Author Archives: uthinki

Starship Enterprise Building: Chinese Gaming Company Makes It So

The time? Six years of construction. The cost? Some US$160 million spent in the process, including licensing the rights from CBS to build it so. The result? Completed in 2014, finally the headquarters of Chinese online gaming and mobile internet company NetDragon Websoft were built. That the headquarters are a replica of the starship USS Enterprise from Star Trek? It’s beyond avant-garde, and it boldly goes where no building has gone before. The reason? Probably so the chairman, Liu Dejian, can say stuff at work like: “Make it so.” And: “I’ll be in my ready room.” And he has to be taken seriously. Where the debate goes, be it Sovereign or Galaxy, or something else taxing to the Constitution, the Class is still out. Stick with an Excelsior refit if for no other reason than “Excelsior” is such a good word to say. Since no known tricorder scans of the ...

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Uber to Charge GST in Australia

As of 1 August 2015, Uber drivers in Australia will need to be registered for, and start charging GST. The 10 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) will apply for people paying for a ride using the ride-sharing service Uber. This is consistent with the Australian Government’s move to begin charging the GST on digital products (including those purchased internationally, even if costing under A$1,000). In many regards, this has the acknowledgement that the digital economy, alternatively referred to as the sharing economy, is here to stay. Despite concerns related to Uber, predominantly by those in the taxi industry, this move suggests legitimising the business of Uber from a governmental perspective. Naturally there’s money involved. With Uber drivers to start charging GST, this brings them in line with taxi drivers charging GST. Beyond paying tax in the obvious method via the GST, it also closes the various loopholes which had ...

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Star Ratings Systems: Is a Zero Stars Rating Needed?

Star ratings systems have, in one form or another, made their way into most aspects of the internet and associated technology. They’re a quick and appealing way to visually gauge how others have rated something, and to likewise follow suit. They’re largely borne of the five-point Likert scale: Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree In this sense, the five-point Likert scale is dealing with discrete date. With each point representing an isolated and unique point on the rating scale. Being discrete data, in the strictest sense, there should not be an averaging of the data points. For example, if one person selected “Strongly Agree” and another person selected “Agree” then there would be a count of one data point in the “Strongly Agree” category and another count of one data point in the “Agree” category. An average, such as the mean, should not be used in this instance. It ...

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Struggle Street: When to Intervene in a Documentary?

Struggle Street, the documentary which initially aired on Australia’s SBS has had its fair share of controversy. Before the show even made it to air, commentary about the ads for the documentary were rife. Namely about how it depicted those people in it and the suburb of Mount Druitt in a negative light. Some claimed it was “poverty porn” a voyeuristic thrill of watching those in a worse position than themselves. A peek over to the wrong side of the tracks to check in on how the Joneses weren’t keeping up. Garbage trucks blockaded the SBS Sydney offices in protest over the show. Then it aired, and it appeared it wasn’t quite as one-sided and biased as those outraged by the initial ads suspected. It elicited sympathy. A look into something different, seen through different eyes. That the cycle of poverty can be complex, and there’s no easy answers to ...

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Harry Shearer to Leave The Simpsons?

“Giving up voice acting on The Simpsons? Even Mr Burns, Ned Flanders, and Principal Skinner?” “They all come from the same voice actor-” “Sure, some wonderful, magical voice actor…” His name is Harry Shearer, and his voice acting has formed an integral part of The Simpsons since the show began back in 1989. Now though, it seems it’s all coming to an end. Beyond Homer’s boss and evangelical neighbour, Harry Shearer also voices characters such as Dr. Hibbert, Kent Brockman, Lenny Leonard, Otto Mann, Rainier Wolfcastle, Reverend Lovejoy, and others. In short, his voices form a huge chunk of the Springfieldians. Fans of the show are still reeling. Some suspect it’s a conspiracy by the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people, under the supervision of the reverse vampires… Others are marvelling at the show’s ability to apparently predict its own future: While others still are trying to sift through ...

