Issue 540

Tuesday, 12th December 2017
Just a heads up, the final issue of The Sizzle for 2017 will go out on the 22nd of December and will return for 2018 on Monday, the 8th of January. I'll be sending out a few "best of 2017" issues during that time, so if you get super bored over the holidays, I'll have some reheated content for ya to feast on.

In This Issue


Another HP driver that can be turned into a keylogger without you knowing

HP has been busted again, forgetting to turn off keystroke logging in a driver before installing it on all their laptops. Last time it was an audio driver that had the potential to harvest all your thoughts and passwords. Now it's a touchpad driver from Synaptics. All you have to do is change a registry key (which can be done via a PowerShell script) and the driver's associated software would capture all keystrokes to al log file. It's supposed to be for testing purposes whilst developing the driver, but the functionality wasn't removed from the production builds.

NSW TAFE still bleeding cash due to its busted student management system

In today's "government departments can't do IT stuff" news, TAFE NSW is still pissing away money due to botched IT systems. A few months ago it cut its losses on a $40m "Tribal student management system", then had to spend a further $10m on to get accountants in to track down $138m of missing course fees from 2014-15 that the system totally messed up. The NSW Audit Office announced today that NSW TAFE spent $6m again this year to "deal with issues in its student administration system and establish the integrity of its financial data" and that it will happen again next year too, as the new system they chose in October won't be ready until the 2018-2019 financial year.

Google releases 4 new photo/sticker apps

Google reallllyy likes photo apps, releasing three at once today. Storyboard (Android only) "takes video clips and automatically pulls out six frames which it lays out in a comic book-style template". Selfissimo! (iOS & Android) is "kind of like an automated black and white photo booth on your phone". Scrubbies (iOS only) "lets you remix videos, DJ-style by quickly scrubbing back and forth through a clip to create video loops". Google also released the cute AR Stickers app today (only on devices running Android 8.1), so you can place augmented reality stickers on surfaces, then share the pics with friends.

Miscellaneous Bitcoin news

The much hyped launch of futures trading of Bitcoin on the Chicago Board Options Exchange began yesterday, with around US$50m on futures contracts traded. What the christ are Bitcoin futures? Bloomberg explains, but it's basically betting on what you think will happen to the value Bitcoin. Weird, I know. Meanwhile, Bitcoin's transaction fees are spiking rapidly. To make sure your transaction goes through within 10 minutes, you'll need to pay ~US$17. Like I've said almost every day the past week, Bitcoin is a dud way to make purchases, it's all about storing wealth (aka digital gold without the ability to use the gold for anything practical).

Another politician caught liking Tweets they shouldn't and blaming hackers

Yet another politician's Twitter account has been "hacked". Ex-treasurer, now US ambassador, Joe Hockey was caught liking a tweet sledging the current Prime Minister, then claiming he was hacked and that the AFP is investigating. The same thing happened to Christopher Pyne and Greg Hunt, who on separate occasions claimed they were hacked too, after people noticed they liked some porno tweets. In this case, "hacked" probably means these dudes don't have 2FA turned on for their Twitter accounts (tsk, tsk) and used a weak password (tsk, tsk, tsk) some script kiddie (or Russian/Chinese) brute forced and decided to play a little prank.

Not News, But Still Cool

Linda Xie's Altcoin 101

To further placate the constant questions I get about investing in cryptocurrency, here's a great series of articles from Linda Xie explaining the various "alt-coins" - cryptocurrency that isn't Bitcoin. She details how cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Monero, Litecoin and the various other ones floating around are different to Bitcoin and what they're good for. Personally, if I was gonna mine/buy some of these, it would be Monero or Zcash. Their main purpose is to be truly anonymous, unlike Bitcoin. Drug dealers, gun runners and fraudsters will always want a way to transfer wealth around, so Monero or Zcash will always have a use with that crowd. I don't know if I'd sleep well at night knowing I'm investing in blood money, but I won't judge if you decide to.

AGL gives the Victorian government its 2c on electric cars

AGL has submitted its thoughts on electric car adoption to the Victorian state government electric vehicle inquiry. There's 5 things AGL reckons Victoria should do to get more EVs on the road - set a target for EV adoption to measure progress against, mandate that a percentage of Victorian government fleet cars are EVs, introduce stamp duty & registration concessions for EVs, allow EVs to use car pool lanes and plan and support more charging infrastructure. I couldn't have said it better myself - particularly the stamp duty concessions & improved charging infrastructure.

Thieve - Tinder for Aliexpress

My mate Derek told me about Thieve, which it pitches as Tinder for Aliexpress. There's a community of people (I don't know who these people are, they could be sockpuppets) unearthing the best stuff on Aliexpress and people vote on it and stuff. I like it. It needs a smartphone app though. I should really turn this into a segment of The Sizzle - Aliexpress/eBay item of the day. Anyways, if cheap crap from Aliexpress doesn't do it for ya, Derek has an online store called The Usual that sells classy as fuck tech accessories. Check it out for some Christmas gift ideas!

That's it, see ya tomorrow!