Episode 624 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

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Facebook, Instagram suffer outages as complaints mount

No, Global warming won’t kill off the human population but this might see the millenials at least heading for the razor blades!

 

Facebook and Instagram outages appear to have started early Thursday morning in Australia and extending into other parts of the world.

At about 3:45 a.m. AEST, the status page for the Facebook Platform, used by developers to build apps on Facebook, changed from reporting health to notifying users of a partial outage that began about an hour earlier.

 

Downdetector.com, which tracks in real time website outages and problems, showed a spike in reported problems. Commenters on the site complained of difficulties accessing Facebook in many U.S. cities, as well as in some European regions.

One-third of those more than 10,000 reports on Downdetector were of a “total blackout.” Another third complained of problems with the Facebook newsfeed, and the final third had trouble logging in.

Users took to Twitter to report problems.

 

Google confirms issues affecting Gmail, Google Drive

https://downdetector.com.au/

 

Google has confirmed an issue affecting Gmail and Google Drive globally, with the effects felt particularly in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

 

The affected users are able to access Gmail, but are seeing error messages, high latency, and/or other unexpected behaviour.”

 

Reports started coming in at 1:53 pm AEDT and are still ongoing. AussieOutages logged up to 2822 reports with Gmail and 118 reports with Drive.

The site also logged 530 reports on Google’s search engine, with a few more from Google Play and YouTube.

 

https://downdetector.com.au/

 

What is Mercury in Retrograde, and Why Do We Blame Things On It?

 

Crashed computers, missed flights, tensions in your workplace—a person who subscribes to astrology would tell you to expect all this chaos and more when Mercury starts retrograding. In 2019, that means March 5-28, July 7-August 2, and October 31-November 20.

 

To understand how little Mercury retrograde impacts life on Earth, it helps to learn the physical process behind the phenomenon. When the planet nearest to the Sun is retrograde, it appears to move “backwards” (east to west rather than west to east) across the sky. This apparent reversal in Mercury’s orbit is actually just an illusion to the people viewing it from Earth. Picture Mercury and Earth circling the Sun like cars on a racetrack. A year on Mercury is shorter than a year on Earth (88 Earth days compared to 365), which means Mercury experiences four years in the time it takes us to finish one solar loop.

 

Sydney man charged for selling stolen Netflix, Spotify credentials

A Sydney man has been charged by the Australian Federal Police for allegedly selling stolen subscription credentials for online streaming services including Netflix and Spotify.

 

The 21-year-old was arrested during a raid of a Dee Why property in Sydney’s northern beaches yesterday, during which Police also seized cryptocurrencies and electronic materials.

 

The arrest follows a joint international cybercrime investigation with the US Federal Bureau of Investigations into an account generator website called WickedGen.com.

 

The website sold stolen account details for online subscription services, including Netflix, Spotify and Hulu, for around two years before being shut.

 

Prior to WickedGen’s closure, the website advertised it had over 120,000 users and almost one million sets of account details,” the AFP said, adding that unknowing customers were located in Australia and abroad, including the US.

 

“Police will allege the administrator of WickedGen made an estimated AU$300,000 selling the stolen account subscriptions through this website, and other similar sites identified through the course of investigations.”

 

Windows 7 to nag users into replacing it

Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 users will soon see messages advising them to upgrade to Windows 10.

 

The company styled the notifications as a “courtesy reminder” that users will see “a handful of times” throughout 2019.

 

Windows 7 will end on 14 January 2020, while Office 2010 will stop receiving updates by 13 October the same year.

 

Those who click on the notifications will be taken to information on “the latest line-up of modern PCs and information for moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10”.

 

Telstra takes energy provider to court over Belong trademark

**Everyone wants to just Belong…..

 

The telco has filed an application in the Federal Court of Australia’s Victoria Registry, claiming that the energy company infringed on its low-cost “Belong” brand.

 

Telstra launched Belong in 2013 as a low-cost home internet service, eventually expanding the brand into a new mobile business in 2017. The service was established to compete with the likes of Amaysim, Kogan, Aldi and Optus’ now-defunct Virgin Mobile.

 

Belong Energy was founded this year, claiming its offerings can help households cut their electricity bills through the Victorian government’s Solar Victoria initiative. The initiative offers rebates to eligible homeowners towards the cost of installing a home solar panel system or a solar hot water system.

 

Google slugs Australia with extra G Suite price rise

Prices of the Basic and Business plans will increase from $5 and $10 per user per month, respectively, to $8.40 and $16.80 per user per month. That is an increase of 68 percent.

In comparison, the price increase for US customers is 20 percent, with basic plans increasing from US$5 to US$6 per month per user, while business plans will increase from US$10 to US$12 per month per user.

 

A Google spokesperson confirmed to CRN that the price increase covers exchange rate fluctuations, using a rate of US$1=AU$1.40.

 

G Suite price increase comparison
Basic Business
Current Australian pricing A$5 A$10
New Australian pricing A$8.40 A$16.80
Percentage increase 68 percent 68 percent
Current US pricing US$5 (A$7.10) US$10 (A$14.19)
New US pricing US$6 ($8.52) US$12 ($17.03)
Percentage increase 20 percent 20 percent

 

Man told he’s going to die by doctor on video-link robot

 

Ernest Quintana, 78, was at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont when a doctor – appearing on the robot’s screen – informed him that he would die within a few days.

A family friend wrote on social media that it was “not the way to show value and compassion to a patient”.

 

Mr Quintana died the next day.

 

a friend of Mr Quintana’s daughter, posted a photo of the robot on Facebook and said it “told [Mr Quintana] he has no lungs left only option is comfort care, remove the mask helping him breathe and put him on a morphine drip until he dies”.

