The Sizzle

Issue 337 - Wednesday, 22nd February 2017

Tomorrow and Friday's issue of the Sizzle will be shorter than usual, because I'll be attending the Playgrounds conference. Three news items, one cool link. Everything goes back to normal on Monday.


Uber's CEO might actually feel bad about this latest controversy
Uber held an all-hands Q&A thing at their San Francisco HQ, so the employees can talk directly to the CEO about what's been going on in the company's apparent ratshit culture. Details were not made public, but some Uber employees leaked to the media that they were surprised by how visibly upset the Uber CEO was and how motivated for change he seems to be. Recognising you're an arsehole is the first step to stop being an arsehole. Meanwhile, Uber announced it is operating self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona as of today, just like its Pittsburgh setup has been operating for a few months.

Qualcomm & Intel show off gigabit LTE modems perfect for Optus's new gigabit LTE network
Both Qualcomn and Intel are going around pimping their fancy new gigabit LTE modems. Intel announced the XMM 7560 and Qualcomm has the X20. Basically these modems just use bigger and more chunks of radio spectrum (e.g: 5x blocks 100 MHz wide), which in the real world is almost impossible to reach. Despite this, everyone loves marketing it as gigabit. Like Optus, who launched their "4.5G" gigabit LTE network in a small part of Sydney today. Ultimately it'll reach 70% of the Optus network in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide (stiff shit Canberra, Darwin and Hobart).

Australian Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence are a thing now
The Australian government has thrown $1.9m in funding to unis that have cybersecurity courses. This cash will be used to start Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence and will denote that these unis are fully into training Australians to fight in the upcoming cyberwars. It's all part of a $230m funding package announced in April 2016, consisting of 33 initiatives designed to make Australia invulnerable to getting hacked.

Steam is gonna charge GST now, so prices will go up
Steam is gonna start charging GST for Australian customers soon. As a result, the price of games via Steam will go up by 10%. This'll start in July. It's not all awful news though - you can still get all your cheap games via Steam redemption codes from various online stores like Green Man Gaming and Bundle Stars. Anyone paying full price for a game within Steam AU is a chump.

People are paying more for apps, kinda
Good news, I guess, for app developers - people are spending more money on apps! But the stats are a little distorted thanks to big companies. For example, the entertainment category includes apps like Hulu, HBO Now and Netflix, which have paid subscriptions. More people are paying for those subscriptions via the app. Ditto for the music category. More people buying Spotify or Deezer subscriptions via the app. So unfortunately the overall growth in paid apps is not because people are suddenly paying for markdown editors, podcast apps or fitness trackers - it's because they want their moving picture stories and music and that's how you get them in 2017.


Australia is now a civ you can play as in Civ 6
Also game related: There's now an Australian civilisation in Civ 6! The Australians are lead by John Curtin, have a unique unit called Diggers (they replace normal infantry) and have a special improvement called the Outback Station that gives a food bonus to pastures near by (sheep, cattle, etc.). Pretty cool! No details when it will be released, but it will be a piece of premium DLC, so it'll cost ya. I can't wait! If you want some of the older Civ games, which are still a lot of fun, there's a Humble Bundle thingo going on that includes, Civ 3, Civ 4, Civ 5, Civ Beyond Earth and all the DLC and expansions for like US$25, as well as 25% off Civ 6 Deluxe.

Lots of competition in the cheap $5 VPS market right now
I love some US$5/m servers and competition has never been better. Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr and Amazon's Lightsail all provide some solid, yet cheap options for hosting all your shit in the cloud, on your own terms. This guy has done a head to head comparison of them all. I really like Amazon Lightsail, but the fact it's only hosted on the USA east coast is a bit of a bummer. Vultur have AU instances for US$5, which I use to host The Sizzle forums and the other two have Singapore instances, which aren't that bad either. If you're after a list of cool stuff you can host on your $5 server, take a look at this awesome list of self-hosted web apps.

Keep the cogs of capitalism well oiled with your hard earned money
Loads of goodies on Ozbargain lately, something for everyone! Ovo (an Optus MVNO) has 50gb of data for just $60/m - probably the best option for high usage 4G. Dell's eBay store has 20% off, so laptops like the Inspiron 11 3000 (same laptop I'm using now to type this on) is $320, an XPS 13 for $1440 and XPS 15 for $1840. Futu Online also has a 20% eBay sale, so stuff like Samsung EVO microSD cards are cheap, as is the HTC Vive VR system ($1192) and the Philips BDM4350UC 43" IPS 4K monitor ($840!). If you want a fancy drone to take cool videos with, Kogan has refurbished DJI Phantom 4s for $1099 and Phantom 3 4K ones with a microSD card for $799.

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!