One of the most common adjustments to the Assistance and Access Bill those with skin in the game want, is judicial oversight. That is a judge to take a look at Technical Assistance Notices and Technical Capability Notices sent to companies by law enforcement, to make sure they're legal and fair under the law. This sane proposal has been knocked back by Home Affairs because any notices issued would come with a warrant attached (i.e: law enforcement have a warranty to tap into someone's comms, but the decision to force a tech company to co-operate with that tapping needs no warrant). Meanwhile, the eggheads at MIT reckon it's impossible to do what the government wants - a way to listen in on the crims without compromising security. No matter how many times Dutton says it, or what the law demands, doesn't mean it'll happen, and the government conveniently ignores this fact.
The International Space Station is currently in a sticky predicament that might lead to it being unoccupied for the first time since 2000. A Soyuz rocket taking off from Russia with supplies and a relief crew on-board, crashed. The crew were not hurt, but there's obviously not going to be another Soyuz launch until they figure out what went wrong today. Unfortunately for the 3 astronauts still on the ISS, the "rescue" Soyuz capsule they were gonna use to return to Earth has a use-by date of mid-December (the rocket's fuel will corrode its tanks past that date). There's the option of sending up an empty Soyuz to bring back the ISS crew if their current Soyuz is no good, but yeah, an empty ISS looks likely. Not the best use of US$100b and 15 years of work if that happens.
Have you heard that crazy story where Turkish journo Jamal Khashoggi, who liked digging up dirt on Saudi Arabia's leaders, went into a Saudi consulate in Turkey a few days ago and never came out? Techcrunch wonders if any of the startup wankers like Marc Andreessen, Sam Altman and Travis Kalanick who recently signed on as advisors to a massive $500b "future city" development in Saudi Arabia, will back out of being involved with such a horrible regime, or even make a public comment on it. It looks some some have said "yeah this On one hand these blokes love attending events, giving speeches and writing blog posts about diversity and whatnot, yet keep sucking at the Saudi teat for a few bucks. Are these people so cravenly desperate for money (they're already filthy rich) that they'd abandon their morality and allow a country that blatantly kills journalists, stones "sexual deviants" and has a pathetic record on women's rights to influence their business?
Ripping this straight from the Reuters article as there's no better way to sum it up than they have: "Facebook has disabled dozens of accounts and profiles belonging to Russian database provider SocialDataHub for what it termed the unauthorized collection of user information". These ratbags were "providing state services with the means to identify people by analyzing social media users' photographs". So Russian law enforcement would have video or photos of someone they wanted to track down, but couldn't identify. They'd pop that image into a computer, run it against SocialDataHub's mongrel data scraped off Facebook and then find out who the person in the image is based off that info. I wonder how many innocent people got to sip some polonium tea thanks to this bullshit?
Remember how weird it felt for Sega to be making games for Nintendo platforms and seeing Sonic alongside Mario in some stupid game? That's kinda what it feels like to see Microsoft join the Open Invention Network - an industry group that aims to create "patent cross-licenses between member companies covering Linux System technologies", so that businesses don't have to worry about implementing open source software then getting sued for infringing on someone's (i.e: Microsoft's) software patents. Other members of the OIN can now use 60,000 Microsoft patents, royalty-free. Considering all the shit Microsoft pulled back in the 90s against open source software, it's still wacky for me to see Microsoft loving Linux so much, but I like it.
This report by the USA's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the hype around blockchain - "At their basic level, they enable a community of users to record transactions in a shared ledger within that community, such that under normal operation of the blockchain network no transaction can be changed once published". The report is only 50 pages and will arm you with enough knowledge to sniff out the bullshit. I've only read the executive summary, but it looks to me that the blockchain is just a fancy database and my theory that most blockchain implementations are just an excuse to digitise or modernise a process that should have had that attention years ago, is solid.
Are you in the market for a new car, but don't drive long distances and have a power outlet in a carport or garage? You might be interested to know that a bunch of cheap Nissan LEAFs from Japan are gonna go on sale in Australia very soon. This is due to them finally qualifying for a special vehicle import permit and a few car dealers deciding to bring them over. The LEAF is around the same size as a Corolla, the 30kWh battery models do around 150km of driving before needing a recharge and will probably cost around $20k-$25k on the road in Australia. There's loads in NZ (who have much more liberal car import laws than us), so a smart Kiwi has uploaded heaps of info about the Japanese-spec LEAF and what it's like to own one.
That's it, see ya tomorrow!