Issue 818

Monday, 18th February 2019
This 3,500 word blog post is the result of a brief existential crisis I went through over the weekend whilst trying to come up with a plan to get more people to read The Sizzle. It's kinda boring, but if you're really desperate to see how my brain ticks in regards to growing The Sizzle's audience, check it out.

In This Issue


Libs, Nats & ALP got hacked by a "sophisticated state actor"

The Prime Minister confirmed today that a "sophisticated state actor" is responsible for that hack that resulted in all of the users at Australian Parliament House to get their passwords reset, and that the networks of the Liberals, Labor, and Nationals were "affected" by that same hacker. Poor Greens, not even relevant enough to get hacked by the Chinese. Anyway, the PM went on to say that there's no evidence of any electoral interference and that the ACSC and ASD have everything under control. This "hack" is so vague, I don't know why you'd even bother saying anything except to ramp up the fear mongering in the lead up to an elect.. oh, yeah, of course.

UK government report calls American social media companies digital gangsters

The UK government has released a report into "Disinformation and fake news", coming to the conclusion that social media, and Facebook in particular need to be regulated, saying that "the rights of the citizen need to be established in statute, by requiring the tech companies to adhere to a code of conduct written into law by Parliament, and overseen by an independent regulator". The report also called out Facebook, saying they "often deliberately sought to frustrate our work, by giving incomplete, disingenuous and at times misleading answers to our questions". The social media companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter were even referred to as "digital gangsters" by the committee. It's a great piece of fist thumping, but let's see what the UK government does to make these pricks pay.

NBN to ramp up HFC installs and FTTC costs more than they thought

NBN's half year results are out, giving us a look at how Australia's largest civil works project is tracking. The first bit of good news is that "by the end of this month, all the HFC premises that were subject to the sales pause in late 2017 are expected to be ready to connect again". The second bit of good news is that FTTC installs are ramping up too. HFC and FTTC is a large chunk of the metropolitan NBN footprint, so better internet is on the way for most Australians at last! The bad news is that FTTC is not as cheap as NBN planned - coming in at an average of $3058 per premise. To put this into perspective, NBN said that an FTTP install was around $4400 back in 2016 and in New Zealand, they got FTTP done for under $3,000 per premise back in 2015!

Rivian scores large investment from Amazon to build fancy electric utes

Rivian, the Tesla of electric utes, confirmed that Amazon has decided to invest as part of a US$700m funding round along with getting more money from existing shareholders. No other details about the investment in the official announcement beyond Amazon's involvement and that the total investment raised was US$700m, but you gotta wonder what Amazon's game is here. Are they going move into the car market? Or are they just impressed with the prototype (as is the entire auto industry) and want to get in on the ground floor? Either way, I can't wait until Rivian gets production going of their EV utes in late 2020. Not that I'd ever buy a ute, but more just to prove to people it can be done and they're better than a combustion motor.

Samsung will stop selling Blu-ray players in the USA

Samsung is done selling Blu-ray disc players in the USA, as not even the delicious visuals of a 4K Blu-ray are enough to convince people to buy these things. According to Nielsen, "only 66 percent of TV watching households have one (DVD/Blu-ray player) now, compared to 72 percent the year before. Nielsen also says the average US adult spends just 5 minutes a day — by far the least of any screen activity — using a Blu-ray or DVD player". You can get streaming stuff in 4K now, which is nice and a big reason why nobody's buying Blu-rays, but 4K Blu-rays look better I reckon. Also in Australia, good luck streaming 4K on most internet connections - so I think Samsung will probably still sell the players for a while longer here.

Not News, But Still Cool

Waymo could end up like Xerox if it isn't careful

Arstechnica compares Waymo's attempts to build and sell a self-driving car to Xerox's struggle to build and sell a computer with a graphical user interface back in the 70s. If for some reason you don't know the story of Xerox and the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), it's basically the precursor to modern computing, released to the world way before its time at a price most people couldn't afford and ultimately was overtaken by a scrappy little startup called Apple. Waymo seems to be in a similar position that by focusing on the end goal (full blown robocars on demand), they're ripe to be usurped by a more nimble startup that makes cash and gains R&D momentum off the limited robocar technology available now (e.g: local delivery carts, sub-40km/h driving). A very legit hypothesis.

Women were the majority of programmers in the 60s & 70s, what happened?

Back in the 60s and 70s, computer programming was considered a task best suited for women due to their generally superior logic and puzzle solving skills. But by the 90s, the majority of people calling themselves computer programmers were men. What the hell happened? This article in New York Times blames it on the horrible "culture fit" phenomenon. It started off in the 80s when "managers began picking coders less on the basis of aptitude and more on how well they fit a personality type: the acerbic, aloof male nerd". Then by the 90s, "because almost everyone in charge was a white or Asian man, that was the model for whom to hire; managers recognized talent only when it walked and talked as they did". That's only starting to change now, very slowly, in some areas.

Cheap Sony action cam, Alienware 34" monitor, Telstra SIM only plans, RTX2080 GPU, Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones and Xiaomi e-scooters

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

 10 A.M. Automatic - The Black Keys