The Assistance and Access Bill unfortunately passed both houses of Parliament yesterday and will be law shortly. Someone on Reddit went through all 343 responses during the Assistance and Access Bill’s feedback period and found 342 responses basically saying “do not make this bill law”. Yet the government and the opposition ignored them all. Ignored all the advice from experts once again, just like on the NBN, on climate change and refugees. To make matters worse, all the amendments Labor argued were desperately needed, were dropped and they voted for the unamended bill, promising to fix it when Parliament returns next year. Good luck with that. The law will come into effect mid-Jan 2019.
Get the shovels out, there’s a new body to be buried in the Google Cemetery. Allo will join Google+ in the graveyard when it’s shitcanned in March 2019. Allo’s been on life support the past year, so I guess this was inevitable. What shits me is that why can’t Google get its act together and just have one solitary messaging app/platform for all devices, worldwide? They’re still dicking about with Duo, Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet and Messages (which is based off the RCS standard). Just fucken make one thing and everyone can use that, how hard can it be for the big brains at Google to achieve this? Or even just split it out to Google Messages for Business for all the suits and tie it into GSuite, then focus on Google Messages for the rest of us.
The ECG feature of the Apple Watch is now live for those in the USA. It arrived via part of watchOS 5.1.2 and when you install it, you get a new Watch app called ECG. “To take an ECG reading, users must place their finger on the flat side of the Digital Crown on their Series 4 Watch. The electrode on the Digital Crown communicates with the other electrode on the Watch, which sits near the heart rate monitor, to take a complete ECG measurement. The process takes about 30 seconds to complete, and then the Watch will show your measurement as a waveform on its screen along with an explanation of what it means”. It appears that only Apple Watches sold in the USA have the integrated hardware required for ECG use, so changing the location in software won’t enable it here in Australia.
Microsoft’s published a blog post today about how it’s gonna be the responsible adult in the room around facial recognition technology. In the post, Microsoft calls for government to regulate the tech so there’s a fair base level nobody will sink to. There’s six “facial recognition principles” Microsoft is taking upon itself to adhere to, and wants other tech companies to do the same: Fairness, transparency, accountability, non-discrimination, notice and consent and lawful surveillance. Brad Smith, the author of the post, sums it up by saying “we must ensure that the year 2024 doesn’t look like a page from the novel 1984”, but for all those nice words, Microsoft still hasn’t promised to stop itself selling facial recognition technology to law-enforcement or the military. It’s probably naive to think that would ever happen, but it’s what the ACLU want.
Qualcomm’s announced a new SoC purpose built for “always on computing”, which in non-marketing speak, means its designed for use in laptops running Windows 10 and to replace Intel CPUs. It’s called Snapdragon 8cx (the cx stands for c = Compute and x = eXtreme, haha) and it’s pretty much the Snapdragon 855 they announced this week, but bigger and beefier as there’s more thermal room and physical space in a laptop than a smartphone or tablet. The GPU has support for “Vulkan 1.1 and DirectX 12 APIs, full VP9 and H.265 decode, a ‘high efficiency’ video encoder, and support for dual 4K HDR external displays”, which is nice. Also supports NVMe SSDs and an additional PCIe 3.0 x4 lane for external devices, even Thunderbolt if an OEM wants to include it. Integrated 4G & 5G modem too. This makes me excited to know what Apple could pack in to a MacBook with an A13X SoC.
LG’s released a 17″ laptop that weighs only 1.33kg – 40 grams lighter than Apple’s 13″ MacBook Pro. The 17Z990-R.AAS8U1’s (catchy name) specs are decent, with an i7-8565U (more than enough power for me), 16GB of RAM (yes), a 512GB SATA SSD (boo, give me PCIe) and a 2560×1000, 16:10 ratio, 100% sRGB 17.3″ display (good). The 17″ screen at that resolution makes it perfect for running two windows side-by-side, which I do all the time for each issue of The Sizzle and every article I write. I find it impossible to work without a browser on the left and a text editor on the right. I doubt this thing will ever be sold in Australia as LG doesn’t sell laptops here now and probably won’t any time soon.
Do you want to be one those trendy kids with wi-fi enabled lights around your home, but was put off by the cost of LIFX and Philips Hues? Mirabella has some that you can buy at K-Mart for $29 each and are compatible with Google Assistant, IFTTT, Alexa and mobile apps out of the box. According to Ausdroid they don’t suck and sometimes they even go on sale for $15. I guess by buying them at K-Mart, if they are crappy, they’re easy to return The downside is that they’re not bright enough to light up an entire room from a ceiling. They’re better suited or lamps or task lighting. You lot click basically every smarthome thing I mention, so even though I don’t give a rats arse, I love you enough to mention it here today.
That’s it, see ya Monday!