Digest - Friday the 8th of December 2017
NAS Australia XMAS Trading Hours
The team at NAS Australia would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and custom throughout 2017 and wish you and yours a safe and restful XMAS break.
All NAS Branches (Cairns, Warana, Brisbane & Newcastle) are:
- Closing: Midday on Friday the 22nd of December 2017 and
- Re-opening: 7:30am on Tuesday the 2nd of January 2018
Blustream Customer Training Roadshow a Success
The team at NAS would like to thank those customers who attended last week's Blustream Training Roadshow. Daniel from Blustream had an incredibly busy week, visiting our Cairns, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Newcastle offices.
PDF's of the presentation are available for those who attended the training sessions. For access please contact your NAS Branch Manager.
Risco Training Conducted in Cairns and Brisbane in November
Tim Prag from Risco visited our Cairns and Brisbane offices in November to conduct hands on Risco panel programing training. All sessions were very well received and were fully subscribed. Should you wish to register interest in future sessions please contact your NAS Branch Manager.
On Controls Distribution Announcement from iRule LLC a Kramer Electronics Company
The below is copied/updated from the On Controls website: oncontrols.com/announcement/
"In case you are not aware, over the past 3 years, iRule LLC has been developing a new product in conjunction with Kramer Electronics who purchased iRule LLC in December of 2016. During that development, the iRule/ON Controls Development Team worked to stabilize both the iRule & ON Controls products. After the last updated release, we have since halted all other development of the iRule & ON Controls products so that we could focus our resources on building Kramer Control. Based upon reactions thus far, we believe that Kramer Control will be the next GREAT Commercial Control Platform!"
"We know that you are likely wondering how this will affect you, your projects, and your customers. Because of this, we have enacted the following timeline so that you will be well informed and have time to make any necessary adjustments."
As of September 29, 2017:
- Official announcement went out to iRule users, ON Controls dealers, websites, and social media.
- iRule GetSatisfaction forum was turned over to a user run forum. The forum will be funded by iRule so that current users and future users can find and exchange information.
- ON Controls will no longer accept new dealers.
As of December 31, 2018:
- All sales of iRule & ON Controls products will cease.
As of December 31, 2021:
- iRule & ON Controls Servers will be shut down. *Note – ALL Existing projects will continue to function as normal, however, no new changes will be able to be made to the projects.
"We realize that this can impact your business and we hope that by delaying the server shutdown until the end of 2021, we are giving you a sufficient amount of time to transition to a new platform. If you are interested in finding out more about Kramer Control and how this new platform can work for you, please follow this link http://control.kramerav.com/index.html."
Product Focus - Sanus
Sanus Racks - Pre-assembled and Packed with Accessories
Whether you have just a few pieces of AV equipment to organize, or want to fully customize your entire AV center, SANUS AV racks provide the options and versatility to fit your needs. Keep your equipment in a safe location for a more streamlined look to your AV center.
The SANUS component racks are robust, designed for high performance, and are pre-assembled with shelves and blanking panels already included.
Quick-release back and side panels allow easy access to components and wiring. Swivel casters and adjustable feet allow mobility and stable positioning, and cooling vents on the top and bottom of the rack ensure all equipment stays at the ideal temperature.
SANUS Stackable Skeleton Racks - VIDEO
Self aligning and assembled in just 15 minutes. With the two different heights, and its stacking options, a total of five different height configurations is enabled. SANUS Stackable Skeleton Racks can support up to 272 kg of AV gear on the floor and up to 90 kg when mounted on the wall. The rack and all of its components are in one small shippable box.
All SANUS racks come with threaded rails for faster and easier equipment integration. The assembly video is well worth a look.
ACCC Clears Foxtel & Fox Sports Merger
"The ACCC has announced it will not oppose the proposed merger of Foxtel and Fox Sports, determining that the transaction will not substantially lessen competition in the industry."
"As part of the merger, Foxtel and Fox Sports will be brought together “under a common ownership”, with News Corp retaining 65% ownership of the entity. The merged organisation will also “enter a number of agreements with Telstra”.
