Author: Raj Deut

The week that was (TWTW) takes a look back at the week’s most prominent tech stories from around the world.

Video versions of TWTW appear on our website as well as our YouTube channel and Facebook page.

For those that prefer an audio only version, you can subscribe to the TWTW podcast feed on iTunes or by add this feed (https://feedpress.me/reckonerau-twtw) to your favourite podcast app.

You can listen to TWTW via the Anchor.fm app or online at http://anchor.fm/reckonerAU

Lastly you can find a full transcript of this week’s episode below.

In the week that was February 4th to February 10th, 2018.:

  • Australia’s New Payments Platform launches but has privacy issues
  • DJI to enforce CASA quiz before flying your drone
  • Government websites hacked to mine crypto currencies
  • Salon invites ad-blockers to mine crypto for them
  • Uber & Waymo settle out of court
  • Facebook continue to act with no interest beside their own

Intro

Hey everyone, Raj Deut here for Reckoner with a look back at the tech news in the week that was:

February 11th to February 17th, 2018.

 

Stories

Australia’s “New Payments Platform” launched this week. The NPP, which has been in development since 2012, paves the way for banks to allow virtually instant transfers between Australian bank accounts.

The system has come under heavy privacy scrutiny as it reveals a payee’s registered name simply by entering their phone number essentially turning the NPP into a giant reverse lookup database.


DJI announced that beginning this week Australian drone owners using either the DJI GO or DJI 4 apps will need to complete a short quiz in order to continue using their drone.

The quiz will consist of nine questions based on Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority drone regulations and follows suit in DJI’s flight procedures already in place for users in the US and UK.


Thousands of government websites across the globe this week fell prey to a hack that installed a browser based cryptomining script in them. Australian sites ranked highly amongst those affected and included the Queensland government’s site for legislation, the Victorian parliaments, the city of Unley and many more.

On the flip side, popular online media outlet Salon began trialling an authorised use of a similar browser based cryptomining script. Salon’s appears as an option when browsing the site with an ad blocker enabled and asks the user for their explicit permission to use their machine to generate currency as a way of generating revenue.


Uber and Waymo came to an agreement settling their ongoing legal battle over the alleged theft of trade secrets. As a part of the agreement Uber has promised that none of Waymo’s confidential information would be used in the development of their technology and agreed to give Waymo a 0.34% equity share of the company worth US$244 million.


And finally Facebook gently reminds everyone they’re out there to steal your data and make money from it as it was revealed the Facebook owned and promoted Onavo VPN app may secure your connection as promised but does so whilst routing information on your browsing straight back to it’s parent.

The company also enabled 2 factor authentication this week but with the requirement of registering your mobile number as a means to further acquiring your personal information much to the chagrin of privacy advocates everywhere.

 

Outro

That’s it for another week but before I go, two big announcements for you all. The Week That Was is now available as a podcast and is available to subscribe to via iTunes.

It’s also available now as a Flash Briefing on your Amazon Echo, which you can enable by searching for the skill “Reckoner” in your Alexa App.

Of course The Week That Was is still and will always be available via YouTube, Facebook and Anchor.fm.

So please do us a favour by subscribing, rating & reviewing the show on your platform of choice!

Be sure to check out the website this week there’s lots to see. We go hands on with a play through of the remastered Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 as well as review darling iOS release Florence from Mountain Games.

Thanks for tuning in, have a great week and bye for now.

Two train rides home is all it took for me to complete what could easily be my game of the year. Florence is the first title from acclaimed Monument Valley designer Ken Wong’s new studio Mountains.

The game tells the story of a young woman, living in Melbourne, who falls in love and then follows the relationship as it moves through its stages and ultimately (spoiler alert) ends.

As the game progresses Florence experiences different stages of the relationship that we can all identify with. Chapters of the game, such as “First Dates”, “Moving In“, “Dreams” are aptly named and done so to not only encapsulate their experience but also emotionally prepare you for what you know is to come. With each chapter I felt like I was right there with her – as ridiculous as that sounds – experiencing what she was, feeling what she felt. To love is to be human and Florence’s story is one that, as humans, we are all likely to have experienced in one way or another.

Florence

It doesn’t hurt that the game is beautifully scored either. Whilst the hand-drawn aesthetic and story board nature of the visuals are stunning it’s the game’s music that really just blew me out of the water. Hauntingly beautiful classical styled pieces underpin the game’s story and perfectly capture the moment you’re experience. It’s truly fantastic stuff that deserves recognition.

