Brisbane Hosting Supports Homeless this Christmas

In lieu of Christmas gifts for our clients this year, Brisbane Hosting and Website Design has made a donation to ‘Backpack Bed for Homeless’ this year. This will ensure that three Australians without shelter, or a home to call their own can get a better night sleep.

Featuring an award winning design, the internationally acclaimed Backpack Bed has proven to help improve the health, dignity and comfort of those forced to sleep on our streets, under bridges and throughout our cities.

The nationally accredited charity was recognised as the winner of the 2011 Australian Human Rights Award for best Community Organisation and partners with more than 400 homeless welfare agencies to distribute the swags to street sleeping homeless people without shelter.

To buy one for yourself (great for camping, fishing or the outdoors), or to donate a backpack bed for the homeless visit



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Apple iPhone 6s Battery Problems Much Bigger Than First Thought

Apple iPhone 6s smartphones are shutting down without warning in what is being called the 30% bug.

Apple issued an advisory stating it appeared to be for batteries in a limited serial number range manufactured between September and October 2015.

Now one of its largest markets for the iPhone 6s, China, is reporting customers outside this range have been affected.

Apple’s response to its Chinese market is, “Some of these shutdowns can occur under normal conditions in order for the iPhone to protect its electronics. In an effort to gather more information, we are including additional diagnostic capability in an iOS software update which will be available next week. This will allow us to gather information over the coming weeks which may potentially help us improve the algorithms used to manage battery performance and shutdown. If such improvements can be made, they will be delivered in future software updates.

Apple has declined to comment on the cause or whether it affects the 6s Plus and other handsets.

The China Consumers Association, a government watchdog group, has said that Apple needs to take further measures to address the problem, and accused the company of failing to “meet basic consumer needs for normal wireless communication.”

It believes that the issue affects a wider range of models. It says that even after the fix, where Apple replace the battery, users are reporting the same shutdown issue.

By: Ray Shaw

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Microsoft Pays Out Again Over Forced W10 Upgrade

An IT worker has been paid US$650 by Microsoft after he threatened to sue the company following a forced upgrade to his grandfather’s computer that was running Windows 7.

In 2013, Jesse Worley had built a machine running Windows 7 for his granddad but made it look like a Windows XP interface because his relative suffered from Alzheimer’s and an XP environment was something the old gentleman could remember, according to Digital Trends.

But during its frantic bid to push Windows users to upgrade prior to 29 July this year, Microsoft had at one stage changed the behaviour of update notifications, such that clicking on the close window button caused the machine in question to update. For 21 years, that button, with an X on it, has done nothing but closed windows when anyone clicks on it.

Worley wrote to Microsoft about the upgrade using the company’s recommended Notice of Dispute procedure.

The company has admitted that the upgrade pop-up window was misleading and that customers who were misled can seek redress.

Worley donated the money he received to an Alzheimer’s charity. He had initially asked Microsoft to pay him for the time he had spent to rework his granddad’s computer and donate to an Alzheimer’s charity, but the company only agreed to the former demand.

In June, a travel agent in California was awarded US$10,000 by a small claims court after she sued Microsoft over a Windows 10 upgrade.

By: Sam Varghese

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Android Sales Up, But iPhone 7 Performs Strongly

Android remains the dominant ecosystem across the world, but Apple’s iPhone remains the most desirable smartphone in the world.

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech (Communications Technology) measures consumer behaviour about smartphones to gain insights and identify trends. Its 60 country-based consumer panels measure what the sample buys, and what they intend to buy.

Its Q3, 2016 panel report shows that iOS achieved year-on-year (YoY) growth in most markets except China (down 5.4% to 17.1%). Japan tops iOS use with 51.7% (up 1.4%).

Android had growth in most markets with Europe combined up 4% to 75.2%, China up 7.9% to 82.6%, and Australia up .8% to 55.7%.

Kantar Worldpanel is about what has been bought by its panel of representative people – brands mainly rely on it for marketing strategy development. Other figures from IDC (sell-in) and Gartner (sell-out) show Android globally at around 85-90% and iOS at 10-12% in Q3, 2016. Different methodologies produce different figures and one cannot compare YoY with specific quarters – it is about trends.

Lauren Guenveur, consumer insight director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, commented:

“Apple iPhone 7 – The lack of the headphone jack has proved to be a non-issue for US iPhone consumers, as iPhone 7 was the top-selling device in the three months ending October 2016, achieving 10.6% of smartphone sales, despite not being available for the full quarter.