"At current, News Corp owns 100% of Fox Sports and owns Foxtel jointly with Telstra." The complete article can be accessed here.
New report backs DTT spectrum rethink
One has to consider it is only a matter of time till Australia adopts a more technologically advanced method of transmission to free up more spectrum for mobile data usage.
"Digital UK has published a new study that backs its earlier calls for a reappraisal of the way UHF spectrum is allocated."
"The report by telecoms specialists Aetha Consulting estimates changes could unlock a capacity increase of up to 70 per cent."
"In ten years there have been constant demands on the UHF spectrum currently used for Digital Terrestrial Television. The 700MHz band being the latest tranche of spectrum to be sold off, despite the Freeview service being the most widely used TV service in the UK." The complete article can be accessed here.
Online TV & movie piracy losses to soar to $52 billion
"Revenues lost to online piracy will nearly double between 2016 and 2022 to $51.6 billion, according to the Online TV Piracy Forecasts report."
"Covering 138 countries, these forecasts include revenues lost to TV episodes and movies – but not other sectors such as sports or pay TV." The complete article can be accessed here.
Reminds me of the saying there is no such thing as a free lunch. Perhaps it is because a pirate ate it! I have always maintained the position that Pay TV, is as its name suggests, a service that should be paid for. Whilst delivery methods are evolving and reducing capital cost structures, it is imperative that we do not 'bite the hand that feeds us'. Technological disruption will continue to decrease the cost of viewership so long as we all pay as we go.
Netflix-backed anti-piracy alliance forces shutdown of popular Kodi add-ons
"AN ANTI-PIRACY ALLIANCE whose members include Amazon and Netflix have forced the shutdown of a number of popular Kodi add-on services."
"TorrentFreak reports that developers jsergio123 and The_Alpha, responsible for add-ons including urlresolver, metahandler, Bennu and DeathStreams, announced overnight that they will be shutting down their Kodi creations." The complete article can be accessed here.
Piracy-enabling streaming boxes pose 'substantial' fire and electrical risks
"Safety regulator warns that streamers could get their fingers burnt this Christmas."
"PIRACY-ENABLING STREAMING DEVICES pose "substantial" fire and electrical risks to consumers."
"So says the results of a joint initiative between Electrical Safety First and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), which tested nine illicit streaming devices and found that they all failed to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994."
"What's more, none of the devices come with sufficient safety or warning information to ensure safe and correct use, assembly, installation or maintenance of the equipment, according to the firms." The article can be accessed here.
Apple has given a blank cheque to Drake to create whatever film and movies he wants
"ONE of the world’s largest companies has given a “blank cheque” to help create content to take down Netflix."
"LONG before Drake was a powerhouse rapper, he famously got his start for his role as Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation."
"Now Apple is hoping the Canadian rap superstar can channel his younger actor days to help the tech giant continue its push into the world of film and television streaming."
"The company is planning to spend billions on video content in the next few years and one of Apple’s top executives, Jimmy Iovine, said Drake has the “go-ahead” to produce whatever shows or movies he wants using these funds." The article can be accessed here.
HDMI FORUM RELEASES VERSION 2.1 OF THE HDMI SPECIFICATION
"HDMI Forum, Inc. today announced the release of Version 2.1 of the HDMI® Specification which is now available to all HDMI 2.0 adopters. This latest HDMI Specification supports a range of higher video resolutions and refresh rates including 8K60 and 4K120, and resolutions up to 10K. Dynamic HDR formats are also supported, and bandwidth capability is increased up to 48Gbps." The complete article can be accessed here.
CHAINIAC: Proactive software update transparency via collectively signed skipchains and verified builds
"So hopefully you’ve put in place some kind of software supply chain management process that will pick up the availability of new package versions, particularly of course those with fixes for discovered vulnerabilities, and ensure those updates are propagated through your environment in a timely manner. But have you ever thought about this: with the advent of continual1 delivery pipelines an attacker has a wonderful opportunity to inject a vulnerability anywhere upstream in your process (from the source code control system onwards) and have that picked up and handily deployed into your production systems for them. This is not just a theoretical risk. So you also need to think about securing your software supply chain." The complete article can be accessed here.
