Technology

Nicky Wagner needs to explain herself

Nicky Wagner as Customs Minister issued a press release on Friday regarding Customs and Excise Act amendments.

Buried in the middle of her release is mention of the contentious issue regarding accessing private computing devices at the border.

“The Government has agreed in principle that Customs needs to meet a statutory threshold before examining electronic devices.  We have asked Customs to do further work on what this would look like in practice and report back prior to introduction of the Bill.  The Government has also agreed in principle that, once the threshold is met, a person should have to assist Customs with the examination if asked.”

Which seems rather too broad for my liking, especially since Customs documents show that cabinet wanted a very, very broad definition and search and seizure regime in place.

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Oh the Irony, Pirate websites’ privacy compromised by Panama Papers

about_MEGA_silhouette

about_MEGA_silhouette

File sharing sites (often referred to as Pirate websites) make money from promising privacy to their customers. These kinds of companies are perfect for criminals. They allow pedophiles for example to upload and share child pornography. Now, thanks to the criminal actions of a hacker the Panama papers have had an unexpected consequence. They have compromised the privacy of customers who use Pirate websites like Mega.

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Forget bikes; driverless vehicles are our saviour

I’ve been saying this for years and now someone else has piped up and provided a good article on why driverless technology will save us from loopy rail projects and stupid cycleways.

Ian Apperly writes at NBR:

Debate over the past two years has argued cycleways are either a good solution to traffic woes or an over-hyped solution put forward by self-interested industry groups and a left-leaning local politics environment.

The reality is that cycleways are going to vanish as is a lot of industry, as autonomous vehicles take over.

In 2010, Uber launched. It connected drivers with riders. Over the past few years Uber has been more commonly thought of as a taxi service but it is not. It’s a lot better and a lot safer.

In 2015, nearly half of all “taxi” rides in the US were Uber-driven. Uber is valued at about $50 billion, half the value of all the global taxi companies.

That new model is already “disrupting” and is set to “super-disrupt” as autonomous vehicles appear.

It’s long been known Google has a stake in Uber and that the end goal of Uber is to go driverless.

In July 2015, Uber preordered 500,000 vehicles from Tesla.

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Facebook says it is OK to call someone a “stinking lousy Jew”

Facebook has become evil. They are allowing anti-semitic comments that attack people.

Tiffany Gabbay writes at Truth Revolt:

A months ago I posted to my public Facebook page a brief blog I’d written on the wave of stabbings, slashings and car rampages (known in Israel as the Silent Intifada, or Knife Intifada) currently tearing through Israel.

Soon after a Facebook user who, from what I could tell, seemed to be affiliated with the far-right Hungarian group Jobbik, replied with an illiterate and anti-Semitic comment: “shut up stinking lousy jew.”

For a split second, after reading the comment, I was taken aback: this is what my father — who fled Islamic persecution in Baghdad and later fought in Israel’s War of Independence — had warned me about my entire life. This is why he forever cautioned against letting strangers know who we really were: Jews.

My father immigrated to the United States precisely to escape this kind of bigotry in all its greater and lesser incarnations, and moreover, to ensure that his children would never fall victim to it. Whether a seemingly “harmless” anti-Semitic slur, or as deadly as an Arab army, he had good cause to be leery.

I never thought myself naive. I know anti-Semites exist. I write about them all the time. I grew up hearing stories of how my father and his family staved off an angry Islamic mob that tried to burn them down in their home during the Farhud; of how he’d experienced atrocities during the 1948 War that don’t bear repeating here, for their horrifically graphic nature. How could I be surprised by the single comment of a deranged person hiding behind a computer screen?    Read more »

Let Sky die, customers want American Netflix

Netflix's promised crackdown on VPN users has stretched to New Zealand users trying to access the American catalogue. Photo / Bloomberg

Netflix’s promised crackdown on VPN users has stretched to New Zealand users trying to access the American catalogue. Photo / Bloomberg

I don’t understand why Netflix won’t give customers what they want. They are prepared to pay for it. By not giving them what they want in order to protect local providers like Sky they are propping up an outdated business model. Sky is the horse and cart and Netflix is the Lear Jet. I will never forget how upset my Dad and I were when we purchased a Kindle Fire each a number of  years back from Amazon in order to watch videos. I already had an ordinary Kindle for reading and as I was able to buy e-books off Amazon we looked forward to doing the same with movies. Unfortunately our new purchases were useless as we were not allowed to buy content as we didn’t live in America.

