Issue 571

Wednesday, 7th February 2018

In This Issue


SpaceX launches its biggest rocket yet, placing a Tesla Roadster in orbit

You probably already know, but SpaceX successfully launched and then landed (sorta) the most powerful rocket in the world this morning. The Falcon Heavy launch was exciting enough, but to spice things up, Elon Musk added his Tesla Roadster as the payload, launched it into orbit with a dummy in the driver's seat (aka Starman) wearing a production SpaceX crew spacesuit, with a copy of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation book series on a 5D laser optical quartz storage device. All to the tune of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" blasting out of the car's sound system. The only bummer was SpaceX losing the "core" of the rocket, as unlike the side boosters, the core crashed into the ocean instead of landing gently on its pad. A video of the entire launch can be found here, as can SpaceX's post-launch press conference.

Reviews of the Apple HomePod hit the net

Reviews of Apple's HomePods have started to flood the internet. I'd link to them individually, but MacStories has already done that for us. The general consensus is that the HomePod sounds fantastic, easily beating similar sized and priced speakers (e.g: Sonos). However, the voice assistant stuff is weak as piss compared to Alexa or Google and even worse, unless you use Apple Music, you can't use your voice to play songs (unlike Alexa or Google) and it doesn't seem like a feature Apple is keen to add either. If you want a nice speaker for a small space and enjoy Apple Music, the HomePod will be good. Otherwise, you probably want something else. I'm very interested to hear how it sounds at home, so I might take advantage of the Apple Borrowing Library.

Social media sites are quickly banning "deepfakes"

Deepfakes are porn vids where a person's face is placed on someone else's body so it looks like they're the ones participating in the sexual act. This isn't new, but with fancy machine learning algorithms, powerful GPUs and software that make the process relatively automated, there's been a huge spike in "deepfake" videos. It all started on Reddit (of course), where someone was taking requests for custom deepfakes in return for Bitcoin. As these spread across the internet, Twitter, Pornhub and other image/video hosting sites have banned them as they rightfully see it as non-consensual use of a person's intimate photos or videos. I'll save you some time - they don't look as realistic as I had imagined. For now.

NBN seriously underestimated how many people actually want the NBN

Us nerds are pretty quick to jump on faster internet access when it becomes available, but in some parts of Australia, take-up of the NBN is 35% lower than forecast by NBN. According to the NBN, the reluctance in taking up NBN is due to "alternative providers", "awareness" and "premises factors", but also "demographics". There's an interesting correlation between the socio-economic status of an area and how quickly it takes up NBN. Poor people usually have better things to do (i.e: working to get more money & sorting out general poverty related bullshit) than stuff around with internet access and also, just can't afford the NBN, as they may not have $50 a month to spare just for internet access. Just another thing NBN didn't take into consideration when planning its business case.

Post-WannaCry, the NHS's IT systems are still woefully insecure

After WannaCry took down nearly a third of the IT systems in the UK's NHS and 600+ GP clinics, the NHS thought they better do an audit of their systems to see if they're gonna be left with their pants down again, next time North Korea decides to have some cyber-fun. The results were not good: "Every NHS trust assessed for cyber security vulnerabilities has failed to meet the standard required" - ouch. They did 200 on-site assessments of NHS facilities and none met the standards set by the post-incident report. Some even failed to patch the initial WannaCry vulnerability! I take some comfort in knowing it's not just Australia that sucks at this stuff.

Not News, But Still Cool

Tesla's Superchargers may not be the market advantage they thought they are

Fast charging stations with a large install base is one of the key drivers of electric car take up, and Tesla's Supercharger network is one of its greatest advantages. Seeking Alpha argues that the Supercharger network is actually going to hurt Tesla soon, particularly in Europe. EU member states have formalised CCS as the fast charging method of choice, which has lead to thousands of them popping up as investors know every car sold in the EU will have that connector. Not only are there heaps of CCS chargers around, but, it's also faster to charge your car then a Supercharger (it's long winded, read the article to learn why CCS is superior). Would Tesla ever put a CCS port on their cars?

Zuck hired a full-time pollster to gauge what the public thinks of his every step

Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook employed a professional pollster to gauge the public's reaction to Mark's activities during his "real person" tour of American's 50 states. The tour itself was weird enough, but then hiring a pollster to find out, "do people like Mark’s speeches? Do they like his interviews with the press? Do people like his posts on Facebook?" It also did similar polling for Facebook's COO, Sheryl Sandberg. Travis McGinn, the pollster employed by Facebook, quit after 6 months as it quickly dawned on him that he was part of the problem, not the solution. I know brands do market research all the time to find out what people think of them, but this deep level of polling, about every public action the CEO does, makes me think of Zuck as someone who's incredibly insecure and unsure of themselves.

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That's it, see ya tomorrow!