Issue 729

Friday, 21st September 2018

In This Issue


Amazon unleashes over a dozen new Alexa related piece of hardware

Amazon announced heaps of Alexa-related gear overnight:

  • Echo Input - kinda like a Chromecast with a mic, but for Alexa. Will turn any speaker into a smart speaker.
  • 2nd-gen Echo Show - bigger screen, better sound compared to the previous one.
  • 3rd-gen Echo Dot - the Dot you know and love, but louder and a new case design.
  • 2nd-gen Echo Plus - like the previous Echo Plus, but better quality audio, built-in temp sensor and the same new case as the Dot.
  • Echo Sub - pair it with two Echos for a wireless 2.1 setup that apparently sounds the same as a single Apple's Homepod.
  • Echo Link - if you've already got a fancy speaker setup, plug this in and it'll work with your other Echo speakers for high quality music playback.
  • Echo Link Amp - the same as the Echo Link, but an actual amp. Hook up your own speakers.
  • Amazon Smart Plug - a smart plug that'll automagically join your Echo setup.
  • Echo Auto - clip it to your car's sun visor and connect it to your smartphone & car stereo so you can use Alexa in any old shitbox vehicle.
  • Fire TV Recast - a DVR with Alexa built-in.
  • AmazonBasics Microwave - a microwave with Alexa built-in
  • Echo Wall Clock - literally a clock, with an hour & minute hand, that goes on a wall, with Alexa built-in.
  • Ring Stick Up Cam - an updated version of the popular Ring doorbells and security cameras.
Unfortunately, most of this stuff isn't coming to Australia. Just the Echo Dot, Plus, Show & Sub. No fancy Alexa microwave for us Aussies. Dunno why the Input in particular isn't coming here. The Echos will also gain a new feature called Alexa Guard that can detect sounds like shattering glass and alert users to a possible break-in.

GoPro has new gear too, the Hero 7

GoPro chose the wrong day to announce a new product, with Amazon flooding all the tech blogs - but they did and it's the GoPro Hero 7. The Hero 7 Black is the flagship unit, using GoPro's own custom designed GP1 processor. The cheaper and less cool Hero 7 White and Hero 7 Silver use some other company's processor that isn't Ambarella, but GoPro isn't saying who. That custom processor gives the Hero 7 Black some cool features, "including live-streaming, a slick in-camera time-lapse feature, a Google Pixel-like smart HDR photo mode, and the headliner: a remarkable in-camera digital stabilization algorithm". The Verge as an interesting article outlining GoPro's struggle to remain relevant and turn a profit.

The Assistance and Access bill submitted to Parliament is slightly different to the draft

iTnews has compared the Assistance and Access bill draft to the one that was introduced into Parliament this week, to see what, if any changes were made based on the 14,000 pieces of feedback the government received. They found a dozen differences. I won't go through all of them here, but it's pretty clear that the feedback government received hasn't really been listened to. There's attempts to clarify technical assistance advice versus technical assistance requests, as well as trying to ensure the government's requests don't implement "systemic flaws" into a service. I would love to know what made the government change their mind about not using this new bill for "protecting the public revenue".

Facebook's rolling out its "context button" feature to Australian users

Facebook is rolling out its "context button" feature to users in Australia. The button, which has been running in the UK and US for a few months, "shows what a publisher has previously posted, its Wikipedia page and where the post has been shared". I don't know if this would make a real difference to the amount of bullshit on Facebook. If you're a kook that believes some dubious outlet's article in the first place, you're hardly going to go "oh, this wasn't in the mainstream media, so it could be fake", you're gonna double down on your belief that the mainstream media is corrupt and selling lies for clicks, making this "context" thing kinda useless.

More news too small for its own bit, but interesting enough to be mentioned

Not News, But Still Cool

Check out this 13.3" e-ink monitor

I stumbled across this e-ink monitor recently. That's right, a 13.3" e-ink display, with a HDMI port and 2200 x 1650 resolution. According to the manufacturer Dasung, it works just like a normal monitor, without the usual slow response time of an e-ink display in something like a Kindle. It's not cheap, at US$899, and I'm not sure why you'd really want one over an LCD, but, I guess it's cool? Here's a video of the Paperlike HD in action editing some code (which is a good use imho - way better for your eyes than an LCD) and the refresh rate is definetly slower than 60fps for a smooth scrolling experience. Looks ok when typing, but the lack of colour means no syntax highlighting.

Australia Post is addressing an IT skills shortage by starting a tech academy

Back in August, Australia Post launched a Tech Academy program to meet a skills shortage. "Commencing February 2019, associate trainees will receive a 12 week tech boot camp, a two-week placement across Australia Post's retail and operations sectors, and four five-month tech rotations, with opportunities for ongoing employment within a tech or digital team at the conclusion of the two-year period". I thought it was cool that instead of geting in some overpaid contractors, or abusing the 457 visa scheme, Australia Post went old school and thought, "fuck it, we'll just teach them ourselves". This is old news, but I liked the concept so much I didn't want to let it slide into obscurity.

Cheap AirPods, Nintendo Switch, iPad Pro, GTX1080, eBay gift cards, Nokia 3.1 phone & PLE site-wide discounts

That's it, see ya Monday!

Rage Against The Machine - People of the Sun