Issue 552

Thursday, 11th January 2018

In This Issue


CES 2018 - Day 4

CES is starting to wind down, but there was still some interesting things to mention:

Patches for Spectre and Meltdown aren't going too well

Patches for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are currently out and about for major platforms, but they aren't going too smoothly. Microsoft had to halt rolling out the patch to some older AMD machines as it was placing them in a bootloop, but even when it does work, there can be a hit on performance - particularly on older CPUs and older versions of Windows. Ubuntu's patch for 16.04 boxes have also experienced problems where they can't boot. Intel's CEO said that a microcode update will be released for 90% of its CPUs next week and has published the Linux update already. If the difference between Meltdown and Spectre has you confused, Daniel Miessler's blog post clears things up.

Another day, another stupid bug in macOS 10.13

There's another crappy weird bug with authentication on macOS 10.13 - this time with App Store options in System Prefs. When in there and prompted for a password, just enter any text in the password field and bam, you're authenticated. It's relatively benign, in that all you can change are a few options to do with the App Store (enable/disable auto updates, change password requirements for paid/free apps), but it's sad this sort of stuff is still happening after last year's set of embarrassments in macOS.

Vodafone's online activation system wasn't verifying ID properly for a long time

Vodafone's in the shit with ACMA for not properly verifying the identity of people activating prepaid SIMs. ACMA discovered that Vodafone's IT system let people say that their identity had been verified in store, but were actually at home. ACMA reckons "at least" 1028 customers failed to verify their identity this way and Vodafone themselves suspended over 6300 accounts once ACMA started investigating.

Police in WA want a total IT system overhaul and upgrade

The WA cops are begging the force and government to upgrade their IT systems. According to statements made at the WA Police Union's annual conference, force members are pissed off with ancient desktop PCs at police stations that can't run their critical apps and even worse in-car information systems with basic features missing. WA police also want to be issued tablets and smartphones (they're one of the last forces in AU to get them) and a statewide automatic number plate recognition system.

Not News, But Still Cool

Voyage is a new, big player in the robocar game

There's a new big player in robocar tech - Voyage. They seemingly popped up out of nowhere to announce that they have started offering autonomous taxi rides for ~125,000 residents (mostly retirees/people that can't drive) of The Villages in Florida. There's still Voyage employees in the drivers seat, a typical ride still has 5% human intervention and there won't be thousands of cars on the road just yet, but the scale of the area is impressive and makes them a genuine competitor for Cruise/GM, Uber and Waymo. The CEO of Voyage (username is olivercameron) has been posting interesting comments to people's questions on Hacker News.

Sexual consent on the blockchain coming soon

Sex on the blockchain! That's right, a Dutch company is developing an app called LegalFling that "in theory could allow about-to-bone partners to log what they are and are not OK with before they bone", that uses the blockchain as "an immutable version of the explicit consent/contract" I mean, it sounds good, in theory, I guess? Everyone involved agrees on what's gonna go down before, but how does this actually work in practice? How do you even bring this up? Are consent contracts a thing?! This is so far out of my wheelhouse I should stop writing before I embarrass myself.

This dude reckons getting rid of the internet at home is the best thing he ever did

Over the holidays I read a post by Joshua Fields Millburn, who decided to not have internet access at home. After a few months of an internet-less house, he reckons its the best thing he ever did for his productivity and mental health. I thought it was fascinating and reminded me of my youth when I could only use dial-up internet in the morning so my parents wouldn't get pissed off I was hogging the phone line. I would plan what I wanted to do so I could maximise the precious few hours of sweet internet access I had every Saturday and Sunday morning.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!