The Sizzle

Issue 502 - Wednesday, 18th October 2017


Pixel 2 reviews are here, everyone more or less loves it
Reviews of the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones are out. I only skimmed reviews by The Verge, Ausdroid, and Australia's ABC (I didn't know they did product reviews), but it seems that the Pixel 2 is still the best Android phone you can get if you don't like Samsung's UI and prefer a clean Android experience. Tom's Hardware loved the battery life (it beat the iPhone 8 Plus). Google Lens, the hyped feature where you point your phone at something and you get "context" or more info about it, doesn't work that well right now. DxOMark (and everyone who reviewed the phone) really liked the Pixel 2's camera, which is aided by the Pixel Visual Core, an image processing chip designed by Google - their first SoC. Android doesn't yet take full advantage of it (seems limited to simply processing HDR photos), but the hardware is there, ready to come alive in a software update.
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Google beefs up Gmail security options
Google has rolled out optional "Advanced Protection" in Gmail, making it way harder for someone to gain access to your emails. The main feature of advanced proection is the requirement for a hardware security key to log in, a more secure version of two factor authentication. Even if someone gets your password, they can't log in unless they have the physical key. Advanced protection also adds additional questions and steps during the account recovery process (so it's harder for someone to pretend to be you) and restricts which apps can look at your email, so nothing pretending to be a legit app fools you into giving it access.
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Complaints about the NBN are up 160%
In the 2016-2017 financial year, the amount of people complaining to the TIO about the NBN increased by almost 160%. According to the report, "complaints were mostly about connection delays and services being degraded or unusable". The NBN rollout hasn't grown by 160%, it's just that more and more people are being exposed to the sham that is FTTN, sloppy contractors and lack of transparency between NBN and ISP. No doubt related to this, NBN has reversed its policy of leaving complicated premises for last, which was a stupid decision made by idiots with no common sense.
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Microsoft unveils the Surface Book 2
Microsoft quietly farted out an update to the Surface Book - the nicest non-Apple laptop I've ever used. The Surface Book 2 is basically the same 2-in-1 unit with a detachable screen that turns into a stand-alone tablet and has the same silver magnesium case, but there's now a 15" screen option as well as the 13.5" one. The guts inside are the latest chips from Intel and Nvidia and there's a USB-C port because it's 2017 and that's what laptops have now. Due to the lower power CPU and GPU, battery life is a huge 17 hours. Microsoft's Australian website doesn't mention the 15" model at all, but you can pre-order the 13" unit on November 9.
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Dominos AU suffers a customer info breach via 3rd party supplier
A "supplier" (don't know their name or what they do for Dominos) of Dominos Australia has been hacked, leaking the details of everyone who used their online ordering system to spammers. Someone on Reddit noticed that the spam contained suburbs where they ordered pizzas from, so they contacted Dominos and Dominos admitted their supplied got owned. However, Australia's mandatory data breach legislation doesn't start until Feb 22nd 2018, so for now, Dominos doesn't have inform all their customers if they don't feel like it. There's not a lot you can "do" about this sorta thing happening. I mainly mention it because it's another reminder that privacy is dead, your personal info is no longer sacred and that's not as bad as it sounds (but it's still not good).
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Your nudes are safe thanks to machine learning
Nude is an app that uses machine learning to detect a high percentage of exposed flesh in the images on your iPhone's camera roll, then hide those images it determines to be nudes in a secure vault. Thanks to CoreML in iOS 11, Nude doesn't even need to send the photos to the cloud for analysis - it's all done on the device. Whilst something I would never need (1. there's no naked pics and 2. you touch my iPhone I will stab you) the app makes sense. If you're gonna store naked pics of yourself on your smartphone, you don't want them mingled with your regular pics that someone could stumble across whilst you show them more wholesome photos of your dog or your lunch.
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ZTE is really going to sell a folding dual screen smartphone
The crazy bastards at ZTE have gone and done it - a dual screen folding smartphone. The Axon M is literally a normal 5" smartphone with a hinge in the middle that's hooked up to a second, thinner 5" screen. It'll run mirrored, extended or even two apps at once on each screen. Weirdly, it doesn't close like a book, where the two screens collapse on each other - it folds the other way so when you hold the device, there's a screen on the front and rear of the device. It also means there's no rear camera! Is it just me or is this the absolute opposite of how a folding smartphone should work? Still, I'm harassing the ZTE PR person I talked to once about 3 years ago to ask if I can get a review unit, I gotta see this monstrosity for myself.
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Random bargains
A few non-eBay sale bargains for ya today: Telstra has white 12.9" iPad Pro smart covers for just $28. BlitzWolf (BW-FWC1) Fast Qi wireless charger for $24.95 (Melbourne stock, so won't take a month to arrive from China). Cities: Skylines for PC on Steam for $10. Big W are selling the PSVR bundle (headset, motion tracker and a game) for $449. A Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (the fastest Pi available) is USD$30.99 with free shipping at Lightinthebox.
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Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

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