The Sizzle

Issue 381 - Friday, 28th April 2017


Intel, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet report their Q1 2017 financials
Heaps of US tech companies have submitted Q1 2017 financial results. Intel's revenue is up compared to last year, as are their margins (gross 61.8% margin, crazy). Their flash memory (aka SSDs) group had a 55% increase in revenue versus last year. Amazon made more money than the finance nerds expected ($35b of revenue this quarter), with a lot of growth still coming from AWS. Amazon shares are up 51% versus this time last year, goddamn. Microsoft is still a cash cow ($4.8b in profit) thanks to Office, but the Surface momentum is slowing down - probably because it's getting a little old and new ones should be out any day now. Alphabet also did better than analysts expected, with profits growing 29% ($5.4b vs $4.2b last year), which is pretty good for a company of Alphabet's size.

Apple's Dubai Store, partnership with and interview with Jimmy Iovine
Some random Apple news because each one on their own is boring, but together form a nice pastiche of activity from world's largest company. Apple's new store in Dubai is fucking baller. Right outside the Burj Kalifa with an outdoor deck area. I dunno why you'd want to go outside in Dubai during the day, but maybe at night it's nice. Jimmy Iovine talked to Bloomberg about turning Apple Music into a one-stop pop culture shop, including video and TV shows. Yeah, TV shows and music, in Apple MUSIC. They need to sort their shit out. And finally, (if you have a teenager in your life, you know what it is) managed to convince Apple to let them use Apple Music as the source of content people can sing and dance along to.

DJI wants to know who's flying its drones around airports in China
DJI, maker of some pretty sweet drones, has put up a 1 million yuan bounty (A$191k) for anyone who can find out who's been flying their drones around Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport. DJI have placed all airports as no-fly zones in their app, so even if told to by a meatbag operator, a drone will refuse to fly near one. But, some arsehole has decided he (you know it's a he - only dudes do this stupid shit) will fly around the airport, which has caused over 100 flights to be delayed as traffic control wait for the drone to get out of the area. It's possible someone's hacked the drone's firmware to ignore the no fly zones, or, DJI's map doesn't line up with the area the airport has set as a no drone zone.

Facebook knows it's getting used as a propaganda machine
Facebook has confirmed that they were used as a propaganda machine during the US and French elections. In a whitepaper released by Facebook's security team, they admitted "information operations" took place on Facebook, which were organised attempts to subvert public perception using false information. Facebook don't say who and they don't say it's that big of an issue, but it's definitely a thing Facebook is aware of. What's most interesting in this whitepaper isn't that this shit is happening on Facebook, it's that Facebook doesn't seem to think it is in any way responsible. It basically tells people how to secure their accounts so they don't get hacked and that the media needs to up their game around informing the populace. Facebook has no negative impact on society, apparently.

No more episodes of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games
Anita Sarkeesian has decided to call time on her incredibly popular (and unfortunately controversial) Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video series. She's been making these for over 5 years and she's copped a lot of shit from pathetic broken men for doing so. Unsurprisingly, she's had enough of the stress involved in making them and feels she's done the topic of women poorly depicted in video games justice. The Feminist Frequency website and videos will still kick on, but no more Tropes vs. Women in Video Games episodes. If nothing else, I think Anita managed to expose the mindset of a gross section of society (gamers) that otherwise we may never have known about.


Tesla working with Australian home builders to install solar panels and batteries
Tesla is partnering with Australian home builders to include Powerwall batteries and solar panels with new homes. Metricon and JG King are amongst the first to have the option of getting the panels and battery installed at the same time as the house is built. This is better than doing it post-build as it means you can add the cost of the gear to your mortgage, rather than finding another $15k after dropping a few grand on other stuff like furniture and moving. I still don't think a battery is worth it financially (particularly calculating opportunity cost), but this is a great way for more people to get one and hence bring the price down for the rest of us.

To disclose a vuln, or not to disclose a vuln, that is the question
Google researchers found a flaw in Word, told Microsoft about it and gave them 90 days to fix it until they tell the world. Pretty standard stuff in the infosec game. Microsoft patched it, but didn't want to release the patch because while they were working on a fix, they noticed the bug was being used by Russians (who else?) to spy on political figures. This is all going on relatively quietly in the background until McAfee also found out about this bug and decided to blog about it, releasing all the info it had into the wild. A few days after that, exploit kits were being sold so any old script kiddie can take advantage of a serious flaw in one of the world's most installed programs. Soon as that happened, the exploit was used on Australian banks. The flaw in Word is fixed now, but it's sparked an interesting debate about the ethics of releasing info about security issues before a patch is released.

Learn how to teach girls to code with MissMakesCode
The Girl Geek Academy is launching #MissMakesCode to teach adults to teach girls about programming and have girls exposed to programming early in life. Apparently it's important to get 'em young, so that if coding is something they have aptitude for, girls are encouraged to keep doing it before the gender bias of "girls don't do computer stuff" kicks in and the IT industry loses another potential genius because she's a woman. So if you're a primary school teacher, librarian or parent of a young girl who would like to learn to code so that you can teach other young girls to code, sign up for #MissMakesCode now.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

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!