Issue 537

Thursday, 7th December 2017

In This Issue


The Snapdragon 845 is Qualcomm's latest flagship SoC

Qualcomm's announced a new flagship SoC that'll start appearing in top-end Android smartphones (and I guess Windows 10 laptops too) "early 2018". The CPU part of the Snapdragon 845 SoC consists of 8 cores like the previous version and are based on newer revisions of the ARM architecture (A75 & A55). Together with a new Adreno 630 GPU, Qualcomm claim a 25-30% performance boost. There's a faster LTE radio, higher bitrate video recording (HDR10 HEVC 60fps @ 4K), improved noise reduction in the Spectre 280 image processor, a "Secure Processing Unit" to protect biometric info and more or less the same battery life, despite the higher performance.

Government promises response this year to 20-month old game industry report

In April 2016, Senator (now ex-Senator) Ludlam's report into the Australian game development industry and how the government can support it so we can all reap the benefits, was released. 20 months later and the government has finally said that they will have a response to the report before the end of the year. Inside that report (check it out in full), were recommendations to restore over $20m of funding the government axed, introduce tax offsets for local developers and more support for game focussed co-working spaces. I look forward to seeing how the federal government screws this up.

Gender pay discrimination class action against Google dismissed

A class action case against Google for paying the women it employs less than men has been dismissed. The judge didn't like that the class action claimed to represent all women at Google and wants them to re-submit it with more specific cases of how women were affected by Google's policies. The judge also said that two out of the three specific cases mentioned in the class action failed to prove they did the same work as men who were paid more, which added further reason to dismiss the case. The group filing the class action plans to re-submit it within the 30 day period.

Senior Volkswagen exec sentenced to 7yrs jail & $400k fine

Oliver Schmidt, a US-based, German-born, Volkswagen senior executive has been sent to jail by a Detroit judge for his role in Volkswagen's systemic breach of the Clean Air Act. Old mate will spend 7 years, alongside his engineer buddy James Liang who is serving 40 months in the big house. Oliver has also been slugged a $400,000 fine. The main reason for the fine wasn't so much as the cheating of emissions tests itself, although that is bad, but the fact that after the regulator let VW know what was going on, VW denied it all and covered it up. The judge really hated that.

Bitcoin news update

Bitcoin's making headlines again. Today it's back up to a new record high of USD$14,095. Some people reckon its because the USA's Commodity Futures Trading Commission now allows Bitcoin futures (i.e: crazy Wall Street types can bet on the price of Bitcoin). Steam has dropped Bitcoin as a payment method "due to high fees and volatility in the value of Bitcoin". Remember that NiceHash mining thing I linked to a few days ago? It got hacked and $62m worth of user funds was stolen. The ASX is going to use blockchain tech to replace CHESS and I don't really know how to explain it.

Not News, But Still Cool

60Ghz wi-fi that achieves gigabit real-world speeds over ~100m

A few of you networking nerds will be familiar with MikroTik gear - for those that aren't, they're cheap, hard to configure (sometimes), but very powerful networking devices. They've just released the Wireless Wire - a point-to-point wireless kit that uses 60GHz to achieve true gigabit speeds over short ranges. If you've got two networks within ~100m line of sight, this $295 kit will be almost as fast as wired gigabit ethernet. Perfect for hooking up a mate down the road to your Plex box. They even work through glass and can be pole mounted outdoors too if that's your thing.

Echo, a social network for podcast listeners

Echo calls itself Goodreads for podcasts and that's pretty spot on. Despite the name Echo and comparing itself to Goodreads, it has nothing to do with Amazon. You import an OPML file into the app (almost every podcast app on a smartphone can do this) and Echo can share what you're listening to with your friends using the app. You can recommend specific episodes, see what others are recommending - it's pretty cool. I'm not a voracious podcast listener (most of my time is spent reading instead of listening), but add me if ya want. I'm decryption (of course).

Buy discounted gift cards for heaps of stores that sell tech gear

Next time you're going to make a large-ish purchase from Woolworths, David Jones, EB, Myer or Good Guys, you might want to grab a discounted gift cards from Cashrewards or Suncorp (Suncorp requires you to have a bank account with em to get the discount). For example, if you're going to buy a Mac in a 10% off sale at David Jones (or get them to price match someone who does have it on sale) for $1,799, you buy $1,800 worth of gift cards and only pay $1,620 all up. A neat little discount for little effort. The cards are delivered electronically, so you just print em off at home and go to the store, or in the case of Myer and other stores, just enter the code during checkout.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!