Facebook is building a camera TV set-top box codenamed Ripley

    Summary
    A mysterious product called “Ripley” appeared hidden besides Facebook’s new Portal smart displays in Facebook for Android’s code. Dug up by frequent TechCrunch tipster Jane Manchun Wong a week ago, Ripley’s name squared with Facebook’s VP of Portal Rafa Camargo telling us that “we’re already investing in expanding the product line with more products we want to launch next year.” That Facebook device will be a camera-equipped device that connects to televisions to allow video chat and media content viewing, according to Cheddar’s Alex Heath. Facebook’s Portal’s devices sit on a desk or countertop and cost $199 for a smaller screen and $349 for a bigger one. But with Ripley, Facebook could sell a much cheaper screen-less add-on for the televisions people already have. Facebook could build hardware network effect by releasing its Portal technology in many form factors. The Ripley name could change before the eventual launch next year that Cheddar says is coming in Spring 2019. It might become something more evocative of the device’s purpose. But regardless of the name, it’s sure to encounter heavy skepticism due to Facebook’s history of privacy and security troubles. Many users don’t trust Facebook enough to put one of its cameras and microphones in its house. Ripley is said to run on the same Portal operating system that builds off the same Android open source framework. That means it might carry a similar slate of features. Those include Portal’s auto-zooming camera that can follow users to keep them in frame, video chat through Messenger, a smart photo frame for while it’s not in use, Facebook Watch videos, Alexa voice control, and a third-party app platform including video content from outside developers. While users might occasionally watch recipe or news videos on Portal, entertainment could be core to Ripley. The device would allow Facebook to compete with Roku, Amazon, Apple, and other set-top boxes. The device could also eventually be a natural home for Facebook’s video ads, even though it’s not putting them on Portal right now. Along with smart speakers, whoever creates what plugs into our TVs will control a fundamental wing of future home computing. Facebook won’t surrender this market, despite its disadvantage due to its many scandals.

    Elon Musk’s settlement with the SEC approved by judge, sending shares higher

    Summary
    The saga between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which began with a now infamous “funding secured” tweet about taking the electric automaker private, is officially resolved. A federal judge has approved Musk’s settlement with the SEC over securities fraud allegations. Bloomberg was the first to report the judge’s approval. Tesla shares jumped more than 4 percent on the news. The SEC alleged in a complaint filed in September that Musk lied when he tweeted on August 7 that he had “funding secured” for a private takeover of the company at $420 per share. Federal securities regulators reportedly served Tesla with a subpoena just a week after the tweet. The SEC filed a complaint alleging securities fraud six weeks later. The complaint was filed after Musk and Tesla’s board abruptly walked away from an agreement with the SEC. The board not only pulled out of the agreement, it issued a bold statement of support for Musk after the charges were filed. The NYT reported that Musk had given an ultimatum to the board and threatened to resign if the board pushed him to settle. A settlement was eventually reached anyway, albeit with stiffer penalties than the original agreement. However, this problematic chapter in Tesla’s history wasn’t over despite the two parties reaching a settlement. An order by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan asked the SEC and Tesla to submit a joint letter explaining why the court should approve the consent judgment. The joint letter was filed October 11. Nathan determined the consent judgment was “fair and reasonable,” and approved it Tuesday. Musk agreed, in the settlement reached on September 29, to step down as chairman of Tesla and pay a $20 million fine. Musk is supposed to resign from his role as chairman of the Tesla board within 45 days of the agreement. He cannot seek reelection or accept an appointment as chairman for three years. An independent chairman will be appointed, under the settlement agreement. Tesla agreed to pay a separate $20 million penalty, according to the SEC. The SEC said the charge and fine against Tesla is for failing to require disclosure controls and procedures relating to Musk’s tweets.

