The Australian CovidSafe App Doesn’t Even Work On iOS Properly

And the government wonders why people were sceptical of the CovidSafe rollout (besides the very real safety concerns). It seems the CovidSafe rollout is flawed, with the discovery that the iOS version doesn’t even work properly.

Software developer Joshua Byrd recently posted his findings on Twitter and they’re pretty damning. Basically, the app will only ever work in the foreground with the screen on for iOS users.

On a technical level as explained in further Tweets, the phone will not broadcast UUID’s unless it is open. Coincidentally, the same issue was reported with Singapore’s app which CovidSafe is based upon and seemingly, nobody learned their lesson from.

Basically, unless you are aware of the power saving mode which just makes you leave the app open in your pocket upside down meaning you can’t use any other apps, the app itself is useless for a majority of iOS users.

Apple and Google have been working on their own OS level contact tracing API’s and presumably, it would be in the interest of the Australian government to migrate over to these API’s asap. Not only from a technical perspective, but also to alleviate privacy concerns users have over the app being used in the future as a surveillance tool.

Why Is Voat Still A Thing?

Remember Voat? The non-censored alternative to Reddit that saw an influx of users in 2015 after Reddit started cleaning up its house a bit and claims of censorship became a hot button issue that drove people away from Reddit.

The site has now become an anti-vaxxer, conspiracy theorist platform that resembles an uncontrollable raging dumpster fire. Although to be fair, the site was always teetering on the edge even in the beginning.

After Reddit started banning subreddits such as those dedicated to PizzaGate, many moved over to Voat. And when the whole QAnon thing came to be and Reddit subsequently banned that community, they also moved to Voat.

As you can see, Voat sure knows how to attract the right people to its platform. I haven’t been to the site in years, so it was an interesting experience to go and see what constitutes front-page material these days and well, the screenshots speak for themselves.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic is a hot button issue right now, it is not unexpected to see a tonne of paranoid conspiracy theories surrounding vaccinations and COVID-19.

My question is, how is Voat even still alive? Many of its subverses (sub communities) seem to be completely dead like /v/javascript and the only ones that seem to be thriving are the conspiracy theory sub communities.

I Am Starting To Lose Respect For Elon Musk; Has He Become Unhinged?

The signs have been there for a while now. Elon Musk is the eccentric real life version of Tony Stark, who some believe is going to save the world with his forward thinking investments and ideas like making electric vehicles cool or making his own rockets.

But, for all of Elon’s great and commendable achievements, come some highly questionable decisions and remarks. Known for his non-corporate approach to communication, he has landed himself into hot water a few times now.

One of the most notable instances is when he called a scuba diva who helped rescue some kids trapped in a Thai cave a “pedo” it landed him in court.

Then there is Elon’s run ins with the SEC for his Tweets which has been perceived as market manipulation.

The Coronavirus panic is dumb, will go down as one of the stupidest things such an intelligent person has ever said. Then he voiced his doubts on the connection between COVID-19 and the deaths in Italy.

And more recently, Musk called for America to be “freed” in a Boomer style all-caps Tweet, FREE AMERICA NOW. The kind of remark that wouldn’t sound out of place at a Trump MAGA rally or pro-gun lobby funded event deriding legislation to take away their guns. You only have to look at some of the responses agreeing with Elon affiliated with the “right” many who are self described patriots according to their bios.

Many would argue that Elon has never been completely hinged to begin with. The awkward genius that seemingly can do no wrong amongst with die-hard fanbase.

The New Imgflip AI Meme Generator Is Fun (and dark)

I love a good meme and when I encountered Imgflip’s AI meme generator recently, even more so. As I cycled through the generator I noticed that it started producing some interesting memes.

The site describes the process for obtaining data to produce some of the AI memes:

The network was trained using public images generated by users of the Imgflip Meme Generator for the top 48 most popular Meme Templates. Beware, no profanity filtering was done on the training data so you may encounter vulgarity.

I have spent a lot of time just randomly generating memes, more than I would like to admit. It produces some questionable memes and some good ones as well.

The Eric Andre “why would” meme perhaps produced some of the darkest memes of all.

One of my favourite of the bunch is this one, which seems quite accurate:

And finally, one of my favourites:

You will never be a good communist.

