Next Equifax Breach Could Result In Fines!

Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren is proposing a new law that would see companies fined for data breaches that are on the scale of the Equifax data breach:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia introduced a bill Wednesday that aims to make data breaches hurt companies’ bottom lines. The bill addresses problems the lawmakers say let credit reporting agencies collect consumer data without doing enough to protect it from hackers.

In the case of the Equifax breach, that would have meant a fine of at least $14.3 billion. However, the fines would be capped at 50 percent of a company’s gross revenue from the prior year.

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MobileCoin, new #cryptocurrency aimed at usability and user-friendliness

The creator of Signal, the popular privacy-enhanced secure messaging app for iPhone and Android, is creating MobileCoin. MobileCoin is a new cryptocurrency that aims to be user-friendly:

MobileCoin wants to leverage an extensive architecture to add simplicity to real privacy protections and resilience against attacks. The ultimate goal: To make MobileCoin as intuitive as any other payment system.

“I think usability is the biggest challenge with cryptocurrency today,” says Marlinspike. “The innovations I want to see are ones that make cryptocurrency deployable in normal environments, without sacrificing the properties that distinguish cryptocurrency from existing payment mechanisms.”

Usability efforts for older generation cryptocurrency protocols, like bitcoin, have largely been left to services like Coinbase, which centralize everything from currency exchange to your wallet, key management, and processing transactions. These platforms make actually using cryptocurrency more realistic for the average person, but they also consolidate mechanisms that are meant to be kept separate in the private and decentralized concept of cryptocurrency.

BitPay to start processing payments on many blockchains

Good news everyone! BitPay, a bitcoin payment processor, has announced that they will be processing payments for more than just bitcoin.

This is a great idea because apparently, the market cap of the top 10 cryptocurrencies is around $179 billion. BitPay will continue to work on Lightning Network support so that Bitcoin transactions are faster.

They will also be implementing support for Bitcoin Cash:

We are already working in various parts of our platform to support transactions with SegWit. Segwit is a new set of features in Bitcoin which can reduce the bitcoin miner fee cost for transactions by over 40% on average. However, with average transaction fees already around $20, we understand that Bitcoin alone cannot handle the current demand for blockchain payments.

We will begin adding support for a Bitcoin Cash payment option this year, starting with BitPay Card loads. All BitPay invoices will include a Bitcoin Cash payment option by default in early 2018.

If you use the BitPay wallet or Copay you can start using Bitcoin Cash:

The BitPay wallet already includes optional Bitcoin Cash support. If you want to use Bitcoin Cash to load your BitPay Card or pay a BitPay merchant, you’ll be able to use your BitPay or Copay wallet.

Friday Link Roundup: Cell phones, voice coding, social media addiction and how Slack scales their worker queues

Write a thank-you to free/libre/open source software maintainers! #ThanksFOSSMaintainers

Windson Yang makes a great point in Why we never thank open source maintainers. They do a lot of hard work and we should take the time, especially since Christmas is around corner, but all year round too, to thank the maintainers that make all our favourite free/libre/open source software possible!

LanguageTool: free grammar checking tool

LanguageTool is like Grammarly, except completely free and open source. (I will be adding it to the resources page later today) It’s written in Java which means it is quite performant.

There are plugins to use LanguageTool in:

  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Google Docs
  • LibreOffice
  • and standalone desktop app

What I like is that there is a Python library, grammar-check, that interfaces with LanguageTool. You can get up and running and start checking grammar on your own with Python scripts. There’s also a Ruby library but it only uses the API from the website. The Python library uses a locally installed version of LanguageTool so you don’t have to rely on an internet connection (very useful for me when I’m writing on the train or bus for example).

The LanguageTool project itself has great documentation and interesting source code. It is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License v2.1.

Indie Hackers: learn how developers are writing their own paychecks

Cool site, Indie Hackers, shows off the projects that are making software developers money. It is a directory of products and services that developers are offering and shows how much money they are earning. It should be inspirational to any developer, coder or software engineer.

Some of the projects are:

  • Compliance, a daily planning app which made $2500 a month at its peak.
  • Webjay, a music playlist service which its developers $400/month at its peak.

On each project page, it’s a bit of an interview with the developers/founders of the project.

One of the most important questions is “How did ____ make money?”, the founder of Webjay answered that question in this way:

I monetized through banner ads. It was a native format where a sponsor’s music was available for adoption among my users. I also monetized by using my accrued reputation to get better contract work as a programmer.

Eventually I was acquihired by Yahoo. It was much easier to close a deal, because I had no investors. I didn’t get rich, but I got enough to buy a house and dramatically improve my standard of living. I also got a big promotion, from coder to exec, and now make a much better living.

This is a hopeful story, you can hack on a project and make some money through banner ads (without tracking people) and you can use your improved skills to get better contract work. That side project you’re working on could be a real money maker for you even if you don’t make money from it directly.

The Webjay interview is really good, here are some tips that Lucas Gonze offers to other developers/founders:

  • Do things the easy way.
  • Have a razor sharp bullshit filter.
  • No metrics unless you will act on the data. No work that doesn’t matter to users.
  • Be yourself. Be a human.
  • Don’t try to raise money from investors. They will waste your time and your project will die. Be deeply suspicious of anything like YC.
  • Be very careful about lawyers. They have little to offer you.
  • Be tough. Things worth doing are usually hard.

Click here to check out Indie Hackers and see other stories about successful developers.