The Sizzle

Issue 104 - Thursday, 10th March 2016 - The View's Magnificent, You'll Bar Up!


Skin bag of water, flesh and bones lost game of Go to a mighty computer intelligence
World champion Go player, Lee Sedol lost the first of 5 matches to a computer program developed by Google's DeepMind division, called AlphaGo. AlphaGo uses neural network based artificial intelligence to mimic short-term memory and learning algorithms similar to a human brain. AlphaGO isn't pre-programmed with game strategies, but builds upon its past experiences. The game Go is apparently one of the most difficult board games for a computer to play, due to the almost limitless number of board combinations - unlike chess. The Verge explains why this is a big deal.

Google releases public beta of the next version of Android
Google unexpectedly dropped the first beta version of Android N, the codename for what will likely form Android 7.0. It's available as an over the air update for the current batch of Nexus devices (6P, 5X, 6, 9 Pixel C and Nexus Player), but it still a bit rough and probably not appropriate to use as your primary smartphone. It's added a few things found on iOS like split screen support and in-line replying to notifications. Android N also introduces a data saver option, which will block background app data usage and give the ability for you to fine tune which apps should use data and when.

Blue Origin announces plans to cart space tourists around in 2017
Jeff Bezos made his money with Amazon (and still does), but in 2000 started Blue Origin as to focus on private space travel. Yesterday he announced that Blue Origin will be taking people that aren't trained astronauts into sub-orbital space in 2017. I've heard about this private space travel shit for 20 years now and all I gotta say is, hurry the fuck up. I'll mortgage my house for a trip into space. Between Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, it's gotta happen pretty soon, right?

Google joins the Open Compute Project to make public their data centre designs
The Open Compute Project is an attempt by Facebook to standardise very dense datacentre designs and share the knowledge around building this expensive infrastructure. It's grown significantly and added companies like Microsoft, Intel, AT&T, Ericsson, Cisco, HP, Lenovo and heaps more. But the notable missing member was Google - the king of datacentre design. Google has now joined the OCP and has given OCP its design for a new rack specification that includes 48V power distribution and a new form factor. Hmm, there's a lot of Google stuff in today's issue isn't there?

New Android malware specifically targeted at Australian banks
Malware targeting Android phones has been designed to impersonate legit banking apps from local banks like Commonewalth, Westpac, ANZ and NAB. The malware pretends to be Adobe Flash (oh man) and when installed, it scans the phone for installed banking apps then installs clickjacking overlays on the legit apps so when you tap your banking app, you're actually launching the malware. Of course, this malware is distributed via side-loading an APK and installed accidentally via misleading ads or phishing messages. We Live Security has a much more detailed description of how it works than the SMH article if you wanna know more.


Google ends public viewing of PageRank scores
All the bullshit you see on the Internet, all those link farms, all those crappy blog posts filled with links, all the otherwise normal comments sections full of ads for garbage - that's Google PageRank's fault. That spam is usually the result of SEO companies selling the ability to boost your PageRank score. Now that PageRank's not gonna be available to see for yourself, there's a chance that sort of junk will stop cluttering up the web, as people are less likely to pay for it. Maybe. I'm sure someone will discover a fresh way to ruin the web.

Big list of self-hosted software packages
It's not trendy to self-host your software these days. Much easier to give someone a few dollars a month and let them run it for you. But if you want control over your data and keen to save some cash, check out this big list of software packages you can run on your own servers. Personally, I run a few of these off my home server - Paperless, Miniflux, Plex and Munin. If you don't have a server and want something easy to set up, check out distros like UBOS, Yunohost and arkOS, which run excellently on any old PC you can scrounge up, or a Raspberry Pi.

Get Ethernet on your iPad
If for some reason you've wanted to use Ethernet on an iPad, it can be done. Grab a Lightning to USB camera adaptor, a powered USB hub and the Apple USB Ethernet adaptor, plug it all in and iOS will automatically detect the new network connection and will use it, even in airplane mode. I'd love to know what sort of reason someone would have to chuck an Ethernet cable into an iPad.

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!