Voice recognition software is good in theory but it doesn’t always work well in practice (contains bad language).
Has Xtra’s email been breached again?
We’ve had several messages in the last couple of days from Xtra addresses with nothing but a link to a website.
They’ve all come from people we know but we haven’t risked clicking on the links.
Telecom has been urging customers to change passwords for their Xtra email accounts after a security breach.
the company has cancelled thousands of passwords and says they’ve been assured by Yahoo the problem is now sorted.
. . . Institute of IT Professionals NZ CEO told NBR ONLINE over the weekend that his members continue to investigate the possibility that Xtra address books and email were downloaded for later use by the hackers. Telecom and Yahoo acknowledge the nature of the Yahoo mail server security breach meant it was possible this had taken place. But both say there is so far no evidence it happened. Mr Matthews asks if there’s any evidence it didn’t.
The direct mail server security breach meant phishing emails were sent to the contacts of some people who were not actively using their Xtra account, let alone clicking on a dodgy link. . .
Ours was one of the accounts which had its password cancelled and we had no trouble resetting it.
But no evidence that address books and emails were downloaded for later use could just mean they haven’t been used yet.
I had a computer problem yesterday, so I called Eric, the 11 year-old next door, whose bedroom looks like Mission Control and asked him to come over.
Eric clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem.
As he was walking away, I called after him, ‘So, what was wrong?
He replied, ‘It was an ID ten T error.’
I didn’t want to appear stupid, but nonetheless inquired,
‘An ID ten T error? What’s that? In case I need to fix it again.’
Eric grinned … ‘Haven’t you ever heard of an ID ten T error before?
‘No,’ I replied.
‘Write it down,’ he said, ‘and I think you’ll figure it out.’
So I wrote down:
A teacher was telling me about the challenges of dealing with pupils and cell phones.
It’s not just that they’re used at school but that they’re used through the night so pupils don’t get enough sleep.
“Too many parents aren’t prepared to make the rules and be the grown-ups in the family,” she said.
Janell Burley Hofmann isn’t one of those.
She gave her son an iPhone for Christmas and with it was an 19 point contract which began:
Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good & responsible 13 year old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.
I love you madly & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.
1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
2. I will always know the password.
3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.
4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected. . .
You can read the other 14 points here.
Hat tip: The Lady Garden
Telecom has announced changes to overseas roaming charges which will significantly reduce the cost of calls and data in several countries:
A feature is a flat daily rate for data roaming by postpaid customers across major travel markets. Australia roaming will start at a specially reduced rate of $6 a day (Telecom will review the rate in mid 2013). Customers will pay just $10 a day flat rate for data while travelling in the UK, USA, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia. Telecom’s fair use policy applies to these rates .
Data roaming charges will be slashed by 83% to 92% in other markets, although charges will continue to be on a usage basis.
The new postpaid pricing schedule also includes new voice call roaming rates, featuring a 35% cut in the per-minute rate for Australia. Rate bands across all other markets have been simplified to make them easier to follow, with individual market rates either reduced by up to 50% or broadly similar to current rates.
For prepaid customers, data roaming charges will reduce by up to 88% and voice roaming charges by up to 45%. . .
This is a vast improvement on the current very expensive rates for making calls or using data and much more convenient than using a local sim card while away from home.
It should be good for business too as a lot of frequent travellers who use their phones and iPads as infrequently as possible unless they can get wireless connections when overseas will be far less concerned about the cost.
Remember when it used to take weeks to get a telephone connected?
Those bad old days are back.
Last month we applied for a connection for a new staff house on a dairy farm and were told someone would be out to do it a few days later.
He arrived when he was supposed to but took one look and said he couldn’t do the connection, someone else would have to do it.
We were told that someone would be out the following week.
That week came and went but no-one turned up.
My farmer phoned Telecom and was told someone would definitely be in touch the following morning.
No-one called so my farmer phoned again and was told that the job couldn’t be done. There wasn’t enough of whatever was needed at the exchange and it could be some months before there was.
Last week, about a week after that conversation, my farmer got a phone call, while we were driving to Christchurch, saying someone would be out to do something to a grey box in the middle of December.
He explained what we’d been told so far and asked if that meant that whatever was lacking at the exchange had been sorted.
I was in the car with him and could hear the conversation on the speaker.
We both got the impression she didn’t know anything about the exchange but before we could pursue the conversation, reception dropped.
As her number had been withheld we couldn’t call back and she hasn’t tried calling us again.
That was five days ago and we still don’t know exactly when someone will be coming to do whatever needs to be done with the grey box nor whether if, when that’s done, the phone will be able to be connected.
Contrast that with the service from Sky.
Someone turned up at the designated time, put up a dish, connected the box and television – and it worked.
Connecting a television and a telephone are different jobs but there’s no reason the service we’re getting from Telecom shouldn’t be up the standard as that we got from Sky.
