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Brislen on Tech

Paul Brislen, Editor. 13 April 2018, 5:54 pm

The trials and tribulations of Facebook

Yes, it's our weekly reminder that you shouldn't be on Facebook and should delete the app as soon as you've captured the data you'll need to take part in the next class action suit.

No, I'm serious.

To update: Facebook has gamified collecting your data. Not only do people gleefully build networks and provide untold invaluable marketing data to Facebook for its advertisers but it also gleefully sells our data and our networks and our connections and their data and networks and connections to anyone who wants to manipulate our world view. Not just sellers of holidays, cars, insurance and canned goods, but sellers of ideology, of lies and of torment.

Last month, Facebook was caught red handed doing exactly that - letting advertisers access your messages, your likes, your dislikes and all the other stuff you do.

This week, founder Mark Zuckerberg was in the hot seat, explaining himself to Congress and Senate in the US.

He's very sorry, apparently, and will struggle (on his billionaire's pay cheque) to do better next time.

Given this time he initially tried to stop publication of the facts by suing the journalists involved, you'll excuse me if I raise one eyebrow sarcastically.


This is not the first time and I doubt it will be the last time Facebook faces concerns about privacy. The following selection of stories from a single week's worth of stories should help you make that decision but don't take my word for it: dip into some light reading on the Apologetic Publisher who Just Wanted To Rank Girls And Became a Propagandist for Fascism.

The Guardian - Mark Zuckerberg faces tough questions in two-day congressional testimony - as it happened 

Wired - The Questions Zuckerberg should have answered about Russia

The Guardian - Five things we learned from Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook hearing

TechCrunch - Zuckerberg won't give a straight answer on data downloads

The Register - Facebook admits: Apps were given users' permission to go into their inboxes

TechCrunch - Zuckerberg denies knowledge of Facebook shadow profiles

RNZ - Should Govt agencies adopt Facebook's business tool?

Tech Crunch - Facebook and the endless string of worst-case scenarios

NZ Herald - 'Bulls**t of the highest order': Why Mark Zuckerberg doesn't want to talk about 'shadow profiles'


Power Outage.jpg


Power to the people

The last time the lights went out for an extended period of time it was far more entertaining.

The year was 1998 and Auckland was in the grip of a heat wave. One broken cable, one burnt out substation and bam! no power to the CBD for weeks at a time.

This was entertaining for three reasons:

1: My employer, Computerworld publisher IDG Communications, was based on Queen Street;

2: I lived in a flat on Queen Street;

3: I'd just interviewed the CIO at Mercury Energy who assured me there was no problem and it would be resolved by the end of the month - we just had to avoid any breaks between now and then. The issue that carried the headline "Crisis, what crisis?" came out the day of the blackout.

Sadly, the Computerworld archives don't appear to go back as far as 1998 so I can't browse the stories of the day but there were several outcomes. Russell Brown went home to work and never came back (a move I shadowed several years later although I didn't go to Russell's house) and all the CBD IT managers got to test their business continuity planning in the real world and discovered the joys of paper-based contracts assuring them of support that might as well have been written in sand on the beach at low tide for all the value they were worth when push came to shove.

This proved useful when Y2K hit less than two years' later.

But I digress.

Today, electricity is quite essential to our way of life. For sure, in the Olde Days ™ we had quite the time of it without electricity but these days getting by for a few hours without a steady stream of electrons is a form of torture, doubly so if you have children.

72 hours without power was enough to send me scrambling to the internet to look up battery life versus cost, but of course I had no wifi so…

(of course, I have mobile data for backup so that was OK but again, don't tell the kids, OK?)

Interestingly, I found a piece on The Spin Off written by Vector engineer Kate Murphy talking about the leaps and bounds we've taken in terms of lighting. I was struck most by how far we've come. From a day's labour buying ten minutes of evening lighting (in ancient Babylonia) to a standard lightbulb giving you 20,000 hours' light for a day's work. And now we have LED lighting which draws around 20% of the power of a traditional light bulb.

Indeed, I've had power outages that have affected the old half of my house (with its old school lightbulbs reduced to a dim flicker) that hasn't slowed me down at the other end (with its LEDs and flat panel TV set) much to the annoyance of the children.

What does astound me is how many people jump out to tell me I'm wrong whenever I bring up the need for solar panels, local battery storage solutions and a move away from massive infrastructure builds to support wires to deliver electricity across the city.

Surely we've moved on since those days?

RNZ - The Night the Lights Went Out in Auckland

The Spin Off - Joining the dots on the humble LED: the tiny tech that could change the future

Climate Solutions - The Awesome Economics of Solar Energy Growth

Peter Gutman - Auckland's Power Outage or Auckland - Your Y2K Beta Test Site


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