Even when Self Driving cars are here, they need to be legal

A quick review of full self driving cars and getting them made legal. My focus in on Victoria, Australia, but assume all countries and states will have similar issues.

Written due to some Tweetsand thought I’d write this down for my future reference and to explain in a little more detail my point of view.

I’m all for self driving cars, but I think the laws/policies/etc. will be a hindrance when ready. As well as jobs, union movements and job protection will also be a concern.

Quoting some sections solely from the Parliament of Victoria research paper ‘Autonomous vehicles‘ published December 2017.

Issues

Public acceptance of self driving technology

Chart 5. Willingness to use automated vehicle technology

So we can see a huge amount of people who are not willing to use self driving cars, which you’d expect translates into not having them on the road. The high acceptance is the 18-24 year old age bracket, who really aren’t the ones that influence policy.

I’d predict we’d have a huge vocal minority pushing conspiracy theories like we currently have with the 5G rollout.

Job losses

You can sure as hell bet that there will be a massive push against self driving vehicles from employment groups that will suffer job losses (ride share, taxi, trucks, couriers, etc.). These groups, associations, unions and whatnot have strong lobbying powers.

Though I would not expect this to stop the roll out in the long term, like with factory automation and whatnot, it will in the short term in delaying laws getting passed to allow self driving cars.

New jobs seem unlikely in Australia due to roll out of self driving cars, with the report noting “..new roles in supplying, maintaining and operating automated vehicles, or other roles that use automated vehicles as a platform to deliver new kinds of services to the market”. So – mechanics still have work (albeit less due to increase in EV) and some unknown industry due to self driving — not great for people currently employed to drive.

Product liability and insurance in Australia

Many areas to work through to get self driving cars legal:

  • changes to driver responsibility and liability;
  • manufacturer responsibility for automated vehicle accidents;
  • the possibility of new stakeholders becoming responsible for automated vehicle accidents;
  • new risks associated with automated vehicle usage, particularly regarding malicious usage of automated vehicles; and
  • new sources of liability for manufacturers, particularly third party losses caused by defects in automated vehicles.

Acts and regulations impacted in Victoria alone

In Victoria, there are 7 pieces directly impacted by self driving vehicles. Let alone likely other legal and criminal codes.

  • Road Safety Act 1986
  • Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983
  • EastLink Project Act 2004
  • Melbourne City Link Act 1995
  • Crimes Act 1958 – culpable driving or dangerous driving causing death
  • Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) (Conduct of Public Transport) Regulations 2015
  • Transport (Buses, Taxi-Cabs and Other Commercial Passenger Vehicles) Regulations 2005

Summary

I’d love a self driving car. It will be safer. It will be more convenient.

But our society isn’t currently geared towards self driving cars, so a lot of policy and legal issues will need to be resolved, which will be countered by people who oppose self driving cars.

I see the technology being here before we are close to being ready legally.

How Virgin Australia handled my cancelled domestic flight

On Wednesday 15th January 2020, I was on the scheduled on the 7.55pm flight from Brisbane to Melbourne after attending the BoothCon conference.

Unfortunately as we arrived at the airport, the flight had been delayed by just under 4 hours for a new departure time of 11.46pm and a 3.06am arrival.

Delayed

Our check in agent at the priority line was very helpful, offering us a change of flight so we could go and stay an extra night if we’d like, but as we had meetings in the morning, we opted against this.

Luckily, we had access to the Virgin Lounge through my Platinum membership, allowing us to sit in the lounge for some time waiting for our flight. At 10.22pm, my TripIt app notified me the flight had been cancelled.

And cancelled

At the same time, the main lounge staff member was personally letting all guests know of said cancellation before announcing on the PA. Obviously, bloody annoying as we now would miss our morning meetings.

Unsure at what would be happening, we sat in the lounge to let events pan out. At 11.42pm, an SMS and email was received with my new flight details (7.55am), whilst my colleague was placed on the 3.55pm. I assume that I got a much earlier flight as I am a Platinum member, as well as had upgraded my seat to business class many weeks ago to business class.

New flight details email

We decided to join the queue to speak to the lounge staff to see if they were putting us up in a hotel. From looking at the cancelled flight policy, we would get accomodation provided, or if they couldn’t provide, up to $220 reimbursement.

Luckily, we didn’t have to organise a hotel as they put us up in the Pullman Brisbane King George Square, whilst also providing two $100 CabCharge cards and let us know we could charge up to $50 on the room for meals or whatnot, in addition to providing new boarding passes.

We collected our bags and grabbed taxis. At the Pullman, it seemed anyone turning up at the hotel could have gotten a free room from Virgin, no paperwork was checked!

