Issue 756

Wednesday, 31st October 2018

In This Issue


New iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

There was an Apple event overnight that had new iPads, new MacBook Airs and Mac Minis (finally!). The iPad Pros are seriously sweet pieces of kit. There's 12.9" and 11" versions, with smaller bezels and little lighter than the previous ones. No home button on these units - they work like the new iPhones with Face ID and swiping from the bottom to go back home/switch apps. No Lightning port or headphone socket either - the iPad is now USB-C. A souped up version of the A12 is inside, allowing for some crazy performance. A 3GB, 12000x12000 PSD file, with 127 layers was used as a demo of how fast it is. They were scrolling around (at 120Hz mind you), with no lag. Amazing. There's also a new Apple Pencil that is not backwards compatible with the older iPads. It has a magnet in it that sticks to the side of the iPad and charges via the Smart Connector, not lightning. Don't ask how much all this costs. Just hand over your credit card next Wednesday and let Apple do the rest.

New MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is less impressive than the iPad Pro. It's really more of a MacBook 13" than a true MacBook Air successor, as it's built around a 5W Intel CPU, just like the 12" MacBook (which I find far too slow), as well as a Retina display and the same shitty keyboard. What it's got over the 12" is two USB-C ports and a Touch ID sensor - but no Touch Bar like the more expensive 13" MacBook Pro models. As it's a modern Mac, the new MacBook Air includes the T2 controller (which Apple released an interesting PDF about today), is appropriately expensive and comes in the same set of 3 colours. Personally, I don't know why you'd buy this laptop. If you don't really care about performance, get the 12" MacBook, way lighter and more portable. Otherwise get the 13" MacBook Pro with the faster CPU for the same price.

New Mac Mini (no I'm not shitting you)

All Apple had to do to update the Mac Mini after 4 years of neglect was just take the Intel NUC, slap it in an fancy case, add on a 30% margin and call it a day - but we all knew that was never going to happen. From the outside, it's the same Mac Mini, but black. Inside, it's radically different. No longer is it a laptop CPU, but a desktop-class CPU (your choice of i3, i5 and i7 CPUs), up to 64GB of RAM (which is user replaceable), a 2TB SSD (not user replaceable) and weirdly, the option of 10Gb Ethernet. I guess Apple know people use these as little servers for those niche macOS only operations (developers would be pretty much it?). It's a really nifty little unit if you can stomach the price. The new Mac Mini with specs I want (i3 quad, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) is $2,207, an Intel NUC with similar specs (NUC8i5BEK, 16GB RAM, 500GB Samsung 970 EVO SSD) is $1,057 at Scorptec. I'm paying a 50% premium for wanting to use macOS, which when put like that, kinda feels like I'm getting ripped off.

The ACCC says it won't protect NBN from telcos with 5G stealing customers

One of the big issues facing the NBN is the threat of 5G wireless services stealing low end (aka profitable) customers. If you can get a 200GB data plan from Optus on 5G with speeds over 100mbit, that costs $50/m versus a 50mbit NBN service for $60, there's gonna be a lot of people who will just prefer the mobility and speed of 5G over the ratshit FTTN or indeed, any sort of fixed line service. Telcos will be keen to promote this over the NBN as there's way more profit margin in it for them selling 5G on their own network, than reselling the NBN. The ACCC's boss, Rod Sims gave a speech yesterday where he said, "what we must never do, however, is seek to restrain others in order to protect the NBN business model. This would be a disaster for consumers" - so good luck using the ACCC as a weapon to shield the NBN from superior 5G networks stealing customers!

Waymo will be testing robocars in California without safety drivers

Waymo is the first company to receive approval to test the latest version of their robocars on public roads in California without a safety driver. They're gonna start trials in Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Sunnyvale and Mountain View any day now. According to the article, Waymo's permit "comes with strict rules about when and where Waymo vehicles can go without a safety driver. For example, the autonomous vehicles cannot go faster than 65 miles per hour, but they will be allowed to drive in fog and light rain". This puts Waymo far ahead of the competition like GM's Cruise, who are doing all their testing in the more difficult San Francisco streets compared to Waymo's Phoenix tests. I hope Waymo are actually capable of safe autonomous driving without a safety drive and not just saying they are to simply beat the competition.

Not News, But Still Cool

myGovID hits real user milestone with tax file number application pilot

The first application to use myGovID is out and about (in beta). According to the Digital Transformation Office, "the current process for applying for a TFN involves completing a form, printing it and then taking it with your identity documents to a post office. The myGovID pilot brings this entire process online, reducing the waiting time for a TFN from up to a month to just minutes". You install the myGovID app, feed it a bunch of info (e.g: name, date of birth, email address, and driver’s licence details or passport details) and then you can use it to apply for stuff, like tax file numbers. Here's a video explaining it way better than I can with text. Looks pretty useful, but for some reason I get a feeling it'll fuck up somehow, I can't put my finger on why...

New mandatory data breach notification scheme report is out

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has released a report outlining all the data breaches suffered by Australian organisations between July and September, as part of the mandatory data breach notification scheme. According to the report "nearly 60 per cent of reported breaches in the last quarter were caused by malicious or criminal attack. These attacks are "deliberately crafted to exploit known vulnerabilities for financial or other gain" and include phishing, malware, ransomware and hacking", the other 40% were mostly "the result of human error, including an individual sending an email to the wrong address, unintended publication of information or the loss of paperwork or a storage device". Everyone likes to focus on some nasty Russian dude trying to hack firewalls and shit, but most of the time it's a user doing something stupid (phishing) or being careless (sending an email to the wrong person).

Random bits of Google & Facebook related news

There's no worthwhile bargains today and the news was dominated by Apple stuff, so here's some Facebook and Google related things but deserve a mention, but not a paragraph:

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Rilo Kiley - The Moneymaker