The Sizzle

Issue 373 - Thursday, 13th April 2017

Because Jesus died, then somehow came back to life (wtf?) there will be no Sizzle on Friday or Monday. If you've got nothing better to do this long weekend, join The Sizzle's Slack team.


Happy Data Retention Day/National Get A VPN Day
Today marks the day all telcos are supposed to retain records of all the internet activity in Australia (most have no idea how or can't be fucked paying to do it, so it's pretty much just Telstra and Optus). To celebrate this, the EFA is declaring today National Get A VPN Day. A VPN, if you don't know, will help you evade our pathetic government's dragnet. The EFA blog post explains how it all works. That One Privacy Site has a kick arse list of most VPN providers and rates them based on various criteria like what country they're based in, what sort of info they log, if they accept anonymous types of payment, if they're a relatively ethical company and so on. From a quick fiddle with the toggles on that site, I'd go with BlackVPN if I wanted to use a VPN for privacy reasons.

Burger King ran ads triggering the Google Assistant
Burger King ran a TV ad designed to trigger the Google Assistant on people's phones and Google Home devices to read out the Wikipedia page for the Whopper. This was an extremely popular topic on every single US tech blog, but is basically irrelevant to us here in Australia as we don't have ads for Burger King. What's news for us, I guess, is that the advertising juggernaut will do whatever dickhead things they can in order to sell a few more widgets, or in this case, delicious mass produced beef sandwiches. Google has since released a server-side update to blacklist whatever words the Burger King ad says to trigger the assistant.

BlackBerry wins patent case against Qualcomm
Here's something you don't see very often - positive news regarding BlackBerry! BlackBerry stock has risen to its highest level in 15 months due to winning a US$815m patent case against Qualcomm, where it claimed Qualcomm was charging them too much for patents it licensed off em. Sucks to be Qualcomm right now hey? Even BlackBerry is one upping you, fuck.

1.2 billion people use the Facebook Messenger app
If you needed another reminder of how big Facebook is these days, it just announced that the Messenger app is used by 1.2 billion people. WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook, is used by around 1.2 billion people too. Instagram, which Facebook purchased for a billion dollars (in hindsight, a fucken bargain) is used by 600 million people. Twitter has 319 million users - practically nothing compared to Facebook.

Sneaky prisoners built a PC, got it online and used it to scam people
Prisoners in a medium security Ohio prison managed to build two computers, hide them from the guards, tap in to the prison's network and use the computers to carry out fraudulent credit card applications, look up inmate records and look up info on how to make drugs and explosives. Absolutely amazing story. The prisoners were doing computer recycling as slave labour work and smuggled enough bits out to build two PCs. Then they managed to hook those PCs up to the prison's network without getting noticed! Once they were online, the first thing they did was sign up for credit cards in the name of other prisoners, hahaha.


Long weekend bargains
Are people still into Crumpler bags? Are they still cool? Anyways, here's 20% off their entire range of sacks to hold your crap. The Xbox One Elite controller, which I am told is the pièce de résistance of gaming controllers, is a low $144.44 delivered, using the code CHOCCY - which seems expensive to me for a controller, but it normally sells for much more. The Moto G4 Play 16GB, which is one of the better el cheapo Android phones is just $197.50 delivered using the C5AUS code. If ya need some games for the long weekend, has Steam keys for Doom for $12.443, Mass Effect for $9.30 and Deus Ex Human Revolution for $5.40.

Aussie Broadband posts a detailed document about their network on Whirlpool
Aussie Broadband has posted a ripper outline of how it's building its own backhaul network on Whirlpool. The forum post goes over why they're doing it (because Optus a ratshit) and the elaborate process required to hook up to all 121 NBN POIs. There's even a nice diagram to stare at. Quite impressive that a relatively small ISP like Aussie Broadband are going to these lengths. Could these guys be the new Internode for those of us who like their ISPs to nerd out about their network every once a while?

Crazy yank decides to go to Shenzhen to build his own iPhone from parts
This 30 minute YouTube vid of an American in Shenzhen who wants to build his own iPhone is totally worth watching. The guy hunts around the infamous electronics markets of Shenzhen to try and buy all the parts you need for an iPhone, then assemble them and create a working iPhone 6s. It didn't look hard at all to buy the parts - the main issue was the language barrier. Actually putting it all together was a bit of a pain as everything is so tiny, but he managed to do it. I'm surprised the iPhone was able to be activated. He also wrote about it on his blog if you prefer to read than watch.

Here endeth the sizzle (until Tuesday!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers.