Issue 741

Wednesday, 10th October 2018

In This Issue


New Google Pixel3 & Pixel 3 XL smartphones, available in AU early Nov

Google released the Pixel 3 & Pixel 3 XL overnight. Specs are relatively mundane: a 5.5" OLED, either 64GB of 128GB of storage, a Qualcomm 845 SoC and 4GB of RAM plus a rather deep sensor notch. Oddly, only a single rear camera, but dual front cameras - apparently designed for "groupies" (wide angle multiple-person selfies). The cameras in the Pixel 2 was great and the Pixel 3 gets more AI photo love. There's some cute software features like flipping the phone over to shut it up if it's making noise and using Google Assistant to filter out spam callers. Duplex (remember that weird AI phone call thing?) is coming to US-only Pixel phones on launch. Google's also implementing a "Titan Security Chip" in the Pixel 3 that's kinda like the iPhone's secure enclave. A fancy Pixel Stand (separate purchase) will charge your phone and place it in a special mode that makes the phone work like a Google Home speaker, but with a screen. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL can be pre-ordered now and will be available November 1st from Optus, Telstra, Vodafone, JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman.

Pixel Slate, 1080p60 Chromecast, Google Hub & Xiaomi Mi Box S also announced

The other big Google announcement was the Pixel Slate, a 12" tablet PC running ChromeOS and powered by an Intel x86 CPU. It's basically Google's answer to Microsoft's Surface. Looks pretty good to me if you were in the market for a Chromebook anyways. Unfortunately, there's no Australian release date or pricing yet. It'll go n sale in the USA later this year and start at US$599, plus US$199 for the keyboard (!) and US$99 for the stylus. Also announced at the Google event was a new 1080p Chromecast with Chromecast Audio functionality and the Google Hub, a 7" touchscreen Google Assistant unit ($219, coming Oct 22nd to AU). All this Google Home shit has been placed into an all new Home App for both iOS and Android, making it easier to see the various ways Google is spying on you. I don't know if it was announced at the same event, but Xiaomi released a new version of it's excellent Android TV Mi Box, the Mi Box S, that includes Google Assistant and Chromecast, 4K 60fps HDR and DTS audio output.

Leaked transcripts confirm Google is building a search engine for China

Also on the topic of Google, leaked transcripts have come out confirming that Google has secretly been working on a Chinese version of its search engine, aka "Dragonfly". Google employees have cracked the shits about the company they work for giving in to the Chinese censorship regime, and Google has publicly denied they're doing such a thing. This transcript of Ben Gomes, Google's search engine chief, giving a talk to employees about Dragonfly, confirms that Google's more interested in turning a buck in the Chinese market than upholding free speech. So much for "could no longer continue censoring our results" back in 2010. Google's argument is that China is better off with a Google that censors than no Google at all. Oh and at the same time, Google is appealing a €4.3 billion anti-trust fine imposed by the EU, for forcing Android phone makers to include Google Search & Chrome if they want to sell Android-branded phones.

Bloomberg alleges US telcos also have compromised Supermicro gear

Bloomberg's little magic chip supply chain hack story has a new twist, with Bloomberg reporting that hacked Supermicro hardware has shown up in a US telco. They don't name which one, but have a named source this time - Yossi Appleboum, CEO of Sepio Systems. Yossi's company found "unusual communications from a Supermicro server and a subsequent physical inspection revealed an implant built into the server's Ethernet connector". This is different than hacking the remote management features, but is similar in that Supermicro's supply chain was fucked with to get this hardware hack implanted in servers and delivered to specific targets. Apparently the NSA has been doing this for years, so maybe this specific incidence is actually domestic spying. Still shows how vulnerable the supply chain is though. Also would make for a classic case of Russian interference, stirring shit between China and USA so they can wiggle their way in somewhere. This story has so many damn layers.

Sydney startups want special economic zone so they can pay less tax & ignore some laws

TechSydney - a lobby group for Sydney-based startups - has published the results of their industry consultation about what the startup scene wants from the NSW government's proposed "Central to Eveleigh Technology and Innovation Precinct". They basically want a special economic zone with lower taxes, different visas, rental subsidies and other unique laws for businesses operating there. To give you an idea of the scale of this development, it will "include the substantial reclamation of land by building over tracks in the redevelopment of Central station and the corridor through to Eveleigh and Redfern" - effectively turning it into a hybrid Shenzhen/San Francisco in the heart of Sydney. I really hope there's decent cost benefit analysis going into this. What will the wider population gain by giving these already well resourced outfits a decent slice of Sydney to turn into their fiefdom?

Not News, But Still Cool

Don't be tempted by knockoff AirPods, they all suck

Macworld USA (does Macworld AU even pump out content anymore? anyways) has reviewed a couple of AirPod knockoffs. They work more or less the same as Apple's $200 units, with cases that recharge the bits that go in your years and pair with your iPhone over Bluetooth. Some even look the same as the real thing. But, as you probably guessed, all of them sound like garbage and most have unreliable Bluetooth connections. So sure, you can save like $150, but the coolest feature of the AirPods is that there's no messing around with Bluetooth settings (unlike my car's headunit, fuck you Toyota). So yeah, if you've seen those cheapo AirPods on Aliexpress and been tempted, don't waste your money, they're crap.

The Model 3 is a very safe automobile, the safest in the USA

Tesla's Model 3 has been rated by the US crash testing authority (NHTSA) as the safest car they've ever examined. Other cars gets 5-stars too (i.e: Volvo), but digging into the numbers behind the star rating, Tesla's Model 3 even exceeds Volvo's best efforts in protecting vehicle occupants from harm. How did Tesla do this? Batteries & electric propulsion. Because there's no motor in the front, the car has an insanely huge crumple zone that absorbs any front on impacts and because the battery pack is heavy and in the middle of the car, it prevents roll-overs. There's also a bunch of smart engineering in the pillars and doors that prevent intrusions, allowing the airbags to do their thing more efficiently.

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That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Gotye - Eyes Wide Open