Australian startup lobby group, StartupAus, is in the news today, making some noise about the Assistance and Access laws. They've presented a submission (PDF) to the joint committee of intelligence and security, outlining what the startup sector wants to see changed. They've got four suggestions:
Donald Trump has signed an executive order for the US government to make more of an effort around developing superior artificial intelligence than China. According to the New York Times, the American AI Initiative aims to "better educate workers in the field, improve access to the cloud computing services and data needed to build A.I. systems, and promote cooperation with foreign powers. But the order did not set aside funds for A.I. research and development, and the administration provided few details on how it planned put its new policies into effect". No money, no plan and a slice of xenophobia, yep, sounds like a typical Trump policy. The White House has published the full executive order if you're intereted.
A Microsoft employee on Twitter has let loose (with permission) a teaser for a new generation HoloLens augmented reality headset. The teaser reveals pretty much nothing, just vague forms of chips and cables take shape out melted ice, rocks and air. Rumours going around expect the HoloLens 2 to be smaller, have superior sensors and faster - which lets be honest, if it didn't do any of those things, is it really a new headset in the first place? The launch will be on the 24th of Feb at MWC in Barcelona. The main reason I bring this up is so you don't go buying a HoloLens now when they're cheap (I know there's so many of you just dying for a HoloLens, because they're so useful) when there's a new one coming in just a few weeks.
Reddit has confirmed it has secured US$300m of investment from various sources, including US$150 from mega Chinese tech company, Tencent. Besides the fact Reddit is now valued at roughly $3b thanks to this investment and the challenges Reddit will face to generate investor value at the rate investors expect, will probably degrade everything we love about Reddit - there's the issue that the money is coming from Tencent, a Chinese company that came last in an Amnesty International report ranking the privacy and freedom of expression of social media companies. Will Tencent try to influence Reddit into taking a more Chinese-style stance on what is or isn't allowed to be discussed on the platform? I have no idea, but Reddit users are already stirring shit about their new Chinese mates.
While we're on the topic of internet freedom, Russia is gonna disconnect the country from the internet as part of a planned experiment. The Russian government claims this is necessary "in the case of foreign aggression", so that hackers can't fuck with their infrastructure from overseas - but as part of this experiment, "Russian telecom firms would also have to install "technical means" to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points approved or managed by Roskomnazor, Russia's telecom watchdog. Roskomnazor will inspect the traffic to block prohibited content and make sure traffic between Russian users stays inside the country, and is not re-routed uselessly through servers abroad, where it could be intercepted".. That sounds like a government wanting to censor content it doesn't like under the disguise of national security to me.
The Wirecutter has a roundup of popular scanning apps for smartphones. These are apps that take a picture of a document and apply automatic straightening, cropping and contrast/brightness adjustments to make the document appear as it was scanned, not placed on a table and photographed. They recommend Scanbot Pro for both iOS and Android as it had the best OCR, "produces good-looking scans across a variety of document types" and uses a one-time fee instead of an ongoing subscription. Microsoft Office Lens on iOS was also pretty good and is free if you don't want to spend any money.
Are you desperate for some FM radio on your iPhone? The only reason I can think of is to listen to live sports without any lag or you can't afford data/signal is too crap to stream radio when out and about, but for that narrow band of usefulness, there's a solution - the Soundot AF1. They're in-ear headphones with a Lightning connector that when you connect to your iPhone, work with the Soundot app to tune into an FM signal. Sounds useful, but for US$69, you'd really have to be desperate versus just buying a separate FM radio for $20.
That's it, see ya tomorrow!