Node.js Fork: Io.js Is Joining The Node Foundation

Some great news for the Javascript community today. The popular and controversial fork of Node.js, Io.js today announced they had voted and agreed to joining the Node Foundation.

This means that we have avoided what I was worried could have been a serious fragmentation train-wreck in a year or two when both projects were so misaligned that we started seeing module incompatibilities and one or both of the projects suffering as a result of the incoherence.

Fortunately the Io.js fork is still quite young and I am just happy that we will eventually once more just build Node apps and not have to worry about any potential issues (especially modular authors). I also hope this serves as a warning not only to Joyent, but any other company maintaining an open source project that ensuring you keep the community happy and keep things democratic is an essential component of open source and the very ethos of which it was built in the first place.

In my opinion both Joyent and Io.js contributors who jumped ship because of the way things were are both winners in this situation. Lets hope the convergence process goes smoothly and Joyent have learned from their mistakes.

We will finally be getting some missing features from the out-of-date current Node version like promises without needing to use third-party modules hopefully quite soon after the convergence of the two projects is completed.

 

Galaxy S6 Edge Night Clock Screen Staying Lit Bug

Purchased a shiny Galaxy S6 Edge and you were excited for the night edge display feature which allows you to display a clock on one of the edges of the screen while the rest of the screen remained off? You want a night clock, not a night light!

In theory it is a good idea, but if you are like me, your Edge didn’t do that. In-fact, your whole screen would glow, the night edge clock would show but the whole point of it was lost. This means your battery if your phone is not charging over night would drain quite a lot.

This is in-fact an issue that seems to affect only a certain amount of Galaxy S6 devices. My fianc√©es Edge doesn’t have the issue, but mine does.

Apparently Samsung are working on fixing the issue as it is software related and in some circumstances, is related to particular carrier variants of the S6 Edge firmware.

Over at the XDA Developers forum there is a fix for certain firmware versions. But the fix requires flashing your device, thus tripping Knox and voiding any warranty on the device.

The best course of action is to wait for the fix to be pushed out in your latest carrier update. Speak with your carrier about when the latest firmware update might drop.

 

Writing Inspiration: Write About What Annoys You

Being a better blogger is something many of us aspire too (even I aspire to that), but coming up with things to write about on a regular basis can be difficult. Leading off the previous post I explicitly wrote called Writing Is Fucking Hard I want to share one of the ways I come up with things to write about.

Many articles will tell you to write about things you love or are passionate about. I do that, I write a lot about Javascript and the web in general because it is what I love, but writing about the latest Javascript framework or language can be difficult. A post about Javascript generally requires thought, research and takes days to write.

While I try to keep my complaining down to a minimum, sometimes I like to write about things that annoy me. One of my most passionate subjects is inefficient and unrealistic hiring practices implemented by many tech companies hiring developers.

Not only is writing a post about something that annoys you a great therapeutic exercise, it also helps you practice restraint and discipline. Anyone can rant about something, but it takes a certain degree of writing to adequately get your point across without starting a war.

Anyone can be positive, but being negative in a positive way is more challenging. Doing this can actually be a great writing exercise to broaden your writing toolset beyond tutorials and positively glowing pieces on things you love.

A great example is one of my most popular posts in terms of consistent traffic not reliant on a site like Hacker News or Reddit driving traffic. This actually surprises a lot of people who assume my Javascript articles are the most popular (while they are still popular, you’ll see one post not about the web at all is more popular).

Last year I kept getting telemarketing calls from a company representing an Australian telco Telstra, this company kept calling from the same number and would call everyday. They would never leave a voicemail message, they also would keep on calling and it was frustrating (not to mention, distracting).

So instead I used it as an opportunity to write a post. I figured I probably wasn’t the only person they were bothering, after a Google search came up empty, I answered the call and then wrote a post telling people who it was and why they were calling. The post in question is here.

The point is, I didn’t write about why I don’t like a particular food or brand of coffee (not to say you shouldn’t), I wrote about something that was annoying me. I turned it into a post, which just so happens to get thousands of hits from Google daily (not a glowing endorsement for the company calling).

If there is one thing you should take from this it is to explore alternative things to write about. Don’t feel as though you need to stick to writing things you have come to be known for. The above post isn’t about the web, but who cares? If it can benefit someone else and better you as a writer, why not?

And what better way to illustrate my point than to highlight the very fact that this post is not about anything web related (except loosely blogging)?

