The Sizzle

Issue 488 - Wednesday, 27th September 2017


Twitter tests tweets with 280 characters
Twitter's increased the maximum character limit in a tweet from 140 to 280 for some users. According to the blog post Twitter made, it's still in testing, so it might not actually be rolled out for every user. Twitter's reasons for doing this are seem to simply be based on how they saw Twitter working well in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, which can fit much more detail into a single tweet due to the more terse nature of those languages. Twitter wants to bring that same experience to other languages. The Atlantic has a bit of detail on why Twitter would want to change such a core component of its product.
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Dyson has 400 people working on an electric car it wants to sell by 2020
Dyson's talking up its electric car ambitions. It's confirmed that it will make an EV using the tech it gained from its purchase of solid state battery company, Sakti3. Dyson will build a $1b battery factory as well as spending £2 billion on developing the EV itself, which it wants to put on sale by 2020. There's already 400 people working on the car and Dyson himself reckons the electric motors Dyson has developed so far, which are a core part of their business, make it uniquely placed to be a major player in EVs. God speed Mr. Dyson - I owned two of your vacs and they were shit, but I am keen to see your car.
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FDA trialling a faster approval process for medical hardware & software
Apple, Fitbit, Samsung, Verily (aka Alphabet, aka Google), Johnson & Johnson and Roche have been "invited" by the US FDA to test new, looser regulations around health hardware and software. The aim is to get new products pre-certified which will apparently speed up the process of making them available to customers. The FDA still wants to make sure these companies are using proper metrics to determine if the products work, but does a smartwatch need to be held up to the same standard as a pacemaker? Probably not and that's what the FDA wants to investigate in this pilot program.
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Melbourne VR company to supply Boeing's Starliner training kit
Boeing's Starliner CST-100 is their attempt to get sweet cash from NASA for hauling people between our rock and the International Space Station. It's a huge project and competes with SpaceX's Dragon for the lucrative contract. Opaque Space, a Melbourne company specialising in virtual reality, has announced that they will create training packages for astronauts to learn how to use the Starliner - the first company to do so outside the US. Basically, Opaque Space are making a VR "game" for Boeing that astronauts will use to familiarise themselves with the spacecraft - how cool is that? Good start for the Aussie space industry I reckon.
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Atari's new console is slightly more real, but still close to a year away
Atari has dribbled out a few more details on its upcoming console - the Ataribox. It'll cost US$249 or US$299 depending on specs chosen and will have "an AMD customised processor" using "Radeon Graphics technology", running on a version of Linux. Dunno what sort of games it'll have but, Atari said that it will have "tons of classic Atari retro games pre-loaded [and] current titles from a range of studios" and as well as new titles designed for the console. It'll come out around mid-2018 and be crowdfunded via IndieGoGo starting in a few weeks.
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More info on the Renault Zoe's local release
GoAuto has heaps of details on Renault's plans for the Zoe EV in Australia. It'll cost $44,470 plus on-roads for the base model and $45,970 plus on-roads for a slightly higher spec unit. Once you add the on-road costs, plus a 22kW charger for home (Renault says it'll cost $3000 to install), the car is easily $50,000. Even if there was a $10,000 subsidy for EVs from a state/federal govt (making it the most generous single program in the world), that only brings the price down to $40,000, which is still double the price of a similar size & spec ICE car. The Zoe is A$37k on the road in NZ from a parallel importer! Forget Apple's Australia tax, Renault's Australia tax is huge.
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Should potential council candidates play a bit of SimCity before running for office?
Back in the early 90s, a newspaper in the city of Providence in Rhode Island got all the mayoral candidates to sit down and play a game of SimCity, as a cute way to see how these people wanting to run a real city would run a virtual city. I've always thought it would be amazing to watch the potential mayors of Sydney or Melbourne get stuck in to a game of City Skylines where their cities are turned into a map and they have to try make the place better. Could you imagine that streamed on Twitch?!
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DJI Spark drone is really cheap right now
The price on local stock of DJI's rad little Spark drone has plummeted lately, which is great as you get proper warranty support if it breaks (or more likely, you break it, hah) and ya don't have to wait weeks for it to ship from HK. The lowest price right now is $599 and includes free delivery from Johnny Appleseed GPS. If you need a little reminder about why they're cool, check out this video review and this video review. If I had a larger tech toy budget, I'd totally get one now.
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Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers.