Optus strong arms subscribers into rushed NBN decision, Elon Musk offers solution to SA’s power woes, “Fully Loaded” Kodi boxes could be illegal. Continue reading Weekly Tech News Update 13/3/2017
Google looking to employ Aussie hackers, 3D printed vertebrae helps Indian woman walk again, Robots should pay your taxes : Bill Gates.
ATO gets scrambled, 1 billion Yahoo accounts compromised and weaponised tweets could be treated as a Federal Crime. Continue reading Weekly Tech News Roundup 19/12/2016
Ransomware delivered by social media, Australia’s cybersecurity could be better, Jim’s Group suffers from security breach. Continue reading Weekly News Roundup 28/11/2016
I would not trust today’s ABS with a pocket calculator let alone my own personal data given the way their biggest project to date has gone.
Continue reading The ABS #censusfail: Gazing into chaos.
There is no evidence at this time that the IT systems came under significant attack using resources available to me and I am still yet to see industry analysis supporting any claims of DDoS or other cyberattack. Continue reading #Census2016 What the hell?
There has been opposition to it but I think there is an answer sitting right in front of us that addresses most concerns. Continue reading Electronic Voting in Australia?
In response to this statement on ABC’s Q and A programme 23/5/2016.
Mr Pyne’s statement about not needing fast NBN and then using the measure of being able to watch “5 full length movies in the same household if you all want to at the same time.” shows the reluctance to actually put a number on expected speeds while simultaneously making an attempt to manage consumer expectations.
Firstly, Last time I checked we measured speeds in fixed units of measure known as bits per second or bytes per second not simultaneous streams of video that can be in variable resolutions and subject to different compression techniques.
Users understand megabits per second, there are tools all over the place and netflix has recently launched fast.com the simplest speed test I have ever seen. People can instantly test the speeds of their internet service and report these figures back to their internet service provider and the ISPs actually accept these as true measurements.
Secondly, the NBN is not all about movies. The education and health sectors are becoming increasingly reliant on high speed networks as are small and large business. There will come a time when the economy will be looking to shift further into knowledge economies where a fast and reliable internet connection to the rest of the world could mean the difference between winning and losing a contract.
There is also this upcoming and booming sector known as the Internet of Things, an expected US$348M for 2016 is expected to be spent globally on this new class of product that will inevitably rely on an internet connection. We can expect to see homes and businesses all over Australia demand faster broadband as consumers purchase more IoT services and businesses scramble to catch this massive wave of innovation that is expected to be worth 6% of the global economy by 2020 at an estimated value of US$100T.
Throughout the ISP and telecommunications industry, it is accepted that FTTN is a short term and poor performer compared to FTTP as it still relies on copper for the last stretch between the node and the home. This is even before we look at remote solutions where people are expected to work with satellite services that are a decent half-measure but lack the responsiveness for time sensitive applications like video conferencing and monitoring.
Mr. Pyne has lost my confidence as it seems he is intentionally lowering the bar on a technical project that has simply been turned into a political plaything.
I would have had more respect for the current governments plans for the NBN is they had simply said that FTTP was a good option and simply pushed ahead with it. In my mind there is no shame in running with someone else’s idea and delivering it instead of saying that a slower and shorter-lived solution would be better.
We are not stupid. We can see what you are trying to do.
Feb 16, 2016 – US Attourney orders Apple to assist in San Berandino investigation.
The Central District Court of California has ordered Apple to write and install special firmware to be installed on an iPhone5c belonging to a San Bernadino Shooter which will allow the FBI to access encrypted user data on the phone to assist with investigations.
Continue reading Apple to USA Court – “No Way.”
I am back for 2016 and there is already some news to cover.
Netflix getting serious about region blockers, Space X is crashing rockets and it is actually a good thing and the Mobile App curation ball is dropped heavily by Google and Apple with culturally insensitive game getting attention. Continue reading Weekly News Roundup 18/1/2016
It is tipped that 2016 will be the year that encryption, privacy and mass surveillance will become one of the biggest concerns in mainstream and legislative discussion.
