The Sizzle

Issue 463 - Wednesday, 23rd August 2017


Victorian Renewable Energy Target to achieve 40% renewable energy by 2025
The Victorian government has passed a Victorian Renewable Energy Target, aiming for renewable energy to make up 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025, of electricity generated in the state. To kick start things, there will be auction for 650MW of wind and solar capacity. From what I can understand, it's basically a reverse tender, with people throwing in bids for the cheapest builds. More details on that will come in October. The more renewable energy the better - as Victoria loves burning its abundant and cheap (because it can't be exported or used for anything but electricity really), but filthy, brown coal.

Google has a new way to manage Chrome devices in businesses
Google has revamped the stale Chromebooks for Work program and now has Chrome Enterprise to offer instead. It's $50/yr for each Chromebook or Chromebox device and gives you a really easy central location to manage your businesses computers. For your $50/yr you get features like managed Google Play app rollouts, browser customisation and extension management, theft prevention features (i.e: lock the device if it's reported lost) and even the ability to tie into existing Active Directory environments. The big feature though is 24/7 support. Someone you can call at Google to yell at when something breaks.

Crashplan is dead, find somewhere new to backup your data
The popular Crashplan backup service will no longer exist. Code42, who run CrashPlan as a consumer version of its enterprisey backup service, will no longer renew any consumer subscriptions or sign up any new consumers. They're doing this because they want to focus on business customers only. You lowly home users are too much of a pain in the arse for Code42 to bother taking money from, so you gotta find somewhere new for your backups now. Backblaze is nice, relatively affordable and easy to use, but it only keeps the last 30 days of data you upload. I outlined my personal backup habits on Reckoner about 2 years ago, nothing's changed since - Arq keeps getting better and better. Stick to the 3-2-1 rule and remember OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox are not backups, they're sync services.

Of course Estonia wants its own cryptocurrency
Estonia's government is known for being pretty deep into tech stuff. Like its national digital identity program and its e-citizen thing where you don't have to live in Estonia or be Estonian to be a citizen of Estonia. So it's no surprise that they're keen on getting in on the cryptocurrency scene by making its own token, Estcoin. The reason for doing so is pretty much so people can invest in government projects in a way that's not the traditional bond market, which Estonia doesn't have. It's still early days for the idea, but it seems exactly like something Estonia would do.

Teacher's union wants govt to scrap online NAPLAN testing
The government wants NAPLAN to be done online by 2019, across all Australia, but many schools are struggling to meet that goal. The Australian Education Union argues that schools in regional and rural areas in particular just don't have reliable enough internet access for students to properly complete the test online and students from low socio-economic backgrounds, that aren't as comfortable with using a computer will be disadvantaged versus their richer, more computer savvy counterparts. These factors will result in NAPLAN's results not giving a proper indication of student progress. The AEU wants the plans for an online test scrapped before more money is wasted on it.


Recycling old laptop batteries for use as off-grid home batteries
There are loads of laptop batteries chucked in the bin simply because one or two of the many cells inside don't hold much of a charge. Well, there was loads of them around until people around the world decided to harvest these otherwise destined for landfill batteries and turned them into DIY Tesla Powerwalls. They crack open the cases, rip the 18650 cells out, test the voltage on each one and with enough of the little bastards, can make a battery large enough to power a home. One guy even wants to make a huge 1MWh battery to power a recycling plant. The problem now is that they're struggling to find enough dead laptop batteries as the idea has taken off, so there's more people scavenging and newer laptops use custom sized cells instead of the 18650 standard cylinder ones.

What happened to Apple's self-driving car?
The New York Times has bubbled up some info about Apple's now defunct self-driving car program. Project Titan as it was called, started in 2014 and was focussed on making a car, from the ground up, that can drive itself. Apple literally wanted to re-invent the wheel, by using sphere wheels that would make it easier to move laterally. Imagine an Apple car with big rubber balls on it instead of tyres, hahah. The undoing of Apple's lofty car ambitions was that it got too big and there was a lot of arguing over whether Apple should be making the entire car itself with semi-autonomous stuff that can be release now, or wait until full self-driving capability was ready. Right now, Apple's making self-driving shuttles that'll take people from Apple's current campus down to the new spaceship campus. Gruber has some more insight to this story.

Running Plex Sever on a VPS - worth it?
I'm trying to write more often as a way to get new people into finding out about The Sizzle and hopefully signing up for a free trial. The first fruits of this new era of regular long-form stuff is a summary of my investigations into running Plex Media Server on a VPS or cloud server instead of at home, because my existing Plex server is getting old. If you can't be fucked reading it, the short version is unless you host the Plex server in AU, it's a bad experience (bandwidth can't keep up and latency mucks with seeking) and hosting a server in AU costs way too much versus just getting a box at home, so I'll just replace my current server with something else at home. If you read that article and enjoyed it, please share it around the social media places you hang out on - I'd appreciate it!

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!