Issue 1274 - Friday 18th December, 2020

It's the final issue of 2020! What a fucken year aye? Thanks for giving me a steady routine in an otherwise messy time. At the end of 2019 I honestly didn't think there would be a Sizzle in 2020, but 2021 is approaching and I'm struggling to imagine life without it. Daily issues will return on the 4th of Jan, but there might be one or two yearly summary emails sent during the break if I get off my arse and write them. Happy holidays everyone!

In Today's Issue

The News

Microsoft and the US Nuclear Safety Administration get caught up in the huge SolarWinds hack

If you can believe it, that whole FireEye/SolarWinds "hack" just got worse. Microsoft has confirmed that they've "detected malicious SolarWinds binaries in our environment". Reuters is reporting that "after the hackers breached Microsoft, they used Microsoft’s own products in follow-on hacks against others". This is all unconfirmed except for Reuters stuff, but damn, what a goldmine. Oh, the US Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration (which maintains the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile) have "evidence of highly malicious activity" too. That can't be good. The Guardian has a nice overview of what's been revealed so far regarding this whole SolarWinds hack thing. There'll probably be a chunky Wired write-up summarising the whole thing by March/April 2021.

Twitter to restore RT functionality, resume giving out blue ticks and will introduce "humanisation prompts"

Twitter's announced yet more tweaks to its service. Retweets are going back to the way they were before October, as Twitter admitted that their attempt to "encourage more thoughtful amplification" did not happen. Blue ticks haven't been handed out since November 2017 as the process for account verification was revamped, but they've done that and will start the program again in early 2021. More weirdly, Twitter is going to experiment with what they call "humanisation prompts" that'll show topics you and a person are replying to have in common. Apparently this will improve "conversational health" and "remind people of what connects us as a starting point". Good luck with that.

Missing link in Adelaide to Cairns electric vehicle charging network complete

Chargefox has completed a rapid electric car charging network between Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Combined with Queensland's Electric Super Highway and the NRMA's charging network in NSW, it means an EV driver can go from Adelaide all the way up to Cairns and Port Douglas (via Melbourne or the Sturt Highway) without waiting multiple hours or even overnight to fill up the battery. What's nice about Chargefox's rapid charging sites is that they're super quick (350kw max if your car supports it), they're cheap (40c/kWh with a further 20% off for motoring association members) and every EV can use them (unlike Tesla's Superchargers that are for Teslas). Australia still needs heaps more, but this is the start.

Something I Saw On The Internet

Brief summary of the 4 lawsuits US governments launched against Google & Facebook in 2020

Besides the impact of COVID-19, 2020's mark on the tech industry for me is that it's the year the USA finally decided to do something about Facebook and Google's bullshit. There's currently 4 serious cases against these two behemoths on the go with various levels of US government - yesterday's Texas & 10-state allegation that Google abuses its monopoly on internet advertising, Colorado & Nebraska & 35-state's case that Google uses its search/data collection to snuff out competitors, the FTC and 48-states arguing that Facebook's purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp made them too powerful and the DoJ's & 11-states attempt to end "exclusionary contracts" for default search engines, like Google paying Apple US$12b/yr to be the default iOS search engine. 2021 is gonna be fascinating.


The End

📻 Ajan Takana - Mara Balls

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