Major Discrepancy In Australian Fund Transfers

watchdogs in Australia’s finance

Vatican Seeks Clarification And Review

Major watchdogs in Australia’s finance have dramatically reduced the sum of money it was sent from the Vatican to Australia. This was according to the Vatican after an earlier report cited a huge figure that raised suspicions of money laundering.

As per the joint Vatican-Australian review showed only $9.5 million was transited between 2014 and 2020, a fraction of $2.3 billion originally reported by the watchdog which sparked surprise.

The Vatican contested the huge figures in December and asked the Australian financial intelligence unit, known as AUSTRAC, to review its calculations.

With that, some media raised speculations that the Vatican could have been used to launder money.

This error by AUSTRAC was first reported by The Australian newspaper, which explained it was due to a computer coding mistake.

Meanwhile, the Vatican statement called the mistake “a huge discrepancy”. It said the $9.5 million sent to Australia was mostly to meet “contractual obligations” as well as “ordinary management”. This seemed to be a reference to its embassy in Australia.

As per the Vatican, the original report of the staggering amount of money and more than 47,000 individual fund transfers had appeared to be like “science fiction”, provided that fact that the Holy See’s annual budget is about 330 million euros. Hence, they demanded a review.

AUSTRAC had told the Australian newspaper the new calculations showed there had been only 362 transfers in that period.

Amid that, Vatican’s treasurer from 2014 to 2017, Cardinal George Pell, told media “I was relieved to hear that billions were not laundered through the Vatican while I was head of the Secretariat for the Economy”.

Last month, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane said that the Australian Church was not made aware of such transfers and that the bishops yearn for an explanation from the Vatican and AUSTRAC regarding the matter.

(Image source: Yahoo)

Computer Repairman at Heart of Hunter Biden Scandal Sues Twitter for Being Branded a ‘Hacker’


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In October, the New York Post printed a series of scandalous reports about files ostensibly from Hunter Biden’s computer, left in a repair shop. The latter purportedly showed the Bidens various corruption schemes. Conspiracy theories claime the repair shop was a cover story and the contents were handed over to Trump’s lawyer by Russian hackers.

Mac Isaac, the owner of The Mac Shop, where Hunter Biden purportedly left his laptop for repairs, has filed a suit against Twitter for defamation. The Delaware computer engineer is dissatisfied that now, according to him, he has gained the reputation of being a “hacker”.

After the scandalous reports on leaked data from a laptop purportedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and published by the New York Post, Twitter limited access to the article, citing the piece containing “hacked materials”.

Reports, claiming the laptop was part of a “Russian disinformation campaign” immediately emerged in the Western media, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to a report by Fox News, agreeing with John Ratcliffe, the US Director of National Intelligence’s estimation, that the emails are not part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

According to Mac Isaac, Twitter’s position on the origin of the materials in question has fuelled speculations that he may be connected to Russia in some form.

He was later forced to close his business due to numerous threats and negatives reviews, based on Twitter’s restrictions. The Delaware computer repairman is demanding $500 million and a public retraction from the social media giant.

Earlier in December Mac Isaac posted a video on YouTube, denying rumours that he is a “Russian agent” and the laptops came from Russian hackers.

Hunter Biden reportedly left three laptops at Mac Isaac’s shop in April 2019, but never came back to take them or pay for the repair work done. Mac Isaac claims he passed the contents of the hard drive to the FBI and a copy was given to former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello.

They revealed emails and text messages allegedly confirming speculations about the Biden family’s corruption schemes. In particular, Joe Biden possibly knowing that Hunter, who was on the board of the Ukranian company Burisma between 2014 and 2019, had reportedly been using his father’s position as US vice president for financial gain.

Some of the documents, according to the reports, indicate the Bidens were abusing their authority to make beneficial deals with a wealthy Communist Party-linked Chinese tycoon.

The story about the laptop, dubbed by POTUS as “the laptop from hell”, according to observers, didn’t get enough coverage in US mainstream media prior to the 3 November election.

