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FBI-run encrypted messaging app snares hundreds of criminals worldwide
by Paul Hill
According to a BBC News report, the FBI, working with the Australian government, has apprehended more than 800 criminals worldwide involved in drug smuggling, money laundering, murder plots, and more thanks to the encrypted messaging app ANoM which the FBI was secretly running.
The ANoM app was part of a wider ANoM company that the FBI had created. Devices loaded with ANoM were distributed throughout criminal networks through senior figures which gave other criminals the confidence to use the app for day-to-day activities. Around 12,000 ANoM devices were used by criminals over the course of the operation. The devices were used in around 300 criminal syndicates across more than 100 countries.
Commenting on the joint operation between the FBI and Australia, the Australian Federal Police commissioner, Reece Kershaw, said:
AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE Among the items seized in the operation were drugs, weapons, luxury vehicles, and cash. Specifically, eight tons of cocaine, 250 guns, and $48 million in various currencies and cryptocurrencies were also seized. The operation is reportedly still ongoing in several other countries.
According to a police statement, Australian fugitive and alleged drug trafficker Hakan Ayik was instrumental in the success of the operation, having originally accepted an undercover police phone with the ANoM app, who then recommended it to fellow criminals. Police have urged Ayik to turn himself in for his own safety.
By Jay Bonggolto
Twitter formally announces Blue subscription, rolling out in Canada and Australia
by Jay Bonggolto
Twitter's long rumored subscription service quietly launched late last month, courtesy of an update to the app's listing on Apple's App Store. Twitter Blue costs $2.99 per month, and for that price you'll get access to a number of features such as the ability to organize tweets into folders, use custom icons, and change the app's accent color.
Today, the micro-blogging service formally introduced Blue, with its first iteration now rolling out in Australia and Canada. Subscribers in those countries will pay CA$3.49 or AU$4.49 to have access to several premium features mentioned above as well as the ability to revise a tweet before it goes live with "Undo Tweet". This feature allows you to set a timer of up to 30 seconds, within which you can retract your tweet and make the necessary changes before posting it. More importantly, it gives you some time window to preview your tweet before anyone else can see it.
In addition, there's a new Bookmark Folders feature with which you can organize your saved tweets in a single location where it's easier to find them. If you'd like a more convenient reading experience, then the “Reader Mode” is your thing. It lets you view threads more easily by “turning them into easy-to-read text”.
Twitter Blue is initially available in Australia and Canada starting today, with the goal of gathering feedback in order to build more features for subscribers. There's no word, though, as to when the service will launch in other regions.
Google brings Street View to Sydney train and metro stations
by Paul Hill
Google has announced that it’s bringing Street View to Sydney’s train and metro stations. The search giant said that you’ll be able to use the images to learn your way around stations you plan to use so that you don’t get lost when you arrive. It also offers people a way to experience these stations if they can’t travel to Sydney for whatever reason.
To accompany the launch of Street View in Sydney’s stations, Google is also introducing accessible routes to the stations so that commuters can find the best entrances, exits, signage, and paths within the station, even anticipating in-transit travel times along the pathways. The directions that Google offers will be shared with Transport for New South Wales’ Open Data Portal which will allow the transport industry and app developers to access this detailed information to improve their services and products.
Commenting on the new features, Ramesh Nagarajan, Product Management Director for Google Maps, said:
The enhanced directions are available on both mobile and desktop, simply search for directions to your destination using the public transport option and if you have to go through one of the included stations, you will receive the enhanced directions.
By Ather Fawaz
The world's first diamond-based quantum accelerator to be deployed in Perth
by Ather Fawaz
Australian startup Quantum Brilliance announced today that its diamond-based quantum accelerator is slated to be deployed at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth, Australia. The startup is backed by The Australian National University and the installation is a part of Pawsey's Quantum Pioneer Program, which aims to push quantum computing research in domains like machine learning, logistics, defense, aerospace, and finance.
The firm expects to complete installation by June this year. Once that is done, Pawsey will become one of the few data centers in the world that currently house a ready-to-use quantum computer hosted on the cloud.
The key thing to note about the startup's quantum accelerators is that they do not require cryogenic temperatures to operate optimally. By using the nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in synthetic diamonds, Quantum Brilliance was able to mediate the effect of magnetic impurities and thermal vibrations in its accelerator. The firm debuted this system last year in March claiming that its qubits have the longest coherence time of any solid-state electron spin at room temperature.
This is a concrete step towards the firm's aim to commercialize quantum computers and deploy them in data centers, hospitals, and mines for research, business, and traditional use cases. “It has been a privilege working towards this goal with the fantastic team at Pawsey. We are only starting to see how quantum accelerators can transform industries in Australia and around the world,” said Quantum Brilliance CEO Andrew Horsley, Ph.D. “Because of our unique diamond-based technology, customers can run our quantum computers themselves, and we provide them a full set of tools to explore how quantum can help create new capabilities. We are one of a very small handful of companies with the capability to deliver quantum computing hardware directly to customers.”
“I am delighted to see active industry and researcher engagement with quantum computing,” said Pawsey’s Executive Director Mark Stickells. “We are excited to explore the potential of this technology for Australian researchers to further accelerate their scientific workflows using the potential of quantum computing within the advanced infrastructure of a national research supercomputing center.”
Snap: Gen Z set to drive post-pandemic recovery with tech
by Paul Hill
Snap Inc, the firm behind Snapchat, has been working with Oxford Economics to see how Generation Z will drive the post-pandemic recovery by leveraging their skills in the digital economy. The firm said that the current narrative around Gen Z suggests that the members of the cohort face a future of uncertainty, but its report actually found that members have a case for being optimistic about the future.
Unlike any generation before it, Gen Z has grown up with technology having been born between 1997 and 2012 and is, therefore, more comfortable with its use than previous generations. According to the research, these digital skills will help Gen Z become the “dominant force” in the workplace. In Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States - the nations that were looked at in this study - there will be 87 million workers from Gen Z by 2030, three times more than today.
With the coronavirus accelerating the shift to home working, it will be more important that employees have digital skills. With Gen Z growing up around technology, they’re more likely to have these skills. According to the report, Gen Z is more likely to have skills such as agility, curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving which will be in demand in tomorrow’s job market.
With their success in the workplace, they also become one of the main drivers of consumer spending which forecasts suggesting they’ll spend $3.1 trillion in the aforementioned markets in the year 2030.
As we’ve seen in previous years, smartphones became more easily adopted by the youngest adult generations before being adopted by those in older age groups. Snap says that augmented reality will be similar and that Gen Z will be the generation that begins adopting the technology first. It said by 2023, the AR market is expected to increased four-fold and will transform healthcare, education, architecture, entertainment, and manufacturing fields. Snap said jobs in AR are becoming more popular and tend to favour Gen Z.
If you’d like to read the full 50-page report, you can download it now in English, French, German, and Dutch.