Issue 784

Wednesday, 12th December 2018

In This Issue


Sundar Pichai defends Google from claims of bias in front of US govt committee

Google CEO Sundar Pichai got up in front of the House Judiciary Committee and was peppered with questions from politicians trying to figure out if Google has political bias. There was no meltdown or gotchas for people to make memes over, so that counts as a win for Google I guess. Many of the reports and anecdotes the politicians tried to use to prove their point of Google's bias are kinda bullshit, or they misunderstood the issue entirely. Sundar was asked why when you search Google images for "idiot", photos of Trump appear and he explained, at a basic level, how their algorithm works and that it isn't some dude at Google making it happen for shits and giggles. The only iffy bit would really be surrounding Google's plans to roll out their search engine in China. When asked by the committee if Google's planning that, Sundar said it's an "internal effort", "limited in scope" and refused to deny it.

Adelaide will be home to the Australian Space Agency HQ

Adelaide has been chosen as the headquarters of the Australian Space Agency. All the states have been lobbying the federal government for the HQ to be in their jurisdiction, but it'll be at Lot Fourteen at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site and will employ about 20 people around mid-2019. South Australia was chosen over the others because it already has a strong space industry, with 60 related businesses that employ 800 people. Plus there's the legacy of Australia's only astronaut Dr Andy Thomas over at the University of Adelaide and the Woomera rocket launching site. Plus a little pork barreling for a state that needs an economic boost as it missed out on the property sugar rush of the east coast states.

Supermicro's independent audit finds no spy gear in its products

Remember that Bloomberg story about Chinese state sponsored hackers infiltrating the supply chain of Supermicro mainboards and installing secret spy chips on them? Supermicro's completed an audit and said that they found nothing malicious. I mean, cool, but, you'd say that, wouldn't you? If you were tied up in an elaborate spy game between China and the USA, would you really be allowed to put out a message saying "oh yeah we got owned, hard, oops"? That said, the story has been quite thoroughly debunked by experts, although Bloomberg are still standing by it and theoretically, it's totally possible.

Verizon lost a lot of money buying AOL & Yahoo

This probably surprises no-one, but Oath, the advertising/content arm of Verizon that subsumed Yahoo last year, has had a massive write-down in its valuation. Previously worth around US$4.8, Oath is now valued at US$200m, a fraction of what it used to be. Oath purchased AOL (Huffington Post & dozens of other blogs) for US$4.4b in 2015 and Yahoo for US$4.5b in 2017. They've spent all that money for it to be worth only $200m now. That's basically worthless. Verizon blames Facebook, Google and Amazon for sucking up the online advertising market, leaving nothing for Oath's properties. Or it could be that they're all mostly junk food content with no value.

Libs keen to ignore ALP's amendments to Assistance and Access Bill

You know how the ALP justified passing the Assistance and Access Bill, despite knowing it's a turd, by saying that they're gonna push for amendments next year? Yeah, well, the Libs are telling the ALP to piss off with their amendments haha, these fucking idiots. 1Password has put out a blog post in response to customer questions about if they'd have to comply with the law. Their takeaway is that they don't really know, but if they did, their workflow would probably make it obvious if someone suck a backdoor in. Stilgherrian has gone through the passed Assistance and Access Bill to see what's going on. He's not a lawyer, it's the best attempt I've seen to try and explain what's actually in the bill.

Not News, But Still Cool

Melb meetup for individuals concerned about the Assistance & Access Bill

Typehuman is organising a get together of Melbournians concerned about the Assistance and Acccess Bill (which is now an Act), with a panel discussion between Sarah Moran from Girl Geek Academy, Peter Tonoli from the EFA, Eliza Sorensen (hey I know her) from Assembly Four, Terence Huynh the creator of the ALP Fail website and Nick Byrne from Typehuman. I don't know what will go on besides everyone having a nice cathartic venting session, but hopefully it will lead to some things people can focus on to at least limit the scope of the Act.

A nice story about people emailing their favourite trees

A few years ago, the Melbourne City Council set up email addresses for every single one of the 70,000 trees it looks after in parks and streets. The aim was to allow the general public an easy way to inform the council that a tree isn't doing well, so the council can check it out. That happened, but at the same time, people just emailed the trees for no reason - just to chat, to ask it questions, to make friends. The ABC has collected a few of the adorable emails and published them alongside an image of the tree. There's many days where I want to throw my computer out the window but thanks to this diamond in the rough, today isn't one of them.

Cheap GoPro accessories, PSVR Mega Bundle, Xiaomi power bank, Ultimate Ears Blast, Dell XPS 15, EA Origin & PS4 games

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

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