The Sizzle

Issue 322, Wednesday 1st February 2017


Apple sold a record amount of iPhones last quarter
Apple's financials for Q1 2017 are out and the iPhone is back in business. They sold 78,290,000 iPhones in three months - the most they've ever sold in a quarter. Apple doesn't break down which models of iPhone were sold, but Apple still has stock constraints on the 7 Plus, they can't make enough of em. Same with the Apple Watch - Apple said they couldn't meet demand, but also refused to say how many were sold. iPad sales dropped a fair bit, Mac sales went up a little. Their services business (music sales, iCloud, etc.) grew as well, becoming the 2nd biggest revenue source for Apple after the iPhone. MacStories has all the charts you could ever care about seeing.

Microsoft making a "lite" version of Windows to compete with ChromeOS
Rumours are swirling that Microsoft is making a new version of Windows 10, called "Cloud". Probably because of Google's success with ChromeOS on the low end part of the PC market, the new version of Windows will only allow Universal Windows Platform apps, delivered via an app store. Exactly like how Chromebooks only let you get apps from the Chrome Web Store. Tim Sweeney, from Epic Games, sees it as a way for Microsoft to "crush" Steam. Games purchased from Steam won't work in this app store only version of Windows, so games developers will need to release games on the Microsoft game store, effectively turning Microsoft into Steam. I think it's more about ChromeOS though, rather than games, but who knows?

Plex buys Watchup, a personalised news feed service
Plex has acquired Watchup - an apparently cool news video service I've never heard of. Watchup aggregates news clips from about 170 sources, including Bloomberg, CBS, Fox, WSJ, CNN and Sky, and uses a thumbs up/thumbs down style rating system to personalise a news feed for you. Plex sees this as a way to offer more than just a database of pirated content, but a way to be the centre of all your media, online and offline. The actual Watchup product as it exists today will be integrated into Plex around the middle of the year. I don't know if a personalised news service is a good thing (talk about a safe space bubble), but it's good to see Plex working on a recommendation engine. There's so much to watch, but so little time.

The bots are now better at poker than us meatbags
A poker playing computer, called Libratus, has trounced a bunch of professional poker players. The 20-day tournament featured four pro poker players, playing 1,500 hands of Texas Hold 'Em poker, against Carnegie Mellon's creation. At the end of the tournament, the humans were in the hole to the tune of $1.8m. Computer wins, again. People though poker is more of an art than a pure numbers game, so AI wouldn't ruin poker for a long time yet. That's shot to shit now.

NBN announces areas to get FTTdp
NBN has announced the areas that will get fibre to the distribution point (aka. VDSL now, then G.Fast later). They're mostly suburbs in Melbourne and Sydney, with a handful in Queensland. These ~450,000 premises were supposed to get HFC NBN, but the Optus network that was used there is so shitty, they're not going to use it at all. There's no NBN map now, to show you what sort of tech you'll be getting, so this suburb list is about the best you'll get unfortunately. Dunno when this is supposed to start or when it will be made available for users to hook up to, NBN doesn't give out info like that anymore.


Git repo of Hackintosh tweaks and drivers for the Dell XPS 13 9350
Here is a collection of drivers and tweaks to make Hackintosh run smooth(er) on the Dell XPS 13 (9350). A hackintosh, if you don't know, only comes with drivers for hardware that a Mac has. If your device isn't identical to a Mac (it rarely is), then shit won't work. Finding the right drivers to match your hardware, that are stable and work with the version of macOS you're running, can be a massive pain in the arse. This git repo aims to collect the best and latest stuff for that particular model XPS 13 and to make the Hackintosh process a bit more seamless. If anyone gives this a shot, let me know - I wanna know how reliable it is.

Photolemur is a nice app to automatically improve your photos
Photolemur looks like a shithot way to make your average looking photos a bit better, with practically zero effort. It's like that magic wand tool in iPhoto (sorry, but fancier. It costs US$29, but if you've taken some nice photos that need a bit of spicing up, but you don't know how, this looks great. The "smart dehaze" feature looks great for those landscape photos that don't look quite right. I should get this and apply it to all the photos I took with my fancy cameras overseas. I miss owning a fancy camera, but my iPhone is still nice. I never used the expensive fancy camera often enough anyways.

Postal videogame goes open source so future generations can enjoy needless violence
One of my favourite games as an angry teenager was Postal. You ran around shooting innocent people for no apparent reason in increasingly gruesome ways. You could walk up to someone fleeing your gun rampage and execute them at close range. It's that sort of game only a poorly adjusted weirdo outcast could enjoy. It was banned in 14 countries, including Australia (which to be honest, isn't hard to do - we used to love banning video games). 20 years later, it's been made open source, so angry teenagers for years to come can enjoy the same outlet for their violent tendencies as I did. There's a 2016 re-master of Postal up on Steam if you either want to re-live your teenage years, or see what the sick fucks you never hanged out with were doing while you had normal teen years.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Like it on Facebook!