Issue 724

Friday, 14th September 2018

In This Issue


Google's copping more heat for their secretive Chinese search engine plans

Life's getting a little spicy over in Mountain View, with news of the US government asking questions and an internal staff revolt, about Google's plans for a Chinese search engine. One of Google's top data scientists quit, along with 6 other employees, because management wouldn't tell them where the company would draw the line on agreeing to Chinese demands. 16 senators and representatives sent Google an open letter asking the same kinda questions - how far would Google go in giving the Chinese government what it wants? Meanwhile, Breitbart got its hands on a video from November 2016 after the election of Trump, where Google's top brass told "employees that the outcome of the election was not what they preferred". They're using it as evidence Google has steers traffic away from conservative websites.

The EU's Human Rights Court reckons parts of the UK's mass surveillance program was illegal

Speaking of mass surveillance, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) declared aspects of the UK's mass surveillance program that was exposed by Ed Snowden, was illegal. The act of hoarding an entire country's communications and sharing it with allies is totally ok according to the ECHR, but the problem was basically access controls (too many people had their finger in the juicy pie) and that journalists were not excluded. Five years on from Snowden revealing this stuff, all those things we were shocked were happening, are all still happening (if anything, getting more brazen - The Assistance and Access Bill 2018 anyone?). Just that now we know about it and the government legislated the bits that were illegal. Cool, totally cool.

Jeff Bezos starts a $2b fund to help homeless people in the USA

Either the guilt of being so rich yet being such a stingy bastard is keeping Bezos up at night, or his PR goons told him he needs to warm up his public image ahead of some shitty news coming next week - because him and his wife just announced a US$2b charity to help the USA's homeless. "The Bezos Day One Fund will focus on two initiatives, the billionaire announced in an online post Thursday. The first will fund existing nonprofits and issue annual awards to organizations doing “compassionate, needle-moving work” to shelter and support the immediate needs of young families. The second will operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship Montessori-inspired preschools. The fund’s vision statement comes from nonprofit Mary’s Place in Seattle: no child sleeps outside". Bezos is worth ~$150b, making $2b around 1.33% of his wealth. He should be giving away 99% of his money and keeping the 1%.

New Nintendo stuff for ya, mostly Switch related

Nintendo did one of their Direct keynote "here's a bunch of new stuff, kids!" thing last night. Here's a rundown of the things I thought were cool:

  • Luigi's Mansion is coming to Switch one day.
  • New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is coming to the switch, Jan 11 2019.
  • The OG version of Katamari Damacy (one of my most favourite games) is coming to Switch!
  • City Skylines is on Switch right now.
  • Civ 6 (another of my very favourite games) is coming to the Switch November 16 and has local multiplayer
  • There's a lot of Final Fantasy games coming to the Switch.
  • Nintendo's gonna sell wireless NES controllers for the Switch.
There was also more details on the Nintendo Online Service. It'll launch September 19th and will allow online play against other people, let you store save game data in the cloud and have heaps of NES games to play (hence the wireless NES controllers). All that will cost ya $30/yr, or get a Family Membership (8 accounts) for $55/yr.

Sydney buses to get Mobileye crash avoidance tech installed

Some Sydney buses are gonna get Mobileye technology installed in em to avoid crashes. If that name sounds familiar, you're right - Mobileye is the tech Tesla used in early Model S cars before developing their own gear. Mobileye is a division of Intel now. "The device captures visual data from cameras mounted to the bus, analysing objects around the vehicle and using audio and visual cues to alert drivers when it detects a heightened risk of collision with other vehicles, pedestrians or roadside objects. It also keeps an eye on lane markings and alerts drivers when the bus starts to cross over the lines". The Mobileye stuff will be on 38 double-decker buses travelling on the B-Line in Sydney's northern beaches.

Not News, But Still Cool

This guy scammed $3m out of Aussie businesses via email whilst he was locked up in Villawood

A Nigerian dude managed to scam $3m out of Australian businesses by sending email "requests for funds transfers, or requests to change account details. These emails are then "spoofed" to make fake requests look real, ultimately resulting in the alleged scammers being able to take money from the businesses involved". That's not particularly newsworthy - happens all the time. What makes this one special is that old mate did it while he was locked up in Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre! Looks like he'd fit right in to the Australian business landscape, grant this bloke a visa ASAP. Unfortunately, Border Force are using it as an example of why refugees in detention (i.e: people who have not committed a crime!) should have their phones and hence, external communication, taken away from them.

Unless you're at risk of a heart problem, the Apple Watch ECG may be bad for you

As an overweight hypochondriac with heart disease riddled throughout his entire family tree, you'd think the Apple Watch's ECG feature would be an insta-buy from me, right? Maybe not so fast, as constantly monitoring your heart's electrical pulses isn't necessarily a good idea. The US Preventive Services Task Force has been doing research into preventative ECGs (i.e: doing an ECG when you're asymptomatic) for over a decade, actually advise against it. "For the vast majority of people it will have either no impact or possibly a negative impact by causing anxiety or unnecessary treatment," says cardiologist Theodore Abraham, director of the UCSF Echocardiography Laboratory". That's not to say it's a bad idea either. Millions of people with a 1-lead ECG on their person all day would make an interesting data set for researchers.

Old website design museum rustled up much nostalgia in me

A dead set legend has compiled screenshots of big websites between 1995 and 2005 in what they call a Web Design Museum. You can see how quaint websites were in the 90s, made with the primitive tools available at the time. Lots of HTML tables! Look at LEGO's official website from 1997. It looks so honest and genuine. Microsoft's 1998 website has some serious teenager memories for me. I honestly miss websites like this. I wanted to make The Sizzle's website using nothing but 90's era handwritten HTML (early subscribers will remember the original email template I used!), but smart people told me that's not a good way to go about earning a living. The 30-40yo nostalgic internet dork paid newsletter subscriber market is too deep of a niche.

That's it, see ya Monday!

Queens of the Stone Age - The Bronze