 

The Death of AngularJS

For quite a long time developers have been using AngularJS. Coming at a time when the alternatives were the likes of Backbone.js (while powerful in its own right), which just didn’t tick all of the boxes a modern web application needs ticked, we thought we had reached developer nirvana.

We got two-way data binding, controllers, directives and templating syntax. For a good while things were peachy, the sun was shining and everyone was sipping from the golden chalice of AngularJS kool-aid. We put it on t-shirts, wrote books, online training courses, bumper stickers and they sold baby, they sold.

As modern web application development evolves at a steady pace, the number of Javascript frameworks out there to choose from is staggering. It seems everyone has a Javascript framework, 10 new Javascript frameworks will probably come out by the time you finish reading this article.

While AngularJS is far from dead, its eventual demise is coming. A slew of core problems with the framework, more notably dirty-checking and transclusion was enough to rally the detractors to write blog posts about why you shouldn’t use AngularJS. They were all right in their own special way, but some were missing the point.

Not too long ago there was no viable alternative to AngularJS. I am not just talking about feature-set or community participation, I am talking about the lack of actual backing by anyone other than a few neck-beards in their basements contributing to their beloved open source project.

While there are some great Javascript frameworks out there, not many can guarantee with almost absolute certainty that they’ll be around tomorrow (not even Angular could do that, but the Google backing was reassuring).

This is where AngularJS succeeded. The everyday developer loved it, people were using it with WordPress and pretty much anything they could stuff Angular into. And then the enterprise started using it, all of a sudden you were seeing listings for local council and government jobs that listed AngularJS as a desired skill.

But why? If other choices were out there, why did Angular succeed? Was it because it was the first one out of the gate to offer almost everything you would find in a server-side framework or was it the fact it was backed by Google? In part it was both. But there was one other aspect of Angular that made it appealing.

I think it is safe to say that many took comfort in the fact that Google was behind Angular and if Google was behind it, then it must be good. This kind of trust in Google surprises me given their poor track record sunsetting a whole lot of products with their backing, more notably Google Reader.

Instead of trying to replace HTML, Google strengthened it. Decorating HTML with custom attributes, elements and control directives was a hit with everyone. Instead of having to create nested objects in a Javascript file, you were working in HTML and then using said decorations to make things happen in Javascript when you were ready.

It was Lego (AngularJS) vs Meccano (every other framework).

While the disdain for Angular was strong, the love that people had for it remained the strongest. For every hate-piece on Angular, there was a retort that would follow soon after.

The fighters and lovers were on equal footing, kind of like a war. One side spews propaganda and the other side does their best to dispel it: the PHP language is all too familiar with this ugly side of development.

“This ain’t a scene, it’s a god damn arms race” – Fall Out Boy.

When things go wrong

A little while ago talk of Angular 2.0 came about. Instead of it being a natural evolution of the framework, it was revealed that it would be a complete rewrite. The backwards compatibility, transclusion and most hated of them all: dirty-checking would either be removed or rewritten in a more efficient manner in 2.0.

But the Angular team did something that no open source project in a highly competitive battlefield should do: they announced a new version of their highly popular framework that would have no backwards compatibility with the 1.x branch and that there would be no upgrade path whatsoever.

gasp

When the Angular team announced this, you could practically hear a record skip right across the Internet. The concern started relatively contained with the Hacker News comments section and then it escaped, soon everyone was writing blog posts defending the new syntax and lack of backwards compatibility, but many were decrying such a move.

Not only did they announce there would be no backwards compatibility or upgrade path, they also revealed a controversial new syntax for decorating your HTML markup.

Why were people so angry? The Angular team announced they would be addressing all of the shortcomings in version 2.0, that transclusion you hate so much? Gone. Dirty-checking? Completely rewritten to be more memory efficient and use browser object-observe when supported.

Even though at its core 2.0 would arguably be a much better successor to Angular 1.x, removing a large chunk of backwards compatibility and starting from a clean slate, for a version 2.0 the Angular team shocked by changing too much, too soon.

It all comes down to the fact that it is a universally accepted downside of Angular that it has a steep learning curve. The basics of Angular not so much, but the more nitty gritty aspects of the framework were arguably harder to learn due to confusing documentation and confusing blog posts that would go against some of the things the documentation would tell you to do.

You could say that AngularJS 2.0 was a message: every developer that had spent their time learning the framework were being told mostly everything they have learned would be invalidated in possibly 12 months time when 2.0 is released.

It’s like learning French only to discover that in 12 months time that all French speaking nations would be switching to Italian, sure there might be some similarities but it is a completely new language you have to learn.

