Sunday, February 21, 2021

Support FB and Google: The Absurdity of The News Media Bargaining Code



This is my take on the Australian News Media Bargaining Code. A piece of legislation so unbelievably absurd I cant believe it exists in 2021. It is disturbing that private news media companies are skewed and extremely biased in their coverage. Here is what wasnt reported:


  • Private News Companies lobbied the government to force facebook and google to pay them for having links to their websites. The idea of paying to post links is absurd - and breaks the basic functionality of the internet. No company/person should have to pay to link to another website. To make it even more absurd, FB is being made to pay for links it's users (not facebook) are sharing.
  • Media coverage of this issue has been unbelievably biased, and does not point out the basic fact above^.
  • Facebook/Google provide a free service in return for being able to provide targeted ads, which is very valuable. Traditional media is dying as advertisers are leaving them. In my opinion, if they could not adapt to an online world, they deserve to fail. This is the golden opportunity to break up the Murdoch Media Monopoly - which is a whole topic by itself.
  • Regarding the takedown of some government pages / emergency services: Using Facebook/Google is a privilege, not a right. The whole idea that a private company (FB/Google) must show your organization's website is absurd. If an emergency service relies on a free media platform run by a private company, it needs to take a hard look in the mirror.

Private News media companies are not reporting the simple reality that they have lobbied for a law that gets them paid for having links to their websites. Yup. Not the other way round. It is absurd.

What is the News Media Bargaining Code about?


  • Facebook/Google has to pay PRIVATE news companies (ABC is excluded btw).
  • ... by government mandated law in the private companies favour.
  • for sharing links. Not content. Links. FFS. This breaks the internet. It's not how the internet works. Nobody should be forced to pay for sharing links.
  • The private news media monopoly also will get access to the algorithm to give them an unfair advantage vs small and independant news sources.

Private news companies (Read: Murdoch's news empire.) are bleeding because they no longer can profit from ads that typically went into news papers. They failed to adapt to the online shift in media consumption,... and despite 4+ billion hits to their pages from Google, they are failing badly. They will die a natural death if they cannot adapt.

Now they want google to pay them for having links to their websites. And lobbied the government to do so.Facebook took a stand. Google caved. The reason is simple. Facebook's profits dont rely on sharing links to news sites

The private news companies think too highly of themselves – their news is simply not worth much to Facebook. In fact, I would argue facebook is a much nicer place without the news – stick to friends and family stuff. I dont mind seeing the occasional targeted ad (which has led me to some nice purchases and things I use every day). This in return for a place to share photos of my cat and dank memes. Im gonna go out and just say it: I like facebook.

At the end of the day:
1) Company ABCD should never have to pay company XYZ for sharing a link to company XYZ.
2) This fundamentally breaks the way the internet works. (free linking to different sites)
3) I hope google and facebook boycott australian private news companies and not get involved with australian news until this debacle of legislation is over.


Free Speech?
This has nothing to do with free speech. Private companies (google/facebook/tumblr/twitter) can decide to show or not show whatever they want. Even Donald Trump was banned from twitter. Free speech was never an issue then. Citizens still have the freedom of speaking on other platforms and in public without reprisal. Similarly, Murdoch's private media empire has the "freedom" to not report the simple fact that they lobbied the government to get paid for having their websites linked to. If you are upset about not being able to see news on facebook – go somewhere else.

Stealing Content?
No. There is no copyright infringement. Google simply posts links to these news organizations. In fact, google even gives the option of removing spiels and blurbs in search results (if you dont want users to see snippets of your site). If you want an example of this in action: google your favourite crustacean on PrawnHUB.

What's this private news monopoly you keep talking about?
Kevin Rudd talks about the news media bargaining code and the murdoch monopoly. He summarizes it nicely:

Further non-private media sources of information
My favourite youtuber from Sydney:
Economics Explained –

How does it affect actual independant small news outlets?
The media giants also want insights into the algorithm for what is essentially government mandated search result optimization. This removes the advantage that the internet inherently gives to small publishers and independant youtube creators – the type of people who need more exposure. Over time, this means search results are more likely going to be focused on private news media and their version of events. This strengthens their monopoly, and prevents startups from finding a voice.

