Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Mar 2021)

traveling with a passport and boarding pass

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, hearing Bill Maher rip through a bunch of websites and people looking for new ways to track users now 3rd party tracking is on its way out?

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with more nuanced privacy depth being discussed, participating in Mozilla’s challenges moment and hearing Solana talk through the internet health report.


The background story of Tony Abbotts boarding pass

Ian thinks: We all heard the story about the former Australian minster who was hacked after posting his boarding pass on instagram but here is the incredible background story, told by the hacker.

Vaccine passports are not as simple as the media are suggesting

Ian thinks: Heather gives plain and clear reasons why vaccine passports are not the panacea its being made out to be. Its also great to hear Lillian Edwards framework mentioned (May 2020 newsletter) as a way forward.

Gamestop? Rethinking the whole rigged system

Ian thinks: Douglas Rushkoff’s monologue about gamestop needs a listen for a different view, but stay around for the interview with Yaël, previous head of political advertising at Facebook. She tells all and I like the approach of trying to fix it before criticising.

Lets talk about Sharenting

Ian thinks: Shareting is when parents share their kids photos and private information without their consent. Its become a real problem now the millennials are growing up with a digital footprint without knowing.

How Facebook joined the splinter-net while Google throw the open web under the bus?

Ian thinks: Hearing about the absolute mess over news in Australia, its easy to point fingers. But its important to look deeper at whats really happening for the sake of profits not people. I’m with Shoshana Zuboff and others, but I know many people get their news from these massive corps.

A big step for gigworkers, but lets be diligent of next steps

Ian thinks: The Uber case is great news but in a similar legal play to Facebook & Google with Australia, there might be more going on that most are reporting? We got to look a little deeper as monopoly is Uber’s end game.

Ian thinks: This is a devious way to force a take-down of a live stream or any recorded footage. Theres got to be a better way and I think its related to using alternative platforms or self hosting with syndication.

The centralisation of power is the problem

Ian thinks: I like this summary of so many of the problems with Facebook, but it misses the important point of centralisation. It also highlights Noam Cohen’s quote “Mark Zuckerberg is deluded by his own faith in Facebook’s ability to be a force for good in the world”

Public value and purpose into the future

Ian thinks: Mariana is on fire and this summary of work around the BBC puts value under a microscope. I love this line “Value is not just the income generated at the end of the innovation chain–– it is also the creative input at the upstream end, the vital investment in talent, content creation, digital innovation and R&D at the early stages

Google fires another outspoken AI research, who will be next?

Ian thinks: Margaret Mitchell and Timnit Gebru show there is something going on with Google AI research. It doesn’t take a lot to guess what is actually going on behind close doors.


Find the archive here

Zuckerberg is so full of it?

Mark Zuckerberg points into space
Look this is where you will be if you use decentralised tech. Outside, cold and no one will care, believe me I have  money and power to make it so!

Mark Zuckerberg started posting his personal challenge/new years resolutions a while ago. He’s got a long way to go to catch up with myself and others, but regardless…

This year he said a bunch of things including this pile of nonsense.

This time, Zuckerberg talked about the importance of “centralization vs decentralization” in tech — in other words, who is benefitting from tech’s tremendous power.

“A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people’s hands,” he wrote. “But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.”

Oh how observant you are Zuckerberg. Yawn!

The broken promise of one power supply

laptop-xps-13-9350-pdp-polaris-03

I recently got a Dell XPS 13 to replace my slightly aging Lenovo thinkpad X230, which has been giving me a lot of head aches recently. Its a very attractive machine, being super thin and mainly metal instead of plastic. I thought about it long and hard before ordering it because of the lack of ports and extendable battery. In actual fact its got a similar battery to those seen in phones and tablets, aka non-removable. I guess Mac users will say “so what?” but no laptop I’ve ever had, has had nonremovable batteries.

The thing which nudged me about the Dell XPS 13 was a USB C port. USB C I’ve had ups and downs with since my Nexus 5X, but a year later I like the technology and want everything with USB C. I had imagined charging my laptop & phone with my new portable battery pack with Solar Power. But plugging my Nexus 5X into the laptop with my nice new USB C to USB C cable, selecting reverse charge; expecting something to happen but nothing. I thought it might supply a tiny current at least. I wrote it off as not enough current and waited till I got home.

