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Showing posts from August, 2018

How Silicon Valley should celebrate Labor Day

Ask any 25-year old engineer what Labor Day means to him or her, and you might get an answer like: it’s the surprise three-day weekend after a summer of vacationing. Or it’s the day everyone barbecues at Dolores Park. Or it’s the annual Tahoe trip where everyone gets to relive college.Or simply, it’s the day we get off because we all work so hard.And while founders and employees in startup land certainly work hard, wearing their 80-hour workweeks as a badge of honor, closing deals on conference calls in an air-conditioned WeWork is a far cry from the backbreaking working conditions of the 1880s, the era when Labor Day was born.For everyone here in Silicon Valley, we should not be celebrating this holiday triumphantly over beers and hot dogs, complacent in the belief that our gravest labor issues are behind us, but instead use this holiday as a moment to reflect on how much further we have to go in making our workplaces and companies more equitable, diverse, inclusive and ethically res…

Apple is late to a self driving milestone — its first test car accident

Apple’s secretive self-driving vehicle program has disclosed its first accident, according to a report filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.The low speed accident, which occurred August 24, is a milestone of sorts for the company, albeit not one that is being celebrated. These days, as more companies head out onto public streets to test their autonomous vehicle systems, accidents have become more common. The vast majority are minor, low-speed incidents.There was just one accident involving a self-driving vehicle (that one was owned by Delphi) reported to the DMV in 2014. So far this year, there have been more than 40 accidents involving self-driving cars reported to CA DMV.The first fatal autonomous vehicle accident, which involved an Uber self-driving vehicle striking a pedestrian, occurred in March in Arizona.The Apple test car was attempting to merge onto an expressway near its headquarters in Cupertino, California, and traveling about 1 mile per hour, when it was…

Thailand is becoming a critical country for blockchain

While United States regulators are still trying to figure out how to think about cryptocurrencies, Thailand’s government is already mapping out its own central bank digital currency.This is just one of numerous examples how Thailand has emerged as one the most interesting cryptocurrency and blockchain countries in Southeast Asia in 2018.Since the start of the year, the Thai government has become increasingly outspoken and welcoming of cryptocurrency projects and exchanges. In just a few months, Thai regulators have made notable progress, from setting up cryptocurrency company licenses to permitting exchanges and ICOs. More importantly, the country has attracted foreign companies by providing clear and explicit guidelines for foreign blockchain companies to operate. It’s a pattern that we are seeing across Southeast Asia, and one that blockchain and cryptocurrency startup founders should take note as they think about global expansion.Southeast Asia regulators are keen to understand cry…

In recruiting win, GM’s Cruise employees offered equity in Cruise

In what will be seen as a big recruiting and retention win for Cruise, employees will be offered equity in GM’s self-driving technology subsidiary rather than shares of GM. The securities offering was disclosed in a recent SEC filing for GM Cruise Holdings LLC.The filing, which also lists the initial officers of GM Cruise Holdings LLC, is a result of Softbank’s investment in Cruise earlier this year. Softbank’s Vision Fund announced in May plans to invest $2.25 billion in Cruise. Once that deal closes, GM will invest another $1.1 billion.GM Cruise Holdings LLC’s board of directors includes Cruise’s CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, GM president Dan Ammann, GM general counsel Craig Glidden, and GM’s VP of autonomous technology Doug Parks. Vogt, Cruise’s CFO Geoff Richardson, and Cruise general counsel Matt Gipple are executive officers of GM Cruise Holdings.The equity structure gives all Cruise employees the chance to own actual shares of Cruise, not in GM. …

Skullcandy aims upscale with two new headphones

Skullcandy has always been an odd brand. Aimed at a younger, hipper audience, the headphones always featured wacky graphics and a lower price point. Now, facing competition from multiple players, they’ve decided to step up their game in terms of quality and style.Their two new models, the noise-cancelling Venue and the bass-heavy Crusher 360, are designed to hit the Bose/B&O/Sony quality point while still maintaining a bit of Beats styling. The Venue are the most interesting of the pair. They are true over-ear noise cancelling headphones that cost a mere $179 – over $100 less than Bose’s best offerings.The Venue’s noise cancellation was excellent as was the sound quality. The headphones were solidly built and last for two five-hour flights, a first for me when it comes to wireless or wired noise-cancelling headphones. Usually in almost every model I’ve tested I’ve had to charge or change the battery after about eight hours. This is a vast improvement.As for audio quality I was qui…

