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IT, mobility, wireless and handheld news



 



Phone prices rising as users move upmarket

Thu, 23 Nov 2017 21:16:00 PST

People are paying more for phones. After years of falling prices, market research firm GfK reports the average price of a phone climbed seven percent in the last year. The number of phones sold worldwide climbed three percent during the year. Sales fell in North America and Western Europe. GfK works with actual sales data […]Phone prices rising as users move upmarket(image)



Talking net neutrality on RNZ Nine-to-Noon

Thu, 23 Nov 2017 16:11:00 PST

I talk on Radio New Zealand National Nine-to-noon programme with Katherine Ryan about the US government moves to scrap net neutrality rules. It’s available as a 20-minute audio stream or download.  This has been on the cards since the US election a year ago. It’s a move the telecommunications giants pushed for, no-one else is […]Talking net neutrality on RNZ Nine-to-Noon(image)



Air New Zealand experiments with blockchain technology

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 19:39:00 PST

Air New Zealand is exploring the use of blockchain-based systems within its business, reinforcing its global reputation for innovation and embracing new and emerging technology.(image)



Tile Pro review

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 17:20:00 PST

Recently Tile released the Tile Pro series, bringing quite a few enhancements and new features to its original series of trackers.(image)



Symantec selects Amazon Web Services to deliver cloud security

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 14:40:00 PST

Security company builds next generation SaaS services and companywide data lake on top of AWS as part of its cloud-first strategy.(image)



New Zealand Ministry of Education chooses Unisys for cloud-based education resourcing management system

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 02:00:00 PST

Ministry selects modern Application-Platform-as-a-Service model and Agile development approach to quickly reflect policy changes and help deliver education funding more efficiently.(image)



Business analytics software powers profits for NZ wine producers

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 01:52:00 PST

Wine industry analytics business nzwinemetrics is unlocking new profitability for New Zealand wine producers with analytics to help them achieve the best possible price for their wines within the direct to international consumer channel (DTIC).(image)



Pyrios strikes up alliance with Microsoft integrator UC Logiq

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 01:51:00 PST

Unified communications (UC) specialist Pyrios has bought a 30 per cent stake in Microsoft integrator UC Logiq as part of an alliance offering Microsoft Skype for Business services to clients on both sides of the Tasman.(image)



The New Zealand IT services ecosystem - it's all digital down here

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 01:49:00 PST

New Zealand organisations are quickly identifying Digital Leadership teams to take the business forward.(image)



Volvo to supply tens of thousands of autonomous drive compatible cars to Uber

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 01:46:00 PST

Volvo has signed an agreement with Uber to sell tens of thousands of autonomous driving compatible base vehicles between 2019 and 2021.

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From small to medium and beyond: Navigating the ERP battlefield

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 01:12:00 PST

The double-edged sword of right-sizing your systems...(image)



Business owners: ERP software selection starts (and finishes) with you

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 01:11:00 PST

Rushing into an RFP process wastes everyone's time.(image)



Logitech Spotlight review

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 19:28:00 PST

It doesn't matter if you're a professional presenter or not - when you're in front of an audience everything counts. Your posture, your attention focused on the audience, your delivery will all be considered by the attendees when they answer those end-of-conference survey asking, on a scale of one to ten, how would you rate Presenter John Doe?

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Why I'm not an early adopter

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 14:39:00 PST

I'm not an early adopter. Early adopters must own the latest devices. They run ahead of the pack. They upgrade devices and software before everyone else. Early adopters use the latest phones. They buy cars with weird features. They queue up in the wee small hours for iPhones, iPads or games consoles. Back in the [...]Why I'm not an early adopter(image)



Netatmo launches smart home products in New Zealand

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 00:06:00 PST

Netatmo is a smart home company developing ground-breaking, intuitive and beautifully-designed connected consumer electronics.

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Cloud Computing:The Pros and Cons - is it right for your business?

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 17:16:00 PDT

You may recall the nursery rhyme - 'Rain, Rain, Go Away'. Well some people don't just dislike rain - they also dislike cloud computing too. Does it make sense or are these people actually causing harm to their organisations? I'll give you the rundown... (more in the full post)(image)



Some people love LinkedIn and manage to gain significant earnings from it- could you use it better?

