The Sizzle

Issue 490 - Monday, 2nd October 2017


Elon Musk's latest Mars colony plans & intercontinental rockets
Elon Musk unloaded his space related fever dreams at the International Aeronautical Congress in Adelaide last week. There's was some new info on his Mars colonization plan, like bigger, faster rockets called BFR (big fucken rockets, baby) and some art of what the Mars base station will look like. The plan is to get people there by 2024. Right at the end of Musk's keynote, he started talking about using the BFR to shuttle people around Earth. Sydney to New York or London in under 40 min by rocket powered plane. Sounds awesome, but everything Musk talked about is basically a figment of his imagination at this point, so grain of salt and all that. Lockheed Martin also announced at IAC its plans to get people on Mars. The Mars Base Camp Plan is just as phenomenal as SpaceX's, but they lack Elon Musk, so it's not as sexy. You can view Musk's entire 45 min keynote on YouTube if you're keen.
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Government releases report filled with NBN criticism on long weekend
It's a long weekend in most of Australia, so what better time for the government to release a report into the NBN's failures? On Friday arvo a 210 page joint federal inquiry report into the NBN dropped, outlining all the ways the NBN sucks. There's 23 recommendations - the first one being to stop the FTTN and HFC rollouts now and replace it with FTTC and FTTP immediately, to avoid coming back in a few years adn spending more money. Of course, the Liberal MPs involved in the report reckon "on all measures, Bill Morrow and the rest of the executive team at NBN Co have done a phenomenal job in turning the company around". Some of the lighter recommendations (i.e: improved transparency for customers & RSPs and layer 2 speed info) might happen, but not the important ones like more fibre and an independent audit of the NBN's long-term assumptions. If you care about the NBN, I strongly suggest checking out the report for yourself.
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GoPro's new cameras - Hero6 and 360-degree Fusion
GoPro has new cameras. The Hero6 is like the Hero5, but does 60fps 4K recording, with improved image quality thanks to greater digital image stabilisation, better dynamic range and low-light image quality. There's a USB-C port on it and it'll also 1080p at 240fps for sick slo-mo vids. The Hero6 sells for $750 in AU and will be in shops like JB and HN any day now. They also released the Fusion, a 360-degree cam that captures 5.2K/30p video and 18MP spherical stills. This bad boy will cost $1000, but there's no ETA on local availability. Digital Trends has a hands on review of the Fusion.
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Heaps of Macs not running latest EFI might be an issue
Lots of news articles around at the moment about Macs suffering from some sort of problem with their firmware. Apparently, lots of Macs just aren't running the latest EFI version, exposing vulnerabilities which make a juicy target for hackers. Apple has moved to bundling the latest EFI with macOS updates, so if you aren't applying the latest version of macOS, you aren't getting the latest EFI either. If you're worried, just make sure you're running the latest version of macOS and that's about all you can do. Duo's blog post on this topic is very enlightening and an easy read if you'd like to know more.
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Toyota, Denso & Mazda start EV tech joint venture
Toyota's getting a little more serious about electric cars and Mazda is actually deciding to entertain the idea. Together with Denso (absolutely massive Japanese car part manufacturer), Toyota and Mazda have started a joint venture to develop EV technologies, called EV Common Architecture Spirit Co Ltd. Calling it a joint venture is generous, it's 90% owned by Toyota, 5% owned by Denso (who Toyota virtually own by being their largest customer) and the other 5% belongs to Mazda. Both car makers have seen the writing on the wall as China decides to declare and end date for IC engines, as well as France, the UK and Norway. Plus their competition, like Nissan, is miles ahead of them in the EV game. God speed Toyota, I hope you can get something decent out there soon.
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VW e-Golf review - it's a Golf with en electric motor and that's great
Fully Charged has a great review of the Volkswagen e-Golf. It's the same Golf Mk7 you know and love, but with a nice electric motor and batteries with ~200km range instead of a filthy diesel or petrol engine. I reckon it's great how the e-Golf doesn't try to be some weirdo looking future car. The Golf is a great car, why fuck with a good thing? If anything, turning it electric removes a lot of the pain points (reliability and emissions) that come with owning a VW. You get all the good and none of the bad. Unfortunately, it's an expensive bastard. In the UK it goes for £32,190 before subsidies, which would be at least A$55,000 here. Ouch. Autogefühl (who do awesome car reviews) also has a very good review of the e-Golf.
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Who knew stealing silicon was so lucrative?
Mitsubishi's polycrystalline silicon factory in Alabama is one of only 5 in the world able to make silicon of a high grade enough for the ICs we take for granted. During 2008, the price of the material skyrocketed, giving a nice incentive to two good ol' boys working in the factory to steal some of it. They realised nobody counts how much silicon goes from the furnace to the packing room, so a couple of rods of the gear took a detour to their lunchbox and then to their car and then into the hands of silicon dealers who sold it off to China. I won't ruin the rest of the story, but it's a great lesson of why you should always quit while you're ahead.
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Zuck is sorry "for the ways my work was used to divide people"
There's not a lot in this, but I wanted to mention it - Reuters reports that, "Mark Zuckerberg asked for forgiveness for ways his work was used to divide people in a Facebook posting marking the end of Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday of atonement on Saturday". Zucks post said: "for the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do better". It's nice he acknowledges Facebook is being used to divide people. Hopefully he listens to those feelings of regret to make Facebook a better place, or at least, less of a propaganda machine.
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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.