How does this affect me? Why should I care?
Simple. Facebook will be showing you more ads. Advertisers will be charged more. You will pay more in the end as a consumer. Also, the murdoch media monopoly will be feeding you news that may not align with your interest, as independant/small news outlets will be suppressed. The private media monopoly will have access to Google's algorithm and essentially the best search engine optimization (SEO) which will make their news more visible by default.


Dont get me wrong, Im not an ardent FB/Google fanboy. I believe that:

1) FB/Google/Corporations in general should be un-dodgebly taxed on REVENUE to high heaven.... to support public broadcasters like the ABC/PBS and public news services. And for grants to small/indie/independant news producers.

2) Private old school news companies that fail to adapt to changing times should be allowed to fail. This is a golden opportunity to break up the Murdoch media empire, and for Gen Y and Z to take over with small lean startups.. This is the opportunity to create a vibrant media landscape of lots of small players with tons of potential due to the internet's scalability.

3) Despite all this drama, I still do believe private news companies are suitable investments for a portfolio – heck I own shares in them. Never sold for ages lol. Like all the other apes on r/asx_bets, If these companies die i'll sink with the ship. Sometimes you just gotta stand for ya principles. Never sell! I have DIAMOND HANDS.


Friday, June 21, 2019

PSA: Disabling Digi MTInternationalRoam Overseas Voice Roaming

This post sounds weird because I want people to find it when searching for a few different strings.

I cannot find a way to disable this anywhere online. So I'm posting it for everyone to know.

DiGi has enabled OVERSEAS ROAMING VOICEMAIL by default. Meaning that if you are overseas roaming, and someone calls your mobile, and you do not pick up - you will still be charged for the call... even if you hang up after one second of ringing.

They dont make it easy to change this setting and basically bury it in the settings area
You cannot change it with the MyDiGi app.

You need to use the MCCD code, and be quick before it automatically times out.

1 - My Account
9 - Acccount settings
3 - voicemail
99 - More
8 - other setup
6 - VMS Roaming Off

You have only 60 seconds to key in all of the above.

They purposefully make it hard for you to disable VMS roaming.

Even knowing the sequence, it took me three attempts.

The below are keywords for Bots to find (so people can google this and find it)

Disable DIGI Roaming Voicemail
DiGi Roaming Call Charges Even When Not Pick Up
DiGi Roaming Mysterious Call Charges. No Pick Up.
Digi "The cost ofthe call including: MTInternationalRoam is" (the spelling error with no space is intentional - message as received).
DiGi MTInternationalRoam
MT International Roam

Saturday, March 09, 2019

EzraEats: Gaggan's Emoji Menu (March 2019)

El-bulli in Spain is no more. The days have gone by since I first learnt about Ferran Adria's experimental kitchen in Spain from watching (the late) Anthony Bourdain's review of El-Bulli in 2011 on the No Reservations show on Astro (satellite TV).

I never dreamt of spending so much on one meal, but here I am, at the restaurant of one of Ferran Adria's proteges: Gaggan Anand. He's made a name of himself after moving to Bangkok from India in 2007. His restaurant, Gaggan, has been voted the best in Asia four years running (2015 - 2018).

I consider myself an amateur chef - I owned the original PolyScience Sousvide machine way before the consumer ones (like the Anova) became available. The type of person who makes his own brandied maraschino cherries. I also have a vacuum sealer and smoking gun for the the same purpose - elevating food to that next level.

Gaggan uses staples in any molecular gastronomists' arsenal - dehydrators, spherification, dry ice, freeze drying, flavoured foams, and emulsions. Presentation is artful, with a practical side of providing scent and aesthethics to each course. Some courses bordered on the whimsical and had a clear artistic prerogative.

