A lot of AU companies are revising their privacy policies at the moment, in line with new legislation.
I found this one amusing.
Recently The Age has been hassling me when I get to 30 articles/month. But I’m already a subscriber!
I suspect their code is buggy. Not hard to see how it might be trouble-prone when you see how many Cookies there are: no less than 92.
Clearing them made the problem go away… for a little while, at least. (Isn’t that how freeloaders fool it?)
Not sure if that’s a permanent solution though. And as a paying customer, it’s very annoying.
For years now I’ve been… less than impressed with the ANZ bank’s concept of how a secure banking website should work. Finally they’ve taken steps to harden their site. They’ve introduced “secret questions”, like “who was your best friend in high school”, “what’s your partner’s nickname” and “what’s your nickname for your youngest child”. At last, my money is now safe from thieves who will never guess that my my partner’s nickname is Cathy, my best friend in High School was Robert, and my youngest’s nickname is Marky. Oh, darn! I accidentally disclosed the answers to those secret questions! It’s as if that information would be widely available to any thief who took the time to look me up on Facebook (don’t bother, I’m not on Facebook).
Because in providing answers to these questions the security on my account was going up, not down, I couldn’t possibly be allowed to opt-out, with dire warnings about being liable for losses if someone found out the answers. To these most basic of questions.
Most other banks have implemented two-factor authentication. Even G-mail has two-factor authentication. But not the ANZ, they’ve stepped things up a notch. They’ve eschewed two-factor, and gone for “You’ll never guess the name of my pet, which I post on Facebook all day long”.
So I took my standard defensive action: attack surface reduction and target-value minimisation. To reduce the attack surface, for each answer I mashed the keyboard – so thieves, remember my first Primary School was in the suburb of pwofkmvosffslkdflsifcmmsmclsefscdsfpsdfpefsdflsd, or something. To minimise the value of the target, I swept all the funds out of the account. What’s wrong the the technique of establishing identity by the production and examination of 100 points of identifying documents? Why do I need to have a favourite colour?
Cathy worked for the ANZ until recently, and the day she received her final paypacket she shut the account. Hated their account with a passion, but the ANZ is incapable of paying their employees through anything other than an ANZ account. Because, you know, banking is hard.
I did scrutineering at the last Victorian state election, and apart from the shocking level of informal voting and above-the-line voting, there was another shock.
Electoral fraud – or the possibility of it.
The nice thing about living in Australia is that we take our democracy seriously, and we balance being able to prove that what the outcome was with ballot secrecy. Nobody, no level of government or industry, no individual, will know how you voted without you telling them. Yet at the same time we can have confidence that our electoral system is not being rorted; our governments change back and forth, and each time it does representatives of both sides keep a close watch on the activities of the employees of the AEC and VEC, eyeballing each individual vote and knowing that they are all distinctly different from the others in spite of being a collection of handwritten marks on a slip of paper.
To minimize the risks of ballot box tampering, at the start of voting the ballot boxes (just big cardboard boxes here in Australia) are sealed shut with serialized cable-ties. An independent somebody witnesses this when an Electoral Commission employee does this (typically the first voters who wandered into the polling station), and their details are recorded (by details, I think that means signature, but it could be actually enough to track the person down afterwards) and they sign the form that records the sealing of those particular ballot boxes.
So how come they use cable ties that can be “done up” and yet the teeth don’t engage – thus leading to an unsealed ballot box? Is it too much to ask for a cable tie with teeth on both sides?
I should have kicked up a fuss, but it was a safe booth in a safe seat, and who needs the hassle?
Anyways, the reason I relate this story is that I’ve been seeing comments along the lines of “this is the 21st century, why they hell are we using pencil and paper?” Because, dickwads, computers don’t leave a fucking audit trail. There’s no scrutineering of electrons. How the hell are you meant to verify that Clive Palmer didn’t in fact get 98% of the vote? You can’t. Interesting that Clive Palmer owns the company that supplied all of the (suspiciously cheap) voting machines to the AEC, but that hasn’t got anything to do with it. And the cost! Pencils are 10c each, paper is about a cent a sheet. A shitty computer is $500, and requires a bunch of electricity. “Do it on the Internet, or use smart phones!” I hear you say. No, because while nearly everyone can move a pencil around, significantly fewer can use their computer to vote. And there’s no connection between how you voted, and the counting of votes. The announced result could be anything, and there’d be absolutely no way of proving it wrong. So, yes, computers are shiny and clearly the best way of implementing a voting system, if you want an electoral system you can’t actually trust.
The current 7-day forecast for Melbourne:
Friday 30 August Max 20 Shower or two. Saturday 31 August Min 12 Max 23 Sunny. Sunday 1 September Min 15 Max 25 Partly cloudy. Monday 2 September Min 12 Max 23 Partly cloudy. Tuesday 3 September Min 11 Max 25 Partly cloudy. Wednesday 4 September Min 16 Max 26 Shower or two developing. Thursday 5 September Min 16 Max 20 Shower or two.
I declare summer whenever there’s going to be 7 consecutive days in a row above 19 degrees. Previously, the earliest Summer has started was mid-September, but typically it’s been moving forward from October or November.
