In This Issue


Victoria to join NSW banning smartphones at school in 2020

The Victorian state government will join the NSW state government and to ban mobile phones in all schools starting in 2020. The education minister reckons they're not just distracting in class, but also intensify bullying. Smartphones will need to be kept in lockers from first to last bell, which I would have thought would already be the rule at basically any school that gives a crap? But I don't have kids, don't interact with kids and haven't stepped foot in a school for almost 17 years besides on election days to vote, so I have no moral or scientific basis to form an opinion let alone give one.

IT consultant busted for cracking wi-fi network and using info he got to buy & sell shares

Steven Oakes, an IT consultant from Sydney, has been sentenced to 3 years jail for "hacking" a financial publisher's wi-fi network and using the info he nicked to buy shares in businesses the publisher recommended before the recommendations were released. Old mate probably would have gotten away with it if he kept his activity limited, but he did 70 buys on 52 businesses, which ASIC noticed. Steve also made things worse by destroying evidence on his computer before handing it over to ASIC. Note to self, use secure erase before handing over computer to law enforcement.

OneDrive gets Personal Vault feature to keep your files even more secure

Microsoft's added a new Personal Vault feature to OneDrive - an area of your OneDrive storage where you can add an additional step of identity verification to access each time you access them. it's designed for files like copies of passports, identification cards, or more sensitive personal financial information. As an aside, anyone looking to ditch Dropbox because of the crappy new client and price increases should really check out OneDrive. You get 1TB free with a yearly Office 365 subscription (~$90/yr) and it's got pretty much every feature Dropbox has.

BMW brings forward plans for more EVs and shows off eco driving gamification system

BMW had a fancy event in Germany last night to let people know that plans for 25 "electrified models" (aka heaps of plug-in hybrids and a handful of pure EVs) by 2025 has been sped up and will happen by 2023 instead. What they didn't say is that the plans have sped up due to BMW's slowness to meet EU fleet CO2 emissions regulations that'll result in huge fines if they don't get a move on. They also demonstrated "myBMW points", a rewards system designed to encourage hybrid drivers to drive in EV mode instead of petrol mode, with bonus points for EV driving in "eDrive Zones" in city centres. Weird.

Apple still in the robocar game, acqui-hiring

Apple has confirmed it's purchased, a robocar startup that's operates in a very similar fashion to Waymo - picking people up and offering rides like Uber, but only in a small geographical area of Arlington, Texas. According to Axios, the reason Apple purchased this company was mostly to hire its engineers and subsume them into Apple's wider self-driving car efforts. I thought they gave up on that wild goose chase, but it looks like it's still going if they're willing to invest around US$70m (which let's be honest, is pocket change for Apple).

Not News, But Still Cool

How can you assess the quality of a monitor

All monitors display an image on a screen for your eyeballs to soak up, but as you probably already know, some monitors do it better than others. If you aren't sure how to determine a good monitor from an average monitor, Anandtech's explanation of how they test and benchmark laptop displays is a worthwhile read. It covers the connection between resolution (pixels per inch), colour space (Rec.2020, sRGB, etc.), panel technology (IPS, VA, TN, etc.) and the type of back-lighting (PWM, edge/full back-lighting) and how when combined, a monitor can be awesome, good value or just a dud.

How the hell does H.264 video compression work?

You might know H.264 as the codec your favourite TV shows and movies are compressed with, but do you know how it works? How the hell does it turn 370MB/sec of raw, uncompressed video into only 1MB/sec and still be incredibly legible? This blog post from Sid Bala goes into detail on all the visual tricks and fancy algorithms that H.264 uses to get the file size down to something our puny computers can handle. I can't really summarise it in 100 words and do the magic that is H.264 justice, so read the damn blog post Sid put so much time into.

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🎶 First It Giveth - Queens of the Stone Age

😁 The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers.

The Sizzle is created on Wathaurong land and acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, recognising their continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay my respect to them and their cultures and to elders both past and present.​