Issue 564

Monday, 29th January 2018

In This Issue


The 2018 Aussie of the year is a quantum computing genius

Professor Michelle Simmons was declared Australian of the Year, who is pretty much the world's best quantum computing scientist and leads a team of over 200 people at UNSW, trying to develop the world's first silicon based quantum computer. Her groundbreaking development was the ability to manipulate a single atom. Her team at NSW is the only group in the world with this skill and they're Australian and we made her Australian of the Year - just the tip of the iceberg of this amazing woman's accomplishments. Absolutely brilliant stuff that makes me proud to be Australian and reminds me we are so much more than mere dirt digging farmers that lock up brown kids on pacific islands.

Another day, another massive cryptocurrency exchange heist

Japanese Bitcoin exchange Coincheck, got absolutely owned, losing 58 billion Yen (approx A$659m) worth of NEM. A bigger loss than the previous titleholder (also a Japanese exchange), Mt. Gox. Hackers got in, stole the NEM coins and Coincheck don't know how this happened. They're totally at a loss as to how they got hacked. NEM, for those wondering, is the 8th largest cryptocurrency by volume and is a "distributed ledger platform primarily aimed at enabling payments and other financial services" (isn't that practically every cryptocurrency?). Those who speculated on the value of the 8th largest cryptocurrency may be compensated for their loss, but don't hold your breath, as Coincheck was not registered with Japan's Financial Services Agency.

Strava's heatmap accidentally exposes military routes

You're all familiar with the app Strava, right? A few months ago they launched a public heat map of all their user's exercise routes. Pretty cool stuff. Unfortunately, they didn't sanitise the data and you can see on the map where military personnel (mainly US troops) exercise whilst they're on duty in various top secret locations like Pine Gap, Area 51 and dozens of forward operating bases in the Middle East. Most of this is public knowledge, but stuff like patrol routes and smaller, unpublicised bases have now been exposed to the world and might (or so some "experts" reckon) be used against them.

SA to drop $70m on laptops for senior school kids

The South Australian government has announced they're going to roll out a $70m laptop for school kids program. By 2021, every year 10, 11 and 12 school student will have a laptop supplied by the state. The kid will get the laptop in year 10 and use that until they finish school. Part of this is also to upgrade school internet connections to at least 100mbit, probably so they can all just be Chromebooks managed by a single person who looks after a dozen other schools. By the way, South Australia votes for a new state government on the 17th of March (insert rant about government IT incompetence here).

The USA is considering a nationalised 5G network to compete with China

Based on a leaked document cobbled together by the National Security Council, it's been revealed that they reckon the USA needs what is essentially their own version of our NBN, but using 5G wireless of the shit copper we have, as a competitive advantage against China. The document goes on to explain that the USA needs to take the lead on 5G so China doesn't end up setting the standards, particularly in developing countries, which would make Huawei and ZTE super rich at the expense of US companies and US security (i.e: "Huawei are communist dogs we can't trust"). Could just all be hot air, but still fascinating they're even contemplating it.

Not News, But Still Cool

New York Times has proof that bots are flooding Twiter & Twitter doesn't care

Surprise, surprise - Twitter is full of bots that are used to make people paying for them to seem more important than they really are. This "expose" in the New York Times reveals how celebrities, politicians, news outlets or simply anyone who wants to look popular, are paying a company called Devumi to point their army of Twitter bots at their accounts and spread their Tweets far and wide. I'm unsurprised this sorta thing is going down, but the fact Twitter seems not to give a damn is sad. All those smart people at Twitter can't figure out this is going on? They must know and are turning a blind eye because it benefits them as much as it benefits the people paying Devumi for the bots.

Cryptocurrency mining javascript find their way into YouTube ads

Dodgy ads serving up cryptocurency mining software isn't anything new, but the temptation to make easy money is so high, that ads featuring cryptocurrency mining scripts have started to appear on YouTube. "Attackers behind the ads were abusing Google's DoubleClick ad platform to display them to YouTube visitors in select countries, including Japan, France, Taiwan, Italy, and Spain" and were mining Monero based on a piece of JavaScript made by Coinhive. It's ingenious, but also bullshit. All the more reason to run an adblocker that runs at DNS level like Pi-Hole.

A guide to the 9 different kinds of security cameras Xiaomi sell

I love Xiaomi gear, but goddamn some of their product model naming can be confusing. Xiaomi has 8 different types of security camera (9 if you include the outdoor model) and they all look kinda similar on a specs sheet, but they've all got quirks that if you aren't aware of, will lead to disappointment. This great video from Xiaomify explains all the different cameras Xiaomi sells (hot tip: the Xiaofang's dont work outside China now, get the Dafang ones instead). The entire Xiaomify channel is cool.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!