The Sizzle

Issue 200 - Friday 29th July, 2016 - It's Never A Golden Age Until Past Tense Kicks In

200 issues! *throws confetti* Yay!


The sharing economy's shady labour practices to be tested by Fair Work Australia
Law firm Maurice Blackburn is prepping a legal case against the employment practices of food delivery companies Foodora and Deliveroo in Australia. They reckon it's a severe breach of the Fair Work Act by classing them as independent contractors with ABNs to get around minimum wage and entitlements (like sick leave and access WorkCover) laws. Clearly there's huge implications for the entire sharing economy, including poster child Uber and dozens of other "tech" startups in Australia that simply have a business model of employing people as contractors and pimping them out via an app. I can't wait to see how this plays out.

Microsoft to sack 2850 more people related to Nokia
Microsoft will cut 2,850 additional staff from its smartphone division, truly disemboweling whatever they purchased from Nokia. The cuts will come from smartphone hardware roles and slaes teams. This is on top of 1,850 sackings announced in May, as part of Microsoft's decision to cut their losses from the US$7.9b Nokia acquisition in 2014. Apparently Microsoft has written off US$10b as losses from the Nokia deal.

UAE imposes new anti-VPN laws
The United Arab Emirates (if you suck at geography, this is the country that has Abu Dhabi and Dubai in it) has decided that VPNs are a threat of some kind and if you use one "for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery", you might get thrown in prison and slapped with a max fine of two million dirhams (~AUD$722,000). There's a lot more going on than simple censorship here, as this Techdirt article elaborates a little on. This blog post from a skilled infosec dude who the UAE attempted to recruit also adds a little colour to the scary internet surveillance ambitions of the UAE.

Alphabet's making more money than last year
Alphabet (the parent company of Google, if you don't remember) has announced their latest quarterly financials and things look good. Profit is up 24% versus last year, for a total of US$5.97b, mainly because more people are clicking on Google's ads - a market they own 31% of. Alphabet raked in US$21.5b all up - a 21% revenue increase. They're losing money on their "other bets" businesses like Nest and Google Fibre though. Full numbers and press release here.

Eureka Prizes finalists announced
Finalists for the Eureka Awards have been announced, outlining the most outstanding people and organisations doing cool science shit across Australia. Some impressive feats here, like creating human kidney tissue from stem cells, the ability to measure the contamination levels in silicon before going into solar cells thus reducing the cost of manufacture, a robot to kill off parasite starfish and the planning and construction of a new radio telescope. To me, they are all winners.


The iPhone is the best selling product of any kind, ever
In the wake of Apple selling 1,000,000,000 iPhones, Asymco has delcared it the most popular product of all time. The only thing close is Harry Potter books, which have sold a combined 450 million copies. There's been 382 million PlayStations sold and there's only 43 million Toyota Corollas around the world. Besides commodities like oil, water and food and consumables like cosmetics and toiletries, the iPhone is so, so popular. Put into that perspective, it's phenomenal how many of such a complex product (I'd argue that a smartphone is just as hard to manufacture as a car) like the iPhone have been made and sold in just 9 years. By the iPhone's 10th anniversary, there will be another 100m of the damn things sold.

The iPod is still cool for some people
Here's an insightful, wistful and relateable story about someone's iPod Classic. They love their 160GB of music, perfectly curated for them. No distraction, just tunes. The iPod is a little capsule of music that they want to hear and a little fuck to you to the perpetual upgrade cycle of tech. After reading it, I kinda miss my 30GB iPod Video, that thing was awesome.

Satellite Safari - check out what’s orbiting earth right now
Satellite Safari is a cool smartphone app that'll show you all the satellites orbiting around the earth and let you know when they zoom over your head. It can show you the satellites on various kinds of maps and give you a little bit of info as to what that satellite does. Lots of fun for a few bucks and it's on both Android and iOS. Try it out over the weekend!

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 Easy, by Something For Kate. Like The Sizzle? Tell your friends!