The Sizzle

Issue 10 - Thursday 16th October, 2015 - One Right Up The Bracket

Been busy yesterday and today wrapping up some reviews for PC & Tech Authority's next issue. If you're at Coles or something, pick up a copy and you'll see four of my reviews in it! I took a look at the new 2nd gen WD My Cloud NAS (it's not very good vs. a Synology), the WD My Book Pro external HDD (it's good if you need a huge amount of fast storage and can't afford an SSD), ASUS Transformer Book Flip TP200SA (well built but full of bloat and slow even when the bloat is gone) and the LG 27MU67 27" 4K monitor (looks beautiful and is awesome for gaming). Getting paid to give my opinions on tech gadgets, I am truly blessed.

Last night, Telstra formally launched their latest attempt to be relevant in the online media streaming market - the Telstra TV. It's basically a re-branded Roku 2 box (the Roku 4 is out now in the US) with local apps like Stan, SBS On Demand and Presto, that Telstra managed to cajole into bringing across. It actually has quite good support for local content, something no other set top box or console has. But no ABC iView, which for me would be pretty damn important to have. Telstra TV will be on sale next week for $109, but it'll only work on a Telstra Internet connection and the way fancier new Apple TV will be out in a few weeks anyways, so why bother with this already obsolete unit?

Some sad news that Gary Allen, creator of the popular ifo Apple Store website, died of brain cancer on Monday. Us Apple dorks remember his website fondly, enjoying his tales of visiting Apple stores around the globe and highlighting all the details and uniqueness of each location. I got to meet Gary at the Sydney Apple Store opening in 2008, where he told me that really, attending and writing about all those Apple stores was mostly great excuse to travel around the world with his teenage son and bond. I'm sure his kid will cherish those moments with his now departed father. Shame the website has been cleared from the Internet too, there was some fantastic info on there.

NBN has announced a new three year plan (which who knows how long that'll last until it's changed 12 months in or totally wiped at the next election). This plan determines where will get HFC and where will get the copper over the next three years. It also further reduces the areas getting fibre, with only 17 areas going FTTP from now onwards. Rollout info is in this post, broken down by FSAM (find your FSAM here). Lots of inner-city and metro areas are getting FTTN where there's no HFC already. Even some relatively metro areas still have nothing on the 3 year plan, resigned to be stuck with ADSL or HFC from only Optus or Telstra. I will sacrifice another router to the Internet gods in devout thanks for bestowing fibre optic Internets upon me, for it is good and fast.

You thought VPNs were bullet-proof yeah? Well NSA can bust those encrypted links, even if it's using 1024-bit encryption (which is the bare minimum to be honest. Some smart researchers have written an academic paper on their theory how the NSA is accomplishing breaking what was thought to be quite secure encryption. There's a weakness in the Diffie-Hellman key exchange where some prime numbers are more common than others and using the vast resources available to them, the NSA was able to generate the keys to a lot of secure connections. Gotta use more bits or some other sort of key exchange protocol if you want to be safe from the NSA.

In addition to that dystopian news, here's something even creepier and close to home! Apparently there's a government wide facial recognition system called "The Capability" (what a name) that can cross-reference images of people's faces from CCTV footage, drivers licences, passports and so on. So for example, you decide to stab a police officer in Bourke Street, where there are high-resolution CCTV cameras installed. The coppers pass that footage on to the AFP and the AFP pop an image of your face into a computer, it searches all the databases of images it knows of and with high probability, your name, address, phone numbers, bank account info, website surfing history, mobile phone location info and all manner of other metadata will appear. Just like Person of Interest. A fictional TV show that is turning into a documentary every year it's on.

Listen to this 30 min podcast with Limor Fried. Adafruit is such an awesome resource for electronics. I wish it was around when I was a kid, maybe I wouldn't have dropped out of that Computer Engineering degree when I failed all the electronics subjects. Hearing her talk so passionately about electronics makes me warm and fuzzy and want to get my breadboard out of the cupboard.

Stu Maschwitz got to visit the offices of Light, who are making that crazy L16 camera I mentioned a few days ago, and ask them a few questions. He's impressed with the professionalism of the team - which when something like this comes out of nowhere is a legit concern. How many Kickstarter projects have we seen look awesome, but then take months to ship and when it arrives it's really lame quality? Light have also partnered with Foxconn, the same company that make the iPhone, one of the best manufactured consumer electronics devices ever made. For camera geeks, there's some really promising stuff in here. I'm pretty pumped to check this thing out when it's out.

If you've been thinking about buying a NAS, now's a good time. Synology have a nice cashback offer together with Seagate - buy a Synology NAS and a minimum of 2 Seagate hard drives and get some cash back via Seagate. So go to your favourite PC store on the list (staticICE helps), pick up a DS415play and 4 Seagate drives and you'll get $100 back. Not bad, not bad at all. $100 might not sound like much overall, but these things are never on sale or discounted thanks to the high volume, low margin business models of PC part stores.

Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Convert your free trial into a paid subscription now and never miss an issue! Already a subscriber? Thanks for being awesome.