The Sizzle

Issue 311 - Monday, 16th January 2017


Andy Rubin is making a new high end smartphone
Andy Rubin, who is "the guy" behind Android and previously, Danger, both of which were snapped up by Google and eventually worked its way into the Android we know and love today. Two years since leaving Google, he's ready to start the PR juggernaut on his new company - Essential. It's a fancy smartphone, that will be premium, like an iPhone or a Pixel, but better, somehow, we don't know. Rubin was hyping it up at CES a few days ago and apparently it's got a "large edge-to-edge" screen that lacks a bezel. Cool. Sounds nice. I wish I could see one. Rubin also was involved in some AI stuff immediately after he left Google, so it wouldn't surprise me if the Essential device, whatever it is exactly, does a lot of AI type stuff.

SpaceX is back launching rockets
SpaceX is back baby! After a four month hiatus from rocket launches due to their last launch exploding for a reason that took a long time to figure out, they sent up 10 satellites yesterday then landed the Falcon 9 on a barge in the ocean. This is apparently quite impressive, as usually it takes much longer than four months to get your shit together after an exploding rocket. I'm glad this means Elon Musk's plans to give the entire world blanket internet access via 2,000 mini satellites, can continue.

The Guardian hypes up a WhatsApp "backdoor" that isn't a backdoor really
The Guardian has reported that there's a backdoor in WhatsApp, which has been installed on purpose by Facebook. This backdoor allows WhatsApp to apparently change encryption keys for a user without their knowledge, effectively setting up a man in the middle attack. Something shitty countries (like the UK) love to do. But apparently this is on purpose, according to WhatsApp. A bunch of infosec people reckon The Guardian's article is bullshit too, because even though WhatsApp is vulnerable to a MITM attack, that doesn't mean it's there on purpose, or that it's something new and exclusive like The Guardian reckons it is. It's an app owned by Facebook, as if it was gonna keep your shit private in the first place. Use Signal or Wickr or something.

Seagate closes one of its HDD factories
Seagate is closing down it's biggest HDD factory. The factory in China was inherited from Maxtor when Seagate purchased them and according to Seagate is getting shutdown to consolidate manufacturing at its other plants in Thailand and China. Seagate wants to create a more vertically integrated setup, where all the bits of the HDD are made in the one spot, rather than moving parts around between countries. Plus the amount of HDDs people actually want is dropping rapidly as SSDs get cheaper for larger capacities (who's buying a HDD under 1TB in spinny disk form these days?!). Hopefully this doesn't increase the price of HDDs, I want a 10TB HDD for like, $300 already.

Petition with 1 million signatures is delivered to Obama, asking to pardon Snowden
A petition with over 1 million signatures has been delivered to President Obama, asking for him to pardon Edward Snowden before he leaves the White House. As much as I want this to happen, it won't. Obama has previously said that he can't, let alone want to, pardon Snowden, because Snowen hasn't been before a court and been found guilty of anything. Neither will he pardon Chelsea Manning, even though she is rotting in a military jail in Kansas for highlighting the bullshit the US was up to in the Middle East. As much as I like old mate Barry, this is a huge stain on his legacy.


McKinsey reckon half of the work we do can now be done by a bot of some sort
McKinsey are one of those gigantic arsehole companies that comes up with ways to boss people around and then sell that to companies who have people that need bossing. They're sort of a big deal when it comes to dudes in suits, so it's interesting to see what they think about job automation. They reckon about half of all the tasks people do at work in the US can be automated, saving $2.7 trillion in wages. That's using automation techniques available now too - not some future tech that's not invented yet. The executive summary of their report is pretty interesting if you've got 30 min or so to skim over it.

Google's fancy deep learning image resizing algorithm
Google has found a way to use machine learning to cut image sizes down by a quarter on Android phones. It's called RAISR and makes high quality images out of low quality sources. Google has a more detailed explanation of what RAISR is on its research blog. It's processed about a billion images so far on Google+ and I guess nobody has complained?

Cuba begins to get a taste of the internet, finally
Now that the USA has stopped its feud with Cuba in 2014, Cuban internet access is starting to come out of the shadows. People having internet at home, in Cuba, is a thing! 2,000 people in Havana getting a free connection as a trial before expanding it. The government has even created 240 public wi-fi hotspots and you can now buy mobile broadband dongles if you want em. Imagine being able to use the internet for the first time in 2017! That's what it'd be like for people in Cuba now. Hopefully the government there don't be pricks about it and just let everyone have access.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

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