They fixed it and re-uploaded the firmware without telling anybody. The link is the same but the MD5 hash is different.
Thank you for the info. I finally broke down and was going to update my 3.15 firmware to 3.41 until I remembered I should switch my hard drive to a new one first due to Sony's usual screwing up. My new HDD (500GB Momentus 7200.4) arrives in a few hours anyway so I might as well wait and update that just to be on the safe side.
I know this is pretty off topic but it's on the topic of PS3 functionality so I'm going to say to those of you with expired warranty on your PS3 for heaven's sake open it up and properly apply REAL thermal paste and adjust the heatsink bolts (bend them to tighten further when screwed in). By default the heatsink is barely making any contact with the processors and is using some el-cheapo crap as the paste.
I had to apply too much paste because otherwise it wouldn't make reasonable contact, bad contact is better than piss-poor-barely-any contact. My PS3 hasn't frozen up in the same scenes it previously froze after I did this. I felt I had to mention this since I brought it up earlier in the thread.
Furthermore , once unpacked the file dates for every dev_flash archive has changed to that of 7/29/2010 , vs the original of 7/21/2010 - as seen in the images below.
So, Sony did indeed update the firmware without informing anyone, probably a change in a single (or few) SPRX's. - Also, the new Auto Update feature in regards to PS3 Patches was not updated - so it was possible that it was not affected (or, that Sony did not fix it!)