The Sizzle

Issue 8 - Wednesday 14th October, 2015 - Always Blow On The Pie

I'm chuffed to say that there's now 56 paid subscribers to The Sizzle! You have no idea how fulfilling it is to not only have people like what I write, but back that up with money. Money means you actually like it and you're not just saying you like it so you don't hurt my feelings. I also added an archive of old Sizzle issues to the website. The archive will be a week behind and is mainly there for new comers who want to read old ones and for those who are skeptical of handing over their email address to a stranger, to actually see what the go is with this thing.

Apple released new iMacs last night. Nothing much to write home about to be honest. The 21.5" model has a Retina screen now, but still doesn't let you upgrade the RAM yourself. The 27" got the new Intel Skylake CPUs and a move to AMD Radeon R9 graphics. Screen is better quality too, which I always appreciate. What shits me with these iMacs is that they still ship them with mechanical spinning hard drives. What sort of bullshit is this? It's not even a 7200RPM drive, it's a god forsaken 5400RPM unit! Apple shipped a drive of the same speed with the original iMac in '98! Words cannot express how unreasonably upset I am about this. Fusion drive is good and makes sense, but Apple gimped the 1TB Fusion drive by pairing it with a 24GB SSD. Why even bother? I wish they'd release a model with the built in SSD as standard. SSDs have never been cheaper! Arstechnica has a good review of the new 21.5" iMac. Nobody seems to have received a new 27" iMac to review yet.

Also released are new "Magic" mice, trackpads and keyboards as part of the iMac upgrade. They've all got built in lithium batteries now, and they charge via a Lightning cable. Don't try use the mouse whilst it's charging though. The trackpad has Force Touch on it. That's cool. Six Colors reviewed the new keyboard and trackpad. No reviews on the mouse. The prices on these things are, in my opinion, eye wateringly expensive. $199 for the trackpad, $165 for the keyboard, $129 for the mouse. They might be super awesome but my $40 keyboard and $20 mouse are working just fine for now.

And keeping with the Apple theme, Stephen Levy is still pulling exclusives with Apple. He got inside the "Input Design Lab", where apparently no other journalist has been. It's a puff piece precisely timed to be read with the launch of the new stuff, but any insight into how Apple work internally is always fascinating. Just one anecdote from the story: the material the mouse runners/feet are made of created a weird sound when moving against a table. So Apple has an anechoic chamber they can chuck the mouse in to and analyse why it's making that noise. They found out and changed the material in order to make it sound more pleasing. That's pretty OCD behaviour right there.

Got a Synology NAS? DiskStation Manager 6 has gone into beta. I love Synology NAS units and they're by far the least fuss option for a home server. They'll do practically anything the average person will want and are easy to use. DSM 6 has loads of new stuff, mostly focussed on replacing popular cloud services like Gmail, Google Apps and Dropbox with Synology versions of the same thing that run locally on your own server. They've even copied Plex. New snapshot and replication features look fantastic for those of us paranoid about our data. DSM 6 is still in beta, so I don't know if it's cool to run on your production gear. There's some new hardware too, the DS416 and DS216play - new faster ARM based CPUs in them and the DS216play can transcode 4K video apparently. Let's see if that's actually legit once they hit reviewer's hands.

IceTV is dead. Pour a VB on the footpath for this little Aussie battler. As mentioned in issue 4, IceTV was having some trouble staying afloat after embarking on an adventure to manufacture and sell their own PVR called the Skippa. A staff member, Dave has posted on the IceTV forums that other important staff who would make up a new version of IceTV (I assume with shittier pay adn conditions) didn't want to continue and without them, the company has folded. Shame really, as the reason we have decent EPG data on free to air TV at all is because of the battle IceTV fought with channel 9. Maybe IceTV will re-emerge and be able to integrate with more Smart TVs in the future.

A little bit of NBN news to round this out - Shadow Minister for Communications, Jason Clare has said that if the ALP got back into power, they will roll out way more fibre than the current MtM NBN, but not 93% fibre as originally planned. He might arrange for more fibre, but some poor bastards will be left with FTTN. Meanwhile, NBN is installing "kilometres" of new copper to support FTTN. Why they're installing new copper when they could install new fibre is beyond me and utterly dumb.

I would love an electric car. No servicing and I can charge it at home during the day with free power from my solar panels and every morning it would have a fully charged battery. Oh and the whole no emissions thing is nice too. But one thing I never realised is electric car charging point rage. In the California, where electric cars are getting more and more popular, there's a whole undercurrent of antagonism towards people hogging very limit public car charging spots, or even worse, non electric cars parking in them. People have even made "EV Etiquette Survival Packs" with signs and stickers you can put on your car to state if it's OK for others to unplug your car from charging.

Memristors have been the holy grail of computer storage for a while now and in July, Intel and Micron said they've created a new type of memory that's 1000 time fater than NAND flash storage. Nothing you can buy has come of it yet, but it's closer than it's ever been. Now HP and Sandisk have said they've made pretty much the same thing. Four giant corporations saying they've invented super fast storage? Imagine having 512GB of storage that's the same speed as your RAM. This is wet dream material for nerds like me. No dates, no pricing, no prototypes to show off. So probably not going to happen any time soon. Good to know people care about this though, like I've said already too many times in The Sizzle, disk drives are way too slow.

This last thing is only relevant to Melbournians, but, we will finally get to enjoy LTE in the city loop! Oh my god how good is this. Whenever I visit Sydney it's always a source of wonder that I can be in a tunnel and still keep tweeting about how my phone works in a tunnel. Final tests in the Melbourne city loop are wrapping up and some people have already noticed LTE whilst travelling through the tunnel. Soon, getting stuck in the loop for 10 minutes whilst they clear up a platform North Melbourne station won't be so agonisingly boring.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Convert your free trial into a paid subscription now and never miss an issue! Already a subscriber? Thanks for being awesome.