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Showing posts from May 1, 2018

Nissan Leaf Gets New Ad Featuring Margot Robbie

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Nissan has a new ad for the Leaf, which doesn’t mention the Leaf and talks about the wider reasons why you’d choose an electric vehicle.

Nissan’s new ambassador, Australian actress and director Margot Robbie features, doing what all Australians do, which is mostly surfing, but does sneak a drive of the Leaf in, right at the end.

Microsoft Goes After iPad With Surface Pro Ads

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Microsoft released a who heap of new shorts for the Surface Pro, clearly targeted at the iPad. Each of the videos entitled ‘Surface Pro the perfect laptop for...’ and briefly proposing certain scenarios.

Even though the ads call the Surface Pro a laptop, most of the scenarios exclusively feature the pen, and the Surface Pro in tablet mode.

They aren’t bad ads by any stretch of the imagination, however I can’t help but feel that they lack the emotion to connect with customers in the way that Apple’s ads manage to do.

F1: Screw The Draft, Bring Back Winter Testing

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New F1 Chairman Chase Carey wants to make F1 exciting for race fans 12 months of the year, without actually extending the season. He likened the idea to something like American Football's draft, which is apparently a way of weighting the selection of new blood teams can hire based on the last season's performance.
Which is obviously never going to work in F1. To be honest I think he was searching for an analogy rather than serious suggesting an F1 draft, but just in case, let me reiterate that would never work in F1.
Having got that out of the way, how can we help Chase with his search for out of season excitement?
Well there were two things which used to happen to keep fans interested back in the day. The Trans-Tasman series and winter testing. The former is no longer relevant now that we have an Australian Grand Prix, but the latter could certainly be an option to spice things up.
Winter testing used to be the opportunity for teams to try out new ideas for the coming season…

Microsoft Shows How Software Enables Higher Yields For Farms In Australia

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The Yield is a Microsoft partner using software to improve the efficiency of farms in Australia. The video highlights how the use of software, hardware and AI changes the game for farmers in different areas across the country.
The need to improve the yields delivered from farms is well known, although increasing the volume of oysters farmed around the Australian coast is unlikely to do anything to improve global hunger, the technologies showcased, clearly have great potential.
It's interesting that the data used to provide these improvements has always been available, but its only now that the data is able to be turned into the sort of intelligence which takes the guesswork out of farming.

Hawaii To Get First Fuel Cell Buses From BYD

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BYD and the US Hybrid Corporation have teamed together to bring the first fuel cell powered bus to the road. The clean air vehicle, which uses hydrogen as a power source for its fuel cells, will go into service in Hawaii, serving the country's main airport in Honolulu.
The vehicle will be based on BYD's existing K9 electric bus platform, integrating fuel cell technology rather than batteries to deliver power for the electric motors. The buses will be assembled in the US.
BYD has already seen much success with its modern, clean air bus platforms being adopted widely in China. With tens of thousands of new electric buses being adopted every quarter in China, the company is on a path to record growth. This deal, which expands its offerings and reach can only be good for the company.
It is inevitable that electric bus adoption across the rest of the world will soon start to catch up with that of China, even if it's just because of the significantly lower lifetime costs of run…

Kia Introduces Electric Niro, Bringing More Normal To The EV Market

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Kia’s Niro is a bog standard small family SUV which is available to buy today in petrol, hybrid and plug in hybrid versions. It is the most normal of small SUVs. Now you can own an all electric version, with Kia’s announcement of the Niro EV.

This is what the EV market needs right now, electric cars which are cars first and EVs second. The choice of drivetrain spreading across as many models as possible.

The Niro EV has an impressive theoretical range of 400km, which should do wonders for those worried about range.

My only concern is with pricing. Here in NZ the petrol Niro sells for a shade under $35k, with the PHEV version costing $56k. If the EV is even more expensive it’s unlikely to find many buyers at all. And that would be a disaster. Even with Auckland’s new fuel tax a buyer of an electric version of the Niro is likely to need decades to recoup the additional upfront cost of the vehicle in fuel savings.