From Mark - Our IT Manager: An indication of some of the complexity that will be needed to secure the software supply chain in an IoT world we're content updates are the only way to mitigate constant vulnerabilities. Suddenly the update process becomes the target unless that is also structured to be tolerant of failure.
Security flaw prompts fears on Wi-Fi connections, affects practically every single person in the world
"A NEWLY discovered flaw in the widely used Wi-Fi encryption protocol could leave millions of users vulnerable to attacks, prompting warnings Monday from the US government and security researchers worldwide."
"The US government’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) issued a security bulletin saying the flaw can open the door to hackers seeking to eavesdrop on or hijack devices using wireless networks."
"The agency’s warning came on the heels of research by computer scientists at the Belgian university KU Leuven, who dubbed the flaw KRACK, for Key Reinstallation Attack."
"According to the news site Ars Technica, the discovery was a closely guarded secret for weeks to allow Wi-Fi systems to develop security patches." The complete article can be accessed here.
Experts Propose Standard for IoT Firmware Updates
"Security experts have filed a proposal with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that defines a secure framework for delivering firmware updates to Internet of Things (IoT) devices."
"Filed on Monday by three ARM employees, their submission has entered the first phase of a three-stage process for becoming an official Internet standard."
"Titled "IoT Firmware Update Architecture," their proposal — if approved — puts forward a series of ground rules that device makers could implement when designing the firmware update mechanism for their future devices." The complete article can be accessed here.
Wi-Fi vs. Z-Wave: What’s the Difference and Where Does It Matter?
"When you see the Wi-Fi label on a box in the electronics section of your local big box store, you know what it means. We’ve had years to watch wireless internet spread to college campuses, libraries, airports, and every corner of our homes."
"But some devices have a different label: Z-Wave. What’s that all about?"
"The two have something in common. Wi-Fi and Z-Wave are both wireless networks, and they both enable your devices to communicate with one another. They just happen to do so in different ways. So which should you use, and where? Let’s break this down." Want to know more? The complete article can be accessed here.
Holiday Stats: Millennials to Buy Smart Home Devices
"Parks Associates' holiday shopping research shows that millennials will lead the smart home and CE purchasing the holiday season, with 46 percent reporting high intentions to buy at least one device and 36 percent planning to give one as a gift."
"The IoT research firm, which surveyed U.S. broadband households on their purchase intentions for this holiday season, found one-third of U.S. broadband households report a high intention to purchase a CE or smart home device this holiday season."
"Consumer marketing strategies and technology evangelism by Amazon and Google have created attention for smart home and connected CE devices, creating an opportunity for a big jump in these products this holiday season," said Elizabeth Parks, SVP, Parks Associates. "Fourteen percent of U.S. broadband households intend to purchase a smart video doorbell, potentially driving this device to similar adoption levels of smart thermostats and connected lighting products. While consumer intentions aren't always realized, these findings give a good indication of the coming impact of the holiday purchase season." The article can be accessed here.
Stephen Hawking says artificial intelligence could be ‘worst thing’ for humanity if not done properly
"HE’S the biggest brain on the planet, now Stephen Hawking has a dire warning about something we could all be sleepwalking into."
"ARTIFICIAL Intelligence (AI) could sideline and “destroy” its human creators if engineers cannot get a grip on the ethics behind it, Professor Stephen Hawking has warned."
"Speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon, the theoretical physicist said AI has the potential to be the best or worst thing humanity has ever seen and the scary reality is we just don’t know which yet."
“We cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it,” he said. The article can be accessed here.
Amazon officially launches in Australia
"IT’S finally, actually here — for real this time. After a frenzy of speculation, the e-commerce giant has officially launched its Australian website."
"After months of anticipation and a soft-launch late last month, the world’s biggest online retailer has officially kicked off its local store offering massive discounts on millions of items across more than 20 categories including electronics, toys, clothing, beauty and accessories."
