The Sizzle

Issue 428 - Wednesday, 5th July 2017


myTax is offline indefinitely
myTax, the online tax lodgement system, was taken offline this afternoon due to "intermittent" issues. Dunno when it'll be back up, it's offline indefinitely. Stay tuned to the ATO's social media outlets to know when you can submit your tax return. Nice work everyone, perfect timing too, 5 days into tax return season. How incompetent can ya get? Is there anyone at the ATO that knows how to set up a service used by, in the world scheme of things, relatively few people? Or has everyone that knows the difference between RAID and a backup left the joint?

Optus's DNS servers crapped themselves last night
Optus users may have noticed that their internet connections stopped working last night. This was due to a DNS failure that hit fixed line and wireless users in NSW, VIC and the ACT for about an hour between 9:30pm and 10:30pm. They don't know what happened, but yeah, no DNS means you're gonna have a bad time online. If you can't resolve domain names to IP addresses, even though the physical infrastructure is working, your stupid web browser has no idea how to get to those fancy websites you love so much. The fact I'm mentioning a 1hr Optus outage just shows you how little there is to talk about today due to the USA's long independence day weekend.

Aussie bricklaying robot gets $2.3m of funding from Caterpillar
Fastbrick Robotics, a Perth based company, has received a $2.3m investment from Caterpillar to "collaborate on development, manufacture, and sales" of its bricklaying robot. Here's a video from 2016 of Fastbrick's Hadrian 105 robot doing its thing. It's kinda like a 3D printer, but instead of spaghetti thin rolls of plastic, it places bricks down in layers. Fastbrick reckon it'll only take 2 days to lay the bricks for a 4 bedroom home and do a better job. The investment will probably be used to build a proper prototype that they can send out to building sites and get the first home built using the machine. Good luck to them, bring on the robot brickies.

Facebook is fighting for its right to alert users when a warrant has been served for their data
Facebook has been alerting some users when the cops want to dig into their accounts and as you'd expect, the cops are not happy about it. Over three months, Facebook received three search warrants for users of its service, apparently these were supposed to be secret, but Facebook is debating in court that the First Amendment rights of these users are more important than the non-disclosure agreement contained in the warrant and that Facebook is allowed to tell the users shit is going down so that the users have an opportunity to object. Tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Snap, Dropbox and Twitter have filed briefs in support of Facebook too. It's nice to see Facebook grow a spine. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?

The most popular smartphone game in China has placed time limits on its use for under 18s
The smartphone game Honor of Kings is huge in China, with over 200 million users, that include loads of kiddies who just can't get enough of it. Addiction to this game is so severe, that Tencent, the creators of Honor of Kings, are putting in time limits for users under 18 years old. "Players under the age of 12 will be limited to one hour of playing per day and will be blocked from accessing the game after 9PM" and "users between 12 and 18 years old will have a two-hour daily limit". Tencent lost ~US$17.5b of value on the stockmarket as the state run newspaper in China called the game a poison drug that is harming teens. Not a good look.


Tesla Model 3 queue estimator
Cheers to Luke Oliver for emailing me a link to this website that'll tell ya where you are in the queue for a Model 3. Pop in when you reserved it, if you own one already, the battery size you're after and where you live and it'll spit out an approximate date as to when your beautiful Model 3 should be ready for pickup. Luke's is coming on the 26th of September 2018. If I ordered one now, I'd probably get it on the 18th of Feb 2019. Hmmm.

How do electric cars work?
On the topic of electric cars - what are they and how do they work? It isn't black magic invented by Elon Musk who gifts it us mere mortals because he feels sorry for us. No, it's straight up sweet engineering. This video explains in a relatively simple way how electric cars work compared to internal combustion engines. It even goes over things like how the batteries are cooled, regenerative braking (one pedal driving) and replacing a limited slip differential with software that controls the power output delivered to each wheel. Makes the ICE look so archaic.

The IEEE chip hall of fame
This is extremely nerdy, but the IEEE has updated their chip hall of fame. It's a walk through all the microprocessors and ICs that have literally, changed our lives. There's the TA2020 which gave us cheap, excellent sounding audio, the ARM1 which is responsible for the smartphone and the STA2056 a cheap and small GPS receiver that enabled plebs like us to know our exact position on Earth. There's the classics too, like the Z80 (I had to study this at uni and found it too hard and dropped out, hah), the MOS6502, Intel's 8088, Toshiba's NAND, the 555 timer and heaps more that any electronics enthusiast will recognise and go "ahh yes, that's a good chip". All hail the transistor!

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!