“Apple iPhone 7 Plus is the 4th best-selling device in the US at 5.3% but behind the iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S7/Edge.

“Google achieved 0.5% of smartphone sales in the US, a strong showing given that the Pixel was only widely available from October 20th. In that short time, Google has reached market parity with more established brands like Huawei and Microsoft, who are also at 0.5%.

“Android remains the dominant ecosystem, topping 75% across the globe, except those regions most focused on premium devices (Japan). This is no surprise as Android’s business model provides consumers with a variety of brands and price points.

“It is unlikely that any other OS will ever reach Android’s penetration. But the apparent lopsided market share figures are not a reason for doubting the strength or future of the position held by Apple’s iOS. While Android dominates regarding the raw number of devices, it powers, Apple remains the most desirable smartphone brand in the world.”

Guenveur also commented on the news that Nokia would make a return under Android soon and its impact on other major players.

“Whenever I mention the Nokia brand name, I often hear the response, ‘That was my first cell phone!’ Nostalgia for Nokia handsets runs very high since Nokia took an early market lead at the dawn of the cellular phone industry. The Nokia brand name’s re-emergence will likely have its largest impact in Europe.

“For Samsung, already facing increased competition from Huawei across mainland Europe, this may signal an additional threat, as Nokia’s strength was in the mid- and low-ends of the market, exactly where Samsung is currently losing customers to Huawei.

“And for Huawei, the Nokia-branded products rolling out of the Foxconn factories could create obstacles for its bid to become the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.”

By: Ray Shaw

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Mobile Phones Step Up to Capture RAW Images

You’ve seen the marketing. The iPhone 7 is Apple’s best camera ever, Google’s getting serious about photography with its Pixel, and Samsung is still on top of its game with the S7, but this only tells half the story.

Smartphones have become ­serious photography tools.

There are a few aspects to this photography revolution. First, naturally, is that the smartphones themselves have become legitimately great cameras. Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign is testament to this — billboard-ready prints have been coming out of the iOS pocket rocket for the past year.

With iPhone 7 Plus, Apple has gone even further — two cameras are better than one, with the extra telephoto zoom lens. The recently released “portrait mode” is a revelation for happy-snappers. In this mode, the dual cameras on the phablet work together with some software smarts to isolate a subject from a background, emulating the “bokeh” depth of field effect that you would previously only find on a DSLR.

The effect works best on ­people (image recognition is the secret sauce here), subjects have to be very well lit and it can produce some hit-and-miss blurry results, but it’s an impressive tool that will quickly infect Instagram feeds. Portrait mode is great for the casual shooter, but while it remains inconsistent, pro photographers will probably leave it behind in favour of the next aspect of the mobile shooting revolution — raw image support.

Rugged, raw and beautiful

When our smartphone cameras take a photo, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes magic that is taking place to render an image for easy viewing and sharing. What we’re left with most of the time is a JPEG, a compressed version of the image that’s had some sharpening, contrast and colour effects applied. This is the image file you’re left with that’s relatively small and easy to capture and share.

This isn’t the only way to save a digital image, something pro photographers know very well. The alternative, raw images are the unprocessed data that the sensor records when we press the shutter. Typically, raw images look dull and flat and take up a whole lot more storage space, but this extra information is essential for taking your images to the next level. Users can bring out more detail in highlights and shadows, manually colour-balance every shot, and reduce compression artefacts.

In iOS 10, third-party applications have access to the data readout of the sensor, meaning they can capture raw images. I’ve been testing out a few of these new RAW-shooting apps and the results are pretty impressive. There’s a slew of apps that have adopted the RAW-imaging capabilities of the iPhone (currently limited to 6s and 7 models), but among the best are ProCam 4, Manual and Lightroom Mobile. With all three, users can adjust ISO and shutter speeds and capture raw or JPEG images.

Larger than life

I was blown away by the extra scope that the RAW images brought to life in editing. Everything was done on the phone — with images captured in Manual or ProCam, then brought across to Lightroom for grading and finishing.

I spent an afternoon capturing a sunset in the country, a difficult scene for the default camera application. As the sun set, I was left with a choice — either expose for the sky, and lose the detail in the trees and rolling hills; or expose for the landscape, and blow out the colours and texture burning across the horizon. I took both, but neither was particularly pleasant. Swapping over to Manual, the problem disappeared — shooting on auto mode but tapping on the sky for exposure and focus, I captured the scene in RAW and imported the picture into Lightroom. A few quick adjustments to my exposure, highlights and shadows later and I was left with a beautiful image that much more accurately captured the scene.

