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  BGR Show All 
Nobody really knows if there are other ‘Earths’ out there
is earth unique

Are there other Earth-like planets out there in the cosmos? We simply don't know. Scientists have been peering into space for centuries and, thanks to advancing technology, we have spotted other worlds that might be capable of supporting life, but the evidence is sorely lacking.

To help answer the question, researchers from UCLA came up with a new framework for analyzing the makeup of exoplanets using data from the W. M. Keck Observatory and other high-powered telescopes. Based on their observations, the researchers are making a rather bold declaration: Earth isn't terribly unique.

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Sunday: $27 earbuds, $40 Fire tablet, $14 Wi-Fi extender, Fire TV Stick sale, more
  2. Get a smart power strip that’s four Alexa smart plugs in one for under $30

Trending Right Now:

  1. Oh great, yet another face app is driving the internet crazy
  2. Google just accidentally admitted that iPhones are more valuable than Pixels
  3. Hooray! Ikea’s long-anticipated Fyrtur smart blinds are finally on sale

Nobody really knows if there are other ‘Earths’ out there originally appeared on BGR.com on Sun, 20 Oct 2019 at 16:24:53 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


NASA’s Mars orbiter visited the InSight lander and Curiosity rover from above
mars orbiter photos

It wasn't that long ago that the idea of having a single functioning machine on Mars was little more than a dream for scientists. Today, NASA has a whole bunch of hardware on and around the Red Planet, and sometimes they catch a glimpse of one another as they go about their business.

In a new post by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, we get to see both the InSight lander and the Curiosity rover doing their thing from afar thanks to NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and its HiRISE camera. The images are nothing short of spectacular.

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Sunday: $27 earbuds, $40 Fire tablet, $14 Wi-Fi extender, Fire TV Stick sale, more
  2. There’s nothing the $70 Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can do that can’t be done by this $26 alternative

Trending Right Now:

  1. Oh great, yet another face app is driving the internet crazy
  2. Google just accidentally admitted that iPhones are more valuable than Pixels
  3. Hooray! Ikea’s long-anticipated Fyrtur smart blinds are finally on sale

NASA’s Mars orbiter visited the InSight lander and Curiosity rover from above originally appeared on BGR.com on Sun, 20 Oct 2019 at 14:08:06 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Everything new coming to Netflix this week, and everything leaving (week of Oct. 20)
Netflix arrivals and departures

When Netflix revealed that BoJack Horseman would return for a sixth and final season in October, I was equal parts overjoyed and devastated. BoJack is, in my humble opinion, the best show on the streaming service, and while I am confident that creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and the team will wrap the series up in a satisfying way, I'll miss Will Arnett and Aaron Paul in the respective second-best roles of their careers to date.

Other highlights this week include Jenny Slate's first stand-up special, a post-apocalyptic teen comedy series called Daybreak, and the second season of The Kominsky Method, starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin.

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Sunday: $27 earbuds, $40 Fire tablet, $14 Wi-Fi extender, Fire TV Stick sale, more
  2. There’s nothing the $70 Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can do that can’t be done by this $26 alternative

Trending Right Now:

  1. Google just accidentally admitted that iPhones are more valuable than Pixels
  2. Oh great, yet another face app is driving the internet crazy
  3. Hooray! Ikea’s long-anticipated Fyrtur smart blinds are finally on sale

Everything new coming to Netflix this week, and everything leaving (week of Oct. 20) originally appeared on BGR.com on Sun, 20 Oct 2019 at 12:06:59 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Get a smart power strip that’s four Alexa smart plugs in one for under $30
Smart Power Strip

Smart plugs can cost up to $30 a piece and considering all the great functionality they afford, that price is more than fair. Of course, just because it’s fair doesn’t mean you should pay that much for a single smart plug — especially when you can get a Teckin SS30 Wi-Fi Smart Power Strip for the same price. It’s basically four smart plugs in one, with four different power outlets that can each be individually controlled with an app, Alexa, Google Assistant, and more. You also get four additional USB power ports, making this a truly terrific value.

Smart Power Strip WiFi Power Bar 5ft  Extension Cord Compatible with Alexa,Google Home and IFT…: $25.99

Here’s more key info from the product page:

  • REMOTE CONTROL - Once this smart power strip is connected successfully, you can control the power of your electrical items on/off by the free App (smart life). Even you are not at home, you can easily control your home electronics on or off from anywhere. Also, you can control the switch separately via your phone. Easy to use and install, required a secured 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection.
  • VOICE CONTROL - Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google home assistant and IFTTT, control your home appliances with the smart plug by simply giving voice commands to Alexa or Google Assistant. No Hub Required, the smart power strip works with any Wi-Fi router without the need for a separate hub or paid subscription service.
  • MULTIPLE SAFEGUARDS - TECKIN Smart Power Strip is UL approved and it is made of high quality materials. Support 110~240V, 10A maximum load. Circuit breaker automatically breaks off when the current exceeds threshold, preventing plugged-in high temperature devices from damages. PCV0 materials can protect your home safely.
  • SET SCHEDULE & TIMER - Schedule the Smart Power Strip to automatically power electronics on and off as needed, like setting lights to come on at dusk or turn off at sunrise. You can create a group for all of your smart devices and control them all with just one command. With the countdown timer feature, simply set a timer for the Smart Power strip to turn off its appliance automatically.
  • RELIABLE AND DURABLE - We provide 60-day money-back guarantee for any reason and 2-year warranty for quality-related issues. If you encounter any problem or need further support, please feel free to contact us through E-mail or Amazon directly. For our contact info, you can see on the comments below. We offer free replacement service anytime and for any reason if the plug is defective, please contact us whenever you encounter product issue.

Smart Power Strip WiFi Power Bar 5ft  Extension Cord Compatible with Alexa,Google Home and IFT…: $25.99

BGR Top Deals:

  1. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Sunday: $27 earbuds, $40 Fire tablet, $14 Wi-Fi extender, Fire TV Stick sale, more
  2. There’s nothing the $70 Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can do that can’t be done by this $26 alternative

Trending Right Now:

  1. Google just accidentally admitted that iPhones are more valuable than Pixels
  2. Oh great, yet another face app is driving the internet crazy
  3. Hooray! Ikea’s long-anticipated Fyrtur smart blinds are finally on sale

Get a smart power strip that’s four Alexa smart plugs in one for under $30 originally appeared on BGR.com on Sun, 20 Oct 2019 at 10:34:32 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


‘Stranger Things 4’ set leak gives us hope that Hopper is still alive
Stranger Things 4 Leaks

Stranger Things is such a massive hit for Netflix that it’s no surprise it was renewed for a new season while other original Netflix shows are being canceled after only two years. And considering the brilliant cliffhanger in the post-credits scenes of the season 3 finale, we all want to see how the Stranger Things story moves forward. Especially considering that Hopper supposedly died during the series climactic end, and some of our favorite characters left Hawkins.

The sheriff’s death has yet to be formalized, and most people suspect he’s still alive, David Harbour included, rotting in a Russian prison from the ’80s. It’ll be a long while until we find out whether Hopper survived, but the first Stranger Things 4 leak certainly gives us reasons to hope that he somehow escaped the blast.

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Sunday: $27 earbuds, $40 Fire tablet, $14 Wi-Fi extender, Fire TV Stick sale, more
  2. You’d think true wireless earbuds this good would cost more than $26

Trending Right Now:

  1. Google just accidentally admitted that iPhones are more valuable than Pixels
  2. Oh great, yet another face app is driving the internet crazy
  3. Hooray! Ikea’s long-anticipated Fyrtur smart blinds are finally on sale

‘Stranger Things 4’ set leak gives us hope that Hopper is still alive originally appeared on BGR.com on Sun, 20 Oct 2019 at 09:02:25 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


10 deals you don’t want to miss on Sunday: $27 earbuds, $40 Fire tablet, $14 Wi-Fi extender, Fire TV Stick sale, more
Amazon Deals

We've got some fantastic daily deals for you to check out on Sunday, so let's get right to it. Highlights include the most popular Wi-Fi range extender on Amazon's whole site for an all-time low price of $13.99, true wireless earbuds with a better design than AirPods for $26.99, $15 off the Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Stick, a Fire 7 Tablet for only $39.99, the Echo Dot for cars for just $19.99, a fast wireless charging pad for only $6.99, literally the best Ring Video Doorbell deal we've ever seen, everyone's favorite meat thermometer for $9.49, $109 off a very popular juicer, and more. See all of today's top deals below.

TP-Link | N300 WiFi Range Extender | Up to 300Mbps | WiFi Extender, Repeater, Wifi Signal Boost…: $13.99

SoundPEATS TrueFree True Wireless Earbuds Bluetooth 5.0 in-Ear Stereo Bluetooth Headphones with…: $26.99

Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote, streaming media player: $49.99

Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, streaming media player: $39.99

Fire 7 Tablet (7" display, 16 GB) - Black: $39.99

Roav Viva by Anker, Alexa-Enabled 2-Port USB Car Charger in-Car Navigation, Compatible with And…: $19.99

XDesign 10W Wireless Charger Compatible iPhone XS MAX, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8…: $6.99

Certified Refurbished Ring Video Doorbell 2 + Certified Refurbished Ring Chime: $99.00

ThermoPro TP01A Instant Read Meat Thermometer with Long Probe Digital Food Cooking Thermometer…: $9.49

Omega NC800HDS Juicer Extractor and Nutrition Center Creates Fruit Vegetable and Wheatgrass Jui…: $230.96

BGR Top Deals:

  1. You’d think true wireless earbuds this good would cost more than $26
  2. There’s nothing the $70 Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can do that can’t be done by this $26 alternative

Trending Right Now:

  1. Google just accidentally admitted that iPhones are more valuable than Pixels
  2. Oh great, yet another face app is driving the internet crazy
  3. Hooray! Ikea’s long-anticipated Fyrtur smart blinds are finally on sale

10 deals you don’t want to miss on Sunday: $27 earbuds, $40 Fire tablet, $14 Wi-Fi extender, Fire TV Stick sale, more originally appeared on BGR.com on Sun, 20 Oct 2019 at 07:55:45 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Here’s why this fantastic card from Chase should be the next one you apply for
Chase credit card

BGR has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. BGR and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.

Please note: the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.

Summary: Are you a semi-frequent traveler who doesn’t take too many trips a year but who nevertheless could use a credit card that offers an assortment of travel-related perks? In this post, we walk through the many reasons you should consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred -- which isn’t an ultra-premium card by any means but still offers a ton of value via everything from the way you can earn Ultimate Rewards points to offering primary rental car insurance.

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. You’d think true wireless earbuds this good would cost more than $26
  2. There’s nothing the $70 Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can do that can’t be done by this $26 alternative

Trending Right Now:

  1. Google just accidentally admitted that iPhones are more valuable than Pixels
  2. Oh great, yet another face app is driving the internet crazy
  3. Hooray! Ikea’s long-anticipated Fyrtur smart blinds are finally on sale

Here’s why this fantastic card from Chase should be the next one you apply for originally appeared on BGR.com on Sat, 19 Oct 2019 at 23:27:35 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Hooray! Ikea’s long-anticipated Fyrtur smart blinds are finally on sale
Ikea Fyrtur blinds

I was talking to someone recently who installs a variety of tech solutions in homes who noted as an aside that smart blinds are very soon going to be the standard, default solution -- that there's just no reason to have the traditional set of blinds anymore, when you can have one that operates at the push of a button.

That came to mind today in tandem with the news that Ikea has finally started the rollout of its Fyrtur smart blinds in some of its US stores after initially intending to release them earlier this year, back in April. You can find a number of stories from new outlets noting the delay and speculating on when they'd finally arrive, which speaks to the degree to which these have been anticipated (as do a number of Reddit posts that tried to deduce when the delay would end).

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. You’d think true wireless earbuds this good would cost more than $26
  2. This $20 case charges your iPhone while it’s in your pocket

Trending Right Now:

  1. Google just accidentally admitted that iPhones are more valuable than Pixels
  2. Oh great, yet another face app is driving the internet crazy
  3. Some Tesla owners with older vehicles are experiencing a range of worrisome issues

Hooray! Ikea’s long-anticipated Fyrtur smart blinds are finally on sale originally appeared on BGR.com on Sat, 19 Oct 2019 at 18:29:01 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


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  TechNewsWorld Show All 
Adopt a Maintenance Mindset: Protect IT
As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the National Cyber Security Alliance is advising all computer users to "Protect IT" by taking precautions such as updating to the latest security software, Web browser and operating system. The nonprofit public-private partnership, which works with DHS as well as private sector sponsors, advised computer users on ways to protect their personal data and how to use WiFi safely. Protect IT is the third pillar of the NCSA's overarching message around this month's awareness program.

Solus Brightens Computing Across the Linux User Spectrum
The Solus Project is alive and well and continues to offer a fresh approach to uncomplicating the computer desktop. That says a lot, given the sometimes sordid developmental path of the almost 5-year-old Linux distribution. Solus 4.0 Linux "Fortitude" was updated earlier this month. The Solus team provided improvements to each of the distribution's supported desktop environments -- Budgie, GNOME and MATE. An independent Linux distribution built from scratch, Solus is available for 64-bit computers only.

New Tech Vetting Law in SF Could Fuel Regulatory Trend
San Francisco officials want to get ahead of the emerging technology curve by prequalifying and regulating startup tech proposals before products become available to consumers. That approach is a developing trend in the U.S., according to Arle Lommel, senior analyst at CSA Research. If approved, the creation of a city-controlled regulatory office would invert the historical norm and effectively require companies to request permission for anything not expressly allowed. For adoption, the measure requires passage in a second vote next month.

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Facebook's After-the-Fact Oversight
I wanted to like Kara Swisher's recent piece about Facebook's attempt to wrestle with its demons, but I can't. It feels too much like self-delusion. To cut to the chase, Facebook announced it was forming an oversight board with responsibilities for policing its domain and reducing or even eliminating the fake news and propagandistic uses the service has been subjected to at least since the 2016 election cycle. I am not impressed. It appears to me that the company can't or won't come to terms with a valid definition of the problem.