Twitter hints at new threaded conversations and who’s online features

Twitter head Jack Dorsey sent out a tweet this afternoon hinting the social platform might get a couple of interesting updates to tell us who else is online at the moment and to help us thread our Twitter conversations together.“Playing with some new Twitter features: presence (who else is on Twitter right now?) and threading (easier to read convos),” Dorsey tweeted, along with samples.Playing with some new Twitter features: presence (who else is on Twitter right now?) and threading (easier to read convos) https://t.co/aCVRxVDfy0— jack (@jack) August 31, 2018 The “presence” feature would make it easier to engage with those you follow who are online at the moment and the “threading” feature would allow Twitter users to follow a conversation easier than the current embed and click-through method.However, several responders seemed concerned about followers seeing them online. Some may prefer not to let everyone knows they’re there. Twitter’s head of product Sarah Haider responded to one s…

Google and AISense will talk voice at Disrupt SF 2018

Only a few years ago, talking to your phone or computer felt really weird. These days, thanks to Alexa, the Google Assistant and (for its three users) Cortana and Bixby, it’s becoming the norm. At this year’s Disrupt SF 2018, we’ll sit down with AISense founder and CEO Sam Liang and Google’s Cathy Pearl to discuss the past, present and future of voice — both for interacting with computers but also as a way to help us capture and organize information.It’s probably a fair guess that you’ve heard of Google, and Cathy Pearl has literally written the book on designing voice user interfaces. You’re probably also quite familiar with the Google Assistant.AISense, on the other hand, may not be a household name yet, but it’s flagship product, Otter.ai, is quickly gaining a following. Otter.ai is a mobile and web app that automatically transcribes phone calls, lectures, interviews and meetings in real time. The team built its own voice recognition tech that can distinguish between speakers, maki…

It’s Friday, so here’s a rap video about scooter startup Bird

Listen, if you’re the kind of person who wants to watch a rap video about scooters, here’s a rap video about scooters. You’re welcome.Also, if you make it to the end of the video, you might as well stick around for the credits. For one thing, you’ll learn that the video was directed by Andrew Oleck, the man who created that fake Mark Zuckerberg video, “A World Without Facebook.”And there’s this disclaimer: “This video is not an advertisement. It is comedic satire. Bayview Drive Films is not endorsed, affiliated or otherwise sponsored by Bird.”It’s the kind of message that raises more questions than it answers. Like: What’s the joke here? Is the video pro-scooter, anti-scooter, neither, both? Was I supposed to laugh? I mean, I chuckled a little at the rubber chicken, but mostly I cringed. Is that normal? Would I have gotten more out of the video if I listened to more rap? Or if I’d ever been on a scooter? Can any of us truly claim to know what “satire” even is?In related news, here’s a…

User’s Guide to Disrupt SF 2018

Disrupt SF (Sept 5-7) approaches with just a few days until things kick off. We have an all-star lineup that only TechCrunch can assemble, and we’re expecting our largest number of attendees yet. Check out our star-packed agendahere, and keep reading to find out everything you need to make for a stellar conference experience.Pre-Event Badge Pick UpDisrupt is 3x the size as previous years! Skip the Wednesday rush by picking up your badge early on Tuesday, September 4th from 12pm – 4pm at Moscone West. Please have your Universe ticket confirmation email and agovernment-issued photo IDon you.You can also pick up your badge at the WeWork Welcome Reception, also on Tuesday from 5:30pm – 7:30pm at their Montgomery Street location (44 Montgomery St.). Space is limited. Please register your interesthere.Please have your ticket and agovernment-issued photo IDon you.Event Registration & Badge Pick UpUniverse is the official ticketing platform of Disrupt. If you signed up for a pass, you use…

Best Xbox One X-Enhanced Games for $20 or Less

After spending big on a new console and 4K set, paying $60 a pop for a bunch of brand new games is a tough sell for many of us. Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable games that natively support the high-res goodness of the Xbox One X.The post Best Xbox One X-Enhanced Games for $20 or Less appeared first on ExtremeTech.

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Rappi raises $200M as Latin American tech investment reaches new highs

Rappi, the Colombian on-demand delivery startup, has brought in a new round of funding at a valuation north of $1 billion, as first reported by Axios and confirmed to TechCrunch by a source close to the company. DST Global has led the $200 million round, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia—all of which were existing investors in the company.Rappi kicked off its business delivering beverages and has since expanded into meals, groceries, and even tech and medicine. You can, for example, have a pair of AirPods delivered to you using Rappi’s app. The company also has a popular cash withdrawal feature that allows users to pay with credit cards and then receive cash from one of Rappi’s delivery agents.Rappi charges $1 per delivery. To help keep costs efficient, the company’s fleet of couriers use only motorcycles and bikes.Simón Borrero, Sebastian Mejia and Felipe Villamarin launched the company in 2015, graduating from Y Combinator the following year. From there, Rappi …

New Horizons Smashes Own Record, Captures First Image of New Destination, Ultima Thule

When the New Horizons probe was launched in 2006, it had a straightforward mission: go into the night and take pictures of our outer solar system and what lies beyond, so we can see what’s out there. Demoting Pluto didn’t reroute the spacecraft nor strike it from the itinerary, though, and after taking a whole…The post New Horizons Smashes Own Record, Captures First Image of New Destination, Ultima Thule appeared first on ExtremeTech.

