Issue 839

Wednesday, 20th March 2019
I need to ease off the tech news buffet, so starting tomorrow, Josh Withers will be handling Sizzle duties 2 days a week while I handle the other 3. This arrangement will go on for 6 weeks and then I'll return to 5 days a week of pure, unadulterated Sizzle.

In This Issue


Google gets in to the game streaming market

Google launched a game streaming platform called Stadia. It's basically the same as what Sony's done with PlayStation Now - the games run on a beefy server in Google's datacentre and are streamed to you in 4K at 60fps via the magic of the internet, that you interact with on your computer running Chrome or any low powered device running the Stadia client. It all sounds great in theory, but unless you've got a pristine internet connection (sub-15ms latency to Google's servers, computer hooked up over Ethernet at home), things get really laggy, really quick. It'll launch "in 2019" in the US, UK and Canada - no word about Australia, or pricing, or the range of games available.

Facebook will remove (some) ability for advertisers to discriminate

ProPublica has been reporting for years about how Facebook's ad targeting features blatantly broke federal US anti-discrimination laws. For example, if you don't want women applying for a job because your tiny brain is stuck in the 50s, Facebook made it easy to only show your ad to men. Doing this in a newspaper or billboard is very illegal, but at the time Facebook said "it was being held to an unreasonably high standard, and that ads excluding users by age and gender were not discriminatory". Today Facebook announced that "advertisers can no longer target users by age, gender and ZIP code for housing, employment and credit offers" as part of a legal agreement with the ACLU and others. I guess Facebook realised their dumb justifications of being a neutral platform won't hold up in court.

Apple gives the iMac a speed bump & other random Mac hardware changes

Apple did a spring clean of a bunch of Macs overnight. iMacs got a speed bump, gaining the latest 9th-gen Intel CPUs and mild AMD GPU upgrades, but keeping the same stupid Fusion drive as standard. No price increases in AU either, which is nice. Apple also lowered pricing for higher end SSD (1TB-2TB) and RAM upgrades across their laptop line up. They're still horribly overpriced compared to the exact same quality parts available at your local PC store, that hasn't changed. The iMac Pro now has the option of 256GB of RAM (A$8,320!) and a new Radeon Pro Vega 64X GPU (for US$700). There's rumours floating around that Apple will upgrade the iPod touch tomorrow.

Scott Morrison reckons blocking hate speech online is just an algorithm away

The Australian PM has sent a letter to the Japanese PM, asking to make "social media companies implement better safeguards to ensure their platforms can't be exploited by terrorists or to spread hate speech" something the G20 works on at their upcoming 2019 leaders meeting in Osaka. Okay, fair enough, sounds reasonable in theory. Then at a press conference a few hours later, Scott Morrison said that "if they [social media companies] can write an algorithm to make sure that the ads they want you to see can appear on your mobile phone, then I'm quite confident they can write an algorithm to screen out hate content on social media platforms". Imagine how awesome an anti-hate content algorithm would be - ScoMo would be banned instantly!

Canada introduces federal cash incentives & infrastructure funding for EVs

The Canadian government has decided to encourage more zero emissions vehicles in their 2019 budget, by providing a CAD$5,000 incentive to buy an electric car (with a few caveats, like the car has to cost less than CAD$45,000 - no luxury Teslas allowed). If you're a business you can get a full tax write off the entire purchase price of the car in a single year. Canada's also going to spend CAD$130m over 5 years "to deploy new recharging and refuelling stations in workplaces, public parking spots, commercial and multi-unit residential buildings, and remote locations". That makes both countries Australia rips off for political ideas with national EV policies. Let's see if anything EV-related dribbles out during our federal election campaign in a few months.

Not News, But Still Cool

/etc/resolv.conf is a mess

In a past life before I decided I liked writing about computers more than working with computers (that is slowly changing), I was a systems administrator. Mostly Macs and Linux, sometimes Windows. I was a crap sys admin, but I knew how to do most of what was asked of me and could Google the rest. As time goes on I become more out of touch, but it wasn't until I tried to change the DNS settings on an Ubuntu server did I realise how far out of touch I am. I felt like an absolute moron when I was unable to go into /etc/resolv.conf, chuck in, quit, save and carry on. I feel a bit less shame now that I've seen Daniel Aleksandersen's blog post on how to "get control" of /etc/resolv.conf back from the 5 or 6 layers of bullshit that control a simple system setting. This kinda crap is why people hate computers.

PicoTorrent is a nice BitTorrent client for Windows

Are you a Windows users who likes to dabble in the fine past time of illegal downloading? I have a little treat for you naughty people - PicoTorrent. It's a no bullshit torrent client that isn't filled with adware, spyware, cryptocurrency mining software, doesn't use more RAM than Google Chrome and Slack combined, isn't 5 years out of date and is open source so if someone does decide to fuck with it, someone smarter than you will realise and sound the alarm. I've been using it for a few days (Linux ISOs, of course) and it absolutely gets the job done.

Cheap 3TB external HDD, Edifer R1700BT speakers, Synology 918+ NAS, Orbi AC3000 mesh wi-fi kit, Logitech Harmony Companion remote

That's it, I'll see you on Monday! Josh will be your Sizzler tomorrow & Friday.

 Dirty New Yorker - Mobb Deep