VH-VUE touches down in Melbourne: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 16 to Sunday 22 March 2015 didn’t quite go to plan, but the changes were mostly just irritations.

As mentioned last week, I had planned to stay on in Melbourne for a few days, but a closer look at the budget made it clear that wasn’t possible. And then my return flight on Thursday was delayed, for two reasons. One, Melbourne Airport’s air traffic control tower was evacuated for some reason, putting a spanner in the works. Two, just as my plane was finally about to leave, a passenger fell ill, and we had to wait until an ambulance arrived.

Still, I gathered plenty of information in Melbourne, and bits and pieces of it will turn up in various writings on the coming weeks.



None. The next episode of The 9pm Edict will be on Tuesday 24 March.


There were only two editions of 5at5 this week, on Monday and Wednesday. The gap in the early part of the week was because I was busy, and in the latter part of the week because I had trouble getting a clean data link to TinyLetter for some reason. You should subscribe, you know.

Media Appearances


Corporate Largesse

The Week Ahead

It’s going to be another busy one, at least in the first half of the week.

On Monday, I’ll be doing most of the production for an episode of The 9pm Edict podcast, as well as the laundry, as well as administrivia.

On Tuesday, I’ll be taking the train to Sydney for a lunchtime briefing by Oracle on the cloud and big data. I’m wondering if anything has actually changed with them things. I’ll also be preparing my entries for the IT Journalism Awards, also known as The Lizzies, and dealing with a few errands.

On Wednesday, I’m heading in to Sydney again for the Rewind/Fast Forward conference. The program seems interesting, and I think I’ll ge getting plenty of usable material there too.

On Thursday and Friday, I’ll be writing a column for ZDNet Australia, writing something else, and working on the much-delayed ebook — though I haven’t locked those activities into specific timeslots yet.

The weekend is unplanned, but Saturday will of course include the NSW state election.

[Photo: VH-VUE touches down in Melbourne. VH-VUE is a Boeing 737 Next Gen, and on 17 March 2015 it was flying Virgin Australia flight VA834 SYD-MEL. While it was a rainy day, most of the vertical streaks in this image are from the crinkled window treatment.]

The Sydney Harbour Seal: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 9 to Sunday 15 March 2015 wasn’t quite as hectic as last week, but that was deliberate.

I even managed to fit in my planned visit to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) on Saturday — a journey that necessitated four hours of train travel there, and another four hours back. I’ve uploaded a rough cut of the photos I took. The full-resolution images will be uploaded in due course.

I also encountered animals. On Wednesday, I met the Sydney Harbour Seal. That’s it pictured above. And last weekend — on Sunday, but after I’d already posted the Weekly Wrap — I met a young Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis) on the pathway near Wentworth Falls railway station. Here’s a picture.


There’s also a feature story still working its way through the production pipeline at ZDNet Australia.


None. The next episode of The 9pm Edict will be on Tuesday 24 March.


There were five editions of 5at5 this week, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. You should subscribe, you know.

Media Appearances

None. They seem to come in bursts.

Corporate Largesse

The Week Ahead

It’s going to be a busy one, and Monday will be the calm before the storm — a day of communication, planning, and doing the laundry, with a break at 1130 to interview someone via the telephone.

On Tuesday, I’ll be taking the train to Sydney and then flying to Melbourne for the Cisco LIVE event. Tuesday’s agenda includes a tour of Etihad Stadium, which presumably uses plenty of Cisco technology in its operations, followed by cocktails, followed by dinner. Wednesday is a day full of press conferences and keynote presentations and panel discussions, followed by cocktails, followed by dinner. Thursday sees more keynote presentations and panel discussions, plus interviews, but mercifully no more cocktails. I’m not sure what I’m doing on Thursday night, so feel free to offer suggestions. I’ll be flying back on Thursday evening.

I’m staying on in Melbourne for the rest of the week.

On Friday, I’ll be having a few work-related meetings, and will be “available for drinks” in the late afternoon and evening. Details TBA. On Saturday, I’m having lunch and drinks with some old friends. From Saturday evening through to late Sunday afternoon, well, I’m open to suggestions. I’ll be flying back to Sydney on Sunday night, and presumably then returning to Wentworth Falls to collapse.

