Gizmoe June 2018  

This is the third edition of Gizmoe in 2018.  Gizmoe will also be posted on from 1st June 2018.

The Federation held its Annual General Meeting on the 8th May in Hamilton followed by dinner the same day and then on the 9th May the 2018 Symposium. 82 people from 37 Learning Centres attended the AGM and dinner with 97 people attending the Symposium. On all accounts the three events can claim success, judging from the feedback received, delegates found both days to be great value with much sharing of information.   The elected officers for the following twelve months are: Ray McDonald  Chairman and representative for the Auckland Region Rex Fowler     Deputy Chairman and representative for the Wellington Region Pat van der Maas Secretary/Treasurer and representative for the Hamilton/BoP Region Duncan Fuller  Minute Secretary and representative for the Top 0f South Island Region Dorothy Davies   Representative for the North of Auckland Region  Ross Taylor  Representative for the Canterbury Region Jean Roulston   Representative for the Otago/Southland Region In addition to the above Harvey Porteous- SeniorNet Wanganui, volunteered to fill the vacancy for the Central North Island Region – Thanks so much Harvey.

The minutes from the AGM plus all the presentations delivered at the Symposium will be posted on the homepage of – click on the 2018 AGM banner to view the list.

We were told by the Minister for Seniors, Hon Tracey Martin, to wait and see what the 2018 budget might have install for SeniorNet by way of funding assistance. We waited, but the bucket was empty!! What a huge disappointment and of course a broken pre-election pledge by this government to help SeniorNet with its work to improve digital literacy for older people.  The Federation will of course keep pushing the case for funding assistance - of the kind that many other countries provide their older citizens to enable participation in the digital age. The Government needs to understand the older we get the more valuable technology becomes, but we need the skills to use it.

Learn something new every day!

Grant Sidaway Executive Officer

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Cyber threats continue to grow in New Zealand. CERT NZ, the specialist cyber security unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment released their Quarter One Report for 2018 this week. For the first time, more than 500 incidents were reported in the quarter. Overall financial loss continues to be high, with nearly $3 million of losses reported. This is more than half the total losses reported to CERT NZ in 2017. The number of reports in several incident categories increased significantly compared to the previous quarter including reports of: • phishing and credential harvesting (55% increase) • unauthorised access (67% increase), and • reported vulnerabilities (133% increase) Looking at the value of financial loss by age, 87% of these reports were made by people over 55yrs.

Taking down phishing websites is one way to stop New Zealanders from being impacted by phishing campaigns. CERT NZ received 102 requests to takedown phishing websites this quarter. These include requests for CERT NZ to either action or to support requests from affected organisations.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure exactly what the problem is, reporting a real or potential cyber threat or incident is easy:

Go to or call 0800 CERT NZ. The more information gathered the better chance we are to keep internet in New Zealand a safe and rewarding experience.

Silent phone calls – often at dinner time!  

Be on your guard when answering the phone – either landline or mobile!  There seems to be a steady rise in the so called silent calls, the calls you answer and there is nobody there. Many of these calls happen around dinner time when you are most likely to be at home. 


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What’s the reason for these calls?  Several possibilities exist: 1. It could be somebody dialling a wrong number – not likely as they would more than likely same something. 2. It could be your number had been programmed into an auto dialler by mistake, such as a fax machine sending out a broadcast fax to many people at the same time – not likely as you would hear data signals. 3. It could be something more sinister where your phone number has been targeted by fraudsters to seek information – MORE THAN LILELY! What are they looking to get from you?    Many organisations are moving toward a technology called “Voice Identification” or “Voice Stamp”. Your dulcets tones, unique to you, are being used to positively identify you when undertaking transactions by phone or internet. It’s seen as an alternative or addition to usernames and passwords, you are invited by some organisations to have your voice recorded and saved for when next you contact them – thus saving the tedious security checks. The problem is the underworld has twigged to the huge possibility that might exist either now or in the future to also capture your voice. So, when you answer the phone to one of these calls your voice is being captured which in turn could be used to defraud you in the future.  

Sometimes the call is not just silent as a recorded voice might say “can you hear me” in which case the natural response is “yes”. These calls are even more insidious as the word “yes” is being used more often in simple transactions by automated call centres. Example (not so far-fetched as it may seem):  Your Bank invites you to use “Voice Identification” when next you call them. You accept, and they record your name when you speak it – generally they ask you to say your name three times so they can be sure they have recorded it accurately. On a future call you wish to pay a bill, you use the voice identification option and then you have access to your accounts. The system asks for the bank account you wish to have the money paid to, you recite the number it asks are you sure and you say that magic word “yes” – job done!  The fraudster can do the same, once your voice has been captured and sufficient other information as been gathered from you through other sources. Okay, we maybe some distance away from banks adopting this system in its entirety but other New Zealand organisations and some government departments have integrated into their systems.

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What should you do? 1. Ensure you have caller ID activated on your phones – often these calls are from international numbers or number blocked calls. 2. Adopt a two second pause when answering the phone – it will take a bit of training, as nothing can be more natural to answer the phone instantly with your voice. If the call is silent then terminate the call. Likewise, if you don’t recognise the voice saying “can you hear me” say nothing and hang up! 3. If the calls keep happening then call your phone company and register with them the date and time of the calls being made to you, often they can put a block on the number(s) that have called you. This is not always satisfactory as the cunning fraudsters often call from different numbers. Technology is great, but sometimes it presents great opportunities for the less honourable in society. Filming in 360 degrees  Along the lines of Virtual Reality (being virtually there) the link to a YouTube video clip below provides a wonderful example filming in 360 degrees. Apart from being able to drag the time pointer, so that you can access a different point in time of the recording of the video, you can also drag the video itself, in different directions, to see around the area that the camera[s] recorded. Very cool example of next generation filming, at present we are subjected to the view the film directors wish for us to see!

