Issue 869

Monday, 6th May 2019

In This Issue


All Firefox add-ons temporarily died out due to expired certificate

Firefox users opened their browsers over the weekend to find all their extensions have been disabled. Ad blockers, download managers, bookmarking services and more, all rendered useless in Firefox because a certificate expired. Yep, someone boned renewing a cert. There's a new version of Firefox out now (66.0.4) that includes the updated certificate. For most people you just need to restart Firefox to pull down the latest version, or go into the preferences and force an update. What a clusterfuck!

Fair Work Commission agrees you shouldn't hand over biometric data to an employer unless absolutely necessary

Remember a few months ago I wrote about a bloke who got sacked because he didn't want to give his boss his fingerprint for use in a time management system? He took it to the Fair Work Commission, initially lost, but appealed it. Now the full bench of the FWC has agreed that he was right in refusing to comply, as he is "entitled to seek to protect his biometric data, finding fingerprint scanning was administratively convenient for the employer rather than reasonably necessary". This sets a nice precedent for everyone else asked to hand over bogus biometrics at work.

Darkweb e-commerce site, Wall Street Market, is taken down by cops after founders exit scam

Wall Street Market operated for three years, selling drugs, guns, and all kinds of cool shit on the dark web. Unfortunately, the three owners (all German dudes in their late 20s/early 30) decided to do an "exit scam", where they take all the money kept in escrow and flee. When they did this, the German police caught em and their US$11m, arresting them for "conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and distribution and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances". Meanwhile, former moderators of Wall Street Market are going around blackmailing people saying they'll release details of purchases made there if they don't send some cryptocurrency. Exactly what you'd expect for such a classy operation.

The EU is probably gonna investigate Apple as per Spotify's request

Looks like the EU is taking Spotify's list of complaints about Apple seriously, with the Financial Times reporting that the EU is going to formally investigate the App Store market. If you forgot what Spotify's beef with Apple is, the main one was paying a 30% royalty to Apple when their main competitor, Apple Music, doesn't pay any royalty at all. There's other stuff like user data (Apple has access to iPhone user metrics that Spotify as a 3rd party dev isn't allowed to collect as per Apple's rules) and access to device features (Apple has access to APIs in iOS that 3rd party devs can't access), but it's mostly the 30% thing I reckon.

More ALP & Libs election promises - space funding, online safety & virtual power plant

There's still 2 weeks left of the election campaign (ugh), so the pork barreling continues. First up space related stuff: the ALP will give $20m to "establish a space industry cluster in the NSW regional suburb of Jerrabomberra" and the Libs will give $55m to build a Space Cooperative Research Centre in South Australia. The Liberal party also want to protect kids from online predators (again) with a new "Online Safety Act" that will try to line up the punishments for online crimes with offline crime. Not so much tech related, but I love the ALP's idea to stick solar panels and batteries in every school to create a huge virtual power plant.

Not News, But Still Cool

Seven steps for online privacy and security

This might be preaching to the choir, but The Wirecutter has a great succint article on how to use the internet without totally giving up your privacy and security. They outline 7 steps most people should be able to accomplish: use a password manager & unique passwords, install updates, use browser plugins like uBlock Origin, HTTPS Everywhere & Privacy Badger, don't download dody software and delete apps you aren't using, enable Windows Defender in Windows 10, turn on your smartphone's Find My Device feature and use full disk encryption on Mac or Windows.

New issue of my favourite tech publication is out & it's about China

Issue 7 of Logic magazine just got released and it's all about China - "The "world's factory" has long been patronized as a place of copying, rather than creativity. But in fact, since its founding, the People's Republic has been driven by dreams of rapid modernization and innovation, with engineers turned politicians drafting policy at Zhongnanhai. Apps in China now operate at scales American entrepreneurs only dream of. Our China issue explores the situation on the ground, from biometric surveillance of Muslims in Xinjiang to the new global map that Chinese tech is drawing". I got my copy this morning, skimmed through it and can tell it's gonna be a ripper read.

Cheap Dell XPS 13, Huawei P30 Pro, Alienware 34" gaming monitor, Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e, Lenovo Thinkpad E585, Google Home Max

  • Dell XPS 13 9360 laptop with i5-8250U CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD & 1080p screen - $1299 delivered using the code PMUM20.
  • Huawei P30 Pro for $1438.20 and a $200 bonus gift card from Mobileciti on eBay, using the code PSYCHED.
  • Alienware AW3418DW 34" WQHD 120Hz curved gaming monitor - $1449 using the code PMUM20.
  • If you've got a email addy, Samsung's educational store is selling the 64GB Galaxy Tab S5e for $519.20 (other variants on sale too).
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E585 (15.6" FHD IPS/Ryzen 5 2500U/8GB DDR4/256GB NVMe) is just $779 from Lenovo's AU store. Combine with 10% cashback from Cashrewards and this is a great price for an okay laptop.
  • Google Home Max - $397 at Officeworks & Harvey Norman.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

 Race Against Time - G.B.H.