The Sizzle

Issue 468 - Wednesday, 30th August 2017


Google announces an augmented reality SDK for Android
There's a lot of hype (maybe justified?) around Apple's augmented reality developer framework, ARKit, coming very soon with iOS 11. Google wants in on that action too, so they announced their own set of developer tools for creating augmented reality experiences - ARCore. Google's blog post announcing the beta SDK explains that Android runs on billions of devices and that ARCore will work on over 100 million Android smartphones by the end of the beta period. To an augmented reality layperson like me, it looks practically identical to the stuff developers have been doing with Apple's ARKit beta. Augmented reality tape measures and cute robots for everyone!
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FDA urges owners of a St. Jude pacemaker to upgrade its firmware
The FDA has issued an urgent request for anyone who got a St. Jude brand pacemaker to go to their doctor for a firmware upgrade. Back in 2016, a medsec researcher found that the devices were particularly prone to being hacked. Hacked to the point where someone can go on eBay, buy a $35 device and modify it to control the pacemaker, remotely (these things use close range RF comms so doctors can monitor the unit). Apparently, there is "a low risk of an update malfunction" - imagine bricking it while doing the upgrade, farkkkkkk. I get nervous updating the firmware on a fucking dashcam!
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Uber to end tracking users 5 min after their ride
Remember the shit-storm that happened around November last year when Uber changed their app to only let you have geolocation on always, or never (they removed the default "only when app is in use" option), so they can track where you go for a few minutes after your ride? Yeah, well, they're going to stop doing that now. This new, friendlier, more customer focussed Uber thinks it was a mistake to force that setting upon users. That doesn't mean Uber thinks knowing where you went after you used Uber is bad. If Uber decide to revisit the idea, they'll do a better job at explaining "what the value is" and "allow customers to opt-in", which is what it should have done in the first place.
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YouTube gets a visual overhaul
YouTube's had a bit of an overhaul lately, if you haven't already noticed. The overall aesthetic of the site is now more in line with Google's Material Design theory, as are its mobile apps. The logo got a refresh, changing the font and taking the Tube out of the red squircle and placing it to.. and I can't believe I'm writing about YouTube getting a new logo. The most interesting feature is probably one they announced but haven't released yet - portrait video playback without black bars on the side when watching on a smartphone.
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Main data cable between AU and SG is stuffed
Seen high pings, weird routes and slow speeds to Singapore or Hong Kong servers lately? Your ISP is routing traffic to those destinations via other links (often via the USA) because the main SEA-ME-WE3 cable was damaged in the typhoon that hit Hong Kong recently. Gamers in particular, who often use Singapore based servers in lieu of an Australian server will be pissed off the most. The estimated repair date is the 13th of October, but repairing a cable lying on the ocean floor, 54km off the coast of Hong Kong, doesn't always go to plan.
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This blind programmer has a fascinating workflow
Check out how Tuukka Ojala, a Finnish programmer, gets his work done despite not having the ability to look at a monitor. The dude is blind so obviously, plugging a monitor into his computer is a waste of time. Everything is read to him at 450 words per minute - listen to the sample audio, it's nuts. Despite not having something most of us take for granted, he manages to pump out solid front end web code and even review other people's code. Each line is read out to him by a screen reader called NVDA on Windows. The comments are good too, where he responds to other people's questions about being a blind programmer.
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Women trying to make the game industry friendly for other women
The video game industry isn't well known for being that friendly to women. Remember all that Gamergate bullshit? Despite this, some women love video games so goddamn much, that they persist and even thrive. The Guardian has an article (sponsored by ACMI) profiling a few of those women in the Australian video game industry and the things they're doing to combat the unfortunately wide-spread sexism they face. Things like The Working Lunch (workshops, mentoring, support for women in the industry), She Makes Games (hackathons, events where women can get together and make games) and Blushbox Collective ("games that meaningfully explore love, sex and romance" that aren't "aimed at the gaze of the straight male") are all hoping to turn the game industry from a sexist cesspool into somewhere women are treated and valued equally.
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Telstra refunding AFL Live Pass customers upset about the 7" screen size bullshit
Well, well, well - Telstra is giving out refunds to anyone who feels like they got ripped off when they discovered that the AFL Live Pass is limited to a max screen size of 7", even on a 9", 10" or 12" device. Sure, the season's pretty much over now and all the finals games will be on free to air TV live, but still. You can also only get a refund if you subscribed prior to Feb 2017 - after that, they made it known that the image is limited to 7" in size, so it's your own damn fault for paying. This isn't gonna change until there's a new AFL media deal in 2022 either - ugh. Hopefully Watch AFL sticks around for 2018.
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Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

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