Issue 716

Tuesday, 4th September

In This Issue


Jack Dorsey went against staff advice & kept controversial accounts active

Another example of Twitter not knowing how to manage the beast they've unleashed on the world - Jack Dorsey personally intervened to keep the accounts of Alex Jones and Richard Spencer active, despite the moderation staff all agreeing they both broke Twitter's rules. Why the hell would you do that? Twitter is also testing some new features like threaded replies (okay, kinda useful) and status indicators (yeah, to let people know if you have the app or website open) that might never end up in production. I'm firmly of the belief Twitter is a rudderless ship, just floating around crashing into things while the crew are playing poker in the galley or whatever it is sailors do in this awful maritime metaphor.

UK media execs frothing for a government run social media regulator

Executives from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, as well as Sky, BT and TalkTalk, have called for the UK government to create a regulator that is dedicated to social media in an open letter in a newspaper that's behind a paywall, so that link probably won't work for ya. They reckon that social media companies can't be trusted with deciding what to delete off their services, so the government should create a dedicated regulator for it and decide for them. Voluntary at first, and if they don't do a good job, the government should make some laws to force social media sites to adhere to the same kind of broadcast rules TV and radio stations are stuck with.

Loot box research shows almost half of em are basically unregulated pokies for kids

Psychology researchers from the University of Tasmania and Massey University in New Zealand have found that out of the 22 loot box systems in video games they looked at, 10 of them "met all the requirements to be considered gambling, and in four of these games, players could also cash out the money". For all intents and purposes, 10 of those loot box implementations are a form of gambling, with the developers programming loot boxes to "deliver rewards on a seemingly random scale that's designed to keep people playing to try to achieve the reward". Video games can still be loads of fun without them, why inflict this on people? Money grubbing pricks.

Amazon wants to grow its online advertising business

A story in the New York Times is suggesting that Amazon is looking to expand its business in online advertising, cutting Facebook and Google's lunch. It already does around US$2b of ads, mostly via sponsored products and banners in shopping search results, but Amazon has woken up and realised it's got shitloads more data on its customers than Facebook and Google have, plus because you're already shopping for something, higher conversion rates (and the rates they attract) are possible. I can't wait for Amazon to use all those talented engineers to get me to buy more shit I don't need. Excellent use of their skill.

Microsoft rejigs how many users and devices can use an Office 365 Home subscription

Microsoft has revised what you get as part of your Office 365 Home annual subscription. You used to be limited to 5 users in your Office 365 account and installing Office on 5 PCs or Macs, plus 5 tablets and 5 smartphones. Now you can add 6 users to your Office account and can install Office on as many devices as you like - but each user can only be signed in to 5 devices at once. Each of your 6 users still gets 1TB of OneDrive storage and 60 "Skype minutes" too. Not bad for the ~$80/year you can often get Office 365 Home on sale for.

Not News, But Still Cool

I went to VidCon on the weekend

The Guardian has a story about VidCon Australia, which happened in Melbourne over the weekend. I got a free ticket to attend (mostly to cover Blackmagic Design's CEO give a semi-forced talk because they were sponsoring the event) and their article is much better than anything I would write about the day. Upstairs there's industrious and eager teens sitting in boring as hell presentations, trying to learn anything that'll help them make a living off their passion for vlogging. Downstairs are those who have already achieved that goal, with adoring fans paying money to line up and spend 30 seconds with them, then spending more money to buy merchandise. Meanwhile, nobody was discussing YouTube's perverted algorithm.

NotPetya should scare the hell out of every sys admin or IT manager

Remember NotPetya and how it totally fucked up the operations of companies like Maersk, Fedex, DHL, Merck, Mondelez and even innocent little Cadbury's Tasmanian chocolate factory? Wired has an excellent story about NotPetya being a loose canon in Russia's cyberwar efforts against Ukraine, that happened to have a nice side benefit of impacting western businesses dealing with Ukraine too. A White House assessment reckons NotPetya caused over US$10b in damage. There's some great anecdotes in the story, but my takeaway was that the suits shoulda really listened to the nerds and put more effort into patching the damn computers as soon as a patch was released and having proper network segmentation. Doing so would have nipped this in the bud and limited the fallout.

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That's it, see ya tomorrow!

JAY-Z - Justify My Thug