Andrew Higham

Andrew Higham

Premier Daniel Andrews has apologised in advance for the inconvenience that will be caused when major works are carried ouit on key parts of the train, tram and road network starting next month.

Part of the Pakenham/Cranourne train line will be closed between Caulfield and Westall with buses replacing trains while the Clayton Road level crossing is removed and the various parts of the Hurstbridge line between Clifton Hill and Rosanna while major works take place.

St Kilda Road will be closed to trams with buses replacing trams from the 1st to the 17th of April to allow for tram tracks and streets to be re-aligned to create room to build the new Anzac Train Station, a key component of the new Metro Rail Tunnel project.

Lane closures on the West Gate Bridge, Monash Freeway, Tullamarine Freeway and Hoddle Street will continue and the Chandler Highway Bridge will be closed in both directions around Easter with further overnight closures to follow.

The bulk of closures have been timed to correspond with the Easter long weekend and school holidays however they will impact on several upcoming events including the AFLW Finals and the start of the AFL season and the Melbourne Grand Prix. Allow extra travel time during the works period and check the Metro Trains, Yarra Trams and VicRoads websites for more information.

The 29th edition of the Alliance Française French Film Festival is screening the crème de la crème of French-speaking films now at Palace Cinemas until the end of March.

The diverse programme features 50 films with something for everyone including documentaries, animation, science fiction and shorts. You will find the highly-acclaimed C’est La Vie from the directorial duo behind 2011’s smash hit The Intouchables alongside the third movie in the Belle & Sebastian series Belle & Sebastian Friends For Life which picks up where the last movie left off.

films from the 2017 festival circuit such as the French drama Golden Years as well as productions such as This is Our Land, directed by Lucas Belvaux and focused on offering a different perspective about the recent French election. A special mention must made for the acclaimed biographies Marie Curie: the courage of knowledge, Gauguin and Rodin which explore the lives and circumstances of the these scientific and artistic legends.

C’est la vie! (Le sens de la fête)

The opening night film is from the directorial duo behind the 2011 smash hit The Intouchables. It’s about a wedding that turns into a nightmare for the party's Basil Fawlty-like planner, Max (Jean-Pierre Bacri).

50 Is the New 30 (Marie-Francine)

Closing night's comedy, from director and star Valérie Lemercier, is about a woman at a low ebb in life who moves back in with her parents at age 50.

Double Lover (L’amant double)

François Ozon is a filmmaker who delivers one of the things we love most about French cinema – effortless eroticism. His new film concerns a former model, Chloé (Marine Vacth) who falls for her therapist (Jérémie Renier), but their romance is complicated by the presence of a malevolent identical twin.

See You Up There (Au revoir là-haut)

At the end of the carnage of World War I, a humble bookkeeper, Albert Maillard (Albert Dupontel), has his life saved by a sensitive artist, Edouard Péricoult (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), and the two team up after the war to pull an artistic scam.

The Return of the Hero (Le retour du héros)

Jean Dujardin stars as a Napoleonic-era Lothario, Captain Neuville, who fails in his promise to write to his fiancée daily from the front lines, so her sister (Mélanie Laurent) steps in, Cyrano-like. This period comedy is a definite crowd pleaser.

Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil interieur)

Juliette Binoche plays a middle-aged artist looking for love in Paris who bounces between men who don’t deserve her, including a caddish, married banker (Xavier Beauvois) and a tentative actor (Nicolas Duvauchelle).

Montparnasse Bienvenüe (Jeune femme)

Debut writer-director Léonor Serraille delivers a startling comedic drama about a 31-year-old woman, Paula (Lætitia Dosch), returning to Paris after living abroad, trying to get a job and get her life in order. 

Mrs Hyde (Madame Hyde)

This variation on the Jekyll and Hyde story stars Isabelle Huppert as a mousy physics teacher at a Parisian high school who becomes something else entirely after being struck by lightning. Serge Bozon’s film cleverly explores inequality in French society.

Jealous (Jalouse)

David and Stéphane Foenkinos (Delicacy) wrote and directed this dark comedy exploring the green-eyed monster. Superstar Karin Viard plays Nathalie, a 50-year-old divorcee who starts to envy the happiness and success of everyone around her.

Rock’n Roll

Real-life couple Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard play themselves in a spoof of their own celebrity. While Canet tries to recapture his youth, Cotillard is too wrapped up in her own acting career to notice. Recently deceased French rock star Johnny Hallyday is one of several celeb cameos.

BPM (Beats Per Minute) (120 battements par minute)

Set in the early 1990s, the film concerns the fight for social acceptance by people living with HIV. An intimate, heart-tugging drama, the film centres on the romance between and activist and a young man living with HIV.

