The Sizzle

Issue 333 - Thursday, 16th February 2017


Telstra suffers a drop in profits because of better competition
Telstra's half yearly results are out and it's not the best news for what is arguably Australia's biggest tech company. Profit dropped 11.8% to $1.8b as revenue dropped 6.4% to $12.8b. Telstra's CEO said this drop is because of increased competition and a change in laws regarding what it can charge its wholesale customers. Telstra's Net Promoter Score (the key metric for success within Telstra and other large companies) has dropped significantly too, due to poor reliability of their networks.

Transport for NSW wants 100 new IT staff
If you're nerd looking for work, NSW Transport might have a job for ya. It has launched a recruitment drive with the hopes of attracting 100 new people to work in its "operational systems" team, following a merger of the IT departments of Roads and Maritime, Sydney Trains, NSW Trains, and State Transit. Here's the job ad, briefly outlining the roles available. Kinda weird it's all lumped into a single ad instead of specific ads for the jobs required. Great to see a government department realise the advantages technology can bring - it seems like TfNSW actually has a clue, unlike most government departments.

Indian rocket launches a record 104 satellites simultaneously
The Indian Space Research Organisation successfully launched a rocket carrying a payload of 104 satellites - the most satellites ever launched at once. 88 of those birds belong to Planet, a company that wants to create a constant live video stream of every square mm of the earth. The little satellites its made are called Doves and there's now 138 of the little things, based off the CubeSat standard, rotating around our big blue ball.

Facebook has job classifieds now
Facebook is rolling out a jobs listing feature, kinda like its marketplace feature. US and Canadian business pages can post job ads to their pages, which are then added to a central list of jobs people can search. You can even apply for the job direct in Facebook. Just another attempt by Facebook to be the one stop shop for everything in your life. Why even bother quitting the Facebook app? Facebook is also going to be auto playing sound in videos as you scroll past them in your feed. That's nice, can't wait for that feature to drop.

Canon's new APS-C sensor cameras
Canon has some new cameras. The EOS 77D and EOS 800D are low to mid range digital SLRs with APS-C sensors. The EOS M6 is a mirrorless camera, also with an APS-C sensor, with no viewfinder. All these cameras feature Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS auto focus, which I think is fantastic. They've also got wi-fi and Bluetooth built-in, something you'd expect a camera in 2017 to have I guess. I have no idea what the difference between the 77D and the 800D are though - they seem identical, but the 800D is US$150 less?


An instant messaging app using Twitter's direct messages as a backend
Twitter should have made an instant messaging app so you can chat to your Twitter buddies without having to move services or be constrained by the 140 character limit. Someone realised that direct messages can kinda work like an IM client, so they made an iOS app that just has DMs in it and called it TwIM. I installed it and it works like you'd expect.

A good explanation as to why NBN's high costs prevent gigabit internet - not lack of demand
One of my colleagues at PC & Tech Authority has written a great introduction to one of the pivotal components of the NBN - the Connectivity Virtual Circuit Charge (CVC). The high cost of CVC is holding back gigabit speed internet in Australia. In fact, it's also holding back the internet in general, as that's why something as mundane as a 100mbit connection costs as much as $100/m, where as in NZ you get gigabit for the same price.

Roll your own VPN, it's not that hard
It's no doubt that a VPN is pretty much essential for every internet user wanting to keep some scrap of their privacy in place. But which VPN provider can you trust? Sure there's a good list and ranking of them on That One Privacy Site, but a great way to get a cheap VPN you can trust is to roll your own. Scripts like Streisand and Algo make this a piece of cake to get running on a cheap VPS (like Amazon Lightsail, Digital Ocean or Linode). There's caveats (some sites will block traffic from the IP addresses known to belong to large VPS hosts), but overall it's a cheap and secure way to run a VPN. I personally use Streisand and canceled my Freedome subscription.

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!