The game’s not for everyone and that’s totally OK. You’re not shooting anything, there are no jelly beans of the same colour to line up and ask for your credit card to play again, it’s very much a story that has a start, a middle and an end that invites you to participate along the way.

It’s mechanics are subtle and help to progress the story. One of my favourites is the simple jigsaw puzzles that are a metaphor for the sentences we construct while talking to our partner. Initially there are many pieces and we put them together slowly or clumsily like on a first date but as you feel more comfortable it’s much easier so the pieces you have to connect grow larger and there are fewer until it’s so natural you don’t have to connect anything at all and the game uses a single piece you simply move into place.

Two train rides home is all it took for me to complete what could easily be my game of the year.

For a lot of people Florence wont be a “game”. They’ll take one look and dismiss it as a story you occasionally push a button or flick to the next page and they’re entitled to think that but I’d argue them wrong. For me, its interactive nature and subtle game mechanics very much prove it so, which because of its medium is a hundred times more emotive and engrossing than any story could be.

Florence from Mountains is available for iOS via the App Store for A$4.49 now.

Someone is shipping out unsolicited products, frequently sex toys, to seemingly random customers, and the company does not yet know why they’re being purchased, and why they’re being shipped…

At first glance the story seems kinda funny. Someone is playing a joke, sending out packages to random people. Then, as you read through the story you quickly see the horror the recipients are going through and how Amazon’s gifting policies are essentially hide the harassing party’s details.

Amazon’s customer service, or lack thereof, is focused on heavily too as many of these reports appear to be ignored or fobbed off. One woman mentioned in the story was given a fake complaints number to call by one customer service rep for example. Very poor.

Source: Someone Is Sending Amazon Sex Toys to Strangers. Amazon Has No Idea How to Stop It.

The Commonwealth Bank has announced an immediate ban on the use of CBA and Bankwest credit cards to buy cryptocurrency, though it will not ban other methods of fiat payment.

My guess is that has happened because a bunch of people bought into Bitcoin at it’s media frenzied peak and now can’t pay their credit card bill as it bottoms out.

Makes sense. The CBA is following the lead of UK’s Lloyds and pretty much every US bank so I’d expect others in Australia to do similar soon too.

Source: CBA blocks crypto coin buys on credit cards – Finance – Security – iTnews

I have never played Shadow of the Colossus before.

Phew… ok, it’s out now. You all know that I’ve been living a lie as a gamer and games journalist for years now and I have zero credit.

Thankfully, Sony decided to enlist Japan Studio & Bluepoint to take the PS2 classic and completely recreate it from the ground up for the PS4 & PS4 Pro, meaning that I can now play it and regain what little dignity I have left.

As you’ll see in the play through the game certainly isn’t without its frustrations but it’s easy to see just how beautiful and engrossing the world is and must’ve been back when it was first released.

For those of you not particularly interested in watching me play through an hour’s worth, the video follows the same format as other “Raj plays…” with an intro, gameplay and my final thoughts. You can of course skip directly to those should you wish, coming in at the 49 minute mark.

Shadow of the Colossus is available now for PS4 & PS4Pro.

Uber has reached a settlement agreement with Alphabet over its lawsuit against the ride-hailing company claiming theft of trade secrets.

Uber has agreed to pay Alphabet the equivalent of $245 million in equity. The agreement specifically requires Uber to give Alphabet 0.34 percent of Uber’s latest funding series. Sources involved in the negotiations say it’s based on a $72 billion valuation.

That’s a spicy meatball! On the upside for Uber all those figures that were being bantered around for their value during their last series of funding were actually lower than what they’re really worth.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi still seems to think they did nothing wrong despite the settlement saying:

“…we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo’s proprietary information in its self-driving technology…”

I don’t know dude, say what you want but your company just paid US$245m to end a lawsuit. It certainly makes everyone think Uber did.

Source: Uber and Alphabet have settled their self-driving lawsuit with a $245 million equity payout – Recode

The week that was (TWTW) takes a look back at the week’s most prominent tech stories from around the world.

Video versions of TWTW appear on our website as well as our YouTube channel and Facebook page.

For those that prefer an audio only version, you can listen to TWTW via the Anchor.fm app or online at http://anchor.fm/reckonerAU

Lastly you can find a full transcript of this week’s episode below.

In the week that was February 4th to February 10th, 2018.:


Intro

Hey everyone, Raj Deut here for Reckoner, back again for the new year, ready to go and take a look at the tech news in the week that was:
February 4th to February 10th, 2018.

