Issue 521

Wednesday, 15th November 2017

You probably already know, but the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey are in and the yes vote got up - 61.6% to 38.4%. Excellent news for all our LGBQTI friends! Now we play the waiting game with parliament to get some legislation passed.

In This Issue


OnePlus left a god mode backdoor enabled by accident on their phones

OnePlus accidentally left a Qualcomm engineering app installed on its devices. This app allows anyone to plug your phone into their computer and use Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to get access to all the stuff on your device. But only if you have USB debugging turned on - which isn't a common thing for most users. Still, pretty sloppy stuff (again) from OnePlus. They've released a statement saying they "don't see this as a major security issue" but will "remove the adb root function from EngineerMode in an upcoming OTA".

Firefox Quantum, a totally overhauled version of Firefox is now available

Firefox Quantum is out of beta! This is an all new version of Firefox, with a nicer UI and severely improved rendering engine. According to Mozilla, it's twice as fast and uses 30% less RAM than Chrome. I ran some quick benchmarks on my Windows laptop and the new Firefox is way better than Chrome. But on the Mac, Safari is still the performance king. If you haven't used Firefox in a while, definitely give it a crack, particularly if you're a Windows or Linux user.

Apple and the ACCC are off to mediation

The ACCC took Apple to the Federal Court a few months ago, alleging Apple was contravening consumer law by not fixing people's devices that were previously repaired by a non-approved repairer, even if the bit that's busted wasn't touched by the other repairer. Yesterday the judge in this case told the ACCC and Apple to sort it out amongst themselves before the 2nd of March 2018. Not until that happens will the judge let it go to trial. I reckon Apple won't budge a millimetre and by April 2018 they'll be facing the ACCC in court again.

Heaps of countries are covertly using the internet to influence the electorate

You know how America is all riled up that Russia was trying to influence its election via social media and the internet? A report from US NGO Freedom House reckons that sorta thing is pretty common in around 30 countries. Places like Venezuela, the Philippines and Turkey were found to be using "armies of opinion shapers" to "spread government views, drive particular agendas, and counter government critics on social media". It makes a lot of sense - politics is all about the art of influencing opinion and we now have some arguably sophisticated tools to do that. It's no surprise they're being used not only to make us buy more hamburgers or car insurance, but to vote or think a particular way.

FDA approves a digital pill to log when medications are taken

The US FDA has approved Abilify MyCite, the first "digital pill". It's a sensor the size of a grain of sand that can go into a regular pill and when it comes into contact with stomach acid, sends a signal to a patch worn on your body that sends info like the type of pill it was and when you swallowed it to your smartphone. With the MyCite, health professionals can make sure you're taking your medication - something important for those on community treatment orders, as people subject to those orders really need to take their medicine so they aren't locked up to protect themselves and the community from the symptoms of their mental illness.

Not News, But Still Cool

Aus Post's mobile parcel locker robot is a bit crap

Australia Post have a little robot tooling around New Farm in Brisbane, delivering small parcels after hours. This "mobile parcel locker" is a test and is accompanied by a human to make sure it doesn't kill all humans/get stolen. QUT robotics expert Peter Corke saw this and has a few questions: "How does it cross the road?", "how do you stop it from being picked up and put on a truck and taken away?". Then pithily judged it: "to require a robot and a human to deliver one parcel when one guy in a truck can deliver a number of parcels without a hitch is not worth it... at face value it doesn’t sound very useful". Pete sounds a bit harsh, but he's right. This mobile parcel locker doesn't seem like much more than a PR stunt from Australia Post.

266,631 people in Australia are IT workers

Stats from the 2016 Census are slowly trickling out and one that I thought was relevant to The Sizzle's audience is the amount of people who declared themselves as IT workers. Via a press release from the ITPA, I found out that there's 266,631 people who indicated on their census form that they do some form of IT job - roughly 1% of the Australian population and a 45% increase over 10 years. So there ya go, 266,631 fellow nerds and 266,631 people that should give me $5 a month to read The Sizzle.

Bose crowdfunding noise cancelling earbuds you wear to sleep

Bose have launched a crowd funding campaign for Sleepbuds. These earbuds use Bose's industry leading noise cancellation to "block sleep disturbing sounds like snoring, barking dogs, amorous neighbours, and road traffic through isolating eartips and soothing sounds tuned to mask the noise". Kinda weird that they're launching it on Indiegogo, it's not like Bose needs the startup cash. Apparently they chose crowdfunding as more of a beta test to see if anyone likes it. I also don't know why you can't use some $2 ear plugs for blocking out noise. These do have "soothing sounds" built in, and silent alarms that only you can ear, which I guess is nice, but if all you want is to shut up some barking dogs - ear plugs would get the job done, wouldn't they?

That's it, see ya tomorrow!