I downloaded the Australian government’s CovidSafe Tracking App (so you don’t have too if you don’t wanna)

The controversial Australian government contact tracing application based on the Singapore version has finally been released for Australians. Understandably, a lot of people are concerned about their privacy and whether or not the government messed this up.

I had a spare phone lying around, so I installed the application for the lols. I decided to see if I could find anything nefarious with the app or if it drains my battery like Singaporeans reported their app did.

I am talking about the Android version in this article, presumably the Apple version is also the same, albeit when we speak about permissions, iOS offers its own set of permissions that developers can request.

Firstly, I commend the Australian government to an app which doesn’t look terrible. Usually, government built apps look terrible and work terribly, probably because it’s not a from-scratch application and based on Singapore’s app TraceTogether.

This is not going to be a technical deep-dive on the application or decompiling it and discussing lines of code. If you’re looking for the decompiled source, the community has already started doing that here. Although, the Australian government says the code will be made open source, who knows if or when that will be happening.

It appears on the surface the app is quite unremarkable. Like the Singapore version, it encrypts your data locally on your device and only through a request can you allow your data to be decrypted. Right now as the app currently stands, it seems safe. However, I have valid concerns which you should also have.

Does CovidSafe Drain My Battery?

From what I could see running it for a few hours, no. While I did not go out and try and get it to make a “trace handshake” with anyone else, it appears the app doesn’t use that much battery. In the few hours I used it, I saw a few percent drop which is nothing compared to Spotify, Pokemon Go or YouTube.

The application also appears to work fine in the background on Android as well. You get a notification telling you the app is active in the background and that’s it. There is no need to run the app and have it the only one open meaning you can interact and use other apps and features on your phone.

ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION

While the app only appears to access Bluetooth right now and uses it to determine the vicinity you are in relation to other app users, the app asks for the ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION permission on Android. If you read up on this permission here in the Android documentation, pay close attention to what it provides.

Allows the API to determine as precise a location as possible from the available location providers, including the Global Positioning System (GPS) as well as WiFi and mobile cell data.

Without fearmongering, I want to point out that the application at the time of writing this only ever uses Bluetooth. The ability to use GPS or anything else for location does not appear to be in the current application.

In theory, there is nothing stopping the Australian government from making an update which allows them to also track your location via GPS. This permission gives the app the ability to track GPS data if it wanted too, but I want to stress again, the app does NOT currently do this.

Concerns About Privacy

The CovidSafe application as far as I can see is safe. It does everything that the government said it would and it also appears to not be sending anything off in secret to the government or tracking your movements. However, I implore you the reader to be sceptical for a few reasons.

The first reason relates to the government’s mandatory data retention legislation. Law enforcement agencies are being given browser history of people under investigation, despite the fact the legislation specifically excluding it.

Given the LNP passed such legislation in 2015 and ever since there have been numerous reports and instances of metadata being incorrectly given to agencies, people and agencies getting access to data that they shouldn’t and overall confusion around how the scheme and subsequent legislation works.

Since the introduction of this legislation, there has also been significant scope creep where more and more agencies and bodies are able to access metadata. (from Greyhound Racing Victoria to Consumer Affairs and various local councils). If you think only law enforcement and national security agencies can access your metadata, think again.

A very real scenario

The second and most important reason relates to the controversial encryption weakening legislation that was passed in 2018. Given everything that has happened since then, it’s easy to forget this legislation passed and still exists.

If you think that the concerns around privacy and data are invalid, looking no further than law enforcement agencies asking for added capabilities to be added into the application. A request which the Morrison government knocked back, but the fact they even asked in the first place should concern you.

Here is where things get muddy and it’s a concern that not even the government can reassure citizens on. The encryption weakening legislation passed in 2018 could in theory, allow the government to add in a backdoor or added features to the application in a stealth update and nobody would be allowed to say anything.

All of the legal provisions are there to allow the Morrison government to enable this application (with a few lines of added code) to become something that can track your location through GPS given the permission to do so has already been granted.

Legally speaking (I am not a lawyer) the interpretation of all of this is the promised safeguards for the CovidSafe app would NOT override the backdoor encryption legislation or any other established legislation if they were to ever conflict with one another. As such, the reassurances and promises that protections are in place for CovidSafe are nothing more than empty words.

