The Sizzle

Issue 483 - Wednesday, 20th September 2017


iOS 11 and watchOS 4 are out and about
iOS 11 and watchOS 4 are now ready for you to install. I won't go over what's new in them, there's just so much going on, a single paragraph won't do it justice. If you're keen for insights, read the Macstories and Ars Technica iOS 11 reviews - you'll learn heaps. Apple has a bunch of videos showing how to use the new features in iOS 11. One hiccup some users might find in iOS 11 is that 32-bit apps (i.e: apps that have had no updates in years), will no longer work. Something to keep in mind before you upgrade.
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Upcoming Google hardware (Pixel 2, Home Mini & more) leaked
New gear from Google's upcoming event on Oct 4 has leaked. There's the Google Home Mini - a cheaper, smaller, fabric clad speaker that works just like the bigger Google Home. An updated Daydream VR headset - dunno what's new bit there's different fabric and will cost US$20 more than the old one. A new Pixelbook - which has a stylus, a 360-degree hinge, various storage options and start at around AU$1500. Finally, there's an update to the Pixel smartphone - Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. No info about them besides that fact you can squeeze them, the colours, storage capacity and US pricing.
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China continues crackdown on Bitcoin and other cryptocoins
China has taken further steps to shut down Bitcoin and cryptocurrency activity. Earlier this week, news leaked that by the end of September, all crypto-exchanges operating in China will be told to cease operations. Now, China's banned executives of cryptocurrency trading platforms from leaving Beijing, so that they're able to assist/report to the government in any investigations about their activity. As a result, the coin miners, who thrive in China due to cheap electricity, are shitting their pants thinking they're next to come under the state's boot heel.
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Woolies to add its rewards card into Apple Wallet
Woolies are gonna add their Everyday Rewards card to Apple Wallet in mid-October. No longer will be live with the extraordinary burden placed on us by that orange plastic monster, hogging valuable physical wallet space! Hopefully this inspires Flybuys and the fuckton of other rewards cards I want to use, but don't, because I genuinely can't all fit that shit in my wallet. They should all be added into Apple Wallet, where they belong. Also, make it so I can scan the barcode or tap my phone (iOS 11 opens up NFC!) myself. No grubby counter kid is touching my $1829 iPhone X with their soot covered peasant hands.
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Electronic Frontiers Australia is strapped for cash
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) is running short on cash. Their treasurer said that the EFA's funds are "quite limited", that they need to "rein in unnecessary spending" and should increase fundraising activities so they can continue their work. This sparked some "oh shit" moments amongst the board, who were concerned that the group may not be solvent, leaving the board members liable for any debts. The CEO has since come out and said that the EFA is "solvent and are, subject to approval by the members, about to complete a three year project to reincorporate and thereby get access to new revenue opportunities". The EFA is one of the few groups on the good side of tech debates in Australia, so I hope they can get enough cash to keep on fighting.
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QLD govt chartered a 747 to fly a bunch of VCs from SFO to BNE
The QLD government, together with some "local entrepreneurs" have chartered a Qantas 747 to bring Silicon Valley venture capitalists to the Myriad start-up festival in Brisbane next year. Queensland startups can apply to be passengers on the plane going from SFO to BNE and pitch their ideas to these rich blokes. "14 hours to network, collaborate, inspire and showcase our rapidly growing entrepreneurial ecosystem" is how they're spinning it to sound like it isn't half a day spent in a noisy metal tube with wankers. Here's a philosophical question for you to ponder: would the world be a better place if this plane full of venture capital sharks and startup suckups crashed into the Pacific Ocean?
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New Synology NAS boxes
Synology has updated the DS line of NAS units. The DS918+ (the 4-bay Intel CPU model I usually recommend) now has a more powerful J3455 SoC and a default of 4GB RAM. It'll even let you install dual NVMe PCIe M.2 SSDs - that's pretty cool. There's other models too, such as the DS218+, which looks like it'd be cheap and run Plex pretty damn well. I still wish Plex would support QuickSync on these CPUs though. Doing so would make them perfect for Plex use as nobody really wants a WD NAS (who somehow managed to convince Plex to support QuickSync on their very average NAS range).
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Petrol pump credit card skimmer teardown
Sparkfun has analysed a few petrol pump skimmers handed to them by police for investigation. A crim gets their hands on a key that'll open the pump and they plug the board right in to some pins on the pump's card reader, so from the outside, it looks totally legit. The skimmer has a Bluetooth module in it, so when it's time to collect the stolen info, the owner of the skimmer can just sit in a car and download it while someone else pumps petrol. Nefarious and nifty - they only cost a few bucks to make too, as the parts are cheap as now. As a result, they're popping up everywhere in the US. Luckily this isn't really an issue in Australia (we have to walk inside the shop to pay, like chumps), but the tear-down was really interesting.
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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.