Streaming Is the New Cable
NBCUniversal has named Matt Strauss, a longtime executive at Comcast Corporation -- the parent company of NBCUniversal since 2011 -- to oversee its new Peacock streaming service set to launch in April. Strauss most recently served as EVP at Comcast, where he oversaw Comcast's video, Internet and voice services. NBCUniversal could have a lot riding on Peacock, as it is a late arrival in the streaming business. Its entry follows the launch of CBS All Access five years ago and recent announcements that Disney and Apple planned to join the fray.

A New Business Model With Help From CRM
I have been writing about Salesforce for 20 years. That's incredible for me because aside from marriage, there's nothing in my life I've done so consistently for so long. Perhaps like a marriage, the thing that's been attractive about Salesforce is its constantly changing nature. The company went through a more or less typical adolescence for a startup but beyond that it always had a sense of mission that it was changing the world. It was the first successful cloud company, and in its rise most of its early competitors fell by the wayside.

Millennial Women Chart New Direction for E-Commerce
After a 50 percent rise in the stock price of The RealReal, the marketplace for consigned luxury items, following its June 28 public offering, there's been a search to define what is so lucrative about this company, or e-commerce in general. The RealReal certainly has exhibited wisdom in various aspects of its e-commerce strategy, such as understanding the role of the physical store in an omnichannel environment. The RealReal demonstrates how retail in general is evolving to meet the needs and expectations of the future consumer.

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7 tax scams to watch out for this year

7 tax scams to watch out for this yearIn case wringing your hands over the tax man weren’t enough, criminals are out there trying to swipe your hard-earned cash and personal information from right under your nose.



Avowed Apple Fan Jeb Bush Realizes His Apple Watch Can Take Phone Calls

Avowed Apple Fan Jeb Bush Realizes His Apple Watch Can Take Phone CallsJeb Bush's love of Apple products has been widely documented, and the Republican presidential candidate continues to wear his Apple Watch on the campaign trail. Yesterday, in a meeting with The Des Moines Register editorial board documented by USA Today, Bush stumbled upon a feature he didn’t realize his smartwatch was capable of: taking phone calls. Somehow Bush managed to take a call without picking up his iPhone, and the sound of a person’s voice saying hello breaks through the meeting noise, to which Bush responds, “My watch can’t be talking.”



Social media welcomes Pope Francis to the United States

Social media welcomes Pope Francis to the United StatesPope Francis gets the social media treatment upon arriving in the U.S. Tuesday. As Pope Francis’s flight touched down in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Twitter unveiled a new batch of emojis created for the highly anticipated papal visit. Until his departure from the United States on Sunday, Twitter users chronicling the Catholic leader’s East Coast journey will be able to include a cartoon image of the Pope’s face in front of the American flag on all Pope-related tweets by using the hashtag #PopeinUS.



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  News Show All 
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  Latest news Show All 
Google to roll out update 'in the coming' months to fix Pixel 4 Face Unlock bypass
In the meantime, Google recommends that users employ another screen-locking mechanism, such as passphrases, PIN codes, or swipe patterns.
Why Heritage Bank headed externally to prep for the New Payments Platform
The organisation's CIO told ZDNet it needed a partner like IBM-owned Red Hat to be capable of implementing the mandated regime.
SAP Q3 2019: Strong earnings, new Microsoft SAP HANA partnership revealed
Software license revenue has dropped, but the growth of SAP S/4HANA remains strong.
ASIO turning to AI to avoid missing things
Australian spy agency has too much data and wants to avoid missing something it should have known.
Nearly 7,000 Australians have created a myGovID
By the end of 2018-19, the Digital Transformation Agency said there had been 11,785 downloads of its myGovID iOS smartphone app.
Intel head in Brazil steps down
Mauricio Ruiz leaves the company after two decades
Samsung discontinues Linux on DeX with Android 10 rollout
Samsung is shutting down its Linux on DeX projects after only 11 months.
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Google will fix Pixel 4 face unlock issue with 'eyes open' update
Shortly after Google's Pixel 4 launch last week, the BBC discovered that its Face Unlock biometric security system would unlock your phone, even if your eyes were closed. That would mean that someone could unlock your phone even if you were sleeping,...

Test shows dark mode really can save battery life on OLED iPhones
Dark mode is a key feature on iOS 13, but can it really extend your iPhone's battery life? If it's an OLED model, the answer seems to be a firm yes, according to tests done by PhoneBuff. They used robotic devices to perform identical tasks on two iPh...

Los Angeles Fire Department wants to double its drone fleet
It's not just law enforcement finding success with drones. The Los Angeles Fire Department's Battalion Chief Richard Field told TechCrunch that he intended to double the drone fleet just five months after a partnership with DJI began. On top of the...

Sonar drone helps find a WWII Japanese aircraft carrier
The late Paul Allen's underwater robotics are still achieving firsts in discovering long-lost warships. Vulcan's research vessel Petrel and its two robotic vehicles have discovered the Kaga, a Japanese aircraft carrier sunk during WWII's pivotal Bat...

Next-gen hearing implants could overcome inner ear damage
Many hearing implants won't help people with inner ear damage or auditory nerve problems, but the brainstem implants that do frequently do an incomplete job. Soon, however, there might be a far better solution. Researchers have designed a conformab...

Amazon sellers are shipping long-expired food
Whole Foods thrives on freshness, but Amazon's online store? Not so much. CNBC reports that Amazon's third-party sellers are all-too-frequently shipping food that has long-since expired, including products like year-old Hostess brownies and Teavana g...

Bungie pulls popular gun from 'Destiny 2' after discovering exploit
Believe it or not, Bungie is grappling with another wildly overpowered Destiny 2 weapon. The developer has pulled the Telesto fusion rifle from all activities after players discovered an exploit that lets them rapidly charge their character's Super...

Google to fix 'bug' that uploads free full-quality iPhone pics to Photos
Google is about to patch a quirk in Photos that effectively gives iPhone users a free ride. The company told Android Police in a statement that it's planning to fix a Google Photos "bug" that stores iOS photos in their original quality without count...

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  WSJ.com: WSJD Show All 
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  CNET News Show All 
Google's Pixel 4 turns up the heat on Android rivals, but not because of its camera - CNET
Commentary: Face unlock doesn't just catch Google up to the iPhone. It's the first time any Android phone has potentially even surpassed Apple's most buzzed-about innovation.
Best Amazon Alexa devices of 2019 - CNET
Read here to discover which smart home devices work best with Alexa.
The best video doorbells of 2019 - CNET
Searching for a new doorbell? Start here.
20 photos taken with the Pixel 4's camera: You be the judge - CNET
We take the Pixel 4's camera out for a spin and test Portrait Mode, selfies, close-ups and more on Google's newest flagship phone.
Emilia Clarke opens up about the Game of Thrones ending - CNET
"I truly believe we would never have made everyone happy," she says.
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  SlashdotShow All 
Teenagers Are Easily Bypassing Apple's Parental Controls
"Kids are outsmarting an army of engineers from Cupertino, California," reports the Washington Post: And Apple, which introduced "Screen Time" a year ago in response to pressure to address phone overuse by kids, has been slow t

40% Of America's Schools Have Now Dropped Their SAT/ACT Testing Requirement
"A record number" of U.S. schools are now accepting nearly all of their students without requiring an SAT or ACT test score, reports the Washington Post: Robert A. Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, which opposes

Is AT&T Hiding A Widespread Voicemail Outage?
Though people can still leave voicemail messages, "Some AT&T customers say they have not had access to their voicemail since the beginning of October," one local news site reported this week: An AT&T spokesperson sent t

CNBC: Amazon Is Shipping Expired Food
Counterfeits aren't the only problem when shopping on Amazon, reports CNBC. The grocery section is "littered" with expired foods. From baby formula and coffee creamer to beef jerky and granola bars, items are arriving spoiled a

Project Trident Ditches BSD For Linux
Project Trident is moving from FreeBSD to Void Linux, reports Its FOSS: According to a later post, the move was motivated by long-standing issues with FreeBSD. These issues include "hardware compatibility, communications standa

Privacy-Respecting Smart Home System Can Work Offline and Sends Fake Data
A publicly-funded group of designers, artists and privacy experts from Amsterdam have designed a smart home system prototype to "prove it's technically possible to build a privacy respecting smart home while maintaining convenienc

WAV Audio Files Are Now Being Used To Hide Malicious Code
JustAnotherOldGuy quotes ZDNet: Two reports published in the last few months show that malware operators are experimenting with using WAV audio files to hide malicious code. The first of these new malware campaigns abusing WAV

Mozilla is Sharing YouTube Horror Stories To Prod Google For More Transparency
CNET reports on a new crowdsourced public awareness campaign: Mozilla is publishing anecdotes of YouTube viewing gone awry -- anonymous stories from people who say they innocently searched for one thing but eventually ended up in


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  Gigaom Show All 
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Hacking the hackers: Russian group hijacked Iranian spying operation, officials say
Russian hackers piggy-backed on an Iranian cyber-espionage operation to attack government and industry organizations in dozens of countries while masquerading as attackers from the Islamic Republic, British and U.S. officials said
Facebook open to currency-pegged stablecoins for Libra project
Facebook Inc , facing growing skepticism about its digital currency project Libra, on Sunday said the initiative could use cryptocurrencies based on national currencies such as the dollar, instead of the synthetic one it initially
Indonesia Gojek CEO Makarim says he will join Widodo's cabinet
Gojek CEO and founder Nadiem Makarim said on Monday he had resigned from the ride-hailing and payments company to join the cabinet of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Zuckerberg defends Facebook's approach to free speech, draws line on China
Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday defended the social media company's light regulation of speech and lack of fact checking on political advertising, while citing China's censorship as a roadblock to operati
Martin Luther King's daughter tells Facebook disinformation helped kill civil rights leader
Disinformation campaigns helped lead to the assassination of Martin Luther King, the daughter of the U.S. civil rights champion said on Thursday after the head of Facebook said social media should not factcheck political advertise
Exclusive: Huawei in early talks with U.S. firms to licence 5G platform - Huawei executive
Blacklisted Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei is in early-stage talks with some U.S. telecoms companies about licensing its 5G network technology to them, a Huawei executive told Reuters on Friday.
BOJ Kuroda: No talk at G20 of central banks issuing digital currencies
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Friday there was no talk among Group of 20 finance leaders on the possibility of central banks issuing digital currencies, as part of efforts to enhance cross-border settlement servic
Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd dies at 62
Oracle Corp's 62-year-old co-chief Mark Hurd died on Friday morning, the company said, an unexpected development that raises pressure on co-CEO Safra Catz to lead the business software maker's ongoing transition to cloud computin
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Why can't I watch Netflix on my old Roku?

As with Apple and Microsoft, Roku too is disabling older players to sell new ones. Then good news: Roku devices are dirt cheap, as low as $29.99.

      

Gita is a new cargo robot that can follow you, carry your stuff for about 4 hours

Gita was created by the company that invented Vespa. It has a system of sounds and lights will let you know whether it unpaired or needs a charge.

      

5 mistakes that shorten the life of your gadgets

There are several common mistakes people make that shorten the lifespan of their devices, like overcharging, charging too much or not cleaning them.

      

Virgin Galactic and Under Armour show off new spacesuits for crew, commercial passengers

Virgin Galactic and Under Armour unveiled the first line of spacewear for space crews and commercial passengers.

      

Netflix says it will retain the streaming crown; not worried about Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus

Netflix, which dominates streaming, says it will continue to hold the crown, even in the face of new competition in November from Apple and Disney.

      

You're probably not using Spotify right. Here's how to get the most out of your music

Spotify lets you download tracks for offline listening, discover podcast, filter out curse words and so much more.

      

Google's Pixel 4 has new color and tricks like transcribing in real time

At first look, the new Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL stack up handsomely against the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

      

'League of Legends' maker Riot Games has new legends in the works

Riot Games, publisher of 'League of Legends," is expanding that franchise into other media --and is announcing several new games in development.

      

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  TechCrunch Show All 
Commercetools raises $145M from Insight for Shopify-style e-commerce APIs for large enterprises

Global retail e-commerce is expected to be a $25 trillion business this year, and today one of the companies that has built a set of tools to help larger enterprises to sell to consumers online has raised a large growth round to meet that demand. Commercetools, a German startup that provides a set of APIs that power e-commerce sales and related functions for large businesses, has raised $145 million (€130 million) in a growth round of funding led by Insight Partners, at a valuation that we understand from a close source is around $300 million.

The funding comes at the same time that commercetools is getting spun out by REWE, a German retail and tourist services giant that acquired the startup in 2015 for an undisclosed amount.

The route the company took after that is a not-totally-uncommon one for tech startups acquired by non-tech companies: commercetools had been acquired by REWE as part of a strategy to take some of its own e-commerce tech in-house, but commercetools had always continued to work with outside clients and has been growing at about 60-70% annually, CEO and co-founder Dirk Hoerig said in an interview.

Current companies include Audi, Bang & Olufsen, Carhartt, Yamaha and some very big names in retail products and services (including major telco/media brands in the USA that you will definitely know). Ultimately, the decision was taken to bring in outside funding and spin out the businesses as an independent startup once again to supercharge that growth. REWE will remain a significant shareholder with this deal.

Hoerig said that commercetools had raised only around $30 million in outside funding when it was a startup ahead of getting acquired.

Although e-commerce has grown over the last couple of years with slightly less momentum than in previous years given wider economic uncertainty, it continues to expand, and in that growth, we’ve seen a swing back to individual retail brands looking for ways of connecting more directly with customers outside of the third-party marketplaces (like Amazon) that have come to dominate how people spending money online.

That is giving a boost to those providing essentially non-tech businesses the tools to build e-commerce activity by offering “headless” tools that are attached to front-end systems designed by others.

Shopify, which focuses more on providing e-commerce tools by way of APIs to medium and smaller customers, has ballooned to some 800,000 customers. Commercetools focuses more on companies that typically generate revenues in excess of $100 million annually, Hoerig said.

Commercetools has no plans to expand to smaller companies — “We have no plan to compete against Shopify,” Hoerig said. Nor is there any strategy in place to extend into logistics, another important component of e-commerce services.