A survey conducted by US polling company Rasmussen Reports earlier in December showed that a majority of voters in the US believe the media deliberately ignored the story about Joe Biden’s son, Hunter’s, purportedly corrupt oversease dealings to help his father win the presidential race. 

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IBM ‘super-fridge’ aims to solve quantum computer cooling problem –

  • IBM has set out a roadmap to develop larger qubit systems – from its current quantum computer of 64 qubits to a 1-million-qubit.
  • To move to a million-plus qubit machine, IBM is developing a dilution refrigerator, which would be larger than any currently available commercially

Say GoldenEye and the 1995 James Bond movie comes to mind, not a giant refrigerator.

But that’s the name computing giant IBM has given to a new refrigeration system in development designed to house the world’s first 1-million-qubit quantum computer.

At 10 feet tall and six feet wide, GoldenEye will go to a temperature of around 15 milli-kelvins or -459 Fahrenheit – or colder than outer space. These are the temperatures required to slow down the movement of atoms, so qubits can hold value. 

IBM’s director of quantum hardware system development, Jerry Chow, told Digital Trends that “for the quantum effects to emerge, [quantum computers] need to be cooled down to extremely low temperatures. In fact, all the infrastructure that goes around even just the processor itself requires a fair amount of cooling, especially as you scale it up, right?”

That said, such a scaling-up process had led Chow and his team to the inescapable conclusion that IBM really needed to get into the refrigeration business — at least when it comes to quantum computers.

There have been some creative solutions proposed for the quantum computer refrigeration problem, including the ‘nanofridge’, which works by tunneling single electrons through a 2 nm-thick insulator. By providing the electrons with too little energy to tunnel directly, the charged particles capture the remaining energy needed from the nearby quantum device, with the loss of energy consequently cooling the device.

Diamond has also been proposed as a more viable material than silicon for use within quantum computers, given its thermal conduction properties.

IBM’s quantum computing roadmap

To date, IBM’s largest quantum computer has 64 qubits. The company’s first step over 100 qubits is a 127-qubit IBM Quantum Eagle processor, which is due next year. This will be followed in 2022 by the 433-qubit IBM Quantum Osprey system, then the 1,221-qubit Quantum Condor system in 2023.

Vice-president of IBM Quantum Jay Gambetta, in a blog post, described how the roadmap for quantum computing would put IBM on a course towards a future million-plus qubit processor. This, he said, would involve industry-leading knowledge, multidisciplinary teams, and agile methodology to improve every element of quantum computer systems.

To move to a million-plus qubit machine – which is a pretty impressive leap from the current 64 qubits – IBM is developing a dilution refrigerator, which would be larger than any currently available commercially.

“The design principles established for our smaller processors will set us on a course to release a 433-qubit IBM Quantum Osprey system in 2022. More efficient and denser controls and cryogenic infrastructure will ensure that scaling up our processors doesn’t sacrifice the performance of our individual qubits, introduce further sources of noise, or take up too large a footprint,” Gambetta said in the post.

Discussing the work IBM is taking on to build a cooler for future iterations of its quantum computers, he said: “The 10ft tall and 6ft wide ‘super-fridge’ – internally codenamed Goldeneye – is a dilution refrigerator larger than any commercially available today. Our team has designed this behemoth with a million-qubit system in mind and has already begun fundamental feasibility tests.”

Ultimately, IBM envisions a future where quantum-interconnects link dilution refrigerators, each holding a million qubits like the intranet links supercomputing processors, creating a massive parallel quantum computer capable of changing the world.

Of course, setting out a roadmap to develop larger and larger qubit systems doesn’t exclude them from the problems that may come with it. Gambetta acknowledges the challenges the company is facing in building quantum computers. “Knowing the way forward doesn’t remove the obstacles; we face some of the biggest challenges in the history of technological progress. But, with our clear vision, a fault-tolerant quantum computer now feels like an achievable goal within the coming decade,” he wrote in the blog.

