Uber

The European Court of Justice issued its ruling on Wednesday morning, opening up the possibility for EU governments to regulate Uber much more closely at a local or national level, or even ban it altogether.

The court said in a statement: “The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport. Member States can therefore regulate the conditions for providing that service.”

It is a massive blow for Uber, which has consistently argued that it is just an app, not a transport service, and therefore subject to fewer regulations.

Source: Europe’s highest court just ruled Uber is a transport service — and it’s a massive blow

Tradesmen

“We all require skilled tradies to get things done around the house or in a commercial context and we want it yesterday, but the reality is there are simply not enough to meet demand,” says Chris McDonald, Indeed’s managing director Australia-New Zealand.

“Any young person thinking seriously about their career choices needs to know that tradespeople are in hot demand and will be well into the future.

“Employers can’t get enough of them and the self-employment prospects fantastic with niche opportunities across virtually all trades.”

Salary snapshot

Electrician: $74,401 (average) – $145,000 (upper range)
Cabinet maker: $67,720 (average) – $105,000 (upper range)
Bricklayer: $65,665 (average) – $133,300 (upper range)
Welder: $61,012 (average) – $118,00 (upper range)

Source: The 10 hardest to find tradesmen in Australia

Cryptocurrency

Sex, Drugs and Bitcoin:

Almost half of all transactions in bitcoin are associated with buying and selling illegal goods and services, including drugs, weapons and pirated software, according to analysis using forensic finance techniques.

Research from the University of Technology Sydney and Sydney University suggests that cryptocurrency is being misused.

Talis Putnins, a Professor at the University of Technology Sydney, says blockchain technology underpinning bitcoin holds significant promise for revolutionising many industries.

“But this sort of illegal activity risks stunting the adoption of this technology and limiting the potential benefits to society,” he says.

“We exploit the fact the transactions in Bitcoin are all publically available. The blockchain can be downloaded by anyone.

“We obtain a sample of some of the known illegal activity that’s been happening in Bitcoin, and we use that sample, that insight, of some of the illegal activity to estimate how much of the other Bitcoin activity is associated with illegal activity.”

“The aim of our research is to help regulators understand the size of the task they face in attempting to monitor and regulate bitcoin.” says Putnins.

“Users involved in illegal activity are very active in terms of buying, selling and trading, whereas legal users are largely buying and holding the cryptocurrency.”

The researchers developed ground-breaking methods for identifying illegal bitcoin transactions. Their starting point was tracing the activity of bitcoin users who had been caught by the FBI and other authorities in online criminal activity.

“A lot of people think bitcoin is highly anonymous and untraceable, that it is outside the view of regulators and authorities, but once you start digging into it it’s surprising how much sense you can make of it,” says Professor Putnins.

“The techniques we have developed can be used by legal authorities in surveillance activities, but more broadly, much of what we develop is transferable to analysing other blockchains,” says Professor Putnins.

“In the hands of regulators or federal police, our methods potentially provide a lot of value in understanding what is going on – and cracking down on it.”

The paper describes how bitcoin has become the PayPal of the dark web, which is estimated to contain 30,000 domains.

Source: Sex, Drugs and Bitcoin: Cryptocurrency used to finance illegal activity

Blockchain

Another Growth Year?

Blockchain advisor Oliver Bussmann makes the case 2018 will see further growth.

  • Blockchain solutions will continue to come into production as the “low-hanging fruit” are addressed.
  • Companies will focus on changing business models as blockchain begins to transform market structures.
  • New ecosystems with smart contract technology will arise as integration platforms between existing industries.
  • Scalability and performance of blockchains will become a critical issue, and there will be interesting new approaches
  • People will increasingly recognize that local blockchain ecosystems are a critical success factor.

Source: 2018: Another Growth Year for Blockchain – CoinDesk

Vegetables

Scientists have come up with an innovative approach to tackling Australia’s poor vegetable intake, with the launch of a new app that challenges people to eat more veggies.

CSIRO’s new VegEze app aims to motivate Australians to add extra vegetables to their daily diets and form long-term, healthier habits through a 21-day ‘Do 3 at Dinner’ challenge.

CSIRO nutritionists will also study how effective the app’s game-like nature is at helping transform people’s eating patterns, as part of a broader research study.

“We need a fresh approach to improve Australia’s vegetable consumption and overall diet quality,” CSIRO Senior Principal Research Scientist Professor Manny Noakes said.

“Our research found two out of three Australian adults are not eating enough vegetables, especially as part of their evening meal. It’s time to find more engaging, effective approaches to help break these entrenched diet habits.”

Challenging users to eat three different vegetables at dinner every day for 21 days, the VegEze app helps people track their intake and tally up vegetable serves, with daily reminders and rewards to help people stay motivated and on-track.

Source: Want to eat more veggies? There’s an app for that

Chinese buyers

The majority of the Chinese who purchase real estate are doing so because they are migrating here and they need a house to live in.

New research by Deakin University’s Dr Mona Chung casts doubt on whether it is Chinese buyers here or overseas who are pushing up the house prices in Melbourne and Sydney. The research, which surveyed more than 350 Chinese buyers from China, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia found 78% had migrated or were planning to migrate to Australia. And properties priced between $500,000 – $800,000 made-up just over half of their purchases.

Dr Chung says there has been very little research into the impact of buyers with Chinese backgrounds on the Australian property market, and most of the negative commentary was based on media and real estate agent speculation.

‘And because society doesn’t get the true picture of what is going on, people then go with all the guesses, it creates quite a lot of social instability among the Chinese and obviously Australians.’

Source: How Chinese buyers have been wrongly blamed for killing the Australian housing dream