The Sizzle

Issue 292 - Thursday, 8th December 2016 - Put It In Formaldehyde And Put It On The Shelf


Bluetooth 5 is now a thing
Bluetooth 5 is now an official standard, ready for device makers to integrate into their products. It's much like the Bluetooth 4 we know and love, but better. Four times the range, double the bandwidth and eight times the data sent in a single broadcast message - apparently ideal for the IoT. It'll be a while until we see Bluetooth 5 devices though, as it's only now that the spec is out, that chips and software can be made to support the new standard, then they have to be implemented and then shipped. Six months or so until the first device pop out, probably a solid year or so until BT5 becomes relatively common. The Bluetooth SIG has a press release and a webpage about the new standard.

Fitbit confirms Pebble purchase, Pebble to cease operations
Fitbit has confirmed rumours that it'll buy the nerd's choice smartwatch maker - Pebble. The e-ink screened smartwatch will no longer be sold or supported - what ya got now is as good as it's gonna get. The latest Kickstarter campaign for a new version of the watch and an IoT device, have been cancelled and anyone who backed it will get a refund. Sounds to me like Fitbit did an acqui-hire - it wants the Pebble team to work on Fitbit stuff, rather than operating Pebble as a part of Fitbit or integrating its product line into Fitbit's. Here's Fitbit's statement about the purchase. Here's Pebble's.

Pandora to launch subscription streaming service like Spotify soon
Pandora is joining the streaming music subscription market, joining Spotify, Google and Apple. Pandora's secret sauce is suggesting things for you to listen to based on your listening habits - which for many Pandora customers, goes back years. I guess this is why Pandora decided to purchase the bankrupt Rdio just under a year ago. Pandora Premium will cost around US$10/m and should be available in the first quarter of 2017. Dunno if that includes Australia (though Pandora is currently available in Australia).

Sony's Project Field gaming accessory brings digital spice to an analog thing
Sony has announced Project Field, a gaming accessory for tablets and smartphones. It looks like a cutting board that you place physical objects on top of, to make things happen in your game. Seems to be Japan only for now and won't be out until there's some games which support it. One of the Sony developers said "we want to add a digital spice to the experience of touching an analog thing" - digital spice! Gotta get me some digital spice.

TPG gives some hints as to its plans for the near future - FttB & mobile
TPG outlined how it plans to increase profits in an NBN environment at its annual general meeting yesterday. It's ADSL cash cow is slowly fading away as more premises are moved to the NBN, where margins are much thinner as a reseller of NBN services versus servicing customers on TPG owned equipment. To counter that loss of margin, it will focus on fibre to the basement, which they reckon is more profitable than ADSL and doesn't need to involve the NBN. The TPG CEO also said it is "unavoidable" that it needs to get into operating its own mobile network, despite the difficulty in setting up towers.


Wi-fi mesh networking beats powerline networking for home use
Anandtech has compared G.Hn & HomePlug AV2 powerline extenders to wi-fi mesh systems to see which one delivers the best results in a single story ~167sqm 1970s home. A mesh wi-fi setup (Netgear Orbi was the one tested here) absolutely creamed the powerline solutions. I honestly would not have picked that. Of course, in a different building (double story, or concrete), the results may have been different. Running a few ethernet cables and placing a few UniFi APs or similar around the place is still the gold standard however.

What it's like to have Steve Wozniak teach you about computers in grade 5
A cute story on Motherboard from a student in Steve Wozniak's 1995 computer class. Now an adult, Syambra Moitozo went to a primary school in Santa Cruz and happened to be in the same class as one of Steve Wozniak's kids. Steve wanted to teach the kids about computers, so he ran his own grade 5 class for a year, funding it out of his own pocket too. At the time most of the kids didn't have much of an idea who this guy was, but he was nice, encouraging and even looked after the students who didn't really give a shit about computers, saying that the world doesn't need everyone to be computer experts. I'd love to know more from the other students in the class to see if having someone like Woz as their teacher had much of an impact on them and their computer literacy or even inspired them to pursue careers in technology.

Set up a password manager already
If you haven't already got around to using a password manager, the Wirecutter has a good guide on which one to use. They liked LastPass the best, mainly due to its low price and availability on practically every platform. 1Password is nicer, but costs more and the Windows version is a bit shit. The holidays are a good time to help the family out with some computer stuff - a password manager, along side backups, should be the top priorities.

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 Make Some Noise, by Beastie Boys. Like The Sizzle? Like it on Facebook!