Issue 658

Thursday, 14th June 2018

In This Issue


Australia to pay for Solomon Islands submarine cable as long as there's no Chinese involved

Australia's fear of Chinese influence in the Pacific region and of Huawei in general, has culminated in the government giving the Solomon Islands $200m to build a submarine cable - as long as they don't use any Chinese companies or gear. While I was away government also put out hints that it is contemplating banning Huawei from participating in tenders for upcoming 5G network builds. The government still refuses to say what their beef is with Huawei, but argues that its acting on advice from various security agencies. It's not so much that there's backdoors in the gear that send data to China (though that is a thing that happens), but more the fact that they don't know what Huawei will do to our infrastructure if it's forced to by the Chinese government if relations between AU and CN go sour.

New research outlines how Bitfenix exchange manipulated the price of Bitcoin via Tether

The University of Texas has released a paper outlining how the value of Bitcoin was manipulated late last year by the world's largest Bitcoin exchange, Bitfinex. From the article: "Mr. Griffin and Mr. Shams examined the flow of Tether, a token that is supposed to be tied to the value of the dollar and that is issued exclusively by Bitfinex in large batches. They found that half of the increase in Bitcoin’s price in 2017 could be traced to the hours immediately after Tether flowed to a handful of other exchanges, generally when the price was declining." I don't fully understand what's going on here, but considering the general vibe of the cryptocurrency scene is that of charlatans and people looking to get rich quick, I'm totally not surprised this sort of shit takes place.

Twitter tweaks the timeline again, this time to show more breaking news

Twitter's tweaking the timeline once again. It wants to show you breaking news at the top of your feed. Instead of the most recent tweets by people you follow, Twitter will randomly, whenever it thinks there's "news that’s relevant to you", just shove something horrible like "Donald Trump fires the nukes" right at the start of your day on Twitter. They'll also send notifications about these sort of events, but you can disable them. This all happens in the official app, so if you're sick of Twitter's timeline modifications, keep praying 3rd party Twitter clients aren't disabled any time soon. Meanwhile, Twitter is actually making money now and its stock price is doing very well. I guess that's good.

The Boring Company snags its first proper contract to build a tunnel in Chicago

The city of Chicago has given Elon Musk's Boring Company a contract to build and operate a tunnel with electric cars in it, between O'Hare airport and downtown Chicago. What's normally a 40 minute trip by train will be a 12 minute glide instead. This isn't a hyperloop thingo, it's more of a conventional train or people mover system with a track. The Boring Company will pay for the lot, no taxpayer funds required. The Chicago Tribune reckons it'll cost less than US$1b to to build. That Tribune article has a lot of info on the deal and an interview with Chicago's Mayor, who seems pretty pumped about the whole thing. There's no start or end dates yet, but I look forward to riding it one day (probably at the same time Qantas gets planes that'll do MEL/SYD-ORD direct too).

Unlockd goes into administration because it's business model is against Google's T&Cs

Unlockd, an Australian startup that got $68m of funding from people like "Lachlan Murdoch, former Seven Group CEO Peter Gammell and Catch of the Day founders Hezi and Gabby Leibovich", with a plan to show ads on smartphone home screens has gone into administration. It's run out of money as it can't get new investors because it reckons Google has scared them all away. Google claimed Unlockd breached its Play Store and AdMob terms and conditions, so they banned Unlockd from being offered to Android users. Unlockd has sued Google a few times, but Google hasn't let the app back on. An app startup that can't get their app on people's phones isn't gonna do too well, is it? What surprises me is how did they not know their app was against Google's T&Cs and how did they spend almost $70m in 2 years on this?!

Not News, But Still Cool

Cheap Philips Hue, Nintendo Switch gear, Nikon D850, Bose QC35, Logitech Mouse & GTA 5

Looks like watchOS 5 will bring 3rd party app podcast support too

One of my most anticipated features for the upcoming watchOS 5 is support for listening to podcasts without an iPhone nearby. Outcast tries its best, but due to the poor media file playback framework, it's not very reliable or easy to use. In watchOS 5, not only is there full support for offline podcasts via Apple's own Podcast app, but 3rd party apps like Pocket Casts (good, humble, Aussie made app we all love) and Overcast (made by a multi-millionare in America for a lark) will be able to download podcasts directly to your Apple Watch over wi-fi or LTE, no iPhone required.

An in-depth guide to selecting the right 5GHz wi-fi channel in Australia

Gough Lui has an incredibly in-depth look at choosing the appropriate 5Ghz Wi-Fi channels for 802.11ac in Australia. He goes through the laws surrounding which bands and channels are legal in Australia, explains all the weird terms, sorts out the marketing bullshit from the facts, then gets down to the science of picking an appropriate channel for your needs that'll get the most performance out of your wi-fi network. As an aside, I'm so happy Gough is back blogging. I love the detail Gough puts into his posts and this is a fantastic example of it.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Blur - Out of Time