The Sizzle

Issue 109 - Friday, 18th March 2016 - I'm Free


Telstra's mobile network shit the bed again so we get a day of free data
Telstra had a 4 hour mobile network outage last night for 8 million of its customers and we don't really know why. Apparently there was "extreme network congestion when a large number of services disconnected at the same time and were then reconnected" - without any context this is practically meaningless. As a Telstra customer I'd love a proper report into this and the last outage, with details for a technical audience as to what went wrong. I know running a mobile network that spans over 7.9 million square kilometres and achieving 100% uptime isn't simple, but a company with Telstra's profits doesn't have an excuse for not having a fully redundant setup. At least we get a day of free data again, on April 3rd. Let's see who can leech the most in a 24 hour period! I think the record is 425GB?

IBAC's 18 day investigation into Ultranet wraps up today
After 18 days of sad, embarrassing and only sorry because they got caught testimony from rorter after self-interested rorter, Victoria's IBAC has ended its hearings into the supremely botched Ultranet, with a report due later this year. ZDNet has a good summary of the hearing, but I can't wait to read that report and outline for the layperson how the Department of Education pissed away our tax dollars at the expense of our children's education.

Tim Cook chats to TIME at length about Apple's fight with the FBI
I'm yet to sit down and properly read this long interview and story with Tim Cook and TIME, but from all reports, it's an excellent insight into why Apple is doing this and why the FBI and the government are on the wrong side of history here. TIME also published the full transcript of their interview with Tim Cook.

Proof that the feds were after Ed Snowden when they asked for Lavabit's private key
In 2013, one of the precursors to the initial leaking of classified documents by Edward Snowden was the goverment's (at the time) unheard of request for secure email service Lavabit, to hand over the private key so they could monitor emails in and out of Lavabit's servers. The brave acts of Ladar Levison are outlined here, if you don't remember them. Anyways, at the time it we didn't know why the feds wanted access to Lavabit and only after Ed Snowden leaked what he leaked, did we kinda guess it was because he was using Lavabit to do his thing. Now we have proof that was the case, because the government forgot to redact some stuff in documents it recently uploaded.

Nintendo's first app, Miitomo, hits smartphones
Nintendo dipped their toe in the smartphone waters today, releasing Miitomo for iOS and Android in Japan (a US release is coming one day). It's probably only for the die hard Nintendo fans who can read Japanese, but if you loved those Miis on the Wii console, you'll love the shit out of this Mii based social network. Hurry up and bring your entire back catalogue to iOS, Nintendo, a pile of cash is waiting for you.


Pi Hole, a network level ad blocker
We all love our ad blockers, keeping us not only free of annoying, obtrusive ads, but creepy tracking ads and at their worst, very bad malware infected ads. Adblockers running as a browser extension are cool, but running it at a network work is even more robust. It'll work across all your devices (smartphones, tablets, desktops, etc.) and a malicious app can't disable it from your browser. Performance is improved as the shitty ads don't even hit your device. An Adtrap is a popular way of doing this, but it's not cheap. If you've got a Raspberry Pi, install Pi Hole on it and get the same thing going for just the cost of the Pi! I'm gonna see how this works soon as I'm done writing today's issue of The Sizzle.

Windows 10 arrives for older phones
If you're running a Windows smartphone, Windows 10 is now (kinda) available for it. It's a massive improvement and free to upgrade as long as your phone is on the list. My little bargain $29 Lumia 532 is on the list, but after running the Windows 10 Upgrade Advisor app, it says there's no update available. I hope its a case of "we're waiting for Telstra to approve it, chill out you nerd" rather than "look its a $29 phone man, be grateful it even receives security updates". If you've got a Lumia 532 and the Windows 10 update appeared for you, lemme know.

Grab Microsoft Office for free if you're a QLD state school student or staff member
Continuing the free stuff from Microsoft trend, if you've got a Queensland state school email address, Microsoft is giving away an Microsoft Office subscription. The subscription lasts for as long as you're a student or staff member. So if your kid goes to a state school in QLD, don't pay for the latest version of Office, grab it for free thanks to the Queensland Department of Education and Training.

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!