Tech Update - 7 December 2019

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Bernie Sanders Wants To Boost Internet Access And Break Up Giant Internet Service Providers

As reported by CNBC, Bernie Sanders wants to break up the strangle hold that large Internet Service Providers have in providing internet and related services. He wants to achieve this by investing $150 billion in local government to build alternatives (via the Green New Deal). He also wants to require Internet Service Providers to offer affordable basic internet plans.

According to Bernie Sanders, and many more people around the world, access to the Internet is a fundamental right and a basic utility. That's why affordable prices are required.

Zooming out: In the UK, the Labour party have promised similar things about broadband internet access. So the left of the political divide seem to share thoughts on affordable access.

Links: CNBC, Bernie Sanders

Elon Musk Wins Defamation Case Against Him

Elon Musk was sued by Vernon Unsworth after Musk called Vernon a 'pedo guy' in a tweet. This was part of a wider spat about the successful rescuing of a Thai soccer team from a flooded cave.

Now, a court has ruled that this is not defamation, and so Musk has defended the case successfully.

Background of the case:

  • Last year, a Thai soccer team was stuck in a flooded cave. An international rescue mission was setup to get the team out.
  • At the time it wasn't clear whether the soccer team could be rescued.
  • Musk offered to attempt to rescue the team with a new mini-submarine.
  • Unsworth said it wouldn't work and called Musk's effort a PR exercise.
  • The two got into a Twitter spat, and Musk called Unsworth a 'pedo guy'.
  • The Thai soccer team were rescued by conventional means (divers) and not by Musk's mini-submarine.
  • Musk also hired someone to investigate Unsworth, no evidence was found to support the pedo jibe.
  • Unsworth sued Musk for defamation in Los Angeles.

Final thoughts: So you CAN say whatever you like on Twitter and get away with it.

Links: BBC, The Verge

Scams and Spam Via Phone Calls

Vice wrote a great article about how the US and Canada have such a huge phone scamming (and spamming) problem. The problem of spamming is so bad for some people that they've stopped picking up their phone, and relying on voicemails and known contacts to filter calls.

Important to note (the Vice article mixes these terms up a bit):

  • Spamming consists of legal calls where companies sell genuine products and services. Some people are being bombarded by these calls.
  • Scammers try to illegally trick people into handing over money. A common scam consists of criminals pretending to be the IRS and saying that someone (their target) owes taxes and should pay up to the criminal, not to the IRS.

Highlights of the problem:

  • 29 percent of mobile phone calls in the U.S. in 2018 are from spammers.
  • People are starting to filter their calls, and that's affecting normal non-spam calls.
  • You have spams and scams: Part of the spam calls include scam calls by criminals that try to trick people into handing over money or information.

Zooming out: This seems a problem that the US and Canada can't solve, yet the rest of the world can.

Links: Vice

Away (A Smart Luggage Company) CEO In Trouble For Bad Treatment Of Employees

Away is a company that provides luggage with batteries, allowing you to charge your gadgets while travelling. It's well known in tech circles.

According to HuffPost, and The Verge, the Away CEO, Steph Korey, is in trouble and has apologized for her behaviour because of the way that she treats employees:

  • The CEO used harsh messages via the popular messaging service Slack.
  • Messages included saying that employees will not get time off until certain business metrics were met.
  • Away has been accussed of having a toxic work culture.

Zooming out: The way that tech companies, and startups treat their employees has been the focus of attention for a lot of industry insiders. This shows the worst of the startup world.

Links: HuffPost, The Verge

Magic Leap Only Sold 6k Of Expected 100k Units

Magic Leap, a company that has raised billions of dollars in funding, but has yet to make a dent in actual sales, has only sold 6,000 units out of an expected 100,000 units. This is according to Mashable and The Information.

What is Magic Leap: It's a company that promised an amazing Augmented Reality (AR) experience, with huge funding rounds, but little to show for it in the way of sales.

Zooming out: The Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) fields have promised to go mainstream for a while now, but have failed to do so yet, with the exception of Pokemon Go, which is AR via a smartphone and not a headset. Rumor has it that Apple is also working in the field.

Links: Mashable, The Information