The Sizzle

Issue 382 - Monday, 1st May 2017

Another reminder that from tomorrow, until the 8th of May, I'll be on holiday in Perth. That means issues of The Sizzle will go out in the morning and be a bit smaller than usual. You'll cope. It also means there will be a Perth Sizzle reader meetup on the 7th May at The Queen's Tavern, from 2PM onwards! It'd be great to meet some of you that reside on the other side of the country.


AFP "accidentally" accessed a journalist's metadata without a warrant
On Friday arvo, just 15 minutes after I sent out issue 382 of The Sizzle, the head of the AFP held a press conference saying "oops, we accidentally accessed a journalist's metadata, no biggie". Unlike us plebs, people designated as journalists can only have their metadata accessed via a warrant. No warrant was issued, but it's ok, as the breach of this person's privacy was "human error" and there was "no malice" involved. Give me a break. So just over 3 weeks from the day all ISPs were to have finished implementing metadata collection programs, we have the first breach. I wonder how many privacy breaches happen daily at the AFP, that nobody cares about because no warrant is needed for the other 99.9999% of Australians that aren't journos?

A random assortment of Elon Musk activity
Elon Musk gave a 40 minute interview at TED in Vancouver over the weekend and dropped a few more hints about what's going on in that big brain of his. Elon reckons Tesla will have true level 5 autonomy, where you can sleep in your car while it drives, within 2 years. Then he gave us a glimpse of a Tesla semi truck (literally a glimpse, it's a silhouette) that we will know more about in September. Tesla will also announce the sites of 4 new Gigafactories by the end of 2017. Elon talked more about his Boring Company plans to dig loads of tunnels under cities for cars to be shuttled around like trains to bust traffic then showed a dreamscape video of Teslas being dropped from street level to the tunnel. It's pretty crazy. The full interview is on TED's website.

No Wikipedia for Turkey
Some bad shit is going down in Turkey, with the government there forcing ISPs to block Wikipedia because Wikipedia is "becoming an information source acting with groups conducting a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena". All the ISPs complied with the block and nobody using a Turkish ISP can access Wikipedia. Imagine if the government here tried to pull that shit on us here in Australia? Blocking Wikipedia because the articles contained in it may be used to bad mouth Australia! Hmm, better not give the government any ideas actually... The Turkish government also asked Twitter to block certain accounts (Twitter said fuck off) and heaps of people there are in prison because of things they've said on Twitter and Facebook.

Thieves extort TV production company with uploading unreleased show to BitTorrent
A hacking group dubbed, TheDarkOverlord hacked Larson Studios, a post-production studio responsible for TV shows produced by Netflix, ABC, Fox, National Geographic and IFC. They cheekily stole episodes of TV shows not yet out and have been threatening Larson Studios to pay them a ransom (luv u bitcoin) or they'll upload the shows to BitTorrent, months before they're planned to air. One such show was Netflix's incredibly popular Orange Is The New Black. Larson Studios didn't pay the ransom and now the entire 5th season of Orange Is The New Black can be snagged off The Pirate Bay. It's good quality too - direct from the source and just needing a little audio or colour correction. No cam jobs here. I wonder how, or if at all, this would impact Netflix's business? Sure it sucks to have your flagship show leaked online, but people aren't gonna cancel their subs over it, even if it happens often, are they?

Apple isn't paying Qualcomm US$500m in royalties
Apple has decided to stop paying Qualcomm's licensing fees in the heat of their legal battle over Qualcomm's attempts to stifle competition for the valuable parts in the iPhone. What's weird here is that Apple can actually just stop paying, because they have no agreement. Over the past 5 years, Apple and Qualcomm have been negotiating terms of payment, but never got anything solid together. So Apple's just been paying Qualcomm what it reckons it should pay. Until now. As a result, Qualcomm will be short around US$500m in revenue this quarter and shares are down 4.1%. Ouch.


Why is the Lexus RX450h popular for self-driving car test rigs?
Have you noticed that all the companies testing self driving cars seem to use the Lexus RX450h or a Ford Fusion as their test rigs? Why that car in particular, is something about it uniquely suitable for automation? Primarily, it's because the the Fusion Hybrid and the RX450h has a 48V electrical system, as all the gear required for automation sucks a fair bit more juice than your regular 12V battery system can sustain. They've also got large boots, to house all the gear. Now you and I both know this useless nugget of info.

Net neutrality neatly explained
If you need a good explainer about the debate surrounding net neutrality this blog post from the founder of freeCodeCamp is excellent. The image outlining a hypothetical ISP's pricing schedule, neatly demonstrates a future where the internet is turned into a "magazine rack" rather than the greatest source of information known to humanity. It's an American focussed topic (Australia kinda already has the sort of stuff this blog posts warns about, but because we're digital pissants, it makes no difference) but a fascinating insight into how the little computer network that a bunch of dorks hanged out on 30 years ago is now the domain of big business and political interests.

Buy more stuff from eBay
eBay's 20% off tech sale (C20TEK) is still going. There's nothing new I've found since the last two emails I've sent about it, but I'll remind you again so I can get some sweet, sweet, affiliate money (FYI it's about 1-2% depending on what you buy). I've posted a giant compendium of everything I reckon is worth buying and everything the Wirecutter recommends on the Sizzle blog. The sale ends tomorrow night, so if you've been procrastinating on buying something there's still time. Share that link around to ya mates too if you want. The more the merrier!

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!