Issue 596

Wednesday, 14th March 2018

In This Issue


Larry Page unveils his Kiwi robotaxi startup

Google co-founder Larry Page has a new startup called Kitty Hawk that's trying to make little plane-drone hybrids that can fly themselves around with paying passengers inside, aka flying robotaxis. They've apparently been working on it for years in Christchurch in New Zealand, as they found the regulatory system much friendlier for experimental aircraft than in the USA, as NZ has already come up with laws around self-flying passenger vehicles. Kitty Hawk hopes to have its first paying customers zooming around NZ in around 6 years time. God speed to New Zealand!

YouTube will place Wikipedia links under problematic videos

YouTube's CEO was on stage at SXSW today and in the wide ranging discussion, said that YouTube will soon start showing links to Wikipedia articles below videos that are possibly bullshit. For example, you're watching a video about how the moon landing is false. YouTube will pop up a link to the moon landing Wikipedia page. They're calling this "informational cues". It's not know how YouTube will determine if a video deserves one of these informational cues - I hope it's a bit smarter than some keywords.

Apple announces WWDC 2018 dates & Google releases I/O schedule

Apple announced that WWDC 2018 will be back in San Jose this year and take place from June 4th through to June 8th. Google I/O was announced a few weeks ago too, it's happening May 8th to May 10th in Mountain View. I guess if you cared, you'd already know about these dates. I'm really struggling to write today's issue so pardon me for being brief. I don't know what's going on, but my brain is just busted. It's like the ability to digest information and summarize it, that normally comes naturally to me, just isn't working today. It's incredibly frustrating when this happens. Sorry for the shit issue, they can't all be gold.

RIP Stephen Hawking, a genuine OG nerd to the end

Stephen Hawking passed away today. He was 76. I don't really know much about him, never got into the astrophysics stuff he was into and he wasn't necessarily a "tech" person, but it just felt like something I should mention here. Stephen won almost every physics related award possible, has his name on loads of significant buildings and sold 10 million copies of a book about cosmology. Despite suffering from ALS for decades, he still did what he wanted to do and achieved so much. That's pretty damn inspirational.

Fitbit has some new gear if you're into that sort of thing

So Fitbit is still a thing hey? They've announced a new smartwatch called the Versa. It's based on Fitbit's own Fitbit OS and is "swimproof", has 4 days of battery life, measures steps & heart rate, can do sleep tracking and ties in to Fitbit's personal health dashboard. It reminds me of the Pebble watch. It'll go on sale in a few weeks for $299.95. There's also the new Fitbit Ace, that they're pushing as a fitness band for kids that parents have full control over. Apparently giving a kid a fitness band helps them build good habits around physical activity.

Not News, But Still Cool

The IOC doesn't want violent esports games at the Olympics

The International Olympic Committee is keen to get esports into the program at future Olympic Games, but not violent ones. IOC President Thomas Bach said that "we want to promote nondiscrimination, nonviolence, and peace among people. This doesn't match with video games, which are about violence, explosions, and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line". That's all well and good, but if you think about all the popular esports games (League of Legends, Dota 2, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, Overwatch), it doesn't leave many titles for the IOC to pick from.

Public hearings of the digital delivery of government services inquiry started today

The government started public hearings today as part of their inquiry into why they suck at computers. Multiple people said that not employing skilled IT staff is probably the major reason for the mess. Relying on contractors not only costs heaps more, but erodes ongoing IT knowledge in government departments. Evidence of this lack of skill and resources is a report on 54 federal government websites that were taken offline for an entire weekend in May 2017 to do maintenance. That's pretty old school and is definitely not best practice in 2017.

Atlassian's co-founder on what he reckons Australia's tech industry needs

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has gone on a rant about tech jobs in front of the federal "Senate's Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers". According to him, the best way for Australia to grow its tech industry is to make it way easier for skilled foreigners to work here. Get the best foreigners to come and they'll be "job multipliers" apparently. At the same time, we need to stop the best and brightest Australian techies from going overseas. He also said that Atlassian will probably end up basing fewer of their projects in Australia because they simply can't find the right people to do the work here.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Ratcat - That Ain't Bad