Apparently there were a tonne of flights cancelled to Melbourne due to the storms (I heard 50 from a Virgin staff, but that sounds high) and our flight was cancelled as they could not get staff required to fly it.

I imagine that Virgin were not happy about this as the hotel rate on check in said $190, plus about $50 each way for taxis and a meal charged is an expensive cancellation!

The next morning, I missed my flight!

Next morning I checked out nice and early (6.30am) and went to grab a taxi. After about 15 minutes of no taxi turning up, I switched to Didi ride share and got one within a few minutes.

But alas, the trip to the airport took over 50 minutes for what should have been 15 minutes, due to a smash in the airport toll road tunnel. His plus the delay in getting a ride, meant I was too late to check my bags in.

Luckily, the service desk were amazing and didn’t blame me at all and managed to get me on the very next flight. Not sure how they managed this but luckily didn’t have to wait around for my own fault.

I guess it was a good time to miss my first flight when Virgin had cancelled the flight I had been plenty early for the day before!

On people cracking it at Virgin staff

Seriously. Do you think they wanted to cancel the flight? It costs them a tonne and also makes their job a lot harder. Yelling and complaining to staff for something outside of their control is unnecessary.

Summary

I personally think Virgin handled this pretty well.

They made it as easy as possible for everyone inconvenienced Brough providing a nice hotel, a meal allowance and taxi vouchers. They were obviously trying to get people to their destinations as soon as possible the next day based on very full flights.

Qantas Domestic Business Class Review

In December 2019, I decided to fly Qantas back from Sydney to Melbourne as the flight time suited better than my usual preference of carrier (Virgin Australia). Qantas had a conveniently timed 8.30pm departure, whilst Virgin only had 8pm or 10pm. So I booked Qantas.

Before the flight, I thought why not blow a few frequent flyer points on upgrading to business, to experience Qantas domestic business, and also get lounge and priority boarding (which I’m accustomed to being a Platinum Velocity member).

This review is in general comparing my usual experience on Virgin Australia to my only Qantas experience since about 2013. Understand that it is a first world problem bitching about lounges and business class service, but when you pay (albeit in points) for a premium service, it should be delivered.

Lounge

I was looking forward to the Domestic Business Lounge. As Qantas operate both the Club and Business lounges, and Virgin only one lounge for all passengers, I’d expected the Business lounge to be to a higher standard. It was not.

Sydney Domestic Business Lounge before flight: complete chaos. Food was absolutely average. Apricot chicken or similar with rice. But you’d be lucky to get a single scrap of chicken in amongst the sauce. Hard to get a beer as hard to get staff attention, wine at least self serve.

Additionally, getting a table to sit at in the Business lounge was extremely difficult. Would to see what the Club is like (or is that quieter?). And this is 7pm on a Wednesday. Can’t image the shitshow that it would be on a Friday.

“Priority” Boarding

I’d heard that Qantas priority boarding has always been average. But just over a week before my flight, Qantas had apparently fixed this: Qantas launches new priority boarding system.

Well, safe to say, it wasn’t improved. When I got to the gate, the priority queue was much longer than the standard queue, with the same number of gate staff for both lines. Based on this, I took the standard queue and got on quicker than the priority queue.

Virgin does his quite nicely, they board just the priority queue until it is empty, then the standard. If a new priority person walks into the queue, they are taken immediately.

I am assuming that as this was only a week or so after the changes, that they hadn’t got the process down pat yet (but seriously, can an operations staff member at Qantas just fly one domestic Virgin flight to see how it’s done?).

Flight

  • 737 with three rows of business class, very similar to Virgin, but think the purple divider Virgin have is a tad nicer.
  • Pre-departure drinks. Choice of a 250ml bottle of water or nothing. Virgin offers sparkling wine, sparkling water (my usual choice), orange juice or water – served in a glass, not a bottle that was still sitting empty 20 minutes after take off.
  • No rope divider between economy and business. As soon as seat belt sign off, economy passenger going through to business front toilet.
  • Economy service trolley pushed right into business class cabin and no service offered. Economy passengers with drinks before business passengers during flight.
  • No introduction by staff welcoming to business. Pretty much treated same as economy (or worse – as drink service after).
  • 20 minutes after take off still nothing at all. Service started about 25 minutes after take off. By time reached row 3 of business, about 35 minutes.
  • Serve business class from a trolley? Why? Get some drink orders and food and bring it back. Absolutely no need to bring a trolley through.
  • Drink service and food at same time. Causing delays. Take drink order before take off for service immediately afterwards, not hard?
  • Food options: pies, cheese, something else. Pies were good.
  • The main cabin guy was great (Rob). Shake of hands. Suggestion of wines. But before he started service, he seemed to have to deal with some operations issues (lots of touch screen stuff at front panel, but someone else could have taken care of business before economy). But a shake of hands before take off and food and drink order would be nice.
  • When landed, no flight attendant blocking off economy from business to make sure business exit first, so some economy passengers exiting before business.

Not trying to say economy passengers should be treated poorly, but business class are paying a premium and should get some perks!

A lot of my friends rave about Qantas. I won’t be back in a hurry.

Business seat and window

Qantas 737 business cabin

Economy service trolley in business class cabin

Business meal – party pies

Gear and Software July 2019

A few years ago I did a post on what software I use. I thought it’d be interesting to add hardware into the mix as well.

Hardware

Laptop

I’ve been using MacBooks since 2011, with very oscasional stints on the Surface Pro. Every time I’ve switched to a windows based machine, I’ve felt less productive somalways end back up with Apple.

My current machine is the 2018 MacBook Air (i5, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD). This was a switch from the 2016 MacBook Pro 15” (i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD). The reason for the switch was that the 15” felt a bit big for travel and couch usage. The Air has been plenty powerful enough for my needs.

Desktop

I haven’t had a desktop machine for a long time and have solely been working from laptops. When in the office, I “dock” (well, plug in the USB-c) into a LG 27UD88-W 27” display with the laptop sitting on a Twelve South Curve stand. I use the Apple Magic Keyboard, Mouse 2 and Trackpad 2 in Space Grey.

Tablet

Current tablet is the Apple iPad Pro 11” with Smart Keyboard Folio. Upgraded from the 10.5” iPad Pro last year. Generally keep up to date with iPads due to having to test compatibility with them for Hula Booth.

This iPad is amazing to work with. The keyboard is fantastic, combined with the battery life and 4G inbuilt, its a perfect device for using on the road and in meetings. And also when focus is required as the iPad makes it a bit more difficult to multitask versus a laptop.

With iPadOS coming out, I think the improvements over the next few years may make it feasible to drop the laptop in the future. Potentially.

Phone

Have been fairly strictly iPhone since I imported the original model from the USA in 2007, with the occasional switch to Android. But always find myself coming back for battery life or getting away Samsung bloat.

On the iPhone XS at the moment and have no reason to look elsewhere. The FaceID and no home button took a bit of getting used to coming from the iPhone 8, but now it feels normal.

Smart Watch

I never had the inclination to get a smart watch, but for my 30th birthday I was struggling with gift ideas (apparently I’m hard to buy for). So ended up with an Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) 42mm. It’s actually been more useful than anticipated, especially with being able to go down to the shops without a phone and use Apple Pay. Having Siri on your wrist is handy as well.

Headphones

I’m not a big headphones guy. Was using some cheap Bluetooth in-ear ones from Amazon, but just upgraded to some Plantronics BackBeat GO 410 noise cancelling in-ear headphones. The reason for upgrade is because of a fair bit of travel, and the noise cancelling really helps.

Still have a pair of Bose QuietComfort 15 that have served well (which got super cheap second hand in 2013), but they are a bit bulky to travel with and keep in my bag. Also not being Bluetooth is a bit of a pain.

Software

Won’t go into too much detail here, but the quick list:

  • Email: Google G Suite (personal and business) with Superhuman
    • G Suite as it just works well.
    • Superhuman as makes email super fast with keyboard shortcuts and auto advance.
  • Storage: Google Drive and OneDrive
  • Office Suite: Google and Office
    • Google is mostly good, but sometimes need proper Excel.
  • Tasks: Asana
    • Use for all project management and personal tasks. Find it works mostly well and haven’t had a reason to look at changing.
  • Notes: Bear
    • Just easy writing that is simple and works. What this is written in before going to WordPress.
  • Notepad Calculator: Soulver
    • Love this app. It’s like a hybrid notepad and calculator. Handy for quick calculations and number doodling.
  • Clipping and Reference: Evernote
    • Can’t seem to shake Evernote. It’s a great dumping ground.
  • Messaging: Telegram, Slack
    • Still rocking Telegram personally. Also a bit of Facebook Messenger. Not in as many Slack communities anymore, they have definitely died down, but still good for business.

Kind of using a Notion, but can’t figure out how this fits into my workflow. To be determined if it stays in the list. Starting to make some tables and whatnot in it.

Compared to my 2016 software edition, have dropped a few.

