Issue 548

Friday, 22nd December 2017

This is the final issue of The Sizzle for 2018! For the next 2 weeks, you'll receive a series of best-of 2017 issues, highlighting the most interesting stuff I discussed in The Sizzle throughout the year. Turn off the computer, take it easy, have a good holiday break and I'll see you again for a big dump of what went on at CES, on the 8th of Jan.

In This Issue


Eric Schmidt resigns as chairman of Alphabet/Google

Eric Schmidt will cease to be Alphabet's executive chairman next year. He's stepping down from the role and will transition to being a mere "technical advisor" for the megacorp. Eric has been hanging around Google for 17 years, so I guess he's either bored, not wanted, or a mix of both. Schmidtty will also "expand his efforts in the worlds of philanthropy and science and technology issues". Good for him. Alphabet will pick a new chairperson soon and probably announce it at their next board meeting in January.

Windows Hello depth sensing face login defeated by a print out

Someone managed to fool the Windows Hello depth sensing face scanner thingy with an infrared photo of themselves printed on a sheet of paper. Sure, you need to get an IR photo of someone looking right at you first (which doesn't seem that difficult to me), but once you have it, you're logged in right away. Microsoft has fixed this in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, but you need to re-register your face in order for the fix to work, just applying the update isn't enough. Some laptops have hardware not advanced enough to prevent this attack, even with the update applied.

Facebook enabling age discrimination via job ads

One final piece of Facebook being jerks for 2017: Propublica & the NYT discovered that Facebook allows, and even promotes the fact, that employers can target job ads at certain age groups. For example, you might be a company like Verizon, who wants cool savvy youngins to work in its finance department, so you chuck up an ad on Facebook targeted at people aged between 25 and 36. This is probably illegal according to experts (but not according to Facebook) - you're not allowed to discriminating in the hiring process based on age, but is not showing a certain age cohort the ad in the first place discrimination under the law as well? You get the same outcome.

US govt wants to tax cryptocurrency trades & Long Island Ice Tea is now a blockchain company

Two bits of cryptocurrency news for ya today - first, the US government is looking to tax cryptocurrency to cryptocurrency transactions. How, I have no idea, but the premise is "every time you trade one digital currency for another, one token for another, it's going to be a taxable event". The other news is that Long Island Iced Tea (a US company that sells iced tea) announced they've changed their name to Long Blockchain and is in the "preliminary stages of evaluating specific opportunities involving blockchain technology". Stock went up 289% as a result. There is no bubble.

Full port of Civ 6 now on iPad

Civ 6 is now on iPad! Not a crappy cut down version like Civ Revolutions either, but it appears to be the full blown Civilization 6 as on Windows & Mac - a feature complete port from Aspyr, redesigned for touch control. It will only run on an iPad Air 2, 5th-gen iPad or an iPad Pro. There's no DLC (yet) and the game is free for 60 turns, then is a special promo price of $46.99 to keep playing. I just tried it out and the touch interface is awesome, but the menu and UI graphics are not "retina" quality. It looks like they've taken the 1080p assets and just upscaled them, rather than making native resolution graphics. Ugh.

Not News, But Still Cool

Stop using crappy internet in 2018

If your internet still sucks and NBN isn't getting to you for a while, Uniti fixed wireless could be an excellent option. They currently have an offer where if you sign up using a referral code, you get a $200 EFTPOS card, as does the person who refers you. I'm not a Uniti customer, but my mate Raj is and he's a lovely guy who will put all those $200 EFTPOS cards to good use (probably buying groceries), so use his code: 219ND. If Uniti don't service your area, there's other WISPs such as Hyperwave, Lightning Broadband, Clear and Melbourne ISP. Start 2018 with non-shit internet!

Why aren't there more electric cars already?

The New York Times has succinctly explained what's holding back electric cars from flooding the market, despite their obvious advantages. First there's the fact an EV powertrain is still significantly more expensive than an ICE powertrain. The bulk of the price is due to the batteries, which lead to the second issue - the supply chain of resources needed to build the volume of batteries required to bring the price down isn't fully developed yet. Then there's a need for more charging infrastructure - which the US Department of Energy has a comprehensive plan for (8500 fast & 600,000 level 2 chargers required). I can't wait to own an EV.

Cheap Macs, 27" monitors, 200gb microSD cards, new Dell 13" XPS laptop, Sennheiser HD58X headphones & Google Home Mini

The Good Guys are doing 10% off Macs until the 29th of December. MSY have the Viewsonic VA2719-2K WQHD 27" monitor for $299 back in stock. Scorptec has 200GB Sandisk Ultra microSD cards for $99 (pickup or $109 delivered). Good for action cam footage over the holidays. Dell's eBay store has the new 13" XPS with the quad core 8th-gen Intel CPU for $1,439.20 (use code POWERUP) - it's the laptop I'd get if I wasn't suffering Apple Stockholm Syndrome. Massdrop managed to get Sennheiser to make them a custom pair of cans, the HD 58X that are ~AU$200+shipping to AU and should sound awesome, like a pair of HD600s but half the price. Some Harvey Normans are selling the Google Home Mini for $49, if you need a last minute Christmas gift.

That's it for 2017. See ya next year!