The Workshop (L’atelier)

Laurent Cantet made the 2008 schoolroom classic The Class. His latest is about a creative writing workshop run by a novelist, Olivia (Marina Foïs), in the south of France, and the dark undercurrents of French society unveiled when people from different backgrounds are thrown together.

Tomorrow and Thereafter (Demain et tous les autres jours)

The popular actor and filmmaker Noémie Lvovsky (Rosalie Blum) plays the mentally fragile mother of Mathilde (Luce Rodriguez), a precocious nine-year-old living in a Paris apartment whose best friend is an owl.

The Alliance Française French Film Festival is set to take place at the Astor Theatre, Kino Cinemas, and Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como and Palace Westgarth. Tickets are on sale now.

Something strange is happening in South Australia, they are preparing for a three-way state election and while the new contender, Nick Xenophon’s SA Best party, have flagged a good result giving them three to five seats which could foreseeably see them in the position of forming a minority government.

Having walked away from his safe and powerful position in the Federal Senate Xenophon is preparing to run candidates in 36 of the 47 seats in the South Australian lower house as head of his new party. Most of his candidates are relative unknowns picked from local councils or having defected from other micro parties all running on the back of Xenophon’s profile with the South Australian public.

Having a viable third-party candidate running creates a problem for pollsters even this close to an election (just two weeks away) with results showing SA Best’s vote anywhere from three to thirteen seats Xenophon may soon be deciding between Jay Weatherill’s Labor and Steven Marshall’s Liberal party.

Prior to Xenophon entering the race it had been expected that the Liberal party would have managed to win a slight majority following 16 years of Labor government rule after a large scale redistribution which looked likely to favour the Liberals.

SA Best has found itself making policies on the go without costings and lifting policies from various lobby groups, the Liberal party has focused on declaring a state of emergency that can only be fixed by them and the Labor party has continued focus on employment and energy policy.

The first battle for Xenophon will be to win the seat he is standing in, Hartly in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs, from popular Liberal member Vincent Tarzia who has been receiving help from federal member Christopher Pyne whose seat of Sturt covers overlays the seat of Hartly. This will not be an easy task for Xenophon having failed to win the federal seat in the lower house for NXT party candidate Matthew Write in the 2016 election taking 21% of the first preference vote.

There is further difficulty for Xenophon in Hartly as Labor candidate and former member Grace Portolesi is polling well in the electorate leading to three horse race that could all come down to a handful of votes and preference deals.

Further trouble is also predicted for the SA Best party in the South Australian Upper House where grass roots party Advance SA is running for Nick Xenophon’s former staffer and partner Jenny Low who has accused of Xenophon of insisting their relationship be kept a secret and of being controlling, a claim Xenophon has rejected.

Steven Marshall has already ruled out a deal with SA Best for fear that having a deal like that in place would give disappointed would-be Liberal voters a reason to vote for the third party while Jay Weatherill, seeing the potential for losing government altogether is remaining tight lipped on any possible deals they are willing to do. This hasn’t stopped the Labor party from touting Xenophon’s former membership of the South Australian Liberal party and his recent voting record in Canberra as a sign that he remains a closeted Liberal.

With only two weeks remaining the polls have the new party with a primary vote near twenty percent behind the Labor which is currently polling in the high twenty’s and the Liberals in the mid-thirties in a contest that remains too close to call.

In the past twelve months machine learning has moved ahead more than it has in the previous six decades with neural networks able to recognise physical objects within photos, this doesn’t sound impressive until you look ahead to how this technology might be used in future.  Facial recognition systems advanced enough that thy can replace locks and key codes to machines able to scan x-rays for abnormalities removing human error.

To this we can now add a new project from Alphabet (Googles parent company) to predict a person’s age and blood pressure from a single non-invasive retina scan which may even be capable of acting as an early warning system for an impending heart attack.

These convolutional networks are able to interpret and analyse an entire image inspired by the way a human brain interprets and understand the content of an image without the need to break the image up into smaller segments. And these intelligent networks are getting better every day.

Prior to the retina scanning concept the Alphabet labs created a DNA sequence scanning tool called DeepVariant to search for small mutations that would be missed entirely by modern methods. The retina scanning system needed a baseline dataset that required scanning in the retina images of nearly three hundred thousand individuals before being turned on to thirteen thousand patients to validate the process. Using just the retinal images Alphabets systems were able to determine age to within three years, gender in almost 100% of cases, smoking status nearly three quarters of the time and blood pressure to better than 90%. The likelihood that a patient was about to suffer a cardiac event was accurate to 70% which for a system that is based entirely off scanning the blood vessels within the eye is an amazing feat.

The concept has yet to be peer reviewed but even though it’s accuracy rate isn’t perfect (yet) with its low degree of invasiveness in the future the technology could be deployed on a wide scale throughout train stations, airports, shopping centres and office buildings to act as an early warning system.

After a series of major cyber security breaches hit some of the worlds largest organisations damaging customer confidence and costing millions. While it’s generally only just large corporations that find their way into the headlines small business is not immune from the dangers of cyber threats. The impact of cyber attacks on small businesses can be devastating, data collected shows that following a data breach almost two thirds of businesses shut down within twelve months.

The most common approach businesses take to combat the threat of a cyber attack is to deploy anti-virus programs and backup data on a regular basis. This is the first step but it is by no means the only one. Below you will find eight simple, inexpensive ways to improve your businesses security.

Use Strong Passwords

Easy to break passwords make breaking into systems easy for even the least skilled hackers. Security experts recommend using a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and special characters to create tough passwords that are impossible to guess and difficult to break. The most important step is to regularly change passwords so even if an intruder has managed to sneak into your system there is a limit to how long they can continue to slip in.

Most hackers use advanced software to try thousands and thousands of random passwords until they are able to access your account successfully. With a six letter password containing no capitals, numbers or special characters there are only 309 million combinations. That sounds like a lot but it would take less than 30 seconds for your password to be broken by a skilled intruder. On the other hand a ten digit password using a mixture of character types would take nearly 100 thousand years to try every possible combination.

Password Management Software

Reliable password management software helps create strong passwords and remembers them for you so you only need to remember one password in order to have strong, unique passwords for all systems. There is a downside to password management software, all of your valuable passwords are stored inside the password managers database making a very tempting target for hackers so always ensure the platform you are relying on is secure.

Backup Management

Backing up data should not only be done frequently but effectively. If your backups are stored in a single location then you are suseptable to a single point of failure whether that is a location within your own network or a remote storage location. Data backups are also an easy target for hackers as many businesses focus on protecting their active data but forget to apply the same level of security to their backups. Make sure your data is stored in multiple locations, encrypted and password protected. It is also important to make sure your backup program doesn’t rely on a single snapshot, instead make sure you have multiple backups from different points in time.

Credit Card Details

As tempting as it is to store a customers full credit card details to speed up future purchases but storing this information places all of your customers at risk. If you are intent on storing credit card details don’t store the CVV number, asking customers to import those three or four digits isn’t too much of an imposition if it improves their data security.

Restrict Access

Don’t allow staff to have more access than they absolutely need in order to do their job. If you are employing external technicians to provide services always ensure that they are supervised and remove any temporary accounts required to give them access immediately once they are done.

Monitor staff to ensure they aren’t plugging in USB drives, mobile phones or other personal devices to ensure they aren’t doing anything they shouldn’t be. There is no point to having complex passwords and advanced firewalls if staff are using devices on your network that are already compromised.

Update Software

Don’t ignore software update messages especially from operating systems, anti-virus and online tools. Hackers are always using the latest exploits to breach systems so ignoring software updates makes your network more vulnerable to intrusion.

Network Security

Scan your network regularly for intruders, hide your wireless network so it can’t be seen by anyone scanning for available networks, encrypt the wireless access point and most importantly change the default administrator username and password for all network access points and routers.

Educate Employees

Make sure employees are trained in the importance of cyber security and that they are following company policies regarding password management, network access and online behaviours. Ensure all company policies are well publicised and employees are tested on their knowledge of these policies.

While most skilled hackers focus their attention on breaching the security of large corporations small businesses are not safe their attention and the threat is not small. Nearly half of all cyber attacks are aimed at small business targets. Malware is easily introduced to poorly defended systems to either steal data, control resources for malicious purposes or restrict access to data in order to blackmail business owners. Stay safe online.

To learn more about cyber security listen to the Malicious Life podcast

Kingston Jobs

October 25, 2017

Did you know that Kingston had it's own job network? No well here it is Kingston Jobs

Currently there are only 287 jobs listed but the numebrs are growing and the range of rolls is a good cross section of casual, part time and full time work so for anyone looking for a work where the location is more important that the specific job then this might be just what you are looking for.

For employers there is no cost to posting a job ad and at least for now responses should be genuine.

The service is easy to use and jobs can be searched by suburb and industry. Oddly there is no filter for employement type but wile the volume of jobs remains low this shouldn't present a problem.