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South Korean computer ‘geek’ bailed over alleged $360,000 theft from elderly Canberra woman

A South Korean visitor to Australia has been freed on bail despite concerns from ACT police that he will try to flee the country while facing 27 charges of fraud.

Byung Uk Cho, 27, was arrested last month by police at Sydney Airport for allegedly stealing more than $360,000 from an 89-year-old Canberra woman while fixing her computer.

Mr Cho, whose working holiday visa has now expired, had been under police investigation since March when the woman found suspicious transactions in her bank account.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Byung Uk Cho is accused of stealing $360,000 from a Canberra woman last year.(LinkedIn)

Mr Cho today applied for bail for a second time in the ACT Magistrates Court, where his lawyer revealed his client had handed the money back to police.

“Last time my client applied for bail the court was concerned if released, he would put those funds beyond reach,” barrister Peter Berg told the court.

Magistrate James Lawton questioned how Mr Cho was pleading not guilty to all charges, since it was clear he had the missing money in his possession.

“What do I confer from the fact your client has just returned a large amount of money, coincidentally similar to the sum?” Mr Lawton asked Mr Berg.

But Mr Berg argued his client was given permission by the woman to invest the money and had not taken it without her consent.

“My client argues through friendship with victim he was going to invest for the woman and buy real estate investment in South Korea,” he told the court.

The prosecution argued that it made no sense for an elderly woman with no ties to South Korea to try and invest there with a man who came to fix her computer.

To that claim, Mr Berg responded that Mr Cho’s English was weak, and that there was a miscommunication with his alleged victim.

Mr Lawton replied: “Yet he was able to provide someone with advice on investments in Korea.”

Alleged thief granted bail with strict conditions

Three men walk outside an ACT court.
Peter Berg (left) argued his client intended to invest the money on the woman’s behalf.(ABC News: Selby Stewart)

Documents tendered to the court detailed how in 2019 the alleged victim engaged a computer repair company called Geeks2u.

The prosecution alleged Mr Cho went to the woman’s home in Yarralumla, in Canberra’s inner south, and removed her computer, before money — largely left to her after the death of her husband — began leaking from the woman’s online bank account.

Mr Cho was arrested by police last month trying to board a flight back to South Korea.

During today’s bail hearing, the prosecutor argued Mr Cho was a flight risk because he had already tried once to leave the country.

The court also heard Mr Cho had been called for military service in South Korea, and if he did not comply he could be jailed.

“I note that the defendant had, by his own admission, had attempted to leave Australia to undergo mandatory national service,” prosecutor Isabella Coker said.

“The victim is 89, she is incredibly vulnerable, he is aware of where she lives, and the defendant took advantage of her age to commit these offences.

In the end Mr Cho was granted bail on the conditions he report to police daily, remain in the ACT, does not go within 100 metres of an international departure point and does not apply for a new passport.

The case will return to court in February.

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Tabcorp vows there won’t be a repeat of Saturday computer malfunction

Tabcorp will reward loyal punters and has vowed to do what is necessary to ensure there won’t be a repeat of the nationwide betting system meltdown on the weekend.

The wagering and gaming giant is conducting a “thorough and urgent investigation” into the computer systems failure last weekend which is estimated to have cost $120 million in betting turnover.

“It’s been a very tough weekend for punters, for TAB, for the racing industry and for thousands of retail venues out there across the country that rely on our products,’’ Tabcorp’s managing director of wagering and media, Adam Rytenskild told The Daily Telegraph on Monday.

“I can understand the frustrations and I’m very sorry for what has occurred, sorry for our customers especially, and to the racing industry.

“We will definitely be doing something quite substantial for our customers over the coming days and weeks, we are very focused on that.

“(But) at the moment, we just want to make sure our systems are stable and thankfully we are operating across all channels now.’’

It is understood a preliminary assessment indicates a smoke and possible fire incident at a data centre resulted in extensive damage to Tabcorp’s servers and associated infrastructure causing the betting network to shutdown for more than 24 hours.

