Massive, China-state-funded hack hits companies around the world, report says

(arstechnica.com)

“Japan-linked organizations need to be on alert as it is clear they are a key target of this sophisticated and well-resourced group, with the automotive industry seemingly a key target in this attack campaign,” researchers from security firm Symantec wrote in a report. “However, with the wide range of industries targeted by these attacks, Japanese organizations in all sectors need to be aware that they are at risk of this kind of activity.”

I wonder if this is why my network is seeing a lot more external traffic, but fewer HTTP requests. From what I can tell, the firewall is doing its job, though …

Apple drops its cut of App Store revenues from 30% to 15% for some developers

(arstechnica.com)

The cut benefits only developers who pull in less than $1 million annually.

Hmm … this is an interesting way to appease antitrust lawsuits while simultaneously giving Epic and Spotify the bum end of the deal 🤔

Advancing gender equality in Canadian workplaces

(www.thespec.com)

Much progress has been made over the last 40 years on gender equality in Canada, but the gender wage gap remains a reality. Making sure all people receive equal pay for work of equal value is not only a moral imperative, it is an economic advantage. When people feel they are competing on an even playing field, it unlocks their enthusiasm, encourages their creativity and pushes them to reach their optimal potential.

Over the years, greater participation of women in the workforce has accounted for about one-third of Canada’s economic growth. Despite this progress, the gender wage gap persists. Based on the most recent data, Canadian women earned 89 cents for every dollar Canadian men earned.

There are several leaps in logic here that require people to suspend any expectation of context or situational awareness. One of the big ones is “employment experience”. Women generally have several years less employment experience than men of the same age due to the challenges of raising young children. Based on the numbers that the government themselves publish, men with five fewer years experience in a field earn, on average, 15~20% less than their more experienced counterparts. A 25 year old man earns less than a 30 year old man, who earns less than a 40 year old man, who earns less than a 50 year old man.

To ensure women receive equal pay for work of equal value, we developed the Pay Equity Act (the Act), which is expected to come into force later next year in federally regulated workplaces. However, before the Act comes into force, regulations that will complete the pay equity regime need to be finalized.

This is going to be really hard to validate. How does one judge the equality of work? Is it by job title? Is it by task? Could a database administrator who maintains a system be considered “less valuable” than a database administrator who architects a system? Both jobs are crucial, but one requires an additional skill set over the other.

These initiatives will help create workplaces where workers feel safer, more valued, more included and secure. Creating these enhanced conditions will enable and encourage workers to do their best work, which is a net positive for employers and the economy.

Where is the evidence for this? History has shown that the companies who flatten their pay scales do a couple of things:

  1. They unnecessarily devalue the efforts of high performers, regardless of genetic configuration
  2. They encourage people to forfeit overtime, as one person working overtime creates an imbalance in the group or, worse, overtime efforts are pooled and split evenly across all members of the group, rewarding the laziest and punishing the foolhardy
  3. They drive the highest performers away, reducing the effectiveness of the organization

Canada already has a serious “brain-drain” problem. These “equality of outcome” situations only exacerbate it.

We are also moving forward with a new Administrative Monetary Penalties regime to help create safer and more just working conditions through improved compliance with the Canada Labour Code.

In other words, pay that is aligned with effort is illegal.

These initiatives for greater workplace safety, wage equality and pay transparency by our government constitute a new approach to fairness in the workplace. We have taught our children that equality is a given and not a debate. It is time to show that we practice what we preach when it comes to equality in the workforce.

There is a lie in here. Equality is not a given; it is a responsibility. Equality of opportunity is the responsibility of all people, regardless of who seeks that opportunity. Equality of outcome is an impossible lie that disincentivizes entire societies. We’ve seen this before in Soviet Russia, Maoist China, Polpot’s Cambodia …

Equality of outcome is effectively a death sentence for creative output across all fields.

There is no doubt in my mind that a person who does a task should be paid according to the value they bring an organization. Their gender, appearance, political stance, or ideological beliefs should not even come into the equation because there’s no justification for it. However, to think that every person with a specific job title is just as valuable as another is an outright lie and it should be called out as such.

Bill C-65 is a whole lot of evil codified in law, and it’s going to kill any reason for truly remarkable Canadians to bust their butt to excel at something they consider valuable. Why in the world would anyone want to put in 80 hour weeks if their pay will be exactly the same as someone with the same job title who is in the office for 40 hours and maybe works for 5 of those hours?

MacOS Big Sur update is bricking some older MacBook Pros

(www.engadget.com)

According to MacRumors, users on Apple’s forums and Reddit are stuck with a black screen when trying to update their late 2013 or mid 2014 13-inch MacBook Pro models to Big Sur. Nothing appears to solve the issue, including shortcuts to reset the NVRAM and SMC.

