The Sizzle

Issue 435 - Friday, 14th July 2017


AU govt really wants an encryption backdoor
Cop this insane quote from Malcolm Turnbull during a press conference today: "the laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only laws that applies in Australia is the law of Australia". Why is our Prime Minister saying stupid shit like this? Because our moron of an Attorney General received advice from the UK's GCHQ that our government's and the UK government's insane idea for having a back door into end-to-end encryption can actually work. I shit you not, this is what Brandis said this morning on the radio: "Last Wednesday I met with the chief cryptographer at GCHQ, the Government Communication Headquarters in the United Kingdom. And he assured me that this was feasible". Brandis also said that they hope to have a draft law up by the end of the year and if tech companies like Facebook and Apple don't co-operate, there will be some sort of criminal punishment. Facebook said later today that they think the idea is stupid. Meanwhile, one of the only elected officials who understands this stuff, Scott Ludlam, is quitting the Senate. Fuck.

Judge says pacemaker data ok to be used in arson case
A few months ago I mentioned that a bloke in America who set fire to his own house for the insurance money but got caught, may have his pacemaker info subpoenaed by the court. Today the judge involved in the case said yep, it's cool to use the pacemaker's data. The prosecutors in the trial are hoping to see that during the times this guy's house was burning down, his heart rate was actually relatively mild. If the guy evacuated his house in a mad panic like he alleges, his heart rate would be pretty high, even with the pacemaker. His own heart sold him out, damn.

Google Drive now has full backup capabilities
The desktop version of Google Drive now has full backup capabilities. You can select any folders on your computer and Google's new app will just chuck it all online and update it often, with proper incremental backups and doesn't sync that stuff to all your devices like the specific "cloud" folder does. When you log in to the Google Drive webpage, you see your computer(s) listed and within there, a list of what each computer has backed up and the ability to restore data. Looks like an extremely easy way to some proper backups going. Thanks Google.

New details on AMD's upcoming Threadripper CPUs
AMD's dripped out a bit more info about its upcoming Threadripper CPUs. These CPUs are literally huge, with over 4000 pins and are essentially two Ryzen CPUs in a single package. The Threadripper 1950X and 1920X have twice as much L3 cache as the Ryzen 7 1800X (32MB vs. 16MB), double the core and thread count (16c/32t vs. 8c/16t) and almost double the TDP (180W vs 95W). These beasts should be out in August and start at US$799, which I gotta say, is a damn bargain considering what something similar from Intel would set you back.

This KFC phone is unfortunately only available in China
Because like, 1000 people sent me this news, I will mention it (also I'm in Adelaide, it's Friday arvo and my wife is getting pissed off I'm writing this instead of going to see her family so I better wrap this up quickly). KFC China has commissioned Huawei to make them a branded smartphone to celebrate 30 years of finger lickin' good times in China. It's got an image of the Colonel etched in the back and is a limited edition of 5000. You also get 10,000 K-dollars, a currency only useful at KFC, haha. Here's a promo video for the KFC phone. I wonder if that fingerprint reader works when your fingers are all greasy from munching on the Colonel's finest? I can't be the only one with this problem.


Chinese electronics factory tour videos
Ever wondered how that lithium powerbank in your backpack was made? Wonder no more with this video tour of Veger's (no I haven't heard of them before either) factory. It's a lot less sweatshoppy than I imagined to be honest. There's no windows, but at least it's clean and there's bright lights. I can't see anyone with a whip, I guess they sent that guy home when they knew a westerner was coming with a camera. Jokes about indentured labour aside, it's just interesting to see the steps involved in making what is a relatively mundane electrical item. The same YouTube channel has a few other factory vids that are quite decent. Balance wheel scooter factory, a tablet factory, a 360-degree camera factory, and a Android set top box factory.

Bloomberg's Elon Musk tracker
Elon Musk is working on so much stuff at once and announces updates to each project pretty often, so it's difficult to keep track of his ability to deliver on the promises he likes to tweet out. Luckily, the fine people at Bloomberg have constructed a mini-site tracking everything Elon Musk is doing. It's split into 4 categories - Tesla, SpaceX, Boring Company and Neuralink - the 4 companies he is directly involved in. Bloomberg then regularly updates each section with the latest announcements of future products with what's promised, when and if it's on time or late. I reckon Elon himself should bookmark this so he doesn't forget what he's supposed to do.

Minitel - France's internet before the internet was a thing
This isn't the first time I've mentioned the Minitel - a little French computer made by the government from the 80s that was kind of a precursor for the internet in France - but the IEEE's Spectrum blog has a fascinating article about how it came about and the legacy it left within French society. It began as a way for France to avoid being left behind as other industralised countries implemented "teleinformatics" using more advanced phone systems that France lacked at the time. You could do things like order groceries for same day delivery, book tickets for sports and concerts, do your banking, book train & airline tickets, as well as hang out in chatrooms. Kinda reminds me of teletext, but cooler. I reckon if something like Minitel was made today, people would dig it. The internet is far too messy for normies. Just a neat little terminal that sits in your house and gets shit people actually wanna do, done.

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!