For now the Niro joins other normal EVs as being a niche curiosity. Premium …

ZTE Seeks Stay Of US Trade Ban

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According to the South China Morning Post, ZTE has requested a stay of execution in the US, seeking a delay of the order which prevents US companies from doing business with the Chinese OEM.

In addition, Chinese Government officials are said to be in talks with US counterparts, to prevent what could be the destruction of ZTE as a viable business.

The outcome of these talks is likely to depend upon who is prepared to play hardball. The US Government appears to have viewed ZTE’s embargo busting trade with Iran in the dimmest light and having already punished the company financially, is seeking to destroy it too. The Chinese Governemt is unlikely to want to allow that to happen.

For now any purchase of a product from ZTE should be undertaken with caution, as there’s a very real prospect of the company not being around to back up its products in the near future.

iPhone Microphones Being Disabled By iOS 11.3

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Apple seems to be struggling with delivering reliable iOS updates just at the moment. The latest issue sees iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models which have been upgraded to iOS 11.3.1, disabling the microphone and preventing calls. Some users also see speaker and proximity sensor issues, which may or not be related.Apple has already intimated that iOS 12 will focus on reliability rather than new features, and that’s good to hear, because iOS updates have been of questionable quality for a while now.Why Apple has so many issues, when it has such a limited fleet to test against, is of concern though. For this particular issue there may be a component of hardware problems. Apple has also issues a knowledge base document for this issue, whcih can be found here.With Apple advising repair centres that microphones should be tested and at least suggesting that out of warranty devices will be prepared at no cost to the customer, it seems to be doing the right thing by its customers. That’s important and…

Apple iMac - There’s No Step Three

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The use of Jeff Goldblum to voice over these Apple iMac adverts twenty years ago was inspired. This was the pick of the bunch. As someone who worked in the business in the 90s, I can tell you that the prospect of setting up their new PC was the number one concern for computer buyers.

The iMac changed all of that and this ad made that obvious to everyone.

F1: Ayrton Senna’s Donington Triumph Remembered Twenty-five Years On

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F1 in the late 80s and early 90s was defined by the brilliance, determination and skill of Ayrton Senna. From his arrival with Toleman in 1984, through the Lotus years and finally at McLaren, he bestrode the sport like a colossus. Ayrton won 41 of his 161 races, but for me there is no question about the one which was the greatest: the 1993 European Grand Prix.

The one and only modern Grand Prix to be held at Donington Park, it was a race blighted by changeable weather conditions, a race almost made for the incredible feel and mastery of slippery conditions for which Senna was renowned.

On a dry circuit Senna would have stood no chance, the Williams-Renault was just so much better than the rest of the field. Alain Prost would have run away and hid in the dry. In the rain however things would be different. In qualifying, in the dry, Prost had been more than one and a half seconds faster than Schumacher and Senna, who were the fastest drivers not driving a William-Renault. That’s an un…

Is This A Marketing Fail Or A Ploy By HTC

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The teaser for the next HTC phone dropped earlier this week, revealing the new flagship’s release date, set upon an image of some smartphone components.Not components of the new flagship U12. Or indeed of any HTC mobile phone. Instead it is the internals of an iPhone 6.So either an epic marketing fail - and we’ve had a few of those from HTC over the years - or a most excellent troll of the media. Let’s really hope its the latter, because sloppy marketing is the last thing HTC needs right now.Update: HTC has told CNET this is intentional. Here's the statement from HTC:We're glad people are studying our teaser so closely. The fact people have noticed parts from different phone models is exactly right – they represent the jumble of parts (specs) that our competitors inelegantly cram into their phones, while the space in the middle outlining HTC's next phone represents 'a phone that is more than the sum of its specs.' To be clear, none of the parts illustrated in the t…

