The Sizzle

Issue 336 - Tuesday, 21st February 2017


Kim Dotcom is getting extradited to the USA, or is he?
New Zealand's High Court has decided to give Kim Dotcom's arse over to the yanks - but for fraud, not copyright infringement. The judge said that NZ has no equivalent copyright laws that would allow Kim Dotcom and his mates to be shipped off to the USA, but the USA charged him with other stuff, like money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud, which you can be extradited for. So time's up for Kim yeah? Off he goes to federal pound me in the arse prison? Well not quite - the US Supreme court said that copyright infringement isn't fraud, so.. maybe he won't be extradited? Kim Dotcom's lawyers have of course appealed the decision.

ATO clamps down on the R&D tax incentive, startups pissing their pants
A popular rort for Aussie startups is to claim a tax break for research and development. This R&D Tax Incentive is designed to make sure proper research and development happens here, rather than overseas, but most startups just claim a bunch of programmers that aren't necessarily inventing anything new. This sort of thing has gone on unchecked, but not any more. The ATO will be contacting companies that have claimed this tax incentive and checking that what they're doing meets the requirements. It sounds good at face value, cracking down on tax cheats, sweet - but it was actually one of the very few things the government did (by turning a blind eye to it) that aided startups. This won't go down well in the elaborately furnished man-child playground offices of inner Sydney and Melbourne.

Government seems to not give a damn about the AU games industry
A year ago, the Greens led a report into the status of the Australian games industry. It found a vibrant, profitable industry that just needed a little government boost in order to flourish. The government however, has ignored this report. Not a single response to any of the recommendations generated by the 111 submissions and 22 public hearings on this topic. Extremely disappointing. The government (well they at least were) talking about the ideas boom and how Australia's future is tied to technology and creativity - yet they do fuck all to support the gaming industry and joined with the crack down on the R&D tax incentive, just show how little real value they place on this type of work. Instead the government is busy bringing lumps of coal into parliament and saying how we should leverage this dirty brown rock. Fuckwits.

Apple submits its 14 reasons why it shouldn't have to pay Ireland any back taxes
And on the topic of taxes, Apple has submitted a 14-point appeal to the European Commission's claim that it's a filthy tax dodger and needs to cough up US$14b to Ireland. The crux of Apple's argument is that it was all legit and that if you have an issue with the laws, you are the law, so change it. Apple then goes on to show how everyone is doing it and it's unfair Apple has been picked on, that the EC made some mistakes in calculating the amount Apple owes to Ireland and that it wants the EC to pay Apple's legal bills. I really have a hard time sympathising with the world's largest company over how it has or hasn't paid its taxes. Even if they're 100% correct and the EC fucked up, I still have no sympathy for them.

Uber get a former US Attorney General to find out why they're such bastards
Uber have managed to muster up a half decent response to the poor treatment of Susan Fowler. Travis Kalanick sent a memo out to staff saying that they will get a former US Attorney General to look in to what Susan said, together with board member Ariana Huffington (yeah, the founder of the Huffington Post) and Uber's current head of HR. I guess a former Attorney General would know how to get some truth out of people - or be really good at spinning shit, like a lot of lawyers. So far Uber is saying the right words, let's see what happens with this investigation.


Old CRT displays are a huge e-waste problem
There's a lot of old TVs and computer monitors just sitting in warehouses across the USA. Over 100,000 tons of them sit in just 2 warehouses in Ohio. These cathode ray tubes are practically worthless. The cost to extract any valuable materials out of them is more than what the materials are worth. 705 million of the bastards were sold in the US alone since 1980. Now they're all getting disposed of as people upgrade and want those big ugly boxes out of their house and because they're practically worthless, just sit idle in warehouses across America as even exporting them to 3rd world countries is cost prohibitive. The main issue seems to be the lead lined glass, which is very hazardous to whoever is dismantling it.

Ford finds that level 3 robocars will probably cause more accidents
A level 3 self driving car is like, 90% autonomous. Most of the time the car does everything, you you still gotta pay attention for that last 10% where a human has to take over. The problem with level 3 autonomy, according to Ford, is that it's so damn boring, you keep falling asleep - which is bad because if you're asleep when the car needs you to take over, you're screwed. Alarms and beeps and vibration don't do anything to help either. So instead of worrying about achieving level 3 autonomy, they're gonna go direct to level 4 - where the car will do better than a human anyways, so even if you were awake and alert, you'd probably have fucked it up and died anyways.

A fond memory of whipping llama asses
Who remembers WinAmp? David Gerard also remembers WinAmp and tries to find out what happened to it. Like, does it still exist? Why did we stop using it? It was great! In the process of finding that out, we get a nice little history of a fondly remembered program. Ultimately, WinAmp fell out of favour, predominately because AOL fucked it up after purchasing Nullsoft, the original creators of WinAmp. That said, the last version, released in 2013, still works fine, if you're nostalgic and foobar2000 doesn't do it for ya.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Like it on Facebook!