Issue 811

Thursday, 7th February 2019

In This Issue


Spotify swoops up podcasting studio Gimlet & podcasting app Anchor

Spotify has made it public knowledge that they've purchased podcasting startup darling Gimlet Media and DIY podcasting app Anchor. They didn't say for how much, but rumor is Gimlet went for ~US$230m. Spotify also hasn't given away how they plan to incorporate the purchase of Gimlet into their platform, but Spotify's CEO chucked up a blog post explaining how Spotify's future is more than just music, but all audio and podcasts are gonna be a big part of that. I imagine Spotify will algorithmically insert ads into podcasts and if you want them gone, pay for Premium. I really like the Reply All podcast Gimlet produces, so hopefully they don't make me shell out for Spotify Premium, or restrict their podcast to Spotify only. That would be kinda shit.

The ACCC calls out FTTN as the slowest form of NBN

The ACCC's latest broadband performance report has found that FTTN connections are the most likely to deliver advertised speeds. Meanwhile, the Pope shits in the woods and the sky is blue. What's interesting however, is the ACCC suggesting that "with further work, many more FTTN customers could expect to see similar speeds on their current plans as customers on other NBN technologies". Which might be true, but as we all know, that leaves FTTN pretty much at the performance it is now, forever. The only upgrade path is putting more fibre cables in the ground (FTTC, FTTP), so we should do that!

Facebook's gonna give us more details about why we see certain ads

Facebook is going to add more detail around why you're seeing certain ads in your feed - "Starting February 28th, Facebook's "Why am I seeing this?"" button in the drop-down menu of feed posts will reveal more than the brand that paid for the ad, some biographical details they targeted and if they’d uploaded your contact info. Facebook will start to show when your contact info was uploaded, if it was by the brand or one of their agency/developer partners and when access was shared between partners". I guess this is Facebook's way of saying "we aren't the evil ones, it's actually our customers, the advertisers! Not us!!"

Nasty macOS keychain vulnerability made public as a protest over Apple's lack of bug bounty

Linuz Henze has found a pretty big bug in macOS that's lead to an exploit that can open a user's Keychain and expose all their passwords. It's called KeySteal and the embedded demo video makes it look pretty easy if you're able to get your hands on a Mac with the user logged in. Normally a vulnerability this large is kept quiet and reported to the vendor (Apple in this case), so they can fix it before the naughty hackers start using it. But with KeySteal, Linuz made it public before telling Apple because he is pissed off with Apple's lack of a bug bounty for macOS, despite there being one for iOS. He rightfully argues that finding these bugs in macOS are time consuming and it's only fair he get paid for them, just like on iOS.

Analytics scripts operating in iOS and Android apps without user consent are rampant

This kinda stuff probably isn't as shocking as it once was, but TechCrunch has revealed that many popular airline, hotel, and retail apps are using a service called Glassbox that "records every action you take within the app, as well as taking screenshots along the way". If that wasn't creepy enough, none of those apps are disclosing Glassbox's use in any privacy policies or public documents, and neither have these apps received consent from users to have all their interactions with the app recorded and warehoused. Some of the apps mentioned in TechCrunch's report are Air Canada, Singapore Airlines,, Expedia and dozens of others. Sounds like a thing that only happens on Android phones, but nope, Glassbox is on iOS too.

Not News, But Still Cool

Do people still collect MIDI files? BitMidi has loads

MIDIs! Who remembers downloading hundreds of these files over dialup and backing them up on floppy disks to use on their mobile phone as ring tones, then trying every, single, tone, throughout the entirety of your year 11 Maths Methods class? I do, and maybe the folk at BitMidi do too, as they've assembled a giant collection of MIDI files that you can use for... I dunno why you'd want a MIDI file in 2019, but hey, there's over 113,000 of them at BitMIDI. Enjoy!

The SGI Onyx RealityEngine² was a quarter million dollar 3D beast back in the 90s

While we are in nostalgia land, check out this video of a Silicon Graphics Onyx RealityEngine² up on YouTube. In 1993 it was the shit, with a price tag of over US$250,000. This bar fridge sized "graphics super computer" was used for real-time 3D graphics rendering which back in the early 90s, was unheard of. It contained a bunch of custom made MIPS based CPUs (not ARM, not x86, not PPC), up to 16GB of RAM and a beast-mode graphics subsystem called Reality Engine 2 that ran SGI's IRIX, a MIPS compatible variant of UNIX. The video is really well done and explains how cool this computer was back in the day.

Stuff I found on AliExpress

No bargains worth bothering with today, so here's some more interesting stuff I've seen on AliExpress:

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

 Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! - The Mint Chicks