The Sizzle

Issue 315 - Friday, 20th January 2017


NHTSA don't blame Tesla's Autopilot feature for the death of a Model S driver
Remember that bloke who got a bit too trusting with Tesla's Autopilot stuff, crashed into a truck's trailer on the highway and died? The NHTSA has released its investigation into the accident and determined that Tesla's system was not at fault. The NHTSA goes on to say that Autopilot is simply a fancy driver assist thing, not an attention replacement - the driver should have been paying attention. Maybe Tesla could have been a bit less gung-ho about how awesome Autopilot is too, as it possibly could have given the driver a bit too much confidence and trust it beyond what it's supposed to be used for. The report also mentions that the amount of Teslas involved in crashes reduced by 40% once Autopilot was introduced.

GM shows dashcam footage of its latest self driving car
And on the topic of cars driving on their own, General Motors has revealed how their self-driving car efforts are going. The speed up dashcam video of a 20 minute drive around San Francisco in a Chevy Bolt worked over by a startup called Cruise (which GM recently purchased) is interesting to watch. You can see it pause and not know what to do when stuff gets in its way - particularly double parked cars and buses or trucks loading. I wonder who's got the most advanced setup right now? It seems to be between Volvo, Tesla and GM - who are the only ones showing demos of cars on public roads in traffic.

Microsoft showing ads in Windows asking Chrome users to install a shopping plugin
Microsoft's copping some shit for placing pop up ads in Windows, promoting its "Personal Shopping Assistant" Chrome plugin. So if you have a default install of Windows 10 and Chrome pinned to the taskbar, a pop up over the icon would appear giving a friendly reminder to install a plugin that gives Microsoft revenue from its affiliates whenever you buy something online. This is what operating systems have been reduced to now - opportunities to show you ads. How long until Microsoft does an Amazon and makes a free version of Windows packed with ads and a paid version ad free? (I'd actually be happy to pay for a full ad & tracking free version of Windows if it genuinely was totally tracking free).

China wants an exascale computer ASAP
China already has the world's fastest computer setup (Sunway TaihuLight), but wants more power. Gigaflops? Teraflops? Petaflops? The Chinese want exaflops coming out of a computer cluster by the end of 2020 and a prototype by the end of 2017 - that's one trillion floating point operations per second. The Sunway TaihuLight does 93 petaflops already in the LINPACK benchmark, so they want to ratchet the speed up to about 1000 petaflops. Go China Go! (I'll look the other way on their human rights abuses, temporarily) - the Americans don't think they'll have an exascale computer until 2023.

Fuji announces new cameras - X100F, X-T20 and GFX 50S medium format
Fuji has unloaded some very nice looking stills cameras. First up is the Fuji X100F, the latest in the popular X100 series. It's got a new sensor, faster CPU, better auto focus, faster startup times and improved ergonomics. The next new camera from Fuji is the X-T20 - essentially a cut down X-T2, but with the same sensor as the more expensive X-T2. No weather sealing, no ISO dial or battery grip on the X-T20, but otherwise very similar. The main story though, is the GFX 50S medium format camera Fuji announced at Photokina back in September. The 51.4MP monster will be out late Feb and go for US$6499 (almost AU$10k once GST is added). That's what I call a decent upgrade from your iPhone's camera.


Retro patent posters
A few of you fellow dorks might like these patent posters. Someone's gone and taken the patent filings for iconic tech things and turned them into large prints. Stuff like the iPhone, the Super Nintendo controller and a Tesla. There's also prints of stupid shit like Air BnB, PayPal, Stripe and Uber - who the hell wants that hanging up in their home or office? If you go around idolising those sort of companies (maybe Stripe is cool, kinda), you need to readjust your perspective on life. There's way more interesting patents out there than a credit card processing facility or a glorified taxi service.

Compute Card as a dockable computer demo
Intel's Compute Card is an evolution of their Compute Stick. Essentially putting the guts of a smartphone into an as small package as possible, without a screen. Intel showed it off at CES and it has no date, or specs, so I didn't mention it here. But someone's gone and done a concept rendering how it could be used in a docking station/tablet. Slide the compute card into the screen and it's a tablet. Take it out, slide it into what's essentially an iMac and it's your PC. You could even, maybe, get a smaller screen (under 6") to use it as a smartphone? One device to rule them all, full convergence!

Pi Hole Redux & DNScrypt
I know there's a few of you Pi Hole users out there (it's the most popular thread on the Sizzle forums!), after I mentioned it months ago as an excellent way to institute ad-blocking and invasive ad tracking across your network. It's had some excellent updates lately and works really well for me still (I run it on an Ubuntu VM now, not a Raspberry Pi). Recently I also set it up to work with DNSCrypt - a way to encrypt DNS requests and prevent them being intercepted by some dodgy malware. So if you're a Pi Hole user, check the DNSCrypt guide out if you're after a little more peace of mind surfing the big bad web.

Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

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