Issue 823

Monday, 25th February 2019

In This Issue


Huawei's folding phone is way better than Samsung's folding phone

Huawei has rained on Samsung's Galaxy Fold parade with a folding OLED display smartphone of their own - the Mate X. Huawei did the opposite of Samsung and made the display wrap around the outside of the device and it looks fantastic. It's also much tinner thick than Samsung's unit too. When not folded open, the Mate X's screen is full size, unlike the Galaxy Fold's dinky 50% screen, 50% bezel setup. When opened up, the Mate X has an 8" square-ish screen. Looks fantastic, but nobody got hands on time with it, so it's hard to say if it's any good from just pics. The Mate X will go on sale in mid-2019, feature 5G and cost €2,299 (AU$3,650, yikes). I'm excited to see this in person!

Microsoft's new HoloLens 2 headset is a high end unit for "enterprise" mixed reality

Microsoft showed off HoloLens 2, a major upgrade to their first mixed reality headset, the HoloLens 1. They're pitching it at industrial/business/medical uses, pretty much like how Google Glass pivoted from the geek pervert device of choice to cool videos of people fixing jet engines without needing to take their hands off their tools. Hardware wise, the main fix is the improved field of view so you can turn your head around and the image doesn't disappear. It can be ordered now and costs US$3,500, but it won't be something you can pick up at a shop - the HoloLens 2 will only be sold to partners with specific use cases. It looks like an impressive piece of hardware and way sleeker than the first HoloLens.

Nokia's phone with 5 cameras, Oppo's 10x "lossless" zoom, Xiaomi's cheap 5G phone and LG's dual screen phone

Elsewhere at MWC: Nokia announced 5 new phones and one of them, the Nokia 9 PureView has 5 rear cameras! When you take a photo all the cameras are used and mashed into a single, hopefully really nice image, with lots of depth info for adjusting bokeh and whatnot after the fact. Oppo announced a 5G phone and another phone with a fancy camera setup coming in mid-2019 that has a 10x "lossless" zoom. Xiaomi showed off the Mi Mix 3 5G, a "cheap" 5G smartphone that'll cost €599 when almost every other 5G unit will be in the US$1000+ range. All these 5G phones are gonna end up on Telstra by the way, Andy Penn said they're keen to get 5G devices into Aussie hands. LG's new phones (G8 ThinQ and V50 ThinQ) look a little sad compared to Nokia's and Huawei's, but they are going to sell a dual screen phone that's kinda fun.

Fastmail tells government how the Assistance & Access laws have stuffed their international reputation

Fastmail, an Australian company that sells email services around the world (and who I've been a 10yr+ customer of) has submitted their feedback on the Assistance and Access laws to the government and it doesn't mince words. They've received legal advice and was told that their business isn't really impacted as they "already respond to warrants under the Telecommunications Act" and have done so for many years. Despite that, "we have seen existing customers leave, and potential customers go elsewhere, citing this bill as the reason for their choice" and "are regularly being asked by customers if we plan to move". The mere fact the law exists and the way it was so poorly debated has made Australia "no longer a country which respects the right to privacy".

ALP plans to stop "digital poachers" from hiring the best government IT staff

One of the reasons going around for why the government sucks at computers is that most people good with computers would rather work for someone other than the government. Speaking at an AIIA lunch last week, Ed Husic, the ALP's token nerd, said that he has a plan to stop "digital poachers" taking the best government IT workers and employing them in the private sector on higher salaries. It doesn't involve paying them more, or reducing the amount of bureaucratic red tape. Nope, if the ALP wins the election and Ed's put in charge, he's gonna start "reviewing contract terms and contract management approaches [and] it may mean tracking the behavior and reflecting that in contract reviews" - okay mate, but making the job suck less and paying people more is probably a more robust approach.

Not News, But Still Cool

Background Briefing podcast about doxxing and how the cops don't give a rats

There's a fascinating story about doxxing in the latest ep of the ABC's Background Briefing podcast, that explains what it's like to have your phone number published online by a group of angry men. As you can probably imagine, it's a constant stream of death threats and insults that make you legitimately fear for your life. These people are nuts so it's not a big leap to assume they'll take their stupidity a step further. Unfortunately, the police are totally unwilling to help and enforce existing, but outdated laws that stop this kind of thing. We just got some non-controversial and very required "revenge porn" laws and it looks like we need similar ones to make online threats as punishable as those made in meatspace.

Lenovo refreshes the T-series line of Thinkpads for 2019

Lenovo announced a refreshing of my favourite laptops, the T-series Thinkpads. The T490 and T490s are mild revisions of the T480 and T480s available now. The new ones are thinner and lighter (the T490s is 1.27kg and 16.1mm thick), have improved 1080p screens (you can get 4K screens too) with Lenovo's PrivacyGuard, increased battery life (20hrs on the T490s) and of course a new range of CPUs. There's some compromises though, as there's no more full size SD card reader (just microsSD), the T490s no longer has an Ethernet port and the T490 no longer has a 2.5" SATA drive bay. No more PowerBridge batteries either - I guess you need to find a USB-C battery and lug that around instead. The updated T-series will go on sale between March and June.

Cheap UE Boom 3 speaker, Echo Dot, PlayStation Classic, Civ 6, LIFX bulbs, 2TB portable HDD, Netgear Orbi mesh wi-fi

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

 Stutter - Elastica