Issue 712

Wednesday, 29th August 2018

In This Issue


Trump reckons Google is deliberately hiding positive stories about him

I can't say this any better than Reuters has, so I'll just copy and paste their intro: "U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused Google's search engine of promoting negative news articles and hiding "fair media" coverage of him, vowing to address the situation without providing evidence or giving details of action he might take". Here's the two tweets in question. Google said that its search results are "not used to set a political agenda and we don't bias our results toward any political ideology". I kinda agree a little with Trump here. I'm not saying he's is correct in that Google is deliberately hiding positive content about him, but Google's not exactly a neutral platform. It's gamed, it has preferred sources and we have no visibility into its algorithm (PageRank). I dunno what to do about it (and neither does Trump), but as Google becomes the default thing people use to learn about the world, it's gotta be something we discuss.

Xbox All Access is an Xbox rental service with Xbox Live Gold & Game Pass

Microsoft's launched, what is essentially, Xbox As A Service. Give Microsoft US$21.99/m and they'll give you an Xbox One S with Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold, so you can play all the games you want on your rented console as long as you keep paying. Pay $34.99/m and you get the 4K Xbox One X. After 2 years paying your monthly dues to Microsoft, you own the console. Microsoft reckons that not having an up-front cost will get more owning Xboxes. When you consider an Xbox One X is like $650, paying it in bits isn't a bad idea if you're gonna keep it for a while anyways. Xbox All Access (that's what this thing is called) isn't available outside the US yet, but if it goes well, I'm sure they'll expand it here.

Data61 teams up with some lawyers and IBM to make blockchain based smart contracts

The CSIRO's Data61 division announced that it's gonna work with law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and IBM to create a blockchain-based smart legal contracts network. They're calling it the Australian National Blockchain. From what I can gather, this is a bunch of scripts that fire off when external data sources like as IoT devices enter a certain condition. It's more of an automation project really, than a blockchain project. Last year Data61 was saying that "further research is required to improve our knowledge about how to create blockchain-based systems that work, and how to create evidence that blockchain-based systems will work as required" - so either they figured it all out or (most likely) the charlatans at IBM need someone who's reputation isn't in the toilet to lend some credibility to whatever bullshit they're trying to flog.

New 15W and 5W CPUs from Intel (aka new MacBook CPUs)

Intel's got some new laptop CPUs - "Whiskey Lake for new 15W (U-Series) processors and Amber Lake for new sub-5W (Y-Series) processors". These are the chips that go into Apple's MacBook (5W) and 13" MacBook Pro line, as well as Microsoft's Surface Pro and Surface Go. There's not much info in Intel's announcement and they aren't being very open to outlets like Anandtech that want more details. The existing 15W parts (particularly the i5 quad core) really nice CPUs that use little power and will do anything a sane person asks of it. If Intel makes those better, it'll be great but not worth an upgrade unless you're running a 3-5 year old machine. The 5W parts have always been kinda shit I reckon, so hopefully Intel worked some magic and made those snappier for the 12" MacBook.

Misc tech news items

Not News, But Still Cool

Official Raspberry Pi PoE Hat is on sale now

The Raspberry Pi PoE Hat is out and about from your favourite electronics store. I like element14, which has them in stock for $28.50. You slap this on top of your Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (and only the 3B+, won't work on the other ones) to make your Pi get powered from a network PoE switch or injector and receive data at the same time. No need to plug it in to USB for power! Dunno off the top of my head what I'd personally use a PoE powered Pi for, but I'm sure this will make some network nerds very excited. Lemme know if you've got a project in mind using the PoE Hat, I'd be curious to know what you're up to.

Shazam for bird calls is a thing

BirdGenie is basically Shazam for birds. It can identify the species of bird by the noise it makes! "Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie will help you identify the species. The app's highly developed sound identification engine and expert matching system enable anyone to achieve results with previously unheard of accuracy. It's perfect for anyone who is curious and wants to learn more about the birds around them". There's other bird ID apps on the App Store, but this one apparently has a huge database. It costs $5.99 and is on iOS and Android.

Sony's 10" & 13" e-ink screen tablets are cool but expensive

I recently discovered that Sony sells big e-ink tablets, that they call "Digital Paper". You chuck on PDFs (only PDFs work) and with the 13" screen model, you've got an A4 sized piece of e-ink that looks fantastic. It's apparently a great way to read technical or legal documents because it's light (350g for the 13" screen vs. 1kg for a tablet), the battery lasts a month from a single charge and the screen is so much easier on the eyes than an LCD. These things also include a stylus that works well for basic markup and note taking. Unfortunately, they aren't cheap, with the 10" screen one coming in at US$599 and the 13" screen at $699. Oh, and they aren't available in Australia. Here's a video review of the 13". I still kinda want one.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Angel Olsen - Forgiven/Forgotten