Issue 774

Wednesday, 28th November 2018

In This Issue


Google employees still super pissed about Project Dragonfly

Off the back of an public protest by Google rank and file about how it mishandles sexual harassment allegations, there's a new public mutiny regarding Project Dragonfly - Google's attempt to build a search engine that satisfies the Chinese state's censorship desires. Their core issue with Google flipping on its 2010 pledge not to build a censored product for China is that the employees "object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be" - which China certainly does on an industrial scale. They want Google to cancel the project and be more transparent with their employees about the projects they're working on. Good on these employees for standing up for themselves and not being amoral corporate suckholes. You can read their open letter on Medium.

Euro consumer groups claim Google's location tracking breaks GDPR laws

The European Consumer Organisation (a non-profit that's kinda like Choice here in Australia, but more policy/law orientated than product reviews and consumer advice) has called on EU privacy regulators to charge Google with breaking the GDPR rules. They're alleging that "Google is using deceptive design, misleading information and repeated pushing to manipulate Android users into allowing constant tracking of their movements" - primarily with the Location History and Web & App activity features. The BEUC reckons there's no "lawful legal ground for processing the location data in question" and that's not cool with the GDPR. Their FAQ on this topic is very easy to read and spells out the specific things Google is doing that don't comply.

Amazon's pre-re:Invent announcements, more tomorrow

Amazon's big re:Invent developer shindig kicks off properly tomorrow morning, but they've announced a bunch of stuff pre-show that's kinda interesting. My friend Rob is way more into AWS than me and when I asked him about the new stuff Amazon announced he told me, "DynamoDB transactions are cool, CloudWatch Logs Insights is them sherlocking SumoLogic, Global Accelerator puts a serious dent in anyone needing Akamai anymore, the ARM A1 instances of course, the Amplify Console might be the Parse replacement everyone has been waiting for and RoboMaker sounds cool from the name alone". From my point of view, the ARM-based servers are particularly interesting. This combined with Apple's barnstorming SoCs, Intel must be shitting themselves.

You can be sacked for refusing to give your employer biometric data

Jeremy Lee worked in a Queensland sawmill that introduced a computer system that scans fingerprints to log employees going in and out of the mill, to replace a paper system. Jeremy didn't like the idea of giving his biometric data to his employer or the company that made the system, so he kept using the paper system. His employers cracked the shits over his refusal to get his fingerprint scanned, so they sacked him. Jeremy took it to the Fair Work Commission and they found that the sawmill is within their rights to sack him over not using the fingerprint scanning system. However, the FWC also said the sawmill may have breached privacy laws. According to the FWC, the two issues are not related. You can be sacked for not handing over biometric data, even if your employer doesn't adhere to the privacy act. Kinda puts Jeremy, and other employees in the same situation, between a rock and a hard place I reckon.

Philip Dalidakis, the Victorian Innovation & Digital Economy Minister quits cabinet

The Victorian state government has reshuffled its cabinet and in the process, Philip Dalidakis has left his role as Minister for Trade and Investment, Innovation and the Digital Economy. He's the dude in a suit at all the funky startup or co-working space launch photos shaking hands with people in less formal suits. LaunchVic was set up under his watch too. From the outside he seemed relatively competent, so it's disappointing it looks like he left just so the ALP could have an equal split of male and female Cabinet members. Dunno who will replace him yet. Another interesting note, the people who pushed through Apple's plan for a store in Federation Square are now no longer in Cabinet either.

Not News, But Still Cool

Stratechery explains the Supreme Court hearing alleging Apple is a monopoly

There's a great read over at Stratechery, explaining the US Supreme Court hearing that took place yesterday between Apple and a bloke leading a class action called Robert Pepper. He reckons "App Store customers have been overcharged for iOS apps, thanks to Apple's 30% commission that Pepper alleges derives from Apple’s monopolistic control of the App Store". On the point being argued at the Supreme Court, Ben doesn't think Apple is in the wrong - but he does think Apple unfairly leverages the App Store to the detriment of developers and customers, particularly by not giving good value for its 30% cut. As we pass through "peak iPhone", Apple's going to tighten its grip on its platform and be more of a rent-seeker than it has in the past.

The PlayStation Classic & Pixel Slate look cool but are kinda crappy

Reviews of two unrelated products, the PlayStation Classic and the Pixel Slate started coming out overnight. The thing that binds them together in a single Sizzle paragraph is that they both disappoint. The PS Classic has a poor selection of titles, a weird save game procedure, the "remastered" graphics look kinda crappy, 50Hz PAL games instead of 60Hz NTSC games and the 1.5m cable on the controllers is too damn short. The Pixel Slate has some great hardware, but Android just blows as a tablet OS. There's hardly any tablet specific apps that make use of the large screen properly and there's apparently bugs galore.

Cheap PSVR, Super Mario Party, Ironwolf HDDs, CarPlay head unit, LIFX bulbs, Netgear Orbi mesh wi-fi, UE Boom 3 speaker

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Bodyjar - A Hazy Shade of Winter