The Sizzle

Issue 119 - Monday, 4th April 2016 - I Was Flying Around In Pink Helicopters

Listen to James Croft and myself talk about tech stuff on this week's ep of the Reckoner podcast, which is really, a recap of the week's top Sizzle stories.


Nest kills Revolv smart hub - literally, the thing won't work at all soon
Nest purchased Revolv in 2014, who developed a rather nifty smart home hub that customers are quite attached to. Unfortunately Nest has decided the Revolv isn't worth the effort any more and is ceasing support for the Revolv. Not an usual act in tech land - there gets a point where something isn't worth bothering with. What's unique here is that the Revolv is totally cloud based. Turn off those cloud servers and you're left with, as Arlo Gilbert puts it, an empty hummus container. Nest's also been in the shit lately, so this is just another layer of filth on top of an already filthy company. Check out this rant from a Nest engineer on Reddit - something is rotten in the state of the Netherlands, indeed.

How the Panama Papers were leaked (aka, encryption rocks)
The Panama Papers are a glorious treasure trove of all the secrets the rich and powerful don't want you to know and we have technology to thank. While we don't know the exact method on how 2.6TB of data was exfiltrated from one of the most secretive law firms on the planet, we do know that it was the efforts of some hackers who reached out to journalists with this juicy info. Those hackers only felt safe doing so thanks to strong encryption. Hooray for encryption! What's also interesting is the way the journalists have been accessing the large amount of data - the International Consortium of Investigative Journalist's developers made a portal for the journos that allowed them to search the database, chat to each other and offer translation of documents. All encrypted and (relatively) secure.

Labor hints at vastly widening FTTdp rollout if they win government
With an election not too far on the horizon, the Labor government has kept its NBN related cards close to its chest. But today at CommsDay Summit, shadow minister Jason Clare has, inbetween slinging gobs of shit at the Libs FTTN plans (it's late! it costs too much! it's slow! it's a hot mess! the NBN is a mess!), praised the recent FTTdp trials and reckons more of that stuff should be rolled out instead of FTTN. Let's see what happens when that election is called and they gotta put some sort of policy forward.

USA's FCC introduces broadband nutritional labels
If you've ever procured food from the USA, you may have noticed that their nutritional labels are identical, on every piece of food packaging. That same branding is now to be applied on broadband plans in the US thanks to the FCC's attempts to stop US consumers getting hoodwinked. Much like our critical information summaries, the broadband label shows how much data you get a month for your cash, what it costs to cancel and what happens if you go over that limit. What I particularly like is the performance rating - typical up/down speeds are good, but also latency and typical packet loss. What an awesome initiative. I'm surprised to see it come out of the USA, since when did they do something that wasn't totally aligned with the corporate interests (as if AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would want this)?

More Vodafone 4G around Australia and VoLTE coming soon
Vodafone is rolling out more 4G around the country, utilising it's 850MHz spectrum to compliment the 1800MHz spectrum in use for LTE. Apparently it now reaches 95% of the Australian population (not land mass, population). More LTE the better I reckon. I love me some LTE. Voda is also implementing VoLTE, so you'll be able to chat on the phone and use LTE on that same phone at the same time, instead of dropping down to 3G. Cool.


Panasonic DMC-TZ110 camera review
I like taking photos, but I don't like lugging my DSLR around, but I also want better quality pictures than what my iPhone 6S provides. 1" sensor cameras are great as they'll fit in a pocket without a massive protruding lens like other mirrorless compact cameras. But they're expensive and generally have average lenses. The Panasonic DMC-TZ110 (ZS100/TZ100 elsewhere in the world) has been put through the usual tests by DP Review and it looks like a winner. A 25-250mm focal range is great for such a small camera, even though its sensor is a smidge behind the Sony RX100 IV. If I was a rich man I'd definitely have a range of cameras in my house that I can grab and take with me whenever I leave the house, suiting my activities for the day.

Milo Champions Band
Milo has a $40 fitness tracker wristband thing (comes with a 450g tin of the good brown powder we all love) and an accompanying smartphone app that tracks how many steps and stuff kiddies get up to. There's games and activities in the app that encourage kids to move around too. You can grab it Woolworths Thursday. Amazing how this tech has come down to the point where it's used as a marketing exercise by a food company. Even the effort to develop the app is quite significant - it's become so mainstream to have an app that Milo just gives it away for free as a marketing exercise.

Scrivener is 50% off at the moment
Those of you who write frequently know the hardest part of writing isn't the actual writing itself - it's the fucken research and back and forth between sources that gets ya. Unless I have a text editor open next to a web browser, I find it almost impossible to write anything that isn't purely a stream of my own conciousness. Scriviner, whilst I've never used it, is supposed to be awesome for writing and is currently 50% off (60% off if you sign up for the 9to5 Toys email newsletter using the popup that appears when you first visit). Perfect time for me to give it a crack I reckon.

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!