The Sizzle

Issue 480 - Friday, 15th September 2017

Many of you will receive the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey by the time you read this. Please tick the YES box on that bastard and post it back to the government immediately. If you're undecided, there's one point I want to get across about why you should say Yes. Same sex couples simply don't have equal rights as straight couples in Australia. They are sadly treated like second class citizens. Ignore the religious and social fabric torn apart arguments - the fact is, civil unions and de facto arrangements lack the same rights under law and the same social status as marriage.

Consider these two examples:

A man ends up in hospital on life support and wants his organs donated, but his mum doesn't want that to happen. His male partner of 20 years has no say because the hospital isn't aware he's got a partner. If they were married, the mother would have less chance of interfering.

A woman dies but has no will so all her belongings end up with her prick of a brother instead of her long term partner, because the brother is next of kin by default. An expensive court case drags on to find out if the de facto relationship is legitimate. A marriage wouldn't have come under anywhere near as much scrutiny.

There's dozens of other reasons why gay people should get married, but at the very least, they should have the same rights as every other human in Australia and that's what changing the Marriage Act will achieve. You aren't against equal rights are ya?


Three woman suing Google because they were paid less than equivalent male employees
Three women are suing Google because they claim, and have evidence of, Google paying men more than women to do the same job. One of the plaintiffs, Kelly Ellis, makes the damning claim that when she was hired by Google out of college, she was paid as a level 3 employee, then not long after, dudes with the same skill level also out of college were hired but as level 4 employees. This means they were paid more and given extra opportunities (stock options, higher bonuses) that she wasn't, despite the same qualifications, same experience and almost the same time spent at Google. Why weren't those men hired as level 3 like she was? Pretty shitty stuff from Google - the Hacker News discussion on this doesn't seem to agree though.
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Facebook in hot water for allowing ads to be targeted towards anti-semites
Another day, another Facebook did something stupid controversy. ProPublica found out that Facebook let people buy ads targeted against the phrases "Jew hater", "how to burn jews" or "history of why jews ruin the world". Soon as ProPublica told Facebook, those audience segments were removed and an anonymous algorithm that generates such segments was blamed. In addition to those, segments like "hitler did nothing wrong" and "nazi party" are other groups you can target. As awful as it sounds, maybe it can be used for good, like targeting some articles to these people that might temper or influence their garbage sentiments?
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Govt wants ISPs and content owners to make an anti-piracy code
The government wants carriage service providers (aka ISPs) to come up with a code of conduct when it comes to handling people downloading pirate copyrighted content. The media industry wanted a 3-strike rule, but neither the ISPs or media industry wanted to pay for it, so that fizzled out. This new proposed code is designed to restart the debate. Dunno what the likely outcome of this will be, but the main things the governments wants out of code of conduct is that it's cheap so ISPs will do it and is draconian enough to satisfy the media industry's desire to electrocute pirates via the internet. Which if it was a thing, they would be doing already.
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Advertisers super pissed off with Apple's upcoming web tracking prevention feature
Practically every digital marketing and advertising group has come out today and said "Apple, you fucken mongrels, why are you making it so hard for us to follow your high value users across the web?!". In the upcoming versions of macOS and iOS, Apple has introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention, that "uses machine learning algorithms to identify tracking behaviour on the company’s Safari browser, like the presence of persistent cookies from third-party ad networks, and imposes a strict 24-hour time limit on those tracking tools lifespans". According to the trade groups, this is "bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love" - cry me a river you scumbags.
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Cryptocurrency no longer doubled taxed in Australia
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will no longer be doubled taxed in Australia. GST will no longer be charged on "purchases of digital currency, allowing it to be treated the same way as physical money for GST purposes". You still owe capital gains tax when you sell the cryptocurrency, but at least you don't pay 10% every time you buy some. While we're on the topic of Bitcoin, the price has dropped 30% since the start of September, as one of the biggest Chinese exchanges, BTCChina, announced it's closing as part of China's crackdown on cryptocoins. The NYT has a glorious essay filled with photos of Chinese Bitcoin mines.
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Excellent basic info on how encrypted messaging services work
The ABC has a great encrypted messaging explainer. With governments all over the world (including ours) super keen to get encrypted messaging "under control", it's important to know how it works and why government attempts to stick their nose in will probably do more harm than good. As the article go through the steps required for an encrypted message to be sent, you're interrupted with ways the government can get their hands on the message. A must read if you're unfamiliar with the topic.
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Is FaceID any better than TouchID? (probably)
After Apple announced FaceID, many people were like "wtf, this is less secure than TouchID!", even a US senator asked Apple what the go is. If you're after a solid take on the situation from someone that knows what they're talking about - read Troy Hunt's opinion on FaceID. Basically, FaceID is just one layer of security - nothing is foolproof. You need to assess what are likely the risks to your situation and plan accordingly. For the vast majority of people, FaceID will actually be a step up from TouchID, as it appears (so far, with nobody having independently reviewed the iPhone X) it's more reliable, easier to use and harder to fool.
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Lenovo accidentally shows off a retro Thinkpad
Lenovo may be making a retro Thinkpad! This leaked image was found by someone on Reddit, who saw it on a Lenovo website as part of a partner promotion. It's been removed since it went public, but there's been hints of Lenovo doing this - they've dropped a few surveys asking what people would like in such a machine and its getting close to the 25th anniversary of the first Thinkpad. I own a Thinkpad T430s and I gotta say, there's a wonderful utilitarian charm to it - it's also cheap as hell, hence why I own one. Dunno if I'd buy a retro Thinkpad, as I suffer Apple Stockholm Syndrome, but it looks cool. Look at that giant ESC key!
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Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday and remember fill in that damn survey with a tick in the Yes box!)

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