While I do not doubt that this app could be incredibly effective in helping trace COVID-19 infections and spread, there are just too many unknowns for me to consider installing this app. At the end of the day, make the decision that feels right to you and do not let this post or anyone else’s opinion do anything more than inform you and allow you to make your own decisions.

Dinnerly Australia — COVID-19 Review

As I explained in my HelloFresh review here, we have been trying out at home meal kits because of the shortages of basics in the grocery stores here in Australia such as; mince, flour, eggs and so on.

After trying HelloFresh, we decided to try out Dinnerly which markets itself as, “Australia’s most affordable home dinner kit” it’s actually owned by Marley Spoon, just a cheaper version for those who cannot afford Marley Spoon which is one of the more expensive options.

First Impressions

The ordering experience itself was smooth. Enter your details and then choose your meals, it’s a similar story to HelloFresh and presumably every other meal kit service out there.

The menu we were shown for the week we were ordering was a stark contrast to HelloFresh. The affordability aspect of Dinnerly is most of their meals have just six ingredients and basic ones.

We got a box with four meals, and two portions in each. We assumed like HelloFresh, the portions would be massive and feed my wife and I as well as our two young kids.

On the surface, this all looks great. I was particularly excited for the tacos and if you’re wondering why I rated them 1 star, keeping reading because I explain why further down.

You get what you pay for

Like anything in life, when you pay less you get less. With Dinnerly the meals are the kinds of things that anyone with a copy of Jamie Oliver’s cheap meal recipe books would expect to make. Chillis, curries and chicken/veg.

The first sign you have ordered a cheap meal kit is the packaging. This is no HelloFresh, the ingredients are kind of just thrown into the small box that ships to your door. Nothing is categorised by colour or any system, you have to dig through and find what you’re looking for.

Quality-wise, the produce just didn’t look that good. The vegetables and salads just looked less fresh than what you might find in a supermarket. Allegedly they come straight from the farm, which is maybe an acronym for some large freezer where they keep everything stored.

Our favourite meal by far was the parmesan meatloaf, it was a pleasant surprise given we are not big meatloaf eaters. It was actually a really nice meal, we had this on the first day. It was a nice introduction to Dinnerly, until the subsequent nights.

Weird pantry staples

Because you get less in the box, you’re required to provide more pantry staples beyond oil, salt and pepper. For the Chimichurri Chicken recipe, this is what the recipe asks you to provide; red wine vinegar, 1 garlic clove, honey and olive oil from the pantry. The Indian Halloumi Curry required; 2 garlic cloves, olive oil and tomato paste.

Perhaps the most demanding of all of the recipes in terms of pantry staples was the Beef and Parmesan meatloaves. This recipe required you to provide; 1 egg, olive oil, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce.

This is a recurring theme with Dinnerly. They might ship you 6 ingredient meals, but they require you to have another six ingredients in your pantry. The oil is a common staple, but tomato paste not so much.

I am looking at this through a distorted HelloFresh lens and with HelloFresh they required pantry staples as well, but never to this degree. At most HelloFresh required oil, butter and an occasional egg. Never tomato paste, tomato sauce or anything else. They also always provided garlic when needed.

The Ranchero Taco Incident 2020

This is the recipe we were looking forward to the most. After eating our way through the collection of so-so meals, the tacos seemed like the redeeming meal of the week (or so we thought).

After meticulously following the steps, as the mince was cooking a noticeable amount of fat was present. The recipe calls for 1 tsp of olive oil added to the pan before cooking the mince, we didn’t do that and it was a good call considering the pan was incredibly oily, it didn’t need any more.

The disappointment of these tacos emanated around the dining table. Our kids who love tacos and were excited for these as well barely ate any. My wife and I were similarly disgusted with the amount of fat dripping onto the plate.

There was so much oil on our plates, I was convinced that the USA was preparing to invade our dining room.

This incident really cemented that Dinnerly was not for us. We are not food snobs, we just don’t like being drowned in copious amounts of oil and meals that have some semblance of taste in them.

Maybe we got a bad box or maybe Dinnerly is so focused on cutting costs and being affordable they’re willing to send inferior meat and produce to their subscribers.