Apple And Warren Buffet Hoovered Up Shares Whilst Apple Stock Was Down

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Whilst the world and his dog was reacting to analysts predictions of a disastrous quarter for Apple, Apple itself and Warren Buffet were both buying shares as the company’s stock was tumbling. Buffet secured some 75 million of them, which brings his total investment in Apple to something over $40bn. Through his fund Berkshire Hathaway, he is now the second largest shareholder in Apple.It seems we go through this with every passing quarter recently. Bad news about sales leaks out, warnings are given by analysts and the share price falls. At that point clued up investors are buying up shares and making massive profits. I’m not suggesting Buffet or Apple are involved in this in any way. But the fact that this cycle is repeated strongly suggests someone is manipulating Apple stock holders for their own advantage.As the graph shows, Apple’s stock is back to its pre-manipulation levels, but in the two weeks before earnings were reported stock tumbled. I can’t be the only one who finds this…

F1: Barcelona Test An Opportunity For Kubica To Claim Race Seat

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So far this season Williams has been disappointing. Even with last weekend’s fortuitous result for Lance Stroll, the team sits at the bottom of the constructors table with less than half of the points of the next lowest team.It’s been a difficult start to the season and neither driver has particularly shone, which makes next weekend’s Barcelona testing more important than ever.Reserve driver Robert Kubica will take the wheel at the test and a good performance will give the team something of a headache. Rest one of its underperforming race drivers and give Kubica a chance to restart the team’s season, or run the risk of falling further behind their rivals.

The biggest problem Williams faces is that both Stroll and Sirotkin have brought large sums of money into the team to guarantee their race seats. Shifting them out is likely to be costly and it is this which is the biggest hurdle to a race return for Kubica.

Apple UK Seems To Be Out To Damage Its Own Reputation

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What’s happening to Apple UK and how has it managed to fall foul of the BBC’s Watchdog consumer show?After Apple was caught downgrading performance of older iPhones in order to protect aging batteries, the weight of public opinion forced it to respond. That response was a change to allow users to disable the throttling ‘feature’ and an offer of discounted battery replacements.In the UK it looks like Apple is doing everything to weasel its way out of those discounted battery replacements, at least if Watchdog is to be believed. The company are refusing to replace batteries unless iPhones sent for repair are in perfect condition. One user complains he was refused repair because his iPhone frame was dented, another because his microphone and speaker were faulty. Those repairs ended up being completed by third party repairers.Apple is justifying this by an apparantly unpublished clause in its warranty. It’s strange behaviour from Apple, given that this is supposed to be an act of contriti…

The iPad Delivered Its Fourth Consecutive Positive Quarter

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Remember when the talk was of the iPad being a dying product? It came off the back of three years of falling sales and Apple’s inability to deliver a product which reversed that trend.The iPad Pro was expected to be that product, but its failure to ignite the market showed that Apple didn’t actually know why sales were falling.The introduction of the new entry-level iPad last year changed that. The fifth generation took the iPad Air chassis and packed in newer internals whilst dropping the price. Suddenly sales were on the up and they haven’t stopped climbing since.

The introduction of the sixth generation iPad can only accelerate those gains, adding as it does, crowd pleasing Apple Pencil support.

Against a background of a tablet market which is continuing to skrink - another 3% reported by IDC this quarter - the iPad’s sales turnaround is quite a success.

The iMac Is Twenty Years Old

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When Apple announced the iMac twenty years ago it promised the biggest computer launch of all time. What it actually delivered was the product which enabled all that has happened since. The iPod, the iPhone and the iPad can all trace their roots to the arrival of the original iMac.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple it was a train wreck, publications had the company on deathwatch and Michael Dell even suggested it was time to shut down and return any remaining value to shareholders.

It was a bad time to be a Mac owner. Software availability was extremely limited, accessories were all but non-existent and there was no retail presence at all.

The iMac changed everything. It looked like no other PC on the market and it threw away all that was legacy in favour of simplicity. USB ports may have appeared on PCs first, but until the iMac arrived actually using a USB device was an exercise in frustration.

