Talking voiceprint biometrics on 1395 FIVEaa

FIVEaa logo“Two of America’s biggest retail banks — JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Wells Fargo & Co — are quietly recording the biometric details of some callers’ voices to weed out fraud,” reported Associated Press this week. The news caught the eye of Will Goodings at 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide. I told him that the Americans are way behind Australia on this one.

All of the Big Four banks here are already using voiceprints. In the case of NAB and Westpac, since about 2009.

In fact, Australia is a world leader in voiceprint technology. In a Patch Monday podcast from March 2012, I spoke with Dr Clive Summerfield, chief executive of Auraya, who told me that Australia’s social services agency Centrelink has been using voiceprints to identify callers since 2005, and more than 95% of callers are identified this way. Voiceprints are also used by the Australian Taxation Office.

Here’s a recording of the conversation we had on air on Friday afternoon, complete with a talkback caller who followed me.

The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

Nokia Lumia 925 and Windows Phone 8: the trial begins

Nokia Lumia 925 smartphone pictured against the Reviewers Guide: click to embiggenStarting today, I’m going to try using a Nokia Lumia 925 running Windows Phone 8 as my primary smartphone. I plan to run this trial for a week, through to the end of next Tuesday 6 August 2013. This post explains the why and how of it all.

The why is easy enough. I write about this stuff, and both Nokia and Microsoft are hoping these products will be their saviours. I should therefore take a closer look, and what better way than to actually use them.

The how is easy enough too. As soon as I’ve finished this blog post, I’ll take the SIM from my current smartphone, put it into the Lumia, and go from there, attempting to use it in exactly the same way as I go about my business each day.

While I’m doing the set-up, I’ll be listening to a Patch Monday podcast episode from a year ago, Windows 8: Rectangles for all the things explained. I’ve already read the companion article, Windows 8 interface’s design heritage.

I’ll be tweeting my observations as I go, using the hashtag #LumiaWP8trial, writing up my observations at the end of each day, and recording them for a podcast. There will also be a Flickr set of all the photos.

Finally, here’s some background information on how I work.

Continue reading “Nokia Lumia 925 and Windows Phone 8: the trial begins”

I’ve just launched “Corrupted Nerds”, with many cybers

Corrupted Nerds: Conversations cover image: click for the first episodeLast night launched a new website and podcast, Corrupted Nerds, and the first episode is an interview with Eugene Kaspersky.

Yes, this is a “replacement” for the Patch Monday podcast I used to do for ZDNet Australia, but which was killed off in a budget cut at the beginning of 2013 — with my approval, by the way, because I agreed that from ZDNet Australia’s point of view the money would be better spent on a written column, The Full Tilt.

I won’t got into details about Corrupted Nerds, apart from saying that the subtitle is “information, power, security and all the cybers in a global internet revolution that’s changing… everything”, and to point to the introductory blog post for more details.

I’ve got four episodes in the pipeline, but no funding yet. So I’d be grateful if you could both spread the word and comment upon what I’m doing. I thank you.

Goodbye “Patch Monday”, introducing “The Full Tilt”

ZDNet Australia logo: click for The Full TiltThe Patch Monday podcast that I was producing for ZDNet Australia is no more. It has been replaced by a new weekly column, The Full Tilt, appearing every Thursday.

In The Full Tilt, Stilgherrian delivers an undiluted dose of criticism and analysis of the ways digital technology is changing our world and the spin that goes with it. Mostly in words — sometimes in audio or video formats — always cynical.

Yes, this is the sky-shouting column we were trying to name.

The first installment is Australia’s National Security Strategy? Or Labor’s election-year cyber gimmick?, in which Prime Minister Julia Gillard becomes Queen Boudica, saving us from the cyber-Romans, and builders are supplied with amphetamines No Doz [it seems I got edited]. Yeah, it’s a talent.

So why was Patch Monday dropped? It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a media outlet like ZDNet Australia would be under financial pressures. The simple fact is that my written words pull in a bigger audience than the podcast. And from my point of view, the podcast took far longer to produce than a written article generating the same income.

That said, The Full Tilt will include the occasional audio or video piece, though we’ve yet to decide when and why that will happen.

[Update 1900 AEDT: Edited to reflect the fact that article got edited. It’s not such a talent after all.]

