The Sizzle

Issue 89 - Thursday, 18th February 2016 - Bitching, Waiting For The Next Handout


Apple takes big stand against forced government encryption backdoors
This is a weighty topic that deserves much more description than the typical trite paragraph I give most topics, but you should read Apple's letter to its customers about it refusing to assist the FBI in providing a special version of iOS with a way for it to bypass the device's passcode. Here's some info on what Apple can and can't do in regards to the iPhone's security mechanisms. And here are some strong arguments that the FBI doesn't need Apple's help in this case, but wants to leverage terrorism by Muslims to set a legal precedent for smartphone backdoors. Apple has unlocked iPhones in the past, but has decided to take a stand now.

Google's response is pissweak (a couple of Tweets? come on) and the rest of the tech industry is oddly silent. Local village idiot George Brandis, has given his measured and reasoned opinion on this topic too (guess, just guess what it is).

Government proposed "Three Strike Rule" for online piracy isn't happening
Village Roadshow Co-CEO (and massive donor to both political parties) Graham Burke has announced that the government's plan to make ISPs co-operate with rights holders to give users who pirate stuff online a series of graduated warnings to quit doing naughty stuff has failed to reach fruition. After months of negotiation, it was decided that it'll cost ISPs too much and rights holders don't want to pay and neither does the government. Apparently an "automatic system" will be "coming soon" that will reduce the cost and bring the three strikes policy back to discussion table.

Village Roadshow takes the lead in using new website blocking laws
Still deep in the copyright battle trenches, the first use of Australian website blocking laws has begun with Village Roadshow filing a case to block some site called SolarMovie I've never heard of. Apparently the use of DNS blocking will enlisted to prevent access to this "vicious bunch of thieves" web site making "illicit millions" on the line. So just use a non-AU DNS server if you want to leech from SolarMovie - easy.

Infrastructure Australia recommends NBN be split up and privatised soon as it's complete
I think we all knew the Liberal party's end game with the NBN was to privatise it eventually, but the fact they announced it so early via Infrastructure Australia's 15-year plan was unexpected. Within all the road projects, public transport projects and other things our country may or may not need is a brief "privatise the NBN" section without much reasoning for doing so beyond ending the city-country cross subsidy. Telstra sells obsolete asset to government, government pays Telstra more to maintain and upgrade obsolete asset, then sells it back to Telstra for what would be a sweet windfall, which then Telstra can milk for ages with minimal upgrades and maintenance until the next government handout. I should buy some Telstra shares ASAP.

Hollywood hospital gets out of trouble for $17,000
Remember that hospital in Hollywood I mentioned recently that got hit by a cryptolocker who wanted 9,000BTC (approx US$3.6m) to decrypt a bunch of patient info? Well the hospital managed to bargain the hacker down to just US$17,000 worth of BTC, hahah. I guess the hacker either grew a conscience or realised they better take what they can get before the hospital just writes it all off and starts fresh.


Review of the ASUS Chromebit
This is a tiny computer the size of a ciggie lighter that runs Chrome OS and sells for around AU$125. On one end is a HDMI port and the other a USB port for power and connecting peripherals. Ausdroid reviewed it and found it nifty

but ultimately too slow for day to day use with it's 2GB of RAM and low end ARM CPU. I dare say if it was packed with faster storage (ugh I hate eMMC), it would be a much smoother experience.

Apple disintegrates the phones that can't be re-sold
Another Apple article, I know, but it's kinda interesting.
Bloomberg looks at how iPhones are recycled. Apple buys phones off people in their stores, ones that still work are onsold to 2nd hand dealers and the ones that don't are chucked into high security industrial shredders so that parts aren't used to make fake iPhones. Bit wasteful I reckon.

Introducing, the Lenovo Lemon
Lenovo have introduced a new smartphone ahead of the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona - The Lenovo Lemon 3. Yes, the Lemon. Apparently it's for the Indian market, so perhaps the phrase lemon means something different over there. Thanks to Sizzle reader @evanspw for sharing this with us.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Tell your friends!