The Sizzle

Issue 49 - Thursday 10th December, 2015 - Hong Kong Marsland


An Aussie bloke maybe created Bitcoin, gets raided by the ATO for unrelated reasons, now it probably wasn't him, but maybe is?
The person that made Bitcoin was known at the time of its development as Satoshi Nakamoto and besides some mailing list and forum chatter, nobody met him and once Bitcoin was released, Satoshi disappeared. After a few failed attempts to find out how Satoshi really is, Wired and Gizmodo unleashed info that the creator is an Australian guy called Craig Wright. Not long after this story went public, the ATO raided Craig's house for unrelated tax evasion. But apparently this could all be an elaborate hoax by Craig. But maybe it isn't. But it likely is a hoax. I dunno, but I'd like to think an Australian did it, because it makes Australia look good and I am Australian.

Yahoo isn't gonna sell off Alibaba after all
Yahoo is a weird beast. If you asked people what does Yahoo do or why Yahoo exists, I think most wouldn't be able to answer (the answer is to be a shitty version of Google showing ads to the poor souls that still use Yahoo services). The only thing Yahoo has that anyone else would want is a large US$31b stake in e-commerce giant Alibaba, which Yahoo announced it was going to sell. But Yahoo changed their mind and aren't selling, instead leaving their stake in Alibaba as part of Yahoo and splitting everything else Yahoo does into a separate company called Aabaco, as so to dodge US$10b tax bill.

Tesla Powerwall gets official distributors in AU
You probably heard about the Tesla Powerall, a big lithium battery pack that hooks up to the solar panels on your house to store the energy generated, instead of exporting it off to the grid where you'll get a fraction of what it's worth. Telsa has announced that Natural Solar will be the first distributor and installer of the Powerwall in Australia, alongside Origin Energy, who will only sell the Powerwall as part of a panel and inverter system, not to existing solar panel owners. I've already asked Natural Solar for a quote for a Powerwall hooked up to my existing solar power setup. I look forward to crafting an elaborate spreadsheet to help me decide if the investment is worth it.

NextByte closes down for good
After almost a decade of pressure from Apple's own retail stores and large retailers such as JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys and Big W selling Apple gear, Next Byte's owner, Vita Group, has capitulated and will close all the remaining Next Byte stores by early 2016. NextByte down on Elizabeth Street was where I purchased my very first Apple product, with my own money - a 3rd generation 10GB iPod, using the then generous educational discount for uni students. That's the only Next Byte story I have which I can repeat in public.

Mobile blackspot programme looks for more blackspots to fill
One of the election promises Tony Abbott actually followed through on was a plan to fix notorious mobile coverage blackspots around Australia. The plan was to identify areas with shit coverage that the telcos can't justify spending money to fix and use government money instead to make the telcos improve coverage. Now there's a second round of public nominations of areas they want to see upgraded - so if you're in a crappy mobile coverage area, visit the programme's website and let them know you want it improved.


Using Bitcoin to replace ads
Someone has leveraged FuckAdblock, a tool for detecting when a website visitor is using an adblocker, and instead of berating them for blocking the ad, prompts the user for a Bitcoin donation instead. Donating is as easy as clicking a link or scanning a QR code with your smartphone. It's not gonna change the world as fuck all people have a Bitcoin wallet, but it's a very interesting prototype for how the Internet can move away from an ad driven model of revenue.

Apple announces its Apps of the Year for 2015
Every year Apple picks what it thinks are the best apps on the App Store and highlights them on a special page in iTunes. 2015's list is out and it's kinda uninspiring. No doubt all the apps listed are quality, but out of the 25 listed apps, 14 of them are either fitness or multimedia (photo editing, music making or video editing) apps. There are some interesting apps in that list I've never heard of though, like RefMe, Pry and Timeline. Highlighting a more diverse range of apps wouldn't have killed Apple and maybe let people know that there's more to your iPhone than taking photos and jogging.

The Harriet Tubman-Sarah Connor Brigade
You've all watched the Terminator movies yeah? So you know that Sarah Connor is a hero to us all in the inevitable robot vs. humanity war. Well some hippies were inspired by her heroism and in the early 90s and decided to break in to Rockwell's lab in California, taking axes to the first GPS satellites in production. They were afraid of GPS being used by the military to precisely aim missiles wherever they wanted in the world and as a general trojan horse of the militarisation of every day life. Now it's used to tell me where I can find the nearest McDonalds. But it's easy to forget that GPS (and the Internet) were inventions of the military, designed to aid in the killing of humans. I'll leave that thought with you for the rest of the day.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. If you like The Sizzle, please tell your friends.