Issue 1290 - Monday 25th January, 2021

Quick reminder (mostly for the handful of overseas readers) that tomorrow is the Australia Day public holiday so there won't be an issue of The Sizzle. I'll be back on Wednesday!

In Today's Issue

The News

SpaceX launches 143 satellites at once, setting a record

SpaceX just launched 143 satellites into orbit at once in its first "rideshare" mission, Transporter-1. Companies can book a spot on a rocket and when it's full it takes off, making the cost to put stuff in space way cheaper than a conventional launch where usually you have to fund the entire rocket yourself. Transporter-1 set a record for the most hurled into space at once. As per The Verage, "the 143 spacecraft aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 include 48 Earth imaging satellites dubbed SuperDoves from Planet, 17 tiny communications satellites for Toronto-based Kepler, and 30 small satellites for the US and Europe packaged by Berlin, Germany-based Exolaunch", as well as "small capsules of human ashes arranged by Celestis, a spaceflight memorial company" and 10 Starlink satellites. Apparently these 10 Starlink satellites are the first to use lasers to talk to each other, enabling backhaul connectivity between satellites, bypassing ground options. Cool.

Nvidia still hasn't consumed ARM as planned due to worldwide government regulator concern about competition

Nvidia and ARM agreed to holy financial matrimony last year, but they still haven't made it official because competition and anti-trust regulators around the world are freaking out. The main issue seems to be that Nvidia competes with companies like Qualcomm, Intel, AMD, Samsung and so on, who all licence ARM's designs to develop their own products. Nvidia could totally keep the best ARM designs for themselves and only licence the 2nd-grade stuff out to others, or put a 3-6-9 month lag on when they licence stuff out, or simply not licence things at all to certain companies. It would be a dick move in the industry, and perhaps counter-intuitive if they want ARM to remain at the cutting edge as it is now, but who knows what MBA brainworms will manifest in a few years time. Then there's the whole geopolitical scenario, with the UK sorta keen to keep the immensely valuable ARM business in the UK.

Alphabet deflates Loon (aka internet via balloons for extreme rual areas)

Loon, Alphabet/Google's idea to distribute internet access from the sky via weather balloons has fallen down to Earth - metaphorically. This "moonshot" is now over, I assume because they've seen SpaceX and OneWeb do what they wanted to do but way better and figured this idea's time is up. Also probably because Loon is one of those Sergey and Larry weirdo ideas that was going nowhere so now they're gone and boring adults are in charge, this type of project gets shitcanned. I was surprised to remember that Loon has been a thing for 9 years. 9 years! That's a long time to see if balloon based internet can be a thing. At least they got some great photos out of it.

Something I Saw On The Internet

Audio Science Review, nerds at their pedantic best

Whilst researching a new subwoofer purchase I stumbled upon Audio Science Review, a forum of audiophiles that try and base their product suggestions in some form of evidence rather than woowoo nonsense. The main protagonist of ASR is a bloke called amirm who constantly reviews affordable headphones, speakers, amplifiers and DACs with high-end test equipment. The culmination of his work is in the Master Review Index, where you can select the kind of product you want and view a big list of recommendations and test results. Let's say you're after a pair of speakers for your study to enjoy some tunes on - load up the speaker review index and sort/filter by the criteria you're interested in. Active speakers, under US$500, sorted by amirm's rating results in the Neumann KH 80 DSP at number 1, but the JBL 306P/308P MkII speakers not far behind and way cheaper at US$150/$250. Very handy!

Bargains

The End

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