A 360 degree camera, able to capture video images simultaneously from all angles.  So this is what our Mothers meant when they said they had eyes in the back of their heads!  

360-degree videos, also known as immersive videos or spherical videos, are video recordings where a view in every direction is recorded at the same time, shot using an omnidirectional camera or a collection of cameras. During playback on normal flat display the viewer has control of the viewing direction like a panorama. Thanks to Stu from Upper Hutt SeniorNet for making us aware of this link.  Here’s some more examples of 360-degree videos: 

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Apple enters the self-drive car market What could be described as the ultimate mobile device, Apple appears to be making great strides into the self-drive car market as it has applied for over 50 licenses to operate their vehicles on California’s byways and highways! Apple have been a bit demure (not Apple like I know!) about this new venture to date but it seems they are very keen to join the party now.

The testing of autonomous tech on public roads is in the spotlight after an Uber self-driving car killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March of this year making it the first fatality caused by self drive vehicles. The sensors and software failed to detect a woman as she crossed a road at night. Regardless of the success of their new venture it would seem they may have to depart from the beloved “i” so familiar with their products such as iPhone and iPad, as Mitsubishi beat them to that With their iCar.

“Isn’t there an App for that”  Its fair to say Smartphone Apps provide users with great opportunity to help them navigate the day with greater ease than before the digital world captured our imagination, some may argue its laziness while the converted will say its in the name of efficiency! Whatever the case hears a few applications (Apps) that have emerged to help you with your chores. Vacuum Cleaning For sure, robot vacuum cleaners are not new, but now you can turn on and monitor while you're out and about at the supermarket or on that overseas holiday. The new Dyson 360 Eye is one of the robot cleaners to offer an App feature. Start the cleaning remotely, access the live status of your vacuum and have at your fingertips maps of previous cleans.

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Play with your pet – when away from home. Is your pet home alone? New devices allow you to connect with them via your phone. Perhaps you are missing your pet while you're at work? There are now devices that will let you play with your pooch during office hours. Furbo is a cylindrical device armed with camera and treat dispenser.  Managed from an app on your phone, it allows you to have contact with your pet, record videos or take photographs. It has a built-in microphone so you can talk to, mollify or reprimand your pet too. There are other similar brands Furbo isn't the only option. Pet Chatz, Pet Cube and Paw Call have similar features plus many brands have the additional “must have” option of allowing them to call you! Lock and unlock your front door remotely You can now remotely alarm and or disarm the alarm, monitor your home via cameras, un-lock and lock the door and see who is ringing the doorbell all from your phone. Companies such as Morepork, Cleverloop, Nest and August Smart Lock all offer these services. This of course is a far better solution than leaving a key in the letterbox or under the pot plant to let a tradesman have access to your home for repair work. Just ask the “traddie” to call you when at the front door and you can let him or her in remotely, then lock-up the same way when they are done! Washing Assistance It’s called Peggy and is worlds smartest clothes peg. It's a device that sits on your washing line and sends updates to your phone about when your washing might be dry. Peggy will also send weather updates to you, so you can get your washing in before it starts to rain.  Water the plants and the garden You can now water your garden via your phone. The Holman Water app can turn and program up to eight tap timers, remotely. So, if you are away on holiday, aboard the cruise ship in the Mediterranean, you can water the garden via your smartphone – then perhaps view your hard work via the video camera mounted on the side of your house.

There is of course no end to the number of Apps being developed to help us slouch our way through the digital world, these are but a few. It’s easy to understand when research tells us that the average user of a Smartphone looks at their screen and or uses the device at least 150 times a day, this works out to be around 1.5 hours of lost productivity in the work place, per day!


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Zoom – a way of extending our help We have 100’s of volunteer tutors in SeniorNet, we always need more plus its not possible all our Learning Centres to have tutors skilled and willing to teach on all topics. Technology can help. The advent of Webinars (Web based seminars), where a tutor skilled on a specific topic undertakes a learning session via the internet. It’s very popular in the commercial world and has proved to be a successful and low-cost way to upskill the workforce. SeniorNet needs to make use of this facility to provide learning sessions, nationwide, to overcome tutor shortages – of particular help for smaller centres perhaps. The web-based webinar facility known as Zoom, which is free to use, may be the answer. The Federation would like to make a start as soon as possible but needs a handful of volunteers willing and able to help kick things off to record webinars on topics of interest.  Here’s a few suggested topics: • Using your TV to stream internet videos – a must to know for successfully viewing the Rugby world Cup in 2019 • How to use Microsoft Sway to write newsletters and communicate with family • Getting the most out of your smartphone • Making a start with VR (visual reality) • Confidence with internet banking • Google Docs – an overview and comparison to paid versions There will of course be many, many more topics. We would love to hear back from you on topics we could include with the first round of Webinars. If you can help produce a webinar or you have a topic you would like included, please email:  In the meantime take a look at Zoom and perhaps view a few examples by going to this site: A demonstration session was also conducted at the 2018 SeniorNet Symposium.