The biggest controversial aspect of Angular 2.0 was not just the lack of upgrade path, it was the new syntax which looked ugly. There were concerns it would also throw HTML validation (some people still run their sites through the W3C validator surprisingly).

It would take a little bit of time after for the Angular team to sit back and realise they had made a big mistake. Their stubbornness had already caused Rob Eisenberg (of Durandal fame) to abandon the Angular 2.0 team and build a successor to Durandal in the form of Aurelia. While the Angular team might not have realised it, losing Rob was actually a big blow to the project.

Now we are seeing Angular 2.0 components being ported back to 1.4 and while the 1.x branch will continue to be supported for a little while, the damage has been done. Even though there will now be an upgrade path (sort of), it is too little, too late.

Death is near

Even though AngularJS 2.0 has yet to be released, many have abandoned it already. There are a few great choices out there for starting your next Javascript framework like Aurelia or React.js. Those still using AngularJS are supporting legacy applications or junior developers completely unaware of the changes taking place around this framework and the framework space in general.

Having said that: not everybody will abandon AngularJS and support for the 1.x branch will continue for some time. However, once 2.0 lands, it would make very little sense to use the older and more troublesome 1.x branch.

While AngularJS 1.x will remain popular for some time yet, make no mistake React.js alone in its relatively short lifespan has taken an axe to Angular’s market share quite significantly and we will see those effects ten fold when Angular 2.0 is released.

This coupled with other frameworks like Aurelia and EmberJS which has seen a massive uptake by developers, Angular is not the only kid in the playground anymore.

Angular is not going anywhere in the interim, but I think there is now enough competition in the space that simply being backed by Google is not enough to convince developers to stay and trust their decisions are the right ones.

 

SBS Struggle Street: The Truth Hurts

As Australian’s most of us are pretty lucky. We are often dubbed the “lucky country” by ourselves, even though we are lagging behind other countries in many areas.

SBS’s newest TV program called Struggle Street details residents of Western Sydney in an area called Mt. Druitt, which has a pretty notorious reputation for being a rough area because of the public housing it contains.

The show before it even aired its first episode drummed up a heap of controversy, all solely based on the limited glimpse we had through the promos. After watching the first episode I have come to the conclusion that the media and those opposing the program were overreacting.

Rather than being a comical parody of the downtrodden part of society, the program is an accurate depiction of Mt. Druitt life for many. It is a bleak and unfiltered look into public housing families struggling to make ends meet and substance abuse. It is raw and at times, emotional.

While highlighting the cracks in a broken system Struggle Street also highlights something else: the truth hurts. The government and Blacktown mayor are in denial, anyone who tells you this show was exploiting anyone obviously hasn’t seen the show at all, just the promos which I think didn’t paint an accurate picture of what the show is really about.

We’ve been conditioned to write off people on Centrelink as bludgers, people who don’t want to change and happy living off the taxpayer. This show on one hand highlights this point-of-view perfectly, there are indeed those who waste their lives away and there are those who want to try and do better, but feel trapped.

Sadly what we see on Struggle Street is not just limited to Mt. Druitt. There are countless suburbs right across Australia with the same issues. You only have to go out to areas like Caboolture on the Brisbane Northside, or areas like Park Ridge over on the Southside of Brisbane to see similar suburbs filled with people in similar situations.

Given the outraged over Struggle Street, I had expectations of it being a comedy-riddled look at the lower class of Australian society, instead I think we got an honest and unedited view at just how far from the “lucky country” of our residents are. No exploitation, just brutal honesty and I think many are taken aback by how honest the show was (even I was a little).

The mayor of Blacktown Stephen Bali has painted the program as “publicly funded poverty porn” which is easy to say when you’re paid a decent salary and aren’t struggling yourself. He even arranged for 10 garbage trucks to head to SBS’ North Sydney headquarters over the airing of the show in protest. The irony is these garbage trucks are funded by taxpayers as well.

Instead of protesting using publicly funded garbage trucks, Bali could have spun it in a positive light and announced support for people in areas of Blacktown like Mt. Druitt. Most of the characters in the show seemed legitimately decent, but dealt a bad hand (especially couple Ashley and Peta).

I am looking forward to the conclusion of the series and I congratulate SBS for going ahead with it despite the media, the mayor of Blacktown and others trying to stop it from being shown. We need more programs like this, less editing and more honesty. If you want positively filtered entitlement reality TV, watch My Kitchen Rules or The Block.