Update 17 March 2015: It turns out that staying on in Melbourne is beyond this month’s budget. Friday through Sunday is currently unplanned.

[Photo: The Sydney Harbour Seal, photographed on 11 March 2015. I don’t know why this one seal, which has taken to sunning itself on the steps near the Sydney Opera House, has captured so much attention.]

Downpour at Katoomba station: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 2 to Sunday 8 March 2015 was productive, although not everything happened in the sequence that I’d intended, and not everything has appeared yet.


I also wrote a feature story and another column for ZDNet Australia, but they’re both still working their way through the production pipeline.



There were actually six editions of 5at5 this week, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. You should subscribe, you know.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • I received a copy of the second novel in John Birmingham’s new series, Resistance: A Dave Hooper Novel 2, which is rather lovely. I’ll be reading it soon, because I really liked the first book in this series.

The Week Ahead

Monday will be a day of communication and planning, wrapping up with drinks and, I suspect, dinner with friends in Katoomba. Tuesday is not yet allocated to anything specific.

Wednesday will see a day trip to Sydney for a lunchtime briefing by MuleSoft. Thursday will probably see another long commute for a morning briefing by Deloitte, although I may just dial in instead. Somewhere in there, I’ll write a column for ZDNet Australia.

Friday through Saturday are unplanned at this stage. But since I didn’t visit Albion Park today to watch Qantas land their Boeing 747, I may visit the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) for one its open days — which can be any of those three days. I’ll have to figure out which would work best, given the rest of my schedule.

Further Ahead

I’ll be in Melbourne from Tuesday 17 to Sunday 22 March for the Cisco LIVE event and then a couple days of meetings and the like. If you feel the need to catch up, or any other urges, please let me know.

[Photo: Downpour at Katoomba station, photographed on 1 March 2015. Technically that’s outside the timespan covered by this post, but I’m beyond caring any more.]

Screenshot of Guy Sebastian on SBS TVThe 9pm Edict cover art version 2, 150 pixelsAustralia has chosen its face for Eurovision 2015, and it needs a shave. Christopher Pyne explains science. And Malcolm Turnbull explains reality.

In this podcast, there’s talk of logic, leadership, public relations, science and Florida. Obviously.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe automatically in iTunes, or go to SoundCloud.

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

Read the rest of this entry »

ABC logoIt’s not every day that I end up talking about my experiences in Thai urinals on live radio, but that’s exactly what I did today. It’s all down to Vicki Kerrigan.

Kerrigan is the drive-time presenter on ABC 105.7 Darwin, and a story about Airpnp caught her eye — or that of her producer. No, not the accommodation-related app Airbnb. And no, inner urban gay men, it’s not what you just thought of either.

Airpnp is a service that supposedly lets you “find a clean, comfortable bathroom no matter where you are” — not so much here in Australia, but certainly in the US and some other places as it’s spread out from New Orleans, where it was founded a year ago.

Here’s the full 10-minute conversation we had — including Kerrigan’s introduction, which may leave you with a slight pressure somewhere.

This audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Attack of the Killer Leech: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 23 February to Sunday 1 March 2015 began with fatigue and ended with drama, and then more fatigue.

The fatigue was inevitable, given that last weekend saw the production of two podcasts, as well as the first day of Tech Leaders Forum, which continued into Monday.

What I wasn’t expecting was being run down by a car on Thursday night. I wasn’t hurt, really, but nevertheless it was annoying — and I’ll tell you about that in The 9pm Edict. I wasn’t expecting to be attacked by a leech on Friday. And I wasn’t expecting Saturday to be wiped out by a gut problem. Sigh.

But enough of that…



None. The will be an episode The 9pm Edict on Tuesday 3 March, once I’ve gotten a feature written for ZDNet Australia.


There were three editions of 5at5 this week, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. You might want to subscribe so you receive them all as they’re released.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Monday, we wrapped up this year’s Tech Leaders Forum at the Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains. Apart from one night’s accommodation and plenty of food and drink, some vendors gave out various bits and pieces. Bitdefender gave me a branded TSA-approved travel lock and a Gecko dashboard pad thingy. Emerson Network Power, a novelty branded USB stick with their PR material. LogRhythm, a branded pen. Oakton, a USB stick with their PR material. From Simplivity, a branded pen.

The Week Ahead

Here’s the plan. Monday, a feature for ZDNet Australia. Tuesday, an episode of The 9pm Edict. Wednesday, probably a day trip to Sydney — and if it happens, it might include a bit of television. Thursday, a column for ZDNet Australia. Friday, updating that ebook, finally, and getting it to people.

The weekend isn’t locked in yet, but one option is heading down to Albion Park, where a Boeing 747 will land at the tiny Albion Park Airport, before it becomes a permanent museum piece at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS). Or I might not. It depends on many factors.

Updated 16 March 2015: Added the largesse from Simplivity, which I just found.

[Photo: Attack of the Killer Leech, the one which I had to remove from my foot, photographed on 27 February 2015.]

ABC logoSo SIM card manufacturer Gemalto has responded to the claims that America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ had hacked their network in 2010 and 2011 and stolen SIM card encryption keys. I spoke about that response on ABC Radio’s AM this morning.

You can read Gemalto’s full press statement, but The Wall Street Journal has a good summary, and The Intercept has various infosec experts disputing Gemalto’s analysis.

If nothing else, it seems unlikely that Gemalto could have conducted a thorough forensic investigation in just six days — although they may have just dig out a report they’d prepared earlier.

Here’s how AM introduced the story today:

Overnight the world’s largest SIM card manufacturer has responded to allegations it was hacked by American and British spies. Dutch company Gemalto confirmed it was the target of sophisticated hacks in 2010 and 2011, and most likely the US National Security Agency and their British counterparts were responsible. Last week, documents from Edward Snowden alleged spies stole encryption keys from Gemalto, giving them potential to monitor mobile communications. But Gemalto denies there was mass theft of encryption keys and says their products are secure.

And here’s the full report from journalist Sarah Sedghi.

The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It’s served here directly from the ABC website, where you can also read a transcript.

FIVEaa logoThird time’s the charm, right? My third radio spot on The Great SIM Heist was for 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide on Wednesday afternoon.

Again, I won’t repeat the background, because it’s all in my first post on the subject. But I will say that this is the most detailed conversation about it so far, because presenter Will Goodings and I spoke for 13 minutes.

That said, there’s not much more information than we had yesterday. Gemalto isn’t due to hold its press conference until late this evening Australian time, so we’ll know more tomorrow.

The audio is ©2015 Nova Entertainment.

2UE logoThe second radio spot I did on The Great SIM Heist — or perhaps I should say the claimed heist, or even the alleged heist — was for the Sydney talk radio station 2UE on Tuesday afternoon.

I won’t repeat all the background. See my previous post for that. But I will say that it’s always interesting to hear the different questions asked and concerns raised by different presenters. And of course my responses differ in content and style to match the style of the program and the radio station.

Here’s the full seven-minute chat with drive presenter Justin Smith. At the end, we seem to have invented a new regular segment. And at least this time I pronounced Gemalto correctly.

This audio is ©2015 Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Ltd.

ABC logoOn Friday, The Intercept published some astounding claims under the headline The Great SIM Heist: How spies stole the keys to the encryption castle. The story claims that Five Eyes spooks had achieved a major breakthrough in their ability to monitor mobile communications.

American and British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden…

With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.

The company in question is Gemalto. With headquarters in Amsterdam, and 28 “personalisation facilities” around the world that burn the encryption keys into SIM cards, it has nearly 30% of the market — making it an obvious target for spooks.

The story started to filter through to the mainstream media on Monday in the US, or Tuesday Australian time, and I’ve already done two radio spots on the topic — and doubtless there’ll be more to come.

The first spot was an interview for ABC Radio, and parts of it ended up in this report on The World Today.

[The three Australian mobile network operators] Telstra, Vodafone and Optus have all confirmed that Gemalto has supplied their SIM cards. Sarah Sedghi reports.

This is the full five-minute report.

The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It’s served here directly from the ABC website, where you can also read a transcript.

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