Simpler scenes benefit from this increased editing headroom, too — test shots in good lighting consistently produced better results. Android users shouldn’t feel left out of the party. Raw support is also present in Lightroom Mobile and a few other third-party apps. The real downside to the increased capacity of these phones is the time factor — you’re going to be spending a lot more time getting the image just right. In a hurry, use the default camera app — they’re truly great these days — but if you’re capturing a memory or just hunting for Instagram followers, try RAW. You will be surprised.

By: James Tindale

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Top 7 Top Tech Innovations of 2016

There was lots of talk about virtual reality this year, but most of it was looking forward to trends that might come true in a few years. The real action, however, was in another form of reality, the augmented kind.

AR, or augmented reality, tops our annual list of tech innovations for 2016, highlighted, of course, by the Pokémon Go app, and all those crazy filters we added to our Snapchat photos.

Snapchat, the app originally beloved for sending photos that could disappear within 10 seconds, has expanded into a service about 150 million people visit daily, fuelled by the selfie lens, where you can add cat ears and rainbow tongues to your photos and videos.

This month, it went one step further with the introduction of “World Lenses”, which put smiles onto ordinary clouds in the background of your photo, or add falling rain or snow to an image.

The red-hot Spectacles video glasses, released at the end of the year, don’t have AR — you shoot regular 10-second video clips that can be viewed on Snapchat. But it’s not hard to imagine what the product could morph into eventually with AR.

This, for all its silliness, is augmented reality, a far cry from costly, immersive virtual-reality headsets produced by Facebook’s Oculus, Samsung, HTC and Google. While these all won praise for their quality, they’ve lacked the “killer app” that’s made everyone — from nephews to grandmothers — want to try it.

Not so with augmented reality, as the raging popularity of Pokémon Go attested.

1. Pokémon Go

This northern summer, the Pokémon Go phenomenon hit seemingly overnight. Millions of people ditched work and other commitments to pour into the streets in search of characters to catch via their smartphone app.

The game, which boasts more than 500 million downloads, was real, while the simulated characters were super-imposed into real-life situations on our smartphone cameras like theme parks, carnivals and ocean-front boardwalks.

The fun was short-lived, though. The app currently isn’t even in the top 50 on Apple’s app chart, and clocks in at no. 40 on Google’s Play chart.

But do we expect big things in AR next year? Absolutely.

2. Smartphone steadicam

I fell hard this year for the Osmo Mobile Gimbal, the drone-camera-technology on a stick from DJI, the market leader in drone sales. Long seen in movies, with crane shots that appear to be flying, you can now achieve similar results for just a few hundred dollars.

Last year, DJI introduced the Osmo as a unit with a dedicated camera for $US550 ($740). This year it went mass market with the Mobile, which uses your smartphone camera to record the fluid, smooth images, using the motors of the gimbal, a feature on many drones, to steady your shots.

Use it, and your fans might think you hired a helicopter to come along with you for the shoot.

Over the weekend, DJI had a Black Friday deal with a free extra battery (worth $US35), which you will need. The original battery lasts only about 30-45 minutes.

Runner-up goes to the GoPro Karma Grip, a similar steadicam on a stick for your GoPro, which initially was included with the price of the $US1100 Karma drone. But then the drone started falling from the skies, and GoPro recalled the product. The action-cam maker has yet to put the Grip for sale as an accessory, but says it’s coming soon. I tested it and loved the super-wide shots you could get on the GoPro camera, now steady for the first time.

3. New way to scan

Last year, Google gave us Google Photos, an app that organised your huge, growing photo collection with facial recognition and no storage limits. Now the same division just unleashed ScanPhoto as an alternative to all of us who take photos of old photos with our smartphone. The images are decent, but sometimes there’s glare, and the orientation is a little off.

The app’s genius is that it takes four photos of each image, and uses software to eliminate glare — very well, as it has tools to adjust the crop, and then inserts them directly into Google Photos, so you can find them.

Your alternative is using a paid service like or iMemories, with which the quality will be better and it will be less taxing than having you do a shoebox’s worth of photos one by one.

But as a free addition to the app portfolio that’s always by our side, it can’t be beat.