 

LinkedIn Premium: Not Worth Buying

When I found my contract with an overseas company ending at the beginning of the year, I went into job search mode. I had some runway in the bank, but I hate sitting idle and prefer to be working so I started looking for a job (a full time permanent position).

I already had a LinkedIn account, so I decided to purchase a LinkedIn Premium subscription, the job search tier to be exact. I kept my premium subscription for 3 months and then I cancelled it. It didn’t take me three months to find a job, it took a couple of weeks, but I kept it out of curiosity and kind of forgot about it as well.

With LinkedIn Premium you get a few “premium” features, one of those is being able to see who has viewed your profile in detail as well as being able to be completely anonymous and lurk on other profiles without the other person (even if they’re premium) seeing who is looking.

For the job seeker subscription you also get access to a premium only job seekers discussion board. While it is nice being able to speak with other “job seekers” the board was filled with threads of people complaining they haven’t got a job yet and wanting tips.

I think LinkedIn are a little misleading, you don’t really get any kind of job seeking advantage with a premium subscription. I would argue when you’re looking for a new job, the idea is to conserve your money, not spend it on superfluous subscriptions that don’t better your job prospects.

If you’re debating whether to get a LinkedIn Premium subscription for bettering your job prospects: don’t. The only benefit a premium subscription has is the ability to spam people with InMail, stalk people and a few other features that only benefit recruiters.

 

Writing Is Fucking Hard.

Coming up with things to say? Easy. Finding the time to write them down? Moderately easy. Being able to translate those thoughts into succinct words without 10 paragraphs of waste? Not so easy.

Given the amount of posts I have published in 2015 alone, you could be forgiven for thinking that I find writing somewhat easy. I have no shortage of ideas and things to write about, I have at current count 12 unpublished ideas sitting in my unpublished documents folder, most of those probably will never see the light of day.

The reality is: writing is fucking hard. To quote the startup mantra, “it’s not the idea, it’s the execution” – anyone can come up with an idea, it’s how you go about taking that idea and turning into something measurable that is the hard part.

This post I am trying to write right now should not be that long. But here we are, four paragraphs in and I am rambling. I will not edit this out, but it highlights the dilemma that I and a multitude of others face when trying to jot down their thoughts into an easy to digest and succinct post.

Leaving out the fluff and focusing on the main point is an incredibly hard thing for me to do. I find I can easily write upwards of 4 or 5 paragraphs before the main point of the article is revealed, all while the reader is probably impatiently sitting there saying, “get to the fucking point Dwayne, sheesh” – it can be difficult to know how to start a post and where it should end. Maybe I just do not think things out properly before I start writing about them.

So lets end it here. The next time you read something I have written, you should know that it probably took me a few days of on and off editing to get it to the stage I am ready to hit the publish button. Even after I publish something, it is not uncommon for me to edit it a few times.

 

How To Root Australian Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (SM-G925I)

I recently just upgraded from a Galaxy S4 to a Galaxy S6 Edge with Optus and absolutely love it. Arguably the best Android phone I have ever owned to date. Naturally after getting it, I wanted to root it. I like to hack my way through applications and games for fun and profit.

The first time that I tried to root, I screwed up my phone. I was so close to factory resetting it, but I tried a couple of other root methods and finally got it.

Before we proceed my phone is the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge SM-G925I variant on Optus here in Australia. Please also note I am running the OC5 firmware as well. I tried the root for the OC5 firmware (from the below link), but it did not work for me.

Disclaimer: Rooting your phone will trip Knox and void your warranty. There is a flag value on the phone that gets set to a value of 1 if you decide to root your phone.

I was following along with the instructions here at Droidviews. The problem is using the OC5 firmware in my case just resulted in a boot loop in which the Samsung S6 Edge logo would display and that would be that. I could not even get into recovery mode, only download mode.

Then I discovered the root file for the Samsung S6 non-edge variant SM-G920I works for the S6 Edge SM-G925I. I found the CF Auto Root file for the SM-G920I here then followed the usual instruction steps using Odin and my phone worked.

I had read somewhere (can’t recall where) the standard S6 root works for the S6 Edge, but I assumed the edge CF Auto Root downloads would have worked (but not in my case). This method will also work for the non-Edge variant of the S6 as well as the Edge version.

 

Apple Watch Speculation

Let me prefix this article with the fact I have no allegiance to any brand. I have a Samsung phone, I own a MacBook Pro, I have an iPad, I own a PC and I own a PS4. I use whatever works for me and what I like: I like.

