The Sizzle

Issue 304 - Friday 30th December, 2016 - While You Were Away


Cyanogenmod bites the dust
The popular Android replacement ROM, Cyanogenmod, seems to have shit the bed. It's a complicated story where a parent company called Cyanogen got the rights to develop a rom off a bloke called Cyanogen, who then forked it into a commercial rom and a free rom, I think. Cyanogen (the company) will cease to exist as of Jan 1st, but the free rom will continue as LineageOS. And so continues the murky world of 3rd party Android ROMs, ugh.

ACCC fines Steam $3m because it didn't have a refund policy
Everyone's favourite online game store, Valve, has been slapped with another fine from the ACCC via the Federal Court - this time it's $3m because they didn't have a refund policy in place between 2011 and 2014. Australian consumer law states that you gotta have a policy for refunds if you wanna sell stuff in Australia - even digital items online from a non-AU company need to have a refund policy. Steam has one now, but it's gotta be punished for the 3 years where it didn't have one.

Cops want Amazon Echo data to use in a murder trial
Amazon's Echo personal assistant talky thing has made its way into the middle of a murder trial in Arkansas. Some bloke was killed in a fancy house kitted out with smart devices, including an Amazon Echo. The police want Amazon to hand over any "utterances" made in a certain time frame to see if the accused said anything to the Echo that may add to their guilt. Amazon said it won't hand over anything unless it is forced to. All those IoT devices in your home might rat you out next time you decide to kill someone - an excellent reason not to buy one I reckon. If I can't kill a man in my own home without getting caught, what's the point of all this modern technology?

Tesla and Panasonic start another factory, this time building solar panels
Tesla and Panasonic are furthering their partnership to not only make batteries, but also solar panels, in the US of A. The two companies will set up a factory in Buffalo, New York, and Panasonic will make the solar cells that Tesla will turn into its Solar Roof product (remember the launch a few months ago?). All the pieces of the Tesla puzzle are quickly falling into place. The factory will start producing PV modules in mid-2017. Panasonic will own and run the factory, funded by Tesla's agreement to buy fuckloads of modules from it.

iPhone manufacturing is heavily subsidised by the Chinese government
The New York Times has an excellent in depth look at the massive infrastructure required to build an iPhone in China and in particular, the huge subsidies the Zhengzhou region has given Foxconn to build there. As part of that reporting, it's painfully obvious how unless the USA decided to do the same (which might actually be impossible), Trump's pipe dream of getting Apple or any other electronics company to manufacture in mass quantities on American soil, is nothing more than a catchy sound bite. Between you and I, this isn't news, but it's more than just opening up a factory, stuffing it with people and machines and building highly advanced electronics - there's so many subsidies the Chinese government has thrown at Foxconn to ensure the manufacturing processes stay in China, it'd make Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman blush.


Raspberry Pi makes a light OS for computers that aren't the Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi foundation has released a new lightweight OS designed not only for the Raspberry Pi, but for x86 based computers too. Called Pixel, it's a basic Linux based OS (Debian/Raspbian based) with a window manager designed for shit computers with no grunt left in em. I installed it on an old Intel Centrino based laptop I have lying around and it works pretty well. Once you load up a few tabs the CPU starts to give way, but yeah, fine for basic web browsing and stuff like that I guess.

Amazon patents giant airship warehouse, with drones
Amazon has a crazy, but kinda cool, patent for drone deliveries utilising a floating airship warehouse. The "airborne fulfilment center" flies at around 45,000ft, with drones buzzing back and forth re-stocking it and delivering items from it, to Amazon customers. One example in the patent is to chuck the mothership over a stadium, which would contain say, sports team merch or snacks that can be delivered to people in the stadium instantly via an order on their phone.

Nifty Triple J Chrome extension
If you like to listen to Triple J, which I don't mind from time to time, there's a very nice Chrome extension that lets you stream it over the internets, shows you the current program, the current song and the previous song, right in your browser. It's nothing fancy or maxtreme++, but it's neat. Nice work whoever made this. Be cool if there was one this nice for Double J and RRR (the only other radio stations I listen to that aren't angry talkback demon amplifiers).


Nothing particularly amazing, but here's what's taken my fancy in the boxing day sales.

Here endeth the sizzle (until next Friday!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Like it on Facebook!