There is very little profit in selling new cars; Toyota is one of the most profitable per car manufacturers making an average $2,800 per vehicle sold averaged over their entire range from the $15,000 Yaris to the $54,000 Landcruiser while the world’s number one selling brand Volkwagon make just $600 per vehicle from the Polo to the Touareg.

The bulk of a manufacturers profits come from two places; the first is vehicle financing. Manufacturers love it and dealers love it. Financing isn’t going away anytime soon and as the world shifts from fuel based vehicles to electric finance is going to contribute even more to the manufacturer’s bottom line as more people feel compelled to buy brand new cars to get the latest technology. The other place where profits come from are parts and servicing, big profits and it’s here that the manufacturers are going to feel the pain the most.

Even before the shift from human to autonomous drivers make the need for panel repairs obsolete there aren’t very many parts in electric cars that can break and with fewer moving parts and without the grease and the grime of an engine bay more and more people are going to be comfortable servicing their own vehicles.

This leaves manufacturers with a big hole in their earnings forecast (and explains why they so vehemently avoided making them for so long) and raises the question can they fill that hole with advertising and data?

We are already in a world where after you’ve searched for a business on your home computer and you jump in the car your phone already knows what you’re going to look for when you open the maps app so it’s not too much to assume that your calendar and your car are going to speak and when you are ready to go to an appointment the car will automatically select the best route to get there before you’ve even told it that’s what you want to do.

What about when your electric cars batteries are running low and suddenly the big digital display in the dashboard suddenly flashes up an ad for a service station just a little out of the way with a discount coupon and a button to trigger the in-car navigation to take you there.

How about the day you pull into a supermarket carpark and suddenly a big ad pops up suggesting you travel a little further down the road to a different supermarket or you arrive at a shopping centre and get hit with ads for the homewares store having a sale, the hairdresser who has an available slot and the clothing store that just opened.

Now consider all the other data your car will ‘know’ about you. What day you go shopping. When you last visited the dentist. That you always get take away on Friday nights. All of that information is valuable to someone.

What else could your car learn about you? It will know how frequently you speed and by how much, information that will be very useful for your car insurer or the police. It will know if you smoke in the car or visit fast food restaurants regularly, valuable to your health insurer. It will know if you’ve suddenly stopped going to work which might be valuable to Seek and LinkedIn or your bank or your superannuation fund.

What will it take for you to trade away access to all of this information though? One company at least believes you will happily give them this much control if they bribe you with the data service they will need to deliver the service over. Are they right? Will people trade away their freedom for an internet service in their car? Probably.

In 2009 the Labor government announced plans to build a national broadband network consisting of 90% fibre to the premises connections, 7% fixed wireless connections and 3% satellite connections costing $43 billion dollars to build and taking 8 years to complete.

When the Liberal party won office in 2013 then communications minister Malcolm Turnbull halted the rollout of the NBN and ordered a strategic review of the entire project. Following the review a range of new technologies are rolled out in order to achieve a ‘cheaper, faster, sooner’ narrative.

A fibre to the premises (FTTP) service involved running a full fibre line from the NBN network boundary all the way to a customer’s house the new technologies changed this and lead to confusion and anger.

nbn tech installing fibreFor the millions of premises that currently had access to the Telstra or Optus cable networks in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane instead of building a new network NBN would simply take over the hybrid fibre co-axial (HFC) network and use this network to deliver services. After activating a small area of the Optus cable network for NBN it was decided to drop the Optus cable network as it hadn’t been maintained adequately.

In apartment buildings and office buildings the new technology is fibre to the basement (FTTB), the basic difference for these services is that the NBN service will terminate in the communications room of the building (often in the basement thus the name) and existing in place technology will be used to carry the service from the basement to the customer.

For those areas that had originally had FTTP planned and weren’t in the revised HFC areas or FTTB buildings the plan was to use fibre to the node (FTTN). The node is a device about the size of a small wheelie bin that has NBN fibre connected to it, from the node to the customer the NBN would commandeer the existing copper phone line to carry the service.

In 2016 yet another technology was added to the mix, fibre to the distribution point (FTTC – the C refers to the roadside curb where the distribution point is usually located). In this case the NBN fibre is rolled out all the way to the final network handover point (usually at the front of a house or business) where the existing copper line is again used to complete the connection.

With all these technologies it’s easy to get confused but does it really matter which technology you receive? In a word yes.

In 1939 the copper communications wire was standardised for use in Australia by the office of the Postmaster General. A lot has changed in the interim for Australian communications exchanges are automated, telephone lines now carry more data than voice traffic and in 1973 the Postmaster General was separated into Australia Post and Telecom Australia (then changed names again in 1993 to Telstra) but throughout this time the copper wire has stayed the same. It’s therefore not unreasonable to assume that whatever technology is deployed today will need to be capable of delivering an equally long lifespan.

