The Truth: GSG 9 Raid on German Server Farm, Samsung Galaxy Fold Broken (Again), Stallman Remains Chief

Friday, 27 September 2019

Welcome to the last edition of The Truth for this week. Reading IT news, so you don’t have to. On today’s docket, there’s Google’s birthday, a raid on a German server farm, more problems with the Samsung Galaxy Fold, US immigration authorities spotting terrorists with Google Translate and much more.

Apple is saying it’s fixed all of those annoying iOS bugs: battery drain, keyboard bugs, the backup restore bug and more. And iOS 13.1.1 is now available for you to install. No word yet if those PUBG and Fortnite touch issues are resolved. I’ll try to keep you updated on that. After all, that’s what we really care about.

Today is Google’s birthday, well at least officially. Google is now 21 years old. The Register celebrates by remembering when they were the good guys and how the company has changed since then.

Reapeat after me: Electronic voting is bad! Never, ever, under any circumstances vote electronically. Paper is good, the computer is evil. Remember that, always. If you needed any more proof, here’s some from this year’s DefCon security conference: “Basically, the organizers say, voting systems are just as vulnerable as they had been shown to be in past years. At this year’s conference, the attendees once again met no or little resistance getting into the machines and manipulating everything from vote counts to the system firmware or BIOS.”

German Federal Police special anti-terrorism unit GSG 9 together with more than 600 other police operators have raided a server farm of Dutch “bulletproof hosting” company Cyberbunker in the tiny Rhineland-Palatinate town of Traben-Trarbach. The servers are located in an old NATO nuclear bunker. Six people were arrested in a restaurant in the town. I’m guessing the guys running the server farm on their lunch break? They are being charged with belonging to a criminal organisation and having aided and abetted “hundreds of thousands of cases of drug sales, money laundering, child pornography and the illegal trading of information”, as Golem is reporting (German). Apparently Cyberbunker had been hosting all kinds of criminal stuff on their servers, with the only requirement allegedly being that it wasn’t terrorism or child porn related. They advertised their service as being resistant against raids by state actors. Well…

US immigration authorities are using Google Translate to check the native language social media posts of refugees. I guess to decide if they are terrorists or not? I mean… What could possibly go wrong?

Richard Stallman: “On September 16 I resigned as president of the Free Software Foundation, but the GNU Project and the FSF are not the same. I am still the head of the GNU Project (the Chief GNUisance), and I intend to continue as such.” Let’s see how long that lasts. But then, the GNU Project is pretty irrelevant these days, if you think about it. Nobody might care.

Boeing and the FAA are in more trouble over the 737 Max. Yeah, right. I’m thinking the same thing: Is that even possible? Apparently, it is: “A whistleblower has claimed America’s Federal Aviation Administration misled investigators checking whether FAA personnel were fully qualified to sign off Boeing 737 Max training standards.” Wow. Just wow.

You know how Samsung introduced the Galaxy Fold, that foldable phone, and gave it to lots of journalists who reported it breaking immediately? They then went back to the drawing board and recently re-introduced it, saying they fixed the problem. How’s that working out, you ask? Let’s see… “My Galaxy Fold display is damaged after a day” – sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Nintendo’s new Mario Kart for phones apparently nickels and dimes you for everything. That’s one to stay away from, then.

When people tell you “the science says” this or that, remember that there is never such a thing as “the science”. The scientific method works by dreaming up a theory, then devising experiments to check that theory – and very often – going back to the drawing board and reworking your theory because your results say you were wrong in the first place. A good example of how this plays out is the gas giant orbiting a red dwarf star known as GJ 3512 b, which is 31 lightyears out from our planetary system.

As this is the first Friday newsletter, I want to wish you a nice weekend and I’d like to tide you over with a song. So here’s the “Algo Prison Blues” from episode 1176 of the No Agenda podcast. Enjoy! And see you on Monday for more tech news!

This is an archived issue of my daily newsletter FOXTROT/ALFA. You can find more information about it, including how to subscribe via email, on this page.