Weekly Wrap 134: Christmas contrasts and introspection

The perfect user interface: click to embiggenThe week of Monday 24 to Sunday 30 December 2012 was an exercise in contrasts. There were plenty of reminders that, as has been the case for many years, my pattern of work and not-work periods is out of whack with the bulk of society.

Monday was Christmas Eve. Most people in regular jobs had an easy day, if they hadn’t already clocked off the previous Friday afternoon. I, however, was awake and working ridiculously early to complete the three media item you see listed below.

I finished by lunchtime, though, so I made my way from my Hurstville apartment-sitting to the Sydney CBD for lunch and drinks with a friend.

I didn’t work on Christmas Day. I’m not a complete idiot. But with family distant both physically and emotionally, there was no Christmas party. Instead, I spent some quality time with someone who has yet to be formally introduced to this narrative.

The rest of the week was a random montage of catch-up bookkeeping, long overdue errands, intermittent bursts of sleep and the occasional meal or two, some of which may have involved wine, all set against a background of quiet introspection. None of it involved any traditional Australian summer holiday activities, for which I am deeply grateful.


  • Patch Monday episode 169, “Uncovering the smartphone: a year 10 perspective”. A rather different podcast to end the year, namely a look at what happened when the Year 10 students at North Sydney Girls High School spent six weeks away from normal classes to work on projects of their choice that were somehow related to the smartphone.


Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

None. Australia is currently closed.

The Week Ahead

I expect that Monday and Tuesday, being New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day respectively, will be taken up with the traditional activities of those days. Or at least my variations thereupon. No. Mind your own business.

Wednesday through Friday I’ll continue my planning for 2013. You saw the first instalment of that earlier today, Doing the business on Stilgherrian’s journalism, but it’s not just about my work. There’s also questions about what the magazines call “work-life balance” before flogging the book for $24.95, questions of diet and exercise and how I structure my day. Even the question of where I live.

I’ll post more about that as it happens. For now, I’ll just say that I’ve recognised so many things that could be changed that it’ll be daunting.

[Photo: The perfect user interface, photographed on near Town Hall station, Sydney, on 28 December 2012. It’s always important to focus on your core message.]

Weekly Wrap 133: Instagram, infosec and random nativity

Suburban Nativity: click to embiggenMonday 17 to Sunday 23 December 2012 was a week filled with plenty of work, plenty of stress and a small amount of exhaustion.

The media outputs are listed below, as usual. Towards the end of the week the long series of 5am and earlier starts was beginning to catch up with me, and on Thursday I accidentally slept in until lunchtime — and that was truly wonderful.

I decided to continue that level of sloth on the weekend. Well, apart from today, obviously. As mentioned below, there’s still quite a bit left to do before I can finally break for Christmas.

Also this week I dropped and broke my Samsung Galaxy S III, necessitating an urgent replacement. While doing that I discovered some gotchas with migrating data to a new phone, and I’ll write about that after Christmas.


  • Patch Monday episode 168, “2012 infosec review: Focus on crime, not cyberwar”. The second of our two year-end conversations. The panelists are Paul Ducklin, Sophos’ head of technology for Asia Pacific; Chris Gatford, director of penetration testing firm HackLabs; Jon Callas, chief technology officer at Entrust, and now also of secure messaging provider Silent Circle; and Stephen Wilson, managing director of Lockstep Group, which provides advice and analysis on digital identity and privacy technologies.


Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Wednesday I had a very pleasant lunch indeed at Bistrode at the Hotel CBD in Sydney with a couple of chaps from Trend Micro. Needless to say, it was on their tab.

The Week Ahead

There’s tonight and one working day left before Christmas. In that time I have to produce a Patch Monday podcast, my end-of-year story for Crikey, and a follow-up to Friday’s story for CSO Online. I’ll be busy for the next 24 hours, though for all those things I’ve already got a plan in mind so they should be straightforward.

But then Tuesday is Christmas Day, and from then through to the end of the week I have precisely nothing planned. Sure, there’s a few little work-related things that’ll need to be polished off, but there are no pressing commitments. This pleases me immensely.

[Photo: Suburban Nativity, photographed on Stony Creek Road in Beverly Hills, Sydney, on 15 December 2012. The householders must do this every year, because the same nativity scene is visible in Google Street View imagery from December 2009.]