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A real scientific fraud

A scientific fraud, emanating in the 1940s is hamstringing global attempts to reduce carbon emissions.

Honest greens have always said nuclear power is indispensable for achieving big carbon reduction. James Hansen, the former NASA scientist who has been chaining himself to fences since the first Bush administration, was in Illinois last week lobbying against closure of a nuclear plant. Ditto activist Michael Shellenberger. We might also include Bill McKibben, the Bernie Sanders of the climate movement and shouter of Exxon accusations, who told journalist William Tucker four years ago, “If I came out in favor of nuclear, it would split this movement in half.”

Nuclear (unlike solar) is one low-carbon energy technology that has zero chance without strong government support, yet is left out of renewables mandates. It’s the one non-carbon energy source that has actually been shrinking, losing ground to coal and natural gas.

What keeps nuclear costs high? Why do so many opponents misread the Fukushima meltdown, where 18,000 deaths were due to the earthquake and tsunami, none to radiation exposure, and none are expected from radiation exposure? Why has the U.S. experience of spiraling nuclear construction costs not been matched in South Korea, where normal learning has reduced the cost of construction?   Read more »

Labour see this stuff as the END of work…therefore pay people for nothing.

Smart people see it as a chance for higher value, creative, interesting, empathetic work that improves things for the human race.

Unfortunately Labour sees this as a problem and it is the driver behind their “Future of Work Commission”.    Read more »

Peter Jackson happy to put cinemas out of business sooner

Good to see Peter Jackson looking to help break the monopoly on cinema releases…though at fifty dollars per movie I’m not sure there would be many takers.

Sir Peter Jackson has thrown his support behind a proposed service that would allow people to watch movies at home the same day they are released at the cinema.

Subscribers to Screening Room would pay $50 per new release and have 48 hours to watch the film.

The Oscar-winning director says the service is an inevitable move in the industry.

Blockbuster movies like Batman Versus Superman are big business, and opening night at the cinema is usually a good pointer to success or failure.

But what if you can’t make the movie theatre; what if you could pay to watch the film at home?   Read more »

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Are Elon Musk’s cars really going to save the planet?

Bjorn Lomborg says no:

As Elon Musk presented the new Tesla 3, a fawning press announced that the “world-changing car” could “dominate” the market. Within days, 276,000 people had put down $1,000 to pre-order the car.

But the Model 3 doesn’t exist yet. There is no final production version, much less any production. Musk is “fairly confident” that deliveries could start by the end of 2017. But running on schedule isn’t Tesla’s strong suit. Meanwhile, Tesla’s current best-seller has been plagued by quality problems.

All of this might just be another iPhone vs Galaxy conversation – except that these vehicles are hailed as green saviours and so are subsidised to the tune of billions of pounds.

Before unveiling the car, Musk sanctimoniously declared that Tesla exists to give the planet a sustainable future. He pointed to rising CO₂ levels. He lamented that 53,000 people die from air pollution from transportation. Tesla, the story goes, is a lifesaver. Like other electric cars, it has “zero emissions” of air pollution and CO₂.

But this is only true of the car itself; the electricity powering it is often produced with coal, which means that the clean car is responsible for heavy air pollution. As green venture capitalist Vinod Khosla likes to point out, “electric cars are coal-powered cars”.

If the USA had 10 per cent more petrol cars by 2020, air pollution would claim 870 more lives. A similar increase in electric ones would cause 1,617 more deaths a year, mostly because of the coal burned.

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Garner on Moroney and Social Media

Duncan Garner joins the fray on Sue Moroney.

Labour MP Sue Moroney’s moronic tweet this week about why a wealthy bach owner shouldn’t decide our flag referendum was a shocker.

She knows it. Labour leader Andrew Little knows it. It was serious face palm stuff wasn’t it? Moroney didn’t engage her brain with her loose fingers and wayward, poorly judged thoughts.

She also forgot the immense and invasive power of social media. It’s the equivalent of sending out a press release to the entire world.

In the old days rookie MPs were told to ‘breathe through their nose’ (a nice way of saying don’t ever open your mouth) as they learned the ropes from the back benches.

But today MPs are all over Facebook and Twitter because it’s such an effective (and free) way to connect directly with voters.   Read more »