It started long ago when we started whispering and using coded messages to communicate. No way did we want Bob in purchasing to know about the after work party next week (I don’t know a Bob in purchasing but you get the idea). We didn’t want our manager to know that we were looking for work with a competitor. As for the spouse, we wanted to keep that secret savings account for that special occasion secret (birthdays and stuff, the good kind of secret). Continue reading Should we have a right to privacy?
Optus wants Netflix to pay up.
“That’s a nice video streaming service you got there.. It would a shame if something were to happen to it.”
This is what I hear when I found out that Optus wants Netflix to pay for quality streaming service to support Netflix’s business in Australia prompting fears that the US debate on Net Neutrality may become an issue.
With Netflix accounting for around 25% of total traffic to services like iiNet it is no surprise that there are issues when it comes to bandwidth as ISPs struggle to meet the sudden jump in demand.
The thing with the Net Neutrality debate is that some ISPs want to charge extra for a premium service to heavy users like Netflix, Stan and Presto as these businesses heavily tax the ISP infrastructure. This effectively skews the playing field in favour of the established businesses that pay the premium while startups that cannot afford the premium have to deal with second rate internet service that might impact their businesses.
It is very early days yet and all we have so far is a lot of talk. I am interested to find out where this goes.
To read the SMH story, go here.
Fake flash based ads spread malware
Google’s DoubleClick advertising network has been unknowingly serving up compromised flash based ads to unsuspecting visitors. Another concerning development and another reason to remove flash from your computer and even go to the point of installing AdBlockPlus to avoid having the ads show up in the first place.
The compromised ads attempt to download variations of Cryptowall ransomware which encrypts user data and then presses for payment to get the decryption keys to your files.
To combat Cryptoware ransom ware I recommend installing Foolish IT’s Cryptoprevent tool to help harden your Windows based computer against Cryptowall variants. Also make sure you are running an Anti-malware program like Malwarebytes (available from ninite.com – click here for the direct link.)
To read more about the story go to ArsTechnica.
Netflix watches pirates
This is fascinating stuff. According to Gizmodo, Netflix looks at local piracy rates to determine how it sets pricing. It turns out that Netflix views piracy as a competitor so the bigger the piracy, the lower the cost to subscribers. Kind of makes sense when you think about it.
Read more about the relationship Netflix has with piracy here.
In other news…
50 Years on, Moore’s Law still relevant
April 19, 1965 – Gordon Moore wrote an article for Electronics Magazine predicting the next 10 years in technology. The lead researcher at the time at Fairchild Semiconductor had not idea that this article was going to become known as Moore’s law and will continue to influence innovation for decades to come.
Project Loon – SkyhighWiFi
It looks like Google is close to launching thousands of balloons designed to provide internet access to remote areas. Partnering with telcos in Australia (yay), Latin America and New Zealand this ambitious project could well provide much needed LTE mobile phone access in places that usually don’t have service.
Disney Research has a 3D fabric printer
Taking a very interesting approach to 3D printing, researchers at Disney have used layered fabric (felt) to create soft interactive 3D sculptures. At this time the technology is obviously in early stages being expensive and wasteful but there are promising properties to the 3D item as it is possible include conductivity and unique structural qualities (bends easier one way than another).
ALERT ALERT ALERT
Just minutes ago I was tweeted the results of the iiNet vs Dallas Buyers Club Inc. (DBC Inc.) case before the courts and the findings have gone pretty much in favour of DBC inc. with conditions.
Regardless of the conditions this opens the door for copyright holders to pursue people who have illegally downloaded copyright protected content and serve them with breach notices with an option to settle out of court or appear before a judge where I can be assumed the punishment for the breach will be severe.
