The Sizzle

Issue 23 - Wednesday 4th November, 2015 - Cheap


The UK plans to force providers of end to end encryption to install a backdoor for law enforcement
There's some crazy shit going down in the UK that could have ramifications for all users of encryption worldwide. The proposed Investigatory Powers Bill will make it a legal requirement that devices and services sold in the UK need to be able to provide a way for law enforcement to obtain unencrypted access via a warrant. This is predominately aimed at end to end encryption, where people are communicating privately with no way for the government to view what's going on, even if they are legally allowed to. Things like iMessage and Whatsapp have no way for anyone besides the recipients to give the contents of the conversations, and this freaks the fuck out of law enforcement. By allowing a backdoor for the UK, a backdoor for everyone becomes available. It'll be interesting to see how companies respond if the law is passed - will there be a special UK firmware or app version that complies by the law? Will companies just pull their products from the UK?

Twitter changes stars to hearts and favourites to likes
You don't need to know this happened because if you cared, you'd have noticed by now and if you didn't care, you don't need to know. But, every goddamn news site has something about it and this newsletter is supposed to give you an overview of what's happening in tech. Twitter replaced the star icon for favouring a tweet with a heart and now calls them likes, instead of favourites. Okay, that's a thing that happened, now you know. I'm sure there's hundreds of people reading way too much into this change and providing thermonuclear hot takes on it, but they have nothing better to do and you should ignore them. Though, it has outed a bunch of homophobes and for this reason, I like the hearts.

Microsoft retreats from unlimited OneDrive storage
Almost exactly a year ago, Microsoft gave Office 365 subscribers unlimited OneDrive storage. Today, they're scaling that back to the original 1TB, blaming a handful of users who stashed heaps on there, some managing to upload 75TB! Microsoft's also removing the 15GB camera roll storage bonus they gave to everyone, including the free users, so the free storage is now just 5GB and the only way to get more is to pay US$1.99/m for 50GB or subscribe to Office 365 to get 1TB. Oddly, OneDrive's scaling back makes iCloud storage seem cheaper with 50GB of space for only AU$1.49/m. If you still need unlimited storage capacity, Amazon Cloud Drive has you covered for US$60/year. Let's see how long that lasts.

SEA-ME-WE 3 is still farked and will remain so until November 11
The SEA-ME-WE 3 cable is a long piece of fibre optics that carry a chunk of data between Australia and Singapore on its way to the Middle East and Europe. It sustained multiple cuts somehow on September 25th (I can't find any info about how it was damaged) and was slated to be repaired on October 15. Unfortunately the damage was worse than expected and the estimated repair date has been pushed out to November 11th. This goddamn busted cable has been giving me the shits for a month now, as Optus isn't re-routing traffic via an alternative path properly, making speeds to Apple services (particularly the App Store) extremely slow at random times. Hopefully it'll be fixed soon and I can go back to using Apple Music and the App Store properly.

Google's Smart Reply - machine generated auto responses for when you can't be stuffed replying back to an email
Google Inbox is a fancy way of checking out your email, with all sorts of predictive features to sort your messages and only show you the ones you need to see and bundling up others that have the same context. I still don't trust it not to miss emails I actually want to read, so I don't use it, but, a new feature called Smart Reply, might tip my hand into trying it out. Google has some fancy algorithms that read your emails, both received and sent, to come up with future replies for new emails. From the examples, it generates a few one liner responses and you can pick the one you like best and fire it off. This could be awesomely useful or awesomely bad. Smart Reply will come out in a new version of the Inbox Android and iOS app next week.


Triangulation fraud - a nice way to get cash out of your collection of stolen credit cards
Hackers do some nasty shit that ruins things for all of us, but sometimes their ingenuity surprises me. The latest act of criminal cunning is triangulation fraud. Let's imagine you've got thousands of stolen credit card numbers and you want clean cash. You can't just go to an ATM and do a cash advance, or buy something, have it shipped to your house and then sell it - too many vectors for getting busted. What you do is list an imaginary item on eBay, say a shiny MacBook Pro, for less than what it's worth, maybe $1500 instead of $2000. Someone buys the item, pays and provides the shipping address. You then order the MacBook Pro from a website with poor fraud detection and have it shipped directly to the person who purchased it from you off eBay. eBay person gets their item, so they're happy, you get your cash from selling the MacBook Pro and the retailer is left holding the bag for a fraudulent transaction. All this can even be automated via bots that run on Amazon EC2 instances (paid for with the stolen cards of course).

A comic based on the iTunes terms and conditions
Some talented dork is making a series of comics based around the iTunes terms and conditions. Daily, each page is drawn in the style of a different artist and has Steve Jobs doing something totally unrelated to the text. Garfield as an iMac and Steve Jobs as Jon is cute. I guess this is one way to get people to read those terms and conditions, hey?

International pre-paid SIMs with data wiki is so handy
I have no idea how people travelled overseas before smartphones. Literally, I never went overseas until the iPhone 3GS was a thing, so I don't know how people navigated foreign cities without Google Maps, or found places to eat or things to do without apps to guide them. You had to collect books and pamphlets and wander around like a neanderthal? Ugh. Anyway, you're going overseas and the SIM in your phone won't work there unless you pay a telco way too much money. This wiki is an invaluable source of info about obtaining SIM cards with data, in foreign countries. Some info may be a bit old, but it will lead you on the right path.

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.