The Sizzle

Issue 411 - Friday, 9th June 2017


Chinese Apple employees caught selling personal iCloud customer info
Chinese cops have busted a ring of Apple employees selling personal info belonging to Apple customers. These grubs were flogging off "users’ names, phone numbers, Apple IDs, and other data" and "charged between 10 yuan (US$1.50) and 180 yuan (US$26.50) for pieces of the illegally extracted data". The journalists that wrote this story even managed to get info on a colleague that "including flight history, hotel checkouts and property holdings". It's worth noting that Apple doesn't encrypt iCloud email when stored on the server. I don't think Google does either. Only services like Protonmail bother to take that step. If these people were able to access stuff like hotel info and property holdings, I assume they got that via emails. Maybe it's just an internal tool that has easy decryption and isn't audited. Nasty shit either way - I hope Apple clears up what was going on here.

Boston Dynamics is now a SoftBank company
Boston Dynamics, the company responsible for those videos where people kick and push over those dog looking robots, has been purchased by SoftBank - Japan's largest telco (well, mainly telco, but they do a bunch of other stuff like owning chip designer ARM). Boston Dynamics was purchased by Google back in 2013 by Andy Rubin (who was ousted and now has his own smartphone company, Essential) and has been on the market for a while by Google's parent company Alphabet because they didn't know what products it'd make that Boston Dynamics would be part of. I guess SoftBank wants to give Pepper the ability to pack dishwashers and lift boxes while people poke it with hockey sticks.

Details of the new stuff coming in the next big Windows update
Microsoft's latest preview version of Windows (build 16215) has a few features for those on the Windows Insider Fast Ring to try out. There's Action Centre, which is a space various app and OS notifications to hang out in - just like Notification Centre on macOS. You can pin websites to the taskbar, handy for loading up sites you visit often quickly. Cortana gets a bit smarter, interpreting dates on things you scan or take photos of and asking if you'd like to set a reminder for the event mentioned in the document. Loads of new stylus related features, like more gestures, better editing, emoji, and automatic handwriting detection. I hope the Windows fans dig it.

Al-Jazeera under cyberattack
You may or may not know that there's some serious shit going down in the Middle East (well, when isn't there shit going down in the Middle East), where all the countries around Qatar have told Qatar, diplomatically, to get fucked. The reason I bring this piece of geopolitics up, is because Al-Jazeera is based in Qatar is and getting hammered left right and centre by hackers. Its website was offline for a few hours and it's social media accounts were compromised. Two weeks ago the Qatar News Agency was hacked and fake news was published via its website, quoting Qatar's leader saying stuff that is not very popular in that part of the world, which kinda sparked this latest diplomatic crisis. Qatar's Ministry of Interior is looking into who did this and why.

Report released into why the ATO sucked so hard at maintaining a SAN
The ATO has dropped a report into what the hell has been going on with their beleaguered SAN (aka a big file server) the past few months. The unreliable storage setup led to various long running outages for ATO services, which obviously, is a Bad Thing(TM) for an organisation as crucial as the tax department to be suffering. The number one reason the report outlined for such downtime - incompetence. HP designed it incorrectly, nobody at the ATO knew enough to realise it and the ATO didn't even have direct access to the SAN, even if they wanted to fix it. For me, the killer quote in the report is "the SAN was neither designed nor built to cater for greater than single drive failure or single cage failure". What the fuck? How do you build a SAN that can't handle more than one drive dying at a time? Why would you even do that? How would you even be able to sleep at night knowing that if two drives die, you're stuffed?!


Stockland shoppos to get Tesla chargers
Stockland has partnered with Tesla to install destination chargers at 31 shopping centres down the east coast of Australia. I like that more shops in AU are installing EV chargers, but installing Tesla ones is a bit shit. What if you don't have a Tesla EV? There are standards around that'll allow other EV users to charge their cars and allow Tesla users to simply connect an adaptor. That said, there are *heaps* of standards out there, and it's not like there's many cars in Australia besides Teslas that are EVs, so it'd be hard for Stockland to pick a common standard for EV charging in Australia because there isn't one. But still, it's free electricity and a sweet parking spot for rich dudes in cars that cost more than some people's homes and the optics bothers me.

Random iOS 11/WWDC stuff
Some more random iOS 11/Apple related tidbits: MacRumours looks at what's different between the 2017 MBP and the 2016 MBP (not much). There's new image and video formats for the camera in iOS 11 - HEVC for video and HEIF for images. They'll be used instead of H.264 and JPG and result in 40-50% less smaller files with no quality loss. Sweet. tvOS 11 gets Bluetooth headphone support, so if you wanna watch TV and not disturb anyone, just pair your Apple TV with your headphones and off you go. The AirPods apparently appear as a new speaker option automatically - no setup required. HomeKit gets a big boost, as Apple has removed the requirement for an MFi (Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad) license to test products before getting them manufactured. You can use a Raspberry Pi or Arduino to do HomeKit stuff. Great for hobbyists!

Amazon stops the unlimited storage for $100/yr gravy train
Bad news data hoarders - Amazon's shitcanned it's unlimited storage plan. Amazon Drive was A$100/yr and let you store *unlimited*, yep, unlimited data. All you can eat data storage unheard of! But if anyone could do it and keep it going, it was Amazon and their huge server farms around the world, right? Amazon Drive is now US$11.99/yr for 100GB, 1TB for $60 and you can get an additional 1TB blocks for $60 each. Ah well, it was good while it lasted. I bet the guy with 1PB of porn stashed on his Amazon account is pissed off.

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!