The Sizzle

Issue 384 - Wednesday, 3rd May 2017

The Sizzle is in light mode whilst I'm on holiday in Perth. Normal Sizzle resumes 9th of May.


Microsoft announces the Surface Laptop
That leaked Surface laptop from yesterday is now official. Starts at US$999, has a 13.5", 2256 x 1504, 3:2 ratio touch screen, i5 or i7 CPU (prob 15W parts), a max of 16GB RAM, Windows Hello, 4 fancy colours and that fabric alcantara topped keyboard in a 1.25kg package. Microsoft says they designed it with kids leaving high school that are off to college in mind. Looks more like a MacBook competitor than a Chromebook competitor, particularly at that US$999 price. I think the most interesting thing about this laptop is that it runs Windows S, which only allows apps from the Windows Store (you can upgrade to Win 10 Pro if ya want) - it could be great if Microsoft ditched all the legacy junk from Windows. Microsoft's Australian site only has the Surface Laptop available in one colour and doesn't mention a local release date or pricing - the US release date is June 15th.

Apple's Q2 2017 financials - more of the same
Apple released their 2nd quarter 2017 financial results today. The brief summary is "the company posted revenue of $52.9 billion with a quarterly net profit of $11 billion. Apple sold 8.9 million iPads, 50.8 million iPhones, and 4.2 million Macs during the quarter". iPhone sales are down again, but Apple is making more money per iPhone than ever before, so profit is steady. iPad sales are down, but still better than what Apple expected and Mac sales saw a little bump compared to this time last year. Other interesting tidbits - App Store revenue is up 40%, Apple Watch sales doubled and revenue from wearables (Watch, Beats and AirPods) would be a Fortune 500 company on their own. My favourite stat is Apple's cash stockpile - they currently have US$263 billion stashed in banks across the world.

Victorian government throws some cash at improving internet access
The Victorian 2018 budget hsa $25m set aside for improving internet access across the best state in Australia. $11m of that will go to mobile telcos to fill in blackspots on top of a previously announced $18m for blanket 4G along regional train lines. $7m will be spent to expand the free public wi-fi already run by TPG the Melb CBD, Ballarat and Bendigo out to Geelong and Shepparton. The remaining $7m is for "enhanced broadband projects" in Morwell, North Geelong, and Horsham. I have no idea what enhanced broadband projects means. If anyone knows please let me know.


North Korean Android tablet is locked tighter than a tightly locked thing
A group of German infosec researchers got their hands on a North Korean tablet - the Ullim. It's a shitty Chinese $20 Android thing, but it's the only tablet allowed in Kim Jong-un's fascist wonderland. Some of the amazing features of the Ullim include "Red Flag", that takes a screenshot of every app you open and stores your browser history permanently. "Trace Viewer" lets you browse all the data Red Flag collects so that you're fully aware the government is watching everything you do. There's an app whitelist, so only apps Kim Jong-un allows will run. All documents generated are given a unique signature, so if someone is caught spreading naughty files, the government can find out who started it. Not that it matters much - you can't even share documents you've made with other Ullim users, as it'll only run documents watermarked with the device's own signature! The Stasi would be proud.

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!