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Virtual Conferences Are Back For 2021

The NSW government is letting commuters pay for Ubers, Lime Bikes, Ingogo taxis and ferries with their digital Opal card. Meanwhile, Uber has reintroduced Uber Pool in Sydney and Perth, a sign of easing coronavirus restriction. 

Apple has announced WWDC 2021, its developer conference, where they announce the developer beta of the latest operating systems for the Mac, iPhone, Watch and iPad. The focus is usually on software, but Apple often announces hardware too, while the world’s media is paying attention.

Meanwhile, LikedIn has joined the long list of companies working on a Clubhouse clone. 

And… are your NFTs safe? Vice takes a look at why people’s expensive NFTs keep vanishing. 

The Helpdesk will return after Easter with a new weekly show.

What Is The Life Of An Influencer Really Like?

SBS reporter Calliste Weitenberg has been leading a double life online. She spent six months creating a fake wellness influencer Mia Wilde aka @ThatCoastalGirl all in the name of uncovering exactly how the influencer economy operates.

On today’s show, Calliste talks us through the highs and lows of being an influencer, how much fake followers cost and what happens when you dupe a marketing agency.

You can catch her full series of Like, Subscribe, Follow 10 pm Tuesdays on The Feed, or anytime on SBS on-demand. Read about the experiment here.

Cabinet Reshuffle Raises Eyebrows

Nine Entertainment is still reeling from a cyber attack that hit the company’s headquarters over the weekend, crippling some operations and stopping shows from going to air. So far the source of the suspected ransomware attack has not been identified.

Scott Morrison’s didn’t win any fans from the tech sector with his cabinet reshuffle yesterday. As James Riley, editor of InnovationAus puts it: the PM has buried the two most controversial Cabinet members by giving them tech-heavy portfolios. Christian Porter has been moved to the Industry, Science and Technology portfolio. While Linda Reynolds becomes the Minister for Government Services and the NDIS.

Remember COVIDsafe? Well, turns out it’s still around and costing about $100,000 per month to run.

Energy companies are working out how to deal with the strain electric vehicles will put on the grid. Origin energy is rolling out 150 “smart chargers” to electric vehicle owners that will coordinate times that their cars are recharged with periods of surplus solar supply.

Amazon Needs To Clean Up After Itself

Welcome to The Helpdesk for Monday 29th of March. On today’s show, we break down all the Slack news, from company-to-company DMs to new audio features.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s dirty laundry is aired in leaked documents to The Intercept that show the company is aware its delivery drivers don’t have time for toilet breaks, leaving them to pee in bottles during their shifts.

Intel has announced plans to spend $20 billion on two new chip factories in Arizona. In a major shift, new Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger also announced plans for Intel to produce processors for other companies.

The very first Australian Women in AI awards were held in Sydney on Friday. WAI aims to increase female representation and participation in AI. According to a 2018 study from Wired and Element AI, just 12% of AI researchers globally are female. 

Is Discord Up For Sale?

Discord and Microsoft Said to Discuss Deal That Could Top $10 Billion

Popular chat client Discord is potentially up for sale, with Microsoft a potential buyer, according to those in the know. The Slack-like service is incredibly popular with gamers, and could easily slot into Microsoft’s Xbox gaming environment, on consoles and PCs. The only other tech giant that seems like a suitable purchaser would be Amazon, who could roll Discord into its Twitch game streaming service.

Or, this could all just be rumours to get Discord re-valued for an upcoming IPO.

Airtasker goes public 

Airtasker listed on the ASX on Tuesday with a market valuation of $255.4 million. By the end of the day, it was valued at $412.5 million. CEO Tim Fung, who co-founded the company in 2012, held onto his 12.7 per cent stake in the business through the IPO. His share is now worth more than $52 million.

YouTube to auto-detect products in videos, serve related links

Youtube has a new experimental feature to detect products within a video and generate links to the websites. The system would both train Google’s image analysis algorithms and provide more ways to monetize youtube content.

Prince Harry appointed chief impact officer at Silicon Valley start-up

Fresh from his separation from the Royal family, Prince Harry is bulking up his resume. The royal has been appointed the chief impact officer of BetterUp, a Silicon Valley start-up that provides coaching and mental health assistance for corporate employees. In his new role, he will “focus on driving advocacy and awareness for mental fitness” and “diversify Betterup’s community of coaches and customers through strategic planning”

That makes us wonder, which famous person would you hire for your start-up and what role would you give them?

Explainer: Mental Health Options Online

Welcome to The Helpdesk for Wednesday, March 24.

We all consult Dr. Google from time to time. But what’s the best way to manage your mental health online? 

With mental health services facing unprecedented demand, technology and social media can help support vulnerable people caught on a waitlist, or financially unable to access help. But it is important to seek out content from trusted sources, and not end up simply self-diagnosing.

On today’s show, Peter Wells talks us through the options for seeking support online. Read more here: How searching for help online can be healthy. 

Lifeline: 131 114

How Much Would You Pay To Undo A Tweet?

Welcome to The Helpdesk for Tuesday, March 23.

The evidence is mounting that Twitter will be adding an “undo tweet” feature. The ability to take back tweets has also shown up on a survey asking Twitter users about features they’d be willing to pay for, as well as in the code for the app, and CNET received confirmation today from Twitter that it is, in fact, being tested.

