Issue 1259 - Friday 27th November, 2020

I was on today's episode of The Helpdesk, filling in for Pete's usual side-kick Tess. It's kinda like The Sizzle, but in audio form and not as angry with the world. Give it a shot if you prefer to listen to your tech news instead of reading it. I'll be on Monday's episode too!

In Today's Issue

The News

France to tax digital services & UK to create dedicated regulator for digital platforms

France has decided to apply a "3% levy on revenue from digital services earned in France by companies with revenues of more than 25m euros locally and 750m euros worldwide". Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and so on will have to cough up if they want to operate in France. Over in the UK, they're going to create a dedicated group within its equivalent of the ACCC, the Competition and Markets Authority, called the Digital Markets Unit. It will come up with a code of conduct for "platforms funded by digital advertising", mostly around handling of data and promoting competition, and will be given the power to enforce that code. It'll be up and running by April 2021.

Australian government wants Netflix & other streaming services to fund local productions

A government Green Paper has floated the idea of streaming video companies operating in Australia (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Stan) having to invest in Australian made content. A 2017 proposal put this at 10% of the revenue they make here. Netflix has 12 million subscribers in Australia, so if each subscriber generates ~$9/m in revenue, that's around $120m-$130m/yr for local productions. Is that big? It sounds big to me, and that's just Netflix. Considering the shrinking viewership of FTA TV, it makes sense some sort of Aussie-content quota was added to streaming services. Without it there's a good chance Australian content will be forgotten and our culture (make of it what you will, but I love Australian TV shows and movies) might be forgotten with it and US culture will further warp our minds.

Microsoft 365's productivity score tracks and reports use to your boss, is very bad

Wolfie Christl has reminded the community at large about the productivity score feature in Microsoft 365, that he reckons turns it into a "full-fledged workplace surveillance tool". Microsoft collects data about your use of Office (73 data points to be precise) and allows managers to drill down to each employee's stats and see if they're hitting their productivity targets. It's turned on by default, measuring things like "how many emails sent, documents collaborated on, Yammer questions asked and answered, Teams messages, mentions and posts you’ve made". As Cam Wilson points out, this bullshit "could lead to perverse incentives where workers spend time appearing to be busy, rather than actually being productive". Not to mention the entire thing just being creepy as hell.

Something I Saw On The Internet

Bring back Microsoft's FrontPage website maker app for 2020!

InvisibleUp takes a trip down memory lane with Microsoft's FrontPage website building software, making a solid argument for why a modern equivalent should return. Sure, we have Squarespace, Wix or Webflow, but if one of those businesses decides to change course, gets acquired or goes bankrupt, your little website which was working just fine until then, will be fucked around. By disconnecting the creation and maintenance of the site with where it is hosted, you can avoid that and have more control over your own website. Also it would just be cool to have more people making their own little corners of the internet again, instead of sucking at the social media teat.


The End

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