The Sizzle

Issue 474 - Thursday, 7th September 2017


Facebook sold ads to Russian trolls and people are upset
Facebook's published a blog post in response to a Washington Post article that said Facebook sold about $100,000 worth of ads between June 2015 and May 2017 to a "a Russian troll farm with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda". On top of that, another $50,000 worth of ads were told to "other groups with links to Russia, but were not associated with any known organized effort". In the scheme of things, $150k is a drop in the bucket for Facebook, but they're still copping heat for allowing the Ruskis to influence the US election, so yeah, that's why this is a thing and why Facebook thought it had to do something and why they closed down those accounts linked to the ad buy.
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Facebook is probably making shit up about how many young people its ads reach
Facebook's also been accused of fudging its numbers (again) in regards to the amount of people an advertiser can reach on their platform. Pivotal Research Group saw that in a trade publication, Facebook said they can reach 41 million 18 to 24-year-olds, 60 million 25 to 34-year-olds and 61 million 35 to 49-year-olds. There's just one problem with those stats: the latest US census says there's only 31 million 18 to 24-year-olds in the US. So, what's going on here? Is Facebook talking shit or have they found more young people in America than the US government knows about?
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America gets some national robocar laws off the ground
The US Congress has passed the "SELF-DRIVE Act", marking a big step in robocar development. This new law will create federal rules for testing robocars, ending the mish-mash of different state rules and allowing testing to occur in all US states, not just ones that allow robocars (some states have banned them). Robocar testers will have to report crashes to the government, which will be detailed in a public database, but I can't see if they will be required to list "disengagements" per 100km or similar stats on the actual quality of the driving. Wouldn't surprise me if the robocar lobbyists don't want this sort of info public, as it would expose how shoddy some of their systems are in relatively mundane situations. That said, this law hasn't passed the Senate yet, so maybe public disengagement stats will be something they want added to the Act.
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India joins the Hyperloop hype train
India wants a Hyperloop! Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, just one of the groups trying to make Elon Musk's concept for people travelling really fast in trains in tubes propelled by magnets, signed an agreement with the state of Andhra Pradesh, in southeast India. The plan is to turn a 1hr drive between Vijaywada and Amaravati into a 6 minute Hyperloop ride. Right now the actual Hyperloop tech doesn't even exist, so this deal is merely to work out a good route and then one day, if HTT actually manages to get it working, the state will pay them to install it. The UAE, South Korea and Slovakia have done similar deals with HTT to get in on the Hyperloop action whenever it's ready.
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UNSW has figured out how to do quantum computing with silicon chips, I think
I don't really know what's going on here, so forgive me if I screw this summary up, but, a team at UNSW has figured out a way to make quantum computers cheaper and at scale. From what I can gather, they invented a way to make quantum computing chips out of silicon, based on a new type of quantum bit. This "flip-flop qubit" overcomes the need for the atoms to be precisely placed - so they can be further apart and still work. Because they're further apart, our current tech of silicon etchings is good enough for qubits to be manipulated. I think. Either way, Telstra, CBA and the federal & state government are invested in Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Ltd, which they hope can commercialise the tech and make everyone filthy stinking rich one day. Good luck to them!
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IBM's Watson isn't all its cracked up to be
No doubt you're aware of IBM's Watson - a magical cloud based AI that'll solve the world's problems. One of the things IBM is keen to use Watson for, is curing cancer. The plan is to feed all the research into cancer out there, from all around the world and apply it to individual patient's symptoms. It's a super doctor, knowing things even the best meatbag doctor wouldn't know. Unsurprisingly, this isn't the case. Watson for Oncology is kinda lame, as a real doctor has to check over everything it's doing anyways, so the money hospitals spend on Watson would probably be better used elsewhere than lining IBM's pockets. It doesn't necessarily mean Watson is useless, it's just not the breakthrough IBM's marketing team wants you think it is.
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Fuji's new X-E3 camera looks nice
There's a shiny new Fujifilm compact camera. The X-E3 replaces the X-E2/X-E2S. There's a 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor, 4K video, 325-point AF with improved tracking algorithm, 3" touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity for sharing pics with your smartphone. Looks like a very spiffy camera. I'm a fan of Fuji's colour science - pictures out of it are generally nicer by default than those from Sony and the camera itself looks cool if you're into that retro stuff. Pair it up with Fuji's 27mm pancake lens next time it's in an eBay sale and it'd be a great unit to take on holiday and keep in a jacket pocket or handbag. The X-E3 will be out in a few weeks and will set you back US$999 for just the body.
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I want this new Epson short throw projector
Good news fellow big screen TV lovers - Epson has a new short throw laser projector coming soon. The Epson Home Cinema LS100 will project a 3 meter sized image in 1080p, with 4,000 lumens brightness and 2,500,000:1 contrast ratio. Not bad, not bad at all! The best thing about a short throw projector is that you can just place it where you'd normally place a TV. No need to mount it on a ceiling 5 meters away. The laser lighting method is good too, so the lamp lasts way longer than a usual xenon/halogen lamp and is brighter too. It'll be out in "fall" (aka any time from now until Dec 1st) and cost US$3000. I'm not put off by 1080p, 90% of what I watch is in 1080p anyways. I could see this, together with a nice 120" projection screen being an awesome upgrade from my puny 65" TV.
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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!