“Thousands” of local suppliers, meanwhile, have signed up to sell their products through Amazon Marketplace, which generates about half of all sales globally for the e-commerce giant. The complete article can be accessed here.
Amazon Launches In OZ, Hit & Miss Site, Prices NOT Cheap
"Amazon has launched in Australia, but it appears to be a hit and miss affair with some prices equal to JB Hi FI while some products are more expensive than the bricks and mortar retailer."
"It also appears that he site has been rushed with some SKU’s featuring the wrong image and devoid of extensive content information that Amazon traditionally delivers."
"PC Call of Duty Black OPS 3 is selling on Amazon for $79. The same SKU at JB Hi Fi is $59."
"In the Hi Fi section Sonos and Sennheiser appear to be the big manufacturers brands a Sonos Play One is listed at $229 at JB Hi Fi while on Amazon the product is selling for the same price."
"It also appears that some marketplace participants in particular distributors have set up separate Companies to sell on Amazon. While there are hundreds of Amazon Basic cables listed there is limited mainstream brands, in some cases Companies like Acer are ranging products currently not being sold via retailers in Australia." The complete article can be accessed here.
How big an impact will Amazon have on Australia? Maybe we should look at what happened in Canada rather than the US
"DOOMSDAYERS warning of an Amazon-led retail collapse overlooked one thing. This is why its battle plan may not work."
"WALK around the executive corridors of the head offices of Australia’s biggest retailers and you’ll smell one thing. Not leather from the chairs; but fear. Fear of the impending arrival of Amazon."
"Insiders believe the online giant could launch as soon as November to cash in on the Christmas rush. Doom laden predictions abound of a retail apocalypse if Amazon can repeat its American success in Australia."
"But retail gurus are questioning if Amazon’s Australian entry has been overhyped."
"Don’t look to America, they say, but to Canada where Amazon hasn’t had anything near the impact on established retailers."
"In the US, Amazon’s dominance is undoubted. The company, which has a market capitalisation of a cool $600 billion, accounts for 43 per cent of US online sales and around 5 per cent of total retail sales."
"Yet, its market share in Canada is five times smaller than in the US."
"In fact, Amazon’s global success is based largely on just four countries. The US, Germany, Japan and the UK contributed 92 per cent of the company’s yearly revenue."
"Geography, competitors who’ve read Amazon’s play book, and the challenging “last mile” of delivery are tripping the behemoth up."
"Partly it’s because Canucks are just far less enthusiastic about online shopping than the Yanks. While Americans spend around $A1500 per person per year online, Canadians shell out just $A750 each." Access the article here.
Amazon Shipping, Non Compliant Electrical Appliances
"Serious questions are being asked after it was revealed that Amazon is allowing Marketplace participants to ship electrical appliances to Australia that don’t comply with local safety standards because they are the wrong voltage, the products are also devoid of a local 10 year warranty." The complete article can be accessed here.
David Jones bets on service to beat Amazon
"Upmarket department store David Jones hopes its "premium" service, in-store experience and ability to price-match on select products will help it stay ahead of online retail rivals, including Amazon."
"The declaration came as Australian retailers sweat on the launch of Amazon locally. The American web selling giant emailed a 30-page "supply chain preparation manual" to vendors on Friday and asked them to ship items to a storage centre in Dandenong, Victoria."
"David Jones has just relaunched its technology section after it ended its joint-venture with now-defunct electronics brand Dick Smith in January 2016, one month before its collapse."
"Scott Sullivan, David Jones' head of audio-visual, said he hoped consumers would still visit the stores to experience products before they purchased them." The complete article can be accessed here.
‘We don’t use their data and then cut them out’: eBay warns of Amazon private label rip-off
"EBAY and Harvey Norman boss Gerry Harvey launch a last-minute pitch to the Australian people — shop with Amazon at your peril."
"AUSTRALIAN retailers selling via Amazon Marketplace risk having the e-commerce giant rip-off their products for its private label range, the head of rival eBay has warned."