Instead, it wants to use the funding to continue expanding its business in North America and other parts of the world, as well as to continue building up its B2B2B offering — that is, tools for businesses to sell to other businesses. This is an area that companies like Alibaba are very strong in (and Amazon has been also growing its business), and the idea is to provide tools to let companies sell on their own sites either as a complement to, or to replace, third-party marketplaces.

Another area where it will continue to figure where it can play better is in the development of better online-to-offline technology.

Richard Wells and Matt Gatto of Insight are both joining the board with this deal.

“With a strong track record of investing in retail software leaders, we are excited to have the opportunity to invest in commercetools and help them scale up internationally,” said Wells in a statement. “In our opinion commercetools represents the next wave of enterprise commerce software and has the potential to unlock powerful innovation and growth within the e-commerce sector.”


Gojek founder and CEO Nadiem Makarim resigns to join Indonesian cabinet; Soelistyo and Aluwi to be new co-CEOs

Nadiem Makarim, founder and CEO of Gojek, said on Monday he has stepped down from his role at the ride-hailing startup to join Indonesia president Joko Widodo’s cabinet.

The announcement, which has taken many by surprise, comes a day after Widodo was sworn in for a second term. Widodo has previously said that he wants young business executives to join his cabinet.

In a statement, a Gojek spokesperson told TechCrunch that Andre Soelistyo, Gojek Group President, and Kevin Aluwi, Gojek co-founder, are taking over as co-CEOs of the startup.

“We are very proud that our founder will play such a significant role in moving Indonesia onto the global stage. It is unprecedented for a passionate local founder’s vision to be recognized as a model that can be up-scaled to help the development of an entire country,” the spokesperson said.

“We have planned for this possibility and there will be no disruption to our business. We will make an announcement on what this news means for Gojek within the next few days. We respect the process set out by the President and will not make a further comment until there is an official announcement from the Palace,” the spokesperson added.

Makarim (pictured above) said he was honored that the president had asked him to join his cabinet as a minister. He did not reveal which position he would hold, but an announcement from Widodo is expected later this week. “I am very happy to be here today as it shows we are ready for innovation and to move forward,” he told reporters.

Makarim, 35, founded Gojek in 2010 as a two-wheeler hailing service. The startup has since expanded to include a range of services including mobile payments, food delivery, online shopping and most recently on-demand video streaming.

The startup has amassed more than 2 million driver partners and 400,000 merchants on its platform. Gojek was valued at almost $10 billion in its most recent financing round. The company, which operates in Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand, clocked gross transactions worth $9 billion last year.

Makarim comes from a prominent Indonesian family: His parents are anti-corruption activists, while his grandfather is an independence hero.


In a big reversal, Libra reportedly could peg its cryptocurrencies to national currencies

Facebook is willing to reverse course on its plans to tie its digital currency project to a synthetic currency tied to a basket of global currencies.

Reuters is reporting that Facebook’s head of the Libra project, David Marcus, told a group of bankers that the company’s main goal was to create a better payments system and was open to alternative approaches to the original structure of the project.

Facebook and its partners had intended to create its cryptocurrency by pegging it to a basket of national currencies whose holdings would be set by the Libra Association.

National banks considered the plan part of a dangerous end-run around their regulatory authority and have been holding up the project until they could assume tighter control over how the Facebook-architected cryptocurrency and payment technology would operate.

The scrutiny from regulators proved too much for some of Facebook’s largest, and earliest, partners in the Libra Association, whose members would determine how the cryptocurrency would operate.

In the past month seven of the Libra Association’s founding members dropped out including: PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Ebay, and Stripe. Those seven represented a big chunk of the strategic value and commercial heft of the planned association, with Stripe, Mastercard, Visa, and Ebay standing in for a huge number of payment processors and merchant touchpoints that the new cryptocurrency would need were it to dramatically scale to the size Facebook wanted right out of the gate.

Now, in another strategic reversal, Marcus is conceding the synthetic currency in favor of stablecoins tied to the local currency in each market that Libra would operate.

 

“We could do it differently,” Reuters quoted the Libra Association chief as saying. “Instead of having a synthetic unit … we could have a series of stablecoins, a dollar stablecoin, a euro stablecoin, a sterling pound stable coin, etc.”

All of this is happening against the backdrop of Facebook’s stated launch date of June 2020 for the Libra cryptocurrency. Marcus told Reuters that the June launch was still the goal, but that the association would not move forward unless it had addressed the concerns of regulators and received the proper approvals.

Those approvals are becoming harder to come by as the regulators who overseen global monetary policy cast a more skeptical eye at on stablecoins as well.

Reuters reported that the G-20 financial overseers wrote in a statement that money laundering, illicit finance and consumer protection need to be evaluated before any stablecoin projects can “commence operation.”

 


Should we rethink the politics of ‘blocking’?

Years ago, I wrote a piece criticizing a cover story by a well-known writer and political commentator that I’d met a few times, with whom I’d occasionally sparred on Twitter. The piece wasn’t merely a representation of my own views, but pulled in snarky tweets from other journalists disparaging her work too. It was a pile-on, and not my proudest moment.

The Writer wasn’t exactly thin-skinned; in fact, quite the contrary: She was a brash, sometimes obnoxious feminist with strong opinions, unafraid to speak her mind. I often agreed with her, even when I found her delivery abrasive. Still, after a couple of years with me as a thorn in her side, she decided she’d had enough—and so she did something that many readers will find familiar: She blocked me on Twitter.

The block button is an important tool that allows women and other vulnerable people to have some semblance of the same Twitter experience that the average white man might, free from constant harassment. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve used it over the years to drown out nasty ad hominems, sea lions, and of course, sexual harassment and worse. 

Twitter wasn’t always the “hell site” we know it as today. Many early users like me found professional advancement and lasting friendship in 140-character missives. But as the site grew, so did its potential for misuse. By 2014—two years shy of its tenth anniversary—Twitter had become central to the GamerGate controversy, ostensibly a dispute about issues of sexism and progressivism in gaming but on Twitter, a free-for-all of harassment and doxing of any woman even tangentially involved in the discussion. The harassment was so severe that it drove some women off the site permanently.

Out of GamerGate emerged better tools for blocking, tools like BlockTogether that allow individual users to share a list of people they’ve blocked. The idea behind these tools is that harassers are likely to have multiple targets, so why not make it easier for potential targets of harassment to block numerous would-be harassers all at once?

But BlockTogether and similar tools are not without flaws. Once you’re on a blocklist, it can be hard to get your name removed and if you end up, for whatever reason, on one created by a prominent or well-respected user, you may find yourself blocked by people you don’t know and would’ve enjoyed following. Some might call this reasonable collateral damage.

Numerous journalists and others have complained of finding themselves on a blocklist after a disagreement with an individual who uses them. I’m unfortunately on one used by a number of journalists. Why, you might ask, was I blocked in the first place? I remember quite clearly: It was for disagreeing with someone about the life sentence handed to Ross Ulbricht, the creator of the Silk Road website. For my opinion, I’ve lost the ability to follow or interact with dozens of journalists whose work I read.

