The Sizzle

Issue 335 - Monday, 20th February 2017


Samsung’s boss arrested for bribing the South Korean president
The vice-chairman of Samsung, heir to the Samsung throne and 3rd richest person in South Korea, Lee Jae-yong, has been arrested on bribery charges. It's alleged he lied to investigators about using Samsung funds to give a US$875,500 horse to the South Korean president's "confidante's" daughter and $3.1m worth of donations to a company that same confidant co-owned. There were lots of rumours surrounding his involvement and arrest, but they finally got him in handcuffs doing the perp walk of shame.

German authorities tell parents to destroy doll that can secretly record their kids
My Friend Cayla is a doll that kids can ask questions to and the doll will talk back to them with an answer. Innocent, right? Kinda like Siri but built in a to a doll. The German equivalent of ACMA (Bundesnetzagentur) has told parents to DESTROY THE DOLL (I imagine in an angry German voice), because it is an unauthorised surveillance device - it has a microphone and can record stuff without people knowing it's recording, so it's banned. The Germans are pretty touchy about secret recordings, which is understandable. The doll is also quite hackable, so you can record what a kid is saying or make the doll scare the fuck out of a random kid.

Apple is lobbying against right to repair laws in 8 US states
Eight US states are looking at "right to repair" laws, so that regular people will have access to parts and manuals to fix their broken stuff. Unsurprisingly, Apple is not keen on this at all. Preempting the likely passing of these laws, Apple has sent out lobbyists to various state governments and some of the Nebraskan senators have revealed the arguments Apple have made to try dissuade them passing the law. Apparently sleepy ol' Nebraska would "become the mecca for bad actors" - Apple is afraid of user's data being stolen by hackers if iPhones are allowed to be self-repaired. Hmmm, I think we need to discuss that a bit more than what a paragraph can do justice to.

Uber caught in sexist shit storm once again
Here's yet another story of a woman detailing her horrible treatment at some fancy tech company. This time it's Uber, who we already knew are first class misogynists, that treated Susan Fowler like utter garbage simply because she's a woman and the blokes involved wanted to protect their patch, rather than do the right thing. Uber's CEO, Travis "Boober" Kalanick has said there will be an "urgent investigation". If the investigation doesn't result in at least half a dozen people getting sacked, then Uber will just reinforce the shit image practically everyone who isn't already a douchebag has of them.

99.6% of new phones sold run Android or iOS and BBK (who?) sell a lot of phones
We've got another OS duopoly! 99.6% of new smartphones are either iOS or Android, according to Gartner's latest figures. Once upon a time Blackberry and Windows Mobile were a thing, but they're dead now. Well actually Windows Mobile isn't dead, just sleeping. It's supposed to come back at some point. The same Gartner report shows Apple selling more smartphones than anyone in 4Q16 (barely). Who the fuck is BBK? They're the 5th highest in global smartphones sales!


1Password on Mac needs a manual update to keep working
Heads up for Mac 1Password users - if you got your copy of 1Password *not* from the Mac App Store and it suddenly isn't deciding to launch (like what happened to me over the weekend), there's an update for it that you need to download off the AgileBits website. They fucked up one of the certificates within the app that macOS requires so that it doesn't whinge about how the app is evil and gonna hack your computer. 1Password 6.5.5 fixes it, but is only available manually - it won't come down via the usual software update method. Annoying, but at least is was fixed quickly and it wasn't like I was without my passwords, I could access them on my iPhone fine.

Shakey the robot becomes an IEEE Milestone
There's a new recipient of an IEEE Milestone - Shakey the robot, developed in the late 60s. From the official IEEE plaque: "Stanford Research Institute's Artificial Intelligence Center developed the world’s first mobile, intelligent robot, SHAKEY. It could perceive its surroundings, infer implicit facts from explicit ones, create plans, recover from errors in plan execution, and communicate using ordinary English. SHAKEY’s software architecture, computer vision, and methods for navigation and planning proved seminal in robotics and in the design of web servers, automobiles, factories, video games, and Mars rovers." Thanks for your pioneering work in robotics Shakey. Next time I'm in San Francisco, I'll pay you a visit at the Computer History Museum.

Second Life is still a thing, particularly for disabled people
Kinda like a low tech of Black Mirror's San Junipero episode, there's a bunch of people with disabilities still hanging out in Second Life. Yep, that weird 3D virtual world that was popular in the early 2000s then just died out and became super un-cool, is like an oasis for those unable to leave their homes. At least 20% of Second Life's users are in this situation - users who's most important moments and relationships take place in Second Life. I hope they're all doing a course at RMIT's Second Life campus and getting support for their internet connection on Telstra's island.

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!