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Issue 46 – How Good Is This? - Monday, December 7, 2015

As of the 21st of December, the Sizzle will be in holiday mode. There will be stuff all news anyways, so instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel for uninteresting press releases, I’ll release a weekly Sizzle on the 27th of December and the 3rd of January, with regular daily emails resuming on the 4th of January.



NEWS

The National Innovation and Science Agenda (aka #ideasboom)
The Prime Minister has announced plans for a National Innovation and Science Agenda. As a contrast to the mining boom, we are now going to have a boom in innovation, science and technology. $26m for quantum computing, $51m for students to use digital technologies properly, $30m for a cyber security growth centre, $13m for women to get involved in STEM fields, $48m to inspire a generation of scientists and dozens of other initiatives to gets Australia’s finger out of it’s arse. Or so I hope. If you can’t be be bothered traversing the government website yourself, The Age has a decent summary of the main stuff and BuzzFeed take a more cynical view.

We all knew Uber X was illegal in Victoria, but now it’s confirmed
On Friday a judge in the Victorian Magistrate’s court determined that people driving for the Uber X service without their car having a hire care registration, is illegal. Nathan Brenner is the unfortunate driver who ended up as a precedent setting case for this matter – no punishment has been issued yet, but Uber has been paying all fines and lawyer costs so far and kept their service running. No doubt Uber will keep paying any fines until the government amends the law to allow Uber X.

ACMA’s latest report into the Internet habits of Australians
ACMA has released in an interesting report on how Australians use the Internet. 15.8 million Australians have Internet access at their homes, using an average 69GB/month of data. 13.41 million use a smartphone and use an average 1.13GB/month of mobile data. There’s 31.77m mobile services in use 65% of adults used social networking and 42% some form of instant messaging. There’s plenty of stats in the full report for you to nerd out on, or plan a business around.

Fixed wireless NBN is probably 10 times faster than your crap ADSL
Fixed wireless NBN now runs at 50mbps down with 20mbps uploads, up from 25/5 previously. The NBN wireless network uses LTE running on the 3.5GHz frequency and is designed for low density rural areas – about 540,000 premises will run on it. Skymesh offers 240GB on-peak and 6TB off-peak for $65/month. That’s pretty sweet. The best thing about the NBN is the satellite and fixed wireless services. Areas serviced by these technologies had nothing before, now they have very usable Internet at a pretty good price.

Audi, BMW and Daimler buy Here maps off Nokia for billions of Euros
For the final piece of news, something not Australian – Audi, BMW and Daimler (aka Mercedes Benz) purchased the Here maps service off Nokia for €2.55 billion. Uber and Baidu (the Chinese Google) wanted it, but the German car dudes offered the most cash. Why are they so keen for a mapping service nobody uses? Robot cars. Cars that drive themselves need a map so they know where to go. Nokia’s Here is a map that’s already half decent so someone else can work on to bring it up to scratch for self driving car purposes, without having to make their own.


COOL SHIT

The back story of Championship Manager, a very addicive soccer stats game
Anyone else spend their teenage years inside their bedrooms playing Championship Manager instead of going to the beach with their friends from school? If you were not addicted to CM, this story from the Guardian about the history of Football Manager (what CM was renamed to after Sports Interactive cracked the shits with Eidos) might open your eyes to a really popular game you had no idea about. One brilliant anecdote is that the manager of Rangers (big Scottish club) missed out on Lionel Messi because he ignored his son’s advice, who has a keen CM player and noticed Messi in Barcelona’s B-team. It’s been a long time since I played it and I’m afraid I’ll succumb to it’s addictiveness if I start again.

What to get kids for Christmas that’s a bit educational and techy
It’s Christmas time and during Christmas time you buy presents for kids. They might be your kids, your relatives kids or maybe you buy gifts for filthy street urchins so you can feel good about yourself. If you want to get those kids some presents that’ll stimulate the nerdy part of their brains, Scott Hanselman has a nice list of things to look for. A Raspberry Pi 2 together with a book or two about Scratch will keep some kids happy for a summer.

Teaching coal miners to code
In the spirit of our government’s ideas boom, I’ll mention this story about training Appalachian coal miners in the art of computer programming. As their jobs are decimated by the dawning reality that burning coal for electricity is a very bad idea, an ex-miner and a nerd started BitSource – a 22 week paid training program designed to teach absolute newbies how to code. 900 people applied for 50 spots. This is the Australian equivalent of going out to the Pilbara and getting all those FIFO workers to bash out some Javascript. It sounds like it going well, but hopefully there’s a follow-up a year later and the participants in BitSource have decent paying jobs working in the IT industry.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)
–Anthony


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