The Sizzle

Issue 340 - Monday, 27th February 2017


MWC 2017 - Day 1 announcements
Mobile World Congress has begun, with loads of new smartphones and tablets getting announced. Samsung has new Android and Windows tablets. Huawei's new flagship phones come in Pantone coloured cases and they have new smartwatches. The LG G6 is a big long rectangle in a metal case. The reborn Nokia has 3 Android phones and a 2017 take on the classic 3310 that is 2G only so won't work in Australia. Motorola showed us the G5 and G5 Plus. The new owner of the BlackBerry trademark is attempting to extract ever last cent out of that dying brand with the KeyOne. There'll be more relatively unimportant product launches tomorrow.

Google Assistant coming to all Android 6 & 7 phones soon
Android phone owners might be happy to know that you'll be getting Google Assistant in an update soon. The assistant (i.e: Google's version of Siri that's better than Siri) was previously exclusive to Pixel phones, but will be pushed out via Google Play to all phones running Android 6.0 and 7.0 in the USA, Canada, Australia the UK and Germany. I wonder how Android users will feel getting an update for their phone? Will they know what to do with it? Will they think it's a piece of malware? *shit eating iPhone user grin*

Cloudbleed - another IT security thing with a brand name
A Google security researcher has discovered a rather nasty issue with Cloudflare - a service that sits in front of many popular websites, protecting them from hacks and allowing them to handle vast amounts of traffic. Apparently there was a bug in CloudFlare's servers that leaked private info (like HTTP cookies, auth tokens, HTTP POST bodies) sent between you and a website, that ended up cached in search engines. Troy Hunt gives a great "ok so what's this mean for me?" post, explaining that while it sounds bad, it's not as big of a problem as it seems. There's more chance of getting owned by a phishing email, using old unpatched software or a dodgy ad site, than your auth tokens getting exposed by this incredibly rare and random bug.

More bad Uber stuff
Here's some loose ends about Uber that I'm mainly posting because Uber had it coming and I'm taking a perverse delight in seeing it all come out at once. First there's this rather insightful post on Jalopnik about how Uber make no money and it doesn't look like they'll make money unless a bunch of things all line up, which looks increasingly unlikely. Some of Uber's investors are bit pissed off the investigation into the toxic work culture at the joint (outlined pretty well in this New York Times article) is led by insiders at the company, not an entirely external team. The Verge highlights how that self-driving car in SF ran a red light was actually not the driver's fault like Uber said, but was the car's inability to detect the light at all. Oh and Uber has a new competitor for the self-driving semi-trailer market.

You can once again find out what type of NBN you’ll get
NBN has finally got around to fixing its website's availability checker. You're now able to enter an address and see what type of internet connection you'll receive and the estimated time frame for when you'll be able to connect to it. Hard to believe that the NBN website lacked such basic info for so long, but hey, it's the NBN, nothing should surprise us when it comes to these drongos.


Reddit is a hive of sockpuppet astroturf shilling
Here's a 11 minute documentary on YouTube that explains how Reddit is basically a playground for astroturfers. These guys contacted ad agencies that sell "reputation management" and pretended to want to be a game dev company wanting to spin conversations mentioning their game in a positive light. The agencies use fake profiles, to post fake comments, as well as paying existing Reddit users with "aged" accounts to upvote stuff, to make it all more legit to get around Reddit's basic spam filtering. Never believe anything you read on the internet. Except this email. I'm your friend, you can trust me 100%, all the time.

Not everyone is rapt to have MWC in Barcelona
Mobile World Congress may seem kinda harmless to most people it's just a bunch of nerds talking about phones, what's the big deal? That's not how some people in Barcelona feel about MWC taking over their city. They've organised "ethical alternatives" to MWC that are focused on the use of blood minerals in smartphones, the violation of human rights in the manufacture of the products on display at MWC, the social impacts of technology and a couple of hippies want to talk about electromagnetic contamination (i.e: wi-fi hurts the children). Greenpeace interrupted Samsung's press conference, to highlight the shameful waste of all those recalled Galaxy Note 7 phones that were dumped instead of refurbished. Which is a pretty damn good point.

eBay has 10% off everything, so there's some cool cheap stuff
eBay is having another sale - this time it's 10% off *everything* using the code C10, so there's some nice deals popping up on tech. Synology DS416Play NAS for $509. Entry level Intel NUC NUC5CPYH for $129. Cheapest AU stock, new iPhones around (32GB 7 for $905, iPhone SE 64GB for $635). $156 for a Kindle Paperwhite from Officeworks. 1TB M.2 SSDs for $313. PS4 Pro for $503. Lenovo ThinkPad E460 for $881 (which I think I'm gonna buy to replace my Dell Inspiron 11). Bose QC35 wireless noise canceling headphones for $391. GoPro Hero5 Black for $448. I'll probably dig some more stuff up for tomorrow's issue. Keep an eye on the forums if you want to see them before the actual issue is emailed out.

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!