Despite that, I don’t blame women or other minorities who’ve experienced harassment for using the block button liberally. Blocking someone isn’t a matter of free speech (unless of course the blocker in question is an elected official), as some of my harassers have claimed—rather, it’s often a matter of preserving one’s sanity. The block button, along with blocklists, are useful tools for curating space—not a safe space per se, but one free from random harassers, spammers, and the like. Think of it more as a large invite-only event, as opposed to a New York City street.

And yet, I can’t help but wonder if our liberal use of the block button prevents us from experiencing the kind of reconciliation that can happen in our offline communities. We often remove someone from our life, only for them to apologize their way back in later on. Even the Amish, who practice shunning as a matter of faith, allow for the repented to return.

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Twitter’s architecture has changed over time, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Presently, its algorithm sometimes surfaces replies from people you do follow, to tweets from individuals you don’t, based on some assumption that you mind find them interesting. Occasionally, it will surface a reply from a friend to someone with a locked account or, in rare cases, to someone who blocks you, as it did for me the other day. Someone I follow had replied with an interesting comment to a tweet from The Writer—a tweet that, of course, I couldn’t see without logging out and going directly to her profile. And so I did.

What I found was someone who, with that same fierce energy, seemed a lot more thoughtful, with views more similar to mine than I remembered. I felt a momentary pang of sadness for the camaraderie that might have been. I realized the obvious: That we’ve both grown, alongside the backdrop of the horrific political environment that’s accompanied us through the past half-decade. “Have you thought about reaching out to her?” a friend asked.

Therein lies the rub: In the case of The Writer, I could reach out to her; we’ve met in person a few times, and we retain mutual friends. She might respond favorably, or with a “thanks but no thanks”, but either way, it’s unlikely she would deem my approach to be harassment. But there’s this other journalist I’ve never interacted with, who no doubt signed up to a blocklist that I happened to be on. I discovered that she blocked me when I went to read a tweet someone had DM’d me, and was disappointed—but reaching out to her through some other channel would seem weird, invasive. It isn’t worth it.

I recently reviewed my own list of blocked accounts (you can do so through your settings), a list that numbers well into the hundreds. Most aren’t worth revisiting—there’s sexual harassers and transphobes, Bahraini bots and Roseanne Barr, some Trumpites and a few high-profile right-wing accounts. But among them, close to the bottom of the list (coinciding with the early days of the block button), I spotted a few outliers, and decided to give them a second chance.

Technology is constantly changing and progressing and yet, the block button—and blocklists—remain in rudimentary form. They’re simply not priorities for companies whose focus is on profit. But were we to redesign them, perhaps we could find a way to make blocks time-limited, or at least provide users with more nuanced options. One such existing feature is Facebook’s “snooze” button, which allows users to “mute” another person for 30 days, with a reminder when that time period is up; I found that one particularly handy last summer while a friend was going heavy on self-promotion. I use Twitter’s “mute” function to rid my feed of people with whom I have to interact professionally and thus can’t block. And then there’s the “soft block”—a feature or bug, it isn’t clear—wherein one can block and unblock someone quickly on Twitter so that the user no longer follows them…at least until they wisen up (this feature/bug is made easier by the fact that Twitter seems to be perpetually plagued by an “unfollow bug”). These tools are helpful, but with all the riches these companies have, they could design something—with input from those most affected by harassment—that is less blunt, more elegant, more thoughtful.

Ultimately, the block button is an imperfect solution to a pervasive problem, and therefore remains as necessary as ever. I know that I’ll continue to use it as long as I’m on social media. But…don’t we deserve something better?


Original Content podcast: ‘El Camino’ provides a quiet coda to ‘Breaking Bad’

When a TV show gets turned into a movie, it often represents a big change of pace, with a standalone plot, a bigger budget, all made for a bigger (or at least more casual) audience.

“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story” — which premiered a week ago on Netflix —doesn’t take that approach at all.

Far from telling a new story or serving as jumping on-point for new viewers, “El Camino” functions more like a two-hour epilogue to the existing show. It appears to have been made exclusively for existing “Breaking Bad” fans who were wondering about what happened to Aaron Paul’s character Jessie Pinkman after the series finale.

As we acknowledge in the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, Jordan is the only regular OC host who’s actually seen the entirety of “Breaking Bad.” And she was reasonably satisfied with the film, feeling that it had some of the same strengths as “Breaking Bad” — though it didn’t quite capture the strong character development and elaborate plotting that made the series great.

Darrell, meanwhile, gets a chance to explain why he’s so resistant to “Breaking Bad,” and why nothing in “El Camino” changed his mind.

In addition to our review, we discuss Netflix’s latest earnings, in which which the streamer reported better-than-expected profits, despite still-sluggish subscriber growth in the United States.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:

0:00 Intro
2:12 Netflix Q3 earnings
16:06 “El Camino” reviews (spoilers for “Breaking Bad” but not “El Camino”)
38:20 “El Camino” spoiler discussion


The Los Angeles Fire Department wants more drones

As it looks to modernize its operations, the Los Angeles Fire Department is turning to a number of new technologies including expanding its fleet of drones for a slew of new deployments.

One of the largest fire departments in the U.S. next to New York and Chicago, the LAFD has a budget of roughly $691 million, employs over 3,500, and responded to 492,717 calls in 2018.

The department already has a fleet of 11 drones to compliment its fleet of 258 fire engines, ambulances, and helicopters.

However, Battalion Chief Richard Fields,  the head of the department’s Unmanned Aerial Systems program would like to see that number increase significantly.

Los Angeles has become an early leader in the use of drones for its firefighting applications thanks in part to an agreement with the Chinese company, DJI, which the department inked back in April.

At the time, the Chinese drone manufacturer and imaging technology developer announced an agreement to test and deploy DJI drones as an emergency response preparedness tool. The company called it one DJI’s largest partnerships with a fire-fighting agency in the U.S.

“We are excited to be strengthening our partnership with the LAFD, one of the nation’s preeminent public safety agencies, to help them take advantage of DJI’s drone technology that has been purpose-built for the public safety sector,” said Bill Chen, Enterprise Partnerships Manager at DJI, in a statement at the time. “Through our two-way collaboration, DJI will receive valuable insight into the complexities of deploying drones for emergency situations in one of the most complex urban environments in the nation.”

Now, roughly five months later, the program seems to have been successful enough that Battalion Chief Fields is looking to double the fleet.

“Our next iteration is to start using our drones to assist our specialized resources,” said Fields. Those are firefighters and support crews that deal with hazardous materials, urban search and rescue, marine environments and swift water rescues, Fields said.

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The LAFD Swift Water Rescue Team. Photo courtesy of Flickr/ LAFD Mike Horst

The technology demands of the fire department extend beyond the drone itself, Fields said. “There are a lot of technologies that allows us to make the drone more versatile… the most valuable tool isn’t the drone; it’s the sensor.”

So far, the most useful application has been using infrared technologies to balance what’s visible and combine it with the heat signatures the sensors pick up.

Training to become a drone pilot for the LAFD is particularly intense, Fields says. The typical pilot will get up to eighty hours of training. “Our training is nation-leading.  There’s nothing out there in the commercial market that beats it,” according to Fields.

For now,  the entire LAFD fleet is composed of DJI drones, something which has given military and civilian officials pause in the past few years.