"Speaking ahead of the imminent launch of Amazon’s local operation, eBay Australia and New Zealand managing director Tim MacKinnon said competition was “great for the market and great for consumers, as long as the competition is fair”.
“We let every retailer big and small compete,” he said. “Where you get players that try to use the data they get and then decide to go and retail those items themselves, that’s where it becomes a little unfair. We will be watching that carefully.” The complete article can be accessed here.
Retail relief at soft Amazon Aussie debut
"Australia’s retailers have had a reprieve – however brief – with Amazon’s local online operation underwhelming analysts with a debut offering featuring a narrower than expected product range and smaller than expected discounts."
"Amazon.com.au went live in the early hours of Tuesday with more than 20 categories ranging from toys, sports, tools, beauty and clothing."
"However retail analysts said the discounts on offer are not as aggressive as expected, the range was slim and delivery times are no better than local retailers’ service." The complete article can be accessed here.
Economy & Development
Australian economy downgraded by IMF
"Weaker mining exports and housing investment hurt by bad weather earlier this year have prompted the International Monetary Fund to cut its growth forecasts for the Australian economy."
"In what appears to be a blip, the IMF's latest World Economic Outlook released overnight has sharply revised Australian growth down to 2.2 per cent in 2017 from projected of 3 per cent just six months ago."
"While Australia's economy is expected to recover in 2018, the forecast has also been softened to 2.9 per cent, down from an anticipated 3 per cent."
- Australian economic growth forecast for 2017 cut from 3 to 2.2 per cent
- Cyclone Debbie partly to blame due to reduced coal exports; weather related construction disruptions hit GDP
- Growth expected to rise to 2.9 per cent next year; more infrastructure investment needed."
The complete article can be accessed here.
A key part of the Australian economy looks like it'll boost GDP in Q3
"Australia’s international trade report for September was released today, and it was good ‘un."
"The trade surplus swelled to $1.745 billion from $873 million, breezing past expectations for a smaller increase to $1.2 billion."
"Exports jumped by 2.9% to $32.961 billion, thanks largely to a nice bounce in the value of iron ore exports. Imports, on the other hand, only rose by 0.2% to $31.216 billion over the same period."
"However, not only did the trade surplus beat in dollar terms, importantly, combined with the data from July and August, it now looks like external trade, or net exports, will contribute handily to Australia’s Q3 GDP report that will be released in one months time."
"Of the economist notes that we’ve received so far, all are predicting that it will add to GDP." The complete article can be accessed here.
Jobless rate hits near four-year low, wages still lag
"It has been 23 years since we have had an employment run this good and still wages are going nowhere."
"The number of jobs being created is double the increase in the population, which in any normal cycle should signal a tighter labour market, but employers appear to be enjoying the fruits of their employees' labour - and hiring more of them - without giving them a bigger pay cheque."
"This month, only Queensland recorded a strong rise in full-time employment, up 12,600 after a 5 per cent jump over the past year. But that is partly because the other states don't have much room to move, and, as Deutsche Bank observes, people seem to be moving to Queensland to take advantage of lower house prices."
"Unemployment in NSW is on the floor at 4.6 per cent, close to full employment, while Victoria is up at 5.7 per cent."
"Nationally, the rate dropped to the four-year low of 5.4 per cent in October after a soft net increase of 3700 jobs came on the back of a revision that saw an extra 26,000 jobs added in September." The complete article can be accessed here.
Sunshine Coast goes it alone in $1 billion cable project
"In the world of e-business, one second makes all the difference."
"That one second could make a billion dollars worth of difference to the Queensland economy."
"That is what the Sunshine Coast is counting on when, on Saturday, it calls for expressions of interest from the private sector to build a $1 billion undersea communications cable into the Sunshine Coast."
"Already more than 30 businesses from Singapore are interested."
"On Saturday, the Sunshine Coast Regional Council will formally ask for the private sector to lodge its interest in providing the sixth undersea telecommunications link from the northern hemisphere into Australia." The complete article can be accessed here.
