The Sizzle

Issue 317 - Wednesday, 24th January 2017


The Prime Minister wants to teach his fellow politicians how to cover their arse online
The Prime Minister has asked the Signals Directorate to put on a cyber security conference for all Australian political parties next month. The PM wants to teach proper OPSEC to the dummies in charge of our political parties (encrypt yo shit, talk on encrypted services only and don't go to China, I assume). It looks like the government has been spooked by what the US experienced during its election, with all the Russian hackers and stuff. Replace Russia with China and you've got the worst nightmare of any Aussie politician.

Xiaomi's international boss quits because the job was ruining his life
Xiaomi's boss of non-Chinese stuff, Hugo Barra, has quit. After a few years living in China, he wants to return to Silicon Valley. He said the pressure and the hours the job entails put him under too much stress and was damaging his health. Good on him for having the courage to say that. There's no job important enough to ruin your health and your family life. I wonder what he'll do next in the USA?

Samsung's on the up and up, forget about those exploding phones
Samsung has announced that it'll keep using the Galaxy Note branding, even though it's synonymous with exploding phones. Samsung reckons there's plenty of loyal customers who enjoy the Note branding. Samsung also said they won't have a new Galaxy 8 for Mobile World Congress in a few weeks. I imagine the investigation into the Note 7 issues slowed down the release cycle for all their phones. Also, Samsung Electronics had a very profitable quarter, beating estimates thanks to selling loads of memory chips and solid smartphone sales. The Note 7 stuff was just a blip overall.

China cracking down harder on VPNs
China has made using a VPN illegal, or more illegal than it already was - I don't know what the law was before, but they're sure as shit not cool now. If you want to use a VPN, legitimately, say for a Chinese company wanting to communicate with its offices around the world, you need the permission of the Chinese government before setting it up. Basically, the government there is no longer turning a blind eye to some people using VPNs to get outside the great firewall. You thought Netflix banning VPN use was bad? This is next level VPN whackamole stuff.

The Seamless Traveller project is coming to an Aussie airport near you
Australia's "Seamless Traveller" project is getting a bit of hype. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will be using facial recognition to scan people as they get off the plane and progress through the terminal and automatically process their visa status. Ideally, they want Australians returning to Australia to be able to simply walk off their international flight and go get their bags - same as a domestic flight. Sounds cool? The downside is that the government will needs loads of biometric info on you. Iris scans, finger prints and 3D face modeling sort of stuff. A pilot of the tech will begin in Canberra around the middle of the 2017. Check out the tender put out by DIBP for a bit more detail.


Some Ozbargain finds
Seen those fancy Ring wi-fi doorbells advertised around the place? They've taken $50 off for Australia Day (weird, but whatever) making one of these things $249+post. There's a new entry level Surface Pro 4 that starts at $899. JB . Aldi are selling 1 year of unlimited phone calls, SMS and 42GB of data (42GB to use over 12 months) for $249.

Escaping from China's firewall is kinda difficult
I brought up the Great Firewall of China earlier and I find the damn thing fascinating. Here's a country of over 1b people, effectively locked out from the rest of the world due to a bunch of firewall rules in routers. It's such a weird thing for us in the west to comprehend, particularly for nerds, that our internet access is blocked by the government - a seemingly competent one that actually blocks stuff. Not pissweak DNS removals, btu full on deep packet inspection. This post from a year ago explains how relatively good it is at keeping most people inside the Chinese sandbox. A lot of stuff stuff will no longer work with the new VPN crackdowns too. I honestly have no idea how you'd go about getting a solid connection outside China if you were visiting or trying to do business there.

Uber drivers setting up camps outside rich US cities
I don't know how related to tech this is, rather than it being a purely social issue, but I guess Uber is involved and they're a tech company, so maybe it is tech related? These poor fuckers in the USA are sleeping in their cars amongst other Uber drivers, so they can drive in the rich cities all day and not have to commute back to their poor towns. Literally they're on the road for all their waking hours during the week, sleeping in car parks, using 7-11 dunnies, showering at gyms, all to earn what would be below minimum wage in most industrialised countries. Some of them even seem to like it. Expect more stuff like this as automation (implemented and encouraged by nerds like us, remember) sucks up more unskilled labour.

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!