The Sizzle - Issue 2

Tuesday 6th October, 2015

Issue 1 went out to 62 people with no injuries, deaths or lawsuits, so here's issue 2! Just like the last one but with less typos. I did a bit of math and calculated that for my stupid plan to make a living off this thing work, I need to sustain 633 paid subscribers per month. I get $4.50 per month in subscription revenue after fees and the minimum wage in Australia is $2,847/month before tax. To get 633 paid users, assuming a generous 2% conversion rate of trial subscribers, I need to attract approximately 31,700 users to the trial. To put that into perspective, that's about the average crowd of a Kangaroos home game. Can you guys let me know when bulk packs of instant noodles go on sale next?

News
Big news around the entire developed world is finalisation of the notorious Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. If you've been living under a rock the past few years, the TPP is an agreement between a bunch of the Pacific Rim countries (except China) to make selling stuff to each other easier. Despite the huge ramifications on dozens of economies, the TPP has been kept private and we still don't know what's inside it beyond the vague information released by the USA today and leaks of old drafts that may or may not resemble what's been agreed to now. The tech ramifications are still largely unknown, but based on the early leaks, there was nasty shit like unrealistically punishing media piracy (insert long, possibly tinfoil hat-esque rant about Hollywood being an effective tool of US neocolonialism) and the EFF reckon it has the potential to be the worst thing to happen to the Internet. Expect a lot more to come out over the next few months on the TPP, as it gets revealed piece by piece as governments approve it into law with minimal public debate.

Twitter has named their new CEO and it's Jack Dorsey, the dude who co-founded Twitter and was kicked out not long after. The Verge has a handy timeline of Jack's career if you're confused about his comings and goings like I was. Re/code has a long look at what Jack will get up to now that he's back on board at the company he helped start. Personally, I'd be happy if he can just keep the servers running and not fuck it up. Part of me thinks Twitter is not long for this crazy growth obsessed, unrealistic profit focussed, world.

Android 6.0 (aka Marshmallow - I assume Google couldn't find a confectionery company to sponsor this one?) is out and about, but in typical Android fashion, you probably can't get it on your phone or tablet yet. The good dudes at Ausdroid have some links to the new update that are available to download now if your device hasn't received the update notification yet. As of now, LTE versions of the 2013 Nexus 7 and Nexus 9 tablets have the updates. If you are using an Android thing and want to know when your device will get Marshmallow, slap "device name Marshmallow" into Google and see what appears. Hopefully you get the update by mid-2016. As far as what's new in Android 6.0, the headline feature is Google On Tap. Hold down the home button and based on what's on your screen when you do that, Google will return search results based on that context. Here's a good video of it in action.

Adobe's announced a plethora of new products and services at their MAX event in Los Angeles overnight. I won't list everything as that would make most people's eyes glaze over, but what interested me are two new mobile apps - Photoshop Fix which is for retouching pics (which we saw at Apple's iPad Pro launch a few weeks ago) and Capture CC, a weird app that takes photos from your smartphone and turn the colours and shapes in the photo, into colour pallets and brushes for use in other Creative Cloud programs. Lightroom got an update and I'm looking forward to trying the new haze removal feature on a bunch of photos I took in Hong Kong last year. Check out Adobe's press release for a full rundown of the other stuff.

Cool Stuff
The Chromecast Audio was announced a few days ago and reviews of the little audio streaming unit have started to appear online from US outlets. Engadget and Arstechnica have good looks at it. It works like how you'd expect - plug the little black circle into your speakers or amp and into a USB socket for power then use a smartphone app to connect it to your wi-fi. Apps with support for Chromecast Audio will see it automatically and let you stream audio. Spotify works excellently on the Chromecast Audio, as does Plex, Pandora, Google Music and a few radio streaming apps. What sucks is that an app has to specifically support it, it's not system wide for any audio output on Android (nor iOS). It also doesn't work on your desktop computer as no desktop apps support it right now. For US$35 I can't complain and I'm sure support for it will grow as it gets out there. Nothing will beat Bluetooth audio streaming for compatibility though. It'd be lame to have someone with an iPhone come over and want to stream some music from Apple Music to your speakers with a Chromecast Audio attached, but they can't because Google and Apple aren't friends any more. Also lame is the fact the Chromecast Audio and new Chromecast 2 seem to be the exact same device internally, just one has HDMI and the other a 3.5mm port. Couldn't they have built the HDMI port and 3.5mm port into the one unit?

Tweetbot 4, the very popular iOS Twitter client was released recently, as a new app, distinct from previous versions on the App Store. If you wanted the latest update of Tweetbot, you had to shell out $6.49. This, apparently, upset many people. App Store cheapskates are nothing new, but goddamn - I don't use Tweetbot, but it's clearly one of the best designed and made apps on the app store and it only costs $6.49. Despite that, people whinge like no tomorrow. The app store was supposed to be an indie wonderland of beautiful apps crafted by small teams who made a nice living off their passion - what the hell happened?

I'm probably blowing my load early by sharing this, but I recently re-read it and still love it as much as I read it the first time almost 20 years ago. There was a bloke my Dad worked with who was into computers and he would give my Dad his old computer magazines so that I could read them. One of the mags he gave me was Wired 4.12 and in it was a long story from Neal Stephenson, who travelled around the world charting the installation of the then brand spanking new FLAG and SEA-ME-WE 3 fibre optic cables. He also gave a superbly engaging history of the telegraph cables that pre-dated the fibre optic ones and lead to the start of global communications. That story was mind blowing to a 14 year old and even now as I inch closer to 31 in a few weeks time, it still leaves me in wonder. It's a long read (53 A4 pages when printed!) but oh so worth it for those who wonder how all this information gets sent from each corner of the world so quickly.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!),
--Anthony