Question was, can I make myself a house? And the answer is yes. If you think about that in the context of remote areas or natural disasters, where there's the potential to be able to print accommodation for people, building with a special type of concrete that the 3D printer uses, and it only takes about 24 hours per house.
[Val] Hello and welcome to the Be Connected podcast. I'm Val Quinn and I'm a technology commentator, broadcaster, and publisher, and just happen to be your host of the Be Connected Podcast. So there is a myriad of questions related to tech. And it's an ever-evolving sector and every day there are new advances being made, from bionic ears to 3D printed meat and building materials. It all sounds like stuff of science fiction and 25 years ago, much of it was unthinkable. So in this episode, we're gonna flip the format a little and our guest will be asking me questions, which is a bit terrifying, and many of them will be provided by the Be Connected audience. So given that I'm a career geek of more than 30 years and a user of technology for even longer, I reckon I can handle maybe just about whatever she throws at me. So she is Zoe Warne, and you'll hear her on radio talking all things digital with the ABC and Radio National. As a founding partner of digital consultancy August, Zoe also has a working knowledge of the challenges technology presents and the solutions it inevitably provides. Welcome Zoe.
[Zoe] Hello. Hello.
[Val] It's great to have you on the show, and I'm really excited about this format. So I don't know, I don't always get to answer questions, so what do you say we jump right in. But before I do, don't forget that you can find more information about some of the topics we'll talk about in this podcast on the Be Connected website. So be sure to check the show notes for links to free courses, videos, and more. So go for it, Zoe. I'm ready, fire away, and let me see what I can do.
[Zoe] All right, I would love to get into it. I was gonna start off by potentially giving you a horror story and a love story to do with some tech that I'm into, but I was gonna ask you if you wanted to choose which one you wanted first.
[Val] Oh, okay. I always wanna get the worst outta the way, so let's do the horror story first.
[Val] Love story after that.
[Zoe] Oh, great. Okay well, there's some questions that may relate to it coming up. So it's about losing some very precious photos, which I had stored on a device and I was uploading to the cloud. I'd gone on an amazing trip to Cambodia. I had taken some beautiful photos of Angkor Wat, that gorgeous temple at sunrise and some other amazing photos, doing a cooking tour of Vietnam, all my amazing dishes. And unfortunately when I had switched over to wanna upload them to the cloud, it asked me if I wanted to delete them, but I chose to permanently delete them. And unfortunately they had not uploaded, and I lost about 900 photos that were very precious to me. So we'll probably talk about that a little bit later of how to maybe not do that and where they can live, live on forever more. But yeah, that was my horror story.
[Zoe] Well, the good thing is I learned my lesson and they have changed some settings in some of those cloud and device storage settings now, so hopefully it's less likely that that happens to anyone else.
[Val] That sounds very terrifying. So yeah, you're absolutely right. I think they have streamlined that in the Apple iCloud settings, however, yeah, something to be wary of.
[Zoe] Correct. You are absolutely right, but there is a love story.
[Val] Yeah, let's hear some good news. Go for it.
[Zoe] Well, it's actually about apps and how you can, you know, modify your device to really help you in your day-to-day life. And I have discovered an amazing app called Remind Me. It is available on most of the places where you can download your apps. And I've just found this has been an absolute game changer and I'm completely in love with it. It's free, which is the number one thing, but it can remind you to do, you know, all kinds of things. It's a little different to just your regular calendar settings. So you can set it to randomly remind you to drink water or I was doing one of those charity pushup challenges and though I set some little random reminders for that. But yeah, I absolutely love it. I use it every day and I think I probably have almost too many reminders. Luckily it's not reminding me to breathe. All right, shall we get into it? I've got some really, I think some great questions and they're quite varied as well, so I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what we can find out today and how we can answer some of them. The first one is, "What is the dark web and how do I get onto it?"
[Val] Well, first of all, Be Connected strongly recommend that our listeners do not attempt to access the dark web. The dark web is a place where hackers and cyber criminals gather and browsing the dark web can expose you to malicious files, nefarious people, and potentially compromise your privacy and safety. Visiting the dark web is extremely risky. We're starting to hear a lot more about the dark web because of some of the major cyber hacks that have been making the news lately. And the dark web is the place where these hackers sell the stolen information, like people's email addresses and names. So the best way I'd describe it is the dark web is, it's a version of the worldwide web or the internet, but it's only accessible with special permission or by using special software or configurations. So it still uses the same internet as the worldwide web, but in this case there are different versions of the dark web that are arranged in things called dark nets. And generally when you're on the dark web, your identity is hidden and you're not trackable, so it's completely anonymous and that's why a lot of not-so-legal business is conducted on the dark web.
[Zoe] So what you're saying is that it, I can't stumble into the dark web, I have to actually go actively looking for it.
[Val] Well, that's right and in order to do so, you might need, for example, a special browser that doesn't see the sort of the public web that we are used to. There's one called the Tor browser, which is, it kind of accesses a dark web or a dark net. And there are a lot of sites and places on there that you don't necessarily have a web address for. You have to know what it is to find it. There's some directories on there as well, but it's not a very publicly accessible place and not a very easy place to know your way around. Just out of interest sake, people who use the dark web call the public internet or the stuff that we are all aware of as clear net, because I guess it's easy to see and is trackable, but otherwise the dark web is where they sell things that are stolen and all kinds of other bad stuff.
[Zoe] I've got another great question here from the Be Connected audience. They posted a picture a few days ago on Facebook that they shouldn't have, and it was shared like crazy by their friends. Now they've said they deleted it this morning, but they're curious to know, will they still be able to see it?
[Val] Ah, this is a popular question I think. A lot of people are afraid of pictures of them getting posted and then sort of losing control over who sees it or if they change their mind and they don't want that picture anymore. So yeah, it's a very good question. and well, I can tell you that on Facebook, if you post a photo and others share it, what they're actually doing is they're sharing a view of your original photo. They're not actually, it's not being copied and then sort of put into their accounts. So when you delete a photo that you've put up, then it will disappear everywhere. So if it's been shared by other people, all they're really doing is sharing your photo. And if you delete your photo then it disappears too. However, if for some reason you shared a photo and someone downloaded that photo to their computer and then shared it again through their account, that would be a copy that is not originating from your account and that one you wouldn't have control over. That's a little more complicated. But the good news is for most of the time, you can just delete your photo and it's gone everywhere.
[Zoe] Hmm mm I suppose it's thinking once it's out there, in some cases you have control of it, in some cases you don't, so.
[Val] That's correct. Yep. The internet is a place where once it's out there it's very hard to to reel back in. So yeah, good thing to keep in mind.
[Zoe] I have a question here from Sally from Gympie in Queensland. She asks, "my phone and iPad say the iCloud is full and I need to pay a monthly fee to have more room. Is there a way I can make more room without paying a fee?"
[Val] Yeah, it seems like iCloud fills up far too quickly these days and I've had the same problem myself. So yep, you can either pay to increase your storage or you can have a look at what iCloud is storing. And from there you can select what you want to delete. So one of the most common things that I like to delete is a backup. Like sometimes your phone will do a snapshot of what's on it and save that as a backup and that can take up quite a bit of room, so you can delete that. Photos and music and videos also tend to take up a lot of space on your phones. And you can delete videos maybe that you've already watched, but it's hard to individually select which one from the iCloud storage menu. And with photos, again, if your photos are being stored in the cloud, you really don't wanna delete them from the cloud because once they're gone from there, it's more than likely they're gone completely. So be very careful deleting photos.
[Zoe] Hmm. And another thing too that I've noticed is you can change the quality, which is also going to affect the size of what is stored in the cloud. So you might store something at a very high quality, but that may only be relevant if you wanted to print a canvas that was the size of your living room wall. So that can be a setting that you can have a look at to also help reduce the size of what you're actually storing in the cloud and free up some room as well. I've done that and it definitely helped for me.
[Val] Yeah, that's a really good point, Zoe. It's, yeah, it's generally it's good to keep the highest quality version if you are gonna be doing things like large printouts, maybe a whole A4 page, you want that extra detail. But like you said, generally speaking, the the lower resolution version can be more than enough for a lot of photos and it is a good safe way of saving space, but not deleting all of your photos too.
[Zoe] Another question from the Be Connected audience is "what exactly happens when we are hacked?"
[Val] Oh boy, there's so many different, what they call attack vectors in fancy hacker parlance and security system parlance. But yeah, hacking can be all types of ways of compromising your device, whether it's a phone or a computer or even a database. But generally speaking, it's when someone gains unauthorised access to your computer files and they're able to copy them or even delete them, or these days they can do something which is called ransomware, where they install software that then takes your precious files or photos or work information and holds it to ransom, and you can't access it anymore. There are lots of different types of hacks to big corporate entities, to telcos, to governments, to, you know, healthcare providers where data is stolen, where a hacker finds a way to access and copy that data remotely, so that could be from somewhere else in the world and they find a way in. There is also ways where you can be hacked by having a, you know, an email sent to you and you click on a link in the email or you even open an application or an attachment in that email and then it installs some software on your computer, which looks harmless and you might not even know it's there, and then that gives the hacker the ability to log into your computer from an external place and copy your files or view your, you know, your banking details and that type of thing. So the best ways to protect your smartphone or your computer or laptop is to install antivirus software. So this will help stop these nefarious bits of software being dropped onto your computer and allowing hackers to access them. Also, just you have to be very mindful about clicking on suspicious links in emails that are sent to you and attachments that are sent to you in emails. You may be tricked into thinking that you're being contacted by your bank, for example, and you're taken to a place where you enter your personal details and they can extrapolate information from you that way. So you just really have to be very cautious about what information you share. And lastly, make sure you don't use the same password for all of your different things or use a password, a management tool to make it easier for you to remember your passwords. These types of things should keep most of us safe. And lastly, just also be a bit careful about what information you share about yourself on social networks, because there is something called social engineering and that's when hackers don't necessarily break into your machine, but they learn about you and they guess your passwords or figure out information that they can then trick a bank into giving information about you and stealing your identity. So again, be careful of those things too. So yeah, don't wanna terrify anybody, but just be thoughtful about how you share your information and about what you click on that's not from a trusted source.
[Zoe] Hmm. And it's interesting, I'm adding to that just to say that one of the things I also think, is your gut is a really good indicator of what might be a little bit suspicious. And sometimes what they'll try to do is use a friend's name or impersonate friend and send you an, even something like an invoice or try to make you pay some money or something like that. If that seems like an unusual thing for that friend to be requesting, one of the tips I have is try contacting that friend on a different channel. So if you've received an email about this, don't respond to that email. Maybe give them a call or send them a text and just ask them and verify them if they have actually sent that to you. Because one of the things that can happen is you can end up getting in a dialogue with the person who's hacking you if you respond in the same channel. So my tip is always change channels, maybe give them a call or a text if you're getting something suspicious from a friend or that could be suspicious. It's always good to verify it that way too.
[Val] Yeah, that's a really, really good tip, Zoe. There are a lot of very clever ways that we can be tricked thinking the person we're speaking to is someone we can trust. For example, there are what's is called a "mum and dad" scam, which is when you're contacted on a messaging platform like WhatsApp and the person says, "Hi Dad, it's me or Hi Mum, it's me". And if you have kids you might respond to that and then they say, "I've broken my phone, I've lost my phone, can you please send some money to this account so I can buy it? I'm on a friend's phone." So there's all these ways that you can be tricked very easily, so be vigilant.
[Zoe] Hmm. All right, now we're gonna head to South Australia to Robe, which is a beautiful place actually. And Velma has a question. She would like to know, "How do you get rid of cookies you don't want?"
[Val] Who would ever want to get rid of cookies they don't want?
[Zoe] I was just thinking the same thing.
[Val] I'm pretty hungry.
[Zoe] So what's a cookie?
[Val] Well, well that's a good place to start. I mean a cookie is, it's a term for a bit of information that our web browsers basically store when we're on a web page and that web page wants our browsers to remember something. So it could just be as simple as you've been shopping online and you put something into your shopping cart. If you leave the shopping cart and come back, it still remembers what's in there. So they're not necessarily a bad thing, they're actually quite useful. But some websites look at all of the cookies that you have and they extrapolate things about where you've been because those cookies can identify the websites that have dropped them. So you may not want all of this personal information about where you've travelled online to be available to other websites and that's why you might want to delete cookies from your browser as a way of protecting your privacy. And to do that, you would go into your browser settings and browsers are all a little different, but you would go into your settings and then into security, and then you'd look for a button that would say, "Delete all of my cookies", which would get rid of everything that your browser contains and stores. And then you might wanna look for a switch that says "Don't store cookies", and it won't allow the browser to do that. However, if you choose that, you may find that certain browsers don't work on certain web pages, so you might not be able to put something in a shopping cart. So sometimes you have to turn it back on again.
