Australia is Spending Millions on Cyber-Security

In this day and age, cyber-security is a huge issue for countries and companies alike, and everyone wants to upgrade and protect their systems. The latest to join this barrage of countries if Australia who recently announced a new strategy in cyber-security.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launched the new strategy in Sydney, with a budget of $178 million, the scheme will look to bolster their defensive and offensive capabilities. That’s right while he didn’t confirm if the country had used its offensive capabilities against other countries, Turnbull did acknowledge it had hacking capabilities by saying that it “adds to [Australia’s] credibility as it promote norms of good behaviour on the international stage and, importantly, familiarity with offensive measures enhances [its] defensive capabilities as well.”

The funding will create new centers for cyber-security and give 5,000 companies the means to test their security. Supporting the country and the companies based within the new funding will look to support an already growing cyber economy, something which the schemes document claims is “growing twice as fast as the rest of the global economy”.

With GCHQ stating that a recent investment into cyber-security didn’t go as well as planned and a recent survey showing that executives thinking cyber-security is an IT problem, any investment to protect people from malicious hackers online should be welcome.

Valve Found Guilty of Breaking Australian Consumer Law

Valve is known for creating the popular digital sales platform Steam, which does everything hardware to regular sales on video games. One thing they’ve been keen to improve on for a while has been their refund policy, something which saw the original policy replaced with one that could offer full refunds to people who purchased a game on the platform. The problem is that the original policy wasn’t in place when the court case against Valve was raised, a case which has now ended with Valve being found guilty of breaking Consumer Law in Australia.

In the court case, that was started back in 2014 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Valve was taken to court because it lacked a refund policy, something that is required by Australian consumer law. In their defence they stated that it doesn’t “officially” conduct business, instead offering a portal to video games through clients.

Overlooking the case, Justice Edelman stated that Valve was doing business in Australia and must, therefore, follow Australian law. This is the first time that the term “goods” has been applied to computer software in Australia, something that is bound to have far-reaching impacts in Australia in regards to their legal statement.

With a hearing set for the 15th April to see how much Valve will have to pay in “relief”, including the likely outcome that they will pay the ACCC’s legal fees, it would seem that initial attempts to resolve this matter and follow the law will still cost the company.

Australian Beaches to be Patrolled by Shark-Spotting Drones

We have known for some time now that Australia has been looking for high-tech ways to make its beach-goers safer from sharks. Now, a potential solution has arrived, courtesy of Westpac, which sponsors the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Services, who plan to deploy a number of drones that will support search and rescue efforts on a trial basis.

The drone being trialled looks more like a tiny helicopter than most drones and is named the Little Ripper. According to a statement from Westpac, the Little Ripper will have 2 main purposes during its trial period, determining the suitability of the drone for Australia’s coastal conditions and developing a system to detect sharks from the air using advanced night-vision systems. The drone could even be used for emergency deliveries, carrying ULB Life Saving Pods to people trapped in life-threatening situations. These pods contain a number of potentially vital items including floatation devices, shark repellent and medical equipment which could just help people stay safe until a manned rescue can be mounted.

Initially, the trial will be run on the coastlines of Newcastle, Hawkes Nest and Byron Bay in northern New South Wales, but it is possible should it go well that it could be expanded, however, details of the number of drones and the cost thereof are currently unknown.

This is hardly the only system being investigated by the government of New South Wales (NSW) to combat the rising numbers of shark attacks, with them mounting a A$16 million high-tech shark strategy. NSW Premier Mike Baird described Westpac’s drone initiative as an innovative way to make the beaches safer at its launch event, stating that “This technology has the potential to improve the way our emergency services respond when people find themselves in trouble.”

Hopefully, the Little Ripper will be able to do its part in keeping the Australian beaches safe, as it is a great example of drones starting to be adopted by authorities for the greater good, instead of hobbyist machines that only seem to attract bad publicity in recent times.

Image credit to Westpac

Australian Man Arrested After Exposé Reveals He May Be the Real Bitcoin Inventor

The real inventors of notorious cryptocurrency Bitcoin could be an Australian entrepreneur and his dead friend, separate investigations by Gizmodo and Wired have revealed. Both Gizmodo and Wired have obtained evidence that point towards Sydney businessman Craig Steven Wright and his friend, computer forensics expert Dave Kleiman, who died in 2013, as the developers of Bitcoin, previously attributed to the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto since the currency’s inception in 2009.

