The Sizzle

Issue 389 - Thursday, 28th April 2017


Tech stuff in the 2017-2018 federal budget
The federal government revealed the 2017-2018 budget last night. Here's the tech related things very briefly in a single paragraph: Aussies selling Bitcoin no longer have to collect GST. The AFP ($321.4m) and Immigration ($95.4m) are getting heaps of funding to store and process all our biometric data. The BoM will get a blank cheque to make sure it's never hacked again. The Medicare payments system that was maybe gonna be outsourced will now be done in-house, along with many antiquated HR computer systems across various government departments. The biggie though, is $375m to give every Australian an electronic health record. It'll be an opt-out system, so everyone gets it by default, because when it was opt-in during a few trials, nobody gave a shit. has excellent coverage of the IT related aspects of the budget if you want more detail on the things I mentioned here.

Amazon has another new Echo, the Echo Show
Amazon has a new variant of the Echo - the Echo Show. It's box with a screen on it that you shout stuff at. You can yell "ALEXA SHOW ME SECURITY CAMERA 5" and lo and behold, footage of a junkie breaking into your mansion will appear. It does all the other stuff an Amazon Echo does, but with a screen. When streaming music you'll see lyrics and cover art, ask to watch some news and a video from CNN or whatever will start playing, ask for an Uber to pick you up and you'll see details appear on the screen too. Oh and there's free video and audio calls with the Alexa App for iOS and Android. No Australian release, but it costs US$230 if you want to get an American friend to send you one. Here's Amazon's tacky intro video for the Echo Show.

Bitcoin hits an all time high of US$1760.40
Interesting that the fed gov plans to remove GST from Bitcoin - the world's favourite cryptocurrency has hit an all time high price of US$1760.40. There hasn't been any particular event to precipitate this record value in an intangible asset. Just a lot of hype really. I poked my head into /r/bitcoin to check if there was something going on, but all I saw was this bloke with a terminal disease who borrowed $325,000 against his house to buy 191 BTC in the expectation that one Bitcoin will eventually be worth $10,000.

Windows Defender was easy to hack, but it's fixed now
Microsoft recently plugged a nasty hole in multiple versions of Windows (7, 8, 8.1, 10, and Server 2016) involving Windows Defender. If someone sent you a specially crafted email and then that email was scanned by Windows Defender, whoever sent it got full remote admin access to your computer. You don't even need to open or read that email - just having it sit in your computer was enough to get owned. Luckily the researchers from Google who found this told Microsoft, who have patched it. Microsoft was told on Friday, patch was released Monday. That's how seriously Microsoft took it. It's ironic that the software meant to protect you from shit like this was an attack vector itself.

Apple buys Beddit, some sleep tracking thing
Apple has purchased a company called Beddit. It's a $150 sensor that goes under your bed sheets and can detect things like sleep time and efficiency, heart rate, respiration, movement, snoring, room temperature, and room humidity. It then gives you info on how you're sleeping, with tips on how to improve your sleepy times. Dunno what Apple is gonna do with Beddit, but it owns it now and is still selling it in its stores. Maybe we'll see a range of Withings-esque (which Nokia owns) health products from Apple?


Student redesigns Apple Music and it is good
Jason Yuan applied for an internship at Apple, to work on the UI for Apple Music. He didn't get it, but decided to re-design the fucker anyways. The changes he's mocked up are modest, but make Apple Music so much nicer. The My Sampler concept is great. There's so much music on these subscription services and there's so much new music coming out that I have no idea about. A little taste of some songs every day would be very handy. The rest of Jason's ideas are great too. Shame Apple didn't get him involved - not that he would have been necessarily listened to as an intern, but still, maybe someone would have stolen his ideas and implemented them.

ACMI showcases games made by women
ACMI in Melbourne will be hosting an exhibition of video games made by Australian and New Zealand women. The Code Breaker's exhibit will run from 25 July to 5 November 2017 and will be free to enjoy. From the Gizmodo article: "Some of the women featured in the exhibition include Lisy Kane (Producer at League of Geeks, co-founder of Girl Geek Academy and one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in the games category), Katharine Neil (independent Game Developer and director of Escape From Woomera), Maru Nihoniho (Founder and Managing Director of Metia Interactive and recipient of a New Zealand Order of Merit for her service to the gaming industry) and Siobhan Reddy (Co-Founder and Studio Director of Media Molecule, named in Fortune's 10 most powerful women in gaming)." Next time you're in the city with a bit of time to kill, check it out - costs nothing and is literally in the centre of Melbourne.

Free to air TV in your web browser and no setup required
Good news for the weirdo hipsters that don't have a TV socket in their house (or slobs like me that can't be fucked waddling from their desk to the TV) - someone took all the video streams from the free to air channel apps, slapped em on a website and called it Streamee. So next time you see something on Twitter that people are watching on TV, just load up Streamee on whatever web browser is nearest and away you go. No need to download a plethora of apps to your smartphone, or create accounts so you can be data mined. Just a heads up - it's no good for the footy, 7 switches the internet feed over to some reality show bullshit instead.

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!