The Sizzle - Issue 882

Wednesday 22nd May, 2019

In This Issue

  • Modest MacBook Pro upgrade with slightly modified keyboard mechanism

  • May 2019 feature update for Windows 10 is now live

  • Mitigations for Intel CPU security flaws really slow things down

  • Telstra will eventually charge $15/m to use its 5G network

  • United States Postal Service starts 2-week trial of self-driving trucks

  • The Mailmobile is a mail delivery robot from a simpler time

  • A look at all the US developed parts inside a Huawei phone

  • Cheap Telstra & Kogan Mobile plans, Samsung 970 EVO SSD, Sims 4, mech keyboards, Alcatel flip phone


News

Modest MacBook Pro upgrade with slightly modified keyboard mechanism

Apple quietly released a speed bump to the MacBook Pro. Prices look the same, but you get faster CPUs. The top of the line 15-inch unit can be configured with an 8-core CPU that clocks up to 5GHz! I don't know how that is possible without the thin and poorly ventilated MacBook Pro chassis not spontaneously combusting. Besides the faster CPU, there's also a slight tweak to the materials used in the keyboard mechanism that Apple reckon will improve reliability. However, they've also immediately added this new MacBook Pro to the Keyboard Service Program, so yeah, the keyboard probably still sucks.

May 2019 feature update for Windows 10 is now live

Windows 10 1903 (aka the May 2019 Update) is now out and about for those who want it. Microsoft's changed up these feature updates are released, so unless you actively go and check for updates, it won't be funneled down to your PC and automatically installed - which for some people is a relief after the clusterfuck that was Windows 10 1809. There's now a "light mode" UI that I rather like, plus Windows Sandbox, which is kinda like a really simple virtual machine that lets you run a 2nd instance of Windows for messing around with. WinCentral has a list of all of the new stuff.

Mitigations for Intel CPU security flaws really slow things down

Phornoix has run benchmarks comparing the latest Intel CPUs and AMD CPUs with all the software mitigations for MDS, Meltdown and Spectre enabled. They found that things slow down so much on Intel CPUs that AMD's CPUs are now faster most of the time. Some Intel CPUs report a 20% or more impact on performance, where as AMD's CPUs are more in the 3-4% range. When you consider that AMD's CPUs are generally cheaper too, it's gonna be tough to recommend Intel CPUs for server use any time soon.

Telstra will eventually charge $15/m to use its 5G network

If you've got a 5G device you can now access some insane speeds in small parts of Australia on Telstra's 5G network (here's a map). Access to Telstra's 5G network is free for everyone to get a taste over the next 12 months, then will be a $15/m add-on for most plans (some really expensive plans will get it for free). Weird how they're making people pay extra for 5G, I just assumed when you've got a 5G device and you're in a 5G area, it'll just use it - like how if you've got a 4G device and you move between 3G and 4G zones without having to pay for 4G.

United States Postal Service starts 2-week trial of self-driving trucks

The United States Postal Service is trying out some self-driving trucks from a startup called TuSimple to haul mail between USPS facilities in Phoenix and Dallas. I think it's pretty obvious how someone like the USPS could benefit from a truck with no driver. The question would really be - does it work and is it safe? That's what the USPS hopes to find out in this 2 week trial. With the driverless truck trial that launched in Sweden last week, it seems we've hit a milestone in that this stuff is semi-decent enough to at least test on public roads in a limited fashion.

Not News, But Still Cool

The Mailmobile is a mail delivery robot from a simpler time

Sometimes reading the comments is worthwhile, as you stumble across stuff like the Mailmobile - a robot from the 70s that trundled around large offices delivering mail. It followed a chemical path placed on the floor and could even be programmed to open an elevator and use it to change floors. Here's a video of a woman explaining how she feels about Mailmobile in her workplace and another video of it in action delivering mail. You gotta check out the Mailmobile sales brochure too. Very strong 70s tech vibes.

A look at all the US developed parts inside a Huawei phone

Arstechnica has a great article outlining all the bits and pieces in a Huawei smartphone developed by US companies, which due to Huawei getting placed on a US government “threat to security list”, can no longer come from US companies. Most of it comes from multiple sources and can be easily replaced (flash memory/RAM) or you can swap out with a lower quality part from a non-US company (power supply stuff & the gyroscope). The real hard bit to replace seems to be the radio modules from Qualcomm, Skyworks and Qorvo and of course, the Android operating system from Google.

Cheap Telstra & Kogan Mobile plans, Samsung 970 EVO SSD, Sims 4, mech keyboards, Alcatel flip phone


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

The Sizzle is created on Wathaurong land and acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, recognising their continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay my respect to them and their cultures, and to elders both past and present.​