Numlock News: July 18, 2023 • Aptos, Viasat, Mali
By Walt Hickey
A communications satellite owned by Viasat that launched in April has had a problem unfurling its mesh antenna, and it could spell disaster for a mission that originally planned to put one of the most powerful commercial spacecraft ever built in orbit. It’s not only a massive problem for Viasat, for whom the ViaSat-3 Americas mission cost roughly $700 million, but for the entire commercial space business as a whole. Viasat was smart, and insured the satellite for $420 million, which if the mission does end up being a total loss would be the largest known insurance claim for a satellite even without covering the full cost of the mission. But a $420 million hole punched into underwriters’ appetites for insuring spaceflight is potentially a bigger problem, and could push people out of the insurance business for this kind of high-stakes project.
After a five-font bakeoff, Microsoft has selected a new typeface called Aptos to replace Calibri as the default font in Microsoft Office. Aptos, which was known as Bierstadt during the competition process that began in 2021, is a san serif neo-grotesque font, and replaces Calibri after a remarkable 15-year run. Calibri replaced Times New Roman in Office 2007, and was chosen in no small part because it served as a bridge between the CRT monitors that defined the early 2000s and the LCD screens that would come to replace them over the lifespan of that font. The four other fonts Aptos beat out — Grandview, Seaford, Skeena and Tenorite — will be available from the dropdown if you want to be a hipster about it.
The Philippines has a massive industry of customer service helplines and content moderation, thanks to the extremely high percentage of the population that speaks English and strong ties to the United States. All told, the business process outsourcing industry is responsible for 7.5 percent of the Philippine economy, a massive slice of the services produced there. The rise of generative AI is sending panic, though, as those customer service helplines and content moderation are seen as occupations ripe for automation, with Cisco estimating that digital automation could render 1.1 million jobs in the Philippines obsolete by 2028, a unique risk to their economy.
South Korea’s car business is booming thanks to an early transition to eco-friendly cars. In the first half of this year, the value of outbound shipments of automobiles hit $35.7 billion, which was up 46.6 percent year over year, the highest-ever level of exports for any January-June period. This was driven by electric vehicles: The export value of eco-friendly cars was up 70.4 percent year over year, accounting for $12.4 billion.
Best Time Of The Day
An analysis of one month of Microsoft Teams software usage found that the number of virtual and in-person meetings that were scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. of each day is down 7 percent year over year, a monument to human progress and the ever-increasing standards of livelihood. While some bosses are freaking out about people not scheduling meetings in the soul-sucking end of day, for some reason, what they call a dead zone of meetings is a liberating space, a chance to actually do stuff that is in one’s job without the temporal annexation of a late afternoon check-in, giving one a glide path to punching out without a senseless and futile post-post-lunch summit.
The U.S. military has been leaking millions of emails due to a simple typo, where instead of sending emails to a person with the “.mil” email address they instead mistype and send it to that email at the “.ml” country code, which is Mali. According to Johannes Zuurbier, the entrepreneur who has been contracted to manage Mali’s country domain, he’s been able to collect 117,000 misdirected emails sent by the American military to his servers mistakenly, including over 1,000 last Wednesday alone. The main issue is that as of yesterday, the .ml domain reverted back to the government of Mali following the conclusion of Zuurbier’s management contract, specifically a Malian government that does in fact happen to be allied with Russia. After years of the Dutchman trying to get attention of the brass, the Department of Defense said it has taken action and is blocking emails to .ml domains.
The reality show Hard Knocks, where a camera crew dispatched by the NFL follows around a team during the preseason as they construct a roster, make cuts, and prepare for an NFL season, decided to split the difference between comedy and tragedy this year and point their camera at the New York Jets, which recently acquired Aaron Rodgers, the reputation destruction speedrunner, as their quarterback. Who knows if it’ll be interesting television, the Aaron Rodgers show, or a buttfumble of a broadcast, but either way teams really hate being on Hard Knocks because it’s an extra distraction that has a reputation of not adding a lot to a team’s chances. That’s not, in fact, the case, an analysis found: Hard Knocks teams narrowly beat their projected win totals, securing an average 8.4 wins per 17 games compared to their projected average 8.2 wins per 17 games.
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