I was so disappointed I contacted Dinnerly to let them know of my disappointment and frustration. I felt misled, these tacos were meant to taste good, how hard is it to make tacos? While they apologised, they said they would pass on my feedback to the “culinary team” which is probably code for, “We’re not going to do anything”

We will not be paying to try Dinnerly again. I wouldn’t recommend Dinnerly to my friends, family or even my enemies. It was subpar and disappointing, really not that much cheaper than HelloFresh. Save your money and get a HelloFresh box instead or just buy your own ingredients, your chances of disappointment will be so much lower.

COVID-19 Remote Is Not Working Real Remote Work

Globally, many of us are all in the same unfortunate and unprecedented situation because of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19. I am fortunate to both work in an industry where I still have a job and for a company mostly unaffected by COVID-19.

Sadly, for many, this is not the case as people find themselves out of work through no fault of their own. For others, they find themselves working remotely; for many, it’s their first time.

With many countries in some kind of lockdown, unnecessary travel has meant we can only leave the house for essential purposes like food and exercise. It’s a difficult time for everyone for a multitude of reasons.

I have been fortunate to already work remotely for the last two-and-a-half years. Working remotely is not a new experience to me, but working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique and trying experience.

I want you to know as someone who worked remotely before this, that if you’re finding remote work difficult right now, this is not what is usually looks like. It’s not this difficult or stressful; it’s terrific if done right.

I am not the most outgoing person in the world, but not being able to go out for dinner, to a Cafe, for a nice breakfast somewhere or catch up for a beer with a friend. You do not realise you are more social than you are until you can’t be.

Right now, there is no separation of work and life. We work at home, and then we stay at home. We sleep and wake up at home, and we work at home. The need to run errands and other non-essential activities have taken a backseat for us all for the time being.

We are all stressed. We’re currently experiencing COVID-19 news fatigue, distant from friends and family. For those of us who have kids, they’re probably at home and causing some new logistic problems to work around.

For many suddenly forced to work from home, it sucks for you right now. Many are probably begging to go back into the office and have some kind of colleague interaction. The situation you find yourself in right now is not remote work; this is self-imprisonment. People shouldn’t be forced to work remotely, merely given the option to take it or leave it.

For our family, we have two young kids at home. My wife is studying to be a nurse, and she relied on our 4.5-year-old energetic sun going to kindy so she could study and complete all of the extra subjects she took on to finish her degree faster. All of a sudden, he is home, and our 1.5-year-old daughter exploring cupboards and draws is as well.

The house is chaotic at the best of times, sometimes it’s Armageddon as our son, in particular, is used to playing with other kids, playing on the playground or doing things outside. He loves the science centre and Dreamworld theme park, both of which are not possible right now.

Don’t let this pandemic warp your perspective or make you think that working remotely is always this stressful and terrible; it’s not. When all of this passes, I hope many give it another go and realise that working from home during a pandemic versus not working during a pandemic are two different experiences.

If you are struggling to work remotely right now, that’s to be expected given the circumstances. But, when things go back to normal (whenever that is) you will appreciate the flexibility and cost-savings of working remotely versus an office and commute.

Times are tough for everyone right now. We will get through this.

HelloFresh Australia — COVID-19 Review

This COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus has really changed the world and how we live. Even the basic things we take for granted like being able to go to the shop and buy meat, bread, rice and toilet paper have become difficult tasks.

We have a family of four. Two adults and two children, my son is four years old and my daughter is fourteen months old. Out of frustration of not being able to find basics in the stores like; flour, eggs, rice and mince, we decided to explore home meal kits.

In Australia, you have a plethora of different options like HelloFresh, Marley Spoon, Dinnerly and a few others I am failing to name here. Ultimately, we settled on trying out HelloFresh first.

We had avoided meal kits up until now because we prefer shopping and cooking for ourselves, and the cost of meal kits can be really expensive if you don’t get a deal. HelloFresh is notorious for their first-order offers, to the point where it is a no-brainer to give it a shot (especially in times like these).

Ask my wife or anyone that knows me well, I am a sceptical person and when we decided to try HelloFresh I was sceptical that it would be any better than cooking food ourselves. As a family of young active children who keep us busy, sometimes coming up with ideas for what to cook is actually one of the hardest parts of cooking for a family.

