In This Issue


Apple & Google to turn their billions of devices into a COVID-19 contact tracing apparatus

The cold war between Apple and Google thawed out recently as they've paired up to develop a system for tracking the spread of COVID-19. iOS and Android devices will use Bluetooth-LE to record which phones your phone comes into contact with. If you test positive for COVID-19 those devices will receive a notification telling their owner they've been in contact with you recently. Apps made by health agencies will be able to use this contact tracing API in a few weeks (like the UK's NHS app), with the feature being added at an OS level to Android and iOS devices in the coming months. The Verge has good articles explaining what the privacy ramifications are and how the API works in practice.

US media classification body to include loot box warnings on videogames

In Australia we have the Classification Board to tell parents what videogames might warp their children's minds. The USA has the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and they've decided loot boxes in videogames are insidious enough that their presence deserves pointing out. So from now on, titles that contain "in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency (or with virtual coins or other forms of in-game currency that can be purchased with real world currency) for which the player doesn't know prior to purchase the specific digital goods or premiums they will be receiving (e.g., loot boxes, item packs, mystery awards)" will be labelled alongside the familiar "E/T/M/A" ratings.

Dutch weirdos set fire to comms towers as the 5G causes coronavirus conspiracy theory grows

Inspired by UK loonies, idiotic members of the otherwise sensible Dutch community have set fire to communications towers in Rotterdam, Liessel, Beesd and Nuenen. It's not known what the exact motivations for setting the towers alight are, but you could take a bloody good guess that it's likely due to the coronavirus is a symptom of 5G conspiracy theory going dangerously mainstream. The crazy idea seems to have been kicked off a Belgian doctor and now actors like John Cusack and Woody Harrelson are spreading it on social media, alongside Russian state-link media/trolls, RT. I've even had friends show me screenshots of their friends trying to warn them about 5G causing coronavirus, it's fucking crazy.

Not News

Why were old computers beige? German workplace regulations, probably

In the 80s and 90s almost every desktop computer was beige. The case, the monitor, the keyboards and mice - all goddamn ugly as hell beige. It wasn't until the late 90s and early 2000s when IBM wanted to differentiate itself from the cheap clones by making a sleek black computer (the NetVista) and Apple's iMac that the industry started to experiment with something other than bland old beige. Nostalgia Nerd made a pretty interesting 20 minute video trying to find out why. Spoiler: it was a mix of German workplace regulations and Asian part suppliers. Are ATX biege towers still a thing? Wouldn't mind chucking in a Ryzen 5 3600 into one of those old school boxes for a laugh.


🎶 Underworld - Brody Dalle

😁 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.​