Issue 788

Tuesday, 18th December 2018

In This Issue


Google's Chinese search engine put back on hold

That whole Google Dragonfly, Chinese search engine thing? It's been put on the backburner according to a new report from The Intercept. Apparently Google ran a honeypot website in China called that would re-direct all search results to Baidu, but the actual search queries would be sent to Google for analysis. Google used this data to get an idea of what would be blocked if they operated in China. Once Google's internal privacy team found out about this massive ethics breach, they confronted the Dragonfly team and they stopped using This has stalled work on the project and when combined with the strong "ugh, I don't want to work for someone that gives in to government censorship" reaction from Google's employees and the US government asking questions, Dragonfly isn't as popular with upper management as it used to be.

ALP talk up how they plan to investigate algorithms and boost Aussie AI research

The ALP has wheeled out Ed Husic to talk about some AI-related stuff they plan to do if they form government next year. He said the ALP will "sharpen the focus on AI application in Australia" by creating a "National Centre of AI Excellence to help develop ethical AI frameworks and usher in the nation's first AI industry accelerator" because "Australia is lagging on AI investment". The ALP also want to implement a program to "track how privately devised and managed algorithms impact on the income and prices generated on digital platforms, including ride sharing and food delivery, to help prevent exploitation and worsening inequality". Can't wait to see the 400 page report saying "enforce minimum wages and jail the crooks not doing so" only to have it ignored and the ALP vote with the Libs on a law that does the opposite.

Germany sees no reason to ban Huawei

Germany has bucked the trend of western countries ditching Huawei gear, with the boss of their Federal Office for Information Security (or in German, Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik) saying that "for such serious decisions like a ban, you need proof" and Germany hasn't got that proof, so it won't ban Huawei. The BSI has inspected Huawei equipment and Huawei opened a lab in Bonn for German businesses to inspect their gear too (like what the UK has done) and that's apparently enough for the Germans. Yet Australia, NZ, USA, Japan and a few others aren't taking the risk. In my irrelevant opinion, seeing as Chinese law forces companies to co-operate with intelligence agencies, it's reasonable to assume Huawei would assist with whatever vague thing the government tells them to, even if there's no proof of it having been done. If that potential is a problem for you, then don't use Huawei gear.

Federal government to spend $17m on a children's e-safety campaign

The federal government has launched a $17m "Keeping our Children Safe Online" imitative that will develop "an education campaign for all parents and new educational resources for parents and carers of children under 5 years old, in recognition of the fact that it is never too early to start teaching good online safety habits". It'll work with the existing eSafety Commissioner to develop an "Online Safety Charter" to "outline the Government’s expectations for industry in relation to protecting children online" so businesses that interact with kiddies online have something to refer to when their personal ethics are too shallow to tell them what to do. The government expects the fruits of this $17m spend to appear mid-2019

NBN to offer slightly faster fixed wireless speed tiers

NBN is going to offer a new speed tier on their fixed wireless service some time in 2020 with the introduction of a 60/20 speed tier at the same price as the existing 50/20 tier. It also plans to introduce 75/10 at some point in the future, but didn't say when that'll happen. This extra capacity has come from a re-jig of spectrum due to new ACMA rules in the 3.4GHz to 3.6GHz bands that NBN uses for fixed wireless. 60/20 is nice, but it's a far cry from the 100mbit service fixed wireless was supposed to offer back when NBN first launched it and for the quarter of fixed wireless NBN users that can barely get over 12mbit due to congested towers NBN has no plans to upgrade. It's one thing for the spectrum to handle 60/20, but if the backhaul sucks, what's the point?

Not News, But Still Cool

Running Spotify on a Mac SE/30

A deadset legend (called Ants, from Melbourne - it's not me) has posted on the 68k Macintosh Liberation Army forum details of their Mac SE/30 acting as a front end for Spotify Connect. They made an app called MacPlayer that runs on the SE/30 to ping Spotify's API to play music to a pair of internet connected speakers that have Spotify support (the music doesn't come out of the SE/30's headphone port). It displays album cover art in all its 1-bit glory, supports playlists and even volume control. Ants even developed a way for the OAuth flow to work without a modern browser and ported a Unix library to convert "modern" UTF-8 encoded text into the MacRoman format System 7 supports. Very, very cool.

Some fine citizens of Phoenix are attacking Waymo cars

Over the last 2 years, police have recorded 21 road rage incidents in Phoenix where Waymo cars have been harassed by frustrated drivers. People are throwing rocks, slashing tyres, yelling, ramming their cars into and as we are in the USA, shooting (yes shooting) the autonomous vehicles. Police reckon most of the attackers "hold a grudge against the company" as part of a greater dislike of Google and the techno-dystopia it stands for. Google is reluctant to press charges against any of these people as they're probably reluctant to be aggressive while the technology is still fresh. My favourite anecdote is a drunk dude who stood in front of a Waymo car, following it around, which incapacitated the car as it's programmed not to drive when a person is in front of it, haha. Drunk man 1 - Waymo 0.

Cheap Google Play credit, bonus Google Home Mini from Telstra, 3TB external HDD, Nintendo Switch, Samsung Gear S3, Panasonic DAB radio

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

 Beck - Mixed Bizness