The investigation began in November this year, when Gizmodo received an anonymous tip that read, “I hacked Satoshi Naklamoto [sic]. These files are all from his business account. The person is Dr Craig Wright.” Attached were a series of incriminating e-mails from Wright’s Hotmail account. Gizmodo’s subsequent month-long investigation into the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto culminated in the website getting on-the-record confirmation from a number of sources that Wright has, on at least two occasions, claimed that he and Kleiman created Bitcoin.

At the same time, Wired obtained a cache of e-mails, transcripts, and accounting forms, dating as far back as 2008, leaked by a source close to Wright via dark web analyst Gwern Branwen. One such document shows Wright planning the creation of “a P2P distributed ledger”, which is an accurate summary of what was to become Bitcoin.

Since these revelations, The Guardian is reporting that Wright has been arrested, and his Sydney home has been raided by police. 10 police officers entered Wright’s residence at around 13:30GMT today, arrested Wright, and preceded to search the property. However, Australian authorities deny that Wright’s arrest is due to any potential association with Bitcoin.

“The AFP can confirm it has conducted search warrants to assist the Australian Taxation Office at a residence in Gordon and a business premises in Ryde, Sydney,” a statement from the Australian Federal police reads. “This matter is unrelated to recent media reporting regarding the digital currency bitcoin.”

Touch Screen Devices are ‘Eroding’ Digital Skills for Children

Hands up if you own a touch screen phone? How about a touch screen laptop/tablet? How many of your devices use a touch screen these days? It would seem that this may not be amazing news if you’re handing these devices to children as an Australian educational body noted that there was a ‘significant decline’ in what is classed as IT literacy among some students, in part due to the wide adoption of touch screens.

Think about how you open up a link or perform an action on your phone or your tablet compared to how you would do it on your computer, now think about how often do you use a touch screen for office work.

The report produced by Australia’s National Assessment Programme states that 16-year-olds have a lower than average IT proficiency than any other year. Among the tasks to complete were creating invitations using graphics software, setting up a tablet and installing apps and even promoting an event through social media.

The lower results could be due to the use of mobile technology, an area where skills are developed but are not commonly associated with ICT literacy. A new emphasis was put on teaching relevant knowledge and the skills and understanding to use this knowledge in both personal and professional environments.

Apple Store Manager Apologizes After Staff Accused of Racism in Shocking Video

Back in August, Tim Cook released a statement to Apple employees outlining the importance of diversity in the workforce. Shamefully, it seems the memo was never received by a security team in Australia. One member of staff was filmed ejecting 6 young schoolboys between the ages of 15 and 16. Supposedly, the staff member relayed information from the store’s security team and said they were:

“concerned about your presence in our store, worried that you might steal something.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CHftBRuSr8

The boys were apparently selected solely on the basis of colour, and a victim of racial stereotyping. Thankfully, the store manager has apologized. Additionally the apology has been accepted by the youths according to the BBC. One of the heckled individuals said:

“They apologised, so we’re chilling, no need to take it further,”  

Despite apologizing, this has damaged Apple’s reputation and raised questions about negative perceptions in society. It’s utterly ridiculous in 2015 to judge someone on the basis of their gender, race, or other personality traits. Clearly Apple, and other leading companies have a lot of work to do to educate their staff. Perhaps this is the wake up call these companies need to start tackling the unfair treatment of customers, and putting everyone on an equal playing field.

It’s quite depressing that this is still happening, and I’m doubtful that attitudes will dramatically change anytime soon.

Young Scientist Invents New Fingerprint Recovery Mechanism After Home Burglary

What sounds like the story from a Hollywood crime show is actually a real story originating from Australia. A young scientist, Dr Kang Liang, comes home one day to find his house burglarized. The thief got away with some of his favourite belongings and frustrated by the law enforcers limitations he uses his knowledge of science to create a new and improved method for fingerprint capturing.

The new process allows forensic investigators to use a new liquid instead of the old fashioned dusting technique. The liquid contains luminescent crystals that bond to the residue and become visible with UV light. The new technique will allow to take high-resolution digital images of the fingerprint and get much better and detailed images than previously possible. To get the same results, the item with the fingerprint currently needs to be shipped to a special lab where it will be heat and vacuum treated and thereby.