Concerns have been growing over the reliance on Chinese technology in core American infrastructure extending from networking technology companies like Huawei, to drone technology developers like DJI.

Back in 2018 the Department of Defense issued a ban on the acquisition and use of commercial drones, citing cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The ban came a year after officials from the Department of Homeland Security and members of Congress called out DJI specifically for its potential to be used by the Chinese government to spy on the United States.

However, the rule isn’t set in stone and many branches of the military continue to use DJI drones, according to a September Voice of America News report.

In Los Angeles, Fields says he takes those concerns seriously. The department has worked closely with regulators and advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union to craft a strict policy around what gets done with the data that the LAFD collects.

“The way that we establish our program is that the drone provides us with our real-time situational awareness,” said Fields. “That  helps the incident commander get a visual perspective of the problem and he can make better decisions.”

The only data that is recorded and kept, says Fields, is data collected around brush fires so that the LAFD can do a damage assessment, which can later be turned into map layers to keep records of hotspots.

As for data that could be sent back to China, Fields says that any mapping of critical infrastructure is done without connecting to the internet. “It’s being collected on the drone and 90% of that information is how the drone is operating. There is some information of where the . drone is and how it is and the [latitude] and [longitude] of the drone itself… That’s the data that’s being collected,” Fields says. 

From Fields’ perspective, if the government is so concerned about the use of drones made by a foreign manufacturer, there’s an easy solution. Just regulate it.

“Let’s come up with a standard. If you use them in a federal airspace these are the check marks that you have to pass,” he says. “Saying that DJI drones are bad because they come from China [and] let’s throw them all out… that’s not an answer either.”


Max-Q: This week in space

Space is becoming a major area of startup and commercial investment, and so I’ve decided to start providing a weekly round-up of the biggest news in aerospace, space science and space-related technologies. Let me know if you appreciate this or have suggestions, and I’ll make sure it evolves as needed to be useful resource.

This week, there was an abundance of spacesuit news, and signs from multiple operators that there’s going to be an orbital traffic boom in the immediate future. Also, we’re heading into the annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC) this coming week, so expect a lot more news starting tomorrow.

1. NASA unveils its Artemis-generation spacesuits

NASA showed off a brand new generation of spacesuit, including the one that the first American woman and next American man to set foot on the Moon will don for that historic moment. The new Artemis suits are designed to scale from essentially the smallest to the largest possible adult human frame, which NASA touts as a way to make the astronaut program more accessible to a wider range of Americans. The agency should be going out of its way to fix that, because of what happened that led to item #2 this week.

For the first time, NASA is looking to outsource the full production of these Artemis-generation spacesuits (including the Orion survival suit, which was also revealed today and will be worn only during flight aboard the Orion capsule). To that end, it has put out a request for input from industry about their design and development ahead of setting up a proper RFP.

2. NASA astronauts Christina H. Koch and Jessica Meir complete historic first all-woman spacewalk

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NASA astronauts Christina H. Koch and Jessica Meir

As I alluded above, there was a very good reason that NASA really emphasized how inclusive its Artemis suit designs are: The agency had to cancel a first all-woman spacewalk earlier this year because it didn’t have the right amount of properly sized spacesuits on board the International Space Station. It sent one up in June, however, and that historic moment happened this past week, with Koch and Meir performing a roughly seven-hour spacewalk to repair a power controller.

3. SpaceX applies for permission to launch 30,000 more Starlink satellites

That’s on top of the 12,000 it’s already had cleared, which makes for a total potential constellation size of 42,000. That’s about 8x the number of satellites currently in orbit, across all orbital zones. It’s a move that is definitely raising the ire of both industry and space researchers, because it’ll make it a lot more complicated to ensure orbital spacecraft avoid collisions, and it could potentially obscure the view of the stars from Earth. SpaceX says it has taken steps to ensure it can avoid both problems, but not everyone is convinced.

4. Swarm gets the ‘OK’ for its 150-satellite constellation

Meanwhile, startup Swarm has been granted FCC approval to deploy its own, much-smaller constellation of 150 satellites. Swarm isn’t competing directly with SpaceX’s Starlink – it wants to provide low-bandwidth IoT connectivity. And while it isn’t looking to put up a huge volume of spacecraft, there was some concern that its toaster-sized satellites might be too small to track and present a risk that way.

5. Rocket Lab’s swap launch is a success

New Zealand-born and lately U.S.-headquartered Rocket Lab was successful in launching its fifth Electron rocket this year. The startup’s success was more a proof point for its business model than its technology, however, since the payload that flew aboard this mission was actually one that wasn’t slated to go up until much later in the queue. Rocket Lab’s original client for this one had to drop out due to unfortunate circumstances, and Rocket Lab was able to get client Astro Digital an earlier ride. This kind of late-stage payload swap has not typically been a strength of the established commercial space launch industry.

6. Under Armour built some fancy tracksuits for space

IMG 20191016 103752 1 1Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will begin ferrying wealthy paying tourists to the very edge of space next year, if all goes to plan, and now we know what they’ll be wearing when they do: Under Armour. The sportswear company and Branson’s space enterprise unveiled the new suits at a flashy special event featuring the first tourists who have reserved $250,000 tickets aboard Virgin Galactic’s atmosphere-skimming spacecraft.

7. How Lockheed Martin’s Venture arm spends its $200 million in available funding

Lockheed Martin has been in the commercial space business since there has been a commercial space business to be in, and around a decade ago it established a corporate venture fund to make strategic bets on startups. I sat down with the fund’s GM and Executive Director J. Christopher Moran to talk about what the fund looks for in startups – and the industry giant is a lot more interested in early stage companies that you might have thought. Extra Crunch Subscription required.


Week in Review: The web’s free speech conundrum

Hey everyone. Thank you for welcoming me into you inbox yet again.

Last week, I talked about the eternal dumbness of the smart home and how Google had a big chance to lay out their vision this past week. Guess what? They did not, instead we got a new more expensive Google Wifi that falls under the Nest brand as well as a Google Mini that can be wall-mounted…

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here.


The big story

Zuckerberg had an interesting week, delivering a very rehearsed keynote that was neither in front of Congress or an audience of developers at F8. He spoke at Georgetown on the topic of free speech and Facebook’s brand of capitalism.

It was an odd speech, but it was an opportunity for him to speak at length about what he saw as Facebook’s mission in terms of free speech

“These two simple ideas — voice and inclusion — go hand in hand. We’ve seen this throughout history, even if it doesn’t feel that way today. More people being able to share their perspectives has always been necessary to build a more inclusive society. And our mutual commitment to each other — that we hold each others’ right to express our views and be heard above our own desire to always get the outcomes we want — is how we make progress together.

But this view is increasingly being challenged. Some people believe giving more people a voice is driving division rather than bringing us together. More people across the spectrum believe that achieving the political outcomes they think matter is more important than every person having a voice. I think that’s dangerous. Today I want to talk about why, and some important choices we face around free expression.

Throughout history, we’ve seen how being able to use your voice helps people come together. We’ve seen this in the civil rights movement. Frederick Douglass once called free expression “the great moral renovator of society”. He said “slavery cannot tolerate free speech”. Civil rights leaders argued time and again that their protests were protected free expression, and one noted: “nearly all the cases involving the civil rights movement were decided on First Amendment grounds”.

