The Sizzle

Issue 393 - Tuesday, 16th May 2017


The WannaCry saga continues
Articles about WannaCry are still filling up my RSS feeds at an insane rate. An anonymous infosec researcher managed to thwart the spread of WannaCry by registering a hardcoded domain name in the malware before the malware's owner did. But there's now new variants that get around it. Then the mainstream media doxxed the poor bloke. Microsoft has given its 2c on the whole fiasco, placing some of the blame on the NSA for not telling them earlier. Looks like WannaCry could have originated from North Korea and be related to that Sony hack in 2014 and the SWIFT banking heist last year. About 100 Australian companies are apparently at risk of getting WannaCry on their networks. Stratechery comes to an interesting conclusion that WannaCry exists because the way we pay/paid for software (up-front, once off) isn't conducive to on-going updates.

Judge tells Uber to return stolen documents to Waymo & keep Levandowski away from LiDAR
The judge in the middle of the Uber and Waymo dispute has ordered Uber to do "whatever it can to ensure that its employees return 14,000-plus pilfered files to their rightful owner" by May 31st and that Anthony Levandowski (the bloke responsible for the shit Uber is in now) is not to work on anything LiDAR related. I don't know how you return the stolen information to Waymo (as if they didn't have copies) and how you prevent them being unseen (as if Uber hasn't got copies floating around), but that's what the judge wants. The judge also wants Uber to tell the court every employee that saw or heard about the stuff Levandowski stole from Waymo on his way out. I don't know enough about America's legal system to know what happens next, but I assume there's gonna be a fat stack of cash going from Uber's investors to Waymo's bank account later this year.

ZeniMax cooked Facebook over Oculus, now going after Samsung
Also in the courthouse: ZeniMax, the previous employer of John Carmack, who went to work for Oculus at Facebook, is now suing Samsung over the Gear VR. Like it successfully (to the tune of US$500m) alleged with Facebook's purchase of Oculus, ZeniMax reckons Carmack did a lot of work to do with Oculus on ZeniMax's time and using its resources. The Gear VR uses some of the same code as the Oculus Rift, so naturally ZeniMax deserves a slice of that pie too. Meanwhile, Carmack is suing Zenimax back for money it owes him as a result of leaving the company that it withheld once legal action against his new employer, Faceboook begun. Oh and Palmer Luckey left Facebook a few weeks ago because they wouldn't let him cosplay (amongst other things). Morale must be high in the Facebook VR group.

A random assortment of Apple related news
Apple dropped iOS 10.3.2, tvOS 10.2.1, and macOS 10.12.5 today. Macworld explains what is new, but if you're too fucken lazy to read that, here's an even shorter summary: security fixes everywhere and macOS gets support for media-free installation of Windows 10 Creators Update using Boot Camp. Really, there's a lot of patches here you should install pronto. On the topic of Apple, they purchased Lattice Data for US$200m, who take unstructured "dark" data and turn it into structured data suitable for use in our primitive AI systems. Apple also threw the first $200m of its $1b US manufacturing fund into Corning (the company that makes Gorilla Glass), which Trump's administration reckons is a sign of confidence in his agenda.

Australia thinking of following US & ban laptops from cabin on certain flights
There's a lot of maybes in here, but possibly, laptops could be banned from the cabin on flights between Australia, Africa and the Middle East. Malcolm Turnbull said that they're keeping an eye on what the US is doing and might do the same. What is the US doing? Possibly banning laptops on flights from Europe, as well as Africa and the Middle East and potentially just banning laptops wholesale from the cabin of planes entering US air space. I hate using a laptop on a plane, so no big deal for me, but people reallllly like using their laptops in the air to get work done, so that's gonna be a massive pain in the arse and probably just another excuse for people not to visit the USA at all unless they have to.


No more BBC iPlayer for foreigners, an iExit if you will
Fans of BBC iPlayer who live outside the UK (like my wife), I have bad news. The BBC is cracking down on illegal use of iPlayer and now wants you to register an account, which it will eventually link to a UK TV licence, and shitcan your account if a link between your iPlayer account and a TV licence isn't found. You obviously can't get a UK TV licence if you don't live in the UK, so us foreigners enjoying iPlayer will soon be told to piss off - something the Poms seem to be a fan of lately. You'd think they'd want to monetise it further and just charge like, 5 quid a month or something for those outside the UK.

LaCie's Thunderbolt 3 dock is half-arsed
LaCie has a rather nifty looking Thunderbolt 3 dock with two built-in hard drives. On the front there's a normal USB 3.0 port and a CF/SD card reader. On the back are two more TB3 ports for daisy chaining, a USB 3.1 port and DisplayPort that'll do 2160p@60Hz. The HDDs come in a bunch of different capacities and are Seagate IronWolfs. Now for the downside - you can't charge your laptop off it (USB-C port only supplies 27W) and you can't buy it without any HDDs, so you're stung with the LaCie HDD tax. Why couldn't Lacie make the USB-C port output 85W or whatever it is the 15" MBP needs? It coulda been a contender, it coulda been great!

Schools across the world love Chromebooks
The New York Times has an interesting story about how Google's Chromebooks are shithot in the education market right now. They've totally displaced the iPad fad (probably a good thing to be honest) and decimated Microsoft's stranglehold on computers in schools. How did this happen? Chromebooks are a piece of piss to administer, so even a teacher moonlighting as IT support staff can manage them. Plus they're cheap, relatively robust and are hard for kids to fuck up (Chrome OS is basically just a web browser). The downside though, is are we comfortable with the world's largest advertising company having such a strong influence over swathes of vulnerable kids?

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers. Know someone who could use a bit of Sizzle in their life? Buy them a gift subscription!