It took a few emails and phone calls to reserve a space at one of Asia's hottest restaurants. With some luck - and arriving half an hour early - we got a seat at the Lab, the experimental kitchen where Gaggan devised many of his dishes. It has a square counter seating only 12 people, attached to a beautiful colonial bungalow. It had glass walls on all sides and a glass ceilings. A greenhouse in the 35C Thai weather (it's ok, there was a wall of four air conditioners on one side). This is where you want to have the Gaggan experience - there are nice speakers flanking the scene (music plays with each course), and the atmosphere is laid back and open.

25 courses, delivered over two hours, paired with 9 wines (well, one was a sake). Music to match. That is the Gaggan Experience. Four chefs worked continuously to deliver the 25 courses. Our sous-chef was a Singaporean lady, and alongside was a middle aged japanese chef, young french chef, and ?thai chef. Three waiters performed the required swaps of dishes and wine glasses for the 11 people seated around the lab. One guy was behind the bar just keeping up with the dishes. So yeah, I counted 8 people giving their full attention for the duration of the meal. A good amount of prepwork had also obviously occurred in the days leading up to the dinner.

Note: We did not know the names of any of the dishes until the very end where the menu was displayed to us. We only had a list of 25 emoji's during the course of the dinner.

Course 1: A Little Citrus

Berry meringue sandwich with orange sorbet. Served on a frozen stone slab with aromatics.
TL;DR - Refreshing. Interesting texture. Citrus macaroon.

Course 2: Yoghurt Explosion

Gaggan's take on spherification - Yoghurt with indian spices.
It tastes like yoghurt on biriyani rice...without the rice... just the flavour. The essence of it.
It is cold. It is unusual. I like yoghurt on biriyani rice. I dont like this. I like sweet lassi.
TL;DR - Fans of salty lassi will love this.

Course 3: What Did U Lick?

Tastes like three purees of chutneys. The western style of chutney that comes in a jar that you put on a sandwich. With a layer of green providing texture and crunch. Very whimsical dish.
TL;DR - Fun rendition of chutney. Cili sos + ketchup.

Course 4: Chilli Egg Nest

This is nothing like it seems.
The egg is made of white chocolate. It is wafer thin.
Inside is some kind of indian soup with a bit of spice.
It sits on a 'nest' of really delicate and light fried batter (muruku).
It explodes in your mouth with an unexpected symphony of flavours.

TL;DR - White chocolate goes well with kari and muruku!

Course 5: Idly Sambar Breakfast

Idli is a cheap as chips common man breakfast food in india. Sort of like a rice pancake.
This is the $13.50 AUD (~9.5USD) version of it.
The sambar is a light paste in the middle. The bottom is the idli. It's topped with some fragrant foam and a (?dehydrated) curry leaf that is coated with some crunchy thing that also tastes like indian spices. Unmistakably Idli, but with texture (crunchy) and fragrant.

TL;DR - Idli in it's lvl 80 final form.

Course 6: Bombay Bhel Sandwich

Light and breaks up in your mouth. Center is tamarind based. Top is asparagus powder.
I'll be honest - this dish didnt stand out and neither me nor Peggy could remember exactly how it tastes like. I vaguely remember it being a sour indian curry type dish.

TL;DR - Fancy rice puff sandwich.

Course 7: Egg Tart Ghewar

TL;DR - Creamy egg on top of a really crispy (vacuum dried?) spiced fluffy thing.

Course 8: Charcoal Pyaz Kachori

The charcoal infused flour/batter is just for show. It's a very light batter coating a dal paste. The creamy yellow filling tastes almost exactly like dal you have with your roti canai at the mamak stall.

Interlude: Map of India

So it is revealed the last five courses represent typical flavours from five different parts of India. The plates were custom made in Japan - because nobody in India wanted to make them.

