Issue 1461 - Wednesday 29th September, 2021

In Today's Issue

The News

Lots of new Amazon smarthome stuff, including a big 15" Echo Show & cutesy Astro domestic surveillance robot

Amazon has unleashed a bucketload of new smart devices under the Echo and Ring brands overnight. The Verge has a summary of all the new stuff, so click that link if you want to see everything. The headline announcement is Astro, a wheeled robot the size of a small dog with a screen and a periscope style camera that zips around your home conducting surveillance 24/7. Here's Amazon's Astro hype video. Vice got its hand on some leaked Amazon executive emails that reckon "Astro is terrible and will almost certainly throw itself down a flight of stairs if presented the opportunity". Personally, I'm interested in the Echo Show 15, a $399 15.6-inch display that looks like a photo frame that you can hang on a wall. This could be the gateway device that sucks me in to buying a bunch of other Amazon crap.

DFAT tests app to scan COVID vaccine cert QR codes, travelers will use MyGov to download code

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a new app called VDS-NC Checker to authenticate traveler vaccination certificates. It's designed to be used by border officials to to check if passengers are vaccinated. Right now it can only scan certificates issued by Australia, but will scan other country's QR codes in the near future. According to the article, "Australians will have to download their international vaccination certificate from their MyGov accounts" and the certificate "will be different from the domestic vaccine certificate that is already available on MyGov". Richard Nelson has been picking it apart over on Twitter. He reckons it'll "work in a similar, but incompatible way to the EU certs". Why do we keep re-inventing the wheel when it comes to this shit?

Texas cops sue Tesla after Model X ploughs into parked police cars, Tesla asks FSD beta testers to limit bad videos

Five Texas police officers have sued Tesla for "failing to safely and properly design, market, and manufacture the Autopilot system" after they were injured by a Model X that drove itself into a group of emergency vehicles parked on the side of the road. According to the lawsuit, "even though Autopilot was enabled at the time and the police cars had flashing lights, the Tesla failed to engage the Autopilot safety features to avoid the accident" and "did not apply its Automatic Emergency Braking to slow down to avoid or mitigate the accident". Meanwhile, Tesla is making owners invited to beta test its "full self driving" software sign an NDA promising them to "be selective" when uploading videos of their experience, because "a lot of people want Tesla to fail" and "don't let them mischaracterize your feedback and media posts".

Something I Saw On The Internet

Fastmail lets ya make "masked emails" and 1Password has support for it

Fastmail and 1Password have hooked up to make a new Masked Email feature. Connect your Fastmail and 1Password accounts so when you sign up for something you don't want to have your real email addy, 1Password will generate a random email address for you (eg: and save it in your 1Password account along with any other info you have for that account like a password or username. You can use the Masked Email feature on Fastmail without 1Password too, but integrating it into 1Password is nice. Oh and unlike other randomly generated email addresses, you can use a custom domain with Fastmail (e.g:, kinda making all those masked emails portable if you device to leave Fastmail - just set up a catch-all/wildcard address.


The End

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