Issue 815

Wednesday, 13th February 2019

In This Issue


R&D tax incentive changes not going ahead, for now

Startup-land has been going absolutely bonkers over the government's proposed changes to their precious R&D tax incentive. If you're unfamiliar with the RDTI, the government gives you money if you conduct R&D in Australia as a way to stop off-shoring high skilled jobs. The government wants to significantly cut the $3b it hands out annually, but many startups rely (or rort, depending on your point of view) on that money to stay alive during the scale-up phase of their business and as a result they've been very vocal in saying how any lowering of the RDTI will destroy the Australian startup scene. You'd think the industry would be happy with the Treasurer's announcement yesterday that changes to the RTDI are on hold until after the election, but they're cranky that there will be changes either by the Libs or ALP post-election and that the uncertainty is holding back investment.

Porn & gambling apps have been abusing Apple's Enterprise Certificate program

TechCrunch has found "a dozen hardcore pornography apps and a dozen real-money gambling apps that escaped Apple's oversight", abusing Apple's Enterprise Certificate program in the same way we recently discovered Facebook and Google were. The problem seems to stem from Apple's lax approach to the Enterprise Certificate program. You just set up any old company, or even use some other company's details, promise to only distribute apps to your employees and off you go. Apple doesn't verify anything post-application. I'm not sure where and how people are finding these apps, but they're out there and for a company that prides itself on privacy and protecting users, it's not a good look for these "rogue" apps to be out there, doing who knows what with user data.

UK government report recommends regulation for news on tech platforms

The UK government has released a review into "sustainable journalism", tasked to analyse the internet's effect on news in the UK and if/how that impacts society. The review found that most people are getting their news via content made by a publisher (e.g: BBC, The Times, The Telegraph, etc), but distributed by a tech company (Google, Apple, Facebook) who reap most of the financial benefits. That lopsided commercial arrangement is making it difficult for publishers to survive, which in turn, is leading to a decline in the quality of news. The report recommends a code of conduct between publishers and online platforms, overseen by a government regulator so more money can flow to the content creators. The report also recommends a form of "news quality obligation" for online platforms that a regulator can oversee and check that junk content isn't getting promoted. Australia's doing a similar review by the way.

Apple might be launching a news subscription service on March 25th

This leads nicely into news of Apple's plan to add paid subscriptions to Apple News. This popped up in the Wall Street Journal today, reporting that Apple's been pitching the idea to various news outlets as "Netflix for news". A user slaps down $10, $15 or whatever a month and they get access to all the paywalled content in Apple News. Sounds okay, but the real kick in the balls is Apple asking for a 50/50 split of the subscription revenue! Buzzfeed has reported that Apple will host an event to announce this on March 25th, but Apple hasn't confirmed it. From a customer's point of view, giving Apple $15/m to get access to (for example) The Age, The Herald Sun, AFR and maybe even Crikey, is an absolute bargain (I'd save like $100/m). As a publisher though, I don't know if there would be enough volume to make it worth it, even more so if Apple is serious about keeping 50% of that $15/m.

ALP now saying the Assistance and Access law they helped pass makes Australia less safe

I don't know how much further the ALP can shoot themselves in the foot regarding the Assistance and Access laws, but they've done it again today! Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said that the ALP's amendments to the law are "necessary to help protect the personal information and therefore the security of virtually every Australian who has a smartphone or who uses the internet" and if the amendments aren't passed, the government "must explain to the Australian technology industry and more importantly to the Australian people precisely why it is opposing amendments that would make them safer". So... is old mate here saying that the ALP helped pass a law that aren't safe to pass back in December? Nice own goal, moron.

Not News, But Still Cool

Server Hunter makes finding a VPS or dedicated server a piece of piss

Finding a VPS or dedicated server at a decent price with the features you need can be an absolute dog's breakfast. Clicking each site, writing down the specs and then repeating that until you get bored isn't exactly the best way to find a deal. Server Hunter makes the process, way, way easier. They've added all the hosted server deals they can find into a big database and added heaps of options you can filter services by. For example, I can narrow my search down to just Australian servers, with 2GB of RAM, SSD storage and two cores, then sort the results by cheapest to highest. Pretty awesome stuff - hopefully they can keep it honest and not go down the route of only promoting the services they get affiliate cash for.

Boya BY-M1 is a good alternative to the Rode SmartLav+ if you're really hard for cash

If you're gonna make some videos, of any kind, you need good audio. I'll put up with a dodgy video quality if the sound is ok, but I won't put up with shitty sound, even at 4K. A lav mic just pins on to your top and will capture people speaking nice and clearly. Unfortunately, even at a low $79, the Rode SmartLav+ can be out of budget for someone just starting out. If you fall into that category, grab a Boya BY-M1 off Aliexpress for $25. It plugs into any 3.5mm input (e.g: a smartphone or laptop). Here's a YouTube video from ChinaTech reviewing the unit and you can tell that it sounds perfectly fine and way better than any internal computer or smartphone mic.

Nuclear is kinda like a free Spotify that takes music off YouTube, Bandcamp and Soundcloud

Too cheap to cough up for Spotify Premium, Apple Music, Google Play Music or some other music streaming service? Nuclear might interest you! It's like those other streaming services, but it pulls music from free sources like YouTube, Soundcloud and Bandcamp and matches it up with info from the Discogs crowdsourced database of recorded music (which is amazing). The app is a little rough right now, but is something to keep an eye on I reckon. If it takes off, this thing that leeches free tracks will really piss off the services that paid to licence music like Spotify or Apple Music.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

 Fine Mess - Interpol