Issue 749

Monday, 22nd October 2018

In This Issue


Government access of telco metadata has gone way beyond the initial scope

In news that will shock absolutely nobody, access to the treasure trove of metadata telcos are forced to retain by the government is loosely controlled and rampant. According to evidence given at a recent parliamentary hearing by the Communications Alliance (a lobby group that represents the major AU telcos), there's over 1,000 requests *per day* for metadata by various government agencies and law enforcement. The Communications Alliance also let loose that "many more" than the 22 specific agencies outlined when the law was created have access to all our metadata. Everyone with half a brain knew this would happen - the data is just too juicy for law enforcement to resist.

Details of Saudi Arabia's state sponsored troll army & grooming of a Twitter employee

The New York Times has revealed info about a Saudi state run troll army that is used to intimidate and harass anyone critical of Saudi Arabia. The government literally pays hundreds of people around USD$3000/m to sit at home and get into Twitter fights. The government sends out a list of people to "threaten, insult and intimidate" and topics to fight over via Telegram and WhatsApp. Not only would the trolls talk shit online, they'd also mass report people's tweets, eventually silencing them. Twitter itself is having a hard time stopping it, as because these aren't bots, but actual people, all its algorithms don't notice the orchestration. The Saudis even went as far as to groom an employee, "Ali Alzabarah, to spy on the accounts of dissidents and others". I wonder if ASIO or the DSD has a troll army?

Bloomberg still stands by its Supermicro supply chain hack story, despite everyone saying it's trash

There's been a lot of follow-up content around Bloomberg's Supermicro supply chain hacking story. The USA's Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, has said "we've seen no evidence of that, but we're not taking anything for granted. We haven't seen anything, but we're always watching" - which is great and all, but I still reckon he wouldn't tell the truth, even if they did know. Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, told BuzzFeed that "there is no truth in their story about Apple" and that Bloomberg should "do that right thing and retract it". Bloomberg is still sticking to its guns, saying that the journalists spend over a year reporting this story, did over 100 interviews and has "17 individual sources, including government officials and insiders at the companies, confirmed the manipulation of hardware and other elements of the attacks".

CBP seized Louis Rossman's Apple batteries, he reckons Apple leaned on CBP for revenge

Louis Rossman is a YouTuber that has been shitting on Apple's difficult and expensive repair policies for years now. He's also been importing laptop batteries for years so he can service perfectly good laptops that Apple class as "vintage" and no longer support. But for some reason, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) decided his latest shipment of batteries is counterfeit, despite them being original Apple batteries pulled from dead laptops. Louis reckons its because of his recent involvement in a CBC story (which is an interesting 18 min vid, worth a watch) about the "right to repair" issue going on in North America right now. There's no proof of that, but I wouldn't put it past Apple being that vindictive.

Australia is finally getting a national EV charger network along inter-city highways

Chargefox has announced its managed to get $15m of investment to build an ultra-fast electric car charging network along most of Australia's intercity highways. There will be 21 sites across Australia, spread around 200km apart, stretching from Adelaide through to Melbourne, up to Canberra, Sydney and to Brisbane, where it links up with the existing Queensland Electric Super Highway all the way to Cairns. There will be a few extra around Perth too. $1m of funding is from the Victorian state government, $6m from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and $8m from "Australian Motoring Services (aka NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAC, RAA and RACT), Wilson Transformers and founder of CarSales, Greg Roebuck". Very exciting! Now we just need the damn cars to plug in to these nice chargers.

Not News, But Still Cool

100 websites that shaped the internet as we know it

Gizmodo's made a list of "100 Websites That Shaped the Internet as We Know It", anticipating the 30th anniversary of the world wide web next year. I have found memories of some of these.

97. Goatse - who didn't love sending their unsuspecting mates to a picture of a man's gaping arsehole?

90. Stack Overflow - I'm not really a programmer, so this site never meant much to me, but I appreciate it's usefulness whenever I'm struggling to get some code going.

89. Something Awful - as a young adult, this website warped my developing brain way more than the modest amounts of alcohol I consumed. There will always be stairs in my house, and my heart.

76. Rotten - they blocked this site at school because some goose showed the teacher a pic of a dude who fell off a skyscraper.

67. GameFAQs - the site I would visit after throwing my Playstation controller across the room in frustration, only to find out the item I needed in the game was right in front of me the entire time.

56. Digg - spent so much time trying to get AppleTalk/MacTalk on the Digg front page. It happened a few time and always scored us plethora of new users.

44. Twitch - I still don't get Twitch, but I really love what Bajo is doing with his channel/stream/program. Old mate found a medium that's perfect for him.

42. GeoCities - as a kid I would make heaps of websites using Netscape Compose and upload them Geocities, full of links to my favourite websites or interesting things I found online. Which is basically The Sizzle, 20 years later.

35. DeviantArt - I made a few friends via sharing photos on DeviantArt that I still talk to today!

31. LiveJournal - I met my wife on LiveJournal. 100% not shitting you.

9th-gen Intel CPU benchmarks, fast but Ryzen's better value

Benchmark's of Intel's 9th-gen CPUs are out. Anandtech & Phoronix have the best write-ups, each with an extensive range of tests, particularly Phoronix's, which focus on Linux apps. My favourite indicator of CPU speed is HEVC video encoding and Javascript performance. I don't really do anything CPU intensive other than encode videos and surf the web, so these two tests tell me how likely I am to see the things I do happen faster/smoother. It looks like the i7-9700K ($659) and i9-9900K ($859) perform better than the Ryzen 7 2700X ($500) overall, but the bang for buck just isn't there. Sure, the Intel CPUs are a few percent better in tests, but at the overall price of an Intel platform rig vs. Ryzen, it's not really worth it.

Cheap 77" OLED, Hisense 50" TV, Ironwolf HDDs, Amazon Echo Plus & Hue bulb, AirPods, Xbox One X Red Dead & Forza Bundle, Note 8

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Filter - Hey Man Nice Shot