Issue 542

Thursday, 14th December 2017

Today's issue is super early because I'm off to watch Star Wars with my mates (yes, I have friends you bastard) then spend the rest of the day talking shit about it.

In This Issue


Multiple people responsible for Mirai botnet have been caught & charged

Remember the Mirai botnet that took down sites like Twitter, GitHub, PlayStation network and anyone using the Dyn DNS service back in October 2016? The culprits behind that botnet have now been arrested. The main dude was Paras Jha of New Jersey with Josiah White, from Pennsylvania and Dalton Norman, Louisiana charged as helping Paras out. These guys "infected over 100,000 home routers with malware that helped to generate clickfraud" and then took over heaps of shitty IoT devices to create one of the biggest ever DDoS attacks ever. Brian Krebs has been covering this story in detail for a while. If you want more detail, head over to his blog. Fascinating stuff.

NBN has new CVC pricing it hopes ISPs will use to suck less

NBN has announced new CVC plans that it hopes RSPs will will use to offer a less congested service (one of the biggest complaints about the NBN) to their customers. The main features are an NBN50 and NBN100 package that'll will give each customer a dedicated 2Mbps or 2.5Mbps of bandwidth. On top of that, ISPs that buy more CVC for these users will receive a discount and can buy a megabit of bandwidth for $8/m. The NBN50 package gives ISPs 1.6x more bandwidth per user for the same price - something I'm sure they'll appreciate. Kenneth Tsang has more info worth a read if you like numbers.

Patreon apologises for changing its fee structure without consulting users

Patreon has decided not to carry out the planned fee changes that upset its user base so hard. In a contrite apology on their blog, they admit that the planned changes "disproportionately impacted $1 - $2 patrons" and that they going to "work with you to come up with the specifics" (i.e: what they should have done in the first place). More likely, Patreon noticed that the resentment towards them was palpable and that both supporters and creators were leaving in greater numbers than they calculated.

Synaptics has a better version of its under glass fingerprint reader on the way

Synaptics, who you might be familiar with as the people that make trackpads for laptops that are nowhere near as good as Apple's, have announced that they'll mass produce optical in-display fingerprint sensors in 2018. The first generation of these sensors (the FS9100) already exist, but they're crap. They were more of a tech demo than a mainstream product. These new ones (the FS9500) are apparently way better, and will start appearing in phones from a "top 5 OEM" (Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Oppo / Vivo, or Xiaomi) very soon. The chances of Apple going back to Touch ID are basically zero, even if this tech rocks, so I reckon it'd be Huawei. They're always keen to announce a new phone with a cool gimmick.

Toyota & Panasonic to work harder on EV batteries, Hyundai to release 7 EVs over 5 years

Toyota and Panasonic have finally decided to cozy up and use their respective skill-sets to develop electric car batteries by agreeing to "Start Feasibility Study of Joint Automotive Prismatic Battery Business". Toyota make (some) of the best cars in the world and Panasonic make (most) of the best batteries in the world, so these two Japanese industrial powerhouses working closer together makes so much sense. Unfortunately, the fruits of this relationship won't be on the market until "the early 2020s" - way too far away. Unlike Hyundai, who announced on the same day that they will have 7 new EVs in the next 4 years.

Not News, But Still Cool

Nintendo Switch lovefest

I don't own a Nintendo Switch, but articles like these two from The Ringer and Kotaku are tempting me to indulge myself and get one. The Ringer argues that the Switch is Nintendo's finest console since the Wii, with multiple game of the year worthy titles (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild the main one) that have made it a sales success, dragging Nintendo out of a multi-year funk thanks to the weird Wii U. Mark Serrels over at Kotaku goes as far to say that the versatility of the Nintendo Switch is so good, that it allows him to enjoy videogames without the guilt of avoiding the multitude of other responsibilities a normal functioning adult endures on a daily basis. It's a powerful recommendation!

I dream of Shenzhen

After a late night Aliexpress binge, I end up wanting to go to Shenzhen to see all that crap for myself in person. That then leads to me looking up trip reports of other nerds who have been to Shenzhen. One of my favourites is Jon Oxer's detailed post of his first experience in Shenzhen. It's a bit old now (I think it was written in 2014?), but it's still a useful source on where to go in the massive city, how to traverse the sprawling markets and general etiquette in a foreign land. If Jon's story interested ya, you'll love this 1 hr doco by Wired about Shenzhen that I've linked to this a few times in the past.

STEM gifts for kids

Scott Hanselman has come up with a nice list of STEM related toys for kids. Good for those of you who need to give a child relative a present this Christmas, but have no idea what to get them that would be kinda useful and educational. I'll also add in a link to Pakronics, which is an Australian store that sells a lot of this kinda stuff and Little Bird Electronics, who have many kits in stock and ready to ship in time for Christmas too. Does anyone know of some solid resources (PDFs, books, video series) that can guide an adult and a kid through some fun Arduino or Raspberry Pi projects?

Use the force Luke!