The Sizzle

Issue 20 - Friday 30th October, 2015 - I Don't Want You To Jump Off The Harbour Bridge

Today's news and stuff, hope your weekend is excellent:


The EU thinks Edward Snowden is a patriot, not a traitor and all charges against him should be dropped
The EU voted yesterday for its members to drop all charges against Edward Snowden and prevent him being extradited to the USA. Ed's been hanging out in Russia since June 2013, who have granted him temporary asylum. But he can't leave Russia because the countries he has been granted asylum to (mostly South American) have no direct flights from Russia, meaning there's the chance he will be extradited to the USA in transit. Whilst the EU has agreed Snowden shouldn't be punished and allowed to move freely around the EU, resolutions are merely a suggestion, not a binding law like an EU directive. Hopefully he'll be able to leave Russia soon and maybe one day, return to the USA a free man and see his family.

Google might merge Chrome OS and Android in 2017
Google is aiming to release Android as a combined mobile and desktop OS in 2017, according to the Wall Street Journal. Similar to what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10, Google will merge the quite popular Chrome OS with Android to create a platform suitable for any computing form factor. It's still a rumour, but it makes sense to me - Google has a big opportunity to be a 3rd OS player alongside Apple and Microsoft on the desktop and the timing is now right in terms of customer awareness, platform maturity and hardware specs, to get people using a single device for mobile and desktop. Looks like Apple is going to be the odd one out with Mac on the desktop and iOS on mobile.

OnePlus reveals a new cheaper phone - the OnePlus X
If the high prices of the new Nexus phones ($637!) or the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact ($700+!) or even the iPhone 6s ($1047!!) has you down, maybe take a look at the OnePlus X. Slated for sale in Europe on November 5 for €269, it seems to be a well designed, well priced, well specified unit. It's built around the Qualcomm 801 which is a bit on the old side, but still performs ok, doesn't have NFC, the camera isn't going to be as good as the flagship phones and its got an AMOLED screen, not IPS. But the OnePlus X is cheap (around AUD$399) and runs Oxygen OS, which people rather like as it's stock Android without a lot of garbage, even if it's not running Android 6.0, but the older 5.1. Unfortunately you need an invitation to buy this phone at first. It's unknown when they'll sell the phone without requiring an invite. In the meantime, here's an unboxing on YouTube and a decent review from Arstechnica for you to enjoy.

Microsoft Band 2 reviews
The Microsoft Band was never released in Australia and we still don't know if the new Band 2 will be released here either. Despite that, it's still quite an interesting device for those into tracking their fitness. It seems to be of the most advanced fitness bands out there, with 11 sensors to get all sorts of stats. Reviewers seem to like Microsoft's Health app too, which can share data with other apps like Strava and MyFitnessPal. I'm not really into these fitness band things, but if you are, check out the reviews from Engadget, The Verge, Tom's Guide and Paul Thurrott, to decide if asking a friend in the USA to ship one over to you is worth it.

Kim Dotcom wants to make a new safer, more secure, Internet
Kim Dotcom may still be facing extradition to the USA, but he's talking up his latest idea, Meganet, at SydStart last night. Talking over Skype on a big screen to the audience, Kim outlined his concerns that the Internet is simply a big net for spy agencies and ad agencies and all sorts of people to monitor and track what innocent people do. To counter this, he wants to start Meganet, an alternative internet that uses the blockchain to replace IP addresses and strong encryption across everything. There's no details about it on the Internet anywhere yet, besides other reports from SydStart. I look forward to seeing more detail on Meganet, might even throw a few bucks towards it if it gets crowdfunded.


Microsoft has a problem with low quality apps on Windows phone and tablets
If you told me 10 years ago that I'd be wishing Microsoft could get their act together so they don't slide into irrelevancy, I'd be laugh at you and be happy Microsoft is going away. But Windows 10 is good, Windows on smartphones doesn't suck. Having a duopoly with no pesky challenger in the smartphone and tablet area will make those Apple and Google lazy. Microsoft, unfortunately, just can't get good apps onto its platform. This rant on the Verge explains how not only is it struggling to get apps onto Windows mobile, but is haemorrhaging apps that already exist and even Microsoft itself treats Windows as a second class citizen in mobile. It's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario - you want more users, but you need good apps, but to get good apps, you need more users.

This kid really wants to play GTA 5
My parents let me play any video game I wanted when I was a kid, as long as they didn't have to pay for it. I'd like to think it's because they're smart enough to know that video game violence isn't the same as real world violence and I was mentally stable enough to realise the difference. This 13 year old kid's parents wouldn't let him play GTA 5, so he gave them a detailed Powerpoint presentation on why he should be allowed to buy the game. Featuring classic lines such as "I Don't play the campaign and avoid the clubs" and "it is worth the money because it has amazing graphics and is huge with a whole new world to explore - a place I never knew". Interesting to note, that when I was 13, such classics as Theme Hospital, Total Annihilation, Carmageddon, Quake 2, The Curse of Monkey Island, FIFA 98 (the best FIFA), Golden Eye on N64, Star Wars X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter and the first Gran Turismo. All this poor kid's got is GTA5 (which is maybe my least favourite GTA so far, with too much online shit, Rockstar!), let the kid hear some swears and run over innocent people, come on.

Watch this DEF CON documenatry
Here's something for you to watch over the weekend - a documentary about DEF CON. It's the info sec conference to end all info sec conferences. Basically all the bad ass hackers go to Vegas every year, do some intense nerd shit and disemminate fascinating info about how insecure every computer system you rely on is. People explain why they go, what they get up to, what's so good about it and it's way more interesting than you think it'd be. It's 1080p and free to watch. Here's a link to the H264 version, it's also on YouTube, but not in 1080p HD, just 720p HD, pfft.

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 - please tell your friends how great The Sizzle is!.