As is customary for the first issue of The Sizzle for the year, we begin with what's happening at CES over in Las Vegas (besides the all expenses paid junkets that are then passed off as news in mainstream media publications):
Google blew heaps of money on this "Google Assistant Ride". It's literally a Disneyland style puppet show you drive through with a cute song (hello to the #deckerheads) to promote all the stuff Google Assistant can be used for, which in 2019, will be many, many more things. Seems very similar to Amazon's strategy with Alexa.
Samsung showed off an 8K QLED 98-inch TV and a 75-inch TV using "Micro LED" technology that allow for bezel free displays. The 75-inch model is coming some time in 2019 (no date or price) and it's supposed to be better in every way than OLED.
LG announced a "HomeBrew" beer maker. Literally Nespresso, but for beer. LG also showed off an OLED TV that rolls up into a box that'll go on sale in 2019. No pricing, but if you have to ask, you can't afford it.
Canon is still flogging camcorders? In 2019? The only markets for camcorders I can think of are police departments and lawyers doing depositions. Who else is buying em instead of using the camera in their smartphone?
Dell has a new XPS 13 that looks cool and they put the webcam back at the top of the display where it belongs.
Nvidia has a cheaper version of their RTX line of GPUs, with the RTX2060 going on sale in a few days. Performance wise it seems to be around the same as the GTX1080. Nvidia also said they're going to support VESA Adaptive Sync (aka Freesync).
Nissan just revealed the LEAF e+, a version of their electric car with a bigger battery and new powertrain that adds 40% extra range (350km vs 250km on the old one). Goes in sale in Japan in a few weeks, USA in April-ish, EU in mid-2019, Australia who the fuck knows.
IBM's got a 20-qubit quantum computer you can buy now. The "Q System" mostly exists for organisations to do quantum computing experiments with, as it's nowhere near fast enough to match current silicon tech.
MacStories has a good overview of all the HomeKit and AirPlay stuff happening at CES 2019.
Mark Zuckerberg loves to set himself public personal challenges at the start of each year. In previous years he's "built an AI for my home, run 365 miles, visited every US state, read 25 books, and learned Mandarin". In 2019 his plan is to "host a series of public discussions about the future of technology in society -- the opportunities, the challenges, the hopes, and the anxieties". It sounds like every few weeks, he'll chuck up a live stream on Facebook where he and a few other smart people will shoot the shit about technology's ethical responsibilities. I seriously doubt that even if Zuck has some epiphany and starts quoting Industrial Society and Its Future or tells people to watch some Adam Curtis gear, none of those lessons will be applied to Facebook's business.
On the second day of the year, Apple let loose that they're gonna make less money than they planned to make this quarter. Instead of making somewhere between $128.32 billion to $135.61 billion of revenue, it might only be $122.49 billion. What's a few billion between friends? Anyway, besides the stockmarket panic, it resulted in a weird "Letter from Tim Cook to Apple investors" to go up on Apple's website, where he basically blamed waning interest in the iPhone over in China for the drop in revenue (among other things). Ben Thompson explains what this "means" for Apple way better than I could. Tim Cook went on CNBC today and said they'll be looking to get more money out of iOS users via services (e.g: mobile payments, healthcare, iCloud, media streaming etc.) in 2019.
If you're after some cool new websites to get free TV shows and movies from, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros have joined Village Roadshow, Foxtel and Madman in requesting the Federal Court add 79 new sites to the national naughty website ban list. I just visited a few random sites on the list that the article I've linked to outlines and yep, they sure do have TV shows and movies that are totally free and very easy to watch. The Australian music industry is currently arguing in the Federal Court for similar blocks on stream ripping sites that let ya steal tracks off Spotify or YouTube.
Emergency Warning Network suffered a large breach last weekend, with hackers getting in and sending out "messages via text, email, and landline to tens of thousands of people across Australia". EWN is normally used by the government and insurance companies to send messages to people in certain areas who need to be warned about some sort of natural disaster or impending serious weather event. One message sent said "EWN has been hacked. Your personal data is not safe. Trying to fix the security issues". Looks like this company had ratshit security, despite it's important role in our society.
Joseph Cox over at Motherboard gave a bounty hunter (someone in the USA a bail bonds place calls to track you down if you've stiffed them) a phone number and $300 to try find out where the phone with that the SIM containing that number is located. Pretty much immediately, the bounty hunter had an approximate location within a few hundred meters and was able to use that info to find the phone. How did this happen so easily? "T-Mobile shares location data with an aggregator called Zumigo, which shares information with Microbilt. Microbilt shared that data with a customer using its mobile phone tracking product. The bounty hunter then shared this information with a bail industry source, who shared it with Motherboard". The data centipede strikes again.
Apparently digital hoarding is a thing thanks to services like Google Drive that offer unlimited file storage for not a lot of money. "In a study published earlier this year Neave and his colleagues asked 45 people about how they deal with emails, photos, and other files. The reasons people gave for hanging on to their digital effects varied – including pure laziness, thinking something might come in handy, anxiety over the idea of deleting anything and even wanting "ammunition" against someone". A separate study "asked 846 people about digital hoarding habits, as well as the levels of stress they felt. They saw a link between digital hoarding behaviours and levels of stress participants reported". I know I feel twitchy when my computer has files all over the place that aren't organised properly, or my inbox has emails that have been left unsorted.
That's it, see ya tomorrow!