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 21:39:00 PDT

LinkedIn is the social network for professionals - are you one of those who could benefit from using it more? Paul Spain shares how some basic activity on LinkedIn helped generate a significant amount of earnings for his small business. Included are ... (more in the full post)(image)



Video: Apple's iPhone X, iPhone 8, Watch 3 and TV 4K: innovative? or just 'me too' products?

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 04:47:00 PDT

It's fair to say that much of what Apple announced isn't ground breaking on its own - a watch with an embedded cellular connection - a phone with wireless charging. These technologies have been around for years. But Apple approach things a little dif... (more in the full post)(image)



SKY TV and other Pay TV networks are losing their way. What can we learn about staying on the right side of digital disruption?

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 04:30:00 PDT

Sky TV New Zealand aren't doing so well, but it's not just in New Zealand that Satellite/Cable TV providers are being impacted by disruptive forces. What can we learn from the way that traditional TV providers are being disrupted in our own fields of... (more in the full post)(image)



Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – hands on and first impressions

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 22:27:00 PDT

Last week whilst in California I had a briefing on the new Samsung Galaxy Note 8. This week I got a chance to spend some real time with it and as part of that we discussed it on NZ Tech Podcast on Tuesday. In this video I share a summary of my initia... (more in the full post)(image)



NZ Tech Podcast 349: Frame TV, Zoho signs Warehouse Group, Kiwis relaxed about open Wi-Fi usage, Logitech Spotlight Presenter

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 14:00:00 PDT

This week on the podcast we discuss Tesla Model 3, Apple/China vs VPN, free antivirus software available in New Zealand, Samsung Frame TV, goodbye iPod, Kiwis relaxed about open Wi-Fi usage, Logitech Spotlight Presenter and proposed NZ/AU battery sta... (more in the full post)(image)



NZ Tech Podcast 340: E3 Highlights incl Xbox One X, UFB 1 rollout 75% complete, Magpie GPS tracker, Elanation kids wearable

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 19:29:00 PDT

This week we discuss from E3 in Los Angeles, NZs Ultra-Fast Broadband rollout progress, highlights Magpie GPS tracker, ETurbo kids smartwatch from Elanation, Kin2Kin startup shares monetisation plans, Fuji Xero NZ financial dramas. Hosted by Paul Sp... (more in the full post)(image)



NZ Tech Podcast 339: Intel Compute Card, New Macs, Apple HomePod, iPad Pro grows up, SpaceX recycles

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 18:42:00 PDT

This week on NZ Tech Podcast we discuss Intel Compute Card, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference highlights incl new Macs, Apple HomePod, iPad Pro comes of age. SpaceX recycling rockets and capsules, 25% of Australians support a cashless society, D... (more in the full post)(image)



NZ Tech Podcast 338: Glenn Gore - Chief Architect, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 18:37:00 PDT

Paul Spain joined Glenn Gore following his keynote at Amazon's AWS Summit in Auckland. Glenn is an Australian based in London,and he shares his own story and discusses what he's learnt working with AWS client organisations around the world. Get the ... (more in the full post)(image)



Google crawling Geekzone HTTPS

Sun, 21 May 2017 21:00:00 PDT

Last week (May 2017) I made the changes to start serving Geekzone over HTTPS (and this blog too). This included removing extra lines of code that dealt with HTTP to HTTPS redirection for some pages (the ones that were always served as HTTPS before the switchover) as well as setting HST header and other changes on the server side.

Immediately after the changes I used Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster tools to let search engine crawlers know about this change. Pretty happy on how things are going:

Googlebot crawling the new HTTPS domain:

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Search results showing the old HTTP URLs:

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Search results now showing the new HTTPS URLs (the line before the big uptick is the content pages already served over HTTPS, before the whole site changed):

(image) (image)




