The Sizzle

Issue 5 - Friday 9th October, 2015 - Mmmm, Marble Wash Jeans

I don't know what to write in these introductions, or even if they're necessary. Maybe sometimes I won't write anything and just get straight to the content. You don't need a daily running commentary on every little thing to do with The Sizzle, that's way too much inside baseball. Just sit back and enjoy the news.

Kim Dotcom is back in the news, as a trial against him continues in New Zealand. He's taken the stand for the first time (at this trial), attempting to defend himself from being extradited to the USA over running Megaupload. His lawyer's argument centres around the fact the USA froze Kim's assets so quickly that he couldn't grab enough cash to pay for lawyers to properly defend himself. However the US counsel said Kim had enough access to money to maintain his lavish lifestyle and start new ventures - which could have been used to pay for his defence, making the reason for him not being extradited moot. This has been dragging on for years, the entirety of which I can't quite grasp as there's been so many twists and turns. It would make an excellent article though, just outlining the facts and summarising what's gone on (this sounds like something I should write when I have time). At the end of the day however, the USA are going way over the top with this and need to chill. Let's see if the NZ government tell the USA to rack off - the hearing continues and should be a few more days.

The government has released a draft of the proposed "Netflix Tax" that would add 10% GST to all digital products purchased by Australians. When Sloppy Joe Hockey mentioned it back in May I had no idea how this would actually work in practice. Now the draft is out and, err, it still makes no sense. So from what I can glean, if you're an overseas business selling more than AU$75,000 of digital products in Australia, you need to register for GST. However, there's no penalty for non-registration. If you're selling on eBay or Amazon the end seller doesn't need to register, but the platform (i.e: eBay) would register and pay the GST on their behalf. It really makes no sense. Goddamn drongos up in government mate.

On the topic of eBay and tax, the ATO is making eBay hand over financial details of seller accounts in order to see what sort of revenue they're pulling in and if those sellers are paying tax on it. Much like how if you earn interest in a bank account and forget to declare it on your tax return, the ATO will send you a nasty letter demanding to be paid, if you sell a lot of gear on eBay and don't declare those sales as income, you're goose is cooked and the taxman is onto you. It's a bit shit as I sell a fair bit of stuff on eBay and now the ATO knows about it. But there are a lot of people running businesses turning over a lot of cash and that could be going untaxed. The ATO are going after Uber drivers the same way too. Nobody is safe from big data.

Sony bad a big Australian launch for their Xperia Z5 range of phones and normally I don't care about Android devices but Sony have a special unit that warms my heart. The Xperia Z5 Compact is a phone the size of an iPhone 5, with a screen pretty much the size of an iPhone 6, with the same internals as their flagship phone. I'm not the only one who isn't a fan of the big screen smartphones am I? There's space in this world for a phone you can bang a tweet out on with only one hand, but still has the same specs as the big monster phablets and I'm glad Sony is making it. Check out this pic my mate Peter Wells tweeted from the Sony launch last night. Unfortuanely I don't think Sony making smartphones is a long term thing, with the smartphone division at Sony bleeding money and management putting it up for review. Oh and the other shit thing - Android 6.0 is out, but these phones only run Android 5.1 and Sony hasn't said anything about when they'll release an upgrade. Ugh.

Also new - Dell's flagship XPS laptops got an update, which normally wouldn't be too notable, but I saw that they're claiming their 13" laptop will get 18 hours of battery life on a single charge and I smelt bullshit. But according to Anandtech's review of the previous Dell XPS 13 back in February, it's probably true. In their battery benchmark they were able to get the XPS 13 to last 15 hours (what Dell was claiming for the old model) where as the MacBook Air 13" only lasted 12 hours. That's impressive, particularly for a Windows laptop that doesn't have the same tight integration with the OS as Apple can do on their laptops. Apple seriously need to lift their game here. The chassis of the XPS 13 is really small and light too too, they managed to fit a 13.3" screen in the body of what would be an 11" MacBook Air. It took em a few years but the PC OEMs have caught up and now exceeded Apple. Time for Apple to put the MacBook Air guts the MacBook's body. Dell have them on sale in Australia now and the 13" model starts at $1799 (though there's loads of Dell discounts available on the Internet if you look - if you're paying full price for a Dell ya got ripped off.

BlackBerry's CEO reckons they'll quit making phones if they don't make any money out of it in 2016. They need to sell 5 million units to be profitable. You reckon there's 5 million people who want this? I thought trying to get 600 people to pay for this stupid newsletter is tough - imagine getting 5 million people to put down a few hundred bucks for that thing. Godspeed BlackBerry sales and marketing people, godspeed.

Cool Stuff

If you're in the market for a new Mac, JB Hi-Fi have them 10% off. You can get Officeworks to price match JB or DSE too. For an extra 5%. Sign up for Cashrewards to buy Woolworths gift cards for 5% off and buy JB Hi-Fi gift cards at Big W and save 15% all up. Or if you're a Lumo Energy customer or know someone who is, purchase some JB Hi-Fi gift cards at 7.5% off to get a total 17.5% discount. On a $3199 iMac you'd be saving $559! Stack them bargains yo. Also in bargain land - a 5TB USB external HDD from Harvey Norman is only $172. Same drive is $249 at MSY. Perfect for backups, which you should all be doing.

I saw Senator Scott Ludlam tweet this EFF guide on how public key cryptography works. If you've ever wondered what people mean by encryption and how people keep their shit secure and even out of government hands, this explains it. If you've got anything to do with IT or IT systems and you don't understand this fundamental concept of computer security, resign so someone competent can take over before something bad happens.

Vice has a story about people collecting AOL CDs. Those people met via Geocities. They had an article written about them in Wired. This is soooo 90s it hurts. One woman has 4,000 AOL CDs. 4,000 of the bastards! Amazing. I love everything about this.

Remember yesterday I said I watched the Martian and it was cool? Well these fuckwits thought it was real. I don't know if it's trolling or deliberate stupidity to appear aloof, but it's dumb, it sickens me and these people should be ashamed that depiste having greater access to the world's information than any human before them, they still don't know that humans haven't been to Mars. Pathetic.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)