Issue 826

Thursday, 28th February 2019

In This Issue


TikTok fined US$5.7m for not getting parental permission to keep kids personal info

TikTok's the latest social media craze of late, full of people uploading videos of themselves dancing and singing with lipsync'd music. It used to be called until a Chinese company bought it and re-branded it TikTok. Anyways, kids fucken love TikTok, but like every online service, if you're under 13 you need parental permission to use it so you can comply with the US government's Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) laws regarding how you handle the personal info of kiddies. TikTok has heapppssss of kids under 13 using it that sure as shit didn't get permission from their parents, so the FTC fined TikTok US$5.7m for blatantly ignoring their COPPA responsibilities and made them delete all posts by kids under 13 years old. Apparently that $5.7m fine is the biggest the FTC has ever handed out in regards to a children's privacy case.

Blackberry reckons Twitter "diverted" customers away & infringed their patents

Blackberry is looking to wring some cash out of Twitter, suing them for patent infringement in a Los Angeles court. From Reuters: "the lawsuit said Twitter wrongly sought to compensate for being a "relative latecomer" to mobile messaging by co-opting Blackberry's inventions for such services as the main Twitter application and Twitter Ads, infringing six of the company’s patents. Twitter "succeeded in diverting consumers away from BlackBerry's products and services" and toward its own by misappropriating features that made BlackBerry "a critical and commercial success in the first place," the complaint said". Good on Blackberry for trying, but to claim that Twitter stole Blackberry's customers is classic lawyer hyperbole. Blackberry is trying the same thing with Facebook and Snapchat too.

Light has hooked up with Sony and Xiaomi to put its mutli-camera setup on more phones

Remember Light, that company that made a camera with 16 lenses and image sensors on the back? They're the ones responsible for the hardware in Nokia's new 5 camera phone and they're gonna be supplying similar hardware in upcoming phones from Sony and Xiaomi. Sony make the best imaging sensors, so if they can get their shit together, there could finally be a reason to buy a Sony smartphone since they ditched their sub-5" screen units. There's no hard timelines or specs for phones using Light's ASIC and software (more details on that in this Anandtech article), but it's exciting to see this take off - it could be a real game changer for mobile photography.

All systems go for the Sydney Innovation and Technology Precinct

The Sydney Innovation and Technology Precinct is getting closer to reality - former Telstra CEO David Thodey's "independent" review has been presented to the government and Atlassian has signed on as the key tenant in the multi-billion dollar property developer's delight. The SITP will cover 130,000sqm of land between Central station and Eveleigh with the aim of placing the tech industry and research (RPA hospital, Data61, UTS) in close proximity to each other for maximum synergy. 25,000 jobs, 100 new startups, 250,000sqm of floor space, all nice stats. Thodey's report reckons the site needs 4 more anchor tenants besides Atlassian if it's gonna succeed. Let's see who takes the bait and if the government has to provide out incentives to lure large tech companies to the precinct. The first part of the SITP should be open within 5 years and it'll take 15 years for the entire precinct to fill out if all goes according to plan.

New semi-affordable EVs announced by Volvo/Polestar & Peugeot

It's a pretty quiet tech news day today, so to fill in the silence, I will indulge in some EV news! Volvo's performance subsidiary, Polestar, announced the company's first full electric car, the Polestar 2. It's a weirdly shaped crossover SUV thing, with an electric motor capable of 300kW of output and 0-100kph in 4.7sec, so it's bloody fast. The 78kWh battery will be good for ~440km of range and there's loads of tech in the cabin. Apparently it'll even be sold in Australia! The downside is it won't be on roads until mid-2020 and pricing starts at EUR39,990 (~A$64,000). Another cool EV announced recently is the Peugeot e-208. It's based on the existing Peugeot 208 hatch, but is full electric with ~340km range out of its 50 kWh battery. No price unfortunately, but if they can get it on the road in AU for ~$50,000, it would be the best value for money EV in the country. The 208 will go on sale mid-2019 in Europe.

Not News, But Still Cool

Musish & Soor are replacements for the terrible Apple Music app

I do not like Apple Music, but I use it anyways as it's the only reliable way to listen to music in my car over CarPlay. I don't like it because the Apple Music interface sucks on all platforms compared to Spotify and Google Play Music. I'm not alone in thinking this, as there's two "unofficial" wrappers for Apple Music: Musish is a slick web wrapper and Soor is an iOS app. They both use the Apple Music API to properly stream music to you via your Apple Music subscription. I know Soor is $10, but trust me, it's so much better than the default Apple app. I wish Spotify or Google Music actually worked more than 50% of the time with CarPlay though. Nothing worse than wanting some tunes in the car whilst driving, you open Spotify and nothing happens!

It's not just me, the Apple TV remote is crap

While we are on the topic of things Apple do that shit me - the Apple TV remote. How many goddamn times have you grabbed the remote upside down and pressed some other button other than Menu? How many times have you flown over an item on screen with the slippery touchpad? How many times has your partner cracked the shits with you when you've touched the Apple TV remote during a movie, moving the playhead forward a minute or two, ruining the movie? The Apple TV remote is an abomination unsuitable for the tasks it is used for and just so you know it's not me having a rant about this, Arstechnica has a rant about the Apple TV's crap remote too.

There's still heaps of low quality MPEG2 broadcasts clogging up the FTA spectrum

Gough Lui posted an update to his analysis of the bandwidth and codecs of all the free to air TV signals in Sydney. If you've wondered why channels like Your Money and look like utter trash, but Viceland and 10 look fantastic, Gough's table explains all. There's still loads of MPEG2 channels hogging that sweet bandwidth because if everything was changed to MPEG4 to improve quality (the superior compression of MPEG4 means you can use the same bandwidth as MPEG2 but have a way better quality image), there will be a handful of angry boomers that haven't bought a new TV in 15 years that'll set fire to Parliament when their TV doesn't work and their juicy tax refunds disappear.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

 Burn the Witch - Radiohead