The Sizzle

Issue 422 - Tuesday, 27th June 2017


Apple tells Westpac to get lost and buys a German eye tracking tech
Apple has been busy the past 24 hours. Apple told Westpac to piss off with its "Keyboard" payments function built in to the Westpac Live banking app. The feature, which allows you to send payments within apps using a keyboard shortcut (kinda like the Google keyboard) has been live since March, but Apple has told Westpac to remove it. No specific reason as to why was given, just, Apple said it had to go. Apple also purchased a German eye tracking company called SensoMetric Industries. No doubt this is for their rumoured AR glasses thingo, but who really knows with Apple.

Waymo & Apple reveal they've been working with Avis & Hertz on self-driving car fleet management
Shares in Hertz, the mongrel rental car company, who when you return their car to Sydney airport, blames you for scratching the rims even though they were already scratched and ignores your time stamped photos, have jumped 15% overnight. Why? Because the Californian DMV revealed they've been leasing cars from Hertz to test their self-driving platform. On the same day, Hertz's arch-rival, Avis, announced they're working with Waymo to service their fleet of self-driving cars in Phoenix. Makes sense to get these car hire companies managing the day to day of a car fleet. They know the business of allowing filthy randos borrow an expensive item better than Apple or Google could.

The Australian National Audit Office reckons MyGov doesn't suck, but is pretty expensive
The Australian National Audit Office has given MyGov a thorough going over, assessing if it actually does the things it's supposed to do for the 9.5 million people registered to use it. The good news is that the site stays online and almost double the amount of people are using it than they thought would at this stage. The ANAO says that overall, it's not bad (it's spectacular compared to most govt IT projects to be honest). The bad news is that it cost way more than they budgeted for. The article I linked to doesn't really cover it well, but Justin Warren on Twitter has explained that the government expected to save $47.6m by setting up MyGov, but it cost them $57m more to run than they expected! His #tljr hashtag is a good series of highlights from the ANAO report into MyGov.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation invests in a Pilbara lithium mine
Here's an interesting piece of renewable energy news: The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is financing a lithium mine in the Pilbara to the tune of $20m. The CEFC, if you don't know, is a bank owned by the Australian government that loans out cash and invests in renewable energy projects, "clean energy" projects. This is the first time the CEFC has invested in a mine, which you wouldn't normally assume would be a clean energy project - mines are filthy and bad and stuff right? Well we need loads of lithium to build all those batteries to store our renewable energy and power our zero emission vehicles, duh. The lithium from this mine is destined for China (as is the norm for Australian dirt), but could also feed two big battery factories currently planned for Townsville and Darwin. There's no reason why Australia can't build all the batteries here, with Australian lithium, utilising cool robots that make the cost of labour irrelevant.

Nintendo has a mini SNES, like the mini NES that sold out last Christmas
Nintendo has announced the "Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System" - it's just like that mini NES they released last Christmas that sold out like crazy, but a Super Nintendo! Relive your childhood, show your children a piece of your childhood, for the low low price of $119.95. EB and JB are taking orders right now and they should ship on the 30th of September. The mini SNES comes with two controllers, unlike the mini NES and includes classic games like Super Mario World, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Star Fox 2, which was never actually released back in the day. Here's a full list of games that come with the mini SNES. The Japanese version has a few different games. If you're keen, you probably want to pre-order one now, despite Nintendo saying they're making loads more of the mini SNES than they did the NES.


China is way into monitoring you via security cams and machine learning
The Wall Street Journal has a great story on how the Chinese are leading the way when it comes to using AI, big data, machine learning and all those buzzwords in practical, social applications. For example, there's a camera system that captures video of jaywalkers and uses that footage to name and shame them on a big screen, even telling their employers of their little crime. The Chinese don't seem to mind this though, as they're used to ther government prying on them. For many Chinese, it's a comfortable trade-off in return for "hexie shehui" - a harmonious society. By far the most dystopian thing though, is that "by 2020, the government hopes to implement a national "social credit" system that would assign every citizen a rating based how they behave at work, in public venues and in their financial dealings." That's pulled right out of Black Mirror!

Ethereum - basically a way to raise capital in your shonky idea with no regulation
Ethereum, what the hell is it?! I get that it's a cryptocurrency, but why is it suddenly exploding in value? Why's everyone so keen for it? Apparently, it's all about Inital Coin Offerings. These ICOs are basically regulation free ways to get money from investors for crazy ideas. If you've got a stupid idea, say, basketballs that tweet every time you bounce them, you can create your own Ethereum based coin (let's call it BallTweet) and whoever buys BallTweets, owns part of the business. How do you buy BallTweets? Using Ethereum, of course. That's why the price has skyrocketed. $35m was raised for Basic Attention Tokens. $100 million for a coin that will be used on an online chat program. A group of Lithuanians raied $14m in 45 minutes for an encrypted online data service. This is absolutely nuts and I feel like I should be shoving my snout in this trough of cash before the government comes and shuts it down.

Learn something and spend 1hr watching a smart man talk about transportation disruption
If you want to get a handle on how rapidly renewable energy will disrupt the energy and transportation industries, watch this 1hr presentation from Tony Seba - a Stanford economist. You might remember that name from previous issues of The Sizzle where I've discussed his prediction that by 2024, it'll be illegal to drive a car and to operate an internal combustion engine. That's how rapidly he thinks renewable energy and electric cars will catch on. This is basically him explaining the 70 pages Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030 report he wrote, in a 1hr video if you can't be arsed reading it. Incredibly interesting, to me at least.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers. Know someone who could use a bit of Sizzle in their life? Buy them a gift subscription!