Issue 755

Tuesday, 30th October 2018

In This Issue


ASD boss gives insight into why he recommended banning the Chinese from 5G rollout

Mike Burgess, the director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate, has given a speech where he explained a little more about why the ASD told the government to ban Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE from participating in the rollout of 5G networks in Australia. He said that, "my advice was to exclude high risk vendors from the entirety of 5G networks" because "a potential threat anywhere in the network is a threat to the whole network". The decision to give this advice to government was "supported by technical advice from our agency" and is "about more than just protecting the confidentiality of our information — it is also about integrity and availability of the data and systems that we rely on in our everyday lives". Simply put, 5G will be so integrated with other infrastructure, it's too risky to have Chinese companies involved, as if shit ever hits the fan, we'll be caught with our pants down.

Telling Julian Assange to pay his internet bill & clean up after his cat does not violate his human rights

An Ecuadorian judge has said that "stricter rules imposed on him - requiring him to clean up after his cat and pay for his internet bills - do not violate his human rights". Julian reckons these rules imposed on his continued asylum, like staying clear of political topics online, paying for laundry services and looking after his cat (the Ecuadorians really hate this cat don't they?) are ways Ecuador's new government is trying to force him out. Considering he's been holed up in their London embassy since 2012, avoiding extradition to Sweden (and hence, the USA) over rape charges that have since been dropped, I can't say I blame them. Is Julian really at such a risk these days that coming home to Australia is out of the question?

The UK is gonna tax "online firms" to curb tax evasion via offshoring profits

In an attempt to reign in tech companies evading paying tax on profit earned locally, the UK is introducing a Digital Services Tax. It'll be a 2% tax, introduced in 2020, "on online firms that make more than £500m a year globally", against "revenue from search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces" and is projected to raise "more than £400m a year". The tax is still in development, so it's unclear how exactly it would be applied and how they're going to specifically target "online firms". Good on em for trying though, the off-shoring of profits and hence, taxation, but all multi-national companies, not just tech ones, is a huge problem, but fucked if I know how to solve it.

The OnePlus 6T announced, new OnePlus flagship device

OnePlus has announced an update to their flagship OnePlus 6 smartphone - the 6T. It's not a massive update from the previous device, with the main changes the snuffing out of the 3.5mm headphone socket, a slightly bigger battery, a larger edge-to-edge screen and interestingly, an under-screen fingerprint reader. Some other phones have it, but OnePlus has made it the only fingerprint reader available, there isn't one on the rear. They reckon this makes it the fastest device to unlock, at 0.34 seconds. The 6T will start at US$549, so you could get one shipped from China for just under $800. Not bad for a big screen state of the art smartphone. That's a solid $550 less than the Pixel 3 XL and $650 less than the Note 9.

Vision Australia, Amazon & VoiceFoundry make call-centre software friendly for vision impaired people

Look, it's some mildly inspiring news! Vision Australia has worked with VoiceFoundry and Amazon to upgrade their call-centre software to meet the needs of vision impaired staff. "The Accessible Agent Desktop is integrated with Amazon's Contact Control Panel, which has the ability to interface with Job Access with Speech (JAWS) screen reading technology. It also features screen magnification capabilities, shortcuts, and interfaces to Salesforce and Active Directory to manage operations on clients’ accounts. Client information from those databases will now be read aloud to agents as a call comes in, saving the agent from having to locate and search through each database separately in order to handle an operation". VoiceFoundry is even planning to add this sorta stuff as a regular feature, so other call centers can employ more visually impaired people.

Not News, But Still Cool

RED's fancy hologram screen smartphone is a dud

Camera company RED teased months ago that they're going to release a smartphone with a holographic display and now the finished product is in the hands of The Verge, Android Police and other reviewers. The consensus appears to be that it is a bad device. The 3D autostereoscopic display is a gimmick that only a handful of games and movies use and isn't that impressive anyways. What really blows is that when used in normal 2D mode has "a tiny grid of dots visible at all times — especially so on white backgrounds". Yuck. The Hydrogen One is also expensive (US$1300!), uses an old SoC (Snapdragon 835), is massive considering the screen size and the modular accessory port has no accessories to attach.

Bing is still displaying dodgy ads that trick users into downloading malware instead of Chrome

The first thing most people do when setting up a fresh Windows 10 PC is install a different browser besides Edge. To do that, most people type "download Chrome" into Edge's search bar, which uses Bing. The first result in Bing (and above the fold on most devices), below Microsoft's pathetic begging that you should keep using Edge, is a link to download Chrome. But that link is actually malware put there via a dodgy ad! I can't believe after all these years, this is still happening. Unless you're relatively savvy, how would you know that's not a proper Google link? To make matters worse that link isn't detected by Edge as a "deceptive site", like it is in other browsers. It's almost as if Microsoft don't give a shit and want to make other browsers look bad? Hmmm, nah, Microsoft would never do that!

Buy $49 shitphone from Telstra, get a free Google Home Mini & cheap Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones

If you buy a Telstra Essential Plus 4G smartphone for $49, Telstra is throwing in a free Google Home Mini. Pretty sweet deal if you were gonna buy a Google Home Mini on its own for around the same price anyways. Addicted to Audio has the Sony WH-1000XM3 noise canceling headphones for just $356.40 if you're an eBay Plus member and use the code PLUSME. I don't even bother recommending the Bose headphones anymore, the Sony cans are superior according to all the reviews I've read.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

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