Course 9: White Asparagus; No It's Cauliflower

Cold ?cauliflower soup. In a thin shell of white chocolate. Dry ice in the grill. Before serving, an aromatic broth is poured on to the dry ice - it smells like curry with a strong aniseed component to it. Eaten with the aroma from the dry ice. Its hard to describe the flavour, but it does taste indian. Strong points on theatrics. This dish exemplifies how smell is so important in the way we experience flavour. Eaten by itself it doesnt taste very Indian at all.

TL;DR - Cold curry like soup with an aniseed/clove nose.

Course 10: Cheese Porcini Pav

A delicate cheese filled bun. Something like a chinese custard bun, but filled with a few different cheeses instead. Burnt aromatics infuse this dish and take the experience to the next level.

TL;DR - The best damn cheesy buns I've ever tasted.

Course 11: Eggplant Pomegranate Sundae

The wrapper is some kind of dehydrated confection from ?green apples. Pomegranate topped with key lime. In the wrapper is a paste of roasted eggplant. Tastes amazing. Complex taste/nose. Key lime burst of flavour. Texture is remarkable as well, with a crunch followed by pops from the pomegranate and the smooth paste in the base.

TL;DR - Roasted Eggplant with a satisfying crunch.

Course 12: Puchka Liver Mulled Wine

A crispy shell. Red paste ?pate inside. Light, delicate, slightly vegetal/herbal from the greens.

TL;DR - Complex crunchy balls.

Course 13: Sea Urchin Hay Ice Cream

A generous serving of sea urchin, on top of a hollow roll of 'nori' (green apple confection). Inside the roll is a serve of hay flavoured ice cream (the hay that horses eat). The flavours and textures blend together very well. This was a special dish. Waste of good sea urchin though - i would have preferred it on sushi rice with nori.. That said, one doesnt usually taste uni with a crunch and ice cream.

TL;DR - An interesting take on uni.

Course 14: Otoro Sushi Tribute

Fatty tuna belly. A fingernail sized patch of freshly grated wasabi. Topped with yuzu zest. Atomized (read: spray bottle) yuzu juice for some acidity that perfectly cuts the fatty tuna. It's placed on a light crispy rice meringue that melts into nothingness in your mouth. A perfect balance of fat, citrus, spice (wasabi) and crunch.

TL;DR - Best fatty tuna i've ever tasted. Thanos would have been proud. Perfectly balanced.

Course 15: Winter Carrots Pepper Soup

What happens when an ang moh is told to name rasam?

I like rasam. I like this. Savoury and sour soup.
Unlike normal rasam which is light in texture, this is heavier - something has been pureed into the soup (winter carrots?)

TL;DR - It's basically a nice rasam. A nice 12 dollar serve of rasam.

Course 16: River Prawn Balchao

Big juicy tiger prawn. Perfectly cooked in a tandoor with indian spices. Coated with a creamy coconut sauce. The red stuff is not salt - the same creamy sauce was freeze vacuum dried and then pulverized into the powder. It's concentrated powdered version of the sauce.

TL;DR - Tandoori prawn perfectly cooked with nasi kerabu sauce.

Course 17: Scallops Cold Curry

Introduced to us as "Curry" - it's a western term unknown in india. This dish comprises only raw ingredients. It tastes like curry. It's cold. Marinated raw hokkaido scallops with creamed coconut, and spiced with chilli oil and curry leaf infused oil (the green stuff). You mix it up before eating it. It takes 7 minutes to plate each dish, but only a few seconds to eat. It's topped with Umibudou (sea grapes) that grow an hour away from the restaurant. The purple crisp is made from seaweed i think.

TL;DR - Possibly the most interesting take on scallop sashimi ever - raw curry.

Course 18: Tibetian Momo Vindaloo

A deconstructed savoury dumpling. In some kind of sourish pan jus or reduction. 10 points for presentation. Ultimately nothing special in terms of taste.

TL;DR - A pretty dumpling.

