Talking about the seed brushing scam on ABC RN Breakfast

Unsolicited packet of seeds believed to be part of a “brushing” scam. (Photo: Ohio Department of Agriculture)
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In recent weeks Australians have started receiving unsolicited packages from China containing seeds, as have random people in other countries. It’s part of a scam called “brushing” and it’s not quite what it seems.

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Weekly Wrap 287: Satisfactory start to summer, with flowers

Railway Parade near Wentworth Falls: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 30 November to Sunday 6 December 2015 went reasonably well. Although I didn’t do things exactly as predicted last week, there was enough progress to make me happy.

In the interests of getting this posted on schedule, I’ll go straight to the list…



Media Appearances

  • On Tuesday, I spoke about the VTech hack on ABC 612 Brisbane.
  • On Wednesday, I spoke about the VTech hack on Kinderling Radio.
  • On Wednesday evening, I took part in a panel discussion at the launch of the Sydney chapter of Electronic Frontiers Australia. The only recording is a very rough one for my own reference, so sorry, you won’t be hearing it.


Should 5at5 eventually reappear, you’ll know about it if you subscribe.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Wednesday, I went to VMware’s end-of-year drinks at O Bar and Dining, Australia Square. Apart from canapés and champagne, I pocketed a pen. They so pwn me now.

The Week Ahead

On Monday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be making some sort of announcement regarding innovation, so I suspect I’ll be writing something for ZDNet. If not, well, there’s a thousand tasks of administrivia I need to deal with.

On Tuesday, I’m heading to Sydney for a medical appointment, an interview, and NetSuite’s end-of-year drinks. I’m then heading to the ABC’s Sydney studios to do a spot on ABC 774 Melbourne at 1900 AEDT.

On Wednesday, I’ll be dealing with a number of geek-for-hire tasks, and planning certain things for the next couple of weeks.

On Wednesdayetime=”2015-12-09T03:11:37+00:00″>Thursday, I’ll finally be producing that episode of The 9pm Edict podcast, tentatively titled “The 9pm Garden of Hate”, in which I’ll finish off all of the sponsored content that I owe my supporters. I plan to stream that recording session live at 2100 AEDT.

On Thursday, I’m heading to Sydney again for a medical appointment, amongst other things, and probably writing for ZDNet en route.

Friday will see me doing whatever remains to be done, which will include writing for ZDNet.

Further Ahead

I’ll record a “2015 Wrap” episode of the Corrupted Nerds podcast some time in the week beginning Monday 14 December.

The next episode of The 9pm Public House Forum, similar to the first one, will be recorded on the afternoon of Saturday 19 December. The venue will be confirmed in a few days, but it’s now looking like it’ll be somewhere in Sydney’s inner west.

I’ll also produce “2015 Wrap” episode of the Edict some time between Christmas and New Year.

[Update 9 December 2015: Edited to reflect schedule changes.]

[Photo: Railway Parade near Wentworth Falls. On the last day of spring, the yellow flowers of the Coreopsis lanceolata are everywhere. They’re a weed, but pretty nonetheless.]

Talking Apple TV, car hacking, more on Download this Show

Screenshot of Stilgherrian from Download This Show: click for podcast websiteABC logoWould you believe it’s been more than a year since the last time Marc Fennell invited me onto Download This Show? Well, it is.

Ironically, it seems like this week’s episode was designed specifically to troll me. We discussed TV (which I don’t watch) in the context of the new Apple TV, cars (which I don’t drive) in the context of hacking them, and weddings (which I’m not interested in). Still, Janet Carr and I had fun.

Here’s how the ABC website describes the episode:

Has Apple really reinvented the ole TV box? Also is your digital DAB radio the key to hackers accessing your car? More inside…

There’s a video of the Apple TV segment over the fold. If it doesn’t work for you here, watch it on YouTube.

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Talking crowdfunding journalism on ABC’s Media Report

The 9pm Edict's Public House Forum panel: click for podcast web pageABC logoIf you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’ve used crowdfunding, as we must call it these days, to help finance my personal media projects. This has once more come to the attention of ABC Radio National’s Media Report — probably because I emailed them.

Here’s how the website introduces the item Crowdfunding journalism, an interview with me which was first broadcast on Thursday evening.

Stilgherrian, a freelance journalist and commentator on internet issues, has crowdfunded his own podcast.

The 9pm Edict is made with the help of donations from what amounts to his fan base.

Richard Aedy asked him about the sustainability of fan-funded journalism.

The audio is of course ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and it’s being served here directly from the ABC website.

I’m amused to see The 9pm Edict referred to as “journalism”, but perhaps Aedy is also thinking back to my first crowdfunding project, when I used the Pozible campaign Stilgherrian > Breakpoint+Ruxcon to fund journalism. That was two years ago, and that scored a Media Report story too.

But since then two Pozible campaigns, The 9 O’Clock Resurrection of April 2014 and The 9pm Urgent Hardware Refresh just two months ago, have been about The 9pm Edict. The first raised just over $1000 to kick off the return of the Edict, and as I wrote recently, that’s now settled down to generating a base revenue of around $700 per month. The second raised more than $7200 to replace a dying computer and upgrade my audio recording equipment.

I always enjoy being interviewed by Aedy, because he has such a broad view of the media landscape in Australia, indeed worldwide, and he’s such a gentleman. They’re always thoughtful questions, and I find myself revisiting some of my own thoughts about what I do.

This post cannot end without reminding you that I have a fourth Pozible campaign running right now, Send Stilgherrian to Ruxcon 2015. You have until 2230 AEDT on 15 October to make a contribution.

[Photo: Recording The 9pm Edict’s Public House Forum using equipment financed through crowdfunding. Photo by James Turner.]

Launching “Send Stilgherrian to Ruxcon 2015”

I’m re-launching Corrupted Nerds, my podcast about “information, power, security and all the cybers in a global internet revolution that’s changing… everything.”

And to kick things off, today I launched a crowdfunding campaign to take the podcast to Ruxcon 2015, one of Australia’s key information security conferences, which is being held in Melbourne on 24–25 October 2015.

[Update 16 October 2015: The campaign closed last night, and was successfully funded. Thank you.]

Screenshot of completed Pozible campaign: click for campaign web page

There’s plenty of information on the Pozible campaign page. I should mention, though, that the initial $2000 target just gets me to Melbourne and puts a roof over my head. We need to go beyond that to fund some production.

If there’s something you think should be explained better, or if you have a suggestion, please let me know.

Bonus link: Today, ABC Radio National’s Media Report broadcast an interview with me about my crowdfunding work, Crowdfunding journalism.

Talking robot news on ABC Radio National Drive

ABC logoRobot newsreading and journalism has very much become my thing — as evidenced by the fact that I spoke about it yet again on ABC Radio National Drive on 3 July.

Here’s the news stories that triggered presenter Waleed Aly’s interest:

American news agency Associated Press has joined the ranks of the LA Times and Forbes magazine by adding robots to its workforce.

AP says it will use robots to write its corporate earnings reports, giving finance reporters time to concentrate on more in-depth stories.

The news comes just a week after Japan unveiled its robot newsreader, the ‘Kodomoroid’.

The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and it’s served here directly from the ABC website.