    Substack celebrates its first birthday with 25K paying newsletter subscribers

    Summary
    It’s been a year since the launch of Substack, a platform that allows newsletter writers to build a subscription business. Today, on its first birthday, the startup has a simple message: Yes, people really are willing to pay for newsletters. In fact, the company says there are more than 25,000 paying subscribers for Substack -powered newsletters (up from 11,000 in July). And newsletters published on the platform reach a total of 150,000 paying active readers. Co-founder and CEO Chris Best described the pitch as, “We’ll do everything for you except the hard part,” namely writing the newsletter. It offers way to publish newsletters, charge a subscription fee and then decide which content only goes to paying subscribers. “It’s a really simple idea,” Best said — and in his view, that’s part of what makes it powerful. At the same time, the startup has been adding more features like gift subscriptions, podcast support and subscriber-only comments, which have the bonus of reducing troll-ish commentary from random visitors. “We can be like, ‘Comments are for people that are paying,'” Best said. “That actually fixes a lot of the problem.” Substack launched with Sinocism, a China-focused newsletter written by MarketWatch co-founder Bill Bishop, and apparently the paid subscription sign-ups on Bishop’s first day added up to six figures in annual revenue. Since then, writers like Judd Legum (who quit his job as editor in chief of ThinkProgress to launch his newsletter Popular Information), Toast founders Nicole Cliffe and Daniel Mallory Ortberg and Slate political correspondent Jamelle Bouie have also used Substack to create paid newsletters (though again, it’s not all behind a paywall — the platform allows them to publish a mix of free and paid content). “One of the things striking to us is the kinds of writers,” Best added. “It’s not a particular genre or type of writer, it’s not the subject matter that determines [success]. The kinds of writers who make it work are people who have a dedicated following, that have a particular point of view that makes them indispensable.” Best also said this is “the kind of thing you want to do whole hog.” In other words, the successful writers are passionate about their subjects and committed to the newsletter format and subscription business model, rather than asking, “How can I diversify my revenue?” At the same time, co-founder Hamish McKenzie (a journalist himself) noted that Substack isn’t *just* a platform for well-known writers to start charging their existence audience for their work. For example, there’s Petition, which was launched on Substack as an anonymously-written newsletter about corporate restructuring and bankruptcy. The Substack team didn’t get specific about plans for the year two, but Best and McKenzie made it clear that they think this reflects a broader shift away from a news and commentary model driven by social distribution and monetized by ads. “The core thing is really simple,” Best said. “The core thing is: Publish some stuff, get people to love it and then charge them for it.”

    With Watch GT, Huawei ditches Google for its own OS

    Summary
    LG’s strange new hybrid Watch W7 marked a small but important victory for Wear OS. But this morning in London, Google lost a key ally in the smartwatch wars — for this model, at least. Huawei’s latest wearable, the Watch GT ditches the Google operating system for its own in-house brew, LiteOS. The move marks a blow for Google’s struggling wearable operating system. The company has made a point of avoiding fragmentation for Wear OS, a decision that may ultimately haunt the company as manufacturers like Samsung, Fitbit and now Huawei go it on their own. Each manufacturer has their own reasons, of course, but Huawei, the decision is pretty straightforward. Namely, the company wants to squeeze as much battery out of this as possible. That’s in keeping with a day’s announcements that also included a phone that can charge other phones, mind. Here, that means some pretty outrageous claims. Huawei says the thing gets two weeks on a charge with standard use, which seems downright silly compared to the competition. If you turn off all of the distractions, meanwhile, you can apparently get up to 30 days, which is essentially Kindle territory we’re talking about here. The watch is a bit beefy, as you no doubt expected. That’s going to be a bit of a drawback, given the watch’s focus on fitness. As is the fact that, well, most of the competition has also made fitness the centerpiece of their products — Apple and Fitbit are going to be tough to topple. There’s continuous heart rate monitoring on-board, along with a built-in tri-GPS system for more accurate run tracking. As with its new phone, the Huawei looks firmly aimed at Samsung’s marketshare in the watch category, and that’s apparently meant leaving Wear OS in the dust.

