Issue 718

Thursday, 6th September 2018

In This Issue


Twitter & Facebook front up to US committee hearings, again

Jack Dorsey (Twitter's CEO) and Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook's COO) were grilled by politicians in the US overnight. Both Dorsey & Sandberg attended the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing (Google was invited, offered some mid-level exec, the politicians said it has to be someone important, so Google just didn't rock up) and Dorsey was verballed for almost 4 hours by the House Energy Committee. In the Senate Committee, most of the talk was focussed on preventing foreign influence on US elections and what Twitter & Facebook are doing to prevent it. The House Committee was basically a room of angry Republicans yelling at Jack Dorsey about how Twitter is shadow-banning conservative voices on the platform. If you're super bored, the full Senate Committee and House Committee hearings are on YouTube. Mark Zuckerberg has an op-ed in the Washington Post on this topic, if you're interested in a summary of what Facebook's stance is.

US DoJ gathering state Attorney Generals to discuss investigate social media companies

Not long after those hearings happened, the US Department of Justice issued a statement saying that the "Attorney General has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms". This meeting will happen on September 25th. The DoJ didn't say what criteria it would use to determine how they're "hurting competition", or even if "stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms" is something the DoJ should give a shit about. This is just a bunch of people butt-hurt that they've been banned from social media for spouting hate, hiding behind "free speech", isn't it?

Canon announces full frame mirrorless camera and it kinda sucks

Surprisingly quickly after Nikon announced its full-frame mirror-less camera, Canon's announced theirs. The Canon EOS R has a 30.3MP sensor, dual pixel AF, smaller body and so on, it's basically an EOS 5D MK4 without the mirror. There's 4 new (very expensive) lenses and a new lens mount (R-series lenses). An adaptor is available to use your EF or EF-S lenses. Unfortunately, Canon's gimped the EOS R with a 1.7x crop for 4K video, rather than using the entire sensor - something users of the 5D MK4 complained about - and it'll only do 30fps at 4K, not 60fps like its competitors. There's also only a single SD card slot and no built-in image stabilisation. Canon fans are not happy. The EOS R will go on sale late October and cost US$2299 body only, or US$3399 with a 24-105mm lens.

MEGA file sharing service hijacked by malicious hackers to steal user passwords

"The official Chrome extension for the file sharing service has been compromised with malicious code that steals usernames and passwords, but also private keys for cryptocurrency accounts" - ouch. According to MEGA's blog post on the incident, the extension asked for elevated permissions and would "exfiltrate credentials for sites including,,, (for webstore login),,, and HTTP POST requests to other sites, to a server located in Ukraine". MEGA isn't saying how the extension got compromised, but is blaming the Chrome Web Store's lack of publisher signatures on Chrome Extensions like Firefox's. If the Chrome store made developers sign their new uploads before they go live, a hacker would have a much more difficult time sending a dodgy version out to people's computers.

RIP Theranos and good riddance to you

Former Silicon Valley darling, Theranos is officially dead. The company is winding up and its remaining cash will be paid to creditors. CEO Elizabeth Holmes and COO Sunny Balwani are awaiting trial for lying to investors, claiming their single-drop blood testing technology worked, but really didn't (and that's just one of their lies). If you're interested in knowing more about the Theranos saga the book Bad Blood goes deep into the bullshit Holmes and Theranos were spinning and is apparently very well written (I've added it to my pile of shame) - or wait for the movie staring Jennifer Lawrence to come out in 2020.

Not News, But Still Cool

Politicians are still hopeless at securing their emails

Maciej Ceglowski has some bad news - politicians learned nothing from the Democratic party email hacks of 2016 and are still hopeless at securing their precious email accounts. Some anecdotes include political candidates using the same password on multiple services. Using Yahoo email instead of the more secure Gmail. Nobody is using the "silver bullet" of hardware two factor authentication keys. People opening email attachments without thinking. So why is this happening? Maciej reckons its due to no IT staff, no budget to hire IT staff and a lack of practical advice about how to do basic IT security. Maciej goes on to say that if Silicon Valley companies are serious about protecting democracy from outside threats, they'd send people to help in person and provide dedicated phone support lines. Basically get in there and hold their hand with this IT stuff.

Woolworths testing smartphone based checkout system

Woolworths is testing a new "Scan&Go" app in its Double Bay supermarket, where selected members of its loyalty program can pay for stuff with their smartphones. The plan is for people to pick up items off the shelf, scan the barcode with their phone (or scan the barcode on the scales for fresh produce), chuck it in your trolley and on your way out, "tap off" on a pole to let them know you're leaving the store. The plan was originally to let people just walk out, but "some prospects had been uncomfortable at the prospect of simply walking out" - pfft. There's 15 second video on 7's Facebook page about Scan&Go. I'd be up for this, I wonder how they plan to handle people "forgetting" to scan items and walking out with them?

Cheap Xiaomi screwdrivers, 65" & 70" 4K TVs, 10% off Uber, Vega 56 GPU, 240GB & 1TB SSDs

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Sofa Surfers - Sofa Rockers (Richard Dorfmeister Remix)