Issue 599

Monday, 19th March 2018

In This Issue


Facebook kicks off Cambridge Analytica after a whistleblower exposes their antics

The Guardian and The New York Times posted interviews with Christopher Wylie, who helped start Cambridge Analytica, the company widely held responsible for harnessing Facebook to elect Trump. Chris regrets his role in that mess and dished out some dirt on the grubby company - mainly that it used a huge pile of data from Facebook that its users did not agree to share with 3rd parties. After these articles went public, Facebook kicked Cambridge Analytica off their platform , but said users actually did give permission to have their data used in this way. Then they deleted Christopher's Facebook account, including Whatsapp and Instagram. Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica is setting up shop in Australia and the EFA wants some transparency around their activities.

Police are increasingly seeking warrants for location info of Google's users

Police in Raleigh, North Carolina have sent at least 4 subpoenas to Google, demanding Google hand over "account identifiers on every single cell phone" within certain areas where a crime has been committed. At first glance it sounds bad, but I don't have that much of a problem with it. The police got a warrant with a well defined area and technically, it's not much different to seeing people on CCTV and applying facial recognition. If my friend or family member was shot in the street and there's no other leads, I'd want the police to use their powers to ask Google for this info. There's a good argument for Google not having this info in the first place, but if it's there, it's naive to say "no, you can't touch that info that could lead to convicting a violent offender".

Say hello to the Global Talent Scheme, aka white collar 457 visas

The federal government has announced the Global Talent Scheme, a visa for for high skilled foreign workers that's designed to replace 457 visas for tech workers. This new visa has no specific job titles/tasks aligned with it, but still has some restrictions. For starters, only startups verified by a "startup authority" can use it unless they have $4m in turn-over. Who's a startup authority? The government is still consulting with industry on that one. The people coming on the new visa need 3 years of direct experience, demonstrate that there's going to be some skills transfer to Aussies and that the company hiring at least tried to give a local the job first. Anyways, Mike Cannon-Brookes likes it, so mission accomplished.

Fortnite is the hottest mobile game around and you need an invite to play it

The point of The Sizzle is to fill you in on stuff you should know about, so that's why I've mentioned Fortnite - the new hot game everyone wants to play. Or so I've read, I have no idea what's going on with the youth now. It looks to me like a clone of PUBG (I at least know what that is), but made by Epic Games. You're dropped on an island with 99 other people and you gotta shoot everyone you can. Last person standing wins. To spice it up, there's crazy guns and accessories you can use to achieve your violent goal. Despite being invite only, Fortnight is the most downloaded game for iOS in the USA and in the top 5 most places in the world. Visit the Epic Games website to join the invite queue and see what the fuss is.

Apple's got an education focused event happening on the 27th of March

Apple's announced an education-related event going down in Chicago on the 27th of March. Dunno what's gonna happen exactly, but there's rumors of a cheapo iPad and MacBook Air available only to schools. This might go some of the way to stopping the onslaught of Chromebooks that are way cheaper and easier to manage than anything Apple has going on right now. There's a decent chunk of Sizzle readers I know that work in the education sector. If you're one of them, you probably wanna keep an eye on this event.

Not News, But Still Cool

SA votes Liberal govt in so all the cool tech stuff probably won't happen

South Australia voted in a Liberal government on the weekend, which means many of the cool tech things the ALP had in store that I mentioned in The Sizzle during the election campaign, won't be happening. Homes being able to hook up to gigabit fibre, removal of stamp duty & rego for EVs, laptops for year 10, 11 & 12 students, teaching kids to code at school and many of the renewable energy plans won't be happening. It's not all doom and gloom though, as under the Libs, SA will be piloting that special entrepreneur visa, funding an innovation hub at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site and abolishing payroll tax for small businesses. Unfortunately the first thing they did was stop the rollout of Tesla's virtual power plant.

Apple's got a skunkworks micro LED factory

Apple allegedly has a skunkworks factory in California to develop "microLED" screens for future devices and remove its reliance on third parties like LG and Samsung for future products. The factory in California isn't big enough for mass production, so the aim seems to be to engineer and develop mass production processes so Apple can own the microLED tech as a competitive advantage over competitors. It'll take a few years for the tech to be market ready, but according to the article, the Apple Watch will be probably be first to get microLED screens as it's difficult to manufacture larger displays at the moment. Makes sense to me - Apple have been doing this for years with other components.

Cheap Kindle, mobile plans, games, tri-band routers, apps, Tidal subs and 54W USB chargers

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

The Rolling Stones - Can't You Hear Me Knocking