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South By South Wank

By Gerald McGrew on April 22, 2014 in Other

Picture: The Sheridan

Picture: The Sheridan

It’s been a reasonably mundane month in the online and tech worlds. A quick scan of the nerd news doesn’t really reveal anything particularly earth-shattering, although there were a couple of exceptions.

South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW), the emerging and startup technology gabfest held in Austin, Texas each March, has once again produced an incredible amount of absolutely pointless digital crap. It’s a couple of weeks of ridiculous mobile apps, never-to-be-seen-again digital gizmos and self-aggrandising speakers shilling whatever might see them obtain a fleeting 140 characters of fame on Twitter. Personally, I love reading the reports sent by the ‘correspondents’ of local ad agencies, usually on their first company-paid junket. These poorly written snippets manage to combine breathless teenage excitement with carefully curated tinges of hipster irony. I don’t think it’s possible for even Daniel Day-Lewis to method act that particular combination.

We saw Telstra cop a slap on the wrist for breaching the online privacy of almost 16,000 customers. Apparently a spreadsheet was able to be found online that contained customer names, numbers and addresses. Fortunately, this wasn’t at the serious end of the scale in terms of privacy naughtiness, with no credit cards or passwords exposed, and nor was the seriousness of the fine imposed by those hard-assed regulators, at just $10k, or about 65 cents per customer breached. As I’ve predicted, 2014 will be the year for a stunning personal data spill, the kind of leak where Tony Abbott’s credit card details will be revealed, and he’ll swiftly be signed up to several dozen hardcore gay porn website subscriptions. I hope.

Our friends at Apple updated their pastel nightmare operating system recently. They apparently made Siri friendlier for non-Americans. Whether it still treats the Australian accent as an unknown variant of Klingon is yet to be determined, but it’s nice to see them trying. They also released CarPlay, which basically allows the Apple interface to be pushed directly through in-car entertainment systems. It’s a smart idea, and looks to be done well. Unless they’re already affiliated with the far less trendy Microsoft version for synching any mobile to the entertainment system (some local Fords are), there’s really no reason for any car-maker to object to allowing Apple to integrate. Just when everyone was calling the demise of Apple, they’ve squirmed into your dashboard.

Slightly more interesting was the recent report of a former NSW student being made to pay compensation of $105k to a teacher he allegedly defamed on Twitter and Facebook. The headlines screamed that this is the beginning of the end for Internet trolls, as if it’s going to be that easy to get rid of those pricks. However, the simple fact is he was blaming the teacher for his old man – a teacher at the same school – getting the sack. What’s best about this whole episode is that being an overt dick on a social network with no anonymity now has the same ramifications as being an overt dick in more traditional ways. Everything old is new again… once again.

So there you have it: Texan digi-tossing aplenty, Telstra flogged with a feather, an Apple in your automobile, and social network sledging officially ain’t as cheap as it used to be!

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