An engineer investigating one customer’s problems appeared to have resolved the issue after removing an IC chip for the HDMI port, but it’s not certain that’s the cause.

Well this wouldn’t be fun to deal with. It’s interesting that someone could resolve the issue by removing a chip from the HDMI port. I wonder if the video out is going to the wrong place. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the only thing that should be plugged into the notebook during an OS update is the power …

Japan suicides rise as economic impact of coronavirus hits home

(www.japantimes.co.jp)

The number of suicides in Japan rose in October for the fourth month in a row to the highest level in more than five years, data showed Tuesday, a trend activists have blamed on the economic impact of the coronavirus, on women in particular. […] According to preliminary police data, the total number of suicides for October was 2,153, an increase of more than 300 from the previous month and the highest monthly tally since May 2015.

About 70 people every day. Mind you, these are the known cases. Some people are not discovered for months.

Through the ages in Japan, suicide has been seen as a way to avoid shame or dishonor.

That’s not the driving force behind a lot of the suicides lately. People are raised to “not be a burden unto others”. Asking for help from friends and family is perceived as being a burden. For many people, this would be worse than death. Once you are independent, you are expected to remain as such.

For many years getting psychological help was stigmatized, and Japan has the grim distinction of the highest suicide rate among G7 countries.

It is still stigmatized. Seeing a psychologist is a “sign of weakness” and “poor upbringing”, as it means you don’t have it all figured out just yet … which I agree is absurd.

Microsoft engineer gets nine years for stealing $10M from Microsoft

(arstechnica.com)

A former Microsoft software engineer from Ukraine has been sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing more than $10 million in store credit from Microsoft's online store. […] The software automatically prevented shipment of physical products to testers like Kvashuk. But in a crucial oversight, it didn't block the purchase of virtual gift cards. So the 26-year-old Kvashuk discovered that he could use his test account to buy real store credit and then use the credit to buy real products.

At first, Kvashuk bought an Office subscription and a couple of graphics cards. But when no one objected to those small purchases, he grew much bolder. In late 2017 and early 2018, he stole millions of dollars worth of Microsoft store credit and resold it online for bitcoin, which he then cashed out using Coinbase.

Accountants are usually pretty good at spotting irregularities. It was only a matter of time, but to grab millions? Jeez … 🙄

Spotify's ad tech is coming to third-party podcasts

(www.engadget.com)

[Spotify] has acquired podcast platform heavyweight Megaphone with the aim of making Spotify’s ad insertion tech available to third-party podcast publishers “for the first time.” If publishers want it, they’ll have the option of monetizing their podcasts through Spotify (complete with tracking) instead of having to negotiate their own sponsorships.

This could be good news for podcast publishers that might have otherwise struggled to make a profit from their shows. However, it could also lock them in. They may be less likely to distribute podcasts through rivals like Apple if they aren’t certain they can get ads on those platforms.

Money, money, money, money. Oh, and tracking. Gotta have tracking 🙄

Coffee may help with obsessive compulsive cleaning

(www.healthing.ca)

Researchers from the University of Jerusalem found a cup of joe was effective at reducing intrusive thoughts and decreasing compulsive behaviour in germaphobes.

If this is even half true, then I know some people who should pick up the habit …

Company made to change name that could be used for website hacks

(www.engadget.com)

The initial name, ““><SCRIPT SRC=HTTPS://MJT.XSS.HT> LTD,” risked confusing sites that didn’t handle the HTML formatting properly. They would think the company name was blank and run a script from the troubleshooting site XSS Hunter. It’s an innocuous script that would simply have put up a warning, but Companies House wasn’t willing to take any chances. […] The consultant has since changed his business name to “THAT COMPANY WHOSE NAME USED TO CONTAIN HTML SCRIPT TAGS LTD.”

Has XKCD taught us nothing? 🙄

Spotify hints at subscription podcast service

(www.theverge.com)

Spotify appears to be interested in launching a subscription podcast service that would offer access to original shows or exclusive episodes for a monthly fee. The potential service was described in a survey sent out through Spotify’s app, which was reported on by Andrew Wallenstein, president of Variety’s Intelligence Platform.

The survey describes at least four possible subscription podcast plans, ranging from $3 to $8 per month. The cheapest plan would include “access to exclusive interviews and episodes,” but would still include ads. The most expensive plan would include access to “high quality original content,” early access to some episodes, and no platform-inserted ads. None of these plans would include access to Spotify’s premium music subscription.

So, after a few years of buying creators and putting that content behind a firewall to encourage signups, they’re considering subscriptions that focus only on this once open medium?

Maybe Spotify can consider renaming these shows from podcasts to “spotcasts” or something equally asinine.