The Sizzle

Issue 453 - Wednesday, 9th August 2017


The Australian Parliament is a friend of the blockchain
The Australian Parliament now has a bipartisan "Parliamentary Friends of Blockchain" group, started by Labor senator Sam Dastyari and Liberal senator Jane Hume. 100 opportunistic suits rocked up and heard the two senators crap on about how Australia needs to be a world leader in blockchain, that the blockchain presents opportunities for every sector of Australian life and that the blockchain is a way for Australia to make money as we can't compete with Asian countries in manufacturing, so we have to resort to financial services instead. The same politicians want the Reserve Bank to make our own cryptocurrency, an AussieCoin, for some reason, they don't really say why this is a good idea other than Australia getting left behind if we don't do it.

Mazda announce new petrol engine, whilst everyone else makes electric ones
Mazda have come up with a new, more efficient way to pollute the air! It's latest SKYACTIV-X engine uses a technology called homogeneous charge compression ignition that ignites petrol via compression, removing the need for spark plugs. But the engine still has em so this contraption can run in low temperatures. Mazda claim the new engine uses 20-30% less fuel than its existing engines, which would mean ~4.5L/100km on the ADR combined fuel consumption test for a Mazda 3. This quote from Mazda's R&D boss shows how out of touch Mazda is: "We think it is an imperative and fundamental job for us to pursue the ideal internal combustion engine, electrification is necessary but... the internal combustion engine should come first" Meanwhile, Continental (world's largest car part OEM), reckon the internal combustion engine is on its last legs. The engines currently being designed are it, no sane car manufacturer is going to invest in another round of combustion engines. Unless you're Mazda.

General Motors kicks starts robocar ride-sharing program for employees in SF
General Motors, who are way more forward thinking than Mazda, but make shittier cars (I like the Bolt though), has begun giving its employees rides around San Francisco in self-driving cars. Cruise is GM's robocar startup and is pretty much Uber (use an app, car comes and picks you up), but the car moves itself. There's still a person in the front seat for when things get tricky, but the car itself does most of the work. GM has always intended for Cruise to be an Uber competitor, more than a product they'll put in cars people buy. Again, the same as Uber's Pittsburgh robocar efforts. GM obviously sees the future of cars as maintaining a fleet people borrow on demand. It would rather own that fleet and operate it themselves, than simply sell the cars to someone like Uber. Own the whole stack, that's where the money is. Just don't deface the street signs.

Disney will pull its content off Netflix and make its own streaming service
Disney is pulling a big chunk of its content from Netflix and going its own way, making yet another platform for us to fork out a few bucks a month to. Disney purchased a majority stake in a company called BAMTech and will start using it to serve up ESPN content first, then use that same platform to launch a Disney branded streaming platform in 2019. It's no surprise that Disney would do this - why let Netflix take a cut of revenue based off content you've worked hard to create and promote? Sucks for us though, as the end game here is clearly paying $15/m for Netflix's content, $15/m for News Corporation's content, $15/m for HBO's content, $10/m each for your favourite sports leagues and so on. It'll start to resemble Foxtel pretty much, just you're paying each mega-company separately, instead of one company like Foxtel.

Valve have a new game, kinda
Valve has a new game coming out called Artifact. As my mate Raj over at Reckoner put it: "Holy shit Valve are making a NEW GAME!!!!!", the crowd goes wild, everyone is happy, a new Valve game, wow! "Oh FFS, it’s another fucking CCG (Collectible Card Game)", part of the crowd boos, because collectible card games are stupid. Also, like Raj said, "Valve are looking to replicate the obvious success of Blizzard’s Hearthstone whilst taping into the dominant Steam Marketplace". Despite its apparent boringness, no doubt some people will love it and it'll make Valve a fortune. Artifact will be out some time in 2018. There's no screenshots, just that short useless video.


Cheap Razer gaming accessories, Samsung S8 and some MacBook Pros
The Razer Deathadder Chroma gaming mouse (as recommended by The Wirecutter) is cheap at MSY, just $55.30. All the other Razer products (keyboards, mousepads, headsets, etc.) MSY sell are also on sale if you're interested. IJK, another 3 letter acronym PC store with a horrible website, are doing 13% off some MacBooks. Samsung are giving anyone who buys a Galaxy S8 or S8+ from a "Participating Retail Store", 20,000 bonus Qantas points. That's cool on its own, but Good Guys (who are a Participating Retail Store), are selling the S8 for $999 and giving away a bonus $100 EFTPOS card. $899 for for a legit, unlocked AU S8 and 20,000 QFF points is pretty sweet.

Companies and military using sci-fi writers to envisage their futures
This New Yorker article is about SciFutures, a company set up by a market research dude who turned into a science fiction writer, that is paid by other businesses to come up with futuristic scenarios involving their products or services. Visa, Ford, Pepsi, Samsung and others have had stories commissioned (ideally ones with happy endings) that assist the leaders at those companies to think about their role in society, 10, 20, 30 or more years from now. The military even get pay for stories like this and are interested in "worst case scenarios", such as a hacked smart gun that goes on a rampage and kills innocent people, or children unwittingly laying waste to far away people and homes, thinking they're innocently playing video games. I'd love some of these stories to leak so a pleb like me can read them.

Spitballing a 2-in-1 Apple device running macOS and iOS
I love a good bit of speculative product design from someone totally unconnected to the company making that product, and this macOS/iOS hybrid laptop is extremely up my alley. Avi Barel has imagined a world where Apple copies Microsoft's Surface, but, instead of trying to mush Windows into being something for desktop and tablet use simultaneously, does the sensible thing of enabling the macOS UI to a docked tablet and iOS UI to an undocked tablet. The images themselves are a little rough, but they get to the point quite well. An ARM based 3-in-1 tablet/laptop/desktop from Apple would kick arse I reckon. The only way it could get better is finding a way to merge a pocket computer into it and creating a 4-in-1, but that seems more like the work of SciFutures than reality.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

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