2 years and 11 months since people plonked down $1,500 to reserve a Tesla Model 3, the "cheap" US$35,000, 350km range variant is finally shipping to customers in the USA. No word on Australian deliveries. Elon previously said it'll happen mid-2019, but they managed to cut production costs sooner than expected, so this base model is now ready to be sold at a profit. One way they've made the Model 3 profitable, is closing all their stores except a handful of high traffic outlets (they haven't said which ones). The cost of operating the stores added around 6% to the cost of each Model 3 apparently. From today, if you want a Tesla, you have to order it online and if you don't like it you can return it within 7 days for a full refund. Good luck sorting that out if you buy the car with finance.
YouTube announced that it will "suspend comments on videos featuring young minors and videos featuring older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior". According to their blog post, only a "small number" of YouTubers will be allowed to have comments on videos featuring kids, so it looks like a wholesale ban of comments on videos with kids in em. This all happened because advertisers like Disney and Nestle pulled their campaigns because of a report YouTube comments are used by pedos to share their favourite risque vids of innocent children in skimpy clothing. YouTubers are pissed off as without comments, their videos suffer the wrath of the algorithm, pushing their content down and making it less likely to get monetised. But YouTube kinda has to do this while it figures out what to do long term - it can't just let pedophiles run rampant.
The Federal government launched the Global Talent Scheme (GTS) visa last July and as of the end of January, only 8 people are in the country on this special visa born out of the tech industry's fury at the 457 visa getting scrapped. That's nowhere near as many as the government thought (~50) and according to the startup related folk in the linked article, the visa is just too damn expensive for most startups that aren't flush with millions of investor dollars. Over the 4-year period the GTS is valid for, an employer will pay almost $10,000 for their unique employee. Funny how the tech industry whinged it needed 457 visas to get "needed" skilled employees from overseas, but when they've given the option to bring them with a higher fee, suddenly a few thousand bucks isn't worth it. Hmm, funny that.
The EFF has launched a new campaign called "Fix It Already", aimed at tech companies dragging their feet to implement obvious security improvements. It breaks down like so - Android should let users deny and revoke apps internet permissions, Apple should let users encrypt their iCloud backups, Facebook should leave your phone number where you put it, Slack should give free accounts control over retention, Twitter should end-to-end encrypt direct messages, Venmo should hide their friends lists, Verizon should stop pre-installing spyware on its users phones, WhatsApp should get consent before you're added to a group and Windows 10 should let users keep their disk encryption keys to themselves. A very sensible and sane list of demands IMHO. I hope they all get lots of traction.
Uber & Lyft have stock market IPOs imminent and for what I can only assume is a way to ease their guilt over soon to be immense wealth gained off the back of low paid workers, they're going to let those peons get their snouts in the trough too. According to the Wall Street Journal, "Lyft plans to give drivers who have logged at least 10,000 rides on the platform $1,000 that can be kept as a cash bonus or used to buy the IPO shares" and Uber plans on doing the same, but has more hurdles as they operate worldwide, unlike Lyft who just operate in North America. If Uber gave me their shares for free, I'd take em, but I don't know how valuable they'll be long term. Uber doesn't make a profit right? Anyway, it's nice both these companies let the little people in to the IPO.
The team behind the classy iOS camera app Halide has a new app - Spectre. They call it a "computational shutter for the iPhone", designed to take long exposure photos. There's heaps of apps that can do that now, but "instead of keeping the shutter open the whole time during an exposure, what Spectre does is take hundreds of individual images and then compare them to do things like remove objects that move through the frame. The same AI also helps reduce the effect of camera shake, making long exposures possible without a tripod". Pretty nifty! Wish I had this when I went overseas last year. Would have been great to take photos of places without all the other horrible tourists ruining the shot.
I don't know if Aussie kids have been inflicted with this meme, but American children have been warned to watch out for "Momo" - an image of a weird looking statue that apparently appears in YouTube videos and tells you to kill yourself. It started off as a South American hoax and was rampantly spread around WhatsApp, warning parents about this "suicide challenge". It died out within a month, but spread to Europe, died there and now the USA is in the middle of a Momo panic attack. In reality, there is no threat as it's not real. Nobody's killed themselves because of Momo, nobody is giving kids tips on how to commit suicide and all the videos claiming to have Momo in them are just hijacking the meme to show some douchebag's rap video or something else equally dumb. All this rapidly induced hyperventilating over a non-existent threat is amazing proof of how fast misinformation spreads thanks to social media.
That's it, see ya Monday!