The Sizzle

Issue 132 - Friday, 22nd April 2016 - Richard Marsipan


Opera adds an easy to use, free VPN right in the browser
Opera, soon after it's recent US$1.2bn acquisition by a consortium of Chinese Internet firms, has added a VPN feature right into its browser. Just click the VPN button and turn it on, no config required. Right now it's only in a beta version of Opera and is free, with no limits on usage. You can set the endpoint to be Germany, the USA and Canada, with more countries coming soon. Combined with Opera's built-in ad blocker, it seems like someone is on the side of the user, as opposed to say, Chrome, which is the tool of the devil. The Opera VPN still leaks your IP address though, so maybe they'll work on that during its development.

Real time NSW public transport data can now be used by anyone
One of the best things about using public transport in Sydney compared to Melbourne is the real time tracking of all the trains and buses. That feature was previously only available to some hand picked apps so that Transport NSW can handle the load and work it all out relatively smoothly. Now they're confident enough anyone can tap into it without problems, so have made the necessary info and APIs public. Expect an explosion of public transport apps with Sydney real-time tracking! Come on PTV, get your shit together.

Qualcomm tips off investors that they're losing a big customer (aka Apple)
During an earnings call yesterday, Qualcomm's CEO let drop that he "assumes" a "major customer" will transfer its business to a rival. Rumours have been swirling for a while that Intel has made a serious play to woo Apple to use Intel designed and manufactured radios in the iPhone - something Qualcomm is currently proudly delivering. Everyone seems to think the major customer Qualcomm is referring to is Apple and that the rival, is Intel. I don't think you'd let loose that sort of info unless you were pretty damn sure it was gonna happen, so yeah, Intel's back in the game, maybe.

New version of Ubuntu LTS - 16.04, Xenial Xerus
Ubuntu has released a new LTS version of Ubuntu, 16.04, dubbed Xenial Xerus. The LTS versions of Ubuntu receive "long term support", for 3 years worth of updates and stuff (five years for LTS server), where as the standard releases only get around a year. There's apparently significant updates to the desktop interface Unity, ZFS support out of the box and the new Snappy package format.

AMD hooks up with THATIC to design x86 SoCs for China
AMD have been in Intel's shadow for a while now, barely gaining any traction in anything except games consoles. They've been losing money (and still are), but have announced a deal with Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co., Ltd (THATIC) to develop x86 SoCs for the Chinese market. Their aim with this partnership is to expand x86 server use in China. AMD is basically licensing THATIC much of their expertise in developing high end x86 chips. I also mentioned this because I don't understand why this is happening - why does China need special CPUs? Can't they use Xeons and Opterons for some reason? Help me out here fellow nerds.


Lots of cheap tech goodies at the moment, mainly via a 15% off eBay sale
There's a fuckload of bargains on tech stuff at the moment. Here's some of the good stuff that if you're in the market for, won't find cheaper anywhere else. 32GB iPad Pro 9.7" for $708 & Apple Pencil for $137, Chromecast 2 & Chromecast Audio for for $45.60 at Officeworks, Nexus 6P 32/64GB for $579/$698, 32GB Apple TV 4 for $197 delivered, 16GB Nexus 5X for $316, Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB for $976 + shipping. I love the bargains, I love them so much.

The GE9X jet engine to fire up for the first time
Aviation is not the usual purview of The Sizzle, but can we take a minute to appreciate GE's new get engine, the GE9X? It's got a massive 100,000lbs of thrust and seems to be a bespoke design for Boeing's 777X. GE are about to turn it on for the first time in their engine testing facility in Ohio. The GE Aviation YouTube channel is a lot of fun too. (I swear this wasn't paid for by GE, I wish GE would pay me for this.)

Easy to read overview of Intel's current market position
At the risk of this thing turning into CPU news daily, Vox has an excellent overview of Intel's current market situation. They totally missed mobile and are now paying the price, as we saw with the 12,000 layoffs announced yesterday. Not only did they miss the mobile gravy train, they said no, to Apple, who wanted Intel to develop them a chip! Intel didn't think Apple would sell enough iPhones to make the development worth it. Ahh hindisght's a bitch.

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!