The Sizzle

Issue 90 - Friday, 19th February 2016 - On The Gravy Train Express, To Nowhere Town


Apple vs. FBI - day 2
Apple refusing to create a backdoored version of iOS for the FBI is a huge story and no surprise the hot takes have flowed over into today. That thing I liked to yesterday that said Apple has helped unlock 70 iPhones already? Not true according to TechCrunch. Facebook & Twitter support Apple. Other tech industry giants released a generic statement in general support of Apple's lead via posting on Tumblr without actually attaching their names. If you're the government, don't fret - John McAfee will bust that iPhone open for the ya, for free, or he'll eat a shoe on live TV if he can't. If you only read one thing about this clusterfuck, make sure it's Troy Hunt's take - he knows the score.

The saga of Error 53 is behind us
Apple released a new version of iOS 9.2.1 that will work on iPhones previously bricked by "error 53". The device's Touch ID sensor won't work, but you'll at least be able to input your passcode and get your shit off the phone. Next time get your iPhone fixed somewhere besides Filthy Bob's iPhone Repair Shack in the middle of a dumpy shopping centre.

WA Department of Health flushed millions down the drain in an IT restructure
As usual with every government attempt to do something related to computers, an extraordinary amount of tax payer money was blown away thanks to dodgy contracts and poor planning. In this scenario, the WA Department of Health signed a contract worth up to $175m to refresh their IT services, but the people who approved the contract were found to have no appropriate skills to manage a deal so large. $3.3m of gear was purchased that sat idle so long, the warranty expired whilst the government was paying $90,000/m in rent to store it all.

Uni of WA has a new high performance compute cluster
In better news out west, researchers at the University of Western Australia get a new fancy set of computers they're calling Pople that will be used for stuff like "conducting multi-scale simulations of biochemical processes, studying gravitational waves, and simulating combustion processes which generate compounds important for seed germination". 2,316 cores, 7.8TB of RAM and 153TB of scratch disk.

New Chromecast and Chromecast Audio now out in Australia
A newly designed Chromecast has been out in the USA for a while, but not here. Wait no more as JB, The Good Guys and that shit show Gerry Harvey runs now have them in stock for $55. The new one works pretty much the same as the old one, so if you have already have a Chromecast, don't bother. But the Chromecast Audio looks interesting - an audio only version of the Chromecast that works with Spotify and Google Music (amongst others).


PadCrypt - the cryptolocker with its own live chat support
You know how much I admire cryptolocker malware, but this latest iteration is brilliant. It acts like a traditional cryptolocker, but if you get stuck trying to buy bitcoin or sending bitcoin, or just have any questions regarding the process of getting your data back, there's a live chat option inside the malware pop-up that you can use to ask questions to the hacker and sort everything out, hahaha. Customer service is important, even in the seedy underworld of infosec.

Apple sheds a tiny light their chip design efforts
In what even the author admits is a strategic opening of the door to Bloomberg, Apple show off their chip design prowess in an attempt to make people realise this shit is hard and the fact we have the A9X CPU in the iPad Pro is the result of cutting edge CPU design. The article focussed on a profile of Johnu Srouji an Israeli who was hired by Apple a little while ago and has lead Apple's team to be the best in the industry. Maybe this is industry standard, but total remote access to pre-fab test CPUs for developers to write against sounds pretty funky.

Silicon Cowboys documentary about Compaq
Once upon a time, Compaq was more than just a biegebox maker that was rendered irrelevant after being purchased by HP. They fought IBM to make the first "IBM Compatible" machines we all take for granted today. If you liked the show Halt and Catch Fire (I like it, very much - season 1 is on Presto), this is the documentary version of that and you'll probably like it too. Silicon Cowboys will be released at South by Southwest soon and hopefully be available to watch online not long after that (chuck it up on Netflix please or make it available for USD$5 to download direct from the producers).

Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

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