Are NSW Police duping the media in the leadup to APEC?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 2-Sep-2007 19:16

Anybody who's followed the news in the past 24 hours would be aware of the APEC conference that is about to start in Sydney. Australian media have also been leading with a story raising security fears for the APEC conference due to the theft of 3 Police radios in recent weeks.,23599,22345160-2,00.html


Now lets look at the radio system used by the NSW Police. It's an APCO 25 digital network that supports encryption with the appropiate radios. Radios are "keyed" with an algorithm to decode the encrypted radio traffic which prevents unauthorised people from listening into the system. One of the best features of APCO 25 over other digital systems is it's OTAR - Over The Air Rekeying. Unlike older digital encryption systems where radios had to be rekeyed by individually programming each radio this system allows rekeying of radios over the common air interface. This means that if a radio is stolen or lost then all of the radios on the network can be rekeyed and the missing radios removed from the system which renders them useless.

Either the NSW Police want the media to feed on this story as added justification for their security crackdown since stolen radios would seem to pose a credible security threat or the NSW Police have idiots running their radio network.

Shane Warne's list of the top 50 greatest cricketers

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 30-Aug-2007 19:55

From The Times in the UK comes Warne's list of top 50 all time cricketers. I guess the big unanswered question will be whether he rates himself as number 1 - he hasn't mentioned himself yet in this countdown and he's already at 20! :-)

Good on ya Warnee, you're still a legend in the making!

Future Proofing your house

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 27-Aug-2007 08:54

Mauricio blogged about Telecom's NGN this morning and the discussed the issue of power failures affecting VoIP. Whereas traditional POTS/PSTN phones are powered by the switch in a VoIP environment your internet connection and phones are powered by your household power which means that if you're not running your equipment on a UPS you face an outage during power cuts.

Telecom's Trinity Project is the replacement of the existing POTS network with a 100% VoIP solution meaning that somewhere within the next 5-7 years every household in the country will be using a VoIP solution for their home phone as the existing NEC NEAX switches are retired. There is no need to replace your existing phone or household wiring as you will be able to continue to use your existing phones and an ATA which will convert your regular phone to function as a VoIP phone. People who do want to upgrade however will be able to use true VoIP phones which will offer enhanced features & functionality.

Anybody who's building a new house or modernising their house should make this Telecom PTC106
 essential reading. If you're building a new house you should be future proofing your house now. If your electrician wants to run regular phone cable and had no idea what the word structured cabling means then find a new one who does. Running structured cabling also doesn't need to cost the earth - I've run cabling in two new houses for friends lately and with a box of cat5e cable only costing around $130 for a 305m box and RG6 cable at less than $1 per metre for triple shielded it's not a huge expense. There are plenty of custom home structured cabling systems available but beware of paying big $$ to get the same solution.

Since I'm 100% VoIP at home I have a patch panel in the hallway cupboard with a 24 port switch, cable modem and Linksys PAP2 all powered off a UPS. I have 12 jackpoints around the house and my Linksys SPA921 VoIP phones and single cordless phone all run off their own standalone plug packs but I will soon be building my own PoE injectors to run my SPA921's since these phones don't support the PoE standard.

Funny of the day

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 26-Aug-2007 18:19

Spotted in the local Countdown supermarket today

Who cares where John Key lives?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 23-Aug-2007 12:07

Honestly, does anybody care?

How about sorting our our 3rd world health system Mr Hodgson instead of wasting all your time being obsessed by everybody else. Companis who obsess themselves about what everybody else is doing rather than focusing on their own ideas normally self destruct and go bust. The current Labour government is heading down that very same path.

Why Corrections have got it all wrong jamming cellphones.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 23-Aug-2007 10:52

So corrections want to install cellphone jammers in prisons to stop prisoners making calls? This is an issue I spent some time discussing yesterday afternoon with a friend who had done some brief work on cellphone jamming in NZ a while back when corrections first proposed installing equipment into prisons. The technology can work in some circumstances but can also prove unreliable. What it doesn't deal with however is the issue of blocking WiFi signals. With the number of cellphones now with VoIP and WiFi capabilities the move by corrections to install cellphone jamming equipment is going to about as effective as giving somebody a two roadcones to block a road. It will stop some people but anybody who has a brain (ie many prisoners) will realise an exploit to get around the system is dead easy.

Firstly smuggle your WiFi/VoIP capable Nokia phone or Netgear Skype phone into a prison (very easy). Next your mate parks outside with a WiFi AP hooked up to a cellphone (again very easy) and before you know it you're connected to the real world again. Simple isn't it. I wonder why not a single person at corrections was aware of such an exploit? They're going to waste $5 million of taxpayers money on a system that will have exploits from day one.

