The latest news

ZTE in freefall after sanctions in the US & UK with Australia possibly next

Tags: australia, tech
Image: 9to5google.com

With the Turnbull government already under pressure to ban Huawei from participating in the roll out of the 5G network, security agencies are also examining the decisions around ZTE, which is China’s second biggest telco equipment manufacturer.

The US government this week blocked any company from supplying the Chinese manufacturer. This now includes Google who not only supply the operating system for the their phones but the suite of apps that are most popular on it in western markets.

The sanction comes after ZTE previously sold telecommunications hardware to both Iran and North Korea, violating the US’ trade laws and beginning a large investigation into the company’s practices.

The US has already banned Huawei from providing hardware that would provider infrastructure to domestic telecommunications networks for security reasons and Australia has been strongly advised to do the same,  the Turnbull government remaining tight lipped & sitting on the fence over the issue.

The same will now be asked of ZTE. Presently the company provides a great deal of low-cost, rebranded phones sold by Telstra & Optus in Australia and could see the telco’s left trying to find another manufacturer if a sanction is imposed.

Source: Chinese telco ZTE on Australian spy agencies radar after UK, US bans | afr.com

Intel is shutting down its New Devices Group that sadly includes their Vaunt AR glasses

Tags: tech

Intel has confirmed that it plans to shut down the New Devices Group (NDG) and cease development on the Vaunt smart glasses project [showcased] earlier this year.

I’m really sad to see this come to an end. Intel had created a prototype that unlike other AR glasses looked “normal”. With no commercial partner to bring the product to mass market both the Vaunt and the entire “New Devices Group” are being shutdown likely to result in significant layoffs.

Intel, now under intense pressure with companies like Apple looking to move away from the chip giant, is battening down the hatches as a means to sure up its bottom line. Doing so may mean they cut off the limb that could potentially feed them in the future.

Source: Intel is giving up on its smart glasses – The Verge

The Sonos One is getting some fancy new colour options

Tags: tech

The HAY Sonos One Limited Edition Collection, a set of speakers that reimagines the Sonos One in a new range of colors—red, yellow and green—taken from HAY’s 2018 palette.

HAY is a Danish interiors company that I’ve never heard of but I’m sure a lot of people love and adore everything they make. They’re clearly a big deal because they apparently have their own, very particular, colour palette that Sonos have partnered with them to use for their Sonos One range.

The voice activated Sonos speaker will have it’s new red, yellow and green colours available from September however it’s unclear at this stage if the product will be making its way to the Australian online store.

The new colours come with added cost too. Normally US$199 the HAY coloured Sonos Ones will retail for US$229. That’s a US$30 hit for the privilege of pastel colour.

Source: The HAY Sonos One Explores Color And Sound Through A Unique Collaboration | Sonos Blog

Bunch analyses your Slack team for better company culture

Tags: tech

Bunch calls themselves the “Google Analytics for company culture”. It’s an interesting concept and not something we normally touch on here at Reckoner but with so many of us attached to a Slack group these days I thought it might be interesting.

The company uses natural language processing to analyse your company’s chat to see who’s engaged, if they fit your company culture and how well they gel with their team. They claim their autonomous method of chat analysis is ahead of any psychometric surveys available today, which to me makes a lot of sense having completed a bunch of those in corporate roles over the years as quickly as possible.

The product if free for a 14 day trial and while intended for corporations to implement I’m quite interested to try it out on some of my social Slacks & see how big of an assholes some of my friends are!

Source: Product | Bunch

Australia’s TIO reveals NBN complaints are up 200%

Tags: australia

According to the TIO’s report, for the period of July to December last year, there were 22,827 complaints related to the NBN, a 203.9% increase in complaints for the same period in 2016.

A total of 14,055 of these complaints were related to the quality of service on the NBN, and 8.757 complaints were related to the installation of the NBN

NBN CCO Brad Whitcomb has refuted the report stating that despite the larger number of complaints less than 1% of people with an NBN connection have lodged complaints. He also claims that the majority of complaints lie with the ISPs and not the underlying NBN itself, with just 5% of lodged complaints ending up on their table.

Anecdotally I don’t know a single person that hasn’t complained about their NBN connection myself, but then how many regular folk are likely to walk about town praising their internet connection?

Source: Thousands Of People Have Complained About Their NBN Service

Australian pricing drops for Samsung’s 2018 QLED TV range

Tags: australia, tech

The new 2018 QLED TV evolves the premium viewing experience, with big screens and vibrant colours for truly lifelike pictures. Manage your connected devices conveniently with a single remote, find a world of content easily, and delight in designs that blend effortlessly into your home’s interior.

The new QLED models are Samsung’s “crème de la crème” when it comes to TVs. The new sets make use of the company’s “Quantum Dot” technology and come with a 10 year “no screen burn” guarantee.

They also feature the much advertised “Ambient Mode” that blends the TV into its surroundings by mimicking the wall behind it and displaying widgets on its screen when not in use.

