The Sizzle

Issue 115 - Wednesday, 30th March 2016 - The Guy That Was In That Magazine, Getting Up His Missus


Panic over Instagram's soon to be algorithmic Instagram feed
Instagram is taking Twitter's lead in re-arranging your feed to show you things it thinks are important. What goes where and how often you'll see someone's pics, we don't know, but popular Instagrammers and brands are afraid their precious photos won't be as noticed. Taking some initiative before the algorithmic feed begins, they're begging people to turn on notifications as not to miss their very important updates. So many brands, so little time.

iOS 9.3 broke the ability for some users to tap links in Safari
In other things you may have heard people whinge about, iOS 9.3 has a few bugs in it. The main one pissing people off is the inability to open links in Safari, Mail and Messages - a pretty key function of any smartphone. The reason for this is a bug in the Universal Links feature, which allows websites to open stuff in native apps. The app is notorious for this bug. There's a workaround available, but Apple has acknowledged the issue and will release an update soon enough. What a shitty bug.

The ACCC tells Steam that it does operate in Australia and ACL obligations do apply
Back in August 2014, the ACCC accused Steam of not adhering to Australian Consumer Law by not offering refunds. Valve tried to defend itself by saying it's not an Australian company, so why should it bother with Australian laws? Over 18 months the ACCC and Steam argued that fact and now, the ACCC has ruled that yes, even though you're an American company, by selling stuff in Australia, you should have to comply with Australian laws. Steam already initiated a refund policy while the case was heard months ago, but the ACCC wants the process streamlined and for Steam to pay the ACCC's legal costs.

Redflow unveils the ZCell zinc bromide battery for domestic use
Simon Hackett is a big investor in Redflow and I like Simon Hackett, so I care about the new ZCell battery. It uses zinc bromide instead of lithium and is designed to be fully discharged and recharged (unlike lithium). The ZCell is Redflow's domestic version of their ZBM2 battery and designed to be hooked up to some solar panels for off-grid use. Apparently they estimate the cost of a 10kW solar system with this battery, fully installed, will set you back about $17-$19k. One day I'll have to work out what sort of price point I'd need a battery backed solar system to cost in order for it to pay itself back within 5 years.

Optus chucking some 4G Wi-Fi hotspots in some Uber vehicles in Melbourne & Sydney
For some reason Optus is placing Wi-Fi hotspots inside Uber cars in Sydney and Melbourne. Sure, it's nice to have free access to the Internet, but, presumably, you have data access on your smartphone, as you used it to use Uber. Why not just use that instead of leeching a few measly MB off Optus while sitting in the back of a car? Would anyone really use this? Anyway, Uber also reduced its pricing by 15% for Uber X in Melbourne (which btw is still illegal and uninsured and stuff).


Pinboard founder tells IFTTT to shove it
If This Then That is a super handy web service that allows other web services to interact with each other. One of those services is Pinboard, run by the permanently salty (and usually 100% spot on) Maciej Ceglowski. He's posted the shit sandwich of a deal IFTTT is giving to services that aren't using the new IFTTT API. The deal sucks in that you have to do all of IFTTT's work and not get a cent, plus that work ends up as property of IFTTT. Instead of doing the work themselves to integrate Pinboard, they're blaming Pinboard (and other services that don't give a shit/don't want to play along) for the imminent removal of Pinboard from the range of services IFTTT can interface with. IFTTT isn't as cool as it used to be.

Bitcoin mining uses a significant amount of electricity
According to Christopher Malmo, if Bitcoin continues its current adoption trend, by 2020 the amount of electricity all those Bitcoin mining devices consume will be equivalent to the electricity consumption of the entire country of Denmark. In an optimistic scenario, all the Bitcoin mining devices in action will consume 417MW. In a pessimistic scenario, 14,600MW will be sucked up by various ASIC based mining devices. I liked how he was able to roughly work this stuff out - the thought process of how he arrived at the figures is just as interesting as the result itself.

Kid buys an IBM mainframe and has a funny story to tell
Thanks to Sizzle reader @zacdavies for letting me know about this ~40min talk from a kid who scored an IBM z890 from Rutgers University for like $300. I've been lucky/unfortunate enough to use an IBM mainframe (a z10 system I think it was) and the thought of having one at home is pretty cool. You can gain such a deep understanding of computer systems and architecture by hanging around a mainframe. It's like your little puny desktop computer, but in a much larger form factor and extremely granulated. I want a mainframe now.

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!