It reminds me of their stupid system about 10 years ago were prisoners were only able to dial fixed nominated numbers from the prison payphones. They would nominate friend X on number 1234567 and were free to call them. Corrections spent a lot of money implimenting this rock solid system to discover that some smart people realised if you rang your nominated mate he could put his phone on divert to another number and talk to anybody they wanted.

Bruce over at Aarkvark has also posted about the issue of cellphones in prison and has a few comments  in regards to it.

The NZ economy is kaput?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 16-Aug-2007 16:50

Our currency is in meltdown.

Currently falls 3c against the $US in a single day and almost 1.5c against the A$.

My New Years prediction this year was that the NZ economoy would be buggered by October/November and we'd be in a near recession. It looks like it's actually occuring a little earlier.

What's going to happen to house prices and interest rates now when our banks no longer have cheap money to loan? What's going to happen to inflation as the cost of petrol and imported goods starts to sky rocket? 

Petrol prices in NZ

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 16-Aug-2007 08:33

Has anybody else noticed that despite our dollar dropping by 10c compared to the US$ in the past two weeks that the price of unleaded has stayed at 153.9 per litre? I smell something a little fishy here, the main fuel players in NZ normally raise their prices pretty quickly when our dollar starts going downward or oil prices start fluctuating. The only assumption I can make is that they're been ripping us off so much in the past few months they can afford to sustain their current price point.

The Warehouse, The Warehouse, where everyone gets a bargain...Sometimes

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 12-Aug-2007 19:19

We all know that The Warehouse is a retail giant in NZ. It's also a very poorly run company that could certainly benefit with a supermarket chain owning it (both Foodstuffs and Woolworths are interested) because they simply have no idea in the world when it comes to running an efficient retail operation.

I'm sure everybody who reads this will have had many experiences with prices at the till differing from the prices on the product, parimarily because in this day in age The Warehouse are still obsessed by pricing goods with pricing guns - a manual process that uses precious time and is completely unnecessary considering the goods are scanned at checkout anyway!

I couldn't help but notice this U2 Vertigo DVD while I was browing the DVD stands today. Around 15 copies of the DVD had signs of 3 or 4 price stickers on them. Staff have had to waste time pricing goods, repricing them when the price changed, obviously attempt to remove those 2 tags, reprice the DVD at $22.99 and then finally reduce it to $18.99

With inefficient business practices like this it's no wonder the company is performing so poorly.

RIANZ don't really want you to listen to music.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 11-Aug-2007 10:47

I'm sure plenty of people on here would have been following the saga of NZ's updated copyright laws that will probably be passed in the next few months. Amongst other things this update could possibly legalise format shifting a CD to your iPod and recording a TV show on your VCR, providing you delete it within a few days. Keep it any longer (even if you haven't watched it) and you'll be breaking the law.

it was interesting to read the Herald story today and the comments from Campbell Smith, CEO of RIANZ.

Recording Industry Association chief executive Campbell Smith said most companies already turned a blind eye to personal copying, and association members had never taken legal action to prevent people taking copies for personal use.

"I think that's fair. You buy something for your own use and that's how it should be. We are in the business of trying to sell people music, not trying to prevent them doing what is reasonable."

When then did RIANZ then oppose format shifting in all of their submissions to the MED when the initial discussion papers were distributed?

RIANZ strongly opposes the proposal in the Position Paper to introduce a new format shifting exemption into the Act. In RIANZ's view, there is no need or economic justification for the introduction of a format shifting exception for sound recordings. The effect of such an exemption would simply be a green light for wholesale unauthorised copying and would effectively destroy the efforts of the industry within New Zealand to fight existing rampant piracy and educate the public as to the value of copyright. The introduction of such an exemption would send a confusing signal to the public, particularly young people. It would be impossible to convey a message that piracy harms right holders when users would be able to legally make copies of music in their own homes. It would also make taking action against known pirates so much more difficult that it currently is. More importantly, the introduction of a private copying exemption would be completely inconsistent with the government's initiatives to nurture and grow the music industry within New Zealand. Furthermore, the Ministry has not identified an economic justification or sufficient public policy reason for such an exemption and it is difficult to see how then it would satisfy the copyright framework articulated by the Ministry in both the Discussion Paper and the Position Paper.

I won't bother rambling on any more about RIANZ or the big music companies - we know they're dinosaurs stuck in the dark ages who need to get a grip on reality.

sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at