Then there was the simplicity - something Apple played upon with some very clever ads featur…

Microsoft Education Introduces Trial In A Box For New Zealand Schools

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With Chromebooks and iOS offering viable alternatives to Windows in education, and with both Google and Apple focusing on education globally, Microsoft has taken the front foot in the battle for Kiwi schools, offering a new Trial In A Box program, designed to help schools define their IT solutions to the benefit of students.
The trial in a box involves a half day session demonstrating Office 365 for Education, the Intune device management tool and the Microsoft Store for Education. Schools who undertake the trial before the end of June will receive two Windows 10 laptops to keep, ostensibly to allow them to continue to evaluate the services which will be set up for them during the trial.

Schools can visit this webpage to arrange their trial.

Smartphone Market Showing Signs Of Consolidation As It Matures

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IDC has released its numbers for smartphone sales in Q1 and there's further evidence that the smartphone market is beginning the kind of shakeout that happened in the PC market over the last decade.
Overall sales were down by 3%, but three of the top five OEMs saw sales growth.
Biggest winner was Xiaomi, which nearly doubled sales compared to the same quarter in 2017. That moved it ahead of Oppo into fourth place, although if you were to lump together Oppo's sales with its sister BBK brands, Vivo and OnePlus, it would be closer to Huawei's third place than the fifth place it occupies on its own.
Huawei saw a 14% increase in sales, despite its problems in the US. Its plans of passing Apple and eventually Samsung to top the smartphone market look like they'll have to go on hold for now though.
Apple closed ground on Samsung as the iPhone X defied analysts claims of poor sales to be the best selling phone in the quarter.
The big loser were all the other brands in the mar…

Sony Mobile Back In The Red, Hopes Pinned On 5G Introduction

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After a brief run of small, but welcome profits, Sony Mobile is back in the red, once more seeing shrinking revenue thanks to falling sales. The company's CFP Hiroki Totoki said that the company is looking to leverage 5G to bring the division back to profit and it sees huge potential in the new standard.
I'm not so sure. Sony has failed to excite with its smartphones, producing worthy devices which don't really have an impact outside of Japan. In too many cases it looks very much like a flagship Xperia is designed as a shop window for other manufacturers looking to buy from the components division.
Sony Mobile's losses are small compared to the profitability of the remainder of the company's overall profits, and I suspect that they are of little concern to management. Sony will retain a mobile presence because it needs to be in the market, but it will do no more than that.

Don't Get Spooked Into Using A Password Manager

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Password managers are being touted as the best way to protect your access passwords around the web, and with the confluence of World Password Day and Twitter's problem with storing plain text passwords, a lot of sites are recommending you start using one.
Don't be fooled. A password manager only gives the illusion of security and adds a sheen of ease of use. As long as its password vaults are stored in the cloud your exposure is greater than any one service getting hacked.
Putting every facet of your online life behind one password and trusting once company with all those keys makes no sense at all, even if there hadn't already been examples of these services being hacked.
If you don't trust yourself to maintain a sensible and secure password scheme in your head, the next best option is to go with an offline password manager, such as Password Safe. This open source product has versions for all platforms, however ensure you avoid the sync options on Android/iOS/Mac ver…

Twitter Recommends A Password Change After Discovering Plain Text Passwords

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Twitter has uncovered an internal error which means that all users passwords have been stored unencrypted and in hashed in an internal log file. Whilst the company has no evidence that the file has been accessed anywhere or the passwords have leaked, it is still recommending users change their passwords anyway.
You should do this as a priority. More importantly, if you re-used this password anywhere else you should change it there too.
The problems with this sort of information is that once it exists it becomes incredibly difficult to control. Twitter hasn't indicated how long this error has been in existence and what measures it has taken to destroy all copies of the data.
Addressing the error itself is fine, but if that file has been written to storage there's a good chance it can be recovered. Backups of the information onto lower performance storage, like spindle disks and even tape, potentially increase the risk; and then there's the use of multiple data centres to p…

Sony Has Now Offloaded 50% Of Its Spotify Stake

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Spotify’s first earnings call wasn’t warmly received by the stock markets, and news that Sony has drastically reduced its share holding in the streaming company is unlikely to be seen as any better news.Sony cashed in a quarter of a billion dollars of stock the day that Spotify listed, and has reduced its stock further by selling almost twice as many shares since. That’s going to make for a nice bonus for Sony shareholders this quarter at least.Sony reports that it expects to book gains against its remaining Spotify stock, which suggests that the sale didn’t relate to any lack of confidence in the way Spotify’s business is runniing.

