Week 6, 2019 - Facebook and Google's VPNs; FaceTime Bug; Small Things

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A few words about the whole deal regarding Facebook’s (and Google’s) datamining VPNs, the terrible FaceTime bug, and a couple small items of interest.

Facebook and Google’s VPNs

I had something written about the whole Facebook and Google VPN debacles last week1. In the end though, while it had some snarky comments, I don’t feel like it added much to what has been written elsewhere. My feelings, unsurprisingly, come down to: Datamining VPNs are bad and punishing that is good2, but Apple’s ability to do so is worrying.

So, that’s clearly not really worth spending a lot of words on. Data on what people do on their phones is extremely valuable to these companies so it’s not surprising3 that they want to collect it any way they can.

FaceTime Bug

Apple however also had a different issue last week. A very severe bug in FaceTime allowed the use of its group functionality to listen in on, and even see, people before they answered the call. Not exactly what I’d call a happy situation.

Within a couple hours of this being reported, Apple shut down the group call part of the service4 while working on a fix, which hasn’t been finished yet. This sounds like a good thing, and it is. Except for the little part where someone tried to report this a week earlier and Apple’s processes prevented that report from reaching the right people. Oops.

Small Things

Let’s round this up with a couple of small things I found interesting.

Homebrew, the package manager for macOS, released version 2. If you’re not familiar with Homebrew, it basically allows you to easily install a lot of tools a developer5 might want to use on their Mac. Except, the big thing about version 2 is that it now also runs on Linux and even Windows Subsystem for Linux. This is pretty cool, and certainly worth a mention.

Next, AWS released a new icon set for their architecture diagrams. This one invalidates the one they released several months ago, and which I was planning to write about because it was well… terrible. I don’t know who came up with the idea to make all icons the same shape with a thin white figure on a black background, but it made diagrams hard to quickly understand. This new release mostly fixes that by reintroducing this amazing thing called colour6. Of course it also includes all the newly released resources, so I can finally put a proper Transit Gateway into my diagrams.

Lastly, I just want to point out that, as one of the organisers, I wrote a summary of the last AWS User Group meetup here in Melbourne which includes the videos of the speakers. If you want an idea of what’s going on at these meetups, read that, watch the videos, and then join us for the next one7.

  1. In case you missed it, please look at the linked article. It’s not a pretty situation. ↩︎

  2. In case you’re not aware, as it was misused for this, Apple revoked their enterprise certificates for iOS which basically broke all internal applications their employees use. These have now been restored though. ↩︎

  3. Although frustrating. ↩︎

  4. Which obviously they also have sole control over. But then, that’s the case with most of these sort of tools. ↩︎

  5. Or anyone who wants to use those tools. ↩︎

  6. Unfortunately, everything is still he same shape but I guess this is as good as it’s gonna get right now. ↩︎

  7. If you’re in Melbourne that is. While it would be cool if you traveled thousands of kilometres to come to the meetup, it probably isn’t worth coming here for that by itself. ↩︎

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