With this new method, investigators can take high-resolution digital photos of the fingerprints right away and transfer them digitally to a central for processing and matchmaking. This could save days if not weeks in investigations and eventually even save lives in some cases.

CSIRO said in a statement: “As far as we know, it’s the first time that these extremely porous metal organic framework crystals have been researched for forensics,” and they are now looking to partner with police forces around the Australia. A thing that I’m sure will spread around the world shortly thereafter, also aided by a large news outlet such as The Sydney Morning Herald bringing this news to everyone.

While the new process won’t help Dr Kang Liang of CSIRO in his own case and get his things back, it might make things a lot more difficult for any other criminal out there.

Scientists Accidentally Discover Orange Peel Can Decontaminate Water

Researcher in Australia made an accidental discovery that could save the lives of thousands of people. Dr. Max Worthington and Dr. Justin Chalker from Flinders University in South Australia, found a way in which to use orange peel to remove poisonous mercury from water.

“Mercury contamination plagues many areas of the world, affecting both food and water supplies and creating a serious need for an efficient and cost-effective method to trap this mercury,” said Dr. Chalker.

Dr. Worthington and Dr. Chalker were attempting to create a new plastic polymer (above) from everyday materials, with an angle on recycling discarded waste. The pair began experimenting with sulphur, a by-product of petroleum, and limonene, which is an oil obtained from orange peel.

“We ended up settling on sulphur because it’s produced in 70 million tonnes per year by the petroleum industry as a by-product, so there are not very many uses for it, and limonene is produced in 70,000 tonnes per year and so it’s relatively cheap,” Dr Chalker said. “It literally grows on trees.”

“We take sulphur, which is a by-product of the petroleum industry, and we take limonene, which is the main component of orange oil, so is produced in large quantities by the citrus industry, and we’re able to react them together to form a type of soft red rubber, and what this material does is that it can grab mercury out of the water,” Dr. Chalker added.

Toxicity tests determined that the new polymer was not harmful to the environment, so could be used to strip mercury from water without further polluting it. “That gives us hope that we’ll be able to commercialise and actually use this in the environment,” said Dr. Chalker.

Due to industrial activities such as mining and fossil fuel-burning power stations, mercury pollution in water is rife, with levels of the metal tripling since the dawn of the industrial revolution. The substance – which is thought to be responsible for diminishing reproductive rates of sealife, as well as the birds that feed on them – is incredibly harmful to humans, being linked to numerous health issues, including lower IQ in children and persistent fatigue. In large amounts, mercury poisoning can be fatal.

Images courtesy of The New Daily.

Australian Netflix Launch Ushers Fall in Piracy

Making content available prevents piracy. Everyone knows it, including Hollywood (though, it’d rather use the situation as an excuse for suing users and screwing video-on-demand services). It’s so simple it shouldn’t need saying. Yet it does, over and over. The latest proof is the recent launch of video-on-demand service Netflix in Australia.

Since Netflix expanded to Australia in March of this year, there has been a 29% decrease in piracy amongst adults aged 18-64, with the number of adults in the same age bracket using video-on-demand services has risen by 32%, according to a survey conducted by the IP Awareness Foundation. While correlation does not prove causation, further answers given during the study indicated that at least one-third of former pirates put the rise of video-on-demand services forward as the reason for ceasing to download illegal content.

“Piracy has always needed a range of measures to tackle the problem as we all know there is no silver bullet. This fall in piracy rates is definitely largely attributable to the combination of the government’s new legislation, plus the ongoing efforts of the creative industries to continue delivering great content at accessible prices to Australian consumers and the work being done to educate consumers about the impact of copyright theft,” Lori Flekser, Executive Director of IP Awareness, said.

Now, if only we could do something about geo-blocking…

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information.

Australia To Teach Coding From Primary School

Every day we use computers if we use them at our fingers or just by buying something from a store or driving down the road. Technology is a big part of everyone’s lives these days, and this has been recognised by many countries pushing for STEM subjects (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) to become a focus in many educations, the latest of which seems to be Australia.

As one of his last acts as Education Minister, Christopher Pyne has given the approval for a new national curriculum which will see subjects like History and Geography replaced with Coding. Australia is seeing a large push towards STEM subjects as its new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pushes a focus on innovation and preparing the future generations for the jobs and economies of the future.

