The Sizzle

Issue 220 - Friday, 26th August 2016 - Drag My Coat Tails Down


Apple patches a few serious iOS vulnerabilities first found in the wild
Apple released iOS 9.3.5 today. No big deal, another day another iOS update. But the reason Apple released this update is pretty serious. A bloke who works as a human rights defender in the UAE was getting dodgy text messages, so he told Citizen Lab to look into it and they uncovered the Trident Exploit Chain - a series of three 0-day attacks on iOS that nobody except a select few knew about. Apple was informed and now we have this patch against it. The full details from Citizen Lab can be read here.

WhatsApp is giving up your phone number to Facebook
WhatsApp was sold to Facebook two years ago for US$21.8b and at the time WhatsApp and Facebook were very strident in their defence of WhatsApp users privacy. Nothing to worry about here they said, we won't track you, or link you to your Facebook account and definitely won't show you ads. Well guess what? Facebook's gonna grab your phone number from WhatsApp and do something with it. We don't know what yet, but you gotta assume it's ad related and adding your WhatsApp activity to Facebook's giant database of every single human on earth with a computer.

The APF reckons the DTO's SSO concept is shit
The federal government's Digital Transformation Office (DTO) is starting an alpha version of a single unique identity for every Australian to be used online, so when Aussies interact with government, they don't have to log in multiple times. SSO for government essentially. Unsurprisingly, the Australian Privacy Foundation isn't too keen on the idea. They reckon the public doesn't trust the government not to botch this up and that the project "harbours enormous threats to individuals, and to society as a whole", warning the whole thing has "a very high" risk of failure.

Google Fibre told to lift its game by Alphabet
Google Fibre is circling the drain. The pipe dream of nerds everywhere, the counter argument to the shit NBN we've had foisted upon us, can't make a profit. Up against the incumbent forces, it struggled to acquire customers. It's now been told to sack half its workforce and find a way to cut the cost of getting customers to one tenth of the existing amount. I guess it was a good idea, but just too hard for one of the world's largest tech company to accomplish. Maybe they realised there's no ways to show ads.

Amount of premises hooked up to the NBN over HFC slashed by half
Speaking of ruined dreams, the NBN has announced in an update of the corporate plan that there's gonna be much less HFC connected homes. About 4 million homes were gonna get HFC, but now it's only 2.5m. The rest will get a mix of FTTN (shite), FTTdp (better) and FTTB (fine if you're in an apartment). Doesn't matter much really, it's all gonna be sold to Telstra, Optus and TPG in 2020.


A delightful selection of Ozbargain finds
Some basic Ozbargain finds you might be interested in: 5000mAh Xiaomi battery shipped from AU with a receipt showing GST, for only $19 and the 10,000mAh one for $29. Great if you don't like buying from those Chinese joints that take 2 months to ship an item (I'm still waiting for my Xiaomi dashcam ffs). Vodafone is selling SIM starter packs with 8GB of data that lasts 180 days for only $25. Handy to chuck in a tablet or mi-fi or something. Depending on how long it takes for the SIM to expire, you could buy a couple and activate one every 6 months. The Logitech MX Master mouse is only $75 if you've got an Amex.

Government might stop funding UNSW's world leading solar panel research lab
Australia has been at the forefront of solar panel efficiency for over 30 years thanks to a lab at UNSW headed by Professor Martin Green that leads the world in basic R&D to make solar energy better and better. Unfortunately, our half arsed government is probably going to axe its funding because solar power is the devil and the solar power industry doesn't give enough donations and throw enough fancy parties. It would be a national disgrace if this lab closes because our government couldn't see the value of a few million dollars for what is a world centre of excellence.

Season 3 of Halt and Catch Fire has begun
Season 3 of Halt and Catch fire has started. If you've not watched S1 or S2 yet, the weekend is a perfect time to binge watch this! Apparently season 3 is all about online privacy and startup culture, if that's your thing. Halt and Catch fire is on Presto locally and Netflix in Canada and the USA if you got a geo restriction work around going on.

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 Berlin Chair, by You Am I. Like The Sizzle? Tell your friends!