Apple rewrote Siri to dodge questions about feminism and #MeToo


The irony of the situation is that in its attempt to avoid conflict, Apple is likely to upset people for not taking a stance. Attempting to be neutral is a political stance. It's a decision to not engage with issues that have a material effect on people's day-to-day lives.

Incorrect. This is not a political stance, but a practical one. A digital assistant needn’t have opinions, push agendas, or focus on the needs of any particular group. Machines are not human. Let’s remember that and instead use them for what they’re good for.

Buying a Chromebook? Don't forget to check that best-before date


It is unlikely to be printed on the box, but every Chromebook has an "Auto Update Expiration (AUE) Date" after which the operating system is unsupported by Google. […] The authoritative document on the subject is here, where Google explains that it "provides each new hardware platform with 6.5 years of Auto Update support". While 6.5 years sounds reasonable, Google starts the clock ticking "when the first device on the platform is released". The exact definition of a "hardware platform" is not provided, but it presumably relates to the motherboard used. Later models may use the same hardware platform, which means they are not supported for as long. It is nothing to do with the purchase date.

This is unfortunate in so many ways.

Fast Software, the Best Software


Software that’s speedy usually means it’s focused. Like a good tool, it often means that it’s simple, but that’s not necessarily true. Speed in software is probably the most valuable, least valued asset. To me, speedy software is the difference between an application smoothly integrating into your life, and one called upon with great reluctance. Fastness in software is like great margins in a book — makes you smile without necessarily knowing why.

Ain’t that the truth. I’ve moved away from a lot of software because of its lag and bloat. Excel on the Mac is the absolute worst, particularly when working with East Asian languages …

Office 365 declared illegal in German schools due to privacy risks


What is true for Microsoft is also true for the Google and Apple cloud solutions. The cloud solutions of these providers have so far not been transparent and comprehensibly set out. Therefore, it is also true that for schools the privacy-compliant use is currently not possible.

— Hessian commissioner of Data Protection and Freedom of Information

This is interesting, as my employer has just invested a whole year and a bunch of cash moving us onto O365, primarily because of Germany and the complicated set of rules surrounding privacy. As an educational institution, I wonder if this will affect our architectural decisions … 🤔

Capuchin monkeys have a 3,000-year archaeological record


Bearded capuchin monkeys are more versatile tool-users than chimpanzees. They select rocks of the right sizes and shapes for a variety of tasks, from digging to cracking open a range of nuts and seeds (each has its own size and weight specifications for the perfect cracking tool).

This is downright fascinating. It would be interesting if, in a few thousand years, we find another species becoming intelligent in a manner similar to Homo sapiens. What will we do if there’s another intelligent species that is evolving before our eyes? Will we choose to leave the planet to let them evolve? 🤔

A $4bn biz without a live product just broke the record for the amount paid for a domain name. WTF is going on?


It is the Facebook we've all dreamed of. And announced it at the start of this month. Not only that but it raised an extraordinary $4bn in the lead-up to the launch, so the company is supposedly flush with cash, and says it will spend $150m on building out Voice to rival the current giants. Spending $30m on a domain name that explodes the brand is therefore almost trivial.

This is absurd. Millions for a domain name that’s $10/yr. to renew is not a good use of money given that an entire TLD can be launched for less than half of this.

There's only one problem though: the closer you look at Voice and the more it falls apart. […] First off, raised its $4bn in cryptocurrency. Investors used one cryptocurrency to buy another cryptocurrency and then used a wildly varying dollar-to-crypto-coin exchange rate to state its value. […] Two more red flags: it is based in the Cayman Islands, and every part of the company is run by over-excited tech bros with little or no experience in anything beyond blockchain hype.

Ah, okay then. It’s an episode of Hustle.

The New Wilderness (Idle Words)


In the eyes of regulators, privacy still means what it did in the eighteenth century—protecting specific categories of personal data, or communications between individuals, from unauthorized disclosure. Third parties that are given access to our personal data have a duty to protect it, and to the extent that they discharge this duty, they are respecting our privacy.

Seen in this light, the giant tech companies can make a credible claim to be the defenders of privacy, just like a dragon can truthfully boast that it is good at protecting its hoard of gold. Nobody spends more money securing user data, or does it more effectively, than Facebook and Google.

Who knows what evil lies in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows …

Have I Been S0ld? Troy Hunt's security website is up for acquisition


Troy Hunt, inventor and operator of the popular security website Have I Been Pwned (HIBP), is putting the service up for sale.

Hopefully Troy receives his due for this excellent service. Maybe then he can enjoy a bit of downtime and relax a bit.

Chinese government blocks Guardian website


The Guardian’s website has been blocked in China, amid a crackdown by the country’s authorities on international news websites to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Given how often and how blatantly The Guardian lies1, I can’t say I blame the Chinese censors for blocking the opinion site.

  1. The me at the beginning of the year would not believe the me today is saying this, but such is life.

PinePhone $149 Linux smartphone could support Ubuntu, Sailfish, Maemo, LuneOS and more


The PinePhone is a cheap, Linux-ready smartphone that's expected to ship in limited quantities later this year. It's not exactly a high-power device by modern smartphone standards, but with an expected starting price of $149, it will be a lot more affordable than some of the other Linux phones on the horizon.

I know a lot more people who are excited for this than the Librem 5 …