The conditions include that the application to obtain customer information must be approved by a judge on a case by case basis and that the customer details must be kept private. This does NOT protect people busted from illegally downloading content protected by copyright.
This is a massive shift in the Australian online landscape where the law has sided (to a point quite rightfully) with the owner of copyright protected content that can afford to pay investigators to track down pirates.
My advice has been and will continue to be :
Do not download copyrighted content. We may have legitimate reasons to do so but you still have to convince a court of law if you get caught.
Penalties will be severe.
ISPs on board, Aussie downloaders now on notice.
If you are one of the millions of people in Australia that downloads movies, TV, music or other copyright protected content be warned. The hammer is coming down and if you are caught, it could hurt a great deal.
Rights holders and Internet Service Providers have recently reached an agreement that could see the implementation of a 3 strikes policy that may see offenders’ private details handed over to legal representatives of the rights holders. This will likely result in demands to settle outside of court or a court date that could carry heavy penalties.
ISP’s will be compelled and not held liable for handing over user data if the same user is served with 3 notices of breach by the ISP at the request of the rights holders.
This information is tracked and recorded every time you use your internet connection so this puts any Australian-based user under scrutiny.
Of course, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.
More on this story from The Register.
Quick tips for the busy grown-up.
It is the Christmas Season so I will keep this brief.
Games on sale like DVDs are subject to classification in Australia making it easy for you to avoid making embarrassing purchases for younger kids. The talk about Grand Theft Auto V has brought this under the spotlight as an example.
Technically speaking this game sets new standards and is a great game but the content is definitely mature to the point that Target has pulled the game from its shelves.
Long story short, look for the ratings on the cover of the box if you are in a hurry or ask a salesperson if you are not sure. Of course I am also available to answer your questions should you have any.
Also those running low on technology gift ideas are welcome to listen in on my upcoming episode of #TechTonight when I will help with #xmastech gift choices with Chris Ilsley this Monday 8th December 2014 from 8:20PM to 9:00PM on 6PR.
Those that are interested in my ramblings may keep on reading.
At the risk of getting all political (I am not, for the record).. Note that Singapore is getting 200Mb/sec today!
What seems like ages ago, we had a government enquiry into the Australia Tax
Turns out it is real and the Australian Government is not happy with it. In some cases it has been demonstrated that consumers get slugged up to twice the price in Australia than others do in the US to the point where it is actually economically feasible to fly return from Sydney to Los Angeles to purchase software off the shelf in the US. The report findings confirm that Australian consumers are in some cases at a serious disadvantage when it comes to purchasing not only physical goods but also digital goods and services where freight or localisation is not a factor.
Some Australian consumers claim that they are treated as second class citizens through what has been describes as discriminatory pricing and even the wholesale industry is hamstrung in some cases where supply agreements stipulate that goods to be retailed in Australia must be sourced through appointed Australian distribution channels.
The report has tabled recommendations that include:
- Repealing parallel importation restrictions in Australian Copyright Act 1968.
- Allowing local retailers to obtain supply from channels outside of existing Australian distribution networks.
- Amendments to the Australian Copyright Act section 10(1) which would allow consumers to circumvent geoblocking.
- Educating the Australian public on how to circumvent geoblocking.
- Further clarification in the term of “Fair Use” and the creation of the Rights to Resale for digital goods which could restrict content creators from locking that media to a particular platform. If it is available in Australia on device X it should also be available on device Y.
- Investigating the amendment of the Competition and Consumer Act to render contracts or terms of service that enforce and allow geoblocking void.
There is a concern that the companies affected by these recommendations would pull their products from the Australian market in protest but that would only impact those that still rely on physical goods and I would not expect to see any concern from consumers of digital goods.
All in all, this is a step in the right direction. The Australian Government is actually stepping up for Australian consumers and reading the riot act to the companies engaged in discriminatory pricing where there is no reason to do so.
To read one of the many news reports on this story. Have a look at ABC’s report here.