The Sizzle

Issue 287 - Thursday, 1st December 2016 - The Cops, The Priest, The Crisis Line


The ACCC is pissed off with MSY again
The computer shop we all know and love, MSY, is back on the ACCC's naughty list, with the regulator saying it wasn't properly handling returns and warranties on faulty products properly. MSY was saying things like they'd only help you if you returned within 7 days of buying the product, won't do shit about any software issues, pay an admin fee for anything faulty out of warranty and MSY would use its discretion to decide if a customer was entitled to a fix for a dodgy product. This is pretty much the same thing MSY got in trouble for back in 2013. I love MSY and their dirty stores and ugly broken website, but this is bullshit.

Netflix enables offline downloading of content
Netflix has added the ability to watch its content offline. In the latest version of the iOS and Android apps, you can now just tap a download button and it'll be kept for viewing when you're not around internet access. You could even use it to say, load up a few videos while you're near a fat pipe, then go home to your shitty 2mbit ADSL and watch the stuff without buffering. I wouldn't know though, I've had 100mbit internet for like a decade *kermit drinking a tea jpeg here*

Amazon unloads a feast of new features for AWS
Amazon's been busy announcing loads of AWS related goodies. There's Polly, a text to speech service that works in 24 languages. Rekognition, another cloud service that uses deep learning to do image detection and recognition. Lex, a chat bot platform that leverages what Amazon learns from offering Alexa. Lightsail, a more traditional VPS offering. EC2 instances with Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) that can be configured to be heaps faster than general purpose (aka, your graden variety Intel & AMD) CPUs. And my favourites, Snowball Edge, a 100TB box you fill with data to upload to S3 and Snowmobile, a fucking semi-trailer filled with HDDs that'll let you upload 100PB of data to AWS. There's more announcements on the AWS Blog and there's videos slowly going up on the AWS YouTube channel.

Telstra shut down 2G network, will launch NB-IoT network very soon
Telstra's 2G network is officially dead. At 12:01am today, the 2G network was shut down and any 2G devices no longer work. Optus and Vodafone will shut theirs off next year. Also in Telstra network related news, they plan to launch an "NB-IoT" network (a low bandwidth part of LTE designed for M2M and IOT use) in a few weeks. So that's kinda cool if all you need is cheap internet access for a device that sends little bits of data somewhere. Here's a little info on Telstra's NB-IoT network plans - they're basically enabling Cat M1/NB1 LTE on their network, which operates at a max of 1mbit/sec or 250kbit/sec. I wonder how much Telstra will charge for this? If you could get access for say, $1/m, I think that'd be cool for some Raspberry Pi projects.

Fitbit might buy Pebble
Rumours are swirling that Fitbit will buy Pebble. Makes a lot of sense I reckon. Fitbit is kinda meh, Pebble is for the nerds, combine the nerds with the fashion people and maybe some cool wearables will happen. Still though, wearables, boring - all the shit I wanna do with a wrist computer (open a parcel locker, unlock my garage door, start my car, authenticate myself to online services, get indoor navigation and more), I can't, so fuck em.


Cheap stuff I found on Ozbargain
Couple of decent buys scoured from Ozbargain: a genuine PlayStation 4 Universal Media Remote for $28 at EB. Also at EB is 15% off Nintendo eShop gift cards. Vodafone $40 starter packs for only $15 delivered from Uniquemobiles. Good Guys has a 20% off sale on their eBay store right now. Get 2TB and 4TB 2.5" Seagate portable HDDs (great for Time Machine - small & no external power needed) for $96/$156 respectively. Also at Good Guys is a 32" 720p LCD for $159. I got my mum and dad these TVs when they were $199 and they're perfectly fine I reckon, fuck all FTA is in 1080p anyways.

Wirecutter has a thing about mesh wi-fi that's good to know about
If you're curious about mesh wi-fi, Wirecutter has a decent overview of the options currently available for ya. They liked the Netgear Orbi best, but it doesn't seem to be a silver bullet for fixing patchy wi-fi. Mesh wi-fi can save you running cables around your home though, if all you need is basic wi-fi. But compared to a UniFi solution, latency takes a severe hit and bandwidth kinda sucks too.

Laugh and/or reminisce about this old 1999 GeoCities cage in a datacentre
Continuing an internet infrastrcutre theme with Amazon's announcements, look at this "data centre" from 1999. The photos were taken of GeoCities' (you all remember GeoCities right?) cage in the Exodus DC in San Francisco. Heaps of Sun gear - mostly Sun Ultra 2 boxes. 120 clusters totalling a huge 12TB, hah. Not much has changed really - the boxes are bit fancier and the cabling a bit better, but websites are still hosted on computers attached to storage devices and plugged in to some switches and routers.

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 Who Was In My Room Last Night?, by Butthole Surfers. Like The Sizzle? Like it on Facebook!