The Sizzle

Issue 391 - Friday, 12th May 2017


Cool stuff from Microsoft Build, like an all new Windows UI
Some interesting stuff from the 2nd day of Microsoft's Build conference. You don't necessarily need a Mac to develop on iOS. Microsoft's new Xamarin Live Player is an iOS app that lets you test apps you've made with Xamarin on Windows. You still need a Mac and Xcode to place the app on the App Store though. We saw Microsoft's Fluent Design System - a new UI it'll start rolling out with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which will focus on "cross-device experiences". For the Linux on Windows fans, Fedora and SUSE will join Ubuntu in the same Fall Creators Update. Acer will start selling a Windows Holographic headset packaged with Microsoft's newly announced VR controllers in a few weeks for US$399.

NBN's Q3 financial results with bonehead comments from the CEO
NBN's third quarter results were announced yesterday. Here's some stats: 4.6m premises can order an NBN service, 2m have actually done so. NBN has earned $665m in revenue from July 1st 2016 to March 31st 2017 and the average revenue per user is $43/m. That last stat is interesting - NBN needs a $52/m ARPU to meet the $5b in revenue it plans for by 2020. Business users and their high demands and hence higher spends, are key to lifting ARPU. Meanwhile, Telstra said 1% of its NBN customers are paying for speeds that they can never achieve *cough* FTTN *cough*. NBN's CEO Bill Morrow reckons ISPs not buying enough CVC because it's too expensive isn't impacting customer experience and to get over it. The New York Times is exposing our stupidity to the developed world. How embarrassing.

HP laptops shipping with keyloggers as part of audio driver suite
A few HP laptops have keyloggers installed from the factory. No, a Russian didn't get into HP's factory image file and drop in some sweet 0-days, the audio driver from Conexant has one built in! MicTray64.exe runs in the background, waiting for a keystroke so the microphone can turn on or something - but it also records every single keystroke the user does and keeps that in a plaintext log file. Ugh. If anyone was to get access to C:\Users\Public\MicTray.log on your shiny HP laptop, they'll get access to any usernames and passwords you've typed in.

A proper mobile version of The Sims coming soon
The Sims, one of the world's most popular video game franchises (over 200 million copies sold) is getting a proper mobile version. The Sims FreePlay came out in 2011/2012, but it was an awful freemium piece of trash. Going by the trailer, this will be a lot more in-depth and more like the traditional Sims games than FreePlay was. Don't know when The Sims Mobile will come out, but I'm surprised EA has left it this long before giving Sims fans a proper mobile game - you'd think it'd be a natural fit for the franchise. Touch screen controls would be great and the latest mobile devices have perfectly fine graphics for this sorta game. Hopefully it isn't ruined by mico-transactions and shit. (did I just reveal myself as a closet Sims fan? no, no I haven't)

Queensland's emergency worker payroll system is $35m worth of useless junk
Oh great, the Queensland government has wasted $35 million on a new payroll system for emergency workers that will probably be scrapped and started from scratch again. The project history is meandering (read the article) but right now, after a few years and $35m, everyone is still getting paid using a system that was unsupported in 2008 and needs 56 staff to operate. A report from PwC said that the plan to have a new system in place by the end of 2018 has fuck all chance of succeeding, but the government reckons everything is sweet. Just another example of government IT waste.


Why not use street lighting for charging EVs?
One of the things I think of when I think about electric cars are how are all those people in my street, who own garages but park on the street anyways, gonna charge their EV? The best part (I imagine, I haven't got one) of owning an EV is always leaving the house with a "full tank", but if you can't charge at home, you're missing out on that awesome benefit. wants to change that, by chucking an EV charger on a lightpole. The council already owns the poles, so no need to get permission and there's already electricity running to the pole for the light - so why not tap into it for a perfect overnight charge? Council can even make a buck or two off 'em if they want. There's already a couple in London, but it'd be great to see these say, in the trendy inner city streets of Melbourne and Sydney.

Google Featured Snippets suck
You know those search results that appear in boxes at the top of the page on Google that are supposed to give you an answer right away - they're ruining the web. This article from The Outline outlines (heh) how a site called has been kicked in the balls by Google's content theft. See, in the past, if you typed in "how much is Larry David worth" the first result in Google would be's answer. These days you'll just see the Google Featured Snippet and move on, not visiting the site. Because you, and millions of other people aren't visiting those websites, they can't generate money. Because they don't generate money the quality of info is gradually getting shitter. Cheers Google, nice one ya mongrels.

Lexmark fighting in the US Supreme Court for its right to gouge you on ink
Apparently, (maybe this is just in the USA, dunno about here) when you open a printer cartridge box from Lexmark or HP or whoever, you're agreeing that you can never resell or reuse that cartridge. A US company called Impression Products, who have a business refilling toner and ink carts kept getting letters from Lexmark's lawyers saying stop it, but Impression ignored them. Now the issue has gone all the way to the Supreme Court. If Lexmark win it'll give them and other printer companies ammo to shut down the entire 3rd party cartridge industry and gouge us on the price of ink forever. IPWatchdog has details of the legal arguments used by both sides if you're interested for more info.

Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

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!