Facebook is in an interesting position here, where they’re tying a moral stance with an economic one. They seem to draw the line at paid ads and paid political speech whereas everything before it was so nuanced. I don’t like that very much.

Unrestricted speech on the internet has been an evolving topic. There’s the very real argument that giving people a megaphone to harass and bully minimizes other people’s ability to have unrestricted speech themselves. Facebook and most of the other major platforms have agreed with this and have put policies in place.

There’s also the situation where someone is threatening or discussing violence or hate speech. Again, Facebook goes further than the law requires and has this firmly in their policies.

If you look at the company’s existing policies that have been put in place over the past few years, you would find plenty of guidelines at odds with sections of Zuck’s speech and yet he seemed to be drawing a big red line here and now, with the only reason being the criticism of Facebook’s ad policy that allowed Donald Trump to pay for and target ads that were ostensibly untrue.

I wrote about the situation in full here and it rings true again after Zuckerberg’s speech. Timing is everything and it’s hard to take this moral stance seriously right now especially.

Send me feedback
on Twitter @lucasmtny or email
lucas@techcrunch.com

On to the rest of the week’s news.

(Photo by Steve Sands/WireImage)

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context:

  • Sprint + T-Mobile = official best friends
    The FCC has reportedly decided to let another massive merger go through (after some decent concessions), allowing T-Mobile and Sprint to proceed in their massive telecom merger.
  • Switch sales surge
    Nintendo has already made a major splash with the Switch, but the traction it’s gaining in North America has already eclipsed its last-gen system’s worldwide unit sales. Check out their latest milestone.
  • Justice Dept takes down a massive child exploitation site
    The government infiltrated and clamped down on a massive child exploitation dark web site this week and my colleague Zack has the full rundown.

GAFA Gaffes

How did the top tech companies screw up this week? This clearly needs its own section, in order of badness:

  1. $35B lawsuit against FB can move forward:
    [$35 billion face lawsuit against Facebook can proceed]
  2. AOC and Ted criticize Apple:
    [Apple’s China stance makes for strange political alliances as AOC and Ted Cruz slam the company]

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CHEAP: Stop, thief! There’s $90 off a Ring Video Doorbell 2 and an Echo Dot

Welcome to CHEAP, our series about things that are good, but most of all, cheap. CHEAP! I don’t really know why, but video doorbells have always seemed hella futuristic to me. Maybe it’s a youth spent absorbing sci-fi movies and TV shows, but there’s something crazy cool about being able to see who’s ringing your doorbell. Basically — and to paraphrase Mac from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia — it lets you give whoever’s at the door an ocular pat down. If that’s something you’ve been pining for, well, you’re in luck. Why? Because today you can make a wonderful saving on a Ring…

This story continues at The Next Web

Satoshi Nakaboto: ‘Bitcoin halving prediction leads to $55K price, $1T market cap’

Our robot colleague Satoshi Nakaboto writes about Bitcoin every fucking day. Welcome to another edition of Bitcoin Today, where I, Satoshi Nakaboto, tell you what’s been going on with Bitcoin in the past 24 hours. As Satoshi Nakamoto used to say: Your imagination is the only tool in the book! Bitcoin Price We closed the day, October 20 2019, at a price of $8,222. That’s a respectable 2.80 percent increase in 24 hours, or $224. It was the highest closing price in five days. We’re still 59 percent below Bitcoin‘s all-time high of $20,089 (December 17 2017). Bitcoin market cap…

This story continues at The Next Web

Or just read more coverage about: Bitcoin

Facebook’s Libra ‘cryptocurrency’ gets desperate as it considers stablecoins

Facebook‘s controversial ‘cryptocurrency‘ Libra could be based on national currencies such as the dollar, the tech giant said on Sunday, following increased scrutiny from regulators and governments in recent months. “We could do it differently,” he said. “Instead of having a synthetic unit … we could have a series of stablecoins, a dollar stablecoin, a euro stablecoin, a sterling pound stablecoin, etc,” David Marcus, the project‘s lead, told a banking seminar. “We could definitely approach this with having a multitude of stablecoins that represent national currencies in a tokenized digital form,” he said. “That is one of the options that…

This story continues at The Next Web

Or just read more coverage about: Facebook

CEO of ride-hailing giant Gojek departs $10B startup to join Indonesian government

Nadiem Makarim, co-founder and CEO of Indonesia’s first decacorn Gojek, is stepping down from his chief executive role to take up a cabinet post in the newly formed government led by Joko Widodo. The move comes after President Widodo expressed a preference to include professionals and millennials in his second-term team to boost the country’s economy. Although it’s not clear what position he will hold, local reports said the 35-year-old could assume a role in the newly created digital economy ministry or in education. To fill the spot left vacant by Makarim, Gojek Group President Andre Soelistyo and co-founder Kevin…

This story continues at The Next Web

Moonday Mornings: Another cryptocurrency SIM-swap victim sues AT&T, this time for $1.8M

Welcome to Moonday Morning forkers. It’s Hard Fork’s wrap-up of the weekend’s top cryptocurrency and blockchain headlines you can’t afford to miss. Take a look at what’s happened over the last few days. 1. Telecom operator AT&T is being sued by an individual claiming to be the victim of a SIM-swap hack which resulted in the loss of $1.8 million. The victim alleges that between May 16 – 18 AT&T employees transferred ownership of their SIM to bad actors. The scammers were then able to access the victim’s personal finances and cryptocurrency exchange accounts to carry out their attack. It…

This story continues at The Next Web

Instagram is testing a feature to clean up your pity follows

We’ve all been there: You meet someone who wants to stay in touch later, but you don’t want to share your number with them. So you turn to the next best thing — Instagram. These are people whom you follow out of courtesy, but don’t interact with much. Don’t worry, Instagram is testing a feature that might help you out unfollow some of them. According to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong,the social network is experimenting with a feature to let you group accounts — and it’ll even corral those courtesy follows for you automatically. Some automatic groups are “Least interacted…

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Microsoft’s open-source election software now has a bug bounty program

Microsoft has announced a bug bounty program for its open-source election software ElectionGuard, allowing researchers to uncover vulnerabilities and help bolster election security. Available as a software development kit (SDK), ElectionGuard aims to make voting tamper-proof by leveraging encryption to “enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting.” It also allows individual voters to confirm that their votes were correctly counted. “Security researchers play an integral role in the ecosystem by discovering and reporting vulnerabilities to Microsoft through coordinated vulnerability disclosure,” the Windows maker said. The bug bounty offers security professionals, part-time hobbyists, and students a reward of up to $15,000…

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Facebook begins testing dark mode and a Twitter-like interface for desktop

In May, Facebook said it was going to redesign the website and bring dark mode to its website and mobile apps. While it began testing dark mode for its Android app in August, it has now started rolling out a beta version of its website with that option to some users too. Multiple people are being invited to test the new interface. The screenshots shared by testers are akin to design Facebook showed off at its developer conference F8 in May. The new version of the website kinda looks like Twitter: Got the invite to try Facebook's new desktop design…

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