Category Archives: Google

Latest Google rug-pulling is a victory for censorship

Normally when Google cancels a service, it’s annoying and baffling, but we grumble and find an alternative. Google’s latest rug-pull is much worse: it effectively hands a massive win to those who wish to prevent access to things they don’t like.

Until the feature was disabled recently by Google, it was possible to use Google’s App Engine to make web sites and other online resources available to users who would normally be blocked due to state- and corporate-sponsored censorship. The method used was referred to as domain fronting.

Google says they never meant for domain fronting to be possible with App Engine, but they also allowed it to happen for years, without any indication that it was a problem or would be stopped. So people started to rely on the service to get around censorship.

There’s a lot of hate directed towards Google these days, and a lot of it is misguided. From my perspective, enticing users with new services, only to kill those services once they are widely used, is their most infuriating habit.

Chrome 66.0.3359.117 released

The latest version of Google Chrome includes sixty-two security fixes, and a limited trial of a new feature called Site Isolation that should help to reduce the risk from Spectre-related vulnerabilities.

The change log for Chrome 66.0.3359.117 is another whopper, listing over ten thousand changes in total.

Check your version of Chrome by clicking the three-vertical-dots menu button at the top right, and selecting Help > About Google Chrome. Doing that will usually trigger an update if one is pending.

Chrome 64.0.3282.167

A single security bug was fixed in Chrome 64.0.3282.167, released by Google on February 13.

The new version will find its way to your desktop automatically, unless you’re diligent about killing Google’s pesky auto-update processes. If that describes you, or you just don’t want to wait, you can usually encourage Chrome to update itself by navigating to > Help > About Google Chrome.

There’s additional information in the full change log for Chrome 64.0.3282.167.

Chrome 64.0.3282.140 released

There are about twenty changes in Chrome 64.0.3282.140. One of the changes is a fix for a security issue, and the rest are minor tweaks and other bug fixes.

As usual, the release announcement says that the new version “will roll out over the coming days/weeks”. Since this release includes a security fix, it’s a good idea to check what version you’re running by navigating to the About Chrome page ( > Help > About Google Chrome).

Chrome 64.0.3282.119 released

The latest version of Chrome is 64.0.3282.119. The new version, released earlier this week, fixes fifty-three security issues, and includes additional mitigations for the Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities.

The full change log lists ten thousand changes in the new version. There might be some interesting stuff in there, but I’m going to assume that if there was anything worth pointing out, Google would have done that in the release announcement.

More rug-pulling by Google

“Hey, look here! We’ve got a great service that you need to be using. Okay, cool, now that you’ve been using the service for a while, we’re going to shut it down. Because of reasons.” — Google’s secret motto

Okay, it’s not like YouTube is shutting down, but Google has changed the rules for monetising video, and that change is going to affect a lot of creators. Specifically, starting in February, you’ll need 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time (time people spent watching your videos) in order to make money from them.

Google’s explanation? “In 2018, a major focus for everyone at YouTube is protecting our creator ecosystem and ensuring your revenue is more stable.” What does that even mean?

It seems clear that this change is a reaction to recent events, including several major advertisers pulling ads from YouTube in 2017 because of extremist content. There’s less money to go around, so Google is saving money by cutting off people who arguably need it most.

Full disclosure: my own YouTube account will be affected by this change. I’m currently in the YouTube Partner Program, which allows me to monetise my videos. Not that I’ve made much money from those ads. Google seems to make a lot more money selling ads than it hands out to people hosting those ads on their videos and web sites. In any case, I will no longer me able to earn money from ads on my videos after February.

Google, your search engine is amazing, and I use a lot of your (free) services, so I shouldn’t really complain. But dammit, this is getting annoying.

Related links

Ars Technica: YouTube raises subscriber, view threshold for Partner Program monetisation
Futurism: YouTube Cracks Down on Eligibility Requirements for Which Video Channels Can be Monetized

Chrome 63.0.3239.108

Two security vulnerabilities, one of which has a High risk rating, are addressed in Chrome 63.0.3239.108. The log lists a few additional changes, none of which are particularly interesting.

There’s no easy way to disable automatic updates in Chrome. Generally, if there’s an update available, it will find its way to your computer within a few days via Google’s Update Service.

You can usually trigger an update by navigating to the About Chrome page ( > Help > About Google Chrome).

Chrome 63.0.3239.84

The change log for Chrome 63.0.3239.84 has ten thousand entries. I’d like to read it, and I might even find something interesting buried there, but instead I’ll assume Google would point out any notable changes in the release notes.

Alas, while the release notes do point out that the new Chrome includes fixes for thirty-seven security vulnerabilities, none of the other changes are discussed. In a way I suppose that’s a good thing: as long as Google isn’t making large changes or adding new features, while they continue to fix vulnerabilities and other bugs, the outcome is almost always going to be a better browser.

Chrome typically updates itself within a few hours or days of a new release, although in the release notes, Google says “This will roll out over the coming days/weeks.” Given the number of security fixes in this version, it’s a good idea to check the version you’re running, and hopefully trigger an update, by clicking Chrome’s menu button (three vertical dots at the top right), then choosing Help > About Google Chrome.