The Sizzle

Issue 101 - Monday, 7th March 2016 - This Is Dizzy Stuff Folks

If you've got nothing better to do tonight, tune in to Geeks Interrupted. I'll be in the lovely 3WBC Box Hill studios with Andy and Daniel chatting about some tech news topics from 8pm to 10pm. Listen in Melbourne on 94.1FM or live on their website,


First Mac OS X ransomware found
Popular Mac BitTorrent client, Transmission, has somehow been infiltrated with the first known piece of Mac ransomware. We don't know how KeRanger got into Transmission, but Palo Alto Networks has all the details. It looks like a typical cryptolocker - encrypting your home folder and asking for a Bitcoin in return to unlock your data. I'm surprised it took this long for a cryptolocker to hit Mac OS X.

Apple's Senior VP of software engineering, Craig Federighi writes an opinion piece for the Washington Post
Also in Apple-land, senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi (aka Hair Force One), has penned an opinion piece and had it published in the Washington Post. Craig explains an engineer's point of view of how Apple works so hard to keep user's data safe from everyone and if the FBI makes them lower it, that puts everyone at risk from hackers wanting to pilfer and blackmail. By now we all get Apple's point of view, but I guess they still have to convince a large portion of the general public why they're being so "stubborn" with law enforcement.

Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of email, died over the weekend
If you asked me who invented email, I would have been embarrassed to say I didn't know. But now I do and unfortunately, it's because the guy died. Ray Tomlinson developed the first e-mail application for ARPANET and he decided to use the user@host terminology and the rest is history. Apparently the first e-mail was simply gibbberish to test the system, he said that "test messages were entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them". He was 74 and died of a suspected heart-attack. All the people who invented this stuff we love and take for granted are starting to pass away.

Co-founder of Epic Games writes op-ed blasting Microsoft's attempts to own PC gaming
Tim Sweeney, co-founder of Epic Games (a big deal in the gaming industry and long time Microsoft partner) has unleashed a strong worded article in The Guardian, calling Microsoft's new Universal Windows Platform as "the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made" and "curtailing users’ freedom to install full-featured PC software, and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers" - basically Microsoft is giving the latest features to UWP based games that only run on a Microsoft app store (XBox & Windows) and as a result, can't be sold on other platforms like Steam or Origin.

NSW government looking to legistlate Airbnb
A public hearing will be conducted by the NSW Legistlative Assembly this week, on the topic of regulating short-term holiday rentals (aka our hotel lobby mates want us to look into this Airbnb thing). There's been a few submissions from all the interested parties, but what the NSW government plans to do, I dunno. In other cities they've made Airbnb hosts pay a special tax and maybe in NSW they'd make the hosts have public indemnity insurance at the very least?


Hardcore testing of cheap digital hygrometers
If you wanna test the air and find out how much humidity is around, you use a hygrometer. There's heaps of these little sensors around, designed for Arduino and the Raspberry Pi. But can a sensor that costs $3 be even remotely accurate? How well do these things work? How do they work? Well someone way smarter than me has put the most popular humidity and temperature sensors through some very elaborate paces. The Bosch BME280 seems to be the pick of the bunch.

Check out Input for doing stuff with words on your phone
Input is kinda like a command line interface for iOS. Type in "calendar eat delicious pie at 7pm on the 2nd of March" and you'll have a calendar event reminding you to eat a pie (a delicious one, not a crap one) at 7pm on the 2nd March. Type in "tweet I ate an excellent pie just now" and your Twitter feed will update with "I ate an excellent pie". Interesting concept with fairly decent app support.

A brief history of arcades in Australia
I have many fond memories of hanging out in various arcades around Melbourne, wasting $1 and $2 coins on games that added nothing my growth and development as a human being. NBA Jam, Street Fighter and even later on as a uni student, Guitar Freaks, were gigantic wastes of time and money, but I remember them well and the dark weird joints I played them. So does this guy, giving a rather entertaining history of arcades in Australia - from pinball halls to the Timezone vs. Intencity wars of the 90s. I had no idea Intencity was a Kerry Packer thing, ugh.

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!