The culture of technology in Australia.

Free Uber Rides Coming To Brisbane In Limited Testing Phase

Uber Blog:

Spotted…. Secret Ubers have been seen roaming the main streets of Brisbane. With the success of Uber in Sydney and Melbourne, it was only a matter of time before Ubers made their way to the beautiful state of Queensland.

Brisbanites have been crying out for a transport alternative and we’re committed to making Brisbane a much easier city to get around. Whether it’s a big night out in the Valley, catching some culture at Southbank, or watching your beloved Brisbane Broncos smash their rivals at Suncorp, Ubers will be there to connect you with a safe, reliable, and convenient ride– all at the touch of a button.

Hell yeah! I’ve been waiting for Uber to come to Brisbane for years, so I’ll certainly be giving this a whirl in the next couple days.

Want to sign up? You can get $20 off your first ride by signing up right here.

Previous Features:

Project Ara: The Modular Phone

Dieter Bohn at The Verge:

But first, you should know that Project Ara is not, technically, a phone. It’s not even that accurate to call it a project. It’s more like a mission. The end goal for ATAP is to hand off a viable product and stewardship of a hardware ecosystem to Google — Eremenko and his small team aren’t just building a series of proof-of-concept prototypes; they’re attempting to build an industry within an industry.

Project Ara is an incredibly ambitious goal. I like that there’d be way to get a phone with specialised components (like an air pollution sensor, or a hygrometer, stuff like that). I also like that if you smash your screen, you could just pop it out and get another one on the cheap. It would even be cool to be able to add a massive honkin’ battery for long trips or conferences.

Will it work? I’m not sure. I think this kind of diversity of choice in a phone would freak normal people out. Even if manufacturers curate or moderate the choices, I think people will naturally still drift towards the simple choice of a ‘complete’ phone.

Civilization: Beyond Earth Announced at PAX East

Firaxis, the creators of the excellent Civilization game series, have announced a new spiritual successor to the Civilization spin-off Alpha Centauri – Civilization: Beyond Earth. PC Gamer has a big interview with two of the lead designers of the new game. As a fan of Alpha Centuari and Civ in general, I can’t wait to play it!

Split Opinions Over The Samsung Galaxy S5

David Pierce at The Verge:

But the S5 is still creaky and cheap. It doesn’t feel thoughtfully crafted the way the One or the iPhone 5S does. The carrier and manufacturer logos aren’t integrated into the back’s dimpled design, just slapped on like rectangular stickers. The capacitive keys next to the phone’s home button bleed an ugly circle of white light. Every time the phone vibrates, its back rattles. These are small things, but they betray the fact that Samsung believes a phone that works is good enough, that it needn’t be something we love or care about.

That leaves me cold, underwhelmed — I can’t imagine anyone walking into a store, picking up the S5 and the new One, and not immediately feeling the difference.

Luke Hopewell & Campbell Simpson at Gizmodo AU:

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Samsung’s Galaxy range. Touchwiz always made the experience feel claustrophobic. A feeling only enhanced by the release of the new Galaxy Note with a larger screen and better features a few months later like clockwork. I can happily say, however, that the Galaxy S5 is an upgrade even Galaxy S4 users will be happy with (provided they want to part with the cash).

Anand Lal Shimpi & Joshua Ho at Anandtech:

Overall the Galaxy S 5 is a solid replacement to the GS4 (and definitely to any previous Samsung device). I find that pretty much all the flagships offer some set of tradeoffs that prevent any one from being the perfect device (iPhone’s screen size, GS5′s materials, M8′s camera). It’s unfortunate because I’d really like to crown a single device the king of them all, but instead we’re faced with a handful of differing optimization points.

I see lots of split opinions amongst reviewers. Certainly there are a lot of reviews say that the Galaxy S5 is a pretty good phone, and everyone concedes that it will sell a boatload of units. However, I haven’t seen a review that definitively crowns the Galaxy S5 as the standout Android flagship to buy.

There’s no denying the Galaxy S5 is packed with features (both hardware & software), but just as in 2013, the consensus is that the HTC One M8 has the superior industrial design.

If I was in the market for an Android phone today, I think I’d be split between a 32GB Nexus 5 for AU$449 (in that awesome red/orange colour), or a 16GB HTC One M8 for AU$850.

Indiegogo And The One Million Dollar Scamband

James Robinson at PandoDaily:

In a development that will surprise absolutely no one who has been following our coverage, Moscow-based Healbe’s Indiegogo scampaign for a calorie-counting wristband has finally crossed $1m in doomed donations. A few minutes later, an anonymous comment was posted on the GoBe’s comment page congratulating the company on its achievement…

Still, even close observers might be shocked to learn the source of the undisclosed donation which pushed Healbe into seven figures. It came from Indiegogo’s “hardware lead” Kate Drane.

This story about the dodginess of the Healbe GoBe wristband has been brewing for a couple weeks over at PandoDaily.

Basically, the project creators are making a whole bunch of outrageous claims about being able to monitor glucose and caloric intake with a simple wristband. Anyone James Robinson has talked to with passing knowledge in medicine has called BS on the entire premise. Now Indiegogo employees are tipping money into it too?

I’ve never backed an Indiegogo project because they’ve always felt like they are the home of the dodgy, scammy, or ‘fund-my-lifestyle’-type projects that Kickstarter won’t allow. Seeing this play out only reinforces that notion for me.

Malcolm Turnbull: Getting On With Breaking Promises

Critical of Labor’s gung-ho approach to the NBN, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull writes in October 2010:

“Unfortunately for the taxpayer, politicians are particularly prone to making both of them. Attracted to glamorous ribbon-cutting opportunities, politicians love investing taxes in big new projects. And if anyone says ‘cost-benefit analysis’, it is brushed away with a call to ‘nation-building’.”

Fast-forward to 2014. Now in government, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull says of his decision to begin rolling out a ‘Multi-Technology Mix’ model without a cost/benefit analysis:

“The company [NBN] has got to get on.”

Yeah, we’ve got to get on! Unlike Malcolm’s creditability, this NBN isn’t going to trash itself!