The Sizzle

Issue 436 - Monday, 17th July 2017


AlphaBay founder discovered dead in a Thai jail
Last week I mentioned that one of the dark web's largest marketplaces, AlphaBay is suspiciously offline. Over the weekend it came out that the dude who ran it was found dead in a Thai prison the day before he was supposed to be extradited to the US. Alexander Cazes, a 26 year old Canadian was suspected to be the founder of AlphaBay and the cops impounded four Lamborghini's and three houses worth about US$11.7m. Crime pays well until you hang yourself in prison and you're found with your face in the toilet.

Elon Musk tells US governors that AI is gonna kill us all unless its regulated now
Elon Musk spoke to a meeting of American's governors (think COAG here, but with 50 of the bastards instead of 6) to tell them that the biggest thread humanity faces is the risk that artificial intelligence becomes smarter than us and enslaves us. Then he talked about autonomous cars and that in 20 years, people who have a car that doesn't drive itself would be like owning a horse. Perfectly fine, but you aren't gonna ride that thing except for a bit of fun. You can watch the entire conversation between him and the governors on YouTube. It's weird seeing him get peppered with questions by these politicians, but I like it.

Make a phone call in Turkey, listen to propaganda before your call goes through
This time last year we were all looking at Turkey going "fuck me, what's going on there?" whilst the country was in the midst of an unsuccessful government coup. President Erdogan, who survived the coup, has come up with a very creepy way to remember the event. If you're on a Turkish cell network and you make a phone call, you have to hear a message from Erdogan before the call if put through. "As your president, I wish all of you a happy 15th of July Democracy and National Unity day, ask for blessings on our martyrs from Allah, and wish for health and happiness to our veterans" Turkish ISPs are doing the same thing on the internet, inserting Javascript into web traffic that overlays a popup video to commemorate the failed coup.

Light's L16 camera with 16 sensors and 16 lenses has begun shipping
Light has apparently started to ship the L16 camera to its first pre-order customers. The wacky looking camera was announced almost 2 years ago is about the size of a thick smartphone and has 16 image sensors and 16 fixed lenses. Instead of a traditional zoom lens, the L16 has a lens and sensor for each individual focal length. It also has its own ASIC together with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, for super fast and unique image processing (which you kinda need when it's compiling shots from 16 sensors at once). I can't wait for these to get in the hands of reviewers. I hope it doesn't suck.

Some HTC smartphone owners suddenly had ads pop up in their Android keyboard
Some of HTC's Android smartphones suddenly started display ads in the keyboard. By default, HTC includes the 3rd party TouchPal keyboard in some of its Android phones. An update in TouchPal introduced ads that sit just above the keys, where the predictive text stuff goes. HTC had no idea TouchPal did this and said that they are "working to immediately fix the error and remove the ads as quickly as possible". For now they're just telling people to uninstall TouchPal and use another keyboard. The ads are literally Google Adsense banners! How user hostile can you get? Scumfuckery on the highest level.


Cheap Raspberry Pi Zeroes and 100GB of Optus 4G for $70/m
Tech related bargains have been thin on the ground since the eBay sales stopped, but here's two decent finds. First, cheap Raspberry Pi Zeros. Core Electronics has the Zero for $10.48 and the Zero Wireless for $17.96, each including delivery. Second, cheap 4G data. Optus now has a 100GB plan for $70/m with no lock-in contract. Not bad if you move around a lot or your ADSL is absolute ratshit. The speed is uncapped too, unlike the wireless home broadband that costs about the same but has more data.

A realistic take on the government's plans for "banning math"
Patrick Gray, the host of the Risky Business podcast (an excellent info sec show), has written about the government's plans to "ban math". If you want to get a grip on what is actually being proposed without the hysteria, read it. Patrick's hypothesis is that the law is basically going to force tech companies to come up with a way of providing the government with messages sent with secure messaging apps. The government doesn't care how it's done, they just want the content of specific user's messages and will leave it up to the tech companies to figure out how they'll comply. That doesn't necessarily mean encryption is weakened, or that there's a backdoor hackers can take advantage of. That also doesn't mean it's a good idea.

The NBN irrationally hates fibre despite the rest of the world loving it
Here's another hot take about something stupid our government is doing. Associate Professor Mark Gregory wrote a 2-part take down of the propaganda piece NBN put up a fortnight ago about why Australia doesn't deserve fibre internet. Mark's first post compares the NBN to the rollout of natural gas to most homes in Australia, which wasn't that long ago and provided a large productivity boost. The second piece compares New Zealand's ability to significantly decrease the cost of installing fibre to each home with NBN's refusal to even acknowledge that fibre internet install costs are dropping, let alone implement the same cost savings our mates across the Tasman do.

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!