Issue 705

Monday, 20th August 2018

In This Issue


Sydney's trains, Coles & CBA's computer systems cracked it over the weekend

On Saturday, Sydney's trains shit the bed because a software upgrade that was planned to run between 2AM and 4AM didn't work and neither did rolling the system back. "The systems affected included those that locate trains on the network, the train crew and rostering systems, and those providing information to passengers". Apparently "over 300 servers that had to be rebooted, and then tested and synchronised". On Sunday, Coles stores across eastern Australia didn't open until late morning due to an IT error and as I type this, the Commonwealth Bank's internet banking and Visa card transactions at CBA merchant terminals are also not working. Computers suck.

Facebook sued by US government for allowing real estate agents to discriminate

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (aka HUD) is suing Facebook for allowing its ad platform to be discriminatory against a whole range of people looking to rent or buy a house. According to the complaint, "Facebook unlawfully discriminates by enabling advertisers to restrict which Facebook users receiving housing-related ads based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability" - possibly desirable when it comes to selling cosmetics or cars, but 100% illegal when it comes to housing. This is a big deal in the USA because they've had a long history of large scale racial segregation and for Facebook to be so ignorant of that history, the law that inspired it and that other websites made the time to follow the law, just goes to show how oblivious Facebook is of its impact on the world.

Netflix is gonna show ads during binge sessions for other Netflix shows

Netflix is introducing ads to its streaming service, kinda. They're not going to place ads during things you watch, old school broadcast TV style, but will show you promos for other Netflix programming during "binge sessions". You know how Netflix asks you if you're still watching when you've let episodes run back to back for a while? Those are the moments Netflix will try and entice you to watch something else. If this kinda thing scares you, Netflix has an option to opt-out of their user experiments. I reckon Netflix showing ads is inevitable as user growth tops out - everyone who wants or can use Netflix already has it, but Wall Street will want more and more money from somewhere. Just like how pay TV launched with no ads and that was its big selling point, but has heaps of ads now.

US DoJ wants Facebook to find a way for them to wiretap Messenger voice convos

Much like how the Australian government wants tech companies to roll over and snitch on its users, the US government is trying to do the same. The US DoJ is secretly suing Facebook, using the spectre of the MS-13 gang to force Facebook to crack open Messenger so it can wiretap ongoing voice conversations. I guess the justification here is that law enforcement can tap a landline or even a mobile phone legally, what makes Messenger so special that we can't listen to that too? If the judge in this case agrees with the DoJ, it'll be an amazing precedent, as it'll likely mean other "secure" voice chat apps (Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp, etc.) would presumably be open to getting sued like this and having to rat their users out.

Nvidia confirms that the latest GPU based cryptocurrency mining fad is over

Nvidia's stock took a hit over the weekend as its earning report mentioned it'll sell US$82m fewer GPUs next quarter because of an unexpected drop in GPU-based cryptocurrency mining. Their exact words were, "we had previously anticipated cryptocurrency to be meaningful for the year, we are now projecting no contributions going forward". What happened to GPU cryptocurrency mining? The arse fell out of most cryptocurrency markets (a 70% drop on average from their peaks) and more coins are being mined on ASIC based chips that are designed purely for a specific type of crypto and are shitloads faster than general purpose GPUs. The upside of this however, is gamers can buy GPUs for reasonable prices again.

Not News, But Still Cool

This Scottish YouTuber finds dodgy appliances and explains how they'll kill you

Bigclivedotcom is a Scottish bloke that likes tearing down shitty electronics and is one of my favourite YouTube channels. Here's some videos he's done that I like and you might like too. A petrol powered pocket heater that can explode next to your crotch. A USB mole and spots removal pen that burns you. A germicidal UV light globe that'll burn your eyes out and give you cancer. A 240V sparky thing designed to start gas appliances that can kill you. A camping light that's so poorly made it could kill you. A 2.5kW electrode water heater that'll kill you and your baby if you touch it.

Elon Musk opens up to the New York Times and MKBHD

The Guardian has a chronological summary of Elon Musk's "year from hell". The innocent days of flame throwers and cars in space seem so long ago compared to the pedo accusations and SEC investigation of today. Over the weekend Elon sat down with Marques Brownlee for the softest of softball interviews (not that I'd expect hard hitting investigative journalism from Marques) where he reveals a US$25,000 car from Tesla could come out within 2-3 years (so in 4-6 years really). The New York Times interviewed Elon too, where he said that his friends are concerned about his health and the lack of time he spends with his family due to the stress of his work - yet refuses to take time off.

Cheap Dell monitors, Microsoft Surface laptop, Xbox One X, GTA Vice City, RX570 GPU & Zelda Breath of the Wild

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

L7 - Freak Magnet