4. Bluetooth lifesaver

In my house, we can’t live without Tile, the little bluetooth gizmo that attaches to key ring chains and the inside of my wallet to help me find lost stuff. Can’t find something? Just open the Tile app, and wait for the ring tone to locate the missing item. New for this year was the Tile Slim, a $US30 thinner version (as thin as two credit cards, the company says). The Slim is made to more easily live in tight spaces, like a passport or bottom of a camera, which means we can use it in more places.

5. Better home Wi-Fi

Finally, consistent internet throughout the house with the Eero, a gadget that works alongside your router to stream your signal through walls, doors and other former obstacles in the home. The founder of the company, Nick Weaver, told USA TODAY this year how his parents’ Wi-Fi woes inspired him to start Eero.

“Our networks run our homes,” he said. “Without the Internet, it’s hard to get any work done, hard to relax. I really wanted to fix this problem.”

He put enterprise-style networking tech into small white boxes.

“You think you can just have a router run our expanding collections of devices, but that’s not so.”

Instead, you place Eero units throughout the home to spread the internet signal. It’s pricey — a three-pack starts at $US499, but Eero was offering Black Friday pricing at $US100 off. (Google has a similar product, Google Wifi, that’s expected to be released by next month for $US129.)

6. Acoustics that sound electric

I love playing acoustic guitars because I can grab them and start playing immediately, without having to plug in. I love the sound of acoustic, but electric doesn’t sound too shabby, either. So call me a huge fan of Yamaha’s innovation here — Yamaha TransAcoustic guitar, which can sound electrified through technology.

Yamaha pulls this off by installing what’s called an “actuator” into the inner surface of the Transacoustic guitar back (street price, about $US1000), which vibrates in “response to the vibrations of the strings”, according to the company. Turn it on, and you get “Reverb” and “Chorus” sounds, which add presence to your music. Many guitar players crank up the reverb on their amps or pedals. I just adjust the volume on the TransAcoustic, and do it naturally, without any cords.

7. The drone that fits in a (large) pocket

Finally, how about a small, light drone that can slip into a really tight space? In the DJIMavic Pro drone, DJI brought down the size of the flying machine into one that could easily join you for hikes, cycling expeditions and the like. For a $US999 drone that was so popular, production is backed up at least two months, according to the website.

(Rival GoPro had a similar idea with the Karma drone, priced at $US1099 and said to be small and portable — but in truth, it was rather large and heavy, and had this little problem of falling from the skies during flight. The unit has since been recalled; it did produce beautiful images, though.)

By: Jefferson Graham

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Samsung Pay Gears Up

Users of Samsung Galaxy devices which are compatible with the Samsung Gear S2 or new Gear S3 can now use Samsung Pay at outlets in Australia.

Richard Fink, head of IT and Mobile Division at Samsung Australia, says, “The ability to make payments from the Gear S2 and S3 watches using Samsung Pay gives Australians yet another layer of convenience when shopping and allow them to make payments quickly and easily.”

“For the first time, Australians will be able to use Samsung Pay to tap their Gear wristwatch and purchase their Christmas gifts, pay for their coffee while on the run, or pay for their taxi ride, all without the need to carry a wallet or smartphone. We have already seen an incredible uptake of Gear wearables in Australia, as well as Samsung Pay for Galaxy smartphones, which makes this an exciting and compelling solution for customers.”

The credit card providers that are covered, initially, include Australian-issued American Express cards and Citi (Visa) credit cards.

Samsung Pay supports two types of contactless payments: NFC (Near Field Communications) and the later MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission). The Gear S2, Galaxy S6/Edge have NFC only and the Gear S3, Galaxy S6 Edge+ and GS7/Edge and Note 5 have MST as well.

The Gear must be paired to a compatible Galaxy device and then the Gear S2 and S3 can be used as standalone payment devices with a PIN. One can also pay using the smartphone as a contactless device with Fingerprint authentication.

Almost any loyalty card can be digitally stored as well.

At present, Samsung Pay can be used in Australia, South Korea, United States, China, Spain, and Singapore.

The credit or debit card number is not saved on the device, rather just a token and a cryptogram that is only valid for that payment are transmitted to the card reader.

Samsung is negotiating to extend the credit/debit card and financial institution coverage.

By: Ray Shaw

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Hidden challenges emerge as data breach notification laws finally hit Australia

Australia’s new mandatory data breach disclosure law is attracting a lot of attention, and a lot of criticism. But it will also have some interesting – and perhaps unintended – consequences.