Dropped:

  • Todoist (use Asana for personal tasks now)
  • Trello (upgraded to Asana)
  • Dropbox (solely OneDrive and Google Drive now)
  • Adobe Creative Cloud (replaced with Sketch, Figma and Affinity Designer)
  • Streak CRM (sold a business so don’t need a CRM so much, but Notion fits the bill)
  • Quip (went back to Google Docs and Sheets)
  • MailChimp (now use MailerLite)
  • Wave Apps and Reckon One (solely Xero).

Getting a Credit Card for a Small, New Business

Getting a credit card for a new business is hard. Not sure why, as the banks seem to throw credit at private individuals with no worries (e.g. me as a uni student getting approved for a massive credit limit with ease). Maybe this will be different now after the Royal Commission.

But be it a freshly incorporated entity, a startup, or a business without robust financials audited by the treasurer (well, maybe for some big banks they want audited financials), it’s not the easiest process to get a card with your business name on it.

Well, it seems to be a lot easier than a few years ago to get them! Here’s a story of two new companies getting some cards.

Company 1 – Card Issued by American Express

After incorporating my consulting company on the 1st of January 2017 (Happy New Year!), I researched getting a dedicated company credit card. Not possible it seemed. We were a new business, no income and no trading history.

So I sat back and put all expenses on my personal credit card. Not the most ideal situation as it made the finances a bit messy. It is also technically against most personal credit card terms of service to use a card for business purposes.

Then in early 2018, I kept noticing some great American Express business credit card sign up offers. So I really dig through the terms and conditions and saw just two:

  • ABN must be at least one year old and registered for GST. ✅
  • You must have personal income of at least $24k. ✅ (they accepted my income being paid from the business that applied for the card).

Great! Well. I’m probably personally liable for the credit due to the personal income check, but at least it is a legit business card.

So I applied for the American Express Business Explorer, and was approved shortly after for a mid-teens $k credit limit.

Very easy online process, they did call up and ask a few quick questions (confirming business name, ABN, type of work, etc.) and then promptly issued.

It may have helped that I’ve had a personal American Express card since 2011, but who knows.

Why did I choose the Business Explorer?

  • 100,000 Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer points as a sign up bonus (it has changed now).
  • 2 American Express Membership Rewards Gateway points per dollar spent (equivalent to 1.5 Velocity or KrisFlyer points, with KrisFlyer being more valuable in my opinion).
  • A bonus 50,000 Gateway points if you spend $100,000 in a year (essentially taking the card to be 2.5 Gateway points per dollar, or 1.875 Velocity or KrisFlyer points).

With most of my business spend being payable with American Express, this is a nice little points earner!

Company 2 – Card Issued by NAB

Another company that was incorporated in July 2017. Shortly after registration, a bank account with NAB was opened (a great account, no fees and free access to The Village co-working space). This account essentislly sat unused and barely any funds flowed in and out of the account.

Come 12 months later, I get some snail mail from NAB offering the NAB Rewards Buisness Signature pre-approved for the business with a $7k odd credit limit. First year annual waived and 100,000 NAB Rewards points (converts to 50,000 Velocity points) on sign up. Off I send in the form, and a week or so later the card arrives.

So that was a pretty easy process! Didn’t even start looking for one but it was issued. Checking the NAB site, requirements are:

  • ABN must be at least one year old and registered for GST. ✅
  • Your business must have turnover of at least $100k. ❌
  • Provide your profit and loss statement covering 12 months and up to date (within 120 days of your application). ❌

So it seems as I had an existing business bank account these requirements were waived (albeit the account barely used). On a side note, it definitely wouldn’t have been based on my personal bank account with NAB which has been empty and unused for years.

So there we have it. Two ways to get a credit card for a fairly new business, with this step being a mandatory:

  • Your ABN being a year old and registered for GST.

With the others being:

  1. Have some minimal personal income to apply (for American Express).
  2. Have a business bank account (for NAB).

How many Facebook ads are on your Feed?

Whilst browsing Facebook one evening in May, I noted to my family how there seems to be so many ads on Facebook of late. My mum replied saying she never sees ads. I laughed, and said they will appear as promoted or sponsored posts, and that maybe she is just not noticing.

She was adamant that she was not getting any ads. I checked her Facebook feed on her iPhone, and alas, there were no ads. What the!?

Continue reading “How many Facebook ads are on your Feed?”

I switched from a MacBook Pro to a Surface Pro 3 – One Month In

One month ago, my wife’s laptop died overnight with no sign of life. Both my wife and I have been using MacBook Air or Pro for the last 5 years. She usually gets a hand-me-down when I upgrade every 2 years. The most recent set up prior the incident was my wife using a 2013 MacBook Pro 13″ Retina, with my system being a 2015 MacBook Pro 13″ Retina (MBP). This has now changed. Continue reading “I switched from a MacBook Pro to a Surface Pro 3 – One Month In”