Issue 586

Tuesday, 27th February 2018

In This Issue


MWC day 2 - Sony & Facebook

Sony's new Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact are pretty ordinary Android phones, with the main unique feature being 4K HDR and 960fps 1080p video. The XZ2 Compact is a 5" phone now, not so compact really. The Xperia Ear Duo are wireless Bluetooth headphones that pipe sound from a control box outside your ear, into the earbud bit that goes into your ears. Facebook was at MWC talking up their Terragraph mm-wave tech and the Telecom Infra Project & OpenCellular, that Facebook uses to poke telcos in poor countries to roll out infrastructure so more people can use Facebook.

Turnbull pulls some strings to get 100mbit HFC while the rest of us can't

Well, well, well - old mate Trunbull has received special treatment from the NBN to get HFC to his home, despite ordinary Australians in a HFC area having to wait "6-9 months" due to a freeze on new installs whilst NBN remediates the dilapidated HFC network. The PM's office asked NBN to make sure his house in Point Piper is hooked up as planned, rather than delayed like the rest of us. Meanwhile, NBN has delayed giving an update to the HFC rollout which was supposed to be provided by the end of Feb. It'll now be a few more weeks until we know when HFC connections will resume. It's doubtful the HFC rollout will resume before the end of 2018.

EU prepares to change how big tech companies are taxed

The EU is floating the concept of taxing tech companies where their users are located, rather than where they are headquartered. Companies with worldwide revenue above 750 million euros and EU digital revenues of at least 10 million euros a year would be taxed 1 to 5% of their "aggregated gross revenues". One example in the document is for digital advertisers, that would be taxed "where the advertisement is displayed" and "where the users having supplied the data which is being sold are located". The big EU states like Germany and France are all for it, but the little ones, like the Netherlands and Ireland aren't too keen on the idea, as it means they'll no longer be as useful as tax havens.

Greens Senator pushing for video game loot box regulation in Australia

Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John is riding the international wave to regulate loot boxes in video games. Jordon believes (and so do I), that loot boxes are basically gambling and not much different to pokies, yet children are not only exposed to them in innocent seeming games, but are able to spend money on the useless crap. After years getting used to gambling concepts in video games, when they turn 18 they're fresh meat for a rampant sports betting and pokie industry. Then we have a generation of hopeless gamblers that society will have to deal with. Better nip it in the bud now before it's a big problem. The Senator is getting input from the video game and gambling industry to see what can be done about the issue.

California updates law to remove human backup from robocar testing

California now allows robocars to drive without a human in the driver's seat. This is a pretty big development, as GM, Waymo and Uber all test in California, so maybe now there will be even more testing done now that a person (who costs money for every hour they're in the car) isn't required. These rules "allow autonomous cars without steering wheels, foot pedals or mirrors", which GM has said they're keen to do in 2019 for its Cruise robotaxi subsidiary. I dunno if the tech will be that good by 2019, but I guess this new law is the first step to getting there. Who wants to be the first person to ride the car in traffic, with no ability for a human to take over?

Not News, But Still Cool

3rd party Apple Watch apps are bad because Apple gives devs garbage to work with

Marco Arment has a sensible rant about the state of Apple Watch apps. They mostly suck because the framework Apple gives developers to develop apps for the watch also sucks. Why does the framework suck? Because Apple doesn't use it themselves, so nobody at Apple gives a damn. Apple's native apps work very well on the watch, but 3rd party ones don't. Take for example Pocket Weather AU. Place the temp widget on your watch face and you've got a 50/50 chance the temp will update. Apple's Weather app updates all the time (but the data source Apple uses is shit, so there's that). I really hope Apple get their act together with watchOS 5, the watch would be way more useful if 3rd party devs were let loose on it like the iPhone.

Tips for making your smartphone less addictive

Tristan Harris, a former Design Ethicist at Google is going around telling people that tech companies make a profit off a user's attention span, so all the apps they make are designed, on purpose, to keep you coming back for more. I'm not surprised Tristan is a former design ethicist - probably got sick of nobody at Google listening to him. Anyways, in this video he says turn off all non-human notifications (been doing that for ages), change your screen to grayscale (the colours are designed to entice you) and only place important apps to your device's home screen (so you aren't tempted to waste time). The grayscale thing is a bit weird, I'm not a fan.

Quebec is the cryptocurrency miner's locale of choice

Quebec is now the cryptocurrency miner's preferred location to set up shop. Why? A combination of super cheap power thanks to huge hydroelectricity plants and a stable democracy. This makes Quebec a much more attractive location than say, China or Venezuela, which have cheap electricity, but the government isn't a fan of cryptocurrency. An old pulp mill in Quebec is set to be decommissioned and crypto mining companies are all over it, wanting to buy it for its large rooms with huge electricity supply. Even pulp mills in operation are courting crypto miners, as they have excess space and capacity the miners would find useful. Make sure to click the article for pictures of these crypto mining setups - mind boggling.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Snoop Dogg - Snoop's Upside Ya Head