The Sizzle

Issue 243 - Wednesday, 28th September 2016 - Metal Heavy, Soft At The Core


Elon Musk’s Mars wet dream made public
Elon Musk gave a 90 minute presentation about his plans to take humanity to mars. He reckons the biggest obstacle to getting people to Mars is that nobody can afford to go, so to get the price of a trip to Mars down to US$200,000, SpaceX is gonna build the biggest rocket ever made (bigger than the Saturn V) and make it so damn reliable that everyone with a lazy $200k is gonna want to go. Sign me up, I'll sell my house, fuck it, even if I die on the way, it's worth it. Elon wants to colonize Mars, harvest its resources, warm it up and make the atmosphere more like Earth. His timeline is pretty loose, but wants to start the first flight in about 10 years. The entire video is worth a watch if you have some spare time, as there's way more things going on than what a paragraph summary can give proper service to.

Google loves India
Google has unloaded a bunch of products and initatives focussing on India. First is YouTube Go is a special version of the YouTube app designed for countries with shit internet access, allowing users to share videos with other peple over Bluetooth, video previews and easier resolution/bandwidth selection. There's a version of Chrome that compresses websites and loads cut down versions of sites more suited to the crapness of 2G networks. A bigger expansion of wi-fi called Google Station, spread around India's train stations, which it wants to roll out elsewhere in the world. Google's CEO also wrote in the Economic Times why it is making such an effort to focus on India (probably helps that the CEO was born and raised in India).

DJI's Mavic Pro drone upstages the GoPro Karma
DJI has kicked GoPro in the nuts by unveiling their new Mavic Pro drone. Aimed squarely at GoPro's new Karma drone, it's a foldable "ultra-portable" consumer drone with a 4K/30fps, 1080p/96fps camera. The Mavic Pro can fly at speeds up to 65km/h (fucken hell) and has a rad 3-axis gimbal for smooth as hell images. There's also a bunch of fancy auto-flying, tracking and object avoidance features so your ~$1300 drone doesn't crash into shit. Check out the launch video - I want one.

Xiaomi Mi 5s and Mi 5s Plus announced
Xiaomi's got a new flagship phone for ya. The Mi 5s and Mi 5s Plus feature Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 821 SoC, up to 6GB of RAM, UFS 2.0 storage, a 5.15" or 5.7" (both "just" 1080p), a rather nice Sony IMX378 sensor on the 5s and a dual camera setup on the 5s Plus (one colour, one monochrome) and all the usual LTE/Wi-Fi shit. It runs MIUI 8 of course. The base model starts at ~AU$400 and goes up to ~AU$520. Goddamn bargains of a phone I reckon - but, like, they still use Android, which I'm not that into. They'll be on sale Sept 29 and probably filter through to your favourite Chinese e-store a few weeks after that.

IEEE ratifies P802.3bz standard for 2.5 & 5 gigabit ethernet
THe IEEE has ratified a new Ethernet standard that sits below 10 gigabit Ethernet, but is faster than 1 gigabit Ethernet. The P802.3bz standard allows for 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T speeds over up to 100m of conventional CAT 5e and 6 cabling that exists in many buildings today. Apparently one of the main reasons this standard exists is because of 802.11ac wireless. New APs can handle speeds faster than gigabit ethernet, so a gigabit simply isn't enough, but 10gbit ethernet is just overkill (expensive and cable length limits), so a 2.5gbit/5gbit ethernet makes a lot of sense for 802.11ac uplinks. I wonder when I can buy a 5GBASE-T switch to replace my gigabit switch?


Cheap Chinese laptops
I received an email from Geekbuying last night saying they're starting pre-orders of a MacBook Air clone called the Jumper EZBook 2, that uses an Atom X5-Z8300 CPU, has 4GB of RAM, a 64GB eMMC, weighs 1.4kg and has a 1080p 14" screen. All this for just ~A$250. Apparently these things are popular on YouTube, with some decent reviews. This Australian sounding guy has run a few benchmarks and answered some viewer questions about this cheap-ass laptop that doesn't seem to suck all that much for the price. Same YouTuber also got his hands on a Xiaomi Mi Air and ripped it apart for our enjoyment. Interesting how I've seen fuck all text/blog reviews of this thing, but there's loads up on YouTube. The kids don't wanna read anymore, do they?

Expensive Taiwanese laptops
On the opposite side of the price scale, ASUS has a PR event up in Sydney last night where they showed the local tech press their latest laptops, the ZenBook 3, Transformer 3 Pro and ZenBook Flip. All rather normal and generally not worth a mention here. But, the ZenBook 3 looks... nice? ASUS, with a nice laptop? What's going on here? It's like a MacBook Air, but with some balls. It's an expensive piece of kit though, selling for $2699! A MacBook with these specs is what Apple should be releasing, not ASUS. Instead Apple seems to have forgotten that the Mac exists. Or they're busy working on ARM CPUs for the entire entry level line and are gonna blow us away with awesome Macs using ARM CPUs in a few weeks.

UK crowdsourcing mobile coverage map data
UK's Ofcom wants to independently map the coverage of the country's mobile networks. To do this, they've released an Android app that sits silently in the background, mapping where you are, the signal you receive and its strength. It sends that info back of Ofcom, which they then use to update the public map for everyone to see. Sounds like an excellent idea if you turn a blind eye to the fact you're willingly giving the government your exact location at all times (which let's be honest, if they genuinely wanted, could probably have arranged by now). I wonder if ACMA would be bothered to do the same thing here?

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Today's subject line is from You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire, by Queens Of The Stone Age. Like The Sizzle? Tell your friends!