patch monday

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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 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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.]

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.]

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.]

Occluded House: click to embiggenI’d expected things to start winding down before Christmas, which is the traditional thing, but the week of Monday 10 to Sunday 16 December 2012 was actually pretty busy.

I visited North Sydney Girls High School twice. On Monday, to help assess the projects the Year 10 students had done on the smartphone. And on Friday, to record some material for the Patch Monday podcast and to provide some feedback to the students who are making a documentary on the whole thing.

More about all that coming soon — particularly the podcast to be posted on 24 December. [Update 29 December: Here’s that podcast.]

In between, the writing and… oh fuck it, just look at the list.


  • Patch Monday episode 167, “2012 in review: IT vendors prepare for cloudy big-data future”. The first of our year-end conversations is with broadcaster, columnist, and author Paul Wallbank; Kate Carruthers; strategy consultant and founder of Social Innovation; and Jeff Waugh, open-source developer, strategist, and advocate.


Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

The Week Ahead

So, I mentioned that things are refusing to quieten down before Christmas? Yeah well this is what the week is going to look like unless I force the chloroform-soaked handkerchief into its face…

Monday includes finishing this week’s episode of Patch Monday and recording material for the next.

The remainder of the week is as yet unplanned, because certain things need to be confirmed. But it includes writing two articles for CSO Online and two or three for Crikey, plus more of the client website work that’s been taking up much more time than expected recently. Stay tuned.

[Photo: Occluded House, a view of the Sydney Opera House from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, made all the more special thanks to the advertising laid over the bus window.]

The week of Monday 3 to Sunday 9 December 2012 was, by choice, somewhat less hectic than those preceding it. There was much rejoicing.

That said, plans to record the Patch Monday podcast early fell into a heap. There’s something odd about that podcast.



Media Appearances


Corporate Largesse

  • Tuesday lunchtime I attended Optus’ 4G Showcase at The Forresters Hotel in Surry Hills. There was food. And wine.

The Week Ahead

On Monday (today), apart from wrapping up the various media projects that need to come together, I’m heading to North Sydney Girls High School to be one of the assessors in a remarkable project. The Year 10 girls have taken five weeks off normal school work to research how the smartphone is changing the world. It strikes me that this 16-year-old view of the subject is likely to be somewhat different from that of the usual middle-aged pundits, so I’ll return on Friday to record some material for a Patch Monday podcast to be published on 24 December.

In between there’ll be various bits of writing, as usual, and we’re recording next week’s Patch Monday podcast on Wednesday morning.

On Thursday night there’s the CBS Interactive Christmas party, and on Friday there’s the Watterson PR Christmas lunch.

[Photo: James Dean branded shortbread, because of his long association with baked products, photographed yesterday at a supermarket in Sydney. What Mr Dean has to do with New Zealand butter shortbread is beyond me.]

The week of Monday 26 November to Sunday 2 December 2012 was strange. It started with stormy weather, and the misty conditions continued until Wednesday. But by Thursday I was sunburnt and dehydrated in sweltering heat.

I should not have walked through the heat from Potts Point to the Sydney CBD, even though I could take a photograph of the city along the way.

It was also a stressful week. To the usual month-end cashflow blockage was added a series of strange problems with a client’s marketing email template.

The client had chosen to use an old template, and the line spacing fell apart in modern versions of Microsoft Outlook. Then some of the links to PDF files on their website didn’t work, with the links being somehow scrambled so they delivered a “404 File not found” error instead of the PDF file. Sometimes.

Eventually we discovered that the links broke — sometimes — when URLs containing white-space characters (such as “%20” for a space) were passed from Outlook to an out-of-date version of Adobe Reader.

Thankfully the week ended with some semblance of normality, and the weekend was restful.



Media Appearances

  • On Sunday morning I was asked, at the last minute, to be the bespoke Twitterer for ABC Radio National’s Sunday Extra. That just means that I had to listen to the program — which I was doing anyway — and tweet about it.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Wednesday I attended the Retail Tech Forum at Wildfire Restaurant, Circular Quay, which was organised by Bass PR for various clients: Dassault Systèmes, who do many things but in this case provide 3D modelling and visualisation tools for retail environments; retail software systems vendor Island Pacific Australia; 3Q Holdings, who also do retail tech; Meridian Systems, who make “technology solutions” for the project management of “capital buildings” and the maintenance thereof; and analysts Frost & Sullivan. I daresay an article will come out of this at some point. Meanwhile, here’s the lunch menu and pictures of the beef short rib starter and the corn-fed chicken main course.
  • On Thursday I had lunch at Establishment with the people behind Uber Sydney, a smartphone-based service that provides on-demand ordering of a black town car. An article will come out of this eventually.
  • On Thursday afternoon I went on a two-hour cruise of Sydney Harbour aboard Matilda III, which was the Internet Industry Association’s Harbour Policy Party. The photographs start here.
  • On Thursday evening I dropped into The Indies’ Christmas party at the Burdekin Hotel on Oxford Street, The Indies being the four PR firms Bass PR, Shuna Boyd PR (which doesn’t seem to have a website?), Einsteinz Communications and Espresso Communications. I had just one glass of wine, my only alcohol for the entire day, before exhaustion set in.

The Week Ahead

Starting this week I’ll be based in Hurstville, a southern suburb of Sydney, thanks to a housesitting arrangement with someone who shall remain anonymous. I’ll be there until the end of the first week of January. Unless plans change.