HTC Reveals Date For New Flagship, Future In The Balance

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The HTC U11 was one of the best Android phones of 2018, and HTC is expected to deliver a similar level of quality with the replacement, which may be called the U12. Leaks have shown a phone with dual front and rear camera arrays, a stretched display and slim bezels. Most importantly it looks like there’s no notch. With the bulk of the company’s smartphone teams now working for Google, HTC will be closely watched to see exactly what it can deliver and what it means to for the future of the company.The answer to that question will arrive on May 23rd.

Twitter Leaves Windows 10 Mobile Behind

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Twitter has replaced its UWP app with a new PWA, ending direct support for the Windows 10 effectively killing its service for Windows 10 Mobile users who are sticking with their platform. The lack of true PWA support in Windows 10 Mobile means those users might as well just use the mobile website for Twitter.

Now Windows Mobile has been dead for a while now, but users have been able to get by with existing services. This is the first of the big services to leave the platform, and marks the beginning of the end even for those users who are still hanging on.

Shame really, as Twitter’s Windows Mobile app was always one of the better apps, and for a long time Windows Mobile was the best mobile platform for accessing Twitter.

LG G7 ThinQ - Will Anyone Buy This LG Flagship

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LG has launched the G7 today and it's a solid looking flagship device, with a small bezel large screen design, latest SD845 CPU and 4GB of RAM. There’s even a sound chamber built into the chassis to improve performance of the stereo speakers, as well a high performance DAC for the headphone jack.Things go south from there though. LG has embraced the notch and although it follows Huawei in allowing you to mask it the use of an LCD scree rather than OLED means the masking effect won’t be as effective.Then there’s the LG name, which seems to hold its phones back even when they are real contenders. Perhaps the problems being faced by Huawei in the US will allow LG to pick up sales from customers prepared to look away from Samsung.

Even then, with HTC, Sony and Google all offering high end flagships with showroom appeal, LG may still struggle. Much will depend on pricing. A cut down price might help LG regain some standing in the market, a premium one might leave it floundering once mor…

Google, Samsung Pass On Nokia Health, So Withings Founder Will Buy It Instead

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After reports that both Google and Samsung were interested in taking Nokia's failed Health acquisition off the Finnish company's hands, it comes as something of a surprise that the company will return to its roots, with Eric Carreel, who co-founded the company as Withings, stepping in to take control.
No word on what the deal was worth, but it's a safe guess that it was a smaller amount than Nokia paid to buy Withings in the first place.
Did Samsung and Google decide there was no value in the acquisition, or did the EU's preference for a 'local' buyer influence the outcome?
Whatever the behind the scenes machinations which wrought this deal, it's expected to complete by the end of Q2.

Facebook Dating? On Your Head Be It

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Facebook will launch a new dating service which promises to pair up people who aren't friends on Facebook but are looking for love. The more data you provide Facebook the better the match it can make. What could possibly go wrong with that?
In reality this is a continuation of Facebook's existing business model, offering you services, games, love; and in return receiving more and more data about you which allows it to better predict the way you'll behave, the adverts you respond to or the way that you will vote.
Whether Facebook's algorithms are good or not doesn't matter, that it will have more data on you means it has more points of contact to connect you to like minded individuals. That the extra data will also be used for other purposes is unlikely to bother those who use the service. Until a scandal occurs and users say they didn't understand the transaction they were making.
For Match and Tinder, as well as other online matchmaking services, the writing …

