The Sizzle

Issue 44 - Thursday 3rd December, 2015 - She's Got No Money


More NBN cost blowouts - $641m to fix Telstra's copper network
Hands up who thought this wouldn't happen? Telstra's copper network is ratshit and to get it up to scratch will cost $641m. In the overall scheme of things, that's not a lot of money, but combined with an approximately $375m to fix the also ratshit Optus HFC network, our government is spending close to $1bn on obsolete technology that has no upgrade path without a costly overbuild. In response to the status of Opus HFC, NBN Co is trotting out their usual "oh this is just hypothetical, we're just exploring options, don't pay attention to our own internal reports" bullshit.

Kazakhstan's government is making all its Internet users install its own security certificate so they can monitor all HTTPS traffic
I know when I'm looking for forward thinking telecommunication policy and leadership in general technological excellence, Kazakhstan is an obvious choice. A press release from the Kazakhstan national telco, Kazakhtelecom JSC, explains that they are "obliged to perform traffic pass with using protocols, that support coding using security certificate" which will "secure protection of Kazakhstan users when using coded access protocols to foreign Internet resources.". Translated: the Kazakhstan government is requiring all Internet devices to have a government provided root certificate installed so that they can inject whatever they like into HTTPS data streams. Don't install the cert? Visiting sites with HTTPS by default (practically all the big sites now use it) won't work. Want Internet? Install this cert and all will be ok. The Stasi would be proud.

SSDs getting cheaper, but magnetic drives still have a cents/GB advantage
According to a report by DRAMeXchange (that's not a typo, the e is lower case, the x is uppercase, on purpose), the price of flash storage has rapidly fallen. In 2012 it was 99c/GB, 2013 was 68c/GB and in 2015 it's only 39c/GB. They predict that pricing will hit 17c/GB in 2017, making a 512GB SSD only ~US$88 (they're currently floating around US$150. As cheap as that is though, magnetic storage still wins when it comes to bulk storage - 8TB drives are US$230, just 3c/GB. I don't think flash storage will be replacing magnetic storage for bulk applications any time soon, but flash will take over for pretty much everything except backups.

United Airlines giving 6,000 customer service staff an iPhone 6 Plus
United has a huge list of devices in their MDM - 23,000 UA flight attendants have iPhones and their pilots all have iPads, now 6,000 customer service staff (I assume the people hanging around in UA areas at airports) will be given iPhones too. No precise info on how UA is going to use the iPhones, but you can imagine that any of the stuff a UA agent would need to type in at a terminal to find out can should be accessed on their little pocket computer. Hopefully it'll be in a much more user friendly fashion than some of the Qantas terminals I've seen when asking so very politely for an exit row upgrade before boarding.

Federal Government's idea for an IT shared services scheme is going to fail, hard, just like it did elsewhere in Australia
Shared IT services make sense. Each department running their own IT infrastructure ends up in a lot of duplication. One big mail server or one big file server maintained by 3 or 4 people is cheaper than 20 medium sized servers maintained by 20 people. Governments around Australia have tried to get shared IT services going, but have failed spectacularly over the years, costing tax payers billions. The federal government, unperturbed by their state counterparts failures, wants to do the same thing. Good times ahead if you're an IT outsourcing company though.


Linux system performance analysis advice from Netflix
If you've ever sat down in front of a Linux server and had to find out what the hell is going on, this post from Netflix's Performance Engineering Team will explain what they do in order to quickly get an overall picture of a Linux system. Of course, this requires a bit of knowledge as to why these things are important. Sure, you can run dmesg | tail and see a bunch of shit scroll across your screen, but to find out what the actual problem is, you need to know what to look for. Probably not a lot of use for most people, but if you've ever wondered what the hell a Linux sys admin at your workplace does - this is a large part of it.

A wiki of humanity's greatest technological achievements and where to see them
The IEEE is the global peak body for electrical engineering and they've been maintaining a list of electrical engineering milestones. Discoveries and projects that mark a point in time where technology changed the world. Things like the first landing of transatlantic telegraph cables, the code breaking at Bletchley Park, the beginning of manufacturing of transistors, the quartz wristwatch, the LCD, CERN, ARPANET, public key crypto - all the cool shit we take for granted is memorialised by the IEEE with a plaque denoting how important it is to the earth and our technological progression. There's a wiki of all the locations of these plaques and the stories behind why these things were given such highly esteemed status as IEEE Milestones.

Melbourne City Council has turned street bins into IoT data points
The City of Melbourne has decided to put sensors inside 50 bins across the CBD, to track how useful it'll be it be to know when a bin is full. Nobody wants to see bins overflowing with garbage in our beautiful city, so I guess knowing when to send a truck out to empty it before it gets full is a good thing. I'm surprised it costs $700/bin though. I wonder what sort of sensor they're using? How's the data getting back to a server to process it? Who wants to join me in walking around the CBD looking inside bins for these sensors and cracking one open to see how it works? I'll provide the gloves, you bring the masks.

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.