Pyne said in a statement that “high-quality school STEM education is critically important for Australia’s Productivity and economy well-being, both now and in the future”.

With big plans such as Summer Schools supporting and teaching STEM to underrepresented groups, the development of the maths curriculum and a new P-TECH style school which will bring together education and industry in hopes of further strengthening students futures in the job market.

Thank you Mashable for the information.

Image courtesy of Gizmondo.

Could Bitcoin Become Currency in Australia?

Australia has begun a government enquiry which could lead to Bitcoin becoming a legitimate currency within the country. The Senate Economics References Committee is considering making the cryptocurrency a regular tender, with the same standing as regular money, for the purpose of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

The review contradicts the position of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which only last year determined Bitcoin to be a commodity, rather than legal tender or legitimate currency, and as such was liable for taxation under GST laws. That decision caused a number of Australian startups to threaten migration to another country.

The Senate Economics References Committee, though, has now criticised the ATO’s position, warning that it had placed “an additional burden on Australian digital currency businesses.”

“Without a doubt, the main benefit will be the confidence and certainty that removing a GST will provide to our own digital entrepreneurs, and the foreign businesses who want to set up here,” Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, chair of the committee, said. “Most importantly, it will send the message to local tech entrepreneurs that their government is listening to them, and that in itself is a major step forward.”

The committee’s review has been hailed as a positive step toward supporting new and existing tech businesses in Australia. “Sam Dastyari is recognising the growth potential of innovative technology, and I take it as a sane step towards the only sensible interpretation of the GST legislation,” said Chris Mountford, a developer at Atlassian, one of many companies that lobbied the committee to support Bitcoin. “[The ATO’s ruling] was going to be a barrier for startups, not for Bitcoin. Bitcoin was going to succeed despite Australia.”

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.

Electronic Arts Might Have a Woman on the Cover of FIFA 16 This Year

Electronic Arts is working on the latest FIFA 16 title, as it is every year, but this year should be different. EA has looked into adding female players in the FIFA titles, but this year the company will finally do it. But this comes with another question, which is who will be featured on the regional covers of FIFA 16?

The timing for the big change couldn’t be perfect too. The recent success of the World Cup in Canada and the US team’s victory has fans hyped up for the title. Also, to choose the regional top players, EA has devised a voting system. We see a lot of candidates being proposed in France, Latin America, Mexico and the UK. However, surprisingly, we see only women candidates being proposed for the Australian cover. The only options chosen for Australian are Kyah Simon, Steph Catley and Katrina Gorry.

Last year, FIFA’s cover consisted of two players from the specific region, alongside all-star Lionel Messi. However, this year might be extremely different, given that women’s teams will also be featured. Will we see regional covers consisting of top male and female players appearing alongside? That would be the best option to consider, however EA is said to reveal their plans in the near future. Until then, what do you think? How should EA display this year’s cover?

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information

Australian Classification Board Bans 220 Video Games in 4 Months

The Australian Government has continued its crusade against video games and deemed approximately 220 titles to be unsuitable for public consumption. Notable examples include Douchebag Beach Club, Drunk Driver and HoboSimulator. Strangely enough, in the 10 year period between 1994 and 2004, only 50 games were banned. So why has this figure increased so exponentially? According to a spokesperson from the Attorney-General’s Department,

“Due to the online explosion, there are hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of games currently available online,” 

“It is not realistic or practicable for the Classification Board to manually classify each of them.”

Throughout the gaming industry, there has been a shift to digital media due to lower production costs. Furthermore, the indie scene has made a profound impact and Steam is awash with a plethora of unique titles from platformers to arcade racers. The Australian Classification Board is suggesting that they do not have the time or resources to manually assess each piece of content and now expect developers to fill in an online questionnaire declaring anything which the Government believes is offensive. This could be nudity, sex, violence or glamorizing drug usage.

It seems the Australian Classification Board cannot cope with the roaring success of gaming as a medium and needs to adapt by encouraging games development and secure a foothold in its future. Surely, they should trust their own citizens enough to allow access to adult forms of entertainment. All this does is show how inept and out of touch the Australian Government is and they must realize the internet is without oceans and banning games only prevents legitimate sales from occurring.

Do you think the Australian Government’s heavy handed approach will change?

Thank you ABC News for providing us with this information.

