Authorization that had ordered Microsoft to disclose contents of emails on their servers has been overturned on appeal. This is significant for debates about online security and privacy.


Though owned by Microsoft the emails in question were stored on a server in Ireland. This undoubtedly influenced the decision made by a US court. The decision is made based on a 30 year old ‘stored communications ‘act; but the applicability of this US law to foreign countries is debatable. The Microsoft Company is US based, but even though they own the servers and the email contained on them the applicability of US laws to hardware on foreign shores is controversial.


The investigation wanting access to the email servers were looking for information related to a drug-trafficking case. Whether they were after an individual or small group is uncertain, but it was only a very small number of accounts that to be released to the investigation. Most emails would have stayed untouched.


Microsoft, as well as other US based technology groups, have pointed out the difficulty they will have selling web services if US officials can seize information stored in foreign countries. Likewise, support for this demand to hand over this email information would justify foreign countries making the same demand on the U.S. Many US companies have written support for Microsoft position in the court case.


At present the situation has to deal with laws passed before the availability of the internet. The electronic communications Privacy act was passed in 1986; it did not consider the location of the stored records to be relavent, meaning criminals could not conceal information just by using a foreign computer system. This situation looks to be changing.


At present the criminal investigators can resort to mutual legal assistance treaties between countries, something different to only using the courts within the U.S. But this should radically change when the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect in 2018. This new regulation extends across European countries, recognises both email and social media cultures, and aims to penalize companies for mishandling data. Fines will be in proportion to the company’s total worth, up to 4% of their annual earnings.


In defence of the courts original decision, the order to disclose the email files was a mixture of subpoena and warrant. Such rulings apply to the possession of information, not the location of the information. Microsoft would have had to disclose the content of the email, but with no need to disrupt the services of others on the server. If the emails were handed over in court there should have been no debate over international jurisdiction.

Just a few useful apps for those moving operations to the Cloud.



The bane of all Cloud moves, or any format change really – file conversions. Cloudconvert is designed to simply do conversions, quickly and simply. There are all the more popular file formats, pdf, DOCX, MOBI … etc. There are also multiple e-book, audio and video formats.

After installation, using CloudConvert is just a matter of right-clicking a file and opening with CloudConvert.


Wappwolf Automator for Google Drives

This looks after file allocation, and proves itself quite useful. Add files to specific folders, have certain folders updated to a Dropbox; it can be set up to work as you wish. It works with many cloud drives, including Amazon, and will happily sync two different clouds, even converting files when necessary.

This app is free if you only have 10 automations and 10 files. Higher levels plans cost from about $8.oo per month and upward.


Pixlr Editor

Edit images in the Cloud, without downloads of need of Photoshop. Mostly for convenience and saving time, but that’s the whole point of a well set up system.



Edit pdf online; merge documents, add images and text. Save it back to pdf or another format, and email it while all in the same app.



Send a fax from the browser window. No fuss, just a better version of what a physical fax will do.

According to a new study by the BSA Australia’s regulation for the Cloud are falling behind.


In 2013 Australia was the second highest ranking global IT economy. As of 2016 it is now 6th. This position in itself is not too bad, but the steadily decreasing trend it a warning. We are still leaders near the top, but other leaders are overtaking us. Japan and Germany are higher on the list.


Upcoming deals may help reverse this trend. The WA government is completely reorganizing its data centres to make a more efficient, more coherent system. And Intel Australia, along with distribution partner Synnex, has announced plans for a great number of Internet of things (IoTs) products and services. These items and services will link to the net to provide greater productivity under increased security, all linked to cloud services.


Because of the daily changes in the cloud system it is hard to follow trends. But that ability to change shows flexibility, which is one of the cloud’s great strengths. Businesses are attracted to the Cloud because of the agility it offers their operations. They don’t know what the future changes will be, but they know there will be flexible options that they can use.


It is hard to stay current when the situation changes so quickly. But this is still an even playing filed as all competitors face the same problems as us. So while it is hard to know what to do to get ahead in a rapidly changing situation it is good to know that the advancements we compete with will be both useful and flexible, whatever they turn out to be.

