It's been a time, but now it's over. While I moved over to Lifehacker full time in September, I worked on Gizmodo for more than three years of my time here at Allure Media, and it's time to properly say goodbye. Before I go, here are some of my favourite stories I've had the privilege of writing for Gizmodo since I started here all the way back in 2015.
I'm going to start with one of my first stories for Gizmodo, back when I first became Editorial Assistant for Gizmodo, Lifehacker and Kotaku. Aside from some unpaid freelance work, this was my first proper job - and I got thrown in the deep end when I was sent to Canberra to cover a Defence Force tech briefing in my very first week.
Ever get that moment of panic when your phone runs out of batteries, you’re stranded with no way to get home and you were born too late to remember that pay phones are anything other than quaint anachronisms? Now imagine being an Aussie soldier in the field in the same situation. While no one likes running out of battery, for soldiers it is quite literally a life or death situation.
I've learned a lot since then, but I'm still very proud of what I managed that first week. It wasn't long before I would be thrown in the deep end again, this time being sent to cover Australia's energy network and energy policy as a wider issue. I was not at all prepared for this subject matter, but somehow it quickly became something I loved writing about:
Tesla's Powerwall is a 7kWh lithium-ion battery designed to store excess energy, whether it's off the grid or from a home's solar panels. For such a simple concept, the Powerwall has quickly drawn a lot of attention, with some pundits predicting big implications for the energy industry. The Powerwall is not the first or only innovation in battery storage technology we've seen, though — and it certainly won't be the last.
That introduction led to me covering Australia's train wreck of an
Australia's electricity market is in crisis. Prices soared to unprecedented levels over the summer amidst intense heatwaves and unpredictable weather. During this period they have become almost double what they were under the Labor/Greens carbon price, according to an analysis produced by the University of Melbourne's Climate and Energy College for the Greens.
energy policy as the Government slowly removed every semblance of clean energy legislation we had left:
The intense heatwave that ravaged eastern and central Australia last week wasn't just bad for our comfort and electricity bills — it's also a death sentence for the already beleaguered Great Barrier Reef. The heatwave is expected to cause unusually high ocean temperatures on the reef, while newly bleached corals have been discovered off Townsville.
Energy minister Josh Frydenberg has gone ahead with its coal-fired plans for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), introducing legislation that would allow the taxpayer-funded CEFC to invest in carbon capture and storage.
Malcolm Turnbull has once again pushed the idea of a "technology neutral" approach to energy policy, after scrapping the Clean Energy Target recommended by Australia's Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel - which Tony Abbott had previously referred to as a "tax on coal". The CET will now be replaced with a National Energy Guarantee, a scheme with a focus on reducing power bills and guaranteeing reliability through focusing on so-called "dispatchable" generation.
(By the way the 'technology neutral' plan has also been axed recently)
But because this is Gizmodo, and we're about cool new tech and science, I got to write about the better side of this struggle: the people who are actually doing amazing things to overcome climate change and help Aussies lead cleaner lives.
With the price of energy from new wind or solar rapidly dropping below that of traditional fossil fuels, renewable energy feels like a no-brainer for Australia. Yet despite massive strides in efficiency and affordability, we still can't generate solar energy while the sun isn't shining, or run wind turbines while the wind isn't blowing. What we can do, however, is store that energy while conditions are good, and save it for a rainy day.
The southern stretches of the Monaro Highway make for a wholesome pastoral drive, with fields full of cows and golden grass swaying in soft breezes. The road winds around hills and dams, then tips up and over a crest to reveal an unexpected sight: thousands of solar panels shining in the harsh Australian sun.
Over the years I explored a phenomenon that was so uniquely Australian, and you all confirmed it with your responses to the stories: we all just want more control over our own houses, energy and lives. Interest in batteries and solar has rocketed since the Powerwall was first announced here, and it's led to some incredible stories of self sufficiency.
Melbourne's first Powerwall 2 has been installed at a three-bedroom, one storey house in Coburg. Brendan Fahey and his wife Josephine added Tesla's shiny new battery to their home to complement their existing solar panels, after Brendan calculated that the Powerwall 2 could take his energy bill down almost to zero.
Since the Tesla Powerwall burst onto the scene less than two years ago, home batteries have never seemed like a smarter or more viable investment for households with solar. Soon enough it wasn't just Tesla - other options quickly began popping up on the market, giving us a vast variety of batteries for all different homes with all different needs.
Again, so much of my work here seems to be explaining how government policy gets in the way of Australia's technological advancement: driverless cars being another example here.
If Australians want to take to the road in autonomous vehicles, our road rules are going to need an overhaul. That's the gist of a report put out by the National Transport Commission today, which has identified what parts of our transport laws need to change if Australia is going to keep up with increasing levels of vehicle automation.
But beyond that, it gave me a chance to see the future of tech for myself - playing with Microsoft's still very experimental Hololens, for example.
Three months after Microsoft first opened orders for the development edition of its Hololens augmented reality headset, the expensive devices are still thin on the ground. We were invited by CSIRO's Data61 group to try one of the few Hololens units in Australia at the moment. Here's what we thought.
I also got to stretch my reviewing muscles with some of the biggest movies to have come out over the last couple of years.
Logan comes out today, finishing Wolverine's story with a film that has the potential to redefine what a superhero movie can be. I went along to a screening with Gizmodo's Amanda Yeo, and after chewing over our thoughts for a couple of days we sat down for a conversation about it. Here's what we think of Marvel's Logan.
We're home. Those are the words of Han Solo, early into the 136-minute run-time of The Force Awakens.
Those two words line up precisely with how we, as fans, feel about the long-awaited return of one of cinema's most-loved science fiction franchises, with a huge new story arc, new characters, and a more fleshed-out world. Now it's here, and we've seen it, and we have some feelings to share with you.
BEWARE: There are major spoilers inside!
This job has taken me to some amazing places, and I've had some amazing experiences. How about re-enacting a zombie apocalypse with a team of your workmates?
Our ragged group of survivors shifts nervously, ready to cut and run at the first sign of danger. A horde of zombies ambles slowly towards us, a distraction from the lone runners slipping around the sides to try and catch us off guard. "Hold the line!" someone shouts, but we all know that if it came to it, we'd turn on our fellow survivors if it helped us get out alive. This is Zedtown.
Overall it's been a wild ride, and I'm sad to see it end but it's time for me to move on. Thank you all for being a part of it, but especially to Gizmodo's former editor Rae Johnston, and current siterunner Tegan Jones for all their support!
Follow me on Twitter at @_hayleyelise to keep up with what I'm doing next!