PayPal’s One Touch Feature Expands to Other Non-US Markets

PayPal introduced the One Touch feature last year when it first rolled out to mobile devices in the US. Retailers who already had a PayPal payment feature could switch automatically and allow customers to make payments without the need of entering their passwords again. This was ideal for people who wanted to quickly check out their products, but it was available just for mobile.

A month ago, PayPal launched the feature for the web in the US. This meant that you could log into a website, place everything you wanted in your basket and then quickly make a PayPal One Touch check-out. While no official stats have been disclosed, the feature seems to be so popular that PayPal now wants to make it available in other markets too.

The company said that it will make their One Touch feature for web available for Canada and the UK at first, but more countries are on the list. The mobile version is said to also be live in Australia, France, Italy, Sweden and Spain, with more countries being considered for the near future.

The move also comes after Apple announced that it is expanding the Apple Pay feature to the UK, so it’s likely that PayPal wants to join its service with Apple’s own payment feature once it gets released in other countries. Still, I think we will have to wait a bit longer for people to actually get comfortable with paying in stores with their iPhones.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Australia’s Philistine Prime Minister Doesn’t Take Coding Seriously

Bill Shorten, the leader of Australia’s opposition Labor, last week announced that should his party win government it would introduce coding and digital technologies lessons into primary schools as a “national priority”. “Coding is the literacy of the 21st century,” Shorten said. “Under Labor, every young Australian will have the chance to read, write and work with the global language of the digital age.”

Earlier today, Australia’s current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was asked by Shorten whether he supported plans to teach kids to code. Abbott responded by mocking the idea, bizarrely conflating teaching children a skill with forcing them into work:

“Let’s just understand exactly what the Leader of the Opposition has asked. He said that he wants primary school kids to be taught coding so they can get the jobs of the future. Does he want to send them all out to work at the age of 11? Is that what he wants to do? Seriously? Seriously?”

Obviously not. Who would take plans to teach children a valuable modern skill and equate that with child labour? But Abbott’s incredulity stems from an overt hostility towards information technology, an opinion that he has expressed before. This is what Abbott had to say about social media:

“I’ll leave social media to its own devices. Social media is kind of like electronic graffiti and I think that in the media, you make a big mistake to pay too much attention to social media. You wouldn’t report what’s sprayed up on the walls of buildings.”

It’s astonishing that such a Luddite has risen to a position of power in one of the largest mixed market economies in the world. I wonder how Abbott thinks that wealth is sustained.

Thank you CodeHire, ITNews, and The Age for providing us with this information.

Secret Service Agencies Wanted to Put Malware on Your Android Phones

I don’t think it will be a shock to hear about yet another way government agencies try to spy on people, but they are getting bolder day after day it seems. A recently leaked document by Edward Snowden, dubbed IRRITANT HORN, reveals how agencies from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia wanted to infect your smartphones through Google and Samsung App Stores.

The agencies wanted to use their XKEYSCORE system to trim Internet traffic in order to find smartphone data that goes to and from the Google and Samsung stores. With the latter, they would have performed a man-in-the-middle attack to get your smartphone thinking it was downloading something from the store, but instead it would have downloaded malicious software that would track and record your data.

The document apparently reveals more than just hacking and infecting smartphones. The agencies were also planning to send “selective misinformation” to targeted handsets. This means that the agencies wanted to control and alter more than just a few emails or messages, but rather use the system to control events from underneath the curtain.

Up until now, Google made no comment regarding this matter, while Samsung decided not to comment “at this time”.

Thank you The Intercept for providing us with this information

Defence Controls Could Criminalise Teaching Encryption

Encryption, the word has been used a lot recently in news reports and in virus attacks,

It is a technology that essentially locks your files up with a key that only you know, no-one else can get to that data without authorisation. It’s a really neat technology and has increased security across the globe and of course, with it involving IT and computers, it is involved on most computer science courses.It may sound crazy that a computer science course could be classified as an export of military technology. But under the Defence Trade Controls Act which will come into force next year – there is a possibility that even educational and research activities could break Australian defence export control laws.

