The Sizzle

Issue 378 - Monday, 24th April 2017

Tomorrow is ANZAC day, which is a public holiday, so there won't be a Sizzle sent out.


Uber blatantly ignored Apple's App Store rules, but didn't get deleted
Uber's back in the news today after a New York Times profile on its main man, Travis Kalanick. In the profile, it was revealed that Tim Cook teed up a meeting with Travis and Travis was all pumped to be meeting the CEO of the world's biggest company. When he got to Cupertino, Tim Cook told him, more or less, that he's a ratbag because Uber's iOS app was secretly tracking users, even if the app has been deleted, via unique device fingerprints (UDID's and serials), totally against the App Store ToS. Uber went as far as to geofence Cupertino so fingerprinting wouldn't happen when app testers were using Uber's app. It also spied on its competitor's customers via, an app Uber purchased that scans your email inbox to auto unsubscribe you from mailing lists you don't read. Daring Fireball sums it all up neatly.

Spicy Apple rumours - satellites and self-driving cars
Also Apple related are some tiny glimpses at stuff it may or may not be working on. First there's the fact Apple hired two satellite engineers recently, who used to work for Google. Hmm. Then there's Apple's application to the Californian DMV for a licence to test self-driving cars. Hmmmmmmm. I thought Apple abandoned their plans to mess around with cars? And satellites? Are they wanting to beat Elon Musk to launch a global sky based internet infrastructure? Is it something to do with Apple Maps? Let the wild speculation begin!

The Cyber Minister wants ISPs to filter all our traffic so we don't get hacked
Federal cyber minister Dan Tehan (ugh, yes, we have a cyber minister) wants ISPs to actively filter malware. This means sniffing everyone's traffic and using expensive software to determine if something travelling along the network is naughty. This came out of nowhere, based on an opinion piece the cyber minister wrote for The West Australian newspaper. The minister's office isn't talking about it, the CEO of the Communications Alliance has no idea about it either. Just another thought bubble that takes years to develop then is foisted on the public so haphazardly that it's practically useless *cough* mandatory data retention *cough*.

Google's teaching UK kids how not to be internet trolls
Google has set up a series of workshops in the UK it'll take to high schools, telling kids that trolling isn't cool, flaming people is not rad and that fake news is a thing. Hosting the Internet Citizen workshops are YouTubers that I assume, are popular with the kids (Alain 'Fusion' Clapham, Efe Ezekiel and Nadir Nahdi - if those names ring a bell good on ya) and were built in conjunction with the police and some anti-bullying groups. The materials and stuff they're using in the workshops don't seem to be online. I wonder what they're doing in there, all the promo looks slick, but are they just showing them how to click the "report this post" button?

TfNSW releases Opal data for nerds to play with
Transport for NSW has let some Opal data loose - on purpose. The data was collected in a week during July and a week in August and includes anonymous data like when and many customers tapped on/off at a certain reader. This is what a TfNSW rep said when asked why they're doing it: "Let's say someone plans to open a business near a train station and wants to establish the best times to be ready to serve customers from this source. What was once an anecdotal, trial-and-error process can now be backed up by hard data, which could help them succeed in their business". Cool, I guess. Maybe there's more creative uses of it. It'd probably be a bit more useful if the data was more frequently updated. Imagine if it was live streaming! If you're keen to take a look, it's on TfNSW's Open Data site.


Pirates are using Google Maps as a torrent distribution service
A year ago I linked that pirates in Africa are using Wikipedia Zero - a way to use Wikipedia without using your precious (particularly in Africa) data cap - to download pirate movies. Now there's a new example of how people will stop at nothing to distribute pirated material. Now pirates are using Google Maps's My Maps feature to create custom maps, that have locations bookmarked as the name of a movie and a link to download a torrent of it in the description, hahahaha. So ya load up a a mate's custom map, then search the custom map for like "Transformers" and it'll just be some random location on a map and in the description is a link to a torrent file you can leech.

Aussie review of a Thuraya SatSleeve
Ausdroid has a review of the Thuraya SatSleeve, a case for your mobile that has a big honking satellite received in it so you can use your mobile phone (almost) anywhere in the world. Pivotel recently became a Thuraya reseller, which is like a crappier version of Iridium. This SatSleeve case comes with an app for your smartphone that talks to the radio in the case. No need to carry a 2nd phone. I found the review interesting - got some good practical info on how these satellite phones work. I didn't know that you could use it to send an SOS, even if the smartphone battery dies.

The disappointing story of Google Books
Remember Google Books? The Atlantic has an engrossing article about Google's lofty project to scan and immortalise every book on God's green earth was going okay until a bunch of authors realised the books they worked so hard on are popping up for free on the internets. This triggered a bunch of court cases and lead to Google either having to get permission from the copyright holder to make the entire book searchable. The whole thing ended up in court and the courts sided with the copyright holders, basically scuttling Google's plans and keeping thousands of years of human knowledge difficult to search and relatively inaccessible. What a shame, it could have been beautiful.

Here endeth the sizzle (until Wednesday!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers. Know someone who could use a bit of Sizzle in their life? Buy them a gift subscription!