The Sizzle

Issue 364 - Friday, 31st March 2017


ACCC slaps down bank cartel over Apple Pay
The ACCC has told a group of Australian banks that no, they can't form a legal cartel and negotiate with Apple over access to Apple Pay. Why? The ACCC reckons the benefits of making Apple open up the NFC stuff in iPhones and Apple Watches is outweighed by it undermining Apple's ability to compete with Google. Plus, there's no real pressing need for this tech. I disagree with the ACCC here. It would be awesome to have a way for 3rd parties to use the NFC stuff in the iPhone. There's so many things I'd like to use NFC on an Apple Watch for, but can't because Apple doesn't let anyone use it. But if the ACCC made Apple open up, Apple would just pull Apple Pay from Australia, which would suck. The banks are "disappointed". I can imagine them sitting in the Qantas Club now, using their iPhones and iPads in utter disgust.

Anthony Levandowski invokes the 5th in the Waymo vs. Uber thing
Waymo's lawsuit against Uber has taken a deliciously spicy turn, with Anthony Levandowski invoking his Fifth Amendment rights (i.e: the right not to own yourself in court by saying something that would make you look shit) because his lawyers reckon there is "potential for criminal action" as a result of this civil case. Levandowski's lawyers told him to do this as a result of Uber's lawyers wanting all the info possible to fight Waymo's claims, but Levandowski doesn't want to give everything over to Uber (his employer) because he is afraid it'll be used against him in a criminal case at some point. Nobody invokes the fifth if they aren't guilty as fuck, so Levandowski is a thieving prick and Uber are the gold plated arseholes we expected for handling the stolen goods. Allegedly.

SpaceX's done it again - launches a recycled rocket successfully
SpaceX launched one of their previously launched rockets this morning. That's right, a rocket that was launched in April 2016 and landed safely on a barge in the ocean, was today shot back up into space again, from Launch Complex 39A, deployed a satellite (SES-10) and then came back to Earth successfully. First time that's ever happened. SpaceX proved it can be done, so the next step for them is to get the turnaround time to about 24 hours. I look forward to watching a human land on Mars landing in 2027 and booking a day trip orbit around Earth on Musk Spacelines in 2037.

South Australia is getting the world's biggest grid connected battery
South Australia is getting the world's largest battery installation. Lyon Group is building a $1b power plant consisting of 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million batteries that'll generate 330MW of energy (I assume at peak) and store at least 100MW of energy. This is totally separate to the plan the SA Premier rolled out after Elon Musk and Mike Cannon-Brookes had a Twitter interlude. But the outcome of that plan will determine how big of a battery setup these guys will install. It's all privately funded and plans are in the advanced stages - Lyon Group hopes to have it operation by the end of 2017. Lyon Group plan to start installing 1.7GW of panels and 1GW of batteries around the country by 2020. This is extremely good shit, in my opinion.

Twitter's fucked up how your timeline again
Twitter has stopped counting the @username portion of tweets in the 140 character limit and the whole UI around how users see threaded tweets and view conversations has changed on both web and mobile - maybe it's for the better? I'm still getting used to it. Not everyone's a fan though. Twitter was designed to be a micro-blogging thing, one-way communication, not a way to talk to people, yet it's used to post 30 part rants and debate things that require elaboration like race, gender, politics and religion. How the hell did Twitter get to this point?


Good info on how to pick a legit VPN service
The shitstorm in the US about ISPs being able to sell info about what you browse has resulted in a bunch of people looking in to VPNs, so Brian Krebs has published a top notch article about using VPNs to evade ISP data logging. Choosing a VPN can be really fucking hard, so this is a good read. I have a 3000 word article about VPNs (yeah no shit, 3000 words) going into May's issue of PC & Tech Authority, so if you want a bit more Aussie relevant stuff about VPNs, go down to Coles or wherever they sell magazines these days and pick up a copy. It'll probably be chucked online in June.

Virgin to begin trials of in-flight wi-fi next month
In the wake of Qantas's delayed launch, Virgin has announced it'll start trials of in-flight wi-fi in April. One 737-800 will be hooked up with the gear to provide internet access in the cabin via Gogo, who will use an Optus satellite (D1 and/or D3) for AU & NZ flights and Intelsat/SES for international sorties. No ETA on wider fleet installation though. Still dunno how to feel about in-flight wi-fi. I like the internet, but the novelty of being forced to disconnect whilst in the air is nice.

There are 66 satellites spinning around so you can make a phone call in the desert
This quick article from New Scientist completes a satellite hat-trick in today's issue. It's about Iridium, a constellation of 66 satellites flying around the globe that provide blanket phone coverage. If you're in open sky, you can make a call, anywhere. As much of an amazing technical achievement Iridium is, it kinda bombed. Lost money hand over fist because it's not really a thing many people need. Iridium became the largest US bankruptcy and Motorola (the owner of the satellites) wanted to destroy them. It was ultimately saved and is now a niche business (that still doesn't make much money).

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!

I use these services to run The Sizzle: ING Direct (use code EID350), DNSimple, Crazy Domains, Vultr, Mailchimp and Fastmail. If you want to use them too, sign up using these links and I get a tiny kickback that goes towards supporting this silly little newsletter.