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The Village Voice will no longer publish new stories

The Village Voice is dead — at least, as a functioning journalistic organization.Starting today, the legendary alternative newspaper will no longer publish new stories. Gothamist reports that at a staff meeting, owner Peter Barbey said that about half the team would be laid off, while the other half would remain on-board for now to “wind things down” and work on creating a digital Voice archive.Barbey acquired the Voice in 2015 and took the paper online-only last year. In a statement released today, he said:In recent years, the Voice has been subject to the increasingly harsh economic realities facing those creating journalism and written media. Like many others in publishing, we were continually optimistic that relief was around the next corner. Where stability for our business is, we do not know yet. The only thing that is clear now is that we have not reached that destination.The Village Voice was created to give speed to a cultural and social revolution, and its legacy and the voi…

Leaked shots show off new Google Pixel 3 design, specs

The Google Pixel 3 XL has had a truly comical amount of leaks to date, but for the most part its younger, smaller brother has been a bit a more camera shy. Well, today we finally have some purported photos of the real-life baby Pixel 3 via an anonymous Reddit user who leaked the shots that were discovered by 9to5Google. [gallery ids="1702474,1702475,1702476,1702478"] The device seems to have a modest forehead and chin, certainly a bit larger than what we’ve seen on the screen-to-body ratio of the Pixel XL 3 photo leaks but it seems to be a marked improvement over the smaller bodied Pixel 2 and seems pretty similar to a miniature Pixel 2 XL in design.We also have some screenshots of the phone’s specs pointing to a 5.5 inch 2160 x 1080 display that’s rocking 440 dpi. From this leak we can also see that the battery capacity of the phone will likely be 2,915 mAh. Previous leaks have suggested that this will be a Snapdragon 845 with Adreno 630 GPU, and 4GB RAM.At this point, what…

ET Deals: Get Digital Board Games, Support Charity with Humble Bundle

For a limited time, the Humble Digital Tabletop Bundle is offering up seven different board and card game-themed video games with plenty of extras for just ten bucks. And if money's tight, you can still treat yourself for as little as $1.The post ET Deals: Get Digital Board Games, Support Charity with Humble Bundle appeared first on ExtremeTech.

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Is Tech Making You More Anxious? 5 Things to Try

Technology makes our lives better in many ways, making us more productive, giving us access to cheaper resources, and even extending our lifespans. But our human minds and bodies didn’t evolve to deal with the effects of long-term technology usage, and accordingly, tech has the power to make our lives worse as well. How Tech […]The post Is Tech Making You More Anxious? 5 Things to Try appeared first on ReadWrite.

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More Alexa ‘blueprints’ arrive, offering customizable voice apps for families and roommates

Earlier this year, Amazon rolled out a new feature that allowed Alexa device owners to create their own custom skills using preconfigured templates. Today, Amazon is expanding Alexa Blueprints, as the service is called, to include a handful of new templates designed for families and roommates.These include a chore chart template, a house rules template for roommates, and others.The Chore Chart template allows families to schedule and track children’s weekly chores, and even lets multiple kids (or anyone, really) compete to see who has done the most. Parents first configure the skill with a list of weekly chores and who those chores are assigned to.Throughout the week, the kids can log their completed chores by asking Alexa. (“Alexa, ask Chore Chart to log a chore.”). Anyone can then check the progress by asking for the “Chore Score.”Another blueprint is a variation on the existing “houseguest” and “babysitter” templates, which let you fill in useful information about the home, like wh…

Why Tech Shouldn’t Turn Its Back on Subscriptions

The subscription model has infiltrated several verticals in recent years, from automobiles to clothing. This has enabled these industries to update the car-leasing experience and find ways to transform living rooms into dressing rooms — and it’s brought them significant revenue streams. In the second quarter of 2018, Stitch Fix pulled in $296 million in […]The post Why Tech Shouldn’t Turn Its Back on Subscriptions appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Samsung Galaxy Watch review

The industry is forever chasing the Apple Watch. After all, the smartwatch has been a rare bright spot in a plateauing wearables category. Even Fitbit recently found itself heading in that direction, finding a fair bit of success with the Versa.Samsung’s approach, on the other hand, has always been very, well, Samsung. The company’s watches are big, hulking things, covering chrome with a kind of Swiss Army knife approach customary of its various other products.Announced alongside the Note 9, the Galaxy Watch wasn’t the departure many expected. While the name implied a potential shift toward Android Wear, the company is intent on sticking with Tizen. And why not? Samsung’s spent a lot of time making Tizen its own — multiple generations have been devoted to tweaking the operating system to its specifications.It’s the result of a pretty clear cost-benefit analysis. The biggest drawback of not embracing Wear OS is the relative lack of third-party app support on Tizen. The biggest advantag…

