Issue 691

Tuesday, 31st July 2018

In This Issue


Uber stops developing self-driving trucks

Uber has given up on making trucks autonomous killing machines across the USA, instead aiming for 100% not killing people in or around passenger cars. Uber's plan was to get the trucks driving on their own along the freeway to distribution centres (the relatively easy bit), then a person would drive the rest of the way to complete the delivery (the very hard bit). That's not happening now. I wonder if Uber thinks buying Otto (who was all about robotrucks) and the shitstorm they caused with Google over Anthony Levandowski stealing Waymo's secrets was worth it now? Either way, couldn't have happened to a nicer company I suppose.

New data breach report shows health care providers worst at keeping data safe

Now that mandatory data breach reporting is a thing, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has compiled a report on all the breaches it was made aware of between April 1st and June 30th. The headline stat is that health providers suck at keeping details private - a timely coincidence considering the noise around My Health Record right now. According to the OAIC, "the majority of health sector data breaches were down to human error - in particular, sending personal details to the wrong email address or the wrong mail address, as well as the loss of paperwork or storage devices." There were breach 243 notifications across all industries and 59% of them were the result of "malicious or criminal attacks". Check out the OAIC's report if you'd like to know more.

ALP promises a National Centre of AI Excellence if it wins federal election

In some early pork barrelling before a federal election, the ALP's Ed Husic has promised $3m to set up the National Centre of AI Excellence, an "artificial intelligence not-for-profit research centre". If they win the election of course. The new centre would "promote research and industry acceleration of AI" and "would be non-partisan, working with state and territory governments, along with union, community, industry and academia representatives". According to Husic, AI is gonna "profoundly change lives and supercharge economies" so it's important we have research dedicated to it that harnesses its potential for good, not evil. All very nice stuff that I'm sure everyone can agree on. Dunno how much value you'll get out of $3m (one or two reports a year maybe?), but it's better than nothing.

Logitech buys Blue Microphones for US$117m

Logitech's acquiring Blue, you know, that microphone company, for US$117m. It seems like Logitech purchased Blue to improve its offering of microphones as mics are now a pretty important computer accessory for game streamers and video conferencing. It's a little unusual in that Blue make really high end mics for recording studios, which is a bit out of Logitech's expertise. Blue's CEO reckons now that they have Logitech's cash and experience behind them, they'll be able to make even better gear. Besides Blue, Logitech owns Astro Gaming, Jaybird and Ultimate Ears. They all seem to be going along smoothly, so there shouldn't be much changing over at Blue either.

ACCC's latest ISP performance results are out

The ACCC has released a second broadband performance report, based on the info it has gathered through 145,000 tests from 657 users across 6 ISPs in May 2018. To cut to the chase, Aussie Broadband is the best ISP. Fastest results across the board, achieving the highest speeds during peak and off-peak times for both downloads and uploads. Latency was lowest on Telstra though, which kinda makes sense considering how close their servers are to everyone else's servers. The full report is available here. If you're interested in taking part in the test, the ACCC is still after volunteers. It seems like they don't even have 1 user per NBN POI yet for each ISP - there's 121 POIs and 6 ISPs, which means at least 726 users required.

Not News, But Still Cool

The Australian Computer Museum Society needs your help to save its collection

The Australian Computer Museum Society is getting kicked out of its current warehouse in Sydney and the building is set to be demolished in 2 weeks. There's a large collection of computer gear that'll probably end up in the tip if nothing is done. A post went up on Google Groups asking for people to come and take what they can so the collection is kept alive, albeit distributed around many people's homes. If you have some space and you're into old computers, get in touch with the people in the post and grab what you can. I'm kinda tempted to do a road trip up to Sydney and fill my car full of any books and documentation so I can digitise it.

Government's proposed data sharing legislation looks like another privacy invasion

Our lovely government is in the midst of creating a massive Data Sharing and Release Legislation. They basically want to be able to get data from all the government departments (ATO, Centrelink, ABS, My Health Record - anything and everything) and share it around the place, so everything can be linked. This currently isn't allowed due to pesky privacy laws and "red tape" that's designed to protect individuals from government abuse. Justin Warren compiled his tweets on the topic into a handy blog post about why it's probably going to be a privacy nightmare. It may not be that bad to be honest and probably useful if the government was half way competent and could be trusted with such a powerful system, but we all know that they're duds and will fuck it up in the most spectacular way possible.

Dude in WA is building a 20MW, $16m solar farm to mine crypto

There's a 20MW solar farm getting built out in Collie, Western Australia (about 200km from Perth) that will be used to power a cryptocurrency mining operation. That's right, Hadouken Pty Ltd (yes, really) wants to spend $16m on the solar farm to mine crypto like Bitcoin and Ethereum. There's a link to the planning application if you want to know more about the setup. I'm fascinated that someone would spend that much money, in Australia, on solar panels, to mine crypto. I think it's mostly being used to hook up to the grid and make money, rather than power the mining operation directly. I've actually done some math on this and found it isn't as stupid as it sounds. I'd love to know more about the practicalities of running such a facility.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Pixies - Letter to Memphis