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Brislen on Tech

Paul Brislen, Editor. 03 April 2020, 3:00 pm

This week's update from TechBlog editor Paul Brislen:

The geek shall inherit the Earth

So we've made it through the first week.

I can't possibly list all the news stories as there simply isn't anything else being covered.

But equally I can't possibly cover all of the "How to work from home" stories because they are legion.

I can, however, summarise.

Working from home is great because you'll be more productive but also prone to depression and anxiety because your work station must be configured properly so you don't get Occupational Overuse Syndrome but likewise must be family friendly because your kids/pets/spouses will want to join you in splendid isolation thus reducing your ability to work productively which is bad.

I think that covers it all.

It's not quite as much fun as it could be but equally now we're a week in it's not as terrifying a prospect as it once was. Now we're over the initial shock and yes, the thrill of it all, we're in for the long haul.

It could be weeks. It could be months. It could be months followed by a gap followed by more months.

The year 2020 is going to be a write-off and sadly for many it will mean the end of the line in terms of jobs or businesses and we'll lose more familiar names than we'd like.

But it is also a time of opportunity for the tech sector. All the things we've talked about for years are now essential. The hidden nugget of truth in the dot com bubble is that yes, you do need a website to sell and yes, you do need a mobile strategy and yes, you do need to be agile and have a cloud-migration plan and be strategically digital.

Because we're going to be in this locked down model for some time so the companies that want to survive will have to figure out how to work remotely and how to keep the doors open when the doors themselves are firmly shut.

The primary sector is going to do well (assuming we don't get any more surprises) because hello, food. The tourism sector is going to cease to exist for the foreseeable future because hello, no tourists.

The government and the public sector are hard at work stimulating the economy. Shovel-ready infrastructure plans are being drawn up alongside plans to support those who are suddenly out of work on a scale not seen since the Great Depression.

IT and the wider tech sector stand ready to take up the mantle of growth and opportunity. Whether it's helping schools teach remotely, training the next generation of software engineers remotely, building tools for retailers to truly go virtual, creating augmented reality goggles that really work to allow tourists to see the world they can't travel around, the world is our oyster and big tech stands to be the place to be for the next 50 years.

It's going to be a very strange year (it's only April) but at the end of it we have a shot at the big leagues. Let's not miss the chance to reinvent the New Zealand economy.

Cloudtech - How Covid-19 will impact IT and tech spending for 2020 and beyond

ZDNet - Coronavirus: From startups to supercomputers, how tech is trying to help tackle COVID-19

CNet - No, 5G didn't cause the coronavirus pandemic


Extreme Tech - 5G Doesn't Cause Coronavirus, but Coronavirus Might Cause 5G

ITNews - Why 5G is not causing the coronavirus pandemic, despite the conspiracy theory circulating about Wuhan, towers and radiation



The camera adds ten pounds

It's been a trying week, mostly for my colleagues, as they've put up with me becoming increasingly less enamoured with video conferencing as the week has worn on.

It started off well enough - the gentle ribbing, the mocking of those who can't remember to mute or to unmute, the amusement at the toilet dwellers. But somewhere along the line the light died and the fun went out of it.

Those who remember being in the office will recall a phrase carved into many a boardroom table: another meeting that should have been a phone call. Well those were halcyon days, my friends, because now we have meetings that should have been a lean-back-in-your-chair-and-call-across-the-pod and worse, they have to be video calls.

I tallied up the various VC apps I have running at the moment. FaceTime, Skype, Skype for Business, Teams, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Messenger and I'm probably forgetting a few more.

And of course, there's Zoom. Ah Zoom - the poster child for the COVID response. Everyone's Zooming, even the Prime Minister.

Until local tech reporter Juha Saarinen (former editor of these fine pages) broke the news that not only did Zoom not really have the end-to-end encryption it sort of implied it did (something which allowed ratbag users to 'zoombone' or jump into private sessions uninvited), it had flaws that would allow the same ratbags to "capture and replay security tokens" potentially providing access to your actually important work systems.

Well that's not good.

So bad is it that the Australian Signals Directorate and its cyber security division have issued a warning to companies about the use of video conferencing software.

Remember, if you're not paying you're not the customer, you're the product.

So now not only do we have to worry about accidental bathroom visits, we also have to worry about cybersecurity AND whether or not No Pants Friday really is a thing or not.

At this rate I might get a desk phone with a rotary dial and force everyone to contact me the old fashioned way.

ITNews - Windows flaw lets Zoom leak network credentials, runs code remotely

The Verge - Zoom faces a privacy and security backlash as it surges in popularity

The Intercept - Zoom meetings aren't end-to-end encrypted, despite misleading marketing

ITNews - ASD issues warning over cheap and nasty video conferencing


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David Lane 05 April 2020, 8:50 am

One notable exception to the "if you're not paying for it, you're the product" rule... is open source. And case-in-point: the NZOSS' is offering BigBlueButton as an open source alternative to Zoom (and the other proprietary vidconf apps) - and it's both free (freedom) and gratis. Our implementation is available to all, gratis. See

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