Issue 549

Monday, 8th January 2018

The Sizzle is back for 2018!

In This Issue


CES 2018 - Day 1

CES 2018 kicked off a few hours ago, with journalists getting their first run through the Las Vegas Convention Center. Here's what I thought was interesting:

There's a huge security flaw in practically every modern CPU

The biggest news that happened whilst I was ignoring tech news was the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. They're insanely complicated, but simply put, due to a flaw in practically every CPU made in the past decade (Intel, AMD and ARM), nefarious apps or even websites can read the full contents of your computer's memory, despite not having permission to that part of the memory. This is bad because stuff stored in memory usually isn't encrypted, so things like passwords, private keys and other data become ripe for stealing. If protecting against this sorta thing is your job, go read some proper information on it, but if you're just a pleb computer user, the usual regime applies - patch your operating system ASAP and use the latest version of apps. There's no known attacks using these vulns in the wild, but it's only a matter of time until someone tries.

Apple tries to save face, offering $39 battery replacements for old iPhones

Just before The Sizzle took a holiday, Apple admitted they were slowing down older iPhones in order to protect the battery. Replace the battery and your iPhone becomes fast again. Problem is, you can't (well you can, but most people won't wanna do that) replace the battery yourself and Apple charged a small fortune to replace it for you. As a good will gesture, Apple has lowered the price of battery replacements to A$39 for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later (so no iPhone 5s battery replacements). Apple's website hasn't got info on the program yet, but it's coming soon according to the press release they put out.

Innocent man dies because two jerks got into a fight over a Call of Duty game

A bloke in Witchita was shot by police due to some arsehole kid in Los Angeles "swatting" him. A feud over a Call of Duty game between two people escalated and one of those involved contacted Tyler Rai Barriss, a "professional" swatter - that is, someone who calls 911, pretends to be in trouble and the police send over a SWAT team to the address Tyler gives. In this case, Tyler was given the wrong address of someone to SWAT, the cops took it too far and shot this innocent guy in front of his family. That's right, a man was killed in front of his kids, by the police, because of a Call of Duty game. Tyler is currently being held in an LA jail before his extradition to Kansas (where the murder he was responsible for happened).

SA govt sacks the team who made Alert SA as it was useless when people needed it most

The South Australian government paid Ripe Intelligence around $250,000 to make the "Alert SA" app, which tells people about bad stuff going down near them, like bushfires and floods. Unfortunately, the app sucks and the SA government has cancelled the contract with Ripe. Alert SA didn't work for hours, twice, during bushfire events and heatwaves - the exact time you kinda want this app to work. I remember this initially happening with the Victorian emergency app too. I guess its too much to ask for these sorta apps to work properly when they're made available to the public?

Not News, But Still Cool

A peek inside Geekbuying's warehouse

Ever wondered what the warehouses of all those Chinese cheap crap retailers (Gearbest, Banggood, Deal Extreme, etc.) look like? Wonder no more! Here's a video tour of Geekbuying's warehouse, where they store the goods they sell, then pack them up and send them to you on the other side of the world. It's not as exciting as I thought it'd be. It's just a room full of boxes and people putting stuff in boxes.

What can you do with a Google Home Mini?

With all the cheap Google Mini units around lately (like Harvey Norman selling two of em for $74!), it's no surprise people are just buying them then figuring out what to do with them later. Like me. I still haven't really found any use for it in my life, but Kristine Michelle Howard has. She's written a nice post about she does with her Google Home and Google Mini. Maybe that'll give ya a bit of inspiration for how you can use your little panopticon trojan horse.

Dell's XPS 13 gets a mild update with new quad-core 8th-gen Intel CPUs

There's a new version of the Dell XPS 13 on sale. It gets the wonderful new 8th-gen Intel CPUs (i5-8520U or i7-8550U), which is wonderful because it brings 4-cores to the 15W chip segment. Perfect for someone like me who uses a lot of virtual machines on their desktop. Other than that, it's pretty much the XPS 13 we know and love, but available in White too. They're well priced too starting at $1699, but get even cheaper when eBay has a sale going. If I wasn't a Mac tragic and needed a new laptop, this is probably what I'd get.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!