Course 19: Lamb Chop Lemon Chili

The best lamb cutlet I have ever tasted in my life. Period. I eat lab cutlets quite frequently as I live in Melbourne. This was truly next level stuff. It's as soft as the best wagyu steaks. It almost melts in the mouth. Perfectly crispy on the outside. Pink all the way through. Served with a emulsion that is also a bit sour which complements it beautifully. Emulsions coat the meat alot better than traditional mint sauce. I am certain the meat was cooked sous vide and finished in the broiler. Its not obvious in the photo, but the center has that pale color you get when you sous vide meat.

I've tried to make my own sous vide lamb cutlets. They dont come close. These are melt in your mouth amazing with a crunchy outer layer. Perfect spices. Perfect sauce.

Course 20: Sea Bass Bengali Paturi

Baked in a banana leaf. This dish came to us wrapped in cedarwood. It was burning when it arrived at the table. You eat this while breathing in the smoke from the embers of a thin shell of cedarwood. The bengali mustard sauce went well with the fish and cedarwood smoke.

TL;DR - White fish and mustard, with a hint of smoke.

Course 21: Grandmas Egg Spinach; My Death Star

The star wars theme played when this dish was brought out to us. Aged basmati rice served with a spinach curry topped with an egg yolk. Not bad. A bit gimmicky.

TL;DR - Decent curry. For those who need rice in their meal.

Course 22: This Rose Has No Thorns

Beauty and the beast. Obviously. The rose petals tasted the same for both the red and white versions. Mildly sweet. Nice cookie. Nothing special in terms of taste. 10 points for presentation.

TL;DR - Fancy cookie.

Course 23: Achu Murukku Strawberry Yoguri

You know that time you got bored during chinese new year and didnt know what to have for dessert so you took some new year biscuit and added ice cream and jam? Chinese new year biscuit with frozen yoghurt underneath and topped with strawberry jam. The biscuit is exactly like the CNY one, but without coconut and is more savory.

TL;DR - CNY biscuit with frozen yoghurt and strawberry jam.

Course 24: Yin and Yang Salt Pepper Popcorn

It's an ice cream cookie. The center is crushed savoury popcorn. It's covered in sesame ice cream and coated in sesame dust.

TL;DR - Popcorn with sesame ice cream.

Course 25: Dark Side of The Moon

Imagine a dry natural sea sponge that crumbles in your mouth with some chocolate taste. The colors are just colored syrup. Bland. Not very sweet. Doesnt really taste like anything. Lightly sweet and crumbly in texture. Served with much fanfare - lights were turned off, and everyone got the dish at the same time as the lights were turned on. Least exciting in terms of taste of all the 25 courses.

Cover to Dark Side of The Moon, by Pink Floyd.

TL;DR - Homage to Pink Floyd. I dont like Pink Floyd.

The Wine Pairing

AUD 210 for 9 glasses (roughly one for every three courses). I am not a wine person, but the Sommolier (An American guy Mr Otara) poured a good selection of diverse wines. This is not unreasonable, as each AUD 23 glass came with a running commentary and tasting notes. They were legitimately good wines.

My Girlfriend Peggy Notes:
- A french champagne that's nicer than regular Moet.
- A rose that was dry (not sweet) and unfined (read: cloudy).
- A weird wine made from unrefined grapes including skins/stems. Had a lambic beer nose, and tasted like a young scotch.
- A white with the old wine taste. Really good.
- A red with the old wine taste. Dont like that old red wine taste.
- A really fragrant Junmai sake that tastes better than most Junmai Daiginjo sakes.

The Kinky Bit
The THB6500 price is a lie. There's 17% tax on top of that. Also it's THB4000 for a wine pairing. Distinct pain felt in the wallet totalled AUD$902 (About THB 20k / USD 630) for two people with wine pairing for one person. 25 courses for two with 9 glasses of wine total. Sharing the wine pairing is not a bad idea, as you would be quite plastered after 9 glasses of wine.

TL;DR - Avoid using the safeword by sharing the wine pairing.