The Sizzle

Issue 475 - Friday, 8th September 2017


One of the USA's largest credit checking companies has been totally pwned
Ripped straight from the article because this story needs little colour: "Credit reporting agency Equifax says Thursday a web application flaw exposed 143 million customer records to hackers, a startling breach from a company that ironically offers identity theft protection services." In the breach is some primo data like "names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some cases, driver's license numbers" as well as "credit card numbers for 209,000 U.S. consumers" and "dispute documents" containing personal information for 182,000 U.S. consumers". To make things worse, 3 Equifax execs sold stock worth $1.8m days after the company discovered the breach, but before they announced it to the market. Bad optics guys, very bad optics.
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Amazon wants cities to pitch for the privilege of hosting its 2nd HQ
Amazon wants to open a second headquarters somewhere in the USA and has put the call out for interested cities to put in a bid as to where it should be located. Amazon extols how awesome Amazon is for the city of Seattle, its current HQ and home in an attempt to make other cities want some of that sweet trickle down action from 50,000 "high-paying jobs" and "$5b of construction" an Amazon HQ will bring. In reality though, it's mostly a race to the bottom to see find the city and/or state willing who will give Amazon the best tax environment and incentives. Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Toronto, St. Louis, Kentucky and Miami are all planning to bid.
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Blizzard creates its own e-sports arena in LA
Blizzard is so keen on e-sports, is opening its own arena in Los Angeles. The "Blizzard Arena Los Angeles" will be in Burbank Studios and is "custom-tailored to support an exciting live-event experience for local attendees and broadcast audiences around the world". The arena will also feature "multiple sound stages, control rooms, areas for practice, and, naturally, a store to buy Blizzard merchandise". 450 spectators will pack the place out when it opens next month. E-sports is where it's at now people, AFL will cease to exist in 20 years because everyone's watching ArseRaider69 weave their magic in the Blizzard Arena.
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FTC slaps down more influencers not disclosing they were paid to promote
The USA FTC has issued yet another warning about people not disclosing that they're getting paid to promote stuff on social media. Trevor "TmarTn" Martin and Thomas "Syndicate" Cassell were paid by CSGO Lotto to pimp the virtual gambling service (which is a whole different kettle of fish) to their 13 million YouTube subscribers. There's nothing wrong with that, but they did not at any stage say CSGO Lotto were paying them. This is illegal. Unfortunately, these shitbirds weren't punished - they were let off with a warning. The FTC have since updated their endorsement guide so other YouTubers, Instagramers and other social media peddlers have clear info on what they should and shouldn't do. The ABC has an interesting article about the laws (or lack there of) in Australia for paid social media promotions.
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The gaydar algorithm that determines your sexuality via a photo and some code
The best and brightest minds over at Stanford University have chosen to spend their time working on a gaydar powered by a computer algorithm. According to Michal Kosinski's and Yilun Wang's study, this algorithm "could correctly distinguish between gay and straight men 81% of the time, and 74% for women" - "human judges performed much worse than the algorithm, accurately identifying orientation only 61% of the time for men and 54% for women". Ellen Broad shot off a couple of tweets explaining why this study is stupid. The study has no ethical oversight, used data likely without permission, used a very selective dataset (no POC, no bisexuals or trans) and the biggest of all, no thought given to the consequences of a homosexuality detecting machine now existing. Can you imagine this used by a group of bigots? Ugh. Sometimes computers are totally not cool and this is one of them.
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DIY headphone socket for the iPhone 7, kinda
The same guy who went to China to make his own iPhone from spare parts is at it again. Scotty Allen really missed the headphone socket in the iPhone 7, so he made one himself. After much trial and error around the markets of Shenzhen, he basically put a Lightning to 3.5mm socket _inside_ the phone. You can't charge the phone whilst the headphones are in, but dude has his beloved headphone socket back and a cool video for YouTube. What more do ya want?
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Robots Gently Caressed Humans to Sexy Music to See if They Were Turned On
"Robots Gently Caressed Humans to Sexy Music to See if They Were Turned On" - when I saw that headline, how could I not click to see what's inside?! The "robot", in this scenario, was a brush on an electric motor that kept the stroking consistent between songs, to remove that variable from the experiment. People stuck their hand through a curtain so they couldn't tell who or what was stroking them whilst the music played. The research found that when the sexy music played, the robot's strokes felt sexy to the person, even though the strokes were the same even when the sexy music was not playing, hence, music can make unsexy things things sexy. Good life tip there.
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One of the people responsible for Pebble is back with a new project
Eric Migicovsky, the founder of Pebble, has a new thing going on since Pebble was purchased by Fitbit and bled dry. The PodCase is simply an iPhone battery case (ala a Mophie thing), but with slots for your AirPods to be stored and charged in. Nifty! It's currently a Kickstarter project, so who knows if it'll really see the light of day, but I reckon based on Eric's experience with Pebble, it's pretty likely a product will come out. After the Kickstarter, you'll be able to buy them for US$99, which seems a bit expensive for an iPhone case battery in this day and age, but I'm a cheapskate, so what do I know?
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Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

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