In This Issue


Services Australia takes over from DHS for delivering digital government services

The federal government has renamed the Department of Human Services as Services Australia - an attempt to centralise a large chunk of federal government IT operations to create a one-stop-shop for all "customer facing" government interactions and to handle "whole-of-government" ICT procurement. The Digital Transformation Agency has also been subsumed into Services Australia. The federal government is basing it off Service NSW, which in government circles is seen as a technological success (dunno what the people of NSW reckon though) and by consolidating all the customer facing IT systems into one department, should save money. The Mandarin has more information on what Services Australia will do.

Huawei no longer allowed to peer-review IEEE papers prior to publication

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has banned Huawei scientists from peer-reviewing technical papers before they've been published in an IEEE journal, pissing off a lot of Chinese researchers. Then Huawei said they're gonna sue the US government, saying the law that was used to add Huawei to the national security shitlist is unconstitutional. The US Secretary of State has doubled down on their actions, saying that "Huawei is an instrument of the Chinese government" and that "they’re deeply connected. It's something that's hard for Americans to understand". This is gonna be a long ride, folks.

The North Face abuses Wikipedia to boost their SEO

Leo Burnett Tailor Made - an ad agency employed by the adventure clothing/lifestyle brand The North Face - has been outed by Wikimedia for abusing the Google rankings of Wikipedia articles to promote their brand. The ad agency would replace the images in Wikipedia articles about national parks with photos they took that have North Face products in them. When people searched Google for these places the first result in is more often than not an image from Wikipedia or a link to the Wikipedia article this ad agency defaced. Pretty gross to do this to a public good like Wikipedia, but what do you expect from those grubs in the advertising industry?

Google to go ahead with neutering ad-blockers in Chrome

While we're talking about the ad industry, Google has decided to stick with its plan to effectively ban ad blockers in its Chrome web browser. Ad blockers aren't necessarily banned from the Chrome Store, but the APIs that make them work within Chrome have been made so weak, ad blockers are basically useless. Enterprise users will be able to access this API, but not regular plebs like us. Honestly, I'm not surprised. Ad blocking is the antithesis of Google's entire business model - of course they're not gonna make it easy to block ads. Use Firefox, install uBlock Origin and run Pi-Hole.

Twitter conducts research program to find out if banning Nazis is good or bad

Twitter has said it's going to start some research to find out if keeping racists on their platform is a good way to engage with them and try get them to stop being racists, as opposed to just banning them outright. First of all, Twitter is only going to start doing this research now? What took them so long?! Second, is this just another tactic to avoid the wrath of conservative users that'll piss blood if they're algorithmically banned, because their ideas align too closely to white nationalists and it's difficult to tell the two groups apart?

Not News, But Still Cool

Bose has new noise cancelling headphones

The venerable Bose QC35 II are being superseded (but not replaced) by the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which will be Bose's flagship noise cancelling headphones. Bose reckon it's got the best noise cancellation they've ever done, with 4 mics and superior voice isolation. The NCH-700s also incorporate the Bose AR platform for audio augmented reality ("you just look at landmarks around you while wearing your Bose headphones, and compatible apps will tell you about them, or you'll get context-specific directions like, "Turn left at the McDonald's"). These will cost US$400 (so almost $600 here) and come out in the last week of June.

Is it ok to sack someone who get sucked in by too many phishing attempts?

Here's an interesting thought experiment - if you failed phishing tests at work on multiple occasions, should you be sacked? Technically your carelessness is exposing the business to getting hacked, which could be a disaster financially and to their reputation. But even I've been sucked in once or twice by a convincing phishing email, when done right they're incredibly difficult to detect. Is it too draconian to terminate someone's employment (who you assume is an otherwise adequate employee) because they clicked a link an an email?

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😁 The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers.

The Sizzle is created on Wathaurong land and acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, recognising their continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay my respect to them and their cultures, and to elders both past and present.​