 

Stories

The South Australian government announced a new partnership with Tesla this week, further strengthening the relationship between the two.

The new deal will see the state build the world’s largest “virtual power plant” by install solar panels and Tesla’s Powerwall 2 battery into 25,000 government owned homes.

A further 50,000 private residences will be given grants to install the hardware in return for subsidies on power drawn from the grid.


Switching to Elon’s other baby, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket had it’s highly anticipated maiden flight.

The US$90m rocket was launched as more of a proof-of-concept performing a series of special manoeuvres done only to prove SpaceX viable for further US Military contracts.

The launch was considered a success with two of the rocket’s smaller boosters landing in a now all too familiar way. It’s third, and largest core booster sadly didn’t make it and flew into the ocean at a lazy 300mph, virtually disintegrating on impact.


To cap off Elon time, US companies are amidst financial earnings reports and Tesla’s has been a topic of host discussion, having had their worst financial quarter since incorporation. The company lost US$675m last quarter. Despite the heavy loss the company believes they’ll be profitable for the first time ever in 2018, assuming their Model 3 production issues can be fixed.

Other reports of note saw Twitter have their first profitable quarter ever, making US$97m. The profits come off the back of large staff cuts across the board.

Snapchat also had a semi-positive note on their earnings. Sales for the company have grown to US$285m last quarter, up 72% on last year’s. They’ve also seen an increase in daily usage numbers and their losses were less than originally expected at US$350m.


Australian cinema chain Hoyts announced this week that they would be partnering with recently expanded esports league Gfinity. The partnership will see some of Hoyts’ largest cinemas in Sydney, Melbourne & other capitals converted into esports stadiums and broadcast centres to allow fans to view games live and online.

The first of these will be in the coming months at Hoyts’ Sydney based Moore Park location where the competition will hold the first of Gfinity’s Elite Series.


And finally Apple had an up and down week.

Their iOS 9 boot loader was leaked a few days ago, published to a public github account by an unknown source. Described as possibly their worst security breach in history, despite being for a system years old is largely still in use by today’s phones and could easily be used for malicious purposes.

On the flip side for Apple, the HomePod was officially released on Friday. Reviews are largely positive with the smart speaker being praised for its sound quality but at the same time chastised for it’s Apple-centric limitations. We have one to review so expect a full report soon!

 

Outro

That’s it for another week, I hope you enjoyed it. If you did then please hit that Like, Love, Applause or Subscribe button and Review it on your platform of choice and help spread the word.

The Week That Was will be coming out on it’s own podcast feed this year so be on the look out for that. More info coming soon!

Thanks for tuning in, have a great week and bye for now.

Surgeons at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital were forced to stop operating on patients yesterday morning after a software glitch took out power to parts of the building for 20 minutes.

The AMA told media as many as 14 operations were underway at the time of the outage.

Holy crap! 14 surgeries underway that had to what, stop? And for 20 minutes?! Jebus-H-Christ!

I hope they’re all ok, that’s one place and time you do NOT want the power to go out.

Remind me to not have surgery in Rads!

Source: Software glitch takes out power in Adelaide hospital surgeries – Software – iTnews

 

Emoji 2018

The new Emoji 11.0 set is fixed and final, and includes the data needed for vendors to begin working on their emoji fonts and code ahead of the release of Unicode 11.0, scheduled for June 2018. The new emoji typically start showing up on mobile phones in August or September.

There’s actually 150 new Emoji characters coming. Everything from superheroes to cupcakes to leafy greens are coming in the June ratification.

To see a full list head over the Unicode standard’s blog which has samples of them all or watch the video below that cycles through all of them, including their skin tone variations.

Source: The Unicode Blog: Unicode Emoji 11.0 characters now final for 2018

Tesla posted a loss of $675 million for the quarter, a rather significant increase from the $121 million loss it posted during the same quarter a year ago, and the worst profit figure the company has ever recorded.

Not exactly what you’d expect with the world living in a Musk-bubble for the past 12 months.

Tesla are optimistic about the downturn in profit and blowout in costs as their Model 3 is expected to ramp up its production. In fact they’re so optimistic they fully expect to turn into a profitable company this year.

This of course is reliant on their factory hitting production targets, which they’ve indicated March’s new target to be 2,500 Model 3s per week. An improvement over current output but far behind their initial targets for the same period.

Source: Tesla posts its worst quarterly loss ever, but Model 3 should lead a turnaround in 2018 – BGR