Pricing released today has the new models ranging from A$3,699 for the Q7 55″ up to $10,499 for the Q9 75″.

Q9F 75″ – $10,499 (QLED)
Q9F 65″ – $6,999 (QLED)

Q8F 65″ – $5,899 (QLED)
Q8F 55″ – $4,099 (QLED)

Q7F 75″ – $8,199 (QLED)
Q7F 65″ – $5,299 (QLED)
Q7F 55″ -$3,699 (QLED)

Source: The new 2018 Samsung QLED TV. See nothing else. | Samsung Australia

Sega joins the mini console market with the announcement of the ‘Mega Drive Mini’

Tags: gaming

To commemorate the console’s upcoming 30th anniversary, Sega took the opportunity to unveil its own miniature “classic edition” version of the [Mega Drive].

Known in other areas of the world as the Sega Genesis the new “Mega Drive Mini” will be developed by AtGames and arrive in Japan shortly, with the US and other countries arriving “later this year”.

There is currently no official word on pricing or what games will be included on the latest console-nostalgia-cash-in.

Source: Sega Genesis Mini (aka Mega Drive Mini) announced – Polygon

God of War is receiving nothing but rave reviews ahead of its April 20th release

Tags: gaming

There’s no doubt that the new God of War is one of the most anticipated of the year, if not the generation. Many had concerns after it was first revealed to be in development seeing a new mechanic in your AI driven son joining Kratos on an adventure in what appeared to be a very new style of gameplay.

Fear not, because judging by the early reviews that have hit the web today the latest GoW title is a masterpiece that is repeatedly scoring full marks with outlet after outlet. Unfortunately we haven’t received an early review copy to add in our two-cents worth but here are some spoiler-free snippets from around the web…

 

Polygon’s Chris Plante – 10/10

“God of War is, in a single word, holistic. Every aspect is excellent on its own, but more importantly, it all serves and accentuates the larger vision.”

“Some die-hard fans may fear this isn’t really God of War. I suppose they’re right. It’s even better.”

 

Press Start Australia’s Shannon Grixti – 9/10

God Of War is a cinematic masterpiece that manages to reinvent and push an already fantastic series to new heights. Barring some pacing issues in its narrative, Sony Santa Monica have breathed new life into Kratos and the God of War series, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

 

IGN’s Johnathon Dornbush – 10/10

I expected great action from God of War, and it delivers that handily. But I didn’t expect it to be a thrilling journey in which every aspect of it complements the others to form what is nothing short of a masterpiece.

 

Destructoid’s Chris Carter – 10/10

God of War maintains the same bonkers-level boss fights and setpieces, all of which are presented in the stunning in-game engine that features a hell of a draw distance.

I was hanging on by a thread in what feels like nearly every battle, which speaks to the balance team’s talent on a technical level too.

 

Get excited people, God of War is available in Australia on April 20th.

Kogan launches its all-you-can-eat NBN plans

Tags: australia, tech

In addition to a AU$69 modem, Kogan Internet’s month-to-month NBN plans start at AU$58.90 per month for the 12/1Mbps speed tier; AU$68.90 per month — currently discounted to AU$58.90 per month for the first 24 months — for 50/20Mbps speeds; and AU$88.90 per month for speeds of 100/40Mbps.

The service is being carried by Vodafone meaning whether you’re a customer of Kogan or Voda you’ll get the exact same speed and congestion on both.

Interestingly, Voda, who’s plans also offer unlimited data, are more expensive across the board. The biggest difference comes at the top speed tier costing $99/month on Voda and $88.90 with Kogan.

Source: Kogan NBN service goes live | ZDNet

All the interesting bits from Zuckerberg’s Facebook senate testimony

Tags: tech

Mark Zuckerberg made his first senate hearing appearance today to answer for what has rapidly become a maelstrom of privacy issues in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. There was plenty to digest but if watching senate hearings aren’t your bag then here’s a quick list of the big hits.

  • Facebook *doesn’t* tap your phone and listen to everything your phone’s microphone can pick up. Zuck was pretty emphatic about this one.
  • Palmer Lucky wasn’t fired for the pro-Trump media funding scandal however no details about *why* he was fired were offered in return to the questioning. Zuckerberg saying it was a “personal” issue not for that forum but essentially confirming he was fired.
  • When questioned about Facebook being a monopoly Zuckerberg named every big name in the tech sphere but failed to rule out the fact the company has a firm grip on the market, pointing out it has elements that overlap the likes of Apple, Google, et al.
  • We could get a paid version of Facebook in the future. When asked about a previous statement made by Zuckerberg that Facebook would always be “free”, he today said there would always be a free version however there is a possibility of a subscription variation.

A new bill was introduced almost immediately after the hearing was complete aimed squarely at restricting data collection and methods for authorising them to be enforced in the US by the FCC. Call the CONSENT Act (Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions), the bill outlines the requirement of explicit opt-in consent from users before their data can be shared or sold to anyone.