The Sizzle

Issue 424 - Thursday, 29th June 2017

The financial year is almost over, so if you wanted to secure a 1 year subscription to The Sizzle for $50 and claim it on this year's tax return, do it now! Those on a monthly subscription who want to go yearly can fill in this form and I'll make sure the payment goes through before 11:59PM tomorrow.


Petya looks like a nation state cyber attack, not script kiddies
That Petya cryptolocker worm that drove everyone crazy yesterday seems to be a targeted cyberattack run by a nation state rather than an attempt to extort money from computer inept businesses by smarter than average script kiddies. 60% of the computers infected are within Ukraine, wayyyy more than elsewhere in the world, making payment is extremely complicated and Petya doesn't seem to have the ability to actually decrypt the encrypted data. These aren't things you'd do if you wanted to make some serious bank off your l33t sk1LLz. The initial infections all started at various Ukranian government institutions, instead of cashed up businesses and were deliberately placed there, not just dropped at random. Who'd like to fuck with Ukraine? Hmmm, I wonder.. A bunch of infosec types I follow on Twitter really liked this blog post about Petya, but I haven't read it yet. I'm sure it's great as those people are all way smarter than me.

Loads of QLD cops busted accessing confidential info on civilians unrelated to work
A Queensland police officer has been charged with accessing the QPRIME police database 44 times, over six years, without permission. Two weeks ago it charged another officer for using it to do "personal checks". Three months ago it happened again and in May, another copper used QPRIME to check out chicks he met via a phone dating service. There's heaps more police who have been abusing access to this database and those are just the ones we know about! What a ratshit system that allows access to this stuff without some sort of check or verification that the person trying to view this info has a reason and is authorised to. I'm so glad that every government department has access to all my metadata. Totally safe and secret there. They'd never misuse that treasure trove of info. Nope.

Say hello to the Queensland Electric Super Highway
Also in Queensland, the government will be funding the installation of electric car fast chargers from Cairns to the Gold Coast and they're calling it the Queensland Electric Super Highway, of course. There's sweet fuck all info about it elsewhere besides this press release and an article in the local Cairns Murdoch toilet paper factory masquerading as a newspaper, but it's still interesting enough to mention here. The QLD government knows that unless charging infrastructure is visible, people won't get EVs, so it's being proactive and will install an unknown amount of chargers, in unknown locations, at some point in the future, at an unknown cost. It's a nice announceable though. If they aren't Tritium chargers (who received $2.5m of QLD govt funding a few weeks ago), the QLD government is cooked in the head. Now, hopefully the other stats get jealous and build their own. WA already has something similar, but Victoria and NSW (the only states that matter, let's face it), have sweet fuck all.

Qualcomm has a fingerprint reader that works under a glass OLED screen
When Qualcomm isn't busy extorting Apple (allegedly), they're showing off fingerprint readers that work under glass displays. Vivo, some low grade smartphone OEM I've never heard of managed to be the first customer to implements Qualcomm's ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Going by the demo video, it looks like it works alright, if a bit slow compared to the latest Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 7. I'd like to think Apple would implement this in the next iPhone or two, but seeing as Qualcomm own it, that seems unlikely unless Apple has figured out some other way to do it that doesn't impinge on Qualcomm's patents.

Australia's idea for crypto weakening didn't go down well at the Five Eyes meeting
Looks like all that hot air from Brandis and Turnbull about how they're gonna be tough on encryption (whatever the fuck that means) and gathering the support of industry to help them ruin their citizen's privacy, has died down. It was a focus topic for Australia at the latest Five Eyes meeting in Ottawa, Canada yesterday, but in the official communique (an overview of what the 5 members talked about), this tough on encryption nonsense is like a single line at the end of a rather large announcement. That doesn't mean the AU govt doesn't still have a hard-on for this stuff, it just means that the USA, Canada and NZ don't really care right now. The USA aren't up for another fight with their 5 biggest companies and economic drivers, Canada are the relatively sane one here who know it's dumb and NZ well who cares what NZ think. The UK though, are totally on-board (their PM was saying the same as our PM during their latest election, which is probably where our government got the idea from as they're too dumb to think of it on their own), so comrades, we must remain vigilant.


Xiaomi's upcoming cheap 150" laser projector could be good, or bad, I dunno
Xiaomi will release a short throw 1080p laser projector for ~US$1500 in a few days. Here it is on Xiamoi's Chinese website. The projector hast a built in Mi TV and apparently half decent sounding speakers. It'll project an image 150" in diameter. I'm super keen. If it doesn't look like shit, I'd love a 150" screen in my living room - I've got the space where the TV is now, so yeah, sign me up! I don't think it'll look as good as an LCD, even in a darkened room, so.. maybe not. Being a laser projector helps - they're much brighter than a traditional bulb. I'll keep an eye out for any reviews of it on YouTube in the coming months.

Two new cameras from Canon, one a possible bargain, one just another DSLR
Canon has some new DSLR's, yeah yeah, borrrinnggg. We all take photos with iPhones now and use small interchangeable lens cameras. But the new EOS 200D is interesting because it has Dual Pixel AF (autofocus you damn millennial) in a small, cheap, entry level body. The 18-55 kit is US$649, but it's predecessor, the 100D, often sold for under AU$600 with a lens. Why is Dual Pixel AF so good? Super fast face detection when recording video. You can point this thing at a person and it'll always ensure their face is in focus, meaning if you want to do some YouTube videos with your face on the screen, there's no better camera than this. It's got a huge sensor and loads of lenses to choose from, so quality is top notch and, with Dual Pixel AF, your boring monologues will always be in focus. Canon also announced the 6D Mark II, a cheap-ish full frame camera. Also nice (Nikon's entry level full frame camera is cheaper) but to me, not as potentially useful as the 200D.

AdaBox electronics kit subscription is cool and I like it
The reason this issue was sent out a bit later than usual is because I pissed away a day looking at Arduino and ESP8266 related goodies. Of course, that lead to hanging out on the Adafruit website, where I discovered the AdaBox, a quarterly subscription of bits and pieces to make cool electronic stuff! It's got all the parts and easy to read instructions to make projects centred around theme. How cool is that? Way more interesting to me than those lame grocery subscription boxes. Unfortunately they only ship to the USA and Canada (arghhh), but I just wanted to mention it because 1. it's a good idea someone like Freetronics should rip off and do here and 2. have an excuse to link to this video of Limor Fried unboxing the latest kit because I have a severe crush on her.

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!