More Twitter news: the company sent out a survey to random users asking if leaders should face more, less, or the same amount of scrutiny as other accounts and if it’s okay for the platform to ban a sitting president or prime minister. 

Apple has announced the executives that it wants to take the stand in the case against Epic, and the lineup is, well, Epic. Plus take a trip into Apple’s history… 

Venture capital company Spark Capital decided to sever ties with Dispo, the app it just gave a truckload of cash to. 


Instagram wants your kids to share pics of their babycinos

Welcome to The Helpdesk for Monday, March, 22. 

Will Apple stand up to China on privacy? 

The FT reports, Chinese tech companies are testing ways to get around Apple’s impending privacy changes. The changes to iOS 14 will allow users to opt out of tracking. Apple previously said it would reject any apps from its App Store that “Are found to disregard the user’s choice”. 

Last week, Apple sent pre-emptive warnings to at least two Chinese apps, telling them to cease and desist after naming a dozen parameters such as “SetDeviceName” that could be used “To create a unique identifier for the user’s device” – essentially skirting Apple’s privacy changes. 

Zuck changes his tune of Apple’s anti-tracking features – kinda

Facebook also bitterly opposes Apple’s privacy changes, since most users are expected to opt-out of the tracking. Previously Facebook ran full-page newspaper ads suggesting Apple’s change would hurt small businesses and warned Wall Street the change would lead to a drop in ad revenue.

Speaking in a Clubhouse chat on Thursday, Zuck said they would manage through: “It’s possible that we may even be in a stronger position if Apple’s changes encourage more businesses to conduct more commerce on our platforms by making it harder for them to use their data in order to find the customers that would want to use their products outside of our platforms.”

Listen to the full clubhouse audio here.

Instagram wants your kids to share pics of their babycinos

Facebook is working on a kids version of Instagram, for children under the age of 13. Currently, Instagram’s policy forbids children under the age of 13 from using the service. Academics have already called it “a bad idea all round.”  

Streaming services spend big on US sports. 

Big streaming news from the US, the NFL has finalised new 11-year media rights deal. The league is renewing TV rights with all of its existing broadcast partners and adding Amazon Prime Video as an exclusive partner for its Thursday Night Football package.

Fine. We’ll talk about the Technoking.

Welcome to The Helpdesk for Friday, 19th March. Today we catch up on all the stories we missed this week:

Painful Day For GPs As Vaccine Website Crashes

Vaccine booking website frustrates users 

  • GP clinics were inundated with phone calls from people trying to book their Covid-10 vaccine yesterday after the federal government’s online booking website failed to launch.

  • Bookings opened for vaccinations for people in the 1b group yesterday, but the government’s booking page wouldn’t let anyone actually make a booking online.

  • The Guardian reports, “the booking website told them to call their nearest vaccinating clinic to book an appointment, receptionists had told them they could not take any bookings as they has not yet been told by the government how many doses they would be receiving.”

  • Many of those people waiting on hold were in their 80s.

  • At a press conference, Health Minister Greg Hunt insisted the website had not been rushed and was always scheduled to be launched on Wednesday.

  • There are a lot of moving parts here…

  • FYI the vaccine booking website – accessed via the Department of Health’s eligibility tool

Instagram Creeps Blocked

Instagram rolling out message restrictions to protect young users

  • Instagram now bans adults from messaging teenagers who don’t follow them.

  • The app will also now show “safety prompts” to teens messaged by adults “exhibiting potentially suspicious behaviour,” offering options to report or block the users.

  • Instagram is going to give safety notices to teens making sure they know they can restrict, report, and block users.

  • The prompt also gives reminders that say “Don’t feel pressured to respond,” “Only share with people you trust,” and “Your safety comes first.”

Amazon’s newest robot cathedral 

  • Amazon is building a colossal warehouse in Sydney’s West and it is ready for the robots to move in.

  • The fulfillment centre will be Amazon’s biggest in the southern hemisphere, covering 200,000 square metres over four levels, it is the size of 24 football fields.

  • It will be Amazon’s fifth fulfilment centre in Australia, but the first one with the really good robots.

  •  The robots basically do all the heavy lifting and moving the inventory inside the building, and the humans do the picking and the packing.

  • Expected to be completed for the Black Friday sales in November, and will house 11 million items.

  • Is this enough for Amazon to go from quietly competing to absolutely crushing retail in Australia?

Wikipedia Is Finally Asking Big Tech to Pay Up

  • For years now, Wikipedia has made freely available a snapshot of everything that appears on the site every two weeks—a so-called “data dump” for users

  • Today, the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the Wikipedia project in more than 300 languages as well as other wiki-projects, is announcing the launch of a commercial product, Wikimedia Enterprise.

  • The new service is designed for the sale and efficient delivery of Wikipedia’s content directly to these online behemoths (and eventually, to smaller companies too).

  • seeking the reaction of Wikipedia’s thousands of volunteers. Agreements with the firms could be reached as soon as June. the Wikipedia movement, which has proudly stood by its early Internet idealism, is wrestling with how much to cater to the needs of the commercial giants

  • IMDB was started as a user generated site, that sold to Amazon and angered its contributors, back in the day