The Sizzle

Issue 15 - Friday 23rd October, 2015 - There's Chuck Everywhere

In today's issue:


Google, Microsoft and Amazon earnings - profits are up
It's earnings season in the USA, so all the big tech companies are reporting how they're going financially. To be brief, Microsoft made $4.6b profit, despite it's smartphone division losing money hand over fist, with 54% less revenue than last year. Google/Alphabet made $4.7b profit, with the amoutn of ads overall increasing, which events out the fact that cost per click earnings are dropping. Amazon made a $79m profit, with half of that profit coming from Amazon Web Services, not retailing.

The new Plex Media Player is great
Plex have a new way to watch stuff on your TV - Plex Media Player. It's been rebuilt from the ground up, leaving the original XBMC/Kodi code behind and is their new "flagship" Plex app. It works with Plex Media Server to be the best browsing & playback method available. It looks slick and even has a native Raspberry Pi 2 client. I've chucked it on one of mine and it's smooth as, handles high bitrate 1080p fine. Plex Home Theatre is now no longer actively developed. It'll just get bug fixes for a little while longer. Hopefully Plex bring the new Media Player to the new Apple TV soon too. It's available now for all Plex Pass subscribers. I don't use Plex full time (I don't have a media library collection - I watch and delete), but how awesome is Plex? It's such a good piece of software, top work.

Director of the CIA has personal AOL email socially engineered by bored kids
Earlier this week a bunch of teenage hackers socially engineered their way into the CIA director's personal email AOL email acccount. Simply pretending to be a Verizon tech, saying their system is down and giving a fake employee code, Verizon handed over Brennan's PIN, mobile number, email address and the last four digits on his credit card. Then they called AOL, posing as Brennan, said they're locked out and gave the last four digits of the credit card number as verification to reset the password. Once they had that, they were able to just log in and dump all the email to their own computers. Way too easy.

Bored kids hand over full dump of CIA director's personal email to Wikileaks
Now Wikileaks has their hands on the entire dump of the CIA director's personal email. They haven't released every single thing, seemingly sifting through it for anything relevant to his work. It's common for high-end people in the government or in business, to use their personal email for communication as to avoid there being an official record of anything they want to hide. So I get the rationale for wanting to publish the personal email of the head of the CIA. So far there's nothing explosive and at least Wikileaks didn't make public the entire dump. But they did publish a pretty personal "Form 86", which is like a background info thing for members of the CIA, to make sure they're not spies or something like that. I don't see the point of releasing that document.

Sony building new smartphone factory
The rumours of Sony's smartphone exit are wildly exaggerated (even if they were started by their own fucken CEO), as Sony is building a brand spanking new smartphone factory in Thailand. Phones will start rolling off the production line in "fiscal 2016" (which is some time after April 2016 - the Japanese fiscal year is different than everyone else's) Looks like there will be Xperia Compacts for many years to come. Unless of course, Sony sell the factory off, even though it's just been built. That's a possibility.


Cheap Webstock 2016 tickets on sale now
Pre-early bird tickets to Webstock are on sale now! NZD$999 for the first 25 people. The conference line-up hasn't been announced yet, but it's Webstock, it won't suck. If you've never been, it's a bunch of smart people talking about making websites better (generally, the topics are pretty loose), in Wellington. Even if the conference is a bust, it's a great excuse to visit Wellington - the place I would live if for some reason I was exiled out of Australia and could never return to my homeland. In 2011 Webstock is where I decided to sell MacTalk and in 2013, it's where my friend Pete got married. I missed out on 2015, so I probably should go in 2016. Who knows what will happen this time?

Reviews of the Samsung 950 Pro SSD are in and it's fast
That Samsung 950 Pro SSD I've been crapping on about the past week has hit reviewers today and a flood of in-depth looks at this potentially game changing SSD are out. AnandTech is the first place I looked, as their SSD coverage is great. PC Perspective also have a top notch review, with a pariticularly interesting latency distribution and latency percentile charts, which I don't 100% understand, but give better insights into IO latency vs. just min/max/avg values. I thought the latency improvements with NVMe would be bigger, so I wonder if it's enough to be noticeable versus a good SATA SSD. Still an absolute monster though. If I was building a Windows PC as my primary computer, the Samsung 950 Pro would be the first thing on my shopping list.

Rumour: AMD contracted by Apple to make exclusive x86 chips for the 2017 iMac
Ok, so, this is a rumour, a large stinky rumour that probably isn't true. But, it could be. It totally could be true. It's no secret Apple has the best chip designers in the world working for them. It's also no secret that Apple loves making custom chips. It's also true that AMD are now a fabless semi-conductor design company after decades trying to compete with Intel with minimal success (a brief period when Intel fucked up, AMD did a Steven Bradbury). AMD are now in the business of making custom chips for other companies, like what they did for the latest Sony & Microsoft consoles. The crux of this rumour is Apple are working with AMD to make a better x86 chip than Intel. It wouldn't surprise me at all that Apple are unhappy with Intel's progress in bringing performance per watt down on the x86 parts down to ARM level and if anyone can do that, it's Apple, who have the best ARM chip on the market right now (the A9X) in terms of performance per watt. Imagine a 14W x86 CPU in a MacBook type chassis that performs at the level of what would be a 45W chip now. Of course, this all hinges on you not believing the theory that it's inevitable Mac OS X will be ported to ARM and all the Macs will one day run ARM CPUs...

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.