There are standards that devices are supposed to adhere to. These standards prescribe both the functional specifications of a device (the numbers of pins on a cable, the transfer rate of data, balanced of unbalances operation … etc.), and the quality of its performance. When talking about cables we could simplify this to mean the type and quality.


A quick search of online stores shows that there are many types of cables, with great variation in their prices. It is not unexpected for different types of cable to cost a different amount; but the same type of cable can often come in cheap or expensive versions, even if they are the same length. We ask ourselves if the quality varies between various cables of the same type.


Of course the quality does vary, but not in a way that directly relates to the price. Some cables are simply faulty; some cables will work up to a point, but aren’t capable of working at full speed or full power, at least not for long. Reasons for this vary, but often it’s just the wrong materials being used.


The physics of the situation is complex, but cables will have certain impedance.  This impedance, a combination of resistance, inductance and capacitance, is a property of both the conductive material and the way it is used in construction; two copper wires spaced 1cm apart will have a certain impedance; a copper wire with a shield around it will have a different impedance. If you even plug a 50ohm impedance cable into a TV designed for 75ohm cable you will get a TV picture with ghosting and slightly distorted colours. The cable works, but not very well. Running a longer length of cable will make the problems worse.


Computer cables tend to be more complex than old fashioned TV cables. If the wrong materials are used, or if the right materials are used in the wrong way, the cable will not work very well. It might be passable under low power conditions, but overheat when run near full power. Else, it might simply cause transmission errors when running at higher speeds, even if the transmission speed is within spec. Here we simply have a low quality product.


There can also be problems with cables just being faulty. And if multi-pinned cables cross the power with data lines they can cause serious damage to the equipment they connect. This is made all the worse when we realize there is probably no warranty to cover this. The damaged computer equipment is not responsible, and the cheap cable company probably doesn’t care.  The owner is stuck with an expensive problem.


Recently Amazon has announced that they will no longer allow the selling substandard USB-C cables. As Amazon will not be testing the cables themselves it will probably block sellers based on customer feedback. This is less than perfect as there is always the chance that the customer has made a mistake; and of course the cable has to fail (and possible cause serious damages) before the complaint is made. But Amazon’s decision is a positive one, and at least prevents further sales once a problem is discovered.



  • Find ways to sort your cables neatly. Use binder clips to run cables over the edge of desks. Use those little tag from sliced bred to label individual cables. Label power cables so the wrong one isn’t pulled out at some point.
  • Find ways to keep the computer cool, especially if you overclock it. Separate the base of the computer from the desk or any other insulating material with an egg container or wire cooking rack. Use a small fan to circulate air. Find what part of the computer seems to get hot and concentrate on cooling that.
  • Cardboards tubes are great for storing cables that are not always used.
  • Find an old stereo system, second hand stores are full of them, and connect it to your computer. DVD and YouTube are suddenly like mini-theatre.
  • Plenty of devices connect to USBs, and while most are just novelties there are a few you will find Useful. You can cool a soft drink or keep coffee hot, power a work light, keep toes or fingers warm with heated gloves and socks.
  • Get a multi USB hub, for all the gadgets that proved useful.
  • If you are worried about things getting stolen, make them look worthless. People steal laptops and camera equipment, but not pool testing kits. Make your parcel look worthless and it is far less likely to be stolen.
  • Some people worry about their webcam spying on them. Cover it with a post-it note. If you worry about a microphone eavesdropping, put a radio next to it.
  • Bu a refurbish computer cheaply and have it there for general use, like family sending emails or general browsing. Save your new computer for yourself. A refurbished computer that ran window 7 can be updated to windows 10 for free, so you can be quite up to date.
  • Clean your keyboard with the sticky part of a post-it note. Or you can by a tiny novelty USB powered vacuum cleaner for about $10.oo
  • The people at the computer shop have heard virtually every anecdote and trick. Ask them and they will enjoy showing off … I mean sharing their knowledge.