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  • OPINION

    Australia still trailing Thailand in broadband coverage

    Life, James Hein, Published on 12/09/2018

    » Wither now comms in Australia? With the National Broadband Network or NBN a certified failure, Australia seems to be working hard to ensure that to make the NBN look reasonable, any emerging 5G network must be made to hobble by banning technology companies like Huawei from providing the same kind of support it has been giving over the past 15 years to the local telcos. The given reason is a lack of trust in any Chinese company, keeping the spying eyes of China out of the country. To be fair, there is some justification for this, as China has not been the poster child of espionage abstinence across the globe. What earth-shattering useful secret info they might get from the Australians is debatable, but it looks like the Land Down Under will not be improving their communications any time soon. Thailand is still well ahead on that front.

  • TECH

    Liberal fascism is destroying social media

    Life, James Hein, Published on 29/08/2018

    » In general I try to keep out of politics but the issue of what is currently occurring on the most popular social media platforms is a critical one to consider, for everyone. I've briefly touched on this subject in an earlier article.

  • OPINION

    Silicon Valley is not an arbiter of free expression

    Life, James Hein, Published on 15/08/2018

    » It is somewhat disconcerting that Silicon Valley -- which occupies about 300 square miles, and where most think the same and have the same politics -- can determine allowable content for the rest of the planet. Some of us remember that many of the major platforms were developed using government grants and public funding. With this base they should represent all views, of all types, and not just the ones they happen to like. This was the initial declaration at least, but in the modern world, that seems to have changed. I am certainly no great fan of Alex Jones, but that a cabal of providers can effectively execute social termination is very worrying for the future of open platforms and freedom of expression.

  • TECH

    An opaque Windows upgrade

    Life, James Hein, Published on 08/08/2018

    » I have heard a number stories of users having problems with Windows 10 who upgraded from Windows 7 without a clean install. This has happened to people with notebooks, PCs and recently a server. It started a few updates back when rebooting took a long time, which was resolved with a subsequent update. A more recent issue has occurred for those who did not do a clean Windows 10 install, ie they directly upgraded from Windows 7 or 8, having problems ranging from slow to almost unusable speeds and even system lockdowns. If you find yourself having problems, backup your data and do a clean install directly from Windows 10. In short, reformat your system drive and install from scratch. For some this has been the only solution, others have been a little luckier.

  • OPINION

    Privacy an artefact of times past

    Life, James Hein, Published on 18/07/2018

    » If you have learned nothing else from my many years of writing, it should be that unless extraordinary steps are taken, personal data privacy doesn't exist, except perhaps in the deluded minds of government officials. The only thing privacy laws do these days is stop you from returning someone's lost phone. In just one day in the news, I read reports about Huawei infiltrating Facebook, another Spectre CPU problem, political data harvesting in the UK, insecure military servers in the UK, Chinese hackers interested in Cambodia (and the rest of the world) along with other items about lost or hacked data. Yahoo and Google collect far more than the whole of the US spy agencies combined, though at least the latter doesn't deliberately spread it around or sell it to marketers.

  • TECH

    A work around for Microsoft's landmines

    Life, James Hein, Published on 04/07/2018

    » The law in the European Union that I mentioned in the last article was passed as expected and the response from many quarters has been savage. At the time of writing it has yet to be ratified but it has seeded confusion in the online world as to what will be allowed and what won't. It could end up being a subjective nightmare but that is what you get when you are run by a group of essentially faceless bureaucrats in Belgium. I don't think we have heard the end of this one.

  • OPINION

    A down vote for MS Skype

    Life, James Hein, Published on 20/06/2018

    » It has been a while since I've used Skype, and I had no idea just how much Microsoft has stuffed it up. Skype for the multi-device user is all but useless. I tried to find a way to allow someone to call into my PC's Skype but to no avail. I shut down Skype on my phone and was able to call out but not receive anything. This removed the possibility of using a good sound card and microphone for the mix, and all I could use in the end was my phone. BM -- or Before Microsoft -- Skype was usable and useful. PM -- Post-Microsoft -- you should look for any other alternative. Line seems to be most popular with those I know. This is not the first time Microsoft has taken over a product, and its usage has dropped dramatically. Of course that could have been the plan all along.

  • OPINION

    Cloud tech is no castle in the sky

    Life, James Hein, Published on 06/06/2018

    » So, who has the best cloud? Gartner has been looking into that for you and the results are in. Amazon's Web Services and Microsoft Azure are the top two with a combination of maturity, ability to execute and a completeness of vision. As cloud technologies have evolved people are no longer looking for simply some rented space for data storage but are demanding more functionality. They also want stable availability, good security along with great performance. Of the eight vendors examined, IBM and Oracle finished at the bottom showing that just having a long history doesn't necessarily keep you near the top.

  • OPINION

    Words don't come easy to millennials

    Life, James Hein, Published on 23/05/2018

    » Next time you're in a restaurant or where people gather in small groups, sit and watch for a while. Note how many of the groups are silent, all doing something on their phones. When you find such a group, note how long they go without saying a word to each other. There is an interesting behavioural shift occurring in the phone-enabled world where casual conversation skills are being replaced by surfing, messaging and instant posting. It won't be too long before the best way to find out what the person next to you is thinking is to live feed their Facebook, send them an SMS or Line message, or heaven forbid a tweet.

  • TECH

    Translating ear buds and builder robots

    Life, James Hein, Published on 09/05/2018

    » Let's face it, technology is cool. Google is claiming that they will have translating ear buds you can use when you travel that will allow you to understand almost any language, instantly. Yes, it does sound like something out of a sci-fi book and I think they should name them Babel fish, but that name was already "stolen" from The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy series in 2012 that later became Bing Translator. The good news is that first versions of these may be ready for tourists in the very near future.

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