Spotify Hits 75 Million Premium Subscribers

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Spotify's first earnings report has given us a better look at the company's subscriber performance and the numbers make for some interesting reading. The company now has 75m Premium subscribers and 99m ad-supported listeners. 4m of the Premium subscribers don't use the service, despite paying.
Biggest competitor, Apple Music, had 40m subscribers as of its last report, in addition to 8m users on its free three month trial.
Despite reports that Apple Music is catching Spotify, the numbers suggest the opposite. At the middle of last year Apple had 30m users compared to Spotify's 60m. Since then the gap between the two has continued to grow, with Spotify adding more subscribers than Apple.
A big part of this must be associated with the free tier which Spotify offers. It does seem to do a very good job of converting users. I'd guess at least a part of that is that it sucks users in to the service by letting them build playlists and offering them excellent music discove…

Despite Building More Cars, Tesla's Losses Are Growing

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Tesla released its financial statement for the quarter ended March 31st and it was a case of good news, bad news with more promises of jam tomorrow.
On the positive side, Tesla's revenues increased to $2.6bn, an increase of 25% year on year. The company also reported that in April it managed to produce more than 2,000 Model 3 vehicles a week for three weeks, almost matching the whole of the previous quarter's production in once month. The company is still targeting a weekly yield of 5,000 cars, which is the minimum requirement for profitability. Once that target has been achieved the company will widen the Model 3 range.
On the downside, Tesla continues to burn cash - in fact the rate of burn is increasing. In Q1 it managed to work its way through over $700m, more than double its loss from the previous years and also bigger than the loss for Q4 2017. With cash assets now down to $2.7bn, the company has one year's worth of cash reserves before it will need to go to market …

Arrested Starbucks Customers Reach Settlement With Philadelphia And The Rest Of America Needs To Take Notice

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To the outside world America is a country beset by terrible divisions, where misogyny is rife, racism rampant and where base self-interest over-rides even the most basic empathy for other people. From the outside looking in America looks to be constantly on the point of a second civil war driven by inequality and the polarisation of political views.
Yet the Americans it has been my pleasure to have known have been the polar opposite. America has more than its fair share of good people and the actions of two men in Philadelphia more than demonstrate this.
You will know Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson as the two men who were arrested at Starbucks whilst they waited for an associate to arrive for a business meeting. Their crime? Being black.
At this point we don't need to cover the ground about the dangers and prejudice black people face in the US, suffice to say that an unwarranted fear, driven by prejudice, caused the manager of Starbucks to call the police, who proceeded to arre…

F1: New Aero For 2019 To Ease Overtaking

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Against the protests of the teams, F1 has adopted new aerodynamic rules to boost overtaking for 2019. In a bid to make it easier for a car to follow another car through a series of corners, front wings will be changed, becoming wider and simpler; rear wings will get deeper and wider; and some of the smaller aerodynamic pieces around the front of the car will disappear entirely.

The theory being that by reducing the dependence on the front wing the loss of downforce caused by following the car in front will be mitigated, allowing a driver to stay close enough to the car in front through a corner to be able to slipstream and pass down the following straight. The larger rear wings will help create a bigger hole in the air for the following car.

The concept is good and should definitely make overtaking easier. However, unless these rule changes are paired with the removal of DRS, it will make overtaking so easy as to completely remove the challenge.

The ideal, from a spectator sport point of…

Snap Had Another Down Quarter, Loses $400m

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Snap launched the second version of its Spectacles last week, however that side show isn’t going to distract from the main event, which is the company’s financial report for the quarter ending in March.To summarise, user growth has all but disappeared, earnings per user were down significantly and overall losses came close to the $400m mark.As I’ve said in the past, as a former Windows Phone user, Snap’s almost gloating rejection of the platform when it was on the way up more than justifies a healthy dose of Schadenfreude as it comes back down again. Seems investors are feeling the same way, as the stock tanks following the report.Things may be getting worse, it seems like March actually saw user numbers shrinking and Snap’s forward looking statement suggested there was more of that to come.

Like I said, Schadenfreude.

Hey Apple, iOS 12 Would Be The Perfect Time To Add Mouse Support To The iPad

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An iPad already offers so much to users in the post PC world. What it doesn’t offer is a functional way of working on a desktop. Look at desktop setups of users who have chosen to make an iPad their primary device and you’ll see the problem.
Adding a Bluetooth keyboard and secondary display to an iPad only works to an extent, because so much of the device’s interaction relies on touch. Which means raising your hands from the keyboard and poking the screen.