Rytsenkild said the review process will address why TAB’s sophisticated computer back-up systems did not work when the network crashed after just 11am on Saturday.

“When we have had incidents like this in the past our systems have gone over to those back-up systems to ensure (network) continuity,’’ he said.

“That hasn’t happened in this case, it is an unprecedented situation and we will do whatever is necessary coming out of this review to make sure this doesn’t happen again.’’

Tabcorp has also dismissed continued speculation of a cyber security breach to the betting network.

“There is no evidence to suggest we have been hacked at this stage,’’ Rytenskild said. “Customer data is safe and we wanted to make sure that was the case before we brought our systems back up.’’

Tabcorp’s share price fell 12 cents (2.9%) to $3.98 on Monday and was the worst performing stock on the ASX 200 on a day when the market rose 1.8% to an eight-month high at 6298 points.


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Where to buy the Raspberry Pi 400 computer keyboard kit

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is making its cheap mini-computers a little less intimidating with the Raspberry Pi 400. The new $70 computer comes built into a compact keyboard that plugs into any TV or external monitor. For $100, the computer comes bundled with a MicroSD card, wired mouse, and MicroHDMI to HDMI cable, so all you need to supply is the screen. The computer is available now through several retailers that Raspberry Pi links to from its website.

Inside, the Raspberry Pi 400 is similar to the $55 Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, with a quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM. By loading Raspberry Pi’s Linux-based operating system onto the MicroSD card, you can use the computer for web browsing, word processing, and programming, effectively making it a lightweight Chromebook alternative.

Of course, the computer-in-a-keyboard concept isn’t new. As The Verge notes, the Raspberry Pi 400 is a throwback of sorts to classic PCs like the BBC Micro, ZX Spectrum, or Apple IIe, and some vendors such as Asus have tried to revive the concept before. But with Raspberry Pi’s low pricing and its emphasis on education, now might be just the right time for a revival. The only question is when Raspberry Pi takes the next logical step and makes a full-blown laptop.

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How AI computer vision is helping construction projects go digital

  • AI and machine learning platforms are providing real-time, high accuracy verification tools that can automatically create extensive digital replicas of construction sites to provide increased quality in documentation and inspection

Any kind of construction project requires heavy investment, and despite proper planning and budgeting, costs can escalate quickly and deeply into the pockets of the companies paying.

A giant industry that is predicted to be worth US$12.7 trillion by 2022, the multi-trillion dollar business isn’t for the faint-hearted.

As businesses try to prevent further disruption in an already turbulent period, the ability to detect and pinpoint exactly where defects in projects emerge as early as possible could save organizations millions of dollars in revenue.

In a traditionally hands-on way of working, being physically present on a job site is usually required of general contractors and real estate developers. Verification of work being done correctly to a strict deadline is paramount, and while photographs and images have been used in the past to document a project’s progress, imperfect solutions have often led to terrible project delays and inaccurate records.

In addition, contracts for large construction projects regularly require photographs for documentation, however, these rarely capture the progress of an entire site.

To offset inefficient project management and delays in project completion, new digital solutions are coming to life.

Digital solutions

By simply putting 360-degree cameras on hardhats, users can map photos automatically to create all-encompassing digital replicas of construction sites.

The results are similar to a Google Streetview experience that enables people to tour worksites remotely at any recorded time, and with the help of additional analytics solutions, progress can also be tracked to search for specified objects on job sites.

“The core product we have today is a simple idea: It allows our customers to have a complete visual record of any space, indoor or outdoor, so they can see what’s there from anywhere at any point in time,” said Jeevan Kalanithi, co-founder and CEO of OpenSpace – a startup that has so far helped customers map more than 1.5 billion square feet of construction projects that include hospitals, football stadiums, bridges, and large residential buildings.

Besides providing increased quality in documentation and inspection, OpenSpace extends the ability to transport back and forth seamlessly throughout a project’s timeline.

