The Sizzle

Issue 440 - Friday, 21st July 2017

Final reminder - the Sizzle Melbourne meetup is this Sunday! 23rd July, 1:30pm, Boatbuilder's Yard. If you're coming, chuck a post up on the forum to let me know. See ya on Sunday!


DoJ outlines its AlphaBay takedown & Dutch honeypot
The US Justice Department has made an announcement of its takedown of AlphaBay. Apparently, when the Thai cops first arrested Alex Cazes (AlphaBay's founder), they found his laptop open, in an unencrypted state and logged in to AlphaBay. Talk about a smoking gun. How'd they find Cazes in the first place? He used a Hotmail email address to send out invitations to the site 3 years ago. Oops. What's most fascinating about this story though, is Hansa Market. Once AlphaBay was shut down, Dutch police got access to an alternative darkweb market called Hansa and ran it as a honeypot to capture AlphaBay refugees looking for a new market to trade on. The US and Dutch police are very happy with their work in taking these hives of scum and villainy down.

Elon Musk tweets he has approval to build Hyperloop between NY & DC, but doesn't
Elon Musk has been tweeting about how he's received "verbal govt approval" to build a Hyperloop tunnel between New York and Washington DC. A 30 minute journey from New York to DC is huge news, right?! Well... no. All Musk has got is someone at the Whitehouse (remember, he's friendly with Trump's admin) to say "yeah, that sounds good mate". That's it. Nobody in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Yrok or Washington DC has even heard about this proposal. This is probably just Elon hyping up the Hyperloop (heh) so it makes it harder for the state and local governments involved to say no.

Machine learning dongles for ya AI infused IoT dingus
One of Intel's subsidiaries, Movidius, are selling a US$79 "Neural Compute Stick". It's a USB dongle with a Myriad 2 Vision Processing Unit onboard. The same VPU is installed on FLIR thermal cameras, DJI drones, security cameras and VR headsets. Apparently you can get "more than 100 gigaflops of performance within a 1W power envelope" with this thing. I have no idea how you use it, but I'm sure people smarter than me might find it useful to use in their fancy apps instead of a power hungry GPU. It'll plug in to a Raspberry Pi and work with the Pi's camera, for example. Intel has a video explaining what it's good for and how to set it up.

Most of the tech industry sides with Apple in its fight against Qualcomm's high licence fees
The Apple vs. Qualcomm saga continues, with Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook, as well as Taiwanese electronics manufacturers Foxconn, Compal, Pegatron and Wistron all backing Apple in its claims that Qualcomm charges too much to licence its patents. That's basically the entire industry right there saying, "fuck you Qualcomm, we've had enough of your shit". Qualcomm have even admitted that this legal fight with Apple is gonna hit them in the hip pocket. Their Q3 financial results saw a steep decline in revenue - a 40% drop year over year as Apple stops paying royalties on Qualcomm's patents while this mess is sorted out.

Optus to drop $1b on improving regional mobile network
Optus is planning to spend $1b on improving its regional mobile coverage. Optus will build 500 new mobile sites across regional and remote parts of Australia - 114 of em funded by the Federal Government's Mobile Blackspots Program. More than 1800 sites will get 4G upgrades and 200 will get capacity upgrades. It should all be done by mid-2018. No doubt this is simply a way for Optus to remain relevant when TPG roll out their mobile network. Cities will be 4 networks to choose from, but if you want decent regional coverage, TPG isn't gonna be much use. Improved regional coverage gives Optus a boost compared to TPG and Vodafone.


The iPhone is too popular for Apple to do cool stuff with
There's an interesting theory going around that Apple will make a super high end iPhone, in relatively limited numbers, that'll cost a bomb. The iPhone is stupidly popular - Apple sold 78.3m iPhone 7s in the 3 months following its release. 78 million! When Apple decide to include a certain sensor, or technology in the iPhone, they have ot think "can we actually make 80-100 million of these things?", something other OEMs kinda don't need to worry about for a single device. Samsung sold about 20m in Galaxy S8s in that same time frame. Apple might want to include fancy displays or unique sensors to one-up their competition, but can't because it's just not possible to make so many. How do you combat that? Charge more money for a special version that won't sell as much, but still be insanely profitable. I love it, give me the bourgeois iPhone!

Bosch demos level 3 robocar
Bosch has been taking a few journos for a ride in its modded Tesla Model S that is capable of level 3 autonomy. Bosch's Tesla has had its autopilot system ripped out and replaced with Bosch's self driving kit: six radar units, six lidar scanners, and a forward-facing stereo video camera. The UI on the big console touchscreen and the speedo/dash area has been replaced with Bosch's vision of how a self-driving car should work. It even has a gaze-sensing camera that looks at the driver's eyes and can detect if they're paying attention or not. All this allows the car to drive itself along a highway to the point where the drive need not pay attention. Make sure you watch the embedded video in the link. There's an argument to be made is level 3 autonomy is actually useful, but I still reckon this is cool.

There's 3 eBay sales going at the same time and I can't keep up
eBay currently has *three* sales going at the same time. First there's 20% off selected Click & Collect retailers (the discount still applies even if you don't use Click & Collect, hah), then there's 20% off "toys and games" sale, which includes a lot of electronics stores and finally, 10% off the entire site for purchases over $75. Normally I'd be all over this so I could pimp my affiliate link, but I haven't time to scavenge around eBay yet! I'll probably send out an email Saturday afternoon with some highlights. That 10% off sale ends Sunday night by the way. iPads are particularly cheap, like this 64GB 10.5" iPad Pro for $830.89.

Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

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!