The Sizzle

Issue 489 - Thursday, 28th September 2017

There will be no Sizzle tomorrow as my fellow Victorians and I will be enjoying a public holiday to celebrate the most sacred of holy days - the AFL Grand Final. Hallelujah!


Auditor-General slams Turnbull's innovation boom
Who remembers Malcom Turnbull's agile innovation boom back when he became PM? Nobody? That's ok, I'll remind you! It's a series of grants worth around $1.1b, thrown around various technology, science, and startup projects that sounded cool but according to the Auditor-General, have had little to no impact and are so vague and general, they're impossible to measure how effective they've been. Scott Morrison reckons the auditor is full of shit and that there's "plenty of evidence" the National Innovation and Science Agenda is "working". Of course, that evidence is nowhere to be seen. We'll just take that statement at face value, because everything a politician says is 100% correct, 100% of the time.
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Amazon revamps Echo lineup - still relatively useless in AU
Amazon has loads of new gadgets you can't buy or use in Australia! The yanks went crazy for the new gear though and Amazon's launching in AU pretty much any day now, so here's a heads up. There's an Echo Spot, a speaker with a 2.5" circle screen that can be yelled at to do stuff - like the bigger Echo Show, but smaller. The Echo Plus is like the first speaker Amazon made (the big cylinder), but better and has Zigbee home automation stuff built-in. There's a cheaper basic Echo as well if you don't need anything fancy. The Fire TV got updated with better 4K support and an Alexa voice remote for US$70 (that's pretty damn cheap).
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ASIC gives Aussies the low-down on ICOs
Joining about half a dozen financial regulators overseas, our very own ASIC has published a 101 for those looking to invest in the murky world of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). ICOs, for the uninitiated, is simply a way to invest in a company but instead of buying a share in the company, you own a unique cryptocurrency that the company has created - usually a variant of Ethereum. ASIC's advice states that "ICOs are highly speculative investments, are mostly unregulated and the chance of losing your investment is high". ASIC's full statement wants to get across that even though the investment method might be unique, your obligations under Australian law for anyone starting an ICO, mostly still apply - so do it overseas in a country that doesn't give a damn and rope in Aussie suckers instead.
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Facebook, Google & Twitter likely to front up to Congress about Russia stuff
The investigation of Russia's "alleged" interference in the 2016 US election is heating up, with the US government asking execs from Facebook, Google and Twitter to testify to the U.S. Congress on November 1st. They haven't confirmed they'll actually attend, but you'd reckon if they don't, it'll just make em look dodgy as fuck. Reddit's also coming under the investigation's microscope, but it's not certain if Reddit's bosses will have to front Congress. In a recent Facebook post, Zuck has said he regrets initially ignoring Facebook's role in this shitstorm. I guess he's either realising his actions have consequences beyond dollars and cents, or, he just wants to at least appear remorseful before the truth comes out about Facebook's role in this government investigation.
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News important to mention but not important enough to explain

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Hobart has access to 1000/400 speed NBN for $1000/m
There's now a 2nd ISP offering gigabit NBN in Australia! MyRepublic was first, offering 1000/400 speeds to the good people of Wollongong for $130/m, but now Launtel is offering 1000/400 internet to Hobart for $1000/m. Sure, it isn't as cheap as My Republic, but at least it exists and is shitloads cheaper than any other gigabit service you'll get in Australia. If you aren't in the gong or Hobart, don't forget that Aussie Broadband sell 250/100 for a non-obscene $220/m (for 1TB/m) and Skymesh do 100/100, 200/100 and 200/200, depending where you live. Any other ISPs selling NBN faster than 100/40 out there that I've missed?
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Apple details how it gives a damn about your privacy
Apple has launched a new mini-website outlining all the ways it keeps your data private. Things like TouchID/FaceID, clear & obvious notifications of data apps can access, opt-in analytics, Safari's advertising controls and more. Even some white papers on iOS security and how Face ID works. This is one of the reasons I like Apple. Sure, they're one of the world's largest corporations and have more cash on hand than the Australian Reserve Bank has assets, but, at least their motivation is profit via what's best for the consumer (most of the time), unlike Google or Facebook, where user concerns are only taken into consideration if they intersect with their customers (aka advertisers) concerns.
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Anthony Levandowski started a church dedicated to AI?!
For this long weekend, I'm leaving you with some weird shit courtesy of Wired. They dug up that Anthony Levandowski, who you might remember as the main protagonist in Waymo's lawsuit against Uber, has "founded a religious organization called Way of the Future" that is dedicated to "develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence" and aims "through understanding and worship of the Godhead, [to] contribute to the betterment of society" - what the hell is this?! The story doesn't answer the question of what's going on (wtf is Godhead?), but meanders into a relatively boring profile of Levandowski, the boy genius who's now king shit in the robocar industry. Smells very Ayn Rand to me.
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Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers.