Issue 1286 - Tuesday 19th January, 2021

In Today's Issue

The News

US government weighs in on Australia's media bargaining code, doesn't like it

The US government has officially submitted its opinion to an inquiry assessing the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. The yanks are shitty about us hobbling two of their most profitable businesses, saying that the code is "fundamentally imbalanced", the collective bargaining aspect is a "a departure from broadly accepted competition principles" and "respectfully request that Australia reconsider whether legislation is needed". They even argue the proposed code will go against article 20.5 of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement which "requires Australia and the United States to provide for appeals against administrative or bureaucratic decisions". The inquiry starts hearings on Friday, so expect news on this topic to ramp up a bit while the politicians sling shit at each other about it.

Pocket Casts is up for sale as US public radio owners run it into the ground financially

The consortium of US public radio organisations that purchased Pocket Casts off Adelaide-based Shifty Jelly back in 2018 are now looking to flog it off. One of the owners, NPR, revealed in its financial statements that Podcast Media (the company that owns Pocket Casts now) was responsible for a US$812,129 loss the past year - and that's just NPR's share. The app is still awesome and I use it all the time as its one of the few cross-platform podcast apps around (web, iOS, Android, it works! The web player is fantastic actually, I use it often), so fingers crossed this doesn't mean it ends up dying a slow death and is left to rot. I know how it feels to have something you worked on get purchased with the promise of bigger and better things, only for those plans never to materialise and ruin any chance of a legacy.

Parler finds someone to host its hate, while ProPublica uses Parler data to build a video timeline of the insurrection

Epik, the fine folk responsible for giving Gab, 8chan and The Daily Stormer a home on the internet, have extended their talents to Parler. The site still isn't up, but the CEO of Parler posted a message saying they'll be back online soon (without smartphone apps avaialble via Apple or Google). The notorious DDoS-Guard (who count Hamas among their customer list) is also involved, protecting Parler from DDoS attacks. Also in Parler-land, ProPublica was able to make a detailed video timeline of events at the Capitol building attack, thanks to the large cache of data secured by members of the public before Parler was ripped offline by Amazon. This is some Person of Interest style shit right here.

Something I Saw On The Internet

What's inside an Amazon Echo Flex? Glad you asked!

Electronupdate has done a nice tear down of the Amazon Echo Flex - a US$15 device that plugs in to any power outlet and gives that room the magic that is the Alexa voice assistant. The author notes that the Mediatek MT8516B SoC inside only costs a few dollars yet "in the year 2000 that level of processor power would put it at the very top of the very fastest super computer.... in 2020 so cheap that I did not even power this chip on for more than a few minutes before I did a destructive analysis". Marvel at how something so complex is such a commodity now. Same author also tests if the Echo Flex's mic mute button actually mutes the mic - good news is that yes, it actually does physically cut power to the mic when pressed. The entire blog is fun to browse. I spent an entire morning gawking at the insides of cheap microprocessors!

Bargains

The End

📻 Godless - The Dandy Warhols

😎 The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon.

💬 Did you know that The Sizzle has a Slack group? Join in and chat with other subscribers like you.

💳 Paid subscriber looking to manage your billing info? Visit the customer portal.

🌐 Use my affiliate link to purchase a subscription to NextDNS. It's basically all the ad-blocking and logging of Pi-Hole, combined with the fancy protocols and security of Cloudflare's DNS service all rolled into one! I don't use the internet without it.

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.‚Äč