Before continuing, I want to point out this is not a paid review. I didn’t receive any free boxes or meals, this review is based on our own experience of trying out HelloFresh.

The Initial Experience

The ordering experience is quite smooth. Like all meal kit providers, you don’t actually get to see what options are available before going through the order process and putting in your details because the meals change on a weekly basis. We chose the Classic Plan and we opted for the two servings given our kids are not adults, they eat a lot less.

There was a decent variety of dishes to choose from, as well as a nice selection of premium meals you can add which cost extra per serving on top of the base box cost. After choosing our delivery day and timeframe, we hit submit and chose our meals. You have a little bit of time to make alterations to your box before it gets delivered. We chose a delivery between 12:00 am and 7 am, so we could wake up to the box at our door.

The selection of meals changes from week-to-week, with a selection of the meals you get included in your chosen box and the option to add one or more “premium meals” into your box for an additional cost.

If you’re sceptical about the meals, they offer their recipes up for free on their website here which is crazy. So, if you wanted to try before trying, you could theoretically buy the ingredients yourself and try out some of the meals.

The Food // Ingredients

Before we get into the recipes themselves, the packaging and coordination of the recipes themselves inside of the box are fantastic. The bags are colour/pattern coded to match the recipe cards, so you know what belongs to what recipe. Everything is nicely contained.

Now, we got the Classic Plan box but, we also added a premium meal into the box as well, the Tarragon Fillet Steak. Based on the images and recipe, we were looking forward to this one the most (we ate it last).

Houston, we have a packaging problem

Like many, as a household, we are conscious of our footprint and try minimising waste. Which is why when you open up your HelloFresh box for the first time, you might be shocked over the amount of packaging inside. From the food packaging itself to the cool gel bags keeping the cold stuff cool, there is a lot of packaging inside of the box.

However, I want to commend HelloFresh for using as much recyclable and biodegradable packaging as possible. There is actually very minimal use of single-use plastics, and the box through to the cool gel bags can be reused for other purposes.

One thing that immediately stood out was the freshness of the ingredients. The salads looked fresh, nothing was wilted or depressed looking. Onions and garlic for the dishes equally as fresh and quality of the other more expensive inclusions like meat and parmesan cheese equally impressive from a quality perspective. The fillet for the Tarragon Fillet Steak above was exceptionally trimmed and a decent portion as well, nice colouring to the meat.

Of all of the meals we got in our first box, we kept the recipe cards for all of them. In fact, just last night prior to writing this review, we tried out the Tarragon Fillet Steak recipe again, but using storebought ingredients because we loved it so much. And the only noticeable difference between ours and HelloFresh was we didn’t use the same quality parmesan cheese as they provided, but it still tasted amazing nonetheless.

One thing I want to point out is the portion sizes are HUGE, a lot bigger than we anticipated. We chose the two-person option for our family of four, between my wife and I, as well as kids, we still had instances where we had some leftover food. You get really good value for money with the Classic Box, I cannot speak for the other boxes and portions.

One thing to be aware of if you’re cooking for younger kids or people who do not have a tolerance for spice, many of the meals HelloFresh send you will contain chilli or some degree of spice. Nothing was “blow your head off” level of spice, but our 4.5 year son hates anything spicy and seems to be quite sensitive to it. Fortunately, like if you were cooking at home, leave the chilli out or only put a little bit in.

HelloFresh teaches you how to cook

Just because HelloFresh is an at-home meal kit doesn’t mean it is lazy. This is the one thing that will surprise you about HelloFresh (I can’t really speak for other kits) you learn cooking techniques you might not be accustomed to. The boxes advocate for making as much from scratch as possible, from fragrantly throwing spices into a pan to a classic French technique of cooking in butter, you will learn invaluable cooking skills.

While there are some meals which require very little time, there are some that require upwards of an hour (cooking and preparation), but I can assure you that the end result makes it all worth the while.

Is HelloFresh Expensive?

While I understand everyone has a different budget for their weekly grocery shop, the benefit of HelloFresh meals is they come with basically everything but the pantry staples like oil. For some, HelloFresh beyond the discount you get off your first box (using something like the link below) will understandably be too expensive to continue on with.