So how fast can these technologies actually go?nbn node

FTTP: About 18% of total NBN connections will be FTTP and for those fortunate enough to have had their area built prior to the change of government the existing technology can already achieve a top speed of 1,000Mbps down and 400Mbps up and the path to upgrade that technology to handle faster speeds is easy and inexpensive.

Fixed Wireless: Will be deployed to approximately 3% of the population and the current NBN fixed wireless service is limited to a maximum speed of 50Mbps down and 20Mbps up however this is an artificial limit that is being lifted to 100Mbps down and 40Mbps up by the end of 2018. Faster speeds will come in future with a change in radio technology and although the specification hasn’t been completed yet speeds in excess of 300Mbps down will be achievable.

Satellite: For the unfortunate 3% of remote NBN users the current NBN satellite (known as Skymuster) has a limit of 25Mbps down and 5Mbps up. There is no current upgrade path for satellite connections and the service is subject to unavoidable congestion (even the FTTN users should be thankful they’re not in a satellite area)

And now for the new technologies:nbn technology types max speed

HFC: Nearly 3 million households or about 25% of the total rollout will rely on existing cable networks which are able to deliver speeds of 100Mbps down and 40Mbps up already and an upgrade is already planned to increase the maximum speed to 1,000Mbps and further upgrades to this maximum are possible in future. Unfortunately the existing cable network has a couple of problems; firstly it was designed for a single carrier rather than multiple carriers to offer services and it wasn’t built for everyone who could get it to use it so large scale hardware upgrades are required to split the network into smaller sections.

FTTN: Unfortunately nearly one third of all NBN connections will be FTTN and despite it being possible to order a service of 100Mbps down and 40Mbps the vast majority of users won’t be able to receive anywhere near that speed. The problem is distance and old age, the further away the node is from the house the lower the maximum achievable speed and the worse condition the copper line is the worse the maximum achievable speed. This means that one third of all FTTN services already installed are unable to achieve 50Mbps down and one in twenty are unable to achieve 25Mbps.

The FTTN business case gets worse from here; the only possible upgrade path for FTTN is to install multiple ‘bonded’ services to increase speed, this will means that in order to reach the speeds that are easily possible on a single service using other technologies FTTN customers will have to purchase multiple services. Eventually all FTTN services will be replaced with FTTP or FTTC with virtually no salvageable parts this makes the FTTN rollout an expensive waste of money.

FTTB and FTTC: Approximately 1 million apartments and offices will be getting NBN through their basement and a further 1 million premises will receive FTTC connections. The shorter copper run means that these services will be able to achieve significantly faster speeds than FTTN however they will still be held back by the copper line. The maximum speed will again be variable based on the distance and age of the copper line but the vast majority of users should be able to achieve the 100Mbit down top speed. There is an upgrade path for these services with speeds in excess of 1,000Mbps possible however this will again depend on the quality of the copper.

The good news is that the upgrade from FTTC to FTTP is much cheaper than the FTTN process so while the overall cost will be higher at least it’s not a total waste.

Im Em Thai Moorabbin

December 09, 2017

There are at least seven Thai restaurants between my house and this little restaurant in Moorabbin, seven restaurants that all charge about the same, look fairly similar and all have a roughly identical menu. The location isn't ideal as it faces straight onto a main road; the decor is minimal, predictable and kitsch and the vibe is essentially non-existent as my wife and I are the only diners at eight o'clock on a Friday night while a poppy 90's best of CD plays in the background. Despite all of this we have been coming here regularly for many years and for one simple reason.

The food is outstanding.

If you are the sort of person who never ventures past the Pad Thai or the green chicken curry then you can probably just choose any of the seven other restaurants for dinner but if you are prepared to venture a little deeper into the menu and try something a little different then you won't be disappointed.

I've lost count of the number of times I've ordered the Choo Chee Pla. Bite sized pieces of fish fried in a spicy red curry sauce arrive still sizzling on the plate. Delicious.

I usually avoid the fried entrees, while perfectly fine there isn't anything special about them instead opt for one of the Thai soups.  The coconut infused Tom Kha and the light Tom Jued are both excellent however it's traditional Thai classic hot and spicy Tom Yum that is the standout here.

As this is a family run restaurant clearly surviving on the back of local deliveries the service can be variable but the owner is very sweet and if there is a wait I assure you it's worth it.

It's still baffling to me why sitting in an otherwise empty restaurant.

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