Consumers on spending strike amid 0.6 per cent economic growth
"Bill shock – or the fear of it – shut wallets across the country in the three months to September as alarm about rising energy prices drove people away from shops, healthcare, hotels and cafes."
"Spending on almost every discretionary purchase was down in the September quarter, as spending on almost every unavoidable expense increased, led by electricity and rent. The outcome was a net increase in household final consumption of just 0.1 per cent, the weakest result since the 2008 global financial crisis." The complete article can be accessed here.
From Our IT Manager
Unifi "Fast Roaming" options
Ubiquiti Networks Unifi access points have had several different implementations of "fast roaming" technologies at various times. Some of these implementations have been specific to certain products and controllers causing some confusion for customers.
The various technologies involved are:
- Zero-Handoff Roaming (ZHO). Deprecated. Applied to first generation (green ring) UAP, UAP-LR, UAP-PRO, UAPOUTDOOR+ APs only. Trade-offs: forced a single channel architecture that often caused more problems with self-interference and speed penalties than the improved roaming times were worth unless the network coverage was very carefully designed.
- Unifi "Fast Roaming". Current. Applies to second and third generation AC APs (blue ring) UAP-AC-lite, UAP-AC-LR, UAP-AC-PRO, UAP-AC-HD, UAP-AC-SHD but not to the square UAPAC. UBNT proprietary technology based on some concepts from 802.11r Fast BSS transition without requiring explicit client (phone/tablet/laptop) support in the device firmware.
- IEEE WiFi standards 802.11r/k/v. In development (beta/alpha controllers). Industry standard fast roaming specifications will help with the overall speed-up of client roaming decisions with the trade-off that clients must also support these standards to see benefits. Applies to second and third generation AC APs (blue ring) UAP-AC-lite, UAP-AC-LR, UAP-AC-PRO, UAP-AC-HD, UAP-AC-SHD but not to the square UAPAC.
This UBNT knowledgebase article (https://help.ubnt.com/hc/en-us/articles/115004662107-UniFi-Fast-Roaming) goes into a little detail on the change from ZHO to "Fast Roaming". In short, the costs of ZHO (mostly due to self-interference where power levels were not designed well by the installer) were often more than the benefits of improved hand-over speeds. The current "Fast Roaming" technology does not share ZHO's biggest trade-off: the necessity to run all APs on the same 2.4GHz channel (causing self-interference). "Fast Roaming" allows clients to roam between APs on different channels, preserving channel diversity.
Looking to the future, UBNT is working on implementing IEEE Fast BSS transition (802.11r), Radio Resource Management (802.11k), Wireless Network Management (802.11v). In combination, when supported by both clients and APs, these standards allow the client roaming decision to be sped up by reducing the messages required to authenticate against an AP, allow the AP to provide a list of nearby neighbouring APs to the client, and for clients and APs to exchange RF information. The trade-offs with these standards are the need for broad AP and client support (enabling 802.11r/k/v can slow down some networks with a lot of legacy devices), and varying coverage of the standards by device manufacturers (Apple devices have reasonable support for 802.11r but not much support for 802.11v).
Additionally as noted in the knowledgebase article, although there are some benefits to WPA2 Pre-shared key networks with roaming, the greatest roaming speed improvements are seen in WPA-Enterprise networks using RADIUS/Directory services authentication as that is where the greatest overhead currently is.
So what can you as an installer or solution provider do? As always it comes back to the basics. As much as you can, take control of the design process of your wireless networks. Good roaming means ensuring the client device has clear options. Ensure your wireless coverage allows for some level of overlap so that a device can see at least two APs when on the margins of a coverage zone. It needs to be strong enough to avoid black-spots, yet weak enough to encourage it to jump over to the new AP. Throwing APs up at max power is a quick way to get going, but may cause you some issues down the line as more APs are added into the install.
Unifi Stories: 500 room hotel
The Ubuiquiti Community is a user forum where you can get community support, participate in beta software testing, and exchange stories on your installations and experiences. You can sign up at https://community.ubnt.com/
As an example I thought I would share two links describing an installation of Unifi gear at a 500 room hotel in Colorado: