Issue 578

Thursday, 15th February 2018
Hey, sorry today's issue is a little late. There was a gas pipe explosion about 20m from my house and that kinda distracted me.

In This Issue


The CIA, NSA & FBI suggest you shouldn't buy a Huawei or ZTE phone for security reasons

During a US Senate Intelligence Committee hearing this week, a bunch of officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency were grilled about the potential risks they think the USA faces by allowing companies like Huawei and ZTE to operate on US soil. The suspicions western governments have surrounding telcos installing Huawei and ZTE infrastructure are nothing new (I wrote an article about it five years ago), but this time they raised concerns about smartphones from Huawei and ZTE being tools of the Chinese regime's indiscriminate spying. The officials didn't necessarily say what they think the smartphones themselves are doing, but they did say they don't recommend Americans buy them. Devil's advocate: they don't want you buying them because they can't spy on Americans via Chinese phones. Makes you think, hey?

Telstra made $1.7b half-year profit, but Ooyala & NBN are dragging them down

Telstra announced its half-yearly financials today. They made $1.7b profit, which apparently, it's down about $100m mainly due to the Ooyala mess. Telstra also said that the NBN continues to be a drag on their finances and may even lead to job cuts. Reselling the NBN is much less complicated than running your own network and every day more and more of Telstra's customers are moving from Telstra's network to simply being Telstra customers on NBN's network. To turn this absolutely shocking disaster around (I mean, really, $1.7b, why even get up in the morning?), Telstra has a few tricks up their sleeve. It's going to open a Security Operations Centre (SOC) in London to compliment its SOCs in Melbourne and Sydney and will continue finishing off a $3b investment into its wireless network, including some 5G goodness.

Sydney's Startup Hub opens & Microsoft are rapt to be there

Sydney has a new big and fancy Startup Hub, which was officially opened by the Premier yesterday. The government reckons it'll give Sydney "a huge competitive advantage over its domestic rivals in attracting startups and stamps the city as an international centre for entrepreneurial activity". I reckon it's just a handout to their property developer mates, but ok, cool, startups, whatever. One of the key tenants of this hub is Microsoft, who due to the fancy building, have selected Sydney as a spot for their ScaleUp incubator program. David Thodey, former Telstra CEO and now chairman of Jobs for NSW, says the Startup Hub is just "stop-gap measure, with a limited horizon", to keep the engine ticking over whilst Sydney builds an "even bigger precinct".

Facebook uses your 2FA details to send spam & its VPN service to stalk you

Isn't it nice that Facebook is asking its users to set up 2FA via SMS? Very noble of them, caring about their user's account security like that. Oh.. wait, it's just a ploy to harvest your mobile number, then send you SMS spam about your friends to boost Facebook's engagement stats. Ugh. At least this Onavo VPN app that Facebook promotes within the iOS app under "protect" will keep us secure from the bad guys, yeah? Hang on a second, Onavo is owned by Facebook! That means all my traffic will be routed via Facebook and they'll know everything I'm doing on the internet at an even deeper level than they already know via all their tracking scripts plastered around the web. Damn you Zuck, damn you to hell.

SpaceX to launch 2 demo sats to test fast space broadband tech

Fresh off the back of putting a Tesla Roadster into space last week, SpaceX is going to be launching something much more productive this Saturday: two low-Earth orbit satellites (Microsat-2a and -2b) that will provide internet access to a vast geographical area with much lower latency and high bandwidth than existing internet satellites. SpaceX plans to use these two satellites as a demonstration of its technology that it hopes will bring fast internet (i.e: gigabit speeds at 25-35ms) to the entire globe. I've mentioned this stuff before, but I had no idea SpaceX was this close to actually launching the satellites!

Not News, But Still Cool

Apple's HomePod speaker leaves stains on wooden surfaces

I didn't want to mention the HomePad again, but interesting stuff about it keeps popping up. Now the damn things are leaving "rings" on top of any wooden surface it's left on. Apple has responded updating a support document to state that "it is not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-dampening silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces", due to "oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface". If you move the speaker, these marks will apparently go away on their own after a few days, or wipe it off with a damp cloth. Apple also says that "you're concerned about this, we recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface" - the 2018 version of "you're holding it wrong", haha. Classic Apple.

Nobody's helping SETI look for aliens because of crypto mining

Here's a sad consequence to everyone using their GPUs to mine cryptocurrency (besides the power consumption) - they're no longer used to look for aliens. Some of you probably remember SETI@Home, one of the first ever distributed computing projects to involve "home" users. It was an attempt to use everyone in the world's computers to scan the huge amounts of radio noise captured by giant antennas to see if life forms are trying to communicate with us. It's not just less people contributing to the search either, they cant' even buy GPUs to use in their own research labs. Goddamn cryptocurrency, holding us back from finding alien life.

Cheap headphones, iPhone 8, iPad Pro, Samsung SSD, iOS game pad, Ubqiuti APs, Netgear modem & Surface Book

eBay has a back to uni sale on "selected items" listed here. Use the code PAPERS to apply the discount. Here's a list of the tech gear worth buying:

That's it, see ya tomorrow!