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Teenager Dies Attempting Ultimate Selfie

Anna Ursu, has died attempting the “ultimate selfie” from the top of a train in Iași, Romania. The 18-year-old leg is reported to have touched an electrical wire which resulted in up to 27,000 volts passing through and electrocuting her, before she burst into flames. With Anna, was her 17-year-old friend, who was thrown from the top of the train from the force of the electrical field. A male who had warned the pair earlier of the dangers of the cables, hurried to help, but was unable to extinguish the flames fast enough. Emergency services rushed the two teenagers to hospital. Doctors were unable to save Anna Ursu. A spokesperson for Bucharest Burns Hospital, Anisia Iliescu, told reporters: “Her whole body was burned.” The younger teenager is said to be recovering in St Maria hospital. Telling investigators that she and her friend were attempting to take the “ultimate selfie” unaware ...

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Depp’s Dogs Wag Their Tails

News of the impending doom for Johnny Depp’s dogs, Pistol and Boo, travelled like wildfire, with little room to invoke the right of parlay. The Hollwood movie star, currently in Queensland, Australia, filming the fifth instalment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise Dead Men Tell No Tales, brought his two dogs, Pistol and Boo, with him. This occurred illegally, as they were flown in by private jet, ignoring and circumventing Australia’s quarantine laws, as the dogs were not declared to Customs. Had the dogs been declared to Customs, the whole thing would’ve largely been a non-issue. As it turns out, this is not the first quarantine issue related to filming the movie, with Jack the Monkey from the series also subjected to 30 days in quarantine in accordance with Australia’s biosecurity laws. That Depp’s dogs potentially faced being euthanased, sent both social media and politicians into a flurry of ...

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Rebuilding After the Nepal Earthquakes

On Tuesday 12 May, Nepal was rocked by a second devastating earthquake. The first earthquake measuring magnitude-7.8, struck 25 April 2015. With its epicentre Barpak in the Gorhka district, it resulted in the destruction of entire villages. Tragically claiming more than 8,000 human lives, injuring some 19,000 people, and displacing many more numbering into the estimated millions. Three weeks later, amidst the aftershocks as strong as magnitude-6.3, another earthquake measuring magnitude-7.3 has again struck Nepal. Its epicentre occurred near 18 kilometres beneath the earth, and to the east of the capital Kathmandu, in the district of Dolakha. Krishna Siwakoti, a farmer living near the epicentre told CNN: “The land has cracked open in many places, many people don’t even have a spot to put their tents. The situation is dire. We are isolated.” To some extent, that isolation has in part formed a blessing in disguise, with the combined death ...

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Seeing Red: The Plot to put Prince Harry on the Throne

Not quite the same as the Jacobite uprisings, and probably unlikely to make an historical footnote, but still news for the day, an Englishman is facing trial over his plot to make Prince Harry king. Arrested back in 3 June 2014, Mark Colborne, 37, of Southampton, has been described as a right-wing extremist and a fanatic. He stands trial accused of planned terrorist attacks related to assassinating Prince Charles, in an attempt to put Prince Harry on the throne. Today, Prince Harry is fifth in line to rule Great Britain. Prince Charles is first, followed by Prince William and his two children Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Then, thanks to the succession rules of the British Monarchy, it’s Prince Harry’s time to shine. If Prince Harry appears a bit marginalised here, it seems that was part of the very sentiment shared by Mark Colborne and a key point in his ...

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Australia to Charge GST on Digital Products

Australia is now to implement its 10 percent GST on digital downloads for items purchased by Australians from international sellers. Dubbed the “Netflix Tax” it will apply to digital goods sold by those such as Amazon, Google, and Netflix. The now inclusive 10 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be charged on all digital products and services bought online, including books, games, movies, and music. Treasurer Joe Hockey has stated that the current GST exemption for online purchases of items under A$1,000 will continue to apply for physical goods. (Note that the A$1,000 amount includes the full cost, including shipping to bring it to Australia.) In some ways, adding the GST to digital goods Australians purchase will bring things in line with the business and tax practices already faced by Australian businesses and those doing business in Australia. Which could be regarded as a levelling of the playing field. For example, ...

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