[Zoe] So does a cookie help a website remember when I'm logged into it, for example?
[Val] Yeah, it can and it can even remember what you typed into a login field like your username, for example. So you know, they can be quite handy that way and save you time and save you from remembering things.
[Zoe] Hmm. I've got another question from the Be Connected audience from Jacqueline in Port Macquarie in New South Wales. She asks, "How do I remove Face ID on my iPhone?"
[Val] Oh, okay. Well that's, I guess the first question I'd ask is probably why would she want to remove Face ID? And maybe that's because she doesn't like the idea of a picture of her face to be stored on her phone or maybe sent to the cloud or shared with Apple. But what I should point out is that Face ID and a lot of facial recognition tools, so that's when they scan your face to figure out if you are who you say you are. And if it matches the face that they have in their database, it actually doesn't take pictures. It actually uses algorithms that convert your face into a string of numbers. And it does that by kind of measuring distances between nose and eyes and comes up with proportions and so it's not actually a photo that's stored or created, it's a string of numbers. So if you're worried about a picture of you being sent to the internet because you're using facial scanning, that's not really what happens. But if she wants to switch that off, she can just go into her security settings in her main settings on the iPhone and from there you can find Face ID. And then it's just a simple switch where you can enable it or disable it. So it's not too tricky. But what I would also say about Face ID is that it's actually so sophisticated these days that Apple trusts it enough to make it okay for financial transactions. And they even did some pretty crazy stuff when they developed Face ID where they had Hollywood mask making experts create the most detailed and life-like mask of someone and try to impersonate the real person with the mask and they couldn't trick it. But the only place that I believe that they do struggle is siblings and fraternal twins. So there are like some likenesses between family members does trick it, but otherwise it's very secure. So, so yeah. And if she does wanna turn it off, it's pretty easy, just a switch in the settings. But otherwise I think it's a pretty secure way of identifying you instead of using a pin code and having to remember that.
[Zoe] Okay, I've got another question here. This one's about how can I buy music on the internet and then get it on my phone?
[Val] Okay, well there's, it's a good question because the way we buy music these days has changed a lot. You know, we used to walk into the record stores and it was pretty simple or the CD stores and all of that. But now it's, most of the music is bought online. So you can still buy music from a music store. So for example, we'll use Apple, but on Google or Android phones, they have a similar music store and that music then gets downloaded to your phone or even if you use your computer, it gets downloaded to your computer and that file is stored there. And you effectively own that copy or license that copy, you can play it and you can transfer it and if you delete it, you can go back to the store and download it again because it has a record of that. However, many of us now don't even buy music anymore. So a lot of people now just pay a monthly subscription fee and stream music. So it's like the most complete album collection you could ever, ever want, which is great 'cause you know, I used to only have bits and pieces of my music collection and there'd be no picture from the album cover. And so it's nice to have it all complete.
[Zoe] Hmm. And one other thing I'd add too is it really can help you discover new music as well. That's what's really exciting is that it will tell you music may be in similar genres or if there's even particular, yeah, like lyrics or other things that that artist has done that you would never have known about. So it can be great to have it on your phone, but having the access to that wider library can expose you to some really exciting new music as well.
[Val] Hmm. I'm so glad you mentioned that because music discovery is not that easy. So because you may never know something exists unless somebody tells you about it and these libraries, they'll look at your listening habits and they'll say, oh well maybe you like this type of song and they'll make recommendations based on what you like and yeah, you're absolutely right. You'll find something new that you never would've otherwise unearthed. So it's a great thing.
[Zoe] So could you give me some examples, Val, of some of the platforms and streaming services that we're talking about that people could use to discover some of this new music?
[Val] Yeah, sure. I think the most popular ones are Spotify. There's Apple Music, there's Tidal, there's Amazon Music. So those are some of the big ones, but there's also some smaller ones as well that are kind of more geared towards certain types of libraries or listening tastes.
[Zoe] Excellent, I'll check it out. Another question from the Be Connected audience. This is a great question. I'm really excited about this. "If I get myself a 3D printer, can I make myself a house?"
