The Sizzle

Issue 13 - Wednesday 21st October, 2015 - Armitage Shanks

In today's issue:


Detailed info on the NBN 3 year plan has leaked
Earlier this week NBN released rather vague info on their 3 year plan, detailing suburbs around Australia and what type of Internet access they'll get within the next 3 years. At a Senate Committee hearing last night, Senator Conroy wanted NBN to give the committee more detailed information about the plan, wanting to know if the dates in the already public plan actually line up with dates customers can expect a service ready to order. NBN refused, giving plenty of excuses and ultimately the Coalition senators on the committee decided not block the release of the document. Luckily for us, that document has been leaked to Delimiter and is now available to download. It has much more accurate info on what NBN expects to happen. For example, in Melton, the public 3 year plan said service construction will commence H2-2016. But in this leaked document, services won't be ready for order until H2-2018 - a massive difference.

NBN spending $14 million over 5 months to buy 1800km of copper cabling
Also revealed at the Senate Committee last night was NBN's plans to buy more copper! MORE COPPER. IN 2015!! They want to spend $14 million on 1800km of this stuff, just for the next 5 months. So over the next 3 year rollout, who knows how much they'll be spending on copper that could have been spent on fibre. Even if the fibre is like, 10 or 20% more expensive than upgrading the copper, surely it's worth taking that time and effort to get fibre going rather than copper? It's impossible to know what to believe with the NBN, the agenda based deceit and spin is incredible.

There are 6.5 million paid Apple Music subscribers
It's been 4 months since Apple music started charging customers, but already they've amassed 6.5 million paid subscribers. In total Apple has 15 million Apple music users. Of course, this only matters in comparison to Spotify, the incumbent in the streaming music service area. Spotify said in June that they have 20 million paid customers. Probably makes sense that Apple will overtake Spotify at some point - Apple has leverage with being the default app on every single iPhone, iPad and Mac in the world. That said, Apple Music is still a steaming turd of a service. I find it slow & unreliable to buffer, infuriating to make playlists with and the overall UI is shoddy and bug ridden. Apple Music definitely needs more time in the oven. I have a free subscription because of Telstra, but I still way prefer Spotify and pay use it instead of the free Apple Music. The only thing Apple Music gets right is the curated playlists - there's awesome stuff in there.

PS4 drops in price - just in time for Fallout 4
Sony's dropped the price on PS4s in Australia by $100, making the RRP for the 500GB drive model $479.95. The reason I care about this is because Fallout 4 is out in a few weeks and my wife is dying to play it. I thought about building a PC to play it on, but anything half decent will set me back ~$800-$1000. The PS4 seems to be the console to get over the Xbone too. Everyone I know got one instead of an Xbox. I should play more video games. I haven't played anything at all since GTA 5 and that was over way too quick.

The encryption on WD My Passport drives is weak and full of holes
Encryption is great, it keeps dickheads from looking at stuff that's none of their business. But the problem with encryption is that it's useless when not applied properly. Like what Western Digital has done on their range of My Passport external hard drives. Sold as having built-in encryption, the type of encryption used is weak as piss. It uses a 32-bit key, which is trivial to be cracked by anyone with a fast GPU. Some models even included the password on the hard drive itself. Just another reminder to not trust anyone spouting the word "secure" unless they can back that up with details on that security.


MoCA - a faster alternative to Ethernet over power
I had no idea MoCA was a thing until I stumbled upon a review a device with MoCA support. What's MoCA? Multimedia over Coax Alliance. It's like that Ethernet over power stuff, but over coaxial cable instead and apparently, much faster. MoCA 2.0 is the latest standard, and the even newer bonded variety of MoCA 2.0 has support for speeds around a gigabit. The idea is, you plug one unit into your TV socket, then the other unit into another TV socket somewhere else in your house and boom, fast data transfer. In the test Small Network Builder ran on the Actiontec ECB6200, it worked really well, achieving speeds of around 500mbit sending data and 700+mbit receiving data. They go for around $200 on eBay right now, from a US seller. I can't seem to find anything using bonded MoCA 2.0 locally - for now. It's still pretty new.

Emojis are serious business
If you've ever wondered how emjoi get certified, the New York Times explains the role of the Unicode Consortium. A bunch of large tech company reps are in the Unicode consortium and they all agree on what should be included in the Unicode standard, which also includes emoji. There's been weird region-specific uses of emoji - like the eggplant emoji which is used in the USA as a replacement for a phallus sort of image, that isn't really used anywhere else. The consortium also doesn't include living people, deities and logos or symbols that are copyrighted. Some people were pissed off that a rifle was included in the emoji set, but it was put in there because it's an Olympic sport. I never realised how complicated of a job it would be to decide what emoji should exist. People take their little emoji seriously.

A list of some interesting factual podcasts
Kevin Kelly and Mark Frauenfelder ran a survey on Cool Tools, asking their readers what their favourite "factual" podcast is. Over 1600 people replied and they put the most commonly mentioned 50 into a list. I don't know what a factual podcast is, but I'm going to guess it's stuff based around real events, not fictional stories someone crated. I like podcasts but I'm not a huge listener - off this list all I regularly take time out to listen to are Planet Money and This American Life. The only other podcast I listen to which isn't on this list is ABC's Background Briefing.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

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.