The Sizzle

Issue 432 - Tuesday, 11th July 2017

It's kinda weird I've had reader meetups in Sydney and Perth before Melbourne, the closest city to where I live - but that's gonna change on Sunday July 23rd! Come on down to the Boatbuilder's Yard in South Wharf and shoot the shit with myself and other Sizzle readers. I'll be there from about 1:30pm onwards, so if you think you'll be popping in some time during that Sunday arvo, post in the forum thread so I know it won't just be me drinking alone. It'll be great to meet some of the people who pay me.


Chinese umbrella sharing startup loses 300,000 umbrellas
This isn't really news, but it's absolutely fucken everywhere and is one of those things someone will ask ya about, so here's a heads up. You know all those Chinese bike sharing programs that have resulted in bikes littering the streets of most big Chinese cities? Someone thought, "hey, let's do that, but with umbrellas!". The brollies have QR codes on them, that when scanned with an app, will unlock and be ready for use during a downpour. What happened instead was everyone just kept the umbrellas and never returned them. All 300,000 of them. That hasn't discouraged the CEO of Sharing E Umbrella, who still plans to make 30 million umbrellas available across China by the end of the year.

Nest smarthome gear now officially for sale in AU
Australians can finally buy Nest smarthome products without resorting to a grey import. iSelect (yeah, the price comparison website with annoying TV ads) are currently the sole reseller and they stock the Nest smoke alarm and security cameras. The thermostat isn't available for some reason. Maybe it doesn't work with common Australian central heating and cooling systems? The Nest cams look interesting, but if I was to get a couple for home (e.g: 6), it'd cost US$300/year for the 30-day cloud storage then US$150/yr for each additional camera. That's AU$1400/yr! What also shits me is that unlike every other IP connected camera, there's no microSD slot so footage can be stored locally. It's cloud or nothin' for the Nest. Stop paying (or Nest goes kaput) and the cameras are useless.

Snapchat's value falls below pre-IPO levels
Snapchat's current share price is below that of its IPO back in March. Everyone who purchased shares in Snapchat has lost money. Except the founders and pre-IPO investors. They've sold a lot of their shares and are fabulously wealthy. They can be even wealthier if they stick around and Snapchat's share price goes up even higher, making their remaining stake in the business more valuable. But when you're a billionaire already, what's the next billion worth? It's not as if Snapchat is gonna disappear any time soon either, but it does show that the market doesn't really think Snapchat is worth investing in right now. What's their plan for growth and profitability in the shadow of Facebook?

Faraday Future's Nevada EV factory isn't dead, just sleeping
You may remember Faraday Future's FF91 from this year's CES. 64,000 people put their name down as wanting one and some (dunno how many) even paid US$5,000 to get priority delivery of a car with no price, no specs and from a company with no track record of selling a car to anyone. That doesn't look like it'll change any time soon, as the grand plans for a Nevada based US$1b factory that'll pump these slick electric cars out, has shit the bed. The factory is "on hold", which is probably because there's not enough cash to build it, as the main investor, Jia Yueting of LeEco, has had all his assets seized by the Chinese government. This quote from the PR drone as to why they're not going full-steam ahead on the Nevada factory: "We at Faraday Future are significantly shifting our business strategy to position the company as the leader in user-ship personal mobility" - what the hell does that even mean?

NSW TAFE IT manager busted giving a business he owns work
Enjoy prison Ronald Cordoba, you slippery fuck. This guy is the perfect example of the bullshit any IT contractor has seen. Ron was the IT manager for TAFE South Western Sydney Institute and while he was there, he would funnel contracts for worth $1.7m to his own company! He even got other companies involved to give him personal kickbacks for giving them work. What a piece of work. The dude even faked email exchanges between himself and a non-existent accounts officer at his own company to show his bosses he's a cleanskin. The full details of dirty Ron's activities are on the ICAC website.


The trouble with two factor authentication
The Verge has a great take on how 2 factor authentication isn't a silver bullet for protecting your internet based accounts. The topic got a bit of heat lately due to Justin Williams' story of how someone social engineered the AT&T reps into convincing them to port his number over to another SIM card. Once the hackers had access to his phone number, they then took money out of his PayPal account because all you need to reset a PayPal password is someone's phone number as that's where they'll send the authentication code. Here's someone pretty on the ball when it comes to infosec and he's powerless to do anything about it happening again. AT&T are obviously the weakest link here, but it's not like it's hard to get say, Vodafone or Telstra to do the same.

Canada & France taking advantage of the USA's growing unfriendliness to nerds
Thanks to the new US regime, it's no longer a particularly friendly place for smart people to emigrate to. Canada is taking advantage of this by creating a new visa program that'll "make it easier for its companies to bring in foreign workers with specific technology or business skills". If someone overseas has a skill you need that's too hard to get locally, Canada will approve the visa within 2 weeks. Not bad. The French are doing something similar, so that, in the words of President Macron, France can become "a country of unicorns". Australia is doing what it normally does, nothing.

As govt subsidies for EVs end, Tesla sales fall
Sales of Teslas in Hong Kong have plummeted. In March there were 2939 registrations of Teslas, but in April, there was 0. Goose egg on the EVs over in Honkers. Nobody wants em now that they don't have a sweet tax break that slashed the cost of one by 50%. Now that break isn't as sweet, so people are going back to buying Mercs and BMWs. Similar thing happened in Denmark. The government took away a subsidy on EVs and sales of EVs dropped 60%, hitting Tesla the hardest. It'll be interesting to see what happens to Tesla sales in the USA once the rather generous $7500 federal tax credit for buying an EV ends once the 200,000th Tesla is sold.

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!