This week is another busy week. I daresay I won’t get around to producing the Patch Monday podcast until Monday morning. I’ve got some writing to do too. Then on Tuesday, Optus is showcasing their 4G smartphones at a lunch in Surry Hills. On Wednesday I’m attending VMware’s Cloud Panel, a lunchtime event at The Star casino.

I’ll try to record next week’s Patch Monday podcast on Thursday, because on Thursday night I’m going to Fuel Communications‘ Christmas party and then on Friday I’m covering a one-day conference Privacy in the 21st Century (PDF), organised by the Communications Law Centre at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Since I’m covering that conference for both Crikey and ZDNet, it’ll be sensible to get that podcast out of the way.

[Photo: The Nepean was crossed. It has been my habit to take a photograph each time I cross the Nepean River en route from Wentworth Falls to Sydney or vice versa, which I then tweet with the caption Crossing the Nepean. Yesterday I missed, and the outbound train was already at Emu Plains before I could take a snapshot.]

Monday 19 to Sunday 25 November 2012 was just a little too chaotic for my liking. The overall theme, if chaos can be said to have a theme, was “The past is coming back to bite you. Several times.”

Not deep, existential shark bites. More like bee stings, or perhaps spider bites. Plus a couple of dog bites, like the one I got from that goddam collie back in the mid-1980s. The damn thing infected my hand and it took a cocktail of three heavy-duty antibiotics to be rid of it. To this day, my left hand is significantly weaker.

Yes, your past can bite you, and you are then weakened.

The lesson there is to never entrust the proper training of a dog to rent boys, no matter how good their drugs are.

Yeah I think the rest of this story can probably wait until another time.

During my two weeks in (mostly) Singapore and Coffs Harbour, I was too exhausted to mentally process Certain Events. I flew to Singapore before I’d completely killed a throat infection, and I didn’t realise that the antibiotic I was taking was increasing the severity of my insomnia. I arrived on Shopping Mall Container Terminal Island in a run-down state.

Exhaustion goes well with Endless Free Alcohol, does it not?

Fortunately I’d almost-planned this week to contain a little less work. My intention was to start pondering my plans for 2013 and beyond, both professionally and personally. For various reasons I won’t go into today, both are at turning-points. Clarity of thought must be obtained, because decisions must be made.

The Certain Events provided much food for this thought. Two of the more significant Certain Events were re-establishing contact with two people — quite unconnected with each other — who I hadn’t seen in something like 14 or 16 years.

One was a reminder of… well, let’s just say it was a reminder that our lives are full of choices, many of them unconscious. Had our choices been different, then our lives would have unfolded very differently also.

In Singapore I discovered that 16 years ago there was a choice I could have made. Had I been consciously aware of it, I might well have said yes. But that door has long since been closed. My life unfolds as it does. As does his.

The other was a reminder that… well, that 14 or 16 years is a long time, and I’m getting older. That in turn triggered some very deep reflections indeed about many other choices made, large and small, wise and less so. So many of the last.

On Friday a very different piece of the past came back to haunt me. A client decided to dredge out an HTML email template that I’d written for them some time in the Early Neolithic Era, and use it in a campaign that very day. Needless to say, this ancient code didn’t render properly in recent versions of Microsoft Outlook.

Friday suddenly became hectic. But thanks to excellent technical support from Sydney-based email marketing platform Campaign Monitor, and in particular from Stig Morten Myre in Norway, I could skip the whole “re-learn email-client HTML rendering because time plus arseholes equals frustration” bit and just focus on implementing tricks that would, in fact, work. Thank you Stig.

This extra work meant that Saturday became a long working day too. But everything was smooth, if time-consuming. And now here I sit, in the quiet of the eucalypt scrubland near Wentworth Falls. A quiet that is likely to be the calm before a literal storm this evening. Pondering.


  • Patch Monday episode 164, “InfoSec in flux, facing fads with FUD”. A conversation with Sourcefire founder and CTO Martin Roesch.


Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Tuesday night I attended Nokia’s Lumia Lounge event at Kaya Sydney, where we were all provided with rather pleasant food and drink.

The Week Ahead

The week ahead is apparently the start of the Christmas party season. Jesus wept. Added to that, technology companies look like they’re blowing their remaining PR budgets for the quarter on media briefings. So there’ll be plenty of corporate largesse to report next time.

As far as media production goes, I’ve got the Patch Monday podcast to finalise first thing Monday morning, then a story each for CSO Online and Technology Spectator before the end of the week. I want to lock in some more, and I think I’ll be able to pitch something both to ZDNet and Crikey.

Logistically, I plan to head to Sydney on Wednesday morning and stay a few days attending various events.

On Wednesday there’s a Retail Tech Forum lunch organised by Bass PR for some of their clients, and in the evening there’s a party with Securus Global.

On Thursday there’s the lunchtime Sydney media launch for Uber (which is essentially the on-demand ordering of a black town car via smartphone apps, so screw you taxi industry oligopolists!), followed by the Internet Industry Association’s Nautical Policy Party on Sydney Harbour (don’t ask), and then an evening party held jointly by the four boutique PR firms known as “The Indies”.

How the end of the week will play out has yet to be decided, but on Sunday I’ll be transferring myself to Hurstville to house-sit for a friend through until early January.

At least that’s the plan as of now. Stay tuned. Eris is a fickle bitch.

[Photo: Japanese-inspired toilet door signage, at Kaya Sydney. These cartoon characters are all well and good, but when I’m in a hurry to take a slash I don’t need the extra puzzle time of reading highly-stylised gender markers in a dimly-lit corridor.]

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