Labour’s communication spokesperson Clare Curran issued a media release today headlined Catastrophic Failure’ Hits Southern Cross Cable:
A ‘catastrophic failure’ has struck the Southern Cross international internet cable, says Labour’s Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran.
“Labour has learnt that a ‘catastrophic failure’ at Southern Cross’s Alexandria landing station occurred this morning due to an unauthorised and un-notified software change to their wavelength switching platform, which blew up.
“We understand that partial service has been restored by reinstating old circuits via New Zealand. Full restoration is still being worked on.
“This shows the Government’s inaction and disregard for our international infrastructure could have equally catastrophic consequences for New Zealand. . .
Southern Cross responded with a media release headlined No catastrophic failure on Southern Cross Cable:
Contrary to a misleading and inaccurate media release from Labour’s Clare Curran, no ‘catastrophic failure’ has occurred on the Southern Cross Cable.
The cable is, a figure of 8 network providing internet services to New Zealand, Australia, Pacific and the US. In the early hours of this morning a limited outage affecting 10% of our active capacity occurred during our maintenance window which is a low traffic impacting period.
The outage occurred at one of our Sydney cable stations, Alexandria, and it lasted from 3.17am – 4.28am, Sydney Time, impacting 4 of our customers.
A problem occurred and the switch was reverted to its original software. The incident occurred as a part of authorised work taking place to expand capacity on the Southern Cross Network.
If the Mis-Communciation spokesperson has apologised for her mistake it hasn’t yet appeared on Scoop where she put the media release.
My phone is due for an upgrade.
The options came down to a Samsung Galaxy or an iPhone.
The Galaxy was slightly smaller and was highly recommended but the iPhone has better service outside main centres which is important for me.
Is opting for the iPhone the right decision or is there another model which is better than both of these?
When Keith Ng blogged about the leaks on the MSD servers which could be accessed from WINZ offices he said he’d acted on a tip-off.
Only later in the day did he explain who gave him the tip:
So. The guy who tipped me off is Ira Bailey. He was one of the Urewera 17. He currently works as a system administrator, has a young child, and is not interested in being the media limelight. That’s why he asked for anonymity.
He did not have any special access to the system – he just had half an hour to kill at a WINZ office. He plugged in his USB drive and it didn’t appear, so he had a poke around the system to find it – and found the giant vulnerability instead.
He called MSD to ask if they had a reward system for reporting security vulnerabilities. This is not unusual practice, and it’s certainly not blackmail. . .
The additional background puts a different complexion on the story and raise several questions, not least of which is: why someone who is employed happened to have half an hour to kill and chose to spend in at a WINZ office?
Yesterday we might have wondered why the person who found the security hole chose to go to a blogger rather than the Ministry.
Today we know that Bailey did go to the Ministry, asked for money in exchange for the information and when none was forthcoming chose to go public.
What’s the difference?
There’s a reason court witnesses are asked to tell not just the truth but the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth.
By telling only part of the truth yesterday the people involved looked a whole lot more public-spirited than they do today. Now the element of personal gain and possible desire to do political damage have been added.
Had we known this when the story first broke it would have been seen in a different light.
This doesn’t change the fact that there was a massive hole in MSD’s computer security.
But it does raise questions about the people who exposed it, their motivation and whether or not we now know the whole truth.
Keith Ng followed a tip-off that parts of the Ministry of Social Development’s corporate network could be accessed from public computer kiosks in WINZ offices.
This looks like more than a systems failure.
Any organisation which has private information ought to have someone who ensures that it is kept private and can’t be accessed accidentally or deliberately by anyone not authorised to it.
Ng is a freelance journalist and spent almost a week uncovering this huge security lapse. If you want to support his work you can make a donation here.
If you haven’t visited her before I encourage you to go back to her earlier posts.
I like the way she finishes with food for threadbare gourmets and food for thought.
Apropos of the latter, one recent post finished with:
Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns; but that is only of interest to pigs. Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees. E.F. Schumacher. 1911 – 1977 Economist and writer of ‘Small is Beautiful ‘.
A successful trial of NFC (Near Field Communications) technology has brought mobile wallets closer to New Zealand.
They are already operating in developing countries.
A Rabobank executive who called on our hosts when we were on a farmstay in Holland last month told us Rabo has introduced mobile banking technology in at least two developing African countries.
People can transfer money from their account to another or receive payments via their mobile phones. If they don’t have a bank account, a text message gives them a code which enables them to get money from a cash machine.
This system is only used for relatively small amounts because just like an ordinary wallet, electronic ones can be lost or stolen.
But being able to make transactions through their phones is making a huge difference to the lives and businesses of people who until now might have had to walk for a day or more to get to a bank.
I use credit cards or EFTPOS for bigger purchases but prefer cash for smaller ones. However, I’ve noticed a lot of people, especially younger ones, use cards for even tiny transactions.
Mobile wallets are another step towards a cashless society and one in which the developing world is leading the way.
