Issue 698

Thursday, 9th August 2018

In This Issue


First Magic Leap hands-on tests expose it for the cool, but overhyped product we all knew it was

Journalists have had the chance to try out Magic Leap's augmented reality headset in its final product stage. Here's videos from The Verge and CNET and a write up from Wired. After 4 years and US$2b of R&D, it seems like a fancier version of Microsoft's Hololens. It's a pain to set up, with someone having to come over to your house and fit it to your face and glasses prescription. The quality of the graphics is a bit rough and there's not many apps (yet). Oh and it's $2,295. No doubt Magic Leap has developed some impressive tech and scored loads of patents to go with it, but as a product I get that ahead of its time feeling. These roadshow tech demos are gonna have to be a hell of an experience to justify the fucking around for setup and the cost.

NYC has frozen new Uber vehicle registrations hoping it'll improve drier pay & congestion

Over in New York, the city government has "paused" new Uber registrations for the next 12 months. The government there says it will reduce traffic congestion and bump up driver earnings. Uber is saying the cost of transport will go up for customers and people will have a hard time getting around as New York's subway is crapping out way too often lately. As a former Uber driver, I wonder how this works in practice. Does it mean Uber would have say, 50,000 drivers registered in NYC, but only allows 10,000 online at a time? You'd have to wait for someone to log-off before you can log on? Speaking of Uber, there's a great episode of Background Briefing about the multiple suicides caused the taxi reforms Uber forced on society.

Large ROM site Emuparadise shut down out in fear of increasing legal threats

Popular video game ROM site, Emuparadise (it is not an emu aficionado community, emu in this context means emulation), has closed down today. It posted a note saying the reason for its demise is the constant threat of being sued into oblivion by the copyright holders of the games they made available on their site (mostly Nintendo) - which is absolutely fair enough. But it kinda sucks that there's so many old games that are virtually unplayable now, simply because the rights holder hasn't decided to release the game themselves anywhere for a modern platform. I have the same problem with movies and TV shows. There's so much content out there that's impossible to get in a digital format. It's such a shame it's all left to languish while the rights holder does nothing with it.

Australia now has a National Data Commissioner

Australia has a new National Data Commissioner. I don't know what a Data Commissioner does, but according to the Office of the National Data Commissioner's website, Deborah Anton will be "responsible for implementing a simpler, data sharing and release framework to break down the barriers which prevent efficient use and reuse of public data, while maintaining the strong security and privacy protections the community expects". Before she was burdened with this heavy task, she assisted in the creation of the government's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) and spent over 20 years in the Australian Public Service. Good luck Deb and don't fuck it up.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre is investigating why so many bots follow politicians on Twitter

The hard working folk over at the Australian Cyber Security Centre are trying to get to the bottom of bots following Australian politicians on Twitter. For example, Labor senator Kimberley Kitching had 26,000 followers until Twitter's recent bot purge. She now has only 12,000 - more than half of her followers were bots. Is she the target of some Chinese program to infiltrate Australian politics?! Unfortunately, the article doesn't explain why the ACSC would bother investigating this. When over 50% of your followers are bots, you 100% purchased them, right? Anyways, I'm really only mentioning this because it's a super slow news day. Like, the slowest I have ever experienced.

Not News, But Still Cool

An art installation that mines cryptocurrency with wind power

With all the shit cryptocurrency cops for being an environmental disaster due to all the fossil fuel based electricity expended to mine it, this art piece not only makes you think about that issue, but also raises a bit of money to try and combat climate change. Harvest uses a 700W turbine, hooked up to 300Ah of batteries that powers a PC mining Zcash. The mined Zcash is then sold and donated to a climate change charity. The art piece isn't on display anymore unfortunately, but I reckon it's really cool. I want more art like this please. If I was retired and had a lot of cash, I'd build a giant renewable energy plant and chuck in loads of PCs running Folding@Home or something like that, because that sort of thing sounds like a fun project.

I like this absolutely silent desktop PC

Here is a completely silent computer. Not a single fan on the PSU or CPU and no hard drive making crunching sounds. It also looks cool as hell. The PC is centred around the Streacom DB4 ITX case and it's basically an aluminium cube that acts as a giant heatsink. The person who built the PC chucked in a Ryzen 5 1600 and reckons it can run at "100% load all day, every day, and it won’t even break a sweat". The downside however, is that the case and the beefier heatpipe kit (which isn't always necessary, but I'd get anyways, regardless of CPU used) costs US$483. That's more expensive than an entire i5 Intel NUC!

Nvidia has some AI machine learning stuff that does insane image noise reduction

Grainy photos might soon be a thing of the past thanks to Nvidia's latest AI achievement. "Using NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs with the cuDNN-accelerated TensorFlow deep learning framework, the team trained their system on 50,000 images in the ImageNet validation set". It looks to me like you show the software a shitload of noisy & clean image pairs, then when when you pump in a noisy image only, it goes "well images that kinda look like this one, look like this without noise, so here's a new image without any noise". Sounds like it shouldn't work, but going by the demo video, it does. This would be great for smartphones that have relatively powerful GPUs, but tiny image sensors, so they can take even better quality photos.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Radiohead - Lift