The FCC killed off the concept of net neutrality over in the USA today. What is net neutrality? It’s the premise that all services on the internet are equal. Files off Decryption’s Dodgy Download Emporium download with the same priority as Dropbox. Videos streaming off Netflix don’t get priority over those from Stan. Net neutrality creates an even playing field for all internet services. The USA no longer has that and the fear is their bastard ISPs will hook up with the just as big bastard internet services like Facebook, Google and Netflix to homogenise even more of the internet, increasing barriers for anyone looking to create new services.
What’s this mean for Australians? Not much, really. We don’t have net neutrality laws. ISPs can, and do, offer advantages to certain services, but they’re pretty minor, like not counting that usage towards your data limit. What it does do though, is give Australian ISPs a bit more confidence to go further, like Vodafone Australia’s CEO who is already inspired by the FCC. Talking to Commsday (paid industry journal, so I can’t link directly), he said that without contributions from the beneficiaries of Vodafone’s network (Google, Apple, etc.) continuing to operate the network may be unsustainable. These beneficiaries will want something in return for their contributions, which is normally keeping competition out.
Speaking of naughty telcos, Optus is back in trouble with the ACCC for lying to its customers about migrating from their HFC network to NBN’s. Not only did Optus incorrectly tell its customers that their service would be cut off much sooner than planned, they also lied that they can only switch to an Optus NBN service. The kicker is that Optus gets paid whenever they move a customer off their network to NBN’s, so it’s easy to see why they want to hurry the process up. Props to Optus though, create unrealistic fear based on an arbitrary timeline, then say you’re the only people who can help. Did the goons at Optus learn that in their MBA course, or did it just come naturally? Keep smashing those KPIs.
The US Department of Justice has confirmed Uber is under investigation for stealing Alphabet’s (Google’s) trade secrets. A letter mentioning this was alluded to in the Waymo vs. Uber court case and now that letter has been made public. There’s still not much detail as to what the DoJ is investigating, but the people mentioned in the letter come from the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) unit, so it wouldn’t be too off base to assume Uber’s in trouble for illegally obtaining stuff off Alphabet it shouldn’t have. Maybe they hacked in to something related to Waymo? Corporate espionage definitely isn’t out of character for a pack of pricks like Uber.
Volvo has dramatically scaled back its self-driving car ambitions. In 2015, Volvo said it will give 100 cars to Swedish families self-driving cars in 2017, making it one of the first companies to get self-driving cars to the public. Volvo are now saying the programme will happen in 2021 instead and that it’s 100 “people”, not 100 “cars” and the cars will be level 2 semi-autonomous, not full blown drive itself cars. Presumably, reality caught up with Volvo’s PR department.
Alphabet is going to deploy “free space optical technology, which transmits data through light beams at up to 20 gigabits per second” between 2,000 rooftop boxes in the Andhra Pradesh area of India. This is part of X’s (a division of Alphabet) Project Loon to bring internet to (mostly) poor people in sparse areas, but this doesn’t use floating internet barges in the sky, but free-space optical communication tech – blinking lights that (you assume) eyes can’t see. So it’s like wireless, but not a radio. The only article I can find on this is from Reuters. Hopefully Google do a blog post explaining how they’ve overcome the downsides of this tech (short range, line of sight, weather, etc.).
An animal shelter in San Francisco has copped crap for hiring a robot security guard to roam its premises and keep homeless people away from staff. The shelter pays $6/h to Knightscope for one of its weird egg-shaped robots (remember the one that fell in a shopping centre fountain?) to simply wander around and scare off homeless people. If you think this is a pretty callous thing to do, you aren’t alone. The shelter endured a tirade of abuse for not helping the homeless people and taking a more progressive approach, instead of outsourcing their morality to a $6/hr robot. The robot is now locked in a cupboard until, I assume, everything blows over and they put it back out on the beat.
Did you know that Australia is the first country to transmit an SBAS-2 signal? SBAS is a way to make GPS even more accurate by augmenting the satellite signals with ground station signals that can get accurate down from meters to centimetres. It’s been a thing in other countries for a while (WAAS in the USA, EGNOS in the EU, MSAS in Japan), but Australia is the first to use a second-generation “Dual Frequency Multi Constellation (DFMC)” signal that nobody has done before. One of the applications for this sort of accuracy is self-driving cars and VicRoads is gonna use Bosch’s souped up Tesla to try this new technology out. Geoscience Australia has more info on the SBAS-2 project.
Loads of cheap games in Nintendo’s eStore Christmas sale. Apparently you gotta log in to the UK store on your actual console (not the website), to get access to the sale. JB have the Fetch TV Mighty for $319 ($80 off). Genuine, Australian stock, Samsung 256GB Evo+ MicroSD cards for $139.60 delivered. (use code P5OZZIE). PayPal are selling digital iTunes gift cards at 15% off on eBay. Digital Cinema have the Sonos PLAY:5 Gen2 for $595 plus shipping.