Issue 733

Thursday, 27th September 2018

There will be no Sizzle tomorrow whilst I celebrate my holy day - the AFL Grand Final (seriously, it's a public holiday in Victoria). See ya Monday!

In This Issue


New stand-alone Oculus headset, the Quest

Oculus has a new piece of kit - the Quest. It's an all-in-one headset like the Go (no PC or smartphone required), but with more grunt and extra features. 1600x1440 displays per eye, 64GB of onboard storage and built-in headphones, but no info on the GPU powering it all. The big feature of the Quest is "six degrees of freedom", which it does via "four ultra-wide-angle sensors and advanced computer vision algorithms to track your position in real time" and the two hand controllers. There will be over 50 games at launch for the Quest, including popular VR titles like Superhot, Robo Recall, The Climb, and Moss. There will even be a "three-part cinematic Star Wars "6DOF" experience, centered around Darth Vader" that sounds kinda cool. The Oculus Quest will ship in "spring 2019 for US$399" (so our autumn, for ~$600 inc tax).

Facebook still being dodgy with "shadow profiles"

Researchers have found that Facebook uses the phone numbers provided for 2-factor authentication, along with the entire contents of user's shared contacts to identify individuals for advertising purposes. So for example: "if User A, whom we'll call Anna, shares her contacts with Facebook, including a previously unknown phone number for User B, whom we'll call Ben, advertisers will be able to target Ben with an ad using that phone number" and "when a user gives Facebook a phone number for two-factor authentication or in order to receive alerts about new log-ins to a user’s account, that phone number became targetable by an advertiser within a couple of weeks". These are called "shadow profiles" and in my opinion, is classic Facebook behaviour. What sucks is that people hand over this info not knowing the risks. I think by now it's obvious to most nerds, but that's it.

Amazon really, really, really doesn't want its workers to unionise

Gizmodo has come into ownership of a video used by Amazon to train team leaders how to spot employees trying to form a union and how to stop it from happening. One of the signs they try alert team leaders to be aware of is for employees asking about "a living wage" - according to Amazon, anyone using that phrase is a union hack. Then they go on saying that team leaders should counter those discussions with how unions don't allow for innovation, or what's best for the customer and are a bad idea. I know this isn't necessarily tech related, but Amazon is a huge tech company and to see them so vehemently trying to stomp out workers trying to work together for their interests really gives me the shits. Tesla (and so many other businesses in the US) does the same thing, actively trying to extinguish any attempt by workers to band together and make life better for themselves.

Uber fined US$148m for data breach impacting 57m users

Remember when hackers got the info of 57m Uber users and blackmailed Uber to give them $100,000 or they'll make it public and Travis Kalanick covered it up, but when he was sacked for being a prick, the new CEO disclosed it to regulators? Well now Uber has "reached an agreement with the attorneys general of all 50 states and the District of Columbia to resolve their legal inquiries on this matter" - a US$148m fine. California's Attorney-General said that "Uber's decision to cover up this breach was a blatant violation of the public’s trust. The company failed to safeguard user data and notify authorities when it was exposed. Consistent with its corporate culture at the time, Uber swept the breach under the rug in deliberate disregard of the law". Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of people.

Walmart's making it mandatory for suppliers to put lettuce and spinach on the blockchain

Surely inspired by the Commonwealth Bank's brave decision to put almonds on the blockhain, Walmart is gonna put lettuce, spinach and other greens on a blockchain too. They're gonna be using IBM's Food Trust blockchain and "will require its direct suppliers of lettuce, spinach and other greens to join its food-tracking blockchain by Jan. 31. The retailer also will mandate that farmers, logistics firms and business partners of these suppliers join the blockchain by Sept. 30, 2019" - basically, if you aren't coughing up cash to IBM to use its over-engineered and overpriced database, you can't do business with Walmart. IBM reckons its blockchain will "help the industry create a more complete picture of the food system" and "speed up and improve the accuracy of recalls when food-borne illness or other problems emerge". I'm sure it will, but not because of blockchain, but because someone's finally taking the time to digitise all this shit and "blockchain" is simply the buzzword that brings in the dollars from an executive who saw it on a giant billboard at the airport.

Not News, But Still Cool

20 min explainer of Tesla's current quagmire

Bloomberg's Decrypted podcast (no relation) has a great episode about the financial and regulatory mess Tesla has found itself in due to Elon's infamous "funding secured at $420" tweet. Tesla's stock price has fallen 20% and there's investigations by the SEC and DOJ, which when combined with Tesla's need to raise capital to build a factory in China and develop new models (the truck & an SUV version of the Model 3), it paints a tough scenario for Elon to work through. But, if anyone can, it's old mate Elon. The podcast also makes an interesting comparison between Steve Jobs' reality distortion field and Elon's rabid fanboys. Never thought of that, but it's eerily similar.

Cloudflare has been very busy with lots of internet infrastructure related announcements

Cloudflare's been really busy the past week or so, launching heaps of new products and initiatives. They have announced an IPFS gateway, easier ways for users to utilise SNI & DNSSEC to improve online security, peering arrangements with heaps of hosting companies/CDNs to lower the cost of bandwidth, and something to do with Onion/Tor that I don't really understand but looks cool. While I appreciate what Cloudflare is doing with internet infrastructure (making it easier, cheaper and more modern), this kinda smells like Facebook and Google's "do a lot of cool free/cheap shit for people, then fuck em when we have near 100% market share" approach. Not that I'd stop using Cloudflare's services (like I said, they're easy, cheap and modern), but just something to keep in the back of your head next time to hand your domain over to Cloudflare.

Cheap 22" TVs, Nokia 3 smartphones, PS4 controllers & Battlefield 1

That's it, see ya Monday!

Rage Against The Machine - Born of a Broken Man