Issue 600

Tuesday, 20th March 2018

In This Issue


Facebook to investigate Cambridge Analytica's misappropriation of its platform

On the back of news about how Cambridge Analytica used Facebook as a propaganda machine, Facebook's stock has fallen about 7% and they've announced an investigation into how this could have happened (easy, Facebook is designed for it and they promoted it). Zuck & Sandberg haven't said anything about this mess yet, but there were rumours of Facebook's chief security officer resigning over this, but he's tweeted that he's not going anywhere. Channel 4 uploaded part 1 of their doco on the crap Cambridge Analytica gets up to (blackmail, lots of blackmail). Zeynep Tufekci has an NYT op-ed on the topic that you should read too.

Uber's self-driving car killed a pedestrian

One of Uber's robocars has killed a woman crossing the street in Arizona. It's a Volvo XC90 and had a human at the wheel, but was in autonomous mode when it killed the pedestrian. There's not much more detail than that around, but the National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to Arizona to investigate what went on. That'll be a super interesting report and might give us a bit more insight as to how mature the technology is, away from the tech company hype. Uber has since paused its robocar program, you assume to make sure this doesn't happen again.

QLD govt tells its ministers to stop using private email servers for work stuff

I'm shocked this only just occurred to the Queensland government, but state ministers there are no longer allowed to use private email addresses (i.e: Gmail/Yahoo) for official business. A few ministers were using Yahoo for sending emails about work stuff, then when they cancelled their accounts, all the correspondence that's supposed to be archived so in a few years when it comes out they were corrupt as hell there's some proof, was deleted. They're also not allowed to use "messaging apps including Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, Wickr and WhatsApp for official business".

IBM shows off the world's smallest computer

IBM claims to have produced the world's smallest computer. This little piece of silicon the size of a grain of salt contains "several hundred thousand transistors, SRAM memory, a photo-voltaic cell for power, and a communications unit that uses an LED and a photo-detector to talk with the outside world". It's apparently got the same computing power as a 1990 desktop PC, that technically, might be enough to run Doom on. IBM's press release is the most buzz-worded filled piece of shit I've ever seen (cryptoanchors & blockchains baby, hit me with another rail of coke!!), but this tech is damn cool. Computers the size of a grain of salt that cost cents to manufacture. Amazing.

High Court to decide if Google search results can be defamatory

The High Court will be handing down an interesting decision today - are Google search results defamation and is Google a publisher? Milorad Trkulja, a dodgy individual involved with some Melbourne gangland stuff reckons that because his name keeps popping up in search results alongside "Melbourne underworld criminals", appearing in autocomplete text and in Google's image search, that his reputation is being unfairly tarnished. The High Court will need to determine if a "reasonable person" would see the stuff Google dishes up about Milorad and consider it damaging. If they do, it'll be fascinating to see what the High Court makes Google do to remedy that.

Not News, But Still Cool

Video interview with Christopher Wylie & his role at Cambridge Analytica

Following up on the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica stuff from yesterday, here's a video of Christopher Wylie explaining how Cambridge Analytica did. How they, in his words using decoy apps that stole data from your friends on Facebook. He definitely feels guilt and remorse for the "psychological weapon" he helped make. I saw this thread on Twitter that outlines a theory that unlike other sciences, computer science hasn't been through a full moral reckoning of the power it wields. Maybe it'll take a mass killing (of white people), for the nerds to realise data isn't as benign as they think it is?

Goldenfir SSDs off Aliexpress look dodgy, but they're cheap, so maybe they're ok?

If you're an Aliexpress fiend like myself, you've probably seen cheap SSDs on Aliexpress, like these Goldenfir units - a 120GB SATA SSD for around A$50 or a 60GB one for A$35, that's not bad if all they're going in are basic boxes for nothing intensive. But they're also kind of a risk. There's only one English language video review on YouTube and that guy's SSD had issues. Going by the SMART data, it looks like the flash memory chips used in these SSDs are recycled. Like, de-soldered off another board and re-used! Resourceful, but also error prone. But in these desperate times of expensive NAND, maybe it's worth weighing up the risk?

Aussie Broadband had made public some data on the quality of its network

Aussie Broadband have added graphs for every NBN POI, showing how much CVC bandwidth they have and how much of it is currently in use. So if you use Aussie Broadband and feel like your connection is a bit slow, you can see in the graph if your area is full of leechers or if the problem is just your connection or an NBN fault. They've also go things like a list of peering arrangements, a network map, network ping times and even updates as to when they plan to upgrade CVC for certain POIs. This kinda stuff is why I pay a little extra to get my internet from Aussie Broadband. (P.S: if you plan on signing up with em, use my referral code, 1001031, so I get a free month of access!)

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

2Pac - Hit 'Em Up