“They can teleport into the site to inspect the actual reality, but they can also see what was there yesterday or a week ago or five years ago. It brings this ground truth record to the site,” added Kalanithi.

Other platforms emerging within the construction industry include SiteAware, a construction verification system using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide real-time, high accuracy verification tools through a digital twinning engine.

Paired with AI anomaly detection, SiteAware digitally scans buildings under construction to create a highly accurate 3D model of a verified area. Once the model is scanned, it is then verified against approved construction plans to highlight inconsistencies between plans and fieldwork, which result in a comprehensive overview to highlight anomalies for field teams to make required adjustments.

“In construction work, it’s not always possible to repair mistakes, and to correct them at the end of the project costs a lot of money. Our advantage is that we check all the building elements in real-time such as if construction, piping, and electricity are in place, said CEO and co-founder Zeev Braude in an interview with Globes, before adding, “mistakes in the building can lead to losing space or problems in the frame or leaks inside the building, which cause damage worth tens of millions of dollars.”

It is hoped that digital solutions with the assistance of AI and ML can be applied to real-world scenarios that can not only help construction companies, but whole industries involving any type of engineering to increase accountability, while minimizing unnecessary travel, and reduce risks with optimized efficiency.

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What various weird computer noises mean for your machine

“Help! I need somebody… Help!” ( benjamin lehman / Unsplash/)

No PC is truly silent, but your computer shouldn’t be noisier than your lawnmower. If you have to turn up your music just to drown out the whirring or grinding noises your computer makes, you may want to look into that—it could be the first signal of some serious problems.

Knowing how to tell different hard drive noises apart and learning what they might mean, can save your computer. Or at least give you an unequivocal pass to buy a new one.

Clicking or grinding noises

Let’s start with the most worrisome sound. If your computer starts to click, grind, or make any sort of low-pitched buzzing noise, you should stop what you’re doing and check the hard drive. This sound could indicate a dying disk. Do not ignore this sound.

To check your drive’s health, I recommend a third-party tool like CrystalDiskInfo (Windows) or DriveDx (macOS). Fire up the program, click on each of your drives in the menu, and make sure they’re all listed as “Good.” If it indicates your drive is anything less than that, you should back up all your data as soon as possible. You may still have some time to do so—occasionally a drive marked “Caution” can still run for years, but if it’s making noises, the drive’s death might be close. Once all your files are safe, consider replacing your drive with an SSD—not only will it likely last longer, but it’ll make your computer feel much faster. If your hard drives are healthy, take the incident as a warning and avoid any unpleasant surprises by backing up your data regularly, because as it happens to any living creature, all hard drives will die one day.

One you’ve ruled out your hard drive as the culprit, you’ll need to dig a little deeper to find the source of that clicking sound. If your computer still has a DVD drive, then it could be in the process of failing, and needs repair or replacement.

Finally, in a lot of desktop PCs, a clicking noise could just mean a cable has gotten too close to a fan, and is getting hit repeatedly by the blades. If you’re comfortable with a screwdriver, open up your PC and make sure the fans are clear of obstructions.

Loud whirring noises

If there’s one sound every computer user knows well, it’s the loud whoosh that comes from an overzealous fan running at full speed. On a desktop PC, this will likely be low-to-medium pitch like the video above, and on a laptop, it could be higher-pitched and much more annoying. The smaller the fan, the louder and higher pitched that noise will be.

If you’re hearing this, there’s a very good chance your machine just needs some cooling adjustment. You might also want to check your hard drive’s health, just in case, since a drive spinning up and down repeatedly could create a similar sound. Finally, check to see if there’s a disc spinning in the DVD drive—sometimes those can be obnoxiously loud even if they’re working properly.

If your fans are indeed too loud, start by opening Task Manager in Windows (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) or Activity Monitor in macOS (under Applications > Utilities) and see if any applications are taking up a large portion of your CPU. If your computer’s working hard, the fans will work hard to cool it, so you may have a program running in the background you forgot about, or malware eating up resources without you knowing. Close the offending program or run a malware scan to see if that helps.