Remember we’ve got an election coming up in a week’s time, and that’s your opportunity to repeal the carbon tax. Which we need to do, to keep lovely balmy weather happening in winter-time and to keep the cost-of-living down. Remember: carbon-dioxide is food for plants, and as such good for the environment, which is made out of plants. That’s just science.
I am a single issue voter. I'm not proud to admit being so shallow, but there it is. If there was a party that wanted to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2020 and also drown kittens, I'd be in like Flynn - and not because I dislike kittens either. Perhaps it's because I take a root-cause view of the world. Immigration problems? Address climate change or it's going to get much, much worse. Not spending enough on education? Not much point in edumacation if the climate collapses around us and we're up to our ears in climate refugees. Wrong telecommunications plan? Choosing between having enough food and downloading porn faster than you can watch it doesn't seem to be much of a choice to me.
So, naturally I thought that the ABC's Vote Compass wouldn't have much trouble pigeonholing me. Except, it tells me my views align more closely with the ALP. Although at one stage in its questioning it allows you to weight the importance of issues (which I gave as 1-3 for most, 4 for a couple and 10 for environmental) this clearly… doesn't carry any weight. The anemic 5% by 2020 cut embraced by the two major parties means neither will get my vote, regardless of the technique to “achieve” such a “challenging” target.
And yet Vote Compass thinks I'd make a good ALP voter. I think not. The ABC's Labour bias at it again.
This warms the heart.
Here’s proof that geeks now rule the world: the USA election result shows the winner is the one with the better database. This fascinating article shows how the Obama campaign gathered and used demographic data — and how the Romney camp mis-stepped.
The Obama campaign had pulled off a trick political professionals normally fantasise about. Using some of the most sophisticated campaigning technology ever created, they reshaped the electorate to suit their candidate.
Per today’s Melbourne Forecast, issued at 5:06 am EDT on Saturday 10 November 2012.
Forecast for the rest of Saturday Max 20 Partly cloudy. Sunday 11 November Min 8 Max 26 Sunny. Monday 12 November Min 17 Max 23 Shower or two developing. Tuesday 13 November Min 11 Max 20 Partly cloudy. Wednesday 14 November Min 8 Max 22 Partly cloudy. Thursday 15 November Min 10 Max 22 Partly cloudy. Friday 16 November Min 12 Max 22 Shower or two.
As such, I now declare it to be summertime (7 days in a row forecast to be 20+ degrees), and as such am shutting down the gas heater and opening up the cooling vents.
It used to be I could view Chinese characters in Notepad, Notepad++, Wordpad, that kind of thing. It stopped working at some stage: all I got was little squares. Wierdness.
No amount of fiddling with encoding settings (particularly in Notepad++, which is replete with them) seemed to fix it.
Looking around the Control Panel's language settings didn't help either. You can install extra Language Packs, but the Chinese one is for Windows Enterprise and Ultimate only. I knew this couldn't be the answer because previously it had been working, but I was only on Windows Professional.
Following a tipoff I found via Google, from someone having similar problems, I tried this: create a new local logon; log on as it; log off again; go and try again.
Sure enough, that worked. Why? Well that's anybody's guess.
The census delivery chick turned up and offered us the option of paper or electronic form.
Two programmers looked at each other, thought about how they value their time and the response was a no-brainer:
“We’re programmers,” I explained, “we’ll take the paper form.”
“There’s a phone number you can call if you have any trouble filling out the electronic form” reassures the collector.
Cathy thinks: “Sure, that line won’t have any trouble when twenty million Australians simultaneously log into the web site to fill in the forms via a broken SSL link, using IE specific controls (that only work under some versions Windows assuming they’re correctly patched and have the right libraries loaded), demanding full round-trips to the underspec’d Windows servers to populate unnecessarily complex custom controls, some of which will no doubt demand Flash or COM. Come to think of it, it probably won’t even be web based, and we’ve only got two Windows boxes, one of which is tucked under a table (Yay! Census night on the floor swearing at the ABS’s programmers!) and the other has a screen resolution that went out with buggy whips (I’ve had programs barf and refuse to run because the resolution was unacceptable).”
We chose paper. For another view of the world, I’m looking forward hearing to how census night worked for Daniel…
The New York Times will shortly introduce a paywall. It won’t include front and section pages, but will include most other articles.
But it’ll include a feature whereby most users can read up to 20 articles a month without subscribing, and will include free access when following links from social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
We’ve set the limit high enough that many readers won’t encounter it. But if you’re a regular reader, we hope you’ll consider subscribing.
– NYT web site
For many non-US readers, 20 articles per month is reasonably generous I suspect.
But I wonder how they count up your tally. By IP address could cause issues with people behind corporate firewalls. By cookies could be circumvented.
Subscriptions will be USD $20 per month. Will be interested to see how this goes. I reckon it’s the sort of model the Australian Financial Review should switch to… its current paywall is all locked up, and provides almost zero access to casual readers.
I’m not happy when I see someone technical quoting a time in summer (eg during daylight savings) which claims to be “AEST”.
It’s almost certainly actually AEDT.
A summary of the abbreviations, which looks reasonably official, is here: Australian timezones.
In summary, AEST, ACST and AWST apply in winter. AEDT, ACST and AWST apply in summer.
The other issue I had with a recent email was it said 12:00pm AEST. I think in this context, they meant midnight AEDT, but it’s confusing. Better to either say Midnight, or use 24-hour time: 00:00.