The reason that this has become an issue is because a skill that you may learn at school or college could be used against the military. Like building an army to fight against yourself. Many protocols and methods are used in encryption that, if exploited could theoretically give students access to lots of information they shouldn’t even know existed. All listed on the Australian government’s Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL for short)

The DSGL contains detailed technical specifications. Very roughly, it covers encryption above a certain “strength” level, as measured by technical parameters such as “key length”. However, how powerful must encryption be to be classified as “dual-use” and a risk to the data. The specifications released as part of the law are so imprecise that they potentially include an algorithm you learned at primary school called division. If so, division has become a potential weapon against the military, and your calculator (or smartphone, computer, or any electronic device) is a potential delivery system for it; quite amusing really!

If you’re living somewhere else, these issues are not unique to Australia; the rules are copied almost verbatim from an international arms control agreement. What is unique to Australia is the strict level of regulation.

Thank you to TheConversation for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Tech.eu

Netflix’s Speed Test Exposes Australia’s Broken Internet

Netflix has compiled its latest internet speed index of the 29 countries it operates in, and the results look particularly bad for Australia. The country, which gained Netflix’s video-on-demand streaming service back in March this year, is ranked 19th out of 29 countries with an average national speed of 2.82Mbps, behind even fellow Antipodean newcomer New Zealand. Although not rock bottom, it exposes Australia’s lousy internet, and the ISPs that provide it.

From the Netflix blog:

“This month, Australia and New Zealand joined the speed index, ranking 18 and 14, respectively on the list of 29 countries we rank. Performance for Australian ISPs was impacted by consumer demand exceeding the forecasts Netflix provided. We are working closely with these ISPs and expect performance to improve in the coming months.”

The following table shows Australians which ISP you should opt for if you want to run Netflix in HD, or just want a decent internet connection, full stop:

Rank Provider Average speed (Mbps) Services offered
1 TPG 3.36 ADSL, NBN
2 Optus 3.27 ADSL, NBN, Cable
3 iiNet 3.24 ADSL, NBN, Cable
4 Primus 3.03 ADSL, NBN
5 Exetel 2.56 ADSL, NBN
6 Dodo 2.29 ADSL, NBN
7 Telstra 2.23 ADSL, NBN, Cable

Meanwhile, in the Northern hemisphere, Canada leads internet speeds in the Americas, followed closely by the US, while the UK has some of the worst speeds in Europe, trumped by Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, amongst many, many others, ahead of just Ireland, France, and Finland.

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information.

Microwave Oven to Blame for Mystery Signal

“Ding!” The mystery behind the bizarre signals that have baffled Australia’s most famous scientists for the past 17 years has finally been solved. What was it? the microwave in the kitchen!

Simon Johnston, the head of astrophysics at the CSIRO, the national science agency said that they first detected the signals in 1998. “They were reasonably local, say within 5km of the telescope” . Originally they assumed that the signals, that only were detected a few times per year were coming from the atmosphere from thunderstorms and suchlike.

On the 1st of Jan the team installed a new receiver that detects interference. This detected strong signals at the 2.4GHz range, the same that microwaves operate at. The scientists immediatley started testing the microwave and found no peytons, the type of signal the telescope was finding. However they then cooked something and opened the oven door. “If you set it to heat and pull it open to have a look, it generates interference”

Johnston said the “suspicious perytons” were only detected during the daytime and as they now know, not during the evening when all the staff had finished their shift.

The telescope was established in Parkes 50 years ago in what was “the middle of nowhere”, Johnston said, far away from any radio noise. But in recent years digital interference from the town was getting worse and worse.“There’s no mobile phone coverage, no radio station, no Wi-Fi – it’s pristine and quiet and we can look into the universe and see things that you can’t in Parkes.”

The signals were rare because the interference only occurred when the telescope was pointed in the direction of the microwave oven. And “when you only find a few it’s hard to pin them down”, Johnston said.

I think that’s pretty impressive, what do you think?

Thanks to the Guardian for providing us with this information.

Snowden Warns That Australian Data Retention Laws Are Dangerous

Edward Snowden has branded the new data retention law recently introduced by the Australian government as “dangerous”, and points to the ineffectiveness of mass surveillance, saying that it didn’t stop the Sydney siege, the Boston marathon bombings, or the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack in Paris.

Snowden, the man who revealed the extent of the mass surveillance program run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) by leaking confidential information back in 2013, was speaking to a Melbourne audience at the Progress 2015 conference via video chat from Moscow.