    Timex builds its first automatic watch in decades

    Summary
    Leave your smartwatch on the counter because Timex is back with its first automatic watch in decades. Called the Marlin, this 21-jewel timepiece that hearkens back to the days of “Takes a licking, keeps on ticking.” The Marlins cost $249 and come in multiple styles. This particular model, in a rich burgundy, looks like something that you’d wear to a Madison Avenue cocktail party after work. Timex has also released manual wind watches for $199 featuring a truly retro design and numerals. Timex has long been a drug store brand – a brand sold in those cases at big drug stores and aimed at impulse shoppers who needed a watch… any kind of watch. While their Indiglo line of bright, light-up quartz watches was a long-time hit, they really didn’t do much beyond making a few very basic pieces for a non-discerning audience. Now, however, the company clearly looked at its history and liked what it saw. Timex was one of the first American watch brands to expand on a mass scale and they suffered greatly during the 1980 quartz crisis, a moment when the watch industry went from mechanical movements to electronic. Many watchmakers never recovered or are now a husk of their former glory – Hamilton, for example – but Timex kept at it. Now that they’ve given automatics and manual winds a try I’m excited to see where they go next. Many watchmakers have noticed that men and women are buying more and more retro watches to offset the creeping smartwatch flood. I’m glad to see the team at Timex is ready to take on this fascinating new world.

    How the launch of four ‘rogue’ satellites made waves in the spaceflight industry

    Summary
    On January 12th, 2018, an Indian PSLV rocket took off en route to space carrying a cluster of 31 satellites into orbit. It was a successful mission: every probe deployed where it needed to be. The only problem? Four of those satellites didn’t have permission to fly from the US government. These “rogue satellites” were four tiny probes from a Silicon Valley startup called Swarm Technologies. The company didn’t have a license to launch the spacecraft that went up on the flight. All US satellites need approval from the Federal Communications Commission, as the FCC allocates which radio frequencies a company can use to communicate with a spacecraft. All US satellites need approval from the Federal Communications Commission Swarm... Continue reading…

    Discord’s game store launches globally today with indie gems like Hollow Knight and Dead Cells

    Summary
    Discord’s digital game store, which first launched to just 50,000 users in Canada back in August, is now available globally in a public beta capacity, the chat company announced today. The marketplace, simply called Discord Store, is launching with 22 titles, including Team Cherry’s *Hollow Knight *and other indie gems like *Dead Cells* and *Into The Breach*. Five of those 21 titles are labeled “First on Discord” titles, meaning Discord is the primary distribution for those titles at launch. Discord, a PC gaming-centric application that combines voice and text chat with a robust platform for third-party integrations, has been one of the fastest-growing gaming-centric companies of the last decade. It launched just three years ago, and it now... Continue reading…

    Elon Musk eyes early 2019 release for Tesla’s custom AI chip

    Summary
    Elon Musk has announced that Tesla’s new custom AI chip is about six months away from being installed in new production cars. The CEO said that the chip, which was confirmed as being in development last December, will offer “somewhere between [a] 500% & 2000%” increase in its vehicle’s autonomous driving performance. Existing Tesla owners who have already paid for full self-driving will be offered this “hardware 3” update for Autopilot free of charge. The announcement comes as v9 of Tesla’s onboard software has already reportedly brought big improvements to its neural network with a unified camera network that more seamlessly integrates all eight of the car’s cameras. Musk has suggested that this software update delivered an approximate... Continue reading…

    Sure, spinning bricks can work as a display

    Summary
    Last week, I traveled to Dumbo, Brooklyn, to see some interactive, aluminum, mirrored bricks. A company called Breakfast designed a massive “display” called Brixel Mirror that reacts to movement to change what it shows. (You might have seen one of the company’s prior projects: Flip-Discs.) The demo unit I was shown, and the only complete machine right now, features 540 bricks (or “brixels,” as the company refers to them) and measures 19 by 6 feet. At the bottom of each brick column is a Linux controller that signals to the bricks when to move. Each brick also has a PCB built in as well as a motor and an LED. It lights up! This video gives a good idea of what’s happening inside each brick and how they’re designed: While it’s neat to... Continue reading…

