Issue 700

Monday, 13th August 2018

In This Issue


Four pieces of Tesla news for the price of one

Here's a dump of Tesla news that happened over the weekend:

Commonwealth Bank launches world's first bond on the blockchain

The Commonwealth Bank is back on its blockchain bullshit, launching the world's first blockchain bond, "bond-i" (yes, like Bondi - who said accountants don't have a sense of humour?!). Here's the World Bank & CBA's joint press release announcing it. According to them, it's the "first bond globally to be created, allocated, transferred and managed through its life cycle using distributed ledger technology". Once again, it looks like CBA is taking a paper based, or at least some cruddy old transactional computer system that needed replacing anyways, system and digitising it - blockchain here is the buzzword to get people excited about (and pay for) what would normally be a boring business as usual project.

DHS still can't figure out how to fix the child support payment IT system

The Department of Human Services is still struggling with its child support payment system, dubbed "Pluto" and had told staff to go back to using the old "Cuba" system, leaving Pluto only for new entries. I'll remind you that Cuba was made in 2002 and Pluto has had over $100m spent on it since 2013 and it still doesn't work. Community and Public Sector Union deputy secretary Melissa Donnelly said that "DHS's response has been to pay consulting corporation Deloitte hundreds of thousands of dollars to identify problems when they could have just asked their own staff, and now shifting work back to the old system wherever possible. The process should now be brought back in-house immediately to ensure there’s the integrity and accountability that’s needed to get things running properly". A-fucken-men.

La Trobe uni has an online degree in Applied Cloud Technology

La Trobe Uni has started offering a bachelor's degree in "Applied Cloud Technology" that it has developed together with Amazon and online learning provider Didasko. It's all done online, goes for 3 years and "is based on materials adapted from AWS global programs, specifically AWS Educate and AWS Academy, which include resources from AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner and AWS Associate Solutions Architect certifications, as well as focusing on machine learning, big data analytics, and cybersecurity". It sucks that the degree is so vendor specific, but damn I reckon it'd make you very employable. Just pray that in the 3 or so years it takes you do this course, the industry is still using AWS and hasn't moved on to whatever shiny new thing caught a CEO's eye in an airport billboard.

Bethesda announces Doom Eternal, a sequel to Doom 2

There's a new Doom game coming soon!! id Software and Bethesda unveiled "Doom Eternal" for the first time at Quakcon over the weekend. Doom Eternal takes place after Doom 2, with Earth a total hellscape full of demons and other fucked up creatures you've gotta blow into a billion tiny pieces. I saw a bit in the demo where you can rip a dude's heart out, shove it down his throat, then shoot him in the face. Fans of the OG Doom will remember that big red flying eyeball (I learned today that it's called Cacodemon) - it's back and better than ever with 2018 graphics. Here's the official gameplay video from Bethesda. If you think the Apple fanboy cheering is bad, maybe don't watch the first few minutes of this one. Lots of people cheering for fantasy guns and drawings of demons, hahaha. That said... I can't wait to play it. No ETA yet.

Not News, But Still Cool

Control the data flowing in and out of your Mac with Little Snitch and LuLu

Paranoid about what data the apps on your Mac are sending back and forth? Little Snitch is the app for the job. It tells you what app is trying to connect to the internet and lets you block it or allow it. Doing this every time an app wants to communicate quickly gets very tedious, so you can set rules so apps you like can get through, but new apps have to be vetoed by you before they call home. If paying for Little Snitch upsets you, there's an open source equivalent called LuLu, which is still in beta, but works pretty well.

Amateur radio codec combined with machine learning means great sounding very low bitrate podcasts

David Rowe is a mad scientist over in South Australia who is working on Codec 2, "an open source codec designed for speech, and aims for compression rates between 700bps and 3200bps" that whilst designed for VOIP and amateur radio, has taken the fancy of a few people in the podcast industry. At 3.2kbit/sec vs. the typical 64 or 128kbit/sec for an MP3, there's serious bandwidth and storage savings to be had. Where Codec 2 really shines however, is when it is combined with a WaveNet deep learning generative model. When the codec and AI are used, very legible spoken word audio is possible at a minuscule 8kbit/sec. The WaveNet decoder isn't quite ready for prime time use, but things sound (heh) promising.

The Blloc MNML smartphone is a weird unit

Cop a load of the Blloc MNML smartphone. It's an Android unit with all the usual specs, but with a custom version of Android designed to reduce distractions. First of all, it's entirely greyscale. Apparently the lack of colours helps with concentration? They've redesigned the home screen to be a bunch of tiles that's very reminiscent of Windows Mobile. Besides that, I don't know what else they've changed. Blloc's official website has very little info on what's going on besides pretty pics and there's no demo vids of the phone as far as I know. You'd have to be one weak willed motherfucker to buy this thing over a similar priced Nokia running Android One with notifications disabled.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Mick Gordon - At Doom's Gate