Issue 822

Friday, 22nd February 2019

In This Issue


Pinterest starts to aggressively block anti-vaxx material appearing on their platform

Unlike its peers, Pinterest has found a spine and blocked all content from known anti-vaccination disinformation peddling websites. When a user tries to pin a link from sites like, or, they get an "invalid parameters error". They've also created a "hash bank", of known anti-vaccination memes that users have reported, so if someone tries to post such an image that has a hash that matches a known meme, the upload fails and the bullshit stops spreading. Hollyyy shit imagine if Facebook and Twitter did this, how much better those places would be! Nice work Pinterest.

Google "forgot" to mention that its Nest Hub had a built-in microphone

When the Nest Hub went on sale it didn't list a mic in the specs and didn't have any features that used a mic. But a few days ago Google released a software update that enabled Google Assistant on the Nest Hub so you can talk to it like the other Google Home gear. The Nest Hub wasn't sold in Australia, but Americans were pretty surprised to find out that this thing sitting in the middle of their homes contained a secret microphone! Google said "the on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech spec" and that "the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option". I can believe Google here, but still, read the room, geez.

EU Copyright Directive looks set to pass in a few weeks, nasty stuff included

I may have spoke too when reporting that the European Copyright Directive was dead in the water last week. After some backroom negotiations, a bunch of countries have got together and said they're okay with the Directive now and will vote for it in March or April, depending on the European Parliament's schedule. The official text of the Directive is still unreleased, but the bad stuff nobody really wants (Article 13 - upload filter and Article 11 - link tax) is probably still in there as if it was taken out someone would have complained. It's really going to be interesting to see how websites handle the upload filter as even Google and its Content ID system on YouTube is garbage, mis-identifying heaps of stuff.

NBN supplier NetComm purchased by US company & 2nd NBN subcontractor hit with class action

Two bits of indirect NBN news - NetComm, an Australian company that supplies NBN (and others) with hardware like the fixed wireless NTDs and FTTC DPUs has been purchased by US company Casa Systems for $161m. Kinda sucks that a company that designed and engineered electronics in Australia for so long is now owned by Yanks but it's hard to refuse an all cash offer of more than 50% over your current valuation. The other NBN news is that BSA, a major subcontractor for NBN installs (and Foxtel), is about to be hit with a class action lawsuit over sham contracting just like Tandem was last year.

Botched firmware update bricks Nike Adapt BB smart shoes for Android users

Nike has a new pair of fancy runners called "Adapt BB" that can lace themselves and come with an app that "lets you adjust the tightness of the laces, customize the lights (yeah, there are lights), and see, uh, how much battery life your shoes have left" - sounds cool until you grab your Android phone, do a firmware update that bricks your shoes and you can't lace them up, making them unwearable! People are jumping on the Play Store leaving 1-star reviews for Nike's app saying "my left shoe won't even reboot", hahaha. The fix for now is "a hard reset, which involves holding down sneakers' two buttons". Doing a hard reset on ya shoes, what a time to be alive.

Not News, But Still Cool

Stephen Wolfram's personal infrastructure blog post is a wild ride of nerdery

Stephen Wolfram (Wolfram Alpha, Mathematica) wrote about his "personal infrastructure" - a detailed look at the stuff he uses to get shit done. Just some of the highlights of this delightfully nerdy bloke include 15 years of a treadmill desk, a little fold out section of his desk for food, a rig he straps to himself so he can walk outside and use a laptop, clear envelopes for storing cables in, goofy anti-car sickness glasses that help him work whilst someone's driving him around, a video studio in his basement for video conferencing, an EDID spoofer so his laptop always connects to a projector and the masterpiece - a massive personal database of everything he's ever written including stuff from when he was in primary school, as well as every keystroke he's ever made, people he's met, books he has read and more, all with backups, archival and searching. Stephen operates on a different level than us.

WireGuard VPN client for macOS is out, give it a crack and let me know how you go

There's now an official WireGuard client for macOS on the Mac App Store, joining the iOS client that's been on the iOS App Store since December. Perfect Privacy has a nice article outlining the pros and cons of this new VPN protocol. It's supposed to be a faster, more secure and reliable VPN protocol than OpenVPN or IPsec. I particularly like how WireGuard is designed to not leave any logs, so its harder for someone to track you down if they get access to the VPN server. I haven't used it myself yet (most of my VPN needs are on Windows, not Mac), but if you want to give it a shot, here's a guide for setting up your own server on Ubuntu that you can run on a cheap VPS. Doesn't look that hard if you're familiar with the command line.

Cheap DJI Osmo Pocket, Sydney-hosted VPS, Star Wars Lego, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, Samsung 860 QVO SSD

  • One of those cool as hell DJI Osmo Pocket handheld gimbal cameras is $508 using the code PUPGRADE. I wish I had a use for this camera, but my life isn't exciting enough to warrant dropping $500.
  • Down Under Host has a $42 a year VPS with unlimited bandwidth, hosted in Sydney, with 2GB of storage. Perfect to run a VPN on I reckon.
  • Not particularly techy, but nerdy enough to warrant mentioning - $964.96 for a Lego Millennium Falcon (fucken huge unit) and $564.96 for a Lego Death Star (merely a large unit), both from Myer.
  • Cameras Direct has the DJI Mavic 2 Pro for $2168 - good price for local warranty, tax receipt for TRS & support. You could take some beautiful images with this.
  • Samsung 860 QVO 1TB 2.5" SSD for $159.20 delivered using the code PUPGRADE. This SSD uses different NAND (QLC vs TLC or MLC) to get the price down, here's an Anandtech review. Not as fast as the 860 EVO, but hey, it's cheap.

That's it, see ya Monday!

 S.O.F.T. - Elastica