    Huawei announces Mate 20 with 6.5-inch display and tiny notch

    Summary
    At a grand event in London today, Huawei is unveiling the latest members of its Mate smartphone series: the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. The Mate 20 is the larger device, featuring a 6.5-inch, 2244 x 1080 LCD display with a peculiar 18.7:9 aspect ratio. It also has one of the smallest screen notches we’ve seen, accommodating only the selfie camera, with the earpiece positioned at the very edge of the phone. With 820 nits of brightness, Huawei claims this is an extremely power-efficient display, so you’ll get lots of brightness without compromising on battery life. The Mate 20 achieves a screen-to-body ratio of 88.08 percent, beating the Mate 20 Pro’s 86.90 percent, which is hampered by the wider notch that houses a more sophisticated 3D... Continue reading…

    Huawei’s latest Porsche Design collab is a fancy Mate 20 Pro

    Summary
    Huawei doesn't launch a new flagship these days without teaming up with Porsche Design for a flashier, and always much more expensive variant. It was a given, then, that the Mate 20 Pro announced today would get the Porsche Design treatment. As the e...

    Judge approves settlement between SEC and Elon Musk

    Summary
    Today, as first reported by Bloomberg, a judge has approved Elon Musk's settlement with the SEC over his tweets about taking Tesla private. Hopefully, this means that Tesla can move on and focus on its business, rather than its CEO's Twitter account....

    Apple apologizes for phishing scam that stole Chinese user IDs

    Summary
    Apple apologized today over stolen Apple IDs that were used to make unauthorized App Store purchases in China. The Wall Street Journal reports that the IDs were obtained through phishing scams. Users had connected their Apple accounts to mobile payme...

    Facebook will show who paid for political ads in the UK

    Summary
    Facebook is pushing its transparency agenda again, this time with the introduction of a tool that reveals information about political ads in the UK. From today, all advertisers that run ads in the UK referencing political figures and parties, electio...

    Huawei's Mate 20 Pro can wirelessly charge other phones

    Summary
    Over the past few months, all major smartphone manufacturers have laid down their last hands and stepped away from the table for the rest of the year. Apart from Huawei, that is, which -- as usual -- is getting the last word in by spilling the beans...

    This TENS massager is on sale for $28 - CNET

    Summary
    It's a compact, portable and drug-free way to potentially offer relief from sore muscles.

    Pepper the robot tells politicians why robots' time is upon us - CNET

    Summary
    Sure, it's charming now. But let's see who has the last laugh.

    Hackers, trolls and the fight over your vote in the 2018 midterm elections - CNET

    Summary
    What’s old is new again as Election Day draws near. Here’s what you need to know.

    In the future, not even your DNA will be sacred - CNET

    Summary
    Commentary: Even if you haven't shared your DNA with a genealogy website, chances are you're identifiable now. (Spoiler: Your third cousin sold you out).

    iPhone XS vs. Pixel 3: Which camera is better? - CNET

    Summary
    Both have three cameras in total, but they work in very different ways.

    Anybody can animate with CrazyTalk Animator 3 Pro for Mac and Windows, now over 50% off

    Summary
    CrazyTalk Animation 3 Pro thrives on a reputation for ease of use, allowing even virtual beginner animators to produce basic sequences with the least amount of effort. Mac and Windows users can test out this nimble, yet powerful app at a $100 savings with this limited time TNW Deals offer at just $79.

