The Sizzle

Issue 99 - Thursday 3rd March 2016 - It's Hard When You Can Talk Quick


Another SSL vulnerability that impacts many popular websites
Remember Heartbleed? Well this is like that and just as bad. Web and email servers still using SSLv2 are vulnerable to DROWN, which allows an attacker to view the contents of the previously thought secure connection. Disabling SSLv2 was a recommendation years ago, but many web servers still have it enabled, allowing such a flaw. A patch for OpenSSL is coming soon, but really this is the fault of people who are using shitty old encryption. If you're in charge of a server running an encrypted service and have half a brain, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

NBN found a way to build fibre networks almost 50% cheaper, but didn't tell anyone
Well, well, well - despite NBN's best efforts to pretend FTTP doesn't exist, they've been conducting trials in Ballarat and Karingal with the aim of implementing cheaper fibre to the premise installs. Using techniques like thinner fibre cabling to fit within Telstra's congested pits and installing fibre nodes underground instead of in a cabinet managed to reduce costs of installing fibre to the premises by almost 50%. Of course, NBN never revealed this fact, did they? Because copper is king and fibre is expensive.

Vast majority of mental health apps are "digital snake oil"
Most of the apps associated with mental health and wellness are generally useless. A PhD student at the Queensland University of Technology has found 700 different "mindfulness" apps available, yet only 23 were decent enough to even be judged as an effective tool. Almost none have been involved with clinical trials so there's no way to tell if the people using them are wasting their time, when they should be seeing a mental health professional.

iOS 9.3 tells you if your phone is managed by someone else
When you're given a phone by your employer, they generally chuck it into an MDM (Mobile Device Manager) where it can be remotely tracked, monitored and backed up. In the latest beta of iOS 9.3 (supposed to be out in a few weeks), Apple added a message to the home screen saying "This iPhone is managed by your organisation" - just to give you a heads up that someone besides you has access to the data on that device. Just a coincidence that it's been added now, I'm sure.

DisplayPort 1.4 has been finalised, supports 8K monitors over USB-C
Support for 8K monitors! This means a 40" monitor with 7680 x 4320 resolution is possible, allowing "retina" quality graphics but still maintaining the screen real-estate of a 4K display. That would be so dope. A 40" iMac would kick arse. Shame no such panel is anywhere near production. DP 1.4 manages to push that insane amount of data through a single cable thanks to compressing the video signal. Apparently it's "visually lossless" so should look the same as a normal uncompressed connection. Oh and it'll work over a USB-C cable (the ability to do that was introduced in DP 1.3), which is also backwards compatible with Thunderbolt, so a computer with nothing but USB-C ports is 100% possible.


The death of the indie iOS app developer
This is something close to my heart, as I started a conference all about this specific topic. Unfortunately, the ability for a group of people to get together and make an iOS app into a profitable, ongoing business is becoming more and more difficult. The Verge writes about the trials and tribulations of Pixite, who were making close to a million dollars in revenue back in 2014, to now barely breaking even. Apparently, nobody wants to pay for apps. Some of the blame can be on the App Store's lack of discoverability and lack of a demo feature, as well as the need for clever and intelligent marketing.

A succinct explanation as to how the NBN got to the sorry state it's in now
Up on the ABC's Drum is what I reckon is an excellent summary of what the hell went so wrong with the NBN (just don't read the comments - dribbling idiots at their most frothy). This gigantic waste of money comes down to political dickwaving and a lack of humility. One side of politics had to tear down the other side, at all costs - even if it means wasting billions of dollars and years of social, economic and technological progress.

How a simple little teapot became so important to 3D graphics
Located within the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, not far from the Google campus is a simple ceramic teapot. Why would a teapot be in a computer history museum? Beacuse this teapot is the basis for decades of computer generated 3D graphics. Martin Newell was doing his PH.D at the University of Utah back in the mid-70s and couldn't find an object suitable for rendering. His wife suggested the teapot they were using during the conversation and now there are millions of 3D rendered teapots, still used to this day as tech demos and snuck in as easter-eggs. God speed little teapot.

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!