The Boring Company opened a 1.83km test tunnel to journalists last night. Elon’s saying it cost $10m to build, which is apparently way cheaper than most tunnels, but doesn’t give a lot of detail on how or why it’s so much cheaper. Something about working the tunnel boring machine harder and building the supports as you go – I’m not a geotechnical engineer so I dunno. Elon is convinced these tunnels should be used in conjunction with street level elevators to bust traffic and last night journalists went in a ride along the tunnel in a Tesla Model X hooked up to a rail that’s very reminiscent of Adelaide’s O-Bahn. I’m skeptical of Elon’s vision, but if the Boring Company can do for tunnels like SpaceX did for rocket launches and Tesla did for EVs, it could be pretty cool.
The federal government has finally released our country’s digital economy strategy, titled Australia’s Tech Future – a few days before Christmas, which shows just how important they think the digital economy is. According to Innovation Australia, the document is a “a steady-as-she-goes compendium of works in progress, rather than a strategy”, that “highlights a series of broad outcomes the government is working toward and outlines the existing programs that contribute to those outcomes” and seems to be a rehash of Malcolm Turnbull’s “Innovation Boom” that just like his Prime Ministership, neither innovated, or boomed. You can grab the 50-page PDF here if you’re keen. But I wouldn’t bother, there’s gonna be an election in May with a high chance of a new government, so everything in that PDF will be largely irrelevant once the new team comes in and changes everything (again).
Today in “Apple doing crappy stuff that’ll only stop once people whinge about it loudly enough that it gets into the mainstream media”, they’re selling iPads that come from the factory pre-bent! “Apple told The Verge that some 2018 iPad Pro models are indeed shipping with a “very slight bend in the aluminum chassis,” which is a “side effect of the manufacturing process” that is not expected to worsen over time or negatively effect the iPad’s performance “in any practical way”. Elsewhere in Cupertino, they think it’s ok to use push notifications to promote their services like new TV shows on iTunes, about the iPhone Xr or that Apple Music is now available on Alexa – yet specifically bans other iOS developers from doing it for their apps. Pot, meet kettle.
The creators of those wacky dances in Fortnite (I think they’re called Emotes) are pissed off that Epic is making hundreds of millions of dollars out of their creativity and not giving them a cent. Kids all over the world are doing these dances, which helps Fortnite get more popular, but the people who made those dances get nothing. As a result, Russell Horning aka “Backpack Kid”, rapper 2 Milly and Alfonso Riber aka Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air TV show have decided to sue Epic for using their dance moves without their consent. Good on em – you can’t just take someone else’s creative output and not acknowledge it whilst making piles of money. It might not be illegal or against copyright, but it’s a dog act.
Village Roadshow, Madman and TVB have been arguing in court for the past few months that websites offering subtitles for movies and TV shows should be blocked on Australian internet. A judge finally agreed with em, saying that even though subtitles aren’t audio or video, they’re related enough to have the same decision applied. So now there’s around two dozens sites offering subs for foreign movies and Japanese anime that are now blocked and the ISPs need to not only block the pages from loading, but to also display a “landing page that informs the individual why they cannot access the intended site, specifically noting: “The Federal Court of Australia has determined that it infringes or facilitates the infringement of copyright” for 3 years. Don’t forget, just use a different DNS server (18.104.22.168 is good) and you can access these “blocked” sites just like nothing happened.
The Australian Museum in Canberra has a project called DigiVol that allows volunteers to add metadata or transcript many of their scanned paper or photo records. Take for example this Australian Horse Fly expedition from the CSIRO. They’ve got a massive collection of flies they collected over many decades and stuck on a board with a little paper description below it. The CSIRO has taken photos of all the flies and descriptions, but wants the description included as metadata on the photo record so it can be machine readable and searchable. Volunteers can log in to DigiVol, follow the CSIRO’s instructions and get all the info from the photo into a database so researchers can use it. I reckon if the government wants to make people work for the dole, it could at least be doing something useful like this instead of whatever bullshit they make them do now.
The NZ government has made a centralised database of electric car chargers in the country and made it available as an API for developers to use in whatever map or app they like. It’s called EVRoam and I wish we had something similar. Instead of having an app for each charging network (e.g: Chargepoint, Chargefox in AU), or relying on user submitted info in Plugshare (which is good, but sometimes has old info or isn’t updated fast enough), having this single source of truth that’s free to use is a great idea. Just another way NZ is spanking Australia lately.
That’s it, see ya next year!