We are currently in an unprecedented time in society where the COVID-19 pandemic is causing people to lose their jobs and livelihoods through no fault of their own. For the Classic Box, you’re looking at about $10 per serving (per person), so two meals for $20. Honestly, that’s a lot cheaper than eating out, even if you get a good deal at the local pub (which nobody is right now given everything is closed).

From our perspective, we spend around $250-$300 AUD per week in household grocery expenses. Keep in mind that is for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and other snacks and pantry staples. HelloFresh really only covers the dinner component, leaving you with two other slots and two in-between spaces to fill.

If you compare HelloFresh to eating out, like I mentioned above, it works out cheaper. The quality of the meals is quite high, that they make eating out not seem like an attractive option. Even if you were to splash out for a premium meal, it would still work out cheaper than eating out.

I don’t think HelloFresh is expensive if you view it as “eating out” if you view it as a replacement to grocery shopping, that changes the perspective and equation entirely to the point where I do not think you can compare them. Another upside we appreciated is everything is portioned out, with nutritional information meaning if you’re counting calories it takes out the guesswork.

If your family is on a budget, maybe you recently lost your job or were stood down, or you know how to meal prep and enjoy grocery shopping, HelloFresh probably isn’t for you. Still, giving it a try using the generous first-order discount below might be a nice little treat, even if you cancel your subscription afterwards. A week without having to meal prep or budget might be a nice change.

If you do give it a try

If you’re interested in trying it out and getting a cheap box, using this link will knock $59 AUD off of your first order. You don’t have to use my link, I’m sure you might be able to find a deal elsewhere, but if this review helped to convince you to try it out, it would mean a lot to my family and me if you use our link if you were going to try it anyway.

If you have already tried out HelloFresh, drop a comment below and let me know how it went and if it worked out for you.

How To Use/Enable The New Tab Groups Feature In Google Chrome 81

For years the people have been asking for tab groups in Chrome. While extensions do exist, they’re somewhat fickle. Now, tab groups are natively supported in Google Chrome itself. While the feature is rolling out in Google Chrome 81, if you’re like me, you’re running Chrome 81 and the feature isn’t on for you yet.

If you right-click on a tab and can’t see the new tab group options, you need to enable it. To visit the flags screen, open a new tab and visit: chrome://flags/ – in the search input, enter groups.

Enable it and then relaunch Chrome. Right clicking on a tab should give you some new options for tab groups.

It really is that easy. And then you can name your groups or choose from a few colours to distinguish them in the UI. While the new feature is great, it still feels like it needs a bit more polish before it’ll be a nice to use feature.

Did The Australian Federal Police (AFP) Violate Its Own Charter?

Today, I came across something which quite frankly shocked me. The AFP Tweeted out the following Tweet.

On the surface, this might seem like a harmless attempt to tell people about efforts to notify and help those affected by the bushfire, but this singular Tweet truly masks a horrifying truth of an allegedly impartial agency that investigates serious crimes Tweeting about a matter, not in their interests whatsoever.

According to the Australian Federal Police’s own charter:

You can expect us to:

be professional, impartial, fair, honest and reasonable in our dealings;

The AFP is allegedly meant to be an impartial agency, although, given recent events surrounding certain allegations against LNP politicians, suffice to say confidence in AFP’s impartiality is not exactly the highest right now.

At first, I honestly thought it was a parody account (which would have made sense), but this is a real Tweet by the AFP. I had to ask myself, “Am I overreacting, is anyone else seeing what I am seeing?” you only have to see the replies to the Tweet to see that many take issue with the AFP advertising the government.

As you can see, people are legitimately questioning this Tweet and why the AFP published it. Did the AFP write it, were they asked/instructed by the government to do so? Why was this published?

The AFP has some explaining to do about this Tweet. Will they be called into question and who investigates the AFP over charter violations like this (if anyone)?

There is cause for concern when the very agency that exists to investigate serious crimes, as well as politician misconduct and illegal activity, appears to be putting out PR pieces for a government currently embroiled in controversy on numerous fronts.

Given all of the controversy surrounding other political matters like the rort sports situation, Angus Taylor and a plethora of other controversies and allegations in amongst one of the worse bushfire seasons on record: this will probably get buried along with everything else.