The Sizzle

Issue 444 - Thursday, 27th July 2017


Bloke who ran BTC-e busted for laundering $4b worth of crypto
Anyone remember BTC-e? They were the exchange du jour back when Mt. Gox infamously died. The Russian guy in charge of it has been arrested in Greece for laundering US$4b worth of Bitcoin. The US Department of Justice alleges that Alexander Vinnik, via BTC-e, would take all that Bitcoin from Americans and launder it out overseas so Americans can access the cash, but never complied with US anti-money laundering laws. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Vinnik is also alleged to have been involved in the hack of Mt. Gox and receiving the Bitcoin stolen from it. What a naughty boy. The USDOJ has a press release about the arrest if you want more detail. Coindesk has published a timeline of events that's useful for understanding the situation.

Foxconn to open a $10b LCD factory in Wisconsin, Trump takes all the credit
Foxconn have given Donald Trump a little present in the form of a factory in Wisconsin. They will be using this brand new factory to manufacture LCD panels for use in Sharp branded TVs. The plant will cost US$10b, take 3 years to build and employ 3,000 people. Trump is hyping it up as employing 13,000, but we have no idea how that number came about. Trump's also been talking about how Apple said to him that Apple will build "three big plants, beautiful plants" within the USA at some point. Dunno if those 3 plants are Apple suppliers, like Foxconn, or Apple run factories. US$3b worth of tax rebates lured Foxconn into building this plant.

Microsoft beefs up its bug program, score up to $250k for finding a major issue
Have a knack for finding bugs in software? Microsoft has expanded its bounty program to cover all of Windows and offering up to $250,000 for bugs in Hyper-V (Microsoft's virtualisation platform). But at the low end, any issues relating to "critical or important class remote code execution, elevation of privilege, or design flaws that compromises a customer’s privacy and security", Microsoft wants to know about and will hand out cash rewards. The Microsoft website has a full list. Or, like, you could sell your findings on the dark web or just give the Signals Directorate a call, they'd love to hear from a patriot looking to keep Australia safe.

Cochlear's latest implantable hearing aid connects directly to an iPhone
One of the greatest Australian companies, Cochlear, has released a hearing implant that hooks up with your iPhone. The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor lets people who have one of these implants stream audio straight from their iOS device, to the sound processor. Listen to music without headphones! It also works as a permanent hands free device as phone calls can be routed to the sound processor too. There's a "Find My Processor" feature that'll remember where the non-implanted bit of the hearing aid was last connected to your phone, so if you lose it (they can fall off), you can go back and find it. Cochlear's press release has nice videos explaining how it all works. Pretty damn nifty.

Germany offers a glimpse of how Australia might bust end to end encryption
You know how our government is keen for tech companies to find a way to get messages off smartphones belonging to suspected criminals? Germany has a model for how it may work here in Australia. Leaked reports have revealed they've gone and made a software platform called "Remote Communication Interception Software (RCIS)" and purchased FinSpy as a backup if RCIS doesn't get the job done. The more useful part though, is the introduction of laws allowing police to install this software on anyone they suspect as part of a crime. The Germans have a touchy history of spying on their own people, so it's interesting that even they are doing stuff like this, let alone virtual panopticons like the UK and Australia.


Classy lookin' fuel location and price app for NSW drivers
Everyone in NSW that drives a car, get Petty for your smartphone. It's a slick looking app that tells you where the cheap petrol is near ya. It'll let you know where the nearest petrol station is as well, if you're low on dino juice and need a refill in an area you've never been before. Petty is only for NSW as NSW has made all the servos publish their pricing and info into a nice data feed for developers like Zach to use. Guess it's a nice consolation for those unable to afford somewhere to live within 100km of the Sydney CBD.

ARKit is cool and fun and here's some demos
Another day, another cool ARKit demo! TRIXI Studios has turns A-Ha's Take on Me music video into an augmented reality scenario you can interact with. There's loads more of these fun demos on Made With ARKit, who is collecting them and posting them on their website. This stuff is gonna be so cool when it launches with iOS 11 - can't wait to see what people do with it when it goes mainstream.

Chinese court takes naming and shaming to a new level
The difference between Chinese culture and western culture fascinates me and this is an excellent example. The Guanyun People’s Court has placed a pre-recorded message on 10 people's phones, that play whenever someone calls them, explaining how this absolute deadbeat hasn't paid their debts! "The user of the number you've dialled has been listed as someone who is avoiding debt repayments ordered by the Guanyun County People's Court. Please urge this person to fulfill their legal obligations. The Guanyun People's Court thanks you for your support", the message says. Takes the concept of name and shame to a whole new level.

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!