Issue 527

Thursday, 23rd November 2017

In This Issue


Victorian gambling regulator reckons loot boxes in videogames are gambling

The Victorian gambling regulator (VCGLR) responded to a query from a student who asked if loot boxes in video games are gambling. The regulator responded with, yes, yes they are. The main issue the VCGLR has with loot boxes are that they're something you pay for and the outcome is determined via a random number generator. It's really no different to a poker machine except that you're using a virtual currency instead of cash and it's on your computer instead of in an obnoxious room full of losers. The Belgian and Hawaiian governments are equally concerned with this unregulated form of gambling.

UK doubles down on EV incentives

The UK government has announced a raft of initiatives in their latest budget to get more electric cars on the road. The headline figure is a £400m "Charging Investment Infrastructure Fund", half of which is coming from the private sector, to roll out even more EV chargers across the UK. The quite generous £4,500 grant to buy an electric car will continue, with £100m put aside for funding it until 2020. An additional £40m will go into supporting R&D into improved charging methods. To get this cash, taxes on diesel cars will increase (yet oddly, will cancel planned increases in fuel taxes). What's most interesting to me is that a conservative government is leading the world in electric car support. Weird.

There's loads of incredibly disturbing child endangerment videos on YouTube

I consider myself lucky I had no idea about any of this, but there's heaps of creepy videos on YouTube where children are "restrained with ropes or tape and sometimes crying or in visible distress. In other videos, the children are kidnapped, or made to 'play doctor' with an adult. The videos frequently include gross-out themes like injections, eating feces, or needles." These videos get millions of views from what I assume are perverts, on "verified" channels, where YouTube would display ads and generate income. As typical for Google, not until Buzzfeed told YouTube about this, did they do anything about it.

Facebook to tell you if you saw Russian fake news & allow you to publish racially discriminating ads

Facebook's going to give users a way to find out if they followed or liked pages or accounts that it thinks are Russian propaganda. Dunno how this will be implemented, but they've made the announcement and that's all that really matters. Obviously, the only reason they're doing this is so it looks like they give a damn when the inevitable government regulation of their business comes along. Meanwhile, Facebook is still allowing real estate agents to advertise properties to specific ethnicities - (e.g: "don't show this ad to black people"), which technically, is illegal. Facebook said they were gonna stop this sorta thing earlier this year, but here we are.

FCC releases final draft of net neutrality repeal

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released the draft of how it plans to repeal net neutrality laws and needless to say, American nerds are really pissed off with it. One of the arguments the FCC is using to convince people this repeal is needed, is that Comcast (think of Telstra, but twice as evil) should have the right to block BitTorrent on its network. For every other issue people have with the repeal, the FCC reckons existing anti-trust law is plenty to avoid the abuse of large ISPs market share. To make it even more pathetic, the FCC will block individual states from passing their own laws in relation to net neutrality. The icing on the cake however, is the blatant ignoring of the 22 million comments received by the FCC about net neutrality before this final draft.

Not News, But Still Cool

Basic precautions for anyone worried the man is gonna get into your computer

The Tech Solidarity movement started by Pinboard creator Maciej Ceglowski has a solid list of things you can do if you're mildly paranoid about their digital stuff getting spied on by low end law enforcement, unethical competitors or shitstain partners. They're all very practical and relatively easy - like use an iPhone instead of Android, use a password manager, use Signal instead of SMS or iMessage, turn on full disk encryption and how to keep your data safe when travelling.

Home Assistant &, make a (relatively) easy home automation dashboard

I haven't checked it out personally, but for those of you into home automation, get yourself a Raspbery Pi, chuck on and you've got a whole house dashboard accessible via Home Assistant. Use a mish mash of smart device brands and devices (e.g: use Wemo gear with cheap Xiaomi stuff and even add HomeKit support) and bring them all together in the one spot, talking to each other thanks to all the plugins and stuff in Home Assistant. Here's a demo dashboard and here's a demo video. It kinda reminds me of Puppet or Ansible (getting deep in the nerd weeds here, sorry) but for home automation.

Former lead dev of Aperture made a photo editor for Mac & iOS

Are you a Mac user that misses Apple's Aperture? I have some good news - it's back, kinda. One of the lead developers of Aperture has released RAW Power, a plugin for Photos that works very much like Aperture did and uses the same RAW engine built in to macOS. There's RAW Power iOS apps too, so you can edit on your iPad or iPhone, then using iCloud Photo Library, bring those edits to your Mac and continue where you left off. I only found out RAW Power was developed by a former Apple employee because of this mention on dpreview.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!