    Hands-on: Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro is the most ambitious phone in recent memory

    Summary
    Huawei could have just delivered the P20 Pro this year and left it at that. It was one of the most feature-packed smartphones I’ve ever tested, and its unique triple-camera array featured the largest sensor we’ve seen in a modern smartphone. It was enough to earn the P20 Pro the highest DxOMark score yet – something no phone has been able to beat seven months later. The Mate 20 Pro takes everything that was great about its predecessor and dials it up to 11. We got the chance to go hands-on with it shortly before launch; from my brief impressions, it… This story continues at The Next Web Or just read more coverage about: Huawei

    This website is tracking the instability of stablecoin Tether

    Summary
    The cryptocurrency sector has grown anxious over a market reliance on controversial “stablecoin” Tether (USDT), after its value dropped well below its supposedly pegged price of $1. In fact, the market is so concerned with the risks associated with USDT that a “Tether premium” has formed on the cryptocurrency exchanges still using it. Stablecoins like USDT are supposed to be equally valued and completely interchangable with the US dollar. But as the value of USDT has become increasingly unreliable, concerned community members have built a handy website to track this discrepancy, which it represents as a “risk premium”. It automatically… This story continues at The Next Web

    $11M Indian cryptocurrency scam investigation stalls as victims avoid testifying

    Summary
    It seems there’s news of a new cryptocurrency scam every week. Usually, as victims come forward the scam is revealed and the perpetrators get caught. However, one scam investigation in India has hit a dead end. Subhashchand Jewria encouraged people to invest in their virtual currency, ATC Coin. Claiming after an 18 month “lock-in” period the cryptocurrency could be used for online shopping, but nothing ever materialized. A year after Jewria’s arrest, the investigation is stalled as no victims have come forward, the Indian Express reports. Several of the scam’s victims were identified during the investigation, but when asked, none… This story continues at The Next Web

    The earth’s fate isn’t on individuals — it’s on society

    Summary
    Following the 2015 Paris Agreement to hold the global increase in climate to below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was asked to produce a report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5℃. The report focuses on what must be done if we want to avoid warming above 1.5℃, and the difference between 1.5℃ and 2℃ warming. The general message is that the ecological and social impacts of 1.5℃ are significantly more manageable than 2℃ – half a degree of warming is a big deal. The IPCC thinks we still have a chance… This story continues at The Next Web

    Audi Brings Drift-Happy Driving to Its Electric E-tron SUV

    Summary
    The German automaker takes advantage of its all-electric powertrain to make the E-tron a delightfully drifty luxury SUV.

    Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018): Specs, Price, Release Date

    Summary
    Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite e-reader gets an update. You get more storage, better lighting, and still no Alexa.

    Netflix May Not Win a Best Picture Oscar, but We’ll Win Better Movies

    Summary
    After pushes into sci-fi and rom-coms, the streaming titan is throwing its considerable weight behind a spate of auteur-driven dramas.

    Uber and Lyft Made Traffic Worse in San Francisco. But It’s Complicated

    Summary
    A new report concludes that Uber and Lyft were responsible for 51 percent of the daily vehicle delay hours in the city between 2010 and 2016, but there are a few big caveats.

    Google’s CEO Says Tests of Censored Chinese Search Engine Turned Out Great

    Summary
    At WIRED's 25th anniversary festival, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company would be able to serve more than 99 percent of queries.

    Robot 'talks' to MPs about future of AI in the classroom

    Summary
    Pepper goes to Parliament to talk to MPs about the role robotics and AI will play in the classroom.

    Huawei's Watch GT has no time for Android's Wear OS

    Summary
    The Chinese tech firm ditches Google's Wear OS in favour of its own smartwatch operating system.

    Tiny Palm smartphone baffles gadget fans

    Summary
    The credit-card-sized device is designed to help people take a break from their main phone.

    Fortnite cheat YouTuber sued by Epic Games

    Summary
    A YouTube gamer is being sued for selling Fortnite cheats and promoting them online.

    Would you trust an auto-switching site for life?

    Summary
    GoCompare wants you to let it choose your energy supplier forever, but can it really find the best deal?

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