She later told BBC News that it was “an extremely frustrating situation”, and “an atrocity of how care and technology are colliding”.

Mr Quintana’s granddaughter, Annalisa Wilharm, who was with him at the hospital, also told the BBC that she was “trying not to cry”.

“I look up and there’s this robot at the door,” she said, adding that the doctor on the screen “looked like he was in a chair in a room somewhere”.

“The next thing I know he’s telling him, ‘I got these MRI results back and there’s no lungs left, there’s nothing to work with’. I’m freaking out inside, I’m trying not to cry – I’m trying not to scream because it’s just me and him.”

She added: “He just got the worst news of his life without his wife of 58 years.”

When Mr Quintana’s wife arrived, she complained to hospital staff about how the news was broken to her husband. Annalisa Wilharm said that Mr Quintana’s wife was told by a nurse “this is our policy, this is how we do things”.

 

 

Joes Podcast Notes for

14/03/2019

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp access issues

https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/13/18264092/facebook-instagram-down-partially-post-messages-profile-loading

 

  • Facebook and Instagram appear to be partially down for some users around the world today. While you can open both platforms and some services appear to have been restored, users are reporting issues with sending messages on Messenger, posting to the feed on all Facebook products, and accessing other features on Facebook.com, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Even Facebook-owned Oculus VR is experiencing issues related to the outage.
  • Instagram have said -> We’re aware of an issue impacting people’s access to Instagram right now. We know this is frustrating, and our team is hard at work to resolve this ASAP.
  • Facebook said on Twitter – > We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. It also noted that “the issue is not related to a DDoS attack.”
  • Oculus also said – > We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing and using Oculus. We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience while we work through this.
  • Attempting to use Facebook to sign into apps like Tinder or Spotify wasn’t working either, this would bring up an error saying this feature isn’t available right now.
  • If you were already signed into Spotify, it appears that your login is still valid, but once you sign out, you’ll be unable to get back in. The issues are still ongoing.
  • Gmail and Google Drive experienced a worldwide outage a few days ago too.

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A Chinese subway is experimenting with facial recognition to pay for fares

https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/13/18263923/chinese-subway-facial-recognition-fares-pay-ai

 

  • Scanning your face on a screen to get into the subway might not be that far off in the future. In China’s tech capital, Shenzhen, a local subway operator is testing facial recognition subway access, powered by a 5G network.
  • The trial is limited to a single station thus far, and it’s not immediately clear how this will work for twins or lookalikes. People entering the station can scan their faces on the screen where they would normally have tapped their phones or subway cards. Their fare then gets automatically deducted from their linked accounts. They will need to have registered their facial data beforehand and linked a payment method to their subway account.
  • The algorithms for the facial recognition tech were designed in a lab overseen by Shenzhen Metro and phone maker Huawei.
  • Huawei has said that using facial recognition for payments isn’t something new, although using it on subways is. At KFC stores across China.
  • Now listen to this – > China is way ahead of the US when it comes to mobile payments systems. As nearly as half of the country used their phones to make payments in 2018.
  • Payments were made through WeChat Pay or Alipay and was so popular that China’s central bank had to warn stores last year not to reject cash or face unspecified penalties. Still, at times a shop could not accept cash because it didn’t have enough bills in its till to give the proper change.

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What is Cryptojacking?

https://www.techworld.com.au/article/658618/what-cryptojacking/?fp=16&fpid=1

 

    • Cryptojacking is a new type of threat in which a hacker uses malicious software to take advantage of your system resources. In its basic term it’s the action of secretly using a computer to mine cryptocurrency.
    • Cryptojacking would involve the victim unknowingly installing software on their computer that would run in the background, solving algorithms to generate units of a cryptocurrency that would go back into the wallet of a hacker. Sometimes you can be cryptojacked easily and simply by visiting a website from within your browser.

 

  • How does cryptojacking work? – > cryptojacking is similar to any ‘standard’ malware attack. A user will be tricked into installing malicious software on their computer which will then have access to their system.
  • With crypto jacking specifically, this software will quietly take a portion of your computer’s processing power and use it to solve complicated algorithms. When these algorithms are completed units of cryptocurrency are deposited into a wallet, usually, one associated with the writing of the program.
  • There is a slightly positive side to this if you can call it that and that is as these programs are designed to be discrete and stealthy to avoid detection and so you shouldn’t notice any change in your computer at all if you have one – so at least this particular brand of malware isn’t going to make your computer inoperable as some others do.
    • The in-browser type of cryptojacking – > The more alarming part about cryptojacking is that it can be done in-browser and doesn’t require a download or any installation. Simply visiting a website will result in the code automatically running and using your computer’s resources.
    • The scripts that run allow the cryptojacking to take place are buried within the Javascript on the website, and as JavaScript is found on almost every website it can crop up almost anywhere.
    • Interestingly enough, this method has been cited as a potential replacement for display advertising – so rather than seeing a bunch of advertisements on a website, it will instead use a very small percentage of your CPU to complete algorithms while you’re viewing the page. This would, of course, have to be something you’d need to agree to, but there are a few websites that will just do it without asking for your consent and this is what is known as in-browser cryptojacking.

 

  • So How to avoid cryptojacking – > Avoiding local cryptojacking (from software that has been installed on your PC) follows the same process as avoiding any other malware or virus.
  • Getting a good antivirus . Avoiding cryptojacking from a website is going to be more challenging unless you want to go digging in the source code , so when you visit a website you could notice your device’s performance becoming sluggish or the fan speed increasing. You can also download a cryptojacking blocker to stop any of these scripts running in your browser. This blocker will take the form of a browser extension and stop any websites using your computer for cryptocurrency mining.