The Sizzle

Issue 195 - Friday 22nd July, 2016 - Tokyo, Denmark, Sweden


Bunnie Huang and the EFF are fighting the DCMA
The USA's pretty horrible Digital Millennium Copyright Act is getting challenged in a US court. Andrew "bunnie" Huang (one of the main people of the whole maker scene) has managed to get the EFF to represent him in a case against the US government, to fight the anti-circumvention and anti-trafficking parts of the DMCA that he argues has placed a large and unnecessary burden on people wanting to create new products and or learn how existing products work. Bunnie's reason for taking this potentially industry changing step can be read on his blog.

Ed Snowden's been working on a privacy driven iPhone case
Bunnie is a busy man, as he's also been working with the great patriot Ed Snowden to develop a smartphone case that tells you what your device full of antennas and radios is really up to. Snowden reckons you can't trust the phone's UI to tell you what sort of radio signals are passing through it, so he came up with a better way for people under surveillance (which could be good, or bad) to know what their phone is doing. There's no actual product yet, but Bunnie and Snowden have published a paper outlining why they're working on this smartphone case and how it might work. It's quite easy to read (unlike most academic papers) and pretty interesting to know what your phone is doing under all those layers of abstraction we have to make sure the device is easy to use.

PayPal and Visa are buddies now
Visa and PayPal have called a truce to their pissing match. For years Visa was shitty with PayPal, who they saw as encroaching on territory Visa owns and as a result, PayPal tried to make using Visa cards on its service as unappealing as possible. But that's all behind them now, with the two payment giants have agreed to work together than fight. PayPal will stop encouraging people to use other forms of payment instead of Visa and Visa will promise not to increase fees for PayPal transactions. Here's the full press release.

Kick Ass Torrents guy was busted via Facebook and iTunes
Yesterday we found out that the guy that ran Kick Ass Torrents was arrested in Poland. But how did the cops find out it was him? The DOJ got Apple and Facebook to hand over info on who ran a Kick Ass Torrent fan page, there they found that he was using an email addy from Apple, that was also used to buy stuff off the iTunes store. That same IP was also used for a few Bitcoin transfers, the police put all those puzzle pieces together and busted him, hah. Lousy opsec for a guy making $16m off illegal downloading.

Valve and Twitch clamping down on CS:GO gambling
Valve has sent cease and desist letters to 23 filthy CS:GO gambling sites, finally deciding to let these sites know that what they're doing is against the Steam terms of service. Twitch decided to stop giving these charlatans a platform too. I still can't help but think this only happened because someone kicked up a stink, not because the management at Valve or Twitch thought what was going on with their platform and products was inherently bad.


Stack Overflow moves into making documentation
Stack Overflow is attempting to crowd source documentation via all the questions and experts that are on its platform. They wanna take what Stack Overflow did for questions and apply it to doco, so that people don't have to ask their stupid questions in the first place. It's in beta now and looks pretty nifty.

Police want access to a dead man's phone so they're making a fake finger
Police in the USA have asked a scientist who specialises in biometrics to make a 3D replica of a dead man's fingers based off his fingerprints. There's ways for a fingerprint scanner to only ensure a real, live finger unlocks a phone, but this scientist is trying hard to get around that. Your data isn't even sacred when you're dead - I'm gonna need a heart rate monitor that's linked to a bash script on a server that will delete everything I have if I die.

It's SimCity, but for governments to play with
We all know about SimCity and City Skylines being the preeminent city simulator games. But did you know that real cities use souped up versions of SimCity to try plan what to do to make their patch of dirt better? There's a simulator called Tyrgon that takes real world GIS info along with government sourced stats and data and builds a 3D simulation for planners to fuck around with. It was actually used in New York to work out a way to ensure lower Manhattan isn't damaged by floods and rising water levels.

Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Today's subject line is from Death To The Apple Gerls, by Gerling. Like The Sizzle? Tell your friends!