machine learning algorithms to the sensor data means the bridge crew is alerted to issues before they appear as cracks on the surface. The crew can identify faults even sooner now; potentially months before they occur.
  • The Group called Data61 – developed a small unit consisting of three low-cost accelerometers and a small Linux-based processor. The group attached the units to the arches – one per arch – with epoxy glue, linking them with a daisy-chained Ethernet network and a 1.2 kilometre long fibre optic backbone.

    There are also some on-site servers and network control devices, meaning the data the units collect can be transmitted back to Data61’s data centre in Redfern.

    “They then can measure the vibrations of anything. And if there’s a physical change to that thing then the vibration signature changes, ITs like when a bus goes over the bridge it injects a lot of energy and the vibration [in the jack arches] is very distinct,” If there is a crack in an arch, the vibration signature caused by the bus is different. To any natural movement.

  • As well as the sensor system, The Sydney Harbour Bridge crew use a fleet of robots to work on the structure.


  • One robot called CROC – has magnetic feet and wriggles through the inside of the bridge structure “like an inchworm” capturing high definition video. Inspectors view the video feed and make an assessment of the paint and steel condition from the comfort of their office.
  • There are also two grit-blasting robots in use – The bots are able to autonomously sense and map a steel structure, and then plan a collision-free grit-blasting pathway.

The crews looking after Sydney Harbour Bridge now keep check on all of the 800 arches using a web-based interface. Inspections are now done 24/7 on the full length of the deck by the sensor system and alarms are automatically generated via email and SMS.





GM’s data mining is just the beginning of the in-car advertising blitz




  • The next data minefield or your invasion of your privacy is in your car.
  • In 2017 General Motors’ Tested a radio-tracking program which monitored the listening habits of 90,000 drivers in the Los Angeles and the Chicago areas.
  • General Motors has captured some details such as station selection, volume level, and Area codes of vehicle owners, and then used the car’s built-in Wi-Fi signal to upload this data to its servers.
  • The idea was to determine the relationship between what drivers listen to and what they buy and then turn around and sell that data to advertisers and radio operators.


  • And the data got really specific: GM tracked a driver listening to country music who stopped at a Tim Horton’s restaurant. (No data on that donut order, though.)
  • GM says the whole concept is still theoretical for now. Saying that no one’s data has been sold (or “licensed,” as GM prefers to call it) yet.
  • GM spokesperson James Cain says that connected vehicle data can help develop more accurate ways to measure radio listenership. That could prove useful to the local radio station industry, which continues to lose territory and ad dollars to digital streaming services like YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music. And GM sounds happy with the results.
  • Privacy advocates worry that GM has taken the first steps toward surveilling motorists. The automaker says that customers who use connected services must first opt in by accepting the automaker’s terms of use describing how GM uses connected vehicle data. But John Simpson Director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy and Technology Projects, says  “We would all be much better off if GM simply stuck to selling cars and improving their vehicles, particularly with an eye toward improving safety.”