Geekzone gone full HTTPS

Thu, 18 May 2017 15:38:00 PDT

Last night I switched Geekzone (www.geekzone.co.nz) to full HTTPS support. And slowly traffic over SSL is going up (comparing last six hours overnight vs last month). Up until now we only used SSL for login, registration, private messages and profile pages plus assets (images, CSS and scripts). Now everything is covered. I started using SSL many years ago and wanted to have the site fully served over HTTPS for quite a while. Started by enforcing HTTPS on some content-sensitive pages and moving assets to HTTPS domains, including redirects to ensure clients used the correct schema. Last week I deployed an update for Geekzone mobile to make sure it worked on HTTPS and yesterday I did the same on the full desktop version of the site. Also included in this change is the addition of a "Secure" flag to cookies used on these domains. This ensures cookies only move between the client browser and server when there's a secure connection. If anyone requests http://www.geekzone.co.nz instead of https://www.geekzone.co.nz the server will instruct the browser to redirect to the correct location while the browser knows not to disclose the cookies until the secure connection is established. This is essential to avoid session hijacking (unless of course we talk MITM attacks, of course). Why have all this trouble for a forum? Because we have lots of industry (telcos mainly but other companies around too) people using the site. Account numbers, PIN and passwords are sometimes sent via our private message system (which has been served using the HTTPS schema for quite a while) so it makes sense to extend this to the whole site. In addition to this, for the last few months I have been using ThisData to collect, analyse and understand user behaviour around the site, in real-time, to quickly determine if an account could've been compromised. Up until now we were using it in "read mode" and tracking notifications. Last week I changed the webhook/API to actually start closing sessions and blocking IP addresses if a user confirms a breach occurred. ThisData receives millions of transactions reports (login, logout, forum post, message sent, message read, password change, new registration, avatar change, invalid password, etc) from us every month and uses machine learning to observe and assign a "risk" to each transaction. Based on this risk result our forum software can take different actions to protect our users - like the ones I described in the previous paragraph. I have also added a Geekzone ruleset to the HTTPS Everywhere project. This ensures that browsers using the HTTPS Everywhere add-ons will know to use the HTTPS schema instead of HTTP even if the source explicitly refer to the HTTP version (including references to any Geekzone resource served in non-Geekzone pages). This is important because Cloudflare also uses the same ruleset when doing the automatic HTTPS upgrade for some of their millions of clients around the Internet. We also use other platforms to prevent spammers and scammers joining the site. One or another can sometimes get past all this protection but our moderator team is pretty quick to act and our community is really good at reporting suspicious behaviour. There are lots more to be done, for sure. But it feels good when all this falls into place. Update 20 May: Added HSTS headers now, site listing update on HTTPSWatch NZ.[...]



Television, (re)enhanced: the Samsung QLED range

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 15:11:00 PDT

Television. Been around since the 1930’s, with an evolution that has been interesting and non stop. It wasn’t that long ago we had a Philips K9 TV in the house (no remote – that was an extra $600 in 1984), and in recent years we’ve had the rapid shift towards flat panels and high definition viewing, supported by the content industry. And yet the concept is still remarkably similar: a screen 1 or more gather around for knowledge, entertainment and disconnection with reality. I often wonder if ‘TV’ will actually become more a personal viewing exercise, with viewers opting for a tablet or similar and the comfort of their own environment, rather than the shared experience of many people watching (and the inevitable commentary…. “what is this cr*p”?) I had the privilege of being introduced to Samsung’s new QLED range of Televisions a few days ago. These are due in the NZ market in May 2017 and continue the evolution of LED-LCD display technology, with colours and pictures that are strong, vibrant, bright and a joy to view. The current technology buzz in the TV display world is OLED, which is an early lifecycle technology that emits light (to assemble a display pictures) in a different fashion to the more mainstream LCD TV's. While it’s fascinating to see the evolution of technology and the promises these improvements bring, I tend to focus on how these compare to the here and now. Television is a well penetrated product into most people’s lives, and you’ll find one in most homes and places of work around NZ and the world, and they continue to function day in and out without too much fuss. The switch from the older tube technology to Plasma and subsequently LCD came with the usual hallmarks of new methods; the old technology had better colours, was more fluid and better saturation (so pictures looked more natural and so on), while manufacturing quality of early technology often meant the lifespan of a TV was adjusted from 25 years down to 10, and even 5 for some types until common sense (and sales trends) kicked in. In the range below, the Samsung panels are an evolution of LED technology and not OLED. While that’s interesting, how these panels perform and what they offer is more valuable than what's under the metal/plastic. Declaration: I have 3 Samsung TV’s, acquired between 2007-10. A 27” that had it’s screen die 1 day before the end of the warranty (on boxing day no less), but which Noel Leeming had repaired and is still going strong 10 years later (disappointingly, when you see so many flash new models these days). A 37” with a bezel (the plastic edging around the screen) that has cracked from several house moves), and a little 22” doing duty in the bedroom. All the TV's operate fine, and for me (and I expect a great many people) they will only be replaced when they stop working… meaning the market for Samsung’s new models as always is somebody seeking a replacement for various reasons. The highpoint of features and functions for me is equipment that’s 7-10 years old, meaning anything new will certainly be appealing. I am a researcher and make considered purchases, meaning features, form, function and most importantly for such a major appliance, ability to elegantly mount and position in the ho[...]



