The Sizzle

Issue 255 - Monday, 3rd October 2016 - Gossips, Frauds And Snakes


The EU to give Google a large fine for breaching antitrust laws
After telling Apple it's deal with Ireland stinks and to pay Ireland all the tax it should owe, the EU is going after Google. For years the EU has been saying that Android's bundling of the Google PLay store and Google Search related stuff amounts to anti-competitive behavior and it should change. Google hasn't done anything to change it, so the EU is gonna slap Google with a big fine to show them who's boss.

VirnetX rears its ugly patent troll head to leech more money out of Apple
VirnetX, notorious patent trolls that think they invented bits of iMessage and FaceTime and won a US$625m judgment from a Texas court, has survived an appeal by Apple. The appeal jury found that VirnetX's patent is legit, but Apple should only pay $302.4m. VirnetX could get even more if another court case is found that Apple willfully used its patent without permission, instead of simply not being aware the patent existed. This isn't even the first time VirnetX has sued Apple - back in 2013 is won $368m for some other FaceTime and VPN patents it owns. Patent trolls suck.

Audio over USB-C is now a thing, so Android OEMs can get rid of 3.5mm sockets
There's now an official standard for playing audio over a USB Type-C interface, designed to remove the 3.5mm headphone socket from portable devices. Pretty much what Apple has done with audio over its Lightning plug can be now be done over USB-C, so smartphones using that port can get rid of their audio jacks now. I give it 24 months until smartphones with a 3.5mm jack are a unique selling point on specific models that aren't flagship devices.

Vodafone announces shutdown of 2G network
Vodafone has announced when it's 2G network will shut down - September 30th 2017. Now all three networks have dates for shutdown of their respective 2G networks, with Telstra's going on December 1st and Optus turning off the 2G stuff on the 1st of April 2017. All the telcos have plans to refarm that 2G spectrum into their 4G portfolios, giving those of us in the 21st century faster and more reliable LTE (though 2G is mainly used for machine to machine kinda stuff, so I hope everyone has transitioned their gear to use at last UMTS)

ISPs pissed off with NBN's pricing model
We all know that the internet nirvana that was supposed to be the NBN sucks, but now it'll probably suck for an all new reason - end user cost. The NBN's pricing model, designed to recoup the full cost of the investment, is hampering the ability for ISPs to make a profit and provision bandwidth properly so users get a decent experience. TPG's share price took a hit as it revealed more of its customers are hooked up to the NBN, which is not as profitable for them as ADSL and the Vocus CEO wants the NBN to radically change its pricing model.


Tech gadget rental service, Grover (in NY only)
After buying and selling all this Apple stuff over the years, I thought a rental program where I just give Apple a few hundred bucks a month for the rest of my life in return for access to whatever I want from the Apple Store would be a good idea. Some US startup had the same idea but actually did it. Grover, which is covered in this story on Motherboard, lets you rent tech gadgets per month. An interesting concept, but if you wanna hang on to something for a year or so until Apple releases a new update, you'll be spending far more than what it costs to buy the thing and then sell it and buy the new one. It's basically Radio Rentals targeted at young hipsters instead of outer suburban bogans.

Couple of Civ 6 previews
Some outlets got to try out Civ 6 early, ahead of its release on October 21st. Techcrunch, Arstechnica, The Verge, I haven't read or watched any of it because I wanna go in fresh on the 21st, but I thought you might like to know. I hope it doesn't suck.

Comparison of home wi-fi mesh systems
Home wi-fi systems using mesh networking have started popping up, as an alternative to running cables around your home or using powerline networking to link up each AP. Instead of that, the mesh APs talk amongst themselves on separate radios. Small Net Builder has reviews of the eero, Luma and Ubiquiti's Amplifi systems, putting them through various placement scenarios to see which one delivers the best performance - the eero is best overall, but the Amplifi is good depending where you place the nodes. Node placement seems to be a big factor in the performance of these things.

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 Fair-weather Friends, by Queens Of The Stone Age. Like The Sizzle? Tell your friends!