Anthony Levandowski's not letting the fight between his previous employers Google and Uber bring him down, announcing that he's (illegally?) autonomously driven a modded Prius from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan - almost 5,000km - without touching the wheel or accelerator. His new startup Pronto.AI is pitching a relatively cheap (US$5,000) advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) add-on for trucks so they get lane keeping, cruise control and collision avoidance using 7 cameras, like Tesla's Autopilot. Pronto.AI chucked up a time lapse of the trip that I found oddly mesmerising.
The New York Times has Yet Another Article about Facebook totally abusing the privacy of their users. Today's shitstorm centers around Facebook giving other companies, like Sony, Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify, Netflix and others special access beyond what the normal API provides. Some examples include "read, write and delete users’ private messages, and to see all participants on a thread" and "users' email addresses through their friends". This was happening as recently as 2017, despite an FTC decree outlining that Facebook isn't allowed to share data in this way. Now that this has been made public, I hope the FTC seriously punish Facebook. I think the social license to do so thoroughly exists in a way it didn't a few years ago.
SpaceX is asking investors for US$500m so it can start building Starlink - the constellation of 12,000 satellite that'll blanket Earth in fast internet connectivity ("SpaceX has said it will provide gigabit speeds with latencies comparable to cable and fiber systems") regardless of where you are. The $500m they're asking for now will just kick things off, with the Wall Street Journal guestimating the entire constellation will cost over US$10b to complete. Sounds pretty damn cheap compared to the $60b+ we spent on the NBN. There's two prototype satellites orbiting earth right now and according to SpaceX's FCC permit, 50% of the satellites will be operational by March 2024 and the entire constellation done by 2027.
Two bits of news from the NSW state government today. Digital drivers licences will be made available for everyone in the state March 23rd, 2019 - that's kinda handy. Just don't pull out your digital drivers licence whilst driving though, as NSW is also implementing cameras along the M4 motorway and Anzac Parade in Sydney, that can detect people using their phones whilst driving and automatically send out fines. During a 4 week trial, a whopping 11,000 people were caught using their phones and not paying attention to the road. Should be an awesome money spinner for the government when they inevitably decide to monetise it.
Telstra "launched" its 5G network in Melbourne and Sydney today, covering a single corner of each city's CBD, plus their airports. Sure, there's no devices you or I could buy and use, but the network exists! It uses the 3.6GHz spectrum and Telstra has already upgraded 187 towers around Australia to make use of it early next year. Still dunno when devices will go on sale precisely, but it'll likely be modems like HTC's 5G smart hub and an upgraded Netgear Nighthawk in Jan/Feb 2019, then probably Samsung's Galaxy S10 in early March. AT&T also launched its 5G network today in the US, but with a much larger footprint of 12 cities.
Freeview is going to become slightly more relevant thanks to an update to their website so you can watch all the free to air channels, live, in the one spot. Right now I'm enthralled by something horrendous called "Game of Games" on 10. A woman that's clearly an actor trying to pretend she's not an actor, is singing a song about Chopper Reid, which the crowd booed. This resulted in a trap door under her feet opening and she zoomed down a giant slide into, I assume, a pit in an unknown location. The host then faced the excited audience shouting, "are you not entertained?!" then said "I think there's something wrong with me". Next up is, Neighbours, then Judge Judy.
Launch Center Pro on iOS just received an update to support NFC triggers. With this app you can tap your phone on an NFC sticker and have it do a specific task you program in the app or even link it to stuff made in the Shortcuts app. Viticci shares some examples: "I attached a sticker to my microphone stand, so that when I'm about to record a podcast, I can scan it and Launch Center Pro will run my shortcut to start a Toggl timer for the show I'm about to record" and "I hid a sticker underneath my nightstand; when I'm relaxing in the bedroom with my girlfriend at night, I can scan the sticker and run my Home Commands shortcut, which contains a variety of mood lighting HomeKit scenes, actions to play iTunes playlists from my Mac mini to our HomePods, and Homebridge commands to set our TV to specific channels or inputs". These tags and Launch Center Pro seem pretty useful - I'd love one in my garage I could tap that would send my wife a Glympse or Google Maps live tracking link so she knows I'm on my way to pick her up.
That's it, see ya tomorrow!