[Val] Oh wow. Making a house from a 3D printer. Now there's an interesting idea. Well I guess first off, well the idea of a 3D printer, for those that might not know what that is, it's a printer sort of like the ones that we use to print out a, you know, a sheet of paper with some ink on it, only these work in three dimensions. So they actually layer, depending on what they use, so for example, they use a type of plastic instead of ink. When they layer it, it actually builds upwards and they can make all kinds of different complex shapes with 3D printers and they can use different materials, so they can also use metallic filings to make things that are out of metal and they fuse them together. So there's 3D printers, they have all kinds of applications, especially in the industrial space, but they're also used at home too for making 3D print a figurine or a model or arts and crafts types of things. They're pretty complex and pretty cool in what they can do. But in terms of can you make a house, I imagine you know a little bit more about this 'cause you're so excited. What have you heard, Zoe?
[Zoe] Yeah, well I mean I think the question was can I make myself a house? And the answer is yes, which is, is super exciting, not just for the fact of the scale of what you could potentially build. And you've got to also then think about the size of the 3D printer that is actually printing the house, but at the same time, if you think about that in the context of medical emergencies or in remote areas or natural disasters where there's the potential to be able to print accommodation for people, which sounds like such a strange sentence to say, to print, you know, emergency accommodation for people. But they have actually shown that this is possible building with a special type of concrete that the 3D printer uses and it only takes about 24 hours per house. So you can imagine.
[Val] Wow, that's incredible.
[Zoe] Yeah, so amazing. So I mean, I know one organisation doing it is Habitat for Humanity. It used to take them several weeks sometimes to build houses and if they're able to do that in other organisations, you know, helping people in need are able to actually print houses in these sorts of situations, I think that could be a real game changer in terms of emergency accommodation and crisis like that. But to your point about some of the other things that you could use it for, the ability as well for say medical devices or supports in remote areas to be able to print what you need as opposed to having to rely on supply chains and logistics and manufacturing existing, you know, supply chains, which can take a very long time to reach places. To be able to print it could end up being a real game changer.
[Val] Yeah, that's right. I mean things like artificial skin, an artificial ear, like they are really working on advances and using 3D printers to create these very complex shapes. Even food for example, there's been some attempts at making a 3D printed pizza. I don't know if...
[Zoe] But did they get the cheese? Was it crispy and bubbly enough, I just dunno.
[Val] There's no way. There's no way I think they can do that. But also, like you mentioned too, I mean the ability to create something exactly where and when you need it, instead of having it manufactured and sent somewhere. So it could become very handy for situations where we're on the moon or we're, you know, in orbit and we need to create a specialised tool or part. So, you know, it's an incredible technology and it's really exciting where it can take us.
[Zoe] Hmm. And I love that you took it to the moon and I'm also thinking about even earth in terms of wastage for example, and sustainability, you know, the ability to only print on demand what we need as opposed to the, you know, the waste that can be caused when things are made unnecessarily or we have excess of things. I think again, that could really, really help us in terms of how we look after the planet.
[Val] Yeah and saving on the transport costs of sending it as well. So there's a lot of sustainability implications with 3D printing. So yeah, good technology and I think it's gonna definitely take us places. Phew, well those were some certainly excellent questions I have to say. And I think I've used up a lot of my brain power in this episode of the Be Connected podcast. And Zoe, I just wanted to say a huge thanks for joining me through this voyage of discovery and for your company today. It's been really great to have you with us.
[Zoe] It was such a pleasure and there were so many great questions from the Be Connected audience. It was really fun to be able to ask them and test you out Val.
[Val] Yeah and to the Be Connected audience, thank you for your questions and hopefully you'll keep us informed about other questions you might have so I get another chance to answer a few in the future. So if you like what you've heard today, please subscribe to receive all of the latest episodes and leave a review to help others find us too. And remember to visit the show notes for information on anything we've covered here today, including links and other useful materials. So for more about today's subject and to discover other great topics, go to www.beconnected.esafety.gov.au. That's www.beconnected.esafety.gov.au. I'm Val Quinn and I look forward to your company next time.
Be Connected is an Australian government initiative developed by the Department of Social Services, the eSafety Commissioner, and Good Things Foundation Australia. Be Connected builds the digital skills, confidence, and online safety of all Australians with engaging online learning resources and a network of over 3,500 community organisations to support them to thrive in a digital world.