Issue 720

Monday, 10th September 2018

In This Issue


Price of Apple gear set to rise with Trump's new China tariffs

Apple has said that Trump's proposed tariffs on goods built in China would increase prices, with products like the Mac mini, Apple Pencil, AirPods, Apple Watch and other accessories would be hit by the tariff (but not the iPhone?). In response, Trump tweeted out "Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China - but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive. Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now". Apple hasn't said anything back, but it looks like Apple gear is gonna get even pricier in the USA - I wonder if that would flow on to Australia?

NSW is putting driver's licences on the blockchain

Looks like the rubes in the NSW state government have been conned by a slick blockchain salesman, with Secure Logic announcing that their blockchain TrustGrid platform is used in the state's digital driver's licence program. I have no idea what role the blockchain plays in displaying what is essentially an image on a screen to verify you have a driver's licence, but Secure Logic's CEO Santosh Devaraj says that "too often licence details are only checked superficially and this can now be replaced with cryptographic mechanisms"... okay mate, cryptographic mechanisms could be something boring and mundane like TLS and a signed certificate, but nah, blockchain it up baby!

VCAT wants to do online dispute resolution

VCAT is currently operating a trial to resolve civil and administrative disputes online, using a platform called Modron. VCAT reckons it'll "improve citizen access to justice services, particularly for those with a disability or experiencing the tyranny of distance". Instead of rocking up to VCAT to whinge about how Apple ripped you off, you might be able to do it all online. The trial will run until October, then if VCAT can find someone to "provide either a commercial-off-the-self product or talent to build the service product in-house", the system will be available in 2022 (so in reality, ready by 2025 and cost twice what was budgeted).

Co-founder and boss of Alibaba to gradually step down

Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba and China's richest man is stepping down as chairman of the company he started. He plans to hand over the chairman role to Alibaba's current Chief Executive Daniel Zhang, one year from now. Ma will continue on the board until 2020 and then ride off into the sunset with over US$36b in his pocket. Zhang is the guy who started Alibaba's "Singles Day" shopping campaign and turned it into the world's largest online shopping event. Jack Ma is expected to take a more hands on role with philanthropy (kinda like Bill Gates) with stuff like the US$20m donation he gave to the University of Newcastle last year.

SA giving out $6k grants for people to get batteries hooked up to their solar setups

The SA state government is giving out $6,000 "grants" for people to install batteries in their homes to go with their solar panels, plus the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is offering $100 million in loans to get solar or expand existing setups with more panels or batteries. The $6k grants begin in October. It should cover about 50% of the purchase price of a domestic battery setup. The battery can then be configured to be part of the state's Virtual Power Plant and sell excess power at peak times (i.e: hot nights) to meet demand for a sweet price. Meanwhile, Sonnen has announced they're going to open a factory at Holden's abandoned site in Elizabeth, supplying about 10,000 battery units a year.

Not News, But Still Cool

2.5 hour chat with Elon Musk wasn't as interesting as I expect

You've probably seen the hilarious images of Elon Musk sucking down in a joint and not inhaling (if you haven't, here it is) and the memes that resulted. It comes from a 2.5hr interview with Joe Rogan, that I listened to on Friday night and can inform you that it's kinda boring. I wouldn't bother going out of your way to listen/watch it unless you want to hear someone with no clue asking someone who couldn't sound more disinterested about esoteric bullshit like AI overtaking humanity or why tunnels are the answer to traffic congestion. The only good bit is where Elon tries to explain the theory of fossil fuels being so cheap because the problems they cause are externalised - but even that is half-cocked as there's no discussion of a carbon tax to reveal the true cost of fossil fuels! Incredibly frustrating.

This portable Thunderbolt 3 dock from Elgato looks cool

Elgato/Corsair (I totally forgot that Corsair purchased Elgato recently) have announced a cute little Thunderbolt 3 dock. Unlike other TB3 docks, this one is designed to be portable. And unlike USB 3 docks, will have way more bandwidth and power available so it'll actually work properly. It's got DP & HDMI ports that'll both to 4K @ 60Hz, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 port and Gigabit Ethernet. Nothing fancy, but basically replacing what Apple took away from the previous MacBook Pro. US$149. Would make for a great travel dock for wanting to use USB or an external display in a different office. Not so useful for a desktop docking station as it won't power your laptop.

Cheap Nikon lenses, Target video game clearance, 65" Samsung TVs, Overwatch, Jira Cloud, Life is Strange

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Magic Dirt - Bring Me The Head Of