An email from a friend included this list of nine things that will disappear in our lifetimes:
Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not, here they come:
1. The Post Office: Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term. Email, Couriers, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.
2. The cheque :Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with cheque by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process cheques. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the cheque. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.
3. The Newspaper: The younger generation simply doesn’t read the newspaper. They certainly don’t subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman, butcher, baker and fruit and vege man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.
4. The Book: You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. Many said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes because they wanted hard copy CD. When they discovered they get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music they changed their minds. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. Just think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can’t wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you’re holding a gadget instead of a book.
I’ve read only one book on an iPad. It was light, portable, easy to read and could be read without a light but I still prefer real books.
5. The Land Line Telephone: Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don’t need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they’ve always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes
6. Music: This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It’s the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40% of the music purchased today is “catalogue items,” meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, “Appetite for Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, “Before the Music Dies.”
I hope this is unnecessarily pessimistic, the music industry will change but surely music will prevail.
7. Television: Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. Many people are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they’re playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. It’s time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. People will choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.
8. The “Things” That You Own: Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in “the cloud.” Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be.. But all of that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest “cloud services.” That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That’s the good news. But, will you actually own any of this “stuff” or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big “Poof?” Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run to the cupboard and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.
9. Privacy: If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That’s gone. It’s been gone for a long time anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, “They” know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. “They” will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.
Only time will tell if the list is right – but it made me think about things that have already gone in my lifetime:
* Records and record players – my parents had some old 78s,;my first musical purchase was a Simon and Garfunkel LP; and my brothers and I gave my father a 45 for a birthday. I still own a few LPs but nothing on which to play them.
* Telegrams – though there’s a modern replacement: Telegramstop.com.
* Dial telephones.
* Steam engines (except those in museums or others kept for historical purposes).
And some which are almost gone:
* Cameras which require films.
* Toasters that don’t pop-up.
* Canvas tents.
If you haven’t got in to Facebook, don’t worry, there’s something even better:
SILICON VALLEY (The Borowitz Report) – A new social network is about to alter the playing field of the social media world, and it’s called PhoneBook.
According to its creators, who invented the network in their dorm room at Berkeley, PhoneBook is the game-changer that will leave Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare in a cloud of dust.
“With PhoneBook, you have a book that has a list of all your friends in the city, plus everyone else who lives there,” says Danny Fruber, one of PhoneBook’s creators.
“When you want to chat with a friend, you look them up in PhoneBook, and find their unique PhoneBook number,” Fruber explains. “Then you enter that number into your phone and it connects you directly to them.” . . .
Read more, including the strange phenomenon of real life, real time face to face meetings at the Borowitz Report.
The sight of one of our neighbour’s paddocks blowing past our kitchen window in a nor wester is one of my enduring memories of the droughts which punctuated the 1980s in North Otago.
Thankfully it is something I’ve never seen since and one of the reasons for that is that soon after that happened direct drilling was introduced.
This low tillage method of cultivation doesn’t leave the soil exposed to wind and weather as conventional ploughing does and it is now the preferred practice in our district.
The drill revolutionised farming and its inventor has been nominated for the US$250,000 (NZ$327,000) World Food Prize.
Dr John Baker perfected the cross-slot seed drill over 30 years as a scientist at Massey University and then spent 10 years fighting to win ownership of it from companies the university sold it to.
He regained control of the drill in 1998, after $10 million had been spent on developing it, and set up a factory in Feilding to build them.
Cross-slot tillage is described as the keyhole surgery of farming. The drill creates two side-by-side pockets as it passes through the soil, depositing seed in one and fertiliser in the other.
Unlike ploughing, it does not disturb the surface of the soil and preserves soil micro-organisms and carbon. . .
. . . Nomination follows Baker reaching the finals of the World Technology Awards in 2010. Baker said the food prize nomination stemmed from his lift in profile at the technology awards.
“It awakened a lot of people to the fact 90 per cent of the world’s food is annual crops. They all start off as seed and if you don’t sow those seeds correctly, they won’t grow and we all starve.
The drill, sold widely in New Zealand at prices ranging from $200,000 to $600,000, is also being exported to 17 countries . . .
The inventor of the drill which protects soils and as a result increases yields is a worthy nominee for this prestigious prize.
Turners has turned to TradeMe for the sale of property retrieved from crime scenes by police or seized by Customs..
The monthly auctions where things like jewellery, beer fridges and television, go under the hammer, will now be moved online.
Turners has been running the auctions for 15 years but says it can make more money on Trade Me.
“I guess the reason for that (is) people don’t have the time to come to a public auction on a Tuesday or a Wednesday or a Thursday because they’re working or they’ve got other pressures, ” branch manager for Turners’ commercial division Jason Tredgett says.
On-line auctions are open to a far bigger audience of potential buyers than live ones and also cheaper to run.
Alcohol and tobacco which aren’t permitted to be sold on TradeMe will still go under the hammer the old-fashioned way.