Issue 775

Thursday, 29th November 2018

In This Issue


Site block law passes with help from the Greens

The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill passed through the Senate yesterday, making it law. This addition to the law "will allow injunctions that also force search engines to remove a piracy-linked site from their indexes" and makes it so "a block isn't limited to a service that has the "primary purpose" of engaging in or facilitating copyright infringement. Instead a service can be targeted if it has the "primary effect" of engaging in or facilitating copyright infringement". Unfortunately the Greens, who typically have some common sense on digital rights stuff, voted for the law, with Senator Jordon Steele-John saying they passed it because they "strongly supportive of both creative and innovative industries in Australia", but also reckon that "site blocking is not the most effective way of stopping piracy". Hmm, ok buddy.

More AWS announcements from re:Invent

A second dump of AWS related announcements from Amazon overnight. The full list is over on the AWS blog, I'm just gonna highlight the ones I think are interesting. Textract is like OCR on steroids and can strip text out of basically any document, even if it hasn't been OCR'd before. OutPosts will let big companies order AWS hardware to be installed on their own premises for a slick "hybrid cloud" setup. AWS DeepRacer is a little Intel Atom powered card full of sensors and stuff that's designed to train people in the art of machine learning. An addition to Glacier called Deep Archive will store data the cloud at US$1/TB and is designed to replace tape backups. Amazon is making its own "machine learning chip" called Inferentia instead of using existing gear from Intel or Nvidia. Amazon Comprehend Medical that specialises in taking "unstructured medical text" and turning it into a format developers can manipulate more easily.

NBN starts installing G.Fast compatible FTTC hardware

Good news for those in the NBN fibre to the curb footprint, as NBN is installing upgraded equipment in streets that allow for G.Fast connectivity instead of just VDSL2. The little black boxes (called DPUs) go into the pit on your street and connect your copper phone line from your house to fibre back to your ISP. It's like FTTN, but the node is closer to you, so speeds improve. The Sydney suburb of Rockdale is the first place to get 'em. Gigabit speeds are theoretically possible on G.Fast, but NBN has no immediate plans to upgrade everyone to the new tech. At least there's a solid upgrade path for FTTC users who will inevitably find that 100mbit isn't enough.

FTC might be investigating loot boxes following political pressure

Belgium has already banned the practice of gaming loot boxes, comparing it to unregulated underage gambling and currently perusing criminal charges against EA, who thought they were above Belgian law. The USA may be contemplating similar laws with the Federal Trade Commission kinda agreeing to a Senator's request to investigate loot boxes in video games. There's not a lot of detail surrounding what the FTC will do, but after a Senator presented the FTC chairman with some stats like 31% of all UK kids have paid cash to open a loot box, then asked if the FTC will look into how loot boxes are used in the USA, he said he will. I get the feeling I'll be writing about this a few more times next year.

LA residents sue to stop one of Elon's tunnels getting built

Earlier this year Elon Musk's Boring company said it was going to build a 5km test tunnel under the busy Sepulveda Boulevard and the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. The Californian & LA governments allowed the Boring Company to skip costly and slow environmental testing as part of getting a permit, so it looked like the tunnel was gonna go ahead until two affluent neighborhood groups — the Brentwood Residents Coalition and the Sunset Coalition — sued the City of Los Angeles. They reckon that the Boring Company shouldn't be exempt from adhering to environmental laws just because the tunnel might reduce congestion in the area. As it looks more likely that lawsuit will win, the Boring Company has decided to ditch this tunnel and focus its efforts on the Dodger Stadium tunnel in a poorer area of LA where people are less resourced to kick up a fuss.

Not News, But Still Cool

The DJI Osmo Pocket gimbal camera thing is awesome and I want one

DJI have released the Osmo Pocket gyroscopically stabilised handheld camera. It's basically the same as the other DJI Osmo gimbals you stick a smartphone on, but instead of a smartphone clip, there's a built-in camera. The entire setup weighs only 116g. DJI's promo vid explains it all pretty well. Love the little case it comes in. The Osmo Pocket demo footage from random YouTubers (here & here & here) looks really good for such a little stick thing. Pair it up with the selfie-stick attachment and it would be such a great holiday companion. It's on sale now and costs $599 from DJI directly, but I bet it will be under $400 pretty quick in an eBay sale pre-Christmas. I want one.

The App Store isn't as bad as Google's Play Store, but it's slowly heading that way

David Barnard has been an iOS developer selling his wares (I typed that as warez like three times, damn muscle memory) on the App Store practically since day one. He's unloaded on the state of the App Store in a great rant on his blog. The main crux of the post is how despite Apple's curation and heavy public pro-privacy stance, the App Store still contains loads of dodgy apps doing anti-customer friendly things in order to boost rankings and trick users into giving them money. The post highlights 10 things dodgy devs do that honest developers don't and end up paying the price for it as their sly competitors end up making more money. The one that stings the most is Apple turning a blind eye to devs collecting user data and selling it to 3rd parties to boost revenue.

Cheap Nintendo Switch, Sonos One, Kindle, Jabra Elite, Qi charger, 1TB SSD, Anker battery, LG OLED, Sandisk high endurance microSD, Xbox One X

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Helmet - Unsung