“Australia’s role in mass surveillance around the world is similar to the UK and the Tempora program,” Snowden said. “They’ll collect everyone’s communications, it’s called pre-criminal investigation, which means they are watching everyone all the time. They can search through that information not just in Australia but also share with overseas governments such as the US and UK. And it happens without oversight.”

Australia started collecting and storing citizen’s telecommunications metadata in March this year, a move designed to combat terrorism, according to the government. Telecoms companies are required to store the data for up to two years. Snowden calls this collection process, which does not discriminate between law-abiding citizens and criminals, a fruitless invasion of privacy that does nothing to prevent terrorist atrocities.

“These were people who have a long record and the reason these attacks happened isn’t because we didn’t have enough surveillance, it’s that we had too much,” he said. “We didn’t prioritise because we’d wasted too many resources watching people who didn’t present a threat,” said Snowden.

With the empty counter-terrorism defence reeled out by politicians again, how much longer can politicians get away with perpetuating that untruth to justify violating human rights?

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

Australian Students Developing First Road Legal Solar Sports Car

The Southern Hemisphere’s first road legal solar sports car is being developed by a team of undergraduate students from the University of South Wales. The students are working on turning the eVe – SunSwift’s record-breaking solar vehicle, the world’s fastest electric car over 500 kilometres on a single battery charge – into a road legal mode of transportation.

SunSwift Business Manager Rob Ireland told news.com.au, “To be able to register the car for the road, we need to include side impact protection, windscreen wipers, headlights and a number of other components.”

“Making these changes will add weight to the vehicle, so its energy system will also need an upgrade,” he added.

The plan is to make the eVe as practical as a regular car, while maintaining its sports car prestige. “To make the vehicle a commercially viable product and not just a science experiment, we need to offer the luxuries found in a petrol powered car,” Ireland said. “We want a two-seat car that can travel long distances at very high speeds without losing the comfort.”

The project, being not-for-profit and led by students, is relying on donations and sponsorship to continue. “Other teams working on similar projects have multi-million dollar budgets and we don’t receive anything close to that,” he said. “To think we are just some Aussie battlers fighting against the odds and competing on the world stage is pretty rewarding.”

SunSwift hopes to complete the project by July 2015.

Thank you news.com.au for providing us with this information.

New eSports Betting Site Unikrn Launches

Over the last few years, we have seen the rise of esports with it taking shape of what should become a massive industry. Now the veil has been lifted on Unikrn, a platform to facilitate spectator betting on esports around the world.

There are now many ways to bet online for various sports but there hasn’t been a great platform for betting on esports, like League of Legends. Today that will change for Australian citizens and soon for other countries regions around the world thanks to Unikrn. The company will be the esports partner of Tabcorp, the large Australian wagering company.  This may explain why the bets are first being accepted in Australia. The betting will be legal and will only accept bets placed from locations that it is legal to do so. Having the foot in the door with other countries and areas will definitely help the site as they aim to become the leader in esports betting.

Unikrn CEO and co-founder is Rahul Sood, longtime computer gaming industry veteran. Rahul was founder and president of Voodoo PC, CTO for HP Gaming after the company acquired Voodoo PC, advisor to the board of directors of Razer, and left his position as global head of Microsoft Ventures to start Unikrn. The company name seemingly is a nod to Rahul’s previous job, with unicorns being startups that hit a billion dollar valuation in fundraising.

Netflix CEO Wants to Make VPN Use Obsolete

Following Netflix’s launch in Australia, a region that was previously full of Netflix ‘VPN pirates’, company CEO Reed Hastings has said that he aims to make the VPN loophole redundant by offering all available content to all locales.

Though many countries around the world have access to Netflix, the films and TV shows they are able to watch are restricted by geographical licensing agreements. For this reason, the US Netflix remains a goldmine, streaming content that is not available in other parts of the world.

Hastings says, “The basic solution is for Netflix to get global and have its content be the same all around the world so there’s no incentive to [use a VPN]. Then we can work on the more important part which is piracy.”

“The VPN thing is a small little asterisk compared to piracy,” Hastings adds. “Piracy is really the problem around the world.”

The idea, in theory, would be mana to all non-US-based Netflix customers, but it is wholly dependent on Hollywood adopting global licencing deals. If pitched to studios as a fix for piracy, they may be receptive.

