The Sizzle

Issue 284 - Monday, 28th November 2016 - They Say Jump, You Say How High


San Francisco's tram ticketing system offline due to a cryptolocker
San Francisco's MUNI (like trams in Melbourne, but, like, go underground and have a stronger piss smell) is being held ransom by a cryptolocker. The ticketing system was broken into on Friday afternoon and apparently, computer screens at MUNI displayed this message: "You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted. Contact For Key( ,Enter.". As a result, MUNI has been free to ride on since Friday, haha.

Xiaomi admits that it makes no cash off smartphone hardware
Xiaomi has admitted that it makes no money off its smartphones. No wonder they're so damn cheap yet not totally horrible! Hugo Barra said in an interview that, "Xiaomi could sell 10 billion smartphones and [the company wouldn’t make a single dime in profits". Instead of the Apple high margin approach, they're taking the Gillette approach of giving away the hardware and making money off the services. So the assumption I made a few days ago that Xiaomi had to be one of the handful of profitable smartphone OEMs was totally incorrect. Very unusual for a smart person like me to be wrong, it won't happen again.

You can use Telstra Air wi-fi overseas now
If you've got access to Telstra Air (their pretty shite wi-fi thing), you can now use overseas wi-fi as part of that access. Telstra Air is just Fon, which has been around for a long time, re-branded. Fon exists in many countries and is pretty popular in places like Spain and France. Now you can use all those Fon hotspots around the world - all 19 million of them - with your Telstra Air login. Pretty handy!

Japan aims to build world’s fastest computer
It looks like the Japanese are sick of playing second fiddle to the Chinese and have decided to build the world's fastest computer. US$173m will be spent to construct a cluster capable of 130 petaflops of raw computing power and will be housed at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. The current fastest computer in the world is China's Sunway Taihulight and is used for weather forecasting, pharmaceutical research and industrial design (maybe testing nukes aimed at Washington DC too, who knows). Japan's AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (a temp name I think) is focused on stuff like deep learning and applying it to Japanese industry - maybe Toyota will use it to deep learn how to make an electric car. ABCI should be complete by the end of 2017.

Government floats idea of a "Tesla tax", aka road user fee
Here we go, a Tesla tax has been run up the flagpole by the the "federal minister for major projects, Paul Fletcher" as part of a 15-year infrastructure plan. First of all, the "Tesla tax" isn't actually a tax on Teslas, or electric cars - but is a road user fee, charged per kilometre. The idea is to replace the current fuel excise with this new road user fee, because electric cars don't use fuel and as more people buy electric cars (and consequently, the price of petrol collapses as nobody is buying it), the amount gathered from the fuel excise will dwindle away into nothing. In theory it's a good concept, but we have to be vigilant it isn't used by a fossil fuel friendly government to prop up its favourite energy source.


Pics from Sony's soon to be demolished Ginza museum
The Verge visited Sony's museum in Tokyo and posted lots of photos. Interesting things I gleaned from the post: Sony had the first e-ink display book in 2004 and the first OLED TV in 2007. Bravia stands for "Best Resolution Audio Visual Integrated Architecture". The VAIO Note 505 Extreme, made out of carbon fibre, was the laptop I struggled to remember when I was remembered about Japanese laptops. The wall of Sony's media formats (Betamax, Video8, DAT, Mini Disc, Memory Stick, Blu-Ray) is cool. I wish Apple made a museum like this in Cupertino, instead of that overpriced book. I'll probably not get to see the Sony museum either, as it's gonna be knocked down soon (if it hasn't already). Very sad.

The Mac App Store is full of shit scam apps
The Mac App Store is full of shit apps that are straight up scams. How-To-Geek put themselves in the shoes of a new Mac user that doesn't really know much about computers. They know they want Excel, so they go to the Mac App Store - app stores are where apps come from, right? Type Excel in the search bar and all you get is a stream of apps pretending to be Excel, but are not. It's obvious to us nerds, but how's someone that isn't a nerd supposed to know? Word is the same, InDesign, the same. Apple is supposed to be curating the App Store, apply some goddamn standards.

A trio of Apple think pieces for you to get worked up about
Speaking of Apple, there's been a few kinda interesting Apple related think pieces doing the rounds that are worth sharing (which is unusual for Apple related think pieces). First is from Vox, where the idea that Apple is far too big now to act the way it does, is taken for a drive around the block - Apple needs more divisional structure to allow those products to flourish, basically. That concept is taken further by TidBITS, who think Apple should do with the Mac what they did with Filemaker - split it off into its own company, but still have Apple control it. Ex-Apple VP, Jean-Louis Gassée, throws himself into the hot take hot tub, arguing that while the Mac on its own would be a massive business (in the same league as Time Warner Cable & Raytheon), it's probably inevitable that the Mac & iOS will merge somehow and the Mac will just fade away.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Today's subject line is from Bullet In The Head, by Rage Against The Machine. Like The Sizzle? Like it on Facebook!