👍 Failing Fastly

The day the internet stopped | Bitcoin now legal tender | Health app == doctor

👍 Failing Fastly

Hello online and offline friends. After googling the average open rates of an email newsletter of this type, I have learned that Horrific/Terrific is over-performing pretty generously. Thank you for your continued addiction to my content — please share at will so that others can be as cool as you.

This week was good, finally 👍, mostly because I just love it when the internet breaks. Hopefully by now you understand that my five-point scale is utter bullshit. Some other stuff that may or may not have happened, depending on your chosen reality:

  • El Salvador has finally told Bitcoin that they are old enough to have a key to the house of legal tender
  • No internet, but Fastly
  • Some stuff from WWDC 21

🕊️ For a brief moment, we were all free

On Tuesday, about a million sites went down for roughly an hour because of an outage at Fastly, which is a huge CDN provider. Reactions to this have been mixed, but can be simplified into two camps:

Broke: "gosh the guardian won't load, that's a bit annoying isn't it"

Woke: "this is a chance for all of us to finally understand what a CDN is, and how the entirety of the internet is hanging on by a thread nearly all the time"

So, a CDN is: the internet didn't actually go down, but rather there was a problem with a Content Delivery Network (Fastly) which happens to help serve us those websites faster and more efficiently. Rather than fetching content from one place, Fastly will deposit it in servers that are much more local to you so that you get content much more... fastly.

But this time, their WAF (Wet Ass Firewall) broke. The WAF sits between client servers and the internet itself, which is why nothing was getting through — WOOPS.

👩‍🏫 The lesson here: Fastly is in charge of way too much of the internet. A lot of you would disagree with this but my proposed solution is to double down on this approach: put all web hosting and content delivery into one single entity — four or five is simply TOO MANY. That way when it goes down, it all goes down at once — and we all finally get a break from being so fucking connected to each other.


💰 Over to Bitcoin FM

Before we begin, let's just look at Nayib Bukele's (the president El Salvador) profile picture on Twitter.

Does he want us to think he's a cyborg? Kudos, it's working

Interesting. Okay, anyway: he just passed a law that says that Bitcoin is now legal tender in El Salvador. One of the reasons behind this is apparently to help those who would be otherwise financially excluded. E.g. over 40% of the population are on a low income, and most of those people do not even have a bank account.

But yeah okay, Bitcoin will fix this. Is your closest bank 100 miles away? Just use Bitcoin! Is using cash easier for every transaction just because that's how you've done it for your entire life? Well STOP IT and use Bitcoin! Have you noticed that you're poor and don't have time to add even more complexity in your life? You're not going to believe this, but: Bitcoin.

Coming next in Bitcoin: illegal farming

Slightly older news, but still funny: a police drone in the Midlands spotted a lot of heat coming from an industrial unit, and so the police assumed this to be a weed farm. Actually, they were stealing electricity to mine Bitcoin. Here's a tragic quote from the police sergeant involved:

“My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal but clearly abstracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is.”
Jennifer Griffin

Good to know that a police sergeant has finally managed to grasp, in 2021, that the mining of cryptocurrency is in fact not illegal.


🥧 It's Apple pie for desert

Let's have a brief look at WWDC 21 for afters:

🍰 In iOS 15, the health app will be even stupider: don't just track your steps, but also your 'walking steadiness' so that your phone or watch can warn you when you're uh, not quite steady. All this is obviously just another excuse to obsess over your physical wellbeing, and reduce yet another portion of your life to stats, as if you're living in your own RPG.

  • But you can send all those stats straight to your doctor: which is a good thing, because the data stored in your health app is extremely useful to your doctor, so I see no reason why reducing friction here should be a problem. It's only a problem when health data is shared with healthcare institutions or private companies without your knowledge — the way that Google do it, basically.

🍰 There's also more on-device processing: which I am mostly a fan of. The daft and underhanded technologist will say "give me your data, user, so that I may improve your experience by processing it on my servers". Whereas the technologist who sells expensive hardware for profit (and not data) will say "your phone is already a supercomputer — process your data yourself, dammit". And what is the fantastic use-case for this method? To make Siri slightly faster — and work without the internet. Great, I'm so excited to know that the thing I never use will be slightly faster in the near future.

🍰 Don't forget about Hide My Email: which I'm pretty sure was announced a whole two years ago, because here I am writing about it in this tragic blog post, back when I worked in SaaS and was forced to 'be positive' about Big Tech. Hide My Email basically lets you use a temporary relay email to sign up to websites and apps without giving them your real email. It's pretty cool and I've used it already — I don't know why this is being touted as a 'new' thing. I guess I predicted the future? Classic tech blogger trait.

Thank you for making it to the soggy bottom of this email — I hope your weekend is bright and full of alcohol and orgasms (if you like those things).

From you BOF Georgia.


✨Do you disagree with me? Have something to add? Wanna just vent about how software is eating the world? → Email me or get me on Twitter.