I am a pretty big watch nerd. While I do not currently own a watch, I have my eyes set on a few watch beauties (non digital). I like reading about watches, I like looking at them and occasionally trying them on. When Apple first announced the Apple Watch I was immediately skeptical, but also intrigued.

Could Apple successfully launch a new product in an area already dominated by its competition and succeed, just like it did with the iPhone and iPad? This was my first thought.

Apple entering new niches only to become the market leader in them is something they have proven they are good at. Look no further than the iPod which catapulted Apple into the stratosphere, even though digital music players existed and so too did portable disc players, etc.

The Apple Watch will succeed in one way or another, there is no doubt that it will sell. But does the Apple Watch have the staying power to continue to sell well for the rest of the year? Probably not.

The biggest driving factor behind the interest in the Apple Watch is people want it to succeed. The cult following this Cupertino company has is both great and scary, it is this cult following that will be rushing out to Apple stores this weekend to pre-order what they think is a history making device.

Given how Apple have had their fair share of successes people will be watching with baited breath, comparing its 24 hour sales and figures to devices that came before it. Like a box office movie, the first few days will be the crucial determining factor that will answer the question: will the Apple Watch succeed?

What happens if the Apple Watch fails?

For Apple’s bottom line it probably does not mean much. We are talking about a company that has more cash than the US government (although that is not saying much). A company with such a large cash buffer a colossal failure of the Apple Watch would be a drop in the ocean for Apple.

But you can’t deny the effects on other areas of the company, its image especially would be felt for a long while after. The Apple Watch has been in development for years, Jonny Ive has had the image of the Apple Watch in his head since 2011. Almost four years of design work went into the watch, deciding what materials to make it from, its features and how it would all come together. We are talking about a product that had to have its own machinery made for to produce (something Apple is no stranger to).

Early reviews and impressions of the watch are not garnering the same excitement and revolutionary spurring statements previous products have in the past. Horrible battery life, bad performance and bugs galore are currently plaguing the watch (and it has not even launched yet). Perhaps a few of these things can be addressed on a software level, but first impressions matter.

What if the average consumer does not want a watch? Indicative clues of rival offerings from Samsung and Pebble prove there is a market for smart watches, but at the price point that Apple are positioning themselves in, I feel as though they are not bringing much to the table that Samsung have not done already.

What does success look like?

To measure the success of the Apple Watch we need to ask ourselves: what does success look like? Is it large sales figures, production issues because Apple can’t keep up with the demand, a further soaring stock price or its competition starts copying its features and designs?

One thing is for sure, Apple do not need the money. However, a success for the company is a success for stock holders and executives awaiting their tasty bonuses.

The company are undoubtedly already working on an Apple Watch 2, whether we see it released will depend on the success of the Apple Watch I.

Reputation

There is more riding on this than recouping years of research and development, Apple’s reputation is on the line here. A company that is known for spruiking the mantra, “think different” could perhaps be thinking too differently with the Apple Watch.

This is the first big and new product Apple have launched since Steve Jobs’ death, it will prove to an extent whether the company can succeed without jobs or become the new Microsoft.

Remember during the 90’s when Apple was the underdog and Microsoft were this big seemingly unstoppable company that had successfully managed to dominate both the enterprise and home space simultaneously?

Look at Microsoft now. They’re not the top dog anymore and once you’ve reached the top, you can only continue to climb so far before you become so big you lose pieces of what made you successful in the first place. Apple are in a dangerous place right now, they have everything to lose and respect (and profits) in a new niche to gain.

Conclusion

We can all speculate and claim to know what will happen with the Apple Watch, but the truth is we do not know what is going to happen until it happens. The iPhone was decried by critics to be a failure before it launched, same goes for the iPad.

Everyone was wrong about the iPhone and iPad, maybe everyone is wrong about the Apple Watch too?

 

All About Metadata Retention In Australia

Unless you’re reading this far into the future or a jail cell because you downloaded Dallas Buyers Club, then you would know that metadata retention laws have just been passed in the Australian senate.

Australian Parliament (with cooperation from the Coalition and ALP) passed amendments to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 requiring telecommunication service providers to retain for two years certain telecommunications metadata prescribed by regulations.

What is metadata?

The analogy being thrown around is metadata is not the contents of the envelope, but rather what is on the outside of the envelope. It is pieces of descriptive information that describe or give one or more pieces of data additional context and meaning.

Take for example a photo taken on your iPhone 6. Besides the date the photo was taken, your photo will have the exposure level, location the photo was taken and other numerous pieces of metadata.