Most commentary has been about the fact that it will give Australia some of the strictest disclosure rules in the world. That is a good thing to some people and a bad thing to others.

Some critics, such as the recently formed group Data Governance Australia, are still trying to stop the law.

The chief executive of Data Governance Australia, Graeme Samuels, former head of the ACCC, says the legislation is “heavy-handed” and wants instead an industry voluntary code of conduct.

It is almost certainly too late for that.

After a long and tortuous path through Parliament that began five years and three governments ago, the bill has now been introduced to Parliament. It will almost certainly pass, because it has support from both sides of politics.

The legislation places a strong responsibility on public and private sector organisations to ensure they are aware of data breaches, and that they act on them promptly.

It sets the bar lower than many such laws in other jurisdictions. It will mean it is not enough that an organisation makes a disclosure after it discovers a breach. Reading the legislation literally, the disclosure must be made even if the organisation simply believes a breach has occurred.

The bill will have the effect of significantly raising the profile of data security in most organisations. That is a good thing – in the modern world nearly all our information assets are in electronic form, and those assets have significant value.

Unexpected consequences

But the legislation also has the potential to significantly affect planning for a national electronic ID plan, and for any attempts to harmonise state and federal moves in that direction.

The Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Agency – formerly the Digital Transformation Office – has indicated that it wants to introduce a voluntary electronic ID system, perhaps using voice identification technology already adopted by the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink.

It would be used with the MyGov system, which enables a single sign-on by citizens wishing to deal online with multiple government departments.

But the NSW Government has developed a separate system for Service NSW, which does the same thing for people dealing with separate agencies in that state.

Other states are also considering electronic ID systems. There has been some talk of unifying them all through MyGov, but this is unlikely to happen without uniform privacy and data breach notification in each state.

The new data breach notification legislation covers Australian Government agencies and private organisations with an annual turnover of more than $3 million.
But it does not cover state government agencies, all of which operate under their state’s own privacy laws, none of which include mandatory data breach disclosure.

The fact the states and territories are specifically excluded from the federal legislation makes co-operation on an electronic ID standard problematic.

Section 109 of the Constitution says federal law overrides state law, but the states may not wish to subject themselves to the more onerous reporting requirements of the federal data breach reporting legislation, which could act as a disincentive to any co-operation in this area.

Opportunity for harmony

This is a problem, but it is also an opportunity. It is an opportunity for the states to update and harmonise their privacy laws so that there is a uniform regime operating across the country.

That will ensure all government agencies – federal, state and local – will be able to take advantage of the requirements of the new law to improve the integrity of their systems, and to take advantage of a unified national electronic ID system.

That would have many advantages. A single sign-on for citizens dealing with governments at all levels would greatly facilitate the growth of e-government in Australia, and would mean all government agencies would need to be much more serious around security, and in particular around their ability to monitor, detect, respond and report on data breaches.

Originally, the new mandatory data breach disclosure legislation said that a notification must be made “if an entity is aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a serious data breach of the entity, the entity must, as soon as practicable after the entity becomes so aware, or ought reasonably to have become so aware, as the case may be”.

It stated that an organisation cannot claim it did not know a breach had occurred. It cannot be wilfully blind to breaches, and it cannot claim plausible deniability around security incidents.

It also means that breaches need to be properly investigated, and in a timely manner – you have a 30-day limit to conduct your investigation.

Reports since the draft bill was developed have stated that the government is considering changing the language to remove the requirement for notification if an organisation “ought to have been aware”, however, we are yet to see these changes take place.

Important change

Data breaches are not good for public trust and they are not good for people whose personal details are compromised. The bill marks an important change, because it says essentially that if a data breach occurs there are no mitigating circumstances.

Organisations will need to properly determine the amount of harm the breach causes.

It is clear that the intent behind the terminology in the legislation is to make it an imperative for organisations, in the private and public sectors, to step up their cyber security capabilities.

Over the last few years we have seen a large number of highly publicised data breaches, with substantial evidence that many organisations did not have effective process or procedures, or the right people, to prevent the breaches, remediate them, or to properly inform affected parties.

The new legislation is intended to ensure there is much less chance of that happening in Australia in the future.

All organisations will have to take cyber security more seriously, and be more proactive in improving their monitoring, detection and reporting.

By: Leonard Kleinman – Leonard Klienman is chief cyber security adviser, Asia Pacific and Japan, for security company RSA.

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