The Sizzle

Issue 467 - Tuesday, 29th August 2017

The Sizzle finally has a sharing feature! Click the Share link on any news item and do whatever you like that URL. Share The Sizzle far and wide! It'll even embed a screenshot of the text from the email in your social media post, check it out - cool yeah? Big thanks to Vu Nguyen who wrote the script to do all the heavy lifting.


New iPhones apparently coming on September 12th/13th
Extremely strong rumours that Apple will announce the new iPhone, along with other products, on September 12th (September 13th for us). The Wall Street Journal and CNBC, who are usually pretty bang on when it comes to this stuff, have said Apple will use its new Apple Park campus auditorium to announce the new iPhones, a new Apple Watch and an Apple TV. Also in Apple news, Tim Cook was in Austin, Texas today, talking about how Apple has a "moral responsibility" to create jobs and grow the economy. Meanwhile, old mate has $260b sitting overseas he won't bring back to the US because of high taxes and is taking handouts from small US states it really doesn't need that'll offer little benefit to those living there. (insert wanking hand gesture here)
Discuss - Share

Google accidentally ruined Japan's internet for a few hours
Google has taken responsibility for massive disruptions in Japanese internet connections over the weekend. How the hell does that happen? From The Register: "traffic from Japanese giants like NTT and KDDI was sent to Google on the expectation it would be treated as transit" and because "Google doesn't provide transit services, that traffic either filled a link beyond its capacity, or hit an access control list, and disappeared" - it only lasted a few hours, but was so severe, the communications ministry wants the telcos to explain what the hell happened and to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Discuss - Share

NYPD replacing $160m worth of Windows phones with iPhones
The New York Police Department is ditching the 36,000 Windows phones it purchased over the past two years because they're "already obsolete and can’t be upgraded". The boneheaded decision to buy 36,000 Windows phones in 2015, when Windows phone was practically abandoned, was apparently due to the deputy commissioner for IT simply deciding that's what she wanted. There's no oversight or investigation before dropping US$160m on the gear. The NYPD has come to its senses and will give out iPhones instead. Good to know monumental tech fuckups aren't just unique to our government.
Discuss - Share

Huge Android botnet spread via Google Play has been taken down
A massive botnet comprised of hacked Android devices, dubbed WireX, was shut down over the weekend thanks to the co-operation of infosec companies. Normally competitors, Flashpoint, Akamai, Cloudfare and RiskIQ worked together to take WireX down, which comprised of over 70,000 unique IP addresses and involved 160,000 devices. The botnet was created via over 300 compromised apps just sitting on the Google Play store. Once users downloaded these apps they assume would be vetted by Google before going up on the store, they were used as pawns in a DDoS attack on weirdly, hospitality websites. Google need to lift their game - it's their lax attitude to app vetting that allowed this to happen.
Discuss - Share

Facebook hopes banning fake news spreads buying ads will stop fake news spreading
Facebook has found another way to try subvert "fake news" - it'll stop known repeat fake news spreaders from buying ads to amplify their bullshit. How Facebook determines what is fake news is via its 3rd party fact checking service it setup after the US election that gave us Donald Trump, together with machine learning. How it determines what "repeatedly" means, they aren't saying, so the bullshit peddlers don't figure out how to get around the ban. Facebook hopes that by blocking them buying ads, it'll stop the economic incentives to create fake news in the first place, as without Facebook's amplification of the articles, nobody would visit. Here's a brief blog post about it.
Discuss - Share


OnePlus phones now on sale in AU, here's a nice local review
OnePlus is selling their high-spec but mid-price smartphones legitimately in Australia now. No more grey market dodgyness and poor warranty support. Ausdroid has a review of the OnePlus 5, the flagship model from OnePlus that's now on sale via OnePlus's AU website for $599 or $699 for the 8GB of RAM model. Weirdly, OnePlus are shipping a UK power plug in the box, not an AU plug. Apparently it's only during their "soft launch" and if it goes well, they'll use proper AU chargers. Worth a look if you're after a new Android phone - 15 day no questions asked refunds too.
Discuss - Share

VicPol's $86m ALPR system in a few lines of code and commodity hardware
You may have seen cameras doing Automatic Licence Plate Recognition on tripods around Victorian roads - police use these to check for stolen cars, outstanding warrants, shit like that. IT works so well, the cops want to put ALPR in every patrol vehicle. One problem, Vicpol reckons it'll cost $86m. Tait Brown made a free version of more or less what the Victorian Police estimates will cost $86m to build. All up it's just under 60 lines of code and most of that is just scraping the VicRoads website as there's (obviously) no public API. Unsurprisingly, Tait is confused as to how something he knocked up over a weekend, can cost the police $86m to roll out.
Discuss - Share

Toyota reckons level 5 self-driving cars are not coming any time soon
Toyota Research Institute's CEO, Gill Pratt wants everyone to calm the fuck down about self-driving cars. He reckons we are "nowhere near close" to level 5 autonomous driving and that Toyota has no idea when full self-driving cars will be a thing you can buy. Which is exactly what someone lagging behind other companies to make self-driving cars would say, isn't it? Even the middle steps, level 3 and 4, have problems. There's a point where if we trust the robocar too much, beyond its capabilities, there's more risk of danger than just driving the damn car ourselves. It's well explored by pilots who have been relying on autopilot so much, that when a serious error happens, it's difficult for them to handle the information overload that occurs when they need to take over. This 20 year old video from American Airlines pilot training has important lessons for those designing self-driving cars.
Discuss - Share

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!