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Issue 48 – People Want Ducks - Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Today’s issue is an early one again – I have stuff to do during the afternoon. If there’s a topic I’ve missed it’s probably because I wrote this in the AM instead of the PM.



NEWS

Review of Google’s flagship Android tablet, the Pixel C, start to appear
Google’s doing for Android tablets what Microsoft did with Windows tablets and laptops – showing their OEMs how to make something that doesn’t suck. The Pixel C has 3GB of RAM, an Nvidia X1 CPU and a 10.2″ screen at a 1:2 ratio, almost identical to an A4 piece of paper. From the reviews it seems like it’s by far the best Android tablet, but still has weird slowdowns every now and then – like the Bluetooth keyboard dropping out and the overall speed of the tablet rather slow, despite best in class specs. There’s also the issue of software, as Android tablet apps suck versus iOS and even against Windows. Reviews from The Verge, Ars Technica and Wired were pretty good, but I’m waiting for the Anandtech review for the real details.

Qualcomm in trouble with the EU for bribes, as well as Taiwan and China
The EU has filed antitrust charges against Qualcomm for abusing its dominate market position. The EU alleges that Qualcomm offered bribes to leading smartphone manufacturers to exclusively use Qualcomm chips and also offered chips at below cost price to edge out competitors like Nvidia and Intel. The Taiwanese are looking into Qualcomm’s dodgy business practices too and in February, a Chinese anti-trust investigation found Qualcomm guilty of abusing its patent licensing agreements.

Mozilla has released their own ad-blocker, Focus
It’s been a golden age for ad-blockers lately, with these handy pieces of software getting more attention than ever. Unfortunately it can be difficult to pick an adblocker that doesn’t eventually sell you out to an advertiser who coughs up enough cash to go on a whitelist by default. Mozilla (the group that maintains Firefox) are making their own, called Focus. Going by Mozilla’s track record, it should be pretty good and at least listen to the community. It’s iOS only for now, but will come to Android eventually. Hopefully it hits Chrome as an extension too.

The Australian Geocoded National Address File and Administrative Boundaries datasets to be made free to use
There’s a list of every single address in Australia, created by the government. It’s how those online forms auto-complete your address for you, so they can counteract the stupidity of people that don’t know their own mailing address. This list used to cost money. Thanks to the government’s innovation boom, it is now free and will be updated every quarter. Let a tidal wave of software with correct addressing begin!

Apple Maps is good now, apparently, and have released a stupid looking iPhone battery case
A puff piece from the Associated Press about how awesome Apple Maps is now. Apparently it’s the most popular mapping app on iOS. The default app that comes with the device is used more than third party apps – wow, what a great effort by Apple to achieve that. To be fair, Apple Maps no longer sucks, but Google Maps is better. Indoor mapping, superior PoI info, Street View and from my anecdotal use, more accurate traffic and route estimations. The only thing Apple Maps has going for it is a more aesthetically pleasing interface, which is debatable anyways. Apple also released a bizarre looking and stupendously expensive battery case for the iPhone 6s, but the less said about this, the better.


COOL SHIT

A hot take on the innovation boom and startups
An excellent piece appeared in Crikey yesterday, explaining how the Prime Minister’s innovation boom concept isn’t the awesome magic sauce for our economy like it’s made out to be. From the article: “In short, the average tech start-up adds little value to the economy, employs few people, and pays out to a handful of already rich people if it succeeds. And we’re now going to give them tax breaks to do so.” Well worth a read.

Let’s Encrypt – free and easy SSL certificates
There’s been a bit of buzz building lately for Let’s Encrypt – a free certificate authority that makes adding SSL encryption to your website relatively easy. It automates the process of installing and updating the certificate and costs nothing. What’s not to love? Encryption for everyone! It’s currently in public beta, but looks fantastic and easy to use.

If you’re gonna do some drugs, look at Erowid first
I’m not a huge drug user (actually, I’m not into drugs at all), but I’ve stumbled across Erowid a few times and found it really intriguing. It’s been 20 years since this drug encyclopaedia launched on the Internet, giving those about to ingest an unknown substance into their bodies a bit of a guide as to what they can expect. The New Yorker has profiled Erowid and the people behind it, a couple in their mid-40s who call themselves Earth and Fire. Disseminating useful information is why the Internet exists and why I’m glad Erowid exists, even though I’ve never used it beyond a curious glance.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)
–Anthony


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