If your computer is idle and still making fan noise, it could be overheating. A program like Core Temp (Windows) or Fanny (macOS) can tell you if your CPU is running hot. As a ballpark, if you aren’t running anything strenuous and your CPU is 70 degrees celsius or higher, I’d say that’s abnormal, and will likely cause excessive fan noise. If you’re using your laptop in bed, make sure to put a tray or anything solid under it—your clothes, skin or blankets might be preventing the system from cooling off, making the fans work harder and louder. The same happens with accumulated dust, so give the fan grilles a few passes with a dust blower, or better yet, an electric duster. If you feel comfortable, you might even want to open up your machine and wipe the dust off the fan with a clean microfiber cloth.

Finally, if you have a desktop PC—especially one you built yourself—you may just need to adjust the fan curves in the BIOS. Some of your fans may be running at 75% or 100% all the time by default, which is unnecessary. Or, the curves may be set in a weird spot that causes the fans to constantly ramp up for a few seconds to cool the CPU, but then they ramp back down, allowing the CPU to get hot again. Press *Delete* as your computer starts to enter the BIOS screen, and look for any fan control settings you can play with—try a lower setting, but don’t set them too low, lest your temperatures get too high.

Sounds coming from your speakers, even when you aren’t playing anything

Put your ear closer to the sound—is it coming from inside your computer or is it coming from the speakers? Speakers are supposed to make sound, but if you’re hearing noise from them even when your computer isn’t playing audio, something might be wrong. Make sure the speaker cable is plugged all the way in to your PC—you’ll usually hear a click that tells you the cable is fully connected, but sometimes you have to really shove it to get that last millimeter in. If that doesn’t work, you can troubleshoot your speakers by plugging them into another device (like your phone) to see if the sound persists. The problem could be in your speaker’s cable, or it could just be feedback from the internals of your PC, in which case a USB sound card, also known as a DAC, might help.

You might also be experiencing a ground loop, in which case a ground loop isolator can reduce the noise. I’ve even had speakers that picked up faint radio signals due to poorly shielded cables, which is a remarkably spooky experience.

Ultimately, there are so many things that can cause unwanted noise from speakers that we could probably write a whole article on the subject—but if you play around with your connections, you may be able to narrow down the source, and replace the offending component.

Buzzing or screeching noises

If none of the above have fixed the problem, but you’re still hearing a buzzing sound, it could be just about anything. Heck, if they’re mild enough, any of the above problems could be described as “buzzing,” so check your hard drive and running processes before you move on.

Once you’ve discarded all the scenarios above, my first guess would be that you’re experiencing coil whine—one of my least favorite noises in computing, since there’s often little you can do about it.

Coil whine happens when the coils in your components start vibrating at just the right frequency to start making a very annoying noise. It can be anywhere from a low-pitched buzz to a high pitched squeal, and often happens when your computer is under load. If you can pinpoint the source, you might be able to mitigate the noise, at least to some degree. For example, in gaming PCs, coil whine commonly comes from the graphics card when it’s doing a lot of work, in which case you can decrease your graphics settings or turn on VSync to lighten the load. I’ve also heard coil whine on a lot of power adapters—if you move your laptop or monitor’s power brick further away, it may not be as annoying. Some laptop manufacturers may even offer other power adapters without the old school “brick” that may coil whine less. In other cases, there’s nothing you can do, and you’ll have to suffer through the noise.

If you aren’t convinced the buzzing sound is coil whine, you might also look back at your fans. If they are vibrating against the steel case of your desktop PC, some rubber dampeners may help stop the sound. Your fans may also need lubrication, so a small drop of sewing machine oil in the bearing of an old fan can make it run like new again. And if you have one of the ever-so-trendy all-in-one liquid cooling units in your gaming PC, make sure it’s mounted properly, and check the manual to see if the pump is adjustable—turning the pump speed down could lessen the buzzing sound it makes.

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