At home I tried my solar battery charger with USB C, once again thinking this would supply enough charge to power the laptop even for a short while. Once again I was disappointed to find it not charging.

What gives! My dream collapsing, I hot the web and found a reddit thread and the PC World piece which made it crystal clear.

usb_c_laptop_charting-100649896-large

Seems the dream isn’t dead but its not looking good for portable batteries packs. Maybe it might work with some of the wall chargers however, will have to try my Nexus 5X wall charger later.

My nexus 5x battery is pleasingly decent

I got to say this isn’t bad going for my nexus 5x with 4g, WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC on all the time. I was using my Bluetooth headphones at work for music and calls. Plus I got my pebble smartwatch on all the time.

I was pleased to see so much power without turning anything off or doing anything special to save power.

Beware Philips Hue lights from the states

I bought into the Philips Hue system a while ago by buying the part I needed and then the lights afterwards. There are a tons of people selling the wired zeegbee bridge for as low as 25 pounds (I paid 26 for mine) then you can get a bulbs afterwards for much cheaper than the starter kit at 170 pounds.

So this is what I did…

Philips Hue Bridge

However I hit a problem, the first Philips Hue Lux light came and I could see it on the app via the bridge but couldn’t control it. I tried a lot of things including upgrading the system and rebooting the bridge. But it just didn’t response to anything I did. I thought well maybe its a dodgy bulb from ebay. However the next bulb came and I couldn’t even see it via the bridge.

I also ordered some via Amazon and they worked straight away, as expected!  I looked into the differences and found some bad news…

Philips will void warranty if 110V bulbs are used with 220V power and vice versa. Closer look at the packaging shows there maybe a problem.

Philips Hue Lux lights American packaging
The American Hue Lux – E26 bulb

Philips Hue Lux lights Europe packaging
The Europe Hue Lux – E27 bulb

So it looks like I have 2 American bulbs which I’ll have to put back on ebay at a lost (if it works at all?)

The good news is I have replaced my Philips Light/Wakeup clock with a Hue light which slowly turns on when Sleep as Android thinks its time to wake up. Apartment therapy you are wrong, using your phone as an alarm makes perfect sense, when used in the right way.

Phones on a plane and Free Wifi on GNER Train

ishida's seat from London to Edinburgh

Our good friend Rachel Clarke who now lives in New York (the movie piracy capital says the MPAA) asks Phones on Planes?

No. Please no. At least put them in a booth or something so the rest of us don’t have to hear them say ‘guess where i am, on a plane’.

I have to say, I don't quite think this is such a bad thing. Ideally there would be a restriction on high volume talking not mobile phones. Yes they seem to induce high volume chatter but if your using your mobile for Data then thats a whole different story right? I just look forward to the day when I can finally text my friends to say I'll be arriving at Chicago O'hare in 30mins rather than waiting till I'm through customs. Although, like most people I also turn on my phone the moment I get off the plane. Another reason for mobiles on a plane is the fact that airplane phones already exist. They hardly used because once you swip your card, you can feel the timer eating through your money. The cost aspect as applies to in the air wireless which has stupid prices attached. I think having the ability to use your own dataplan/phone will finally break those stupid in the air monoploies.

Talking about Wireless. I thought I'd give a big thumbs up to GNER's Free Wireless onboard the train between Leeds and London Kings Cross. This is how I'm currently replying to all my emails and blogging. Its also pretty damm fast, the upload speed is bad (ping times of 1000 to my network) but general browsing and IM are good. From what I'm reading the Wifi shouldn't be free but trust me it is and there's no blocked ports or anything. I was able to VPN into my network using Hamachi and VPN into the BBC. Oh I also forget to mention there is power on some of the carriages in GNER and it also seems First Trains in the North of England. So from now, when traveling up to Northern England, I'll be traveling by train! This is great because I've been meaning to cut down on my air travel and I end up feeling terriable after flying. It may take longer on the train but its comfitable and you can actually relax with a reasonable amount of leg room.

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