Cyber attacks on NZ small business

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 17:30:00 PST

In August 2016, Symantec sampled 525 NZ business owners and operators about their perception of cyber security issues; all the businesses employed less than 20 people, and some of the discoveries show that we are woefully behind the eight ball.

Most companies are using some sort of Windows device, half of them using Windows 10 as their main operating system. Only 1 in 5 laptops and mobile devices don�t have some form of logon security, and just a quarter of staff have access to financial data outside their work computer.

The biggest threats � email/phishing scams (70%) and hacking attempts (47%). Interestingly, the threats where staff are consciously being devious are small � 2% internal threats, and a tiny 1% of employees posting stuff they shouldn�t on social media.

As Kiwis, we value our time � the biggest impact from cyber-attacks was down-time and inconvenience.

The two figures that scared me the most were that 70% don�t know if they have any sort of internet security running, and only 57% of businesses are doing automatic or daily backups. Crazy that 4% of responses are doing backups annually (seriously, why bother?) or none.

So how to mitigate the risks? Symantec have five tips:

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More info here.

My thanks to Symantec and Mark Gorrie, the Director of the Norton Business Unit for Symantec, Pacific, for hosting me at lunch yesterday.

(image)



Webstock 2017: think of others

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 02:07:00 PST

I had the good fortune to be allowed to attend Webstock 2017 this year, held in Wellington New Zealand from 13-17 February. This quirky event is growing in popularity and attendance, and this year featured a whole host of presenters covering many topics, from the origin of Emoji�s to empathetic design for the elderly. Nearly all the presenters were from the US, and there were two overwhelming themes that kept repeating and being referenced throughout the event: 1. �We are sorry about what is happening is US Politics. This isn�t who we are�2. �We need to think of everyone � old, young, able bodied, disabled, sight and mobility impaired, rich and poor � when creating for people Resonating in the back of my mind was the phrase �He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata�. It is the people, It is the people, It is the people. I may not be using the phrase in it�s correct setting, but it speaks to what I heard repeatedly throughout the days � by the people, about the people, and for the people. I observed an audience of old and young, multiple races and all genders, and was enthused by the sheer size and participation. This thing is big. REALLY BIG. And it continues to get bigger, which is great for Wellington and great for the design sector in New Zealand. So what were my takeaways from the time? Knowing your audience and being present to what they want to here is crucially important. I heard a few jokes fall flat, and some that were absolutely wrong to be used � a quick websearch if you are interested will reveal my abstract reference. A highlight was Marcin Wichary, a polish chap from Google, who covered topics from charles babbage to the work he did creating the Google Doodle that was Pacman in 2010, and the journey of discovery he went on to recreate this classic game. Warm, enthusiastic about his topic and a genuinely engaging fellow, he touched on a couple of rueful points about never assuming and not bothering to question �why� � as well as not being satisfied until he was, and not giving up until the task was done. It�s a small item, but seeing through any commitment to completion in the modern world takes focus, and I often see failure because people just gave up or lost interest� because they just did. Significant reference was made to Apple�s design aesthetics and their efforts in designing for humans, by many of the presenters. Love or loathe that company, they have made their mark on the western world and continue to set a tone for modern digital experiences that we all live with and don�t appreciate we are. I met with Janine Gianfredi on Thursday night after the show, and caught her presentation on the Friday, about designing US Government services from a startup with the Executive (The White House under President Obama), and taking things to market. Born out of the chaos that was the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (�Obamacare�), Janine referred to the �mission� of getting healthcare for people who historically could�nt. The Federal government set up the national exchange, but required insurance companies in every state to cooperate in creating products and offering to customers � not trivial, and a service that was born from a big government project (many contractors, little focus on end to end experience, an[...]



NZ Tech Podcast 321: $3000+ Free Gadgets, One Million Podcast Downloads, US Homeland Security vs Travellers, Banks vs Apple

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 20:37:00 PST

On NZ Tech Podcast's 6th anniversary we celebrate over a million downloads of the podcast. Topics included Homeland Security vs Travellers, Australian Banks vs Apple, PayPal account risks, Logitech's 4K webcam, Intel Coffee Lake, near Invisible Ma... (more in the full post)(image)