Issue 855

Thursday, 11th April 2019

In This Issue


Check out the first ever photos of a black hole

Humanity now has pictures of a black hole - the M87 black hole to be precise. I'm not big into astronomy, but apparently this is a Big Deal. Eight telescopes spread over the world, collectively known as the Event Horizon Telescope, gathered 8PB of data (8,000TB!!) and then used that info to create a visible image of the black hole. It looks like a red donut. Apparently it was faster just to ship the HDDs from each telescope to Massachusetts & Germany, than to try send it over the internet. What an amazing feat of collaboration and science.

Ford CEO admits he hyped up autonomous vehicles too far

The CEO of Ford dropped a truth bomb today - "we overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles" and that autonomous vehicle "applications will be narrow, what we call geo-fenced, because the problem is so complex". Don't get him wrong, robocars are coming eventually and will "change the way your toothpaste is delivered", but the gold standard of cars driving themselves anywhere, with humans inside, in all road conditions, is decades away - despite what that charlatan Elon Musk reckons.

Amazon employees listen to what you say to Alexa

I thought this would have been common knowledge, but people are surprised that Amazon engineers sometimes listen to the stupid shit you yell at Alexa devices to in order to fix/improve their service. That said, I wasn't aware of the scale - "the team comprises a mix of contractors and full-time Amazon employees who work in outposts from Boston to Costa Rica, India and Romania" and "they work nine hours a day, with each reviewer parsing as many as 1,000 audio clips per shift". They share stuff in chat rooms, which isn't cool, but again, there's a microphone, it's always on, what did you expect?

China's banning cryptocurrency mining

China's had enough of people leeching huge amounts of electricity to mine cryptocurrency and is literally going to ban it because that's how things go in China. Their National Development and Reform Commission has a list of industries it reckons are "wasting energy or polluting the environment" (along with others it wants to encourage) and came to the conclusion that the cryptocurrency mining industry does nothing of value and is wasting precious resources, so fuck it off. Amen gēmen (that's bro in Mandarin, I think).

iTunes to be taken out back and shot in the next version of macOS

It's finally happening! Apple looks like they're gonna break up iTunes into little pieces instead of one giant app in the next version of macOS. There's strong rumours that there will be standalone Music, Podcasts, and TV apps, plus a redesigned Books app. They're apparently gonna be made with something called "Marzipan", a technology Apple's working on to bring apps from iOS onto macOS with as little code changes as possible (I think the calculator and stocks app in the current version of macOS use Marzipan). All will be revealed at WWDC in June.

Not News, But Still Cool

Clean your laptop and replace the thermal paste to regain performance

MacBook running hot, with fans spinning up more than usual and things running slower than they should be? The fix is probably as simple as blowing the dust out of the vents and fans! Unscrew the bottom lid (you might need a pentalobe screwdriver), grab a can of compressed air and give everything a solid blow out. If you're not afraid of getting your hands dirty, you can re-applying some superior thermal paste to the CPU & GPU following these instructions. You'll reduce your computers temps by a few degrees, which also means it'll perform better as the CPU has more headroom before thermal throttling kicks in. Same thing applies for any laptop really, not just Apple's!

New default setting in Windows allows you to unplug external drive without unmounting

I've been scolded by various operating systems for decades to unmount a volume before removing it from the computer, so it's natural for me to do that - but apparently many people just yank USB drives out of their machines without unmounting????!! The good news is that in the latest version of Windows 10 (1809), a feature called "quick removal" is turned on by default. Windows will no longer continuously write to a drive when connected, so it's safe to remove as long as you're not like, actively reading or writing a file. Don't pull a drive out whilst there's disk activity, that'll result in data loss. Nobody likes data loss.

Can you use a Tesla charger on a non-Tesla EV?

After "how far can you drive it?", the other most common question I get about my electric car is "can you use a Tesla charger?" - it's an excellent question that unfortunately, has a long winded and boring answer. The Driven took a crack at answering it in detail, but I'll summarise it here: the Superchargers, not right now, but maybe when they retrofit new sockets on em when the Model 3 comes out and Tesla removes the stick from its arse. The smaller destination chargers (see em at hotels, cafes, etc.) have the same plug, and most of them work, but some are firmware locked to Tesla cars only and there's no way to tell until you rock up and plug it in. Personally, I pretend they don't exist.

That's it, see ya Monday! Josh is back (error free) on Friday

 We're in This Together - Nine Inch Nails