Back in the year 2022 – Autumn – Background

October: vulnerable submarine cables, Gigabyte is not satisfied with webshops and the EU takes a step towards emission-free cars

Hundreds of undersea internet cables ensure that the internet is truly global and that computers and data centers can be connected to each other. These submarine cables therefore play a crucial role in the worldwide web; damage to it can have a big impact. This was proven by two separate incidents in October, when two cables broke near France and in the North Sea.

In the first incident, north of Marseille, an internet cable was cut. Three submarine services were disrupted linking Marseille with Lyon, Milan and Barcelona. Zscaler reviewed the incident ‘vandalism’ worldwide packet loss and delays. Internet traffic could be redirected, reducing the impact, but Zscaler still spoke of a ‘disaster’.

Half a day later something similar happened, but then north of Scotland. A fishing boat interrupted the internet connection to the Shetland Islands. Internet traffic to the mainland was disrupted and emergency services were temporarily difficult to reach. It was not the first time that a boat damaged the cable here.

The two incidents demonstrate the vulnerability and importance of the submarine internet cables that connect us, which may explain why the article was one of the most read articles in October. However, just before this incident, the Nord Stream pipeline was sabotaged, which may also explain why this article was such a good read.

Another article that did well in October was in response to an Instagram post by Gigabyte. This GPU manufacturer complained about the price increases of the RTX 4090 card. On the introductory card, this then new GeForce was on sale for almost 2000 euros, but a week later it ‘exploded’ to a minimum of 2349 euros. Some cards were even for sale for 3000 euros.

Gigabyte claimed that it was supplying webshops with sufficient stock and that they could already make a ‘healthy margin’ on the cards. Webshops therefore only raised prices to allow themselves more profit, according to Gigabyte. The GPU manufacturer indicated that it would like to work better with distributors and retailers in the future to prevent such price increases. The RTX 4090 can also now be bought again at the introductory price.

The last article in October was found to generate many responses compared to other articles in that month. On October 28, the EU cleared one of the last hurdles for the commitment that new cars must be emission-free from 2035. The Commission and Parliament had already agreed earlier this year, but the Council also agreed at the end of October.

According to the plan, dealers and other car sellers will no longer be allowed to sell new cars from 2035 if they contain CO2 expel. It is therefore likely that there will then only be battery-electric and hydrogen-electric cars for sale. It will then take decades before the exhaust has completely disappeared from the car fleet, but for the Union it is a step towards climate neutrality.

November: The beginning of the end for FTX, Budget Energy will start netting annually again, and smartphones will be two euros cheaper

One of November’s biggest stories revolved around cryptocurrency exchange FTX. This exchange seemed to be one of the most stable and reliable crypto exchanges for years, but this suddenly changed in November. FTX turned out to have less liquid assets than expected, after which Changpeng Zhao, CEO of rival exchange Binance, sold his FTX coins. This led to a bank run on coins on the FTX exchange, which suddenly caused the exchange and the coins to lose almost all value.

Binance then said it would take over FTX, but suddenly pulled out a day later. Another day later, FTX saw no other choice but to file for bankruptcy. The CEO and founder of the exchange, Sam Bankman-Fried, stepped down. Two months later, he was arrested in the Bahamas and extradited to the United States for defrauding investors.

Meanwhile, part of the money from the customers has disappeared. With a restructuring, the exchange hopes to investigate how stakeholders can get as much money back as possible. Oh, and anyone looking for a TV script in the story of a young crypto-entrepreneur with a billion-dollar company and a penthouse in the Bahamas who turns out to be a fraud is out of luck: Amazon was already ahead of you.

Earlier in this Back in the Year we already talked about solar panel owners who will soon be allowed to pay less. Earlier this year, however, Budget Energie customers were suddenly at a disadvantage when it comes to netting. From July 1 to early November, the Dutch energy company did monthly netting, which worsened for owners of solar panels. In summer, when they generate the most energy with their solar panels, the price per kilowatt hour is lower than in winter, when they consume more from the energy grid.

Budget Energy director Caroline Princen (left) and Radar host Antoinette Hertsenberg

Not only was it bad for customers, many said it was even against the law. Tweaker Rienzilla therefore went to court and demanded that Budget Energie return to annual netting, as the company did previously. In November, before the court came into play, Budget Energie announced that it would stop the monthly netting and would also compensate the victims. The company still believes the government should promote sustainability in other ways and that net metering is outdated, but also says “now is not the right time” to have that discussion.

We are switching from net metering to housing copy tax. In a year when almost everything has become more expensive, the Private Copying Compensation Fund decided to lower the private copying fee. It should come as no surprise that such good news was well-read front-page news. The fees are falling because a court has previously ruled that offline downloads from services such as Netflix and Spotify do not count as home copying and therefore cannot be included in determining the fees. The rates therefore fall by ten cents to two euros. Only the fees on tablets will increase by 40 cents. The new tariffs come into force on 1 January 2023.

The private copying tax on set-top boxes of 3.80 euros will disappear completely from next year. Industry association NLconnect suggested that such devices are hardly used for local storage anymore because TV recordings are increasingly stored on central servers and streamed to users. The Private Copying Compensation Negotiations Foundation, or SONT, agreed to this. Incidentally, NLconnect and other industry associations still do not agree on the private copying charges because they have not been lowered enough. Because of streaming services, damages for rights holders are still falling, something that is not reflected in the fees, these associations say.

December: ABN AMRO stops passive wearables Windows 10 users get blue screen of death and 8k TV may be blocked

We start December with one of the shortest articles in this whole Back in the Year, which is also one of the best read. On the first day of the month, ABN AMRO announced that it would stop using contactless payments via passive wearables. These are key chains, rings, watches or bracelets with NFC chips that allow users to make payments.

According to the bank, the use of these wearables has decreased ‘significantly’ in recent years because customers prefer to use Google or Apple Pay. ABN AMRO is therefore ceasing support from 1 April 2023. Since December, it has already become impossible to connect a passive wearable to a digital payment card and thus make contactless payments. Customers who have been able to use their passive wearable for contactless payments for less than two years can receive compensation from the bank.

In any case, ABN AMRO customers will have a few months to switch to other payment methods. Some Windows 10 users had less time to come up with a plan B around December 20th. After the Patch Tuesday update, some of the users got one blue screen of death on the screen, with error code 0xc000021a. Signature validation could not be performed between the hidparse.sys parsing library and drivers in the system32 folder, causing the crash.

Through recovery mode, affected users can place hidparse.sys in the system32 folder and boot the operating system from there, although there will be plenty of users who cannot do this. It is therefore hoped that Microsoft learns from this bsod and better tests future updates to eliminate such bugs in the future.

We end this Back of the Year with a longer article: EU enforces stricter energy labels, which manufacturers say is killing 8k TVs. Televisions, like many other appliances, must be sold with energy labels. If you do not get the lowest energy label, you may not sell your TV in the EU.

Samsung QN900A

With these energy brands, 8k TVs currently have an exceptional position, which means they do not have maximum power. However, the EU wants to change this from 1 March 2023 and equate the maximum power with 4k TV. However, due to the increased pixel density, the backlight on an 8k TV has to work harder to achieve the same brightness as a 4k TV.

Manufacturers and lobby organizations therefore warned that the tougher rules would make it practically impossible to sell 8k TVs in the EU. They therefore hoped that the EU Commission would adjust their plans and give 8k TV a higher limit. In early December, the Commission clarified that 8k TVs will not receive an exemption and will therefore fall under the stricter energy labels. In the coming years, it will be clear whether this will really be the death knell for 8k TV, or whether it will be better than expected in practice.

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