“The key thing about piracy is that some fraction of it is because [users] couldn’t get the content. That part we can fix. Some part of piracy however is because they just don’t want to pay. That’s a harder part. As an industry, we need to fix global content,” Hastings said.

Source: TorrentFreak

Apple Increases Prices of Its Products in Non-US Countries

While Apple has discounted the price of its Apple TV in North America to $69, the company seems to be doing the exact opposite to a lot of its products around the world. This comes as a result of the US Dollar gaining some ground and becoming stronger in the market.

Apple products which suffered an increase in pricing include the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt Display, and are now more expensive in countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Portugal and other countries to reflect currency adjustments.

For example, the Canadian Apple Store shows an increase in unlocked iPhone 6 from between $749-$969 to $839-$1,099, Thunderbolt Displays from $999 to $1,199, and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros from between $2,099-$2,699 to $2,449-$3,049. Apple also upped the price on its 15-inch MacBook Pro in France, with the base model now starting at €2,249 up from €1,999, and the higher-spec model up to €2,799 from €2,499.

Apple is said to continue to make the adjustments in order to ensure that its products and services are as consistently priced as possible throughout the world. However, in some cases, international prices will remain higher than North America prices as a ‘safety’ against currency fluctuations.

Thank you MacRumors for providing us with this information

Two Gran Turismo Players Compete in Real Race and Win

Two of the best Gran Turismo players out there were recruited by a racing academy and ended up winning an endurance race in Australia this weekend.

Wolfgang Reip and Florian Strauss are members of the Gran Turismo academy – set up by Sony, Polyphony Digital and Nissan to encourage GT players to hone their driving talents in real cars. The pair formed part of the winning team that won the Bathurst 12 Hour race in New South Wales on 8th February.

The third driver in the team, Katsumasa Chiyo, who was not a graduate of the Gran Turismo Academy, posted the best time of all the team members, and even lapped two cars on the penultimate lap. The three competitors drove an RJN Motorsport Nissan GTR-35.

Source: Polygon

Saints Row IV Being Pulled From Australian Stores

Copies of Saints Row IV: Re-Elected are being recalled across Australia. But don’t worry – it’s not another ban. The game’s distributor, Deep Silver, has made what it calls a “serious manufacturing error” – in other words, the game was released with the wrong classification, and we all know how militant Australia is over age certification of games – and all affected copies need to be pulled from stores.

Deep Silver has released the following statement:

Unfortunately over the weekend, it has come to light that the PlayStation 4 retail release of Saints Row IV: Re-Elected has a serious manufacturing issue and a nationwide recall is now underway in Australia.

A manufacturing issue has caused an incorrectly classified version of Saints Row IV: Re-Elected for our territory to be released. This strictly affects PlayStation 4 retail versions.

All customers who have purchased the PlayStation 4 version of Saints Row IV: Re-Elected are encouraged to return to their retailer for a full refund.

Replacement copies with the correct content are on order and will arrive with retailers soon.

Saints Row IV was initially refused classification in Australia on first submission, but after some violent and sexual content was cut it was given a classification of MA15+. The recalled release also had an MA15+ classification, which suggests the version on the disk was the one that was previously banned.

If any Australians want a proper, unedited copy of Saints Row IV, they should get to their nearest store before it’s pulled from shelves.

Source: Kotaku

Australian Radio Telescope Captures Strange Signals From Space

Scientists from Melbourne’s Swinburne University have detected alien radio signals from space in real time. The signals were captured by the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia, famously part of the communications network that helped relay the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing footage for TV broadcast around the world.

Emily Petroff, lead researcher at Swinburne University, was excited by the discovery, saying, “Fast radio bursts only last as long as it takes a human to blink their eye. That is what makes this discovery so exciting.”

“Because we were able to catch the act, as opposed to existing data sets, we were able to reveal that the radiation produced by FRB was more than 20 per cent circularly polarised and this suggests there were strong magnetic fields near the source.”

The waves picked up by the Parkes telescope were circular in shape, meaning the signal was on two planes – signals from Earth are commonly only one plane.

“There are two competing models to explain the phenomenon,” Petroff said.

“One suggests it is caused by the collapse or explosion of a star in other another galaxy, while the other suggests it comes from some sort of energy flaring from a neutron star.”

“However, both of these could be incorrect and it could be something entirely different.”

Source: news.com.au