If Apple added mouse support - even as simple as adding a cursor making a mouse click event replicate a touch - this would be a very different proposition. And could potentially enable multiple monitor setups for those who chose them.

Now that latter scenario is quite niche and unlikely to be of concern to either Apple or many users right now, but if the iPad has a future as Apple’s most mobile PC offering - and I think it does - it’s a scenario which will become more common.

The first scenario is much more common though, and if App…

Mac Was The Only Grey Spot In Apple’s Quarter

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With iPhone and iPad sales up by 3% and services and other products up by 31% and 38% respectively, Apple’s quarter was something of a triumph over the naysayers. However the only, minor disappointment is Mac, where sales were down 2% year on year.

That’s against a wider PC market which seems to have finally stabilised.

Now at least part of the reason is likely to be the mish-mash of products Apple offers to potential PC buyers. The MacBook and MacBook Pro suffer a divisive keyboard design, for which evidence is piling up of unreliability. The MacBook Air and Mac Mini haven’t seen a proper update in... well forever. Then there’s the missing Mac Pro.

If you didn’t know better you’d think Apple wasn’t focused on its desktop products.

Surprise! Apple Had Another Record Quarter

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Those soothsayers who claim to have an insight into Apple’s business have been proclaiming doom for more than a few weeks now, in what I continue to believe is a cynical attempt to manipulate Apple’s stock, driving prices down in order to allow those in the know to make huge profits.

So it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Apple just reported its best ever March quarter.

Contrary to tales of disastrous iPhone sales, iPhone sales were up 3% year on year, with a 14% revenue growth suggesting that high end iPhones made up a bigger proportion of sales than before.

Services were another big growth area, again no real surprise knowing how Apple Music in particular has been posting good growth numbers. Apple reported 38% year on year increase in revenue in this area.

Across the board Apple’s revenue was up 16% and profits up 30%. All numbers which will have the share price soaring once more.

Funny that...

FitFire Fitness Tracker Review: A Basic Fitness Tracker Which Won't Break The Bank

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This is one of a number of Fitbit clones which you can find at Amazon, costing around $23 and available for international delivery.
The FitFire has a 0.86" rectangular OLED screen, a step counter and is listed as being waterproof for use in the pool or shower. The silicon band conceals a built in USB connector for charging, which takes about 90 minutes. You can get replacement bands in different colours and swapping and changing them is trivial.

On the wrist you won’t even know you’re wearing the FitFire, it is so light, by the end of the first day you’ll probably have forgotten all about it. It works just fine though, responding to a raised wrist with an illuminated display about 90% of the time. The contents of the display can be rotated to suit your preference of layout by using the companion app.

The FitFire has a sleep tracker, which details light and deep sleep periods through the night. It has an activity monitor too and will buzz to warn you when you’ve been idle for too…

F1: Red Bull Open 2019 Discussions With Honda

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The BBC is reporting that Red Bull has begun discussions with Honda about engine supply for next season, with the suggestion being that comparison of the Honda and Renault engines shows little difference in performance between the two.
It's a risky move for the team to take, Honda has yet to demonstrate winning performance and the team has been able to take the fight to Ferrari and Mercedes this year with Renault power. 
Red Bull would obviously like to delay the decision as long as possible to further evaluate the performance of the Honda engine in the back of the Toro Rosso, but Renault will be keen to get an early decision in order to plan its supply agreements for 2019.
In the end I'd guess that Toro Rosso and Red Bull may end up swapping engines for next season, allowing Red Bull to potentially maintain at least one competitive team next year.

