The Sizzle

Issue 429 - Thursday, 6th July 2017


ATO reboots mainframe to get myTax back online
That myTax outage is all good now. The ATO took "controlled action" and rebooted their mainframe and things are back to normal. Yep - they had to reboot a mainframe. That's what I do when I have no idea what's wrong with a system, I just reboot it. Apparently "this was caused by applications running incorrectly" no shit, that's generally what causes a computer to fuck up. Could you get any less informative than this statement? Why is it broken? Because it wasn't working properly. That isn't an answer you idiots!

Volvo: all our cars will be EV or hybrids by 2019
Volvo is the first "premium car maker" to say it'll stop producing internal combustion only engined cars. By 2019, all of Volvo's cars will be either pure electric or hybrids. I guess Volvo see the writing on the wall when it comes to the ICE cars and that refining that technology is a waste of time. The electric drive train is superior. Not that Volvo actually has any electric cars coming out any time soon, but still. At least they realise.

NSW schools struggling with outdated IT gear
The NSW Auditor-General has found that the state's schools are being held back due to a lack of IT investment. Computers in schools are more than 5 years old, wi-fi networks are "beyond the end of their useful life", nothing network related has been changed since 2009-2013 when the federal government handed out some cash and teachers had no access to state level funding for work related laptops or devices. Then there's the issue of teachers not knowing how to use any of the ICT stuff, which isn't that bad if there's a program and funding to train them, but guess what - there isn't! A sad and sorry state of affairs for the kids and teachers in the schools of Australia's most prosperous state.

The EU is looking into how it can encourage companies to make stuff last longer
The EU wants manufacturers to make stuff that lasts longer and can be repaired easily. They're sick and tired of shoddy gear that breaks down soon after purchase and is thrown out because it's cheaper to buy a new one instead of fixing it. Some ideas the EU is floating around to avoid this waste is making sure things like batteries in products are easy to replace, that customers can take the item to an independent repair shop that has proper OEM parts available and a way for the EU to test if a product has planned obsolescence so companies that deliberately make gear designed to fail can be dissuaded and punished not to do so.

AlphaBay offline, maybe permanently
If ya wanted to buy someone's Medicare details, too bad - AlphaBay, the most prominent dark web marketplace, has been offline since Wednesday morning. Admins haven't said shit and ~US$3.8m worth of Bitcoin left the site's account - signs of a classic exit scheme. When the heat gets slightly hot, take whatever users have held in escrow and get the fuck out. Maybe the people in charge of AlphaBay aren't too keen on the AFP poking its nose into their shit now that the Medicare thing went mainstream? Nah, it's probably just a cash grab. There are other dark web markets anyways, but none were as cool as AlphaBay.


Write ISOs to USB or SD cards easily with Etcher
Those of you working in the IT salt mines and installing fresh operating systems on bare metal computers will appreciate Etcher. It's a Mac (and Windows, but Rufus is better on Windows imho) app makes writing ISOs and IMG files to USB flash drives or SD cards really simple. Don't have to worry if the app supports a particular image, as long as the image is bootable itself, Etcher takes care of the rest.

Who made Microsoft's solitaire game?
Solitaire is a classic game. Who hasn't wasted hours of a workday with it and enjoying the cards flying around everywhere when you finish a game? I never wondered who made it, but this video popped up on YouTube and here he is, Wes Cherry. He did it as an intern at Microsoft in 1988 because he was bored and Microsoft included it as part of Windows as a way to improve people's mousing skills. The same channel has a few other cute videos on tech culture weirdness, like the origin of Comic Sans, that goddamn Dancing Baby and one of my favourite stupid things on the internet, Mukbangs.

NBN rants on its blog about why we don't deserve fibre internet
If you feel like ripping your hair out, read the NBN's latest blog post on why we can't have fibre internet in every home. It trots out all the usual excuses, pretty easily debunked. The main one is that Australia is huuuuge and not dense enough to justify the cost. Of course that also includes farms and outback stations, forgetting that Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world. NBN also tries to compare itself to Google Fibre, saying "well if Google can't do it, little old us in arse backwards Australia can't!" - disregarding the fact Google couldn't do it was mainly due to political lobbying from the incumbent telcos, something NBN (aka the government) doesn't need to worry about. What a sad sack of shit the NBN is to post garbage like this. If you want a proper explanation as to why every metropolitan home doesn't have a fibre internet connection already, this article by Rodney Tucker from the University of Melbourne is much less of a blatant piece of propaganda.

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!