The Sizzle

Issue 465 - Friday, 25th August 2017


QLD's Policelink app a piece of personal information hoarding garbage
The Queensland Police have been called out by the Information Commissioner for abusing the privacy of people using the Policelink app. For those unacquainted, the Policelink app lets you report less serious crimes to the cops direct from your smartphone. Take a pic of some graffiti, damaged property, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, the Information Commissioner's audit of the app found that it would collect personal information like "name, date of birth, gender, and in some cases driver's licence, passport, and cultural details", without telling users or even having a legit reason as to why it was collecting that info in the first place. QPS didn't test the app for vulnerabilities either, meaning someone could have sniffed the info being transmitted or stored relatively easily - QPS had no idea.

A spat between reaction vid YouTubers results in legal precedent about fair use
A YouTuber called "MattHossZone" (aka Matt Hosseinzadeh) sued another YouTuber "H3H3" (aka Ethan and Hila Klein) for making fun of him in one of those weird reaction videos. The actual lawsuit was about the fair use of content from Hosseinzadeh's videos by the Kleins and centred around the legality of rippings bits of a video out and using them in your own vid? The judge in this case, unequivocally said yes, it's more than ok and falls under fair use because the Klein's videos "provides "critical commentary" on Hosseinzadeh's video and is not a substitute for it" - which is good news for YouTubers, as if there was a legal precedent set where you can't re-mix other people's videos, heaps of them would be in the shit for copyright infringement.

Engineers wanted to downplay the safety of Tesla's Autopilot, Elon Musk ignored them
The Wall Street Journal (Facebook re-direct in order to get around paywall) has a story claiming Tesla's Autopilot project was released way before it was ready, despite the engineers working on it begging Elon Musk not to. Apparently, Elon keeps wanting to say how it can be used hands-free and how advanced it is, claiming even a small improvement is better than the meatbag in the driver's seat. But the engineers involved were extremely uncomfortable with Elon promoting Autopilot in that way, so some senior engineers ended up quitting. Not long after, a man using Autopilot crashed into the side of a truck, which the NTSA attributes to him trusting Autopilot beyond its abilities. Maybe he would still be alive if Elon wasn't so insistent on overhyping the Autopilot feature beyond what the engineers were comfortable with?

Malware packed with ads spreading across Facebook Messenger
Alert your Facebook Messenger using not so tech savvy mates, there's a "virulent spam campaign" going down on Facebook Messenger. The message will come from one their stupid friends that got infected already, promising a link to a cool video. Of course, there is no video, just a link to a website asking you to install a plugin so you can watch said non-existent video. Your normie friend clicks the link, installs the damn app and boom, they're part of the infection chain, spreading it on to the next person (i.e: you, but you're smart enough to know what's going on). The malware, besides spreading itself to other Facebook users, pushes out adware and snags access to your Facebook account, which is probably then on-sold and used for who knows what.

Titan, Google's security chip going in all its servers
Google's unveiled a custom security chip called Titan, that it will install in all its servers to make sure there's no funny business going on. The little micro-controller makes sure firmware and boot loaders haven't been tampered with, kinda like a super fancy secure boot process you maybe familiar with on current PCs. It's all a bit high end, even going over the top of my head a bit, but basically, Google's servers are pretty damn secure. Something to keep in mind if you ever need to compare the security of Amazon's or Microsoft's cloud stuff to Google's, as I don't think AWS or Azure have the same level of anti-tampering measures as Google Compute does?


1.8PB of porn stashed on Amazon Cloud is still growing at 12TB a day
Remember I mentioned a while ago about a bloke who was archiving live porn cams for perpetuity? Well he managed to store 1.8 petabytes of naked chicks in their bedrooms on Amazon's Cloud Drive unlimited service - which is now very not unlimited, probably thinks to people like him. Beaston02 talked to Motherboard about it and wanted to make very clear that he isn't a perv, but just has a problem hoarding data. It was also a great way to learn Python, SQL and how to handle such a massive collection of data. Old mate is bored of it now, but a group of people on Reddit have taken his script and keep the dream alive - sucking down 12TB a day of porn and stashing it on Amazon & Google's servers. God speed gentlemen, god speed.

Nikon's D850 camera has a negative scanning feature
In the announcement of Nikon's D850 camera yesterday, I missed news about a nifty film scanning accessory to go with it. The Nikon ES-2 digitizing adapter lets you take snaps of film negatives that the D850 can convert in camera to high resolution digital images. Nikon recommends using their 60mm macro lens for it. Ends up being much faster than a scanner when you've got loads of negatives to digitise. Snap, next, snap, next - no need for post-processing on the computer unless you're picky (I'd prob have it set to RAW+JPEG and store the RAW images for future use if needed). I wonder if it can be used on other cameras too? Or is the sensor in the lower end or AF-S cameras lacking in megapixels for this task?

Oxford University's computational propaganda team is fascinating
It's Friday arvo, what better time to delve into the world of computational propaganda! Oxford University has a team of people looking at all the ways algorithms and automation are being used to spread state-sanctioned propaganda to influence elections and sway public opinion. All those bots on Twitter and Facebook and other social media networks are being studied by Oxford to see what sort of impact they're having, if they actually work, who's doing it and why. There's a lot of content there to poke around in - I only spent an hour or two in it and I'm once again sad at how severely the utopian dream of the internet bringing us together and making us all better people as a result, has died.

Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers. Know someone who could use a bit of Sizzle in their life? Buy them a gift subscription!