What is metadata retention?

The Australian government will require all telecommunication service providers to retain data on your activities for a maximum of two years. Meaning the IP addresses of the sites you visit, the people you email, text and call. Anything that you do that can be tracked can and will.

What will be retained?

Going off the previous point, any activity online can be tracked.

Phone calls:

  • Who you called (or who called you)
  • When you call (or someone called you)
  • Where you were when you called (or answered)
  • How long the call lasted
  • Anyone either party called afterwards\

Online activities:

  • Chat aliases and usernames
  • The names of applications you use online (including port numbers)
  • What you do on the internet. Not your browsing history, but your IP address (the same), connection time and duration, the bandwidth used, files downloaded (name, length and extension), number of times you visit a certain website
  • Who you email; when you emailed them, subject line, attachment filenames, carbon copy (CC), everything except the message body is metadata
  • Social media activity; Not the text, but who you communicate with, length of messages you send and any public activity that can easily be saved

Honestly, don’t be surprised now legislation has been passed if what data is collected is bulked up now that the foot is well and truly in the door. This is only the beginning (and it is already worrying).

Why do we need a metadata scheme?

Cause’ terrorism. As always, terrorism is used as the driving force behind decision making when it comes to policies that impact the freedom of citizens. Look no further than the Patriot Act in the US which takes away the basic rights of suspected terrorists under the name of national security.

Even though Australia has never fallen to the hands of terrorists in any kind of attack, that doesn’t stop the government from using it as justification. The truth is, we don’t need a metadata scheme and it is worrying that we have one (not even the US has such a legislated scheme).

Who will pay for it?

While who will pay for telecommunication providers to retain metadata for two years has yet to be determined, you can almost guarantee that the consumer is who will be paying. Any cost imposed on a provider will be passed onto a customer meaning we could see internet and phone bills rise by $10 or more (per month). Either that or we will be seeing a new tax introduced.

Who will have access to your metadata?

There is no special committee, no oversight process or (process at all). You would be surprised to read who can access this trove of metadata.

  • Federal, state and territory police
  • Medicare
  • Local councils
  • The taxation office
  • Australia Post
  • ASIO (exempt from having to report the number of metadata requests they make)
  • ASIC
  • Corporations (conducting criminal and financial investigations)

I am not entirely sure what the process will be for metadata, but it does not seem like it will be difficult for various entities to get access if they provide the right paperwork.

Metadata retention: Hollywood’s dream

At present publishers, studios and rights holders are having to pay third parties to monitor P2P (torrent and file sharing traffic), but with metadata retention laws in Australia, they don’t have to pay anyone anymore (except their lawyers).

Consider this situation: a studio like Universal wants to trawl through metadata to find out who downloaded its “original” latest comic book movie adaption. Armed with just some vague IP addresses, they could theoretically be able to get access to the data due to the fact they could mask it as a legal investigation.

Maybe I am over-thinking things here, but this coupled with the Attorney Generals push to police copyright infringement in Australia, it all feels a little too convenient the pieces are starting to fall into place like this.

Will there be misuse?

You can almost guarantee there will be misuse. Look no further than Bankstown Council making a request for metadata to find illegal rubbish dumpers. Yes, you read that correctly. A local council is able to request metadata to track down supposed illegal dumpers, if that is not the definition of unfair overreach I don’t know what is.

The Queensland Police also did something similar in accessing police officers phone records to find out if they were faking sick days, having sexual relationships at academies or missing for several hours.

What can you do to protect yourself?

It is sad that things have come to this. Even if you are not doing anything wrong online, your data is still being collected and could be misused. There are steps to take online that can make you almost anonymous, but as always there can be no guarantees (thanks to agreements like Five Eyes with the US).

Use a reputable VPN and tunnel all of your internet traffic through it. Downloading, web surfing, social media and email. A VPN will actually bypass the scheme almost entirely, all your data will store is a connection to various offshore VPN nodes.

As for phone calls and phone usuage in general, there is very little you can do. A lot of people rarely use their phones these days to make calls, opting for Facebook or Snapchat instead. Use an application like Viber or WhatsApp if you want to make phone calls anonymously (keep in mind this will require data and a paid subscription to these services).

Don’t think of this scheme as only being for targeting the bad guys, anyone at anytime can be a target thanks to metadata. Who knows, even your employer if they follow the right process (whatever that is) can use your own metadata against you (visiting job websites, emailing rival employers) and more.