Apple Marzipan Delayed, May Not Be As Reported

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The Apple Marzipan initiative, revealed by Bloomberg last year, was reported to be the first step on the road to a merger of macOS and iOS, providing a single development environment for both platforms, debuting later this yearNow an update from Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber, well known for his close relationship with Apple, suggests not only that Marzipan won’t arrive this year but also that it won’t herald the arrival of a single combined development environment at all. It may not even be called Marzipan.All that being said, there’s an air of inevitability about this happening and just because Marzipan isn’t the big step towards this end goal, doesn’t mean it isn’t the first step. And as we all know, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Apple Hit With Yet More Patent Claims

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At this point you have to wonder how Apple is getting anything done, labouring as it is under the weight of multiple patent infringement claims. The latest relate to the dual cameras on iPhone Plus models and the Do Not Disturb Whilst Driving feature of iOS.Whilst the first patent may have merit - and certainly the evidence presented by patent holder Corephotonics suggests there might be a case worth answering - the second, for using connection state and speed to decide whether the phone is connected to a car and is being driven seems rather too obvious to be valid.Perhaps the recent changes to the USPTO rules on challenging patent validity will apply here and make the process of disposing of at least one of these claims much easier.

Is Jolla Sailfish The Answer To ZTE and Huawei's OS Nightmare

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Over the last couple of weeks both ZTE and Huawei have found themselves in trouble as a result of a 2012 investigation into the supply of controlled technology to Iran. The US Government has placed a ban on the supply of technology to ZTE and another for Huawei seems to be imminent.
Potentially both companies will be in serious trouble if this occurs. Primarily this will be as a result of the loss of Android and Google Play Services. Android without Google promises to be a poor seller anywhere outside of China. And even that may not be an option, given the licensing restrictions on AOSP, the open source, Google-free version of Android.
Enter Finland's Jolla, with its Sailfish platform. Currently the open source based platform doesn't even move the needle on active users - best guess is just a few thousand devices currently active, but it does offer a reasonably quick option for ZTE.
There's even a hint that this has already been considered by Jolla. Last year the company …

Is Tesla About To Run Out Of Cash

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Bloomberg is reporting that Tesla is at risk of running out of cash before the end of this year, raising the spectre of bankruptcy and massive losses for investors and those who have lodged deposits against new cars.
The story does a good job of running through the history of Tesla's financing and the challenges it has faced, including 2008's barely escaped bankruptcy. But one thing becomes very clear, the ability to speed the production line to output more than 5,000 cars per week is the be all and end all of Tesla's current cash flow problems.
If it can hit that target, which will allow it to collect the balance of those hundreds of thousands of pre-orders, Tesla makes it. If it doesn't it won't, or at least not without a large injection of cash.
So the recent news that Tesla was switching to a three shift, around the clock, production system clearly finds its foundation in this target. With Elon Musk directly responsible for getting manufacturing on track, not …

The Death Of Apple AirPort Is Terribly Symbolic

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Apple has killed its line of AirPort products, announcing last week that it would be discontinuing the Airport Express, AirPort Extreme and Airport Time Capsules. From here on in you'll need to go to a third party products to meet these needs.
The AirPort line was introduced alongside the iBook G3 way back in 1999. The original Airport base station and the Airport card for the iBook created the market for Wi-Fi. There were other Wi-Fi options around at the time and they were universally terrible. Apple not only made it affordable, but also made it straightforward to use. 
Updated and extended AirPort products arrived over the next decade, each adding something to the experience. But Apple stopped development and the introduction of new products way back in 2011. Which means the whole product line has been on death watch for several years now.
Did Apple miss an opportunity here? Or is it fair to say that users now just choose to use the router supplied by their broadband provider,…

NZ Government Moves To Impose Amazon Import Tax

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The NZ Government is set to announce that internet retailers based outside of New Zealand will be required to collect 15% GST on all purchases. Currently all import duties are waived if the tax owed is below NZ$60. The change has been welcomed by retailers, who see it as levelling the playing field against the likes of Amazon.
They're wrong.
Whilst some of the personal import shopping is driven by price, that's neither the majority nor is it generally just the absence of GST which makes the difference.
Most purchases from overseas are driven through the desire to purchase items which aren't available on the NZ market, or are low volume enough to drive prices up from the importer.
New Zealand is a long way from anywhere and a small market of just over four million people. Bringing products into the country as an importer introduces the risk of stock sitting on the shelf waiting for that right buyer. That's why niche products don't make it here or are prohibitively …