Issue 747

Thursday, 18th October 2018

In This Issue


Apple now lets you download every piece of data they have on you

Apple has made available the GDPR-required user data download portal available for users in US, CA, NZ & AU. "Users will be able to download data such as all of their address book contacts, calendar appointments, music streaming preferences and details about past Apple product repairs. Previously, customers could get their data by contacting Apple directly". You can visit Apple's Data & Privacy portal now and request your data. AppleCare info is one of the things they let you download, so I wonder what they've recorded about me and my gear all the times I've taken stuff to get repaired at either an Apple Store or a 3rd party repairer.

Government to introduce more ways to block sites hosting pirate content

You know how Foxtel and Village got a law made that lets them go asking the Federal Court to force ISPs to do DNS blocks on websites hosting pirated content? That law (Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill) has been extended to make it easier to get stuff blocked and to block more things. If the amendment passes Parliament, it'll allow rights holders to get file-hosting services like Mega or even Dropbox/OneDrive etc blocked, force search engines to filter out pirate sites from results, remove the need for the rights holder to prove a site is hosted overseas and to add proxies & mirror sites to existing blocks rather than going to court again to block the mirrors.

Advertisers allege Facebook's been fudging video stats by 150%-900%

A "group of small advertisers" is suing Facebook for misleading them on stats surrounding video playback and engagement. Back in 2016, Facebook said publicly "it had probably overestimated the average time spent watching video ads by 60 percent to 80 percent", but this lawsuit alleges that "Facebook had instead inflated average ad-watching time by 150 percent to 900 percent". That's a massive difference between what advertisers were getting told and paying for, versus what users were actually doing. To make matters worse, it looks like Facebook knew about this, but instead of coming clean, tried to cover it up. Facebook reckons "this lawsuit is without merit, and we've filed a motion to dismiss these claims of fraud".

Telstra's totally stuffed running the National Cancer Screening Register

Telstra got $220m in 2016 to build and operate the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR). Unsurprisingly, Telstra underestimated their capability to build it and is still yet to fully launch the NCSR, over a year past its due date. Things are so bad that the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit has recommended the Health Department cancel the contract, find someone new to start again and sue Telstra for damages "given the significant extra costs incurred" thanks to Telstra's delays. The inquiry also found that "nine officers involved in the procurement who owned Telstra shares and had not disclosed this fact at the time of the procurement". It's one thing when government screws up an IT project, I'm used to that. It's another when someone's greedy/careless and doesn't disclose a financial interest. But when it impacts people with cancer getting speedy treatment, I hope these bureaucrats at least feel genuine guilt and shame about what's happened.

Horsham got dudded by the NBN, Vic govt filling in the gaps

The Victorian government is spending $1.7m to hook up Horsham with gigabit fixed wireless because the NBN sucks. Sprint Telecom will be building the network and will "provide coverage to Horsham CBD, enterprise park, aerodrome, and freight terminal", at an affordable price, so the businesses in the area can have an internet connection that isn't absolute ratshit. Good stuff from the Victorian government - it's pathetic a town like Horsham (population ~17,000) is stuck with sub-50mbit, congested fixed wireless from the NBN. Fixed wireless can be pretty damn good these days, if I had money to splash around, I'd totally invest in wireless ISPs providing coverage in areas like Horsham (and metro areas stuck with FTTN) the NBN has dudded.

Not News, But Still Cool

Use Pi-Hole & Cloudflare to secure DNS requests over HTTPS

Running Pi-Hole to block pesky ads and have DNSSEC enabled, but still want to beef up security so the man can't see what you're accessing on the web? Follow these instructions from Scott Helme to run all your DNS requests over HTTPS, ensuring that unless you're in some hard core state surveillance scenario (Australia isn't at that level... yet), nobody will be able to see what domain names your Pi-Hole is resolving. I don't recommend doing this if you're the kind of person that struggles to use the command line, it gets pretty technical and if you don't do it right, you'll end up with no internet access. Don't ask me for support on this one!

I'm reading The Frustrated State and enjoying it so far

The last few weekends I've enjoy an hour or here there, sitting on couch and mowing through Renai LeMay's (you might remember him as the publisher of Delimiter) new book, The Frustrated State. If you've ever wondered how the hell Australian governments are so fucking awful with computers and why Australia tends to be relatively uninterested/unsupportive of the technology industry as a way to drive prosperity, this book explains why. I'm only half way through, but I can definitely say that if you like The Sizzle, you'll probably like The Frustrated State too. Renai generously offered to promote The Sizzle in deliveries of his book to Kickstarter supporters, but the fact I like this book is irrespective of him helping The Sizzle out. I genuinely do think this book is worth checking out.

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That's it, see ya tomorrow!

The Beatles - While My Guitar Gently Weeps