Issue 771

Friday, 23rd November 2018

In This Issue


NBN caught up in sham contracting class action

A group of people employed as contractors by Tandem (one of the largest NBN sub-contractors), have launched a class action for sham contracting. They argue that they're employees, not contractors, because Tandem "exercised total control and direction over the employment of these workers including where they worked, the jobs they worked on, the clothes they wore to work, the branding on their vehicles, the methods of work they were required to follow". If successful, Tandem would need to repay up over $400m in backpay and entitlements to 4,700 workers. NBN is keeping an eye on this, because if the class action succeeds there's the potential for many of its construction deals to go rotten as the companies who won those contracts will go running to NBN for more money, as they can no longer pay below award rates by claiming people working for them are independent contractors.

The USA wants its allies to drop Huawei too

You know how Australia has banned Huawei gear in the upcoming 5G network rollout? The USA is now leaning on other allies to avoid Huawei gear too. Germany, Italy and Japan in particular, as that's where the US has significant defence infrastructure and that spooks the USA out somehow. There's no specific reason given for the US wanting allies to quit using Huawei equipment, just the usual concerns that "Huawei and other Chinese companies may be beholden to the Chinese government or ruling Communist Party, raising the risk of espionage". I guess you could reasonably argue that anyone using Cisco or Alcatel-Lucent gear should be worried about US espionage.

The Gold Coast City council is excited about blockchain

The City of Gold Coast is boarding the blockchain hype train, looking to use it for "better financial transactions and property deeds, and environmental sustainability to better track our air, water and land pollution". There's not a lot of detail in public surrounding those plans, but the concept was floated by the council's "AWS cloud solution designer" Mai Nishitani at an AWS public sector summit. The solution would use AWS Blockchain Templates (that's a thing I didn't know about) and launch in around 2021. How would you use the blockchain to "better track our air, water and land pollution"? I genuinely don't know what that means compared to logging that info in an old school relational database and generating reports from the data.

There's now a special visa for foreign entrepreneurs to set up shop in SA

The federal government and the South Australian government have kicked off a new pilot visa to attract foreign entrepreneurs to start their businesses in SA. "Applicants will need to submit their business plans and be endorsed by innovation ecosystem providers or the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur. The entrepreneurs can specialise in a variety of industries, but the government will look favorably at applications from defence and space, cybersecurity, big data, agribusiness, health, robotics, and film". They expect around 30 people to apply for it in its first year, then 100 more in the second. There's more detail on the Supporting Innovation in South Australia visa here.

Russian trolls in *my* political discourse?!

By now we are familiar with the tactics of Russian trolls - spread some bullshit online that arcs up a certain demographic and keep doing it to create an even stronger "us vs. them" mentality in the electorate. It's arguable how effective it is, but there's no doubt it's happening around the world and according to the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra, it's low-key happening in Australia too. It's nowhere near on the scale of what goes on in the USA and parts of Europe, but there is evidence of Russian trolls trying to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment on Aussie Twitter.

Not News, But Still Cool

Time zones are fukt goes through all the ways countries differ in interpreting the passing of Earth around the Sun. For starters not everyone uses the Gregorian calendar, so there's more than a handful of countries with different days in a month than us. There's even countries where the year isn't 2018, or isn't even 4 digits. There's a few time zones that are on 15 or 45 min marks, not 30, there's new time zones popping up often, the UNIX epoch is different in LA time than UTC, daylight savings rules change often, days can last more than 50 hours and oh my god there's so much more. Humans are a messy bunch aye.

Nice collection of quality software development talks

If you're a fan of watching videos of people talking about computers, TechYaks is right up your alley. It's got "over 80,000 software development tech talks ranked algorithmically to surface the industry's best presentations from the past, present and future". Dunno what the algorithm is (maybe a weighted combo of YouTube views and likes?), but there's some of my favourites on there, like the Mother of All Demos by Douglas Engelbart in 1968 (the dude basically demos what we take for granted with a computer before it was a thing), Steven Blank's Secret History of Silicon Valley (psst, your cute computer is a product of the military industrial complex) and You Suck at Excel by Joel Spolsky (Excel is a scary beast).

I've never seen so many bargains in the one spot

I know you skipped all the news above and went straight to the bargains. No, no, it's ok, my feelings aren't hurt. Much. Anyways, there will prob be heaps more bargains over the weekend as the US wakes up and "celebrates" Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Don't forget to use Cashrewards for an extra 10% cashback at Amazon AU!

That's it, see ya Monday!

Rival Schools - So Down On