BlackRock pushes for separation of powers at Tesla

The world’s largest investor is joining the chorus of voices pushing for a separation of powers at the electric vehicle, solar panel and battery manufacturer, Tesla.Funds managed by BlackRock, a top 10 shareholder in the electric vehicle company run by Elon Musk (and the manager of roughly $6.3 trillion in global assets), joined calls for the creation of an independent chairman position at Tesla.The shareholder initiative, which was solidly defeated, would not have affected Musk’s standing as chief executive.News of BlackRock’s push comes as a new article in The Wall Street Journal further underscores the autocratic ways in which Musk manages his electric vehicle startup, and highlights the singular grip Musk has on his companies and the public’s perception of them.Elon Musk losing his temper and firing people on the spot is one of those anecdotes I’ve heard over and over again and never been able to stand up. Kudos to WSJ for nailing it down. https://t.co/vRYFtRM3ULpic.twitter.com/fT…

The mass exodus at Social Capital continues

Something is going on at Social Capital.A series of departures continued this morning at former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya‘s venture capital firm, with Mike Ghaffary, a partner since August 2017, announcing he was moving on to focus on angel investing.Personal update: I’ve decided to leave Social Capital. Over the next few months, I'll focus on angel investing. It's been an incredible experience, working alongside a talented team. I'll continue to work closely with the founders I’ve invested in, and excited for the next step.— Mike Ghaffary (@newmike) August 31, 2018 That’s just a day after Ashley Mayer, a partner and VP of marketing since 2015, said she was departing the firm to pursue “new adventures.”The pair of exits is just the latest in a line of high-profile departures for the firm. We’ve reached out toPalihapitiyafor some explanation.The mass exodus began whenMamoon Hamid, who founded Social Capital withPalihapitiya in 2011, joined Kleiner Perkins as a …

Mynewsdesk acquires web monitoring service Mention

Communications workflow company Mynewsdesk is acquiring French startup Mention for an undisclosed sum. Norwegian business media group NHST currently owns Mynewsdesk.Mention lets you monitor keywords around the web. It’s a good way to hear what customers are saying about your brand on their blog, on Twitter, on Facebook or anywhere that is public.You can also use Mention to generate reports, study competitors to see if people are talking about them and find influencers who use your products. It can be a useful tool for PR and marketing companies for instance.Mynewsdesk wants to be an all-in-one tool for PR agencies. It can also help you track media coverage, but it goes a bit further than that. You can organize your media contacts in the service and segment your distribution list, write and distribute press releases and measure your campaigns.It’s clear that Mention fits well with Mynewsdesk. Mention will stick around as a standalone product for now. But it feels like the monitoring fe…

Apple’s new iOS 12 beta fixes the annoying ‘please update’ bug

iOS 12 beta testers have been plagued with a frustrating bug that continually pops up messages alerting them that a new iOS update is available when, in fact, it’s not. Apple has now fixed this bug, which is patched in the latest iOS 12 betas rolling out now, we understand.The bug had first made headlines on Thursday, when a number of iOS 12 beta testers – including developers and those on the public beta program – began to complain on social media about the problem. All users were seeing a pop-up message that read, “A new iOS version is now available. Please update from the iOS 12 beta.”  Users could close this window with a tap, but the same pop-up would reappear at regular intervals. There was nothing to be done about it, because the message itself was wrong – there was no new beta available for download at the time.Some people figured out that you could adjust the system date and time to turn off the non-stop notifications, but this was bad advice. Messing around with the system c…

See NES Games In a New Light Via wideNES

Ever been curious what NES games would look like in widescreen? Thanks to a new emulator project, it's possible to find out.The post See NES Games In a New Light Via wideNES appeared first on ExtremeTech.

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Wish, Netflix, Uber and ~100 others testing WhatsApp’s new Business API

Earlier this month, WhatsApp announced the launch of its first revenue-generating enterprise product, the WhatsApp Business API. The API allows businesses to respond to messages from WhatsApp users for free up to 24 hours, then charges for any responses after that point on a per message basis. Though still in a limited preview, the company is now supporting around 100 businesses directly on its API platform, including airlines, e-commerce companies, banks, and others like Uber and Netflix, and plans to onboard many more in the months ahead.Because businesses have to first apply to gain access the API, there’s some misinformation floating around on backchannels about how to get approved.For example, some industry sources have been telling partners that no U.S.-based businesses are being onboarded to the API at this point. This is untrue, WhatsApp says. In fact, there’s a public site where U.S. companies Uber and Wish are featured as “customer stories.” We also understand that U.S.-base…

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update is called ‘Windows 10 October 2018 Update’