Issue 802

Thursday, 24th January 2019

In This Issue


Google could be making changes to Chrome that'll break ad-blocking extensions

Google has a bit of an issue with malicious Chrome extensions, so they've outlined some ideas to crack down on rogue extensions and give users more peace of mind when grabbing an extension of the Chrome web store. Sounds great at first glance, but the downside of some of these changes will result in popular ad blocking extensions like uBlock Origin and uMatrix no longer able to do their thing, because features of the Chrome extension API getting restricted in the name of "privacy". Call me a cynical bastard, but it seems like a this change comes with a very convenient side-effect for the world's largest advertising company.

China bans use of Microsoft's Bing search engine

Microsoft's Bing search engine is officially blocked in China as of today. "The Financial Times, citing a source, reported on Wednesday that China Unicom, a major state-owned telecommunication company, had confirmed the government order to block the search engine". The Chinese haven't said why they blocked it, but it's probably because of all that American imperialism corrupting the harmonious Chinese society. Honestly, I thought Bing was already blocked and I'm surprised it managed to stay active that long in China.

AWS Sydney is now suitable for Protected level government services

The Sydney Amazon Web Services data centre has been added to the federal government's Certified Cloud Services List, meaning government agencies can use AWS to handle data classified as Protected. "Compute, storage, network, database, security, analytics, application integration, management and governance services are among those approved". AWS joins Microsoft's Azure cloud services, plus other smaller vendors in offering this higher standard of data security so the Chinese can't get their grubby little hands on our secrets. Developers in Canberra are also delighted to hear they can drag their employers into the 21st century.

There's now a Farming Simulator esports leauge

When I first saw Farming Simulator I thought it was a joke, but here we are in 2019 to witness the announcement of a Farming Simulator esports league! "It will consist of 10 tournaments across Europe, including big events like Gamescom and Paris Games Week, culminating in a grand final at FarmCon 2020. The developer is putting up €250,000 in prize money, and it has lured big-name sponsors like Logitech and Intel". This interview with the CEO of Giants Software (the developer of Farming Simulator) goes into more detail. What a time to be alive.

Google has donated $3.1m plus some cloud compute freebies to Wikipedia

Someone at Google has experienced remorse over their shameless use of Wikipedia resources in search results and to clear their conscience, got Google to donate $3.1m to Wikimedia plus give them free access to the Google Cloud Custom Search API and Cloud Vision API. This will "help editors with citation and finding sources" and "digitise public domain books in Indic languages to include more diverse and reputable sources for citations". Google will also help Wikimedia give editors "resources" (whatever that means) to translate a bunch of English articles into 10 different languages. Makes my $50/yr donation a drop in the ocean!

Not News, But Still Cool

Xiaomi shows off a foldable phone that looks like it's actually useful

Xiaomi uploaded a 1-minute video to Weibo of its co-founder and president demonstrating a foldable smartphone. It's only an engineering model, but it looks pretty polished and is the most detailed and realistic foldable phone demo I've seen. Xiaomi said that they've overcome "a series of technical problems such as flexible folding screen technology, four-wheel drive folding shaft technology, flexible cover technology, and MIUI adaptation". I dunno what it is, but four-wheel drive folding shaft technology sounds great. Samsung's foldable phone will probably be revealed in more detail (but not go on sale) in a few weeks at the Galaxy S10 event and no doubt there will be more prototypes shown off at Mobile World Congress later in Feb.

Volvo shows off native Android Auto car interface that looks fantastic

Volvo has made a website featuring an interactive mock-up of what appears to be the first production ready native Android Auto implementation. Originally announced at Google I/O in 2017, native Android Auto goes a step further than simply projecting the smartphone's screen on the car's infotainment screen and brings a full Android experience to your car. It's basically car infotainment made by Google instead of a car maker (so it shouldn't suck) and themed to match a car maker's branding. It looks fantastic and will launch with Volvo's upcoming Polestar 2 electric sports car some time in 2020. Finally someone's matching Tesla for this kinda stuff.

Cheap Google Pixel 3, Nintendo Switch, Oppo magnetic headphones, bonus Bose headphones with Surface, 70" Sony TV & 1 month free Aussie Broadband for new customers

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

 Always Worth It - Sarah Blasko