Issue 668

Thursday, 28th June 2018

In This Issue


Journos get a hands on test of Google's appointment booking speech bot

Google let a few journalists try out Google Duplex, that robot that calls shops for you and makes appointments that was demonstrated at Google I/O a few months ago. It was a staged scenario heavily managed by Google, with no recordings allowed, but Duplex's assortment of voices is perfect and indistinguishable from a human. It even handles being asked questions really well, with the journalists failing to trip it up. If the robot-human conversation goes wrong, there's a call centre that have a human intervene to finish the job. It seems like Duplex is a whole new generation of natural language processing that's a major step up from what Google/Alexa/Siri do now and it kinda creeps me out. Daring Fireball has a bunch of links to the other journalists that got hands on time with Duplex.

There's a Senate Committee on Electric Vehicles that I'm hopeful but skeptical about

Long time readers of The Sizzle will know how much of a hard-on I have for electric cars, so it's unsurprising the news that there will be a federal Senate Committee on Electric Vehicles is of interest to me. This committee will look into "the economic, environment and social benefits of widespread electric vehicle uptake in Australia; the opportunity for the development of electric vehicle manufacturing, supply and value chain activities; and how the Federal, State and Territory Governments can better work together to support these goals." Sounds good until you run into Liberal party dipshits that want to maintain the status quo and don't believe in supporting industry unless that industry is lining your pockets with money. Victoria completed its own inquiry in May and hasn't said shit about it yet.

Apple and Samsung finally end their 2011 legal action over copying the iPhone

The infamous court case from 2011 where Apple claimed Samsung ripped off the iPhone's hardware and software design is finally over. Samsung was initially found guilty of copying Apple back in 2012 and ordered to give Apple US$539m, but appeals and counter appeals have been constant since then. After 7 years of lawyers getting fat off these juicy proceedings, "Apple and Samsung said they have agreed to drop and settle the remaining claims and counter claims in the design patent legal battle". I get why Apple had to stand up for itself and call out the copying, but ultimately, this whole legal action achieved practically nothing except getting some lawyers insanely rich.

PUBG drops lawsuit against Fortnite for copying its game style

Speaking of legal battles, the creators of PUBG have dropped their lawsuit against Epic, the creators of smash-hit Fortnite. PUBG claimed that Fortnite ripped 'em off on the whole battle royale style format, but after a bit of back and forth with the lawyers, the two parties came to an agreement and will now go their separate ways. To me PUBG and Fortnite are similar, but really, that's like saying nobody can make a platform game because Nintendo made Mario or no more punk music because the Sex Pistols did it already. Besides, if PUBG succeeded in taking down Fortnite, everyone under the age of 15 would get even more angst filled than they already are and that would be very bad.

Senate drops report into why government ICT projects consistently go wrong

The Senate has handed in its report into digital delivery of government services and unsurprisingly said that since 2013, the government has sucked big time at getting ICT projects implemented. Included in the report is a long list of failures like the 2016 Census, constant ATO service outages, the DHS payments & case management system, the ditching of the Gov.Au project, the failure to delivery NAPLAN online, scrapping of the Australian Apprentice Management System, the Biometric Identification Services project getting shitcanned and the pièce de résistance, Centerlink's robo-debt system. Why does this happen? Government departments lack the expertise to be critical of their own projects and get taken advantage of by external vendors. The full report can be found here.

Not News, But Still Cool

Microsoft resurrects the legendary IntelliMouse

Hands up who remembers the Microsoft IntelliMouse, this bad boy right here, in all its beige glory. I remember getting one back in the 90s and marvelling at the optical sensor. No more trackball to get clogged up and require regular cleaning! And man, how comfortable in the hand was the IntelliMouse? I reminisce about the IntelliMouse because Microsoft have released the "Classic IntelliMouse" and it looks pretty cool. Personally, I don't know how I'd go using a wired mouse after using a cordless one for so long, but I won't miss constantly recharging the bastard. That's kinda tempting.

iFixit explains why the MacBook's thin keyboard is such a pain

iFixit has a very detailed look at why the MacBook's keyboard sucks so damn hard. It starts off with the keyboard's switch action being incredibly thin in order to keep the laptop thin. But because the action is so thin, debris like dust, sand, or food that wouldn't be an issue in other keyboards, impedes the switch from making contact. Removing this debris by cleaning it with compressed air rarely works, again, because the gap between the key and the switch is so thin, the air often can't get through with enough force to blow it out. Nor does shaking it loose. Removing the key to clean the switch doesn't work either because they're so thin and fragile! It really puts me off buying a new MacBook Pro to be honest, and I love Macs.

Too much cheap stuff to mention in a single headline thanks to EOFY

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Midnight Juggernauts - This New Technology