• 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Posts from the 'Uncategorized' Category
20.06.18 Bag Week 2018: Chrome’s BLCKCHRM Bravo 2.0 backpack is a burly, stylish beast If you needed to pick a bag to have your back in a street fight, you should probably choose Chrome’s Bravo 2.0. I tested a version of this pack from the company’s higher-end BLCKCHRM line. The BLCKCHRM version of the Bravo 2.0 replaces the normal pack’s 1050 denier nylon exterior with a slightly rubbery, Navy-grade material called Hypalon, a full grain leather back panel and a sleek all-black look. The result is as visually impressive as it is brawny. Taylor Hatmaker/TechCrunch To test the Bravo 2.0, I took it on a trip to Los Angeles that required me to fill every available cubic inch of my luggage with necessary gear. For the Bravo 2.0, that meant clothing that didn’t fit in my checked bag, a 13″ MacBook, a Sony RX-100, some medium-size notebooks, two lenses for my Sony A7S II and all of the other weird odds and ends that usually end up in a carry-on. Over the course of packing, I figured a few things out. For one, since the Bravo 2.0’s main compartment lacks organization and is a bit hard to see into when opened up, it works best if you stuff things into it that you won’t need to access on the go. Another thing I noticed is that beyond its black hole-like interior, the Bravo 2.0’s pockets don’t have a lot of depth, so they’re better suited for flat and rectangular stuff (mobile battery pack, thin books, magazines, a Kindle or iPad) and can’t expand to hold objects of less standard shapes. The material doesn’t have any give at all, but then again it’s basically indestructible so no, you can’t have it all. Taylor Hatmaker/TechCrunch The Bravo 2.0 also includes one external side pocket that seems intended for a water bottle, though mine wasn’t nearly slender enough to fit, rendering the pocket pretty much useless. For laptop storage, Chrome made an interesting choice with this pack. The design requires you to nestle your computer into a slender, flap-protected slot on the outside of the pack rather than in the innermost tarpaulin-lined compartment next to your back. I have TSA Pre so I didn’t have to do the stressful pulling-laptop-out-while-in-line airport thing, but the other times I needed my laptop that external pocket meant that it wasn’t a hassle. Still, wasn’t quite as convenient as a side-zip dedicated laptop pocket which remains my preferred way to stash a laptop. Though at more than three pounds the bag itself is way heavier than what I’m used to carrying (the BLCKCHRM version adds some extra weight though I’m not sure how much), my carry-on electronics and other valuables felt more snug and secure than they have in almost any other pack I’ve traveled with. Impressively, the Bravo’s weight must have been well distributed through its fairly wide and flat design because, in spite of my dense packing job, my back never hurt. A screwed-up back is an instant pack disqualifier, but the Bravo 2.0 carried a heavy load admirably. Taylor Hatmaker/TechCrunch In my travel, I never used the outside cross-buckles for anything, but they did look cool so there’s that. If you were biking, you could probably get a helmet or whatever else you needed (a jacket or other compressable item) strapped in there if you were willing to fiddle with the little metal hooks, but I wasn’t. I’m not a fan of velcro securing the main portion of a pack, but the Bravo’s velcro roll top didn’t drive me crazy, though that feat did require thoughtful packing. The pack’s velcro closure would be fine unless you really topped out the amount of stuff in the main compartment, in which case you wouldn’t quite be able to seal the velcro unless you want to rock the open rolltop bike messenger look. In the end, you can just repack your situation more carefully and move on with your life. Taylor Hatmaker/TechCrunch I’ll admit that at 5’4″, Chrome’s BLCKCHRM Bravo 2.0 was just too much bag for me, though a taller person would probably feel less dwarfed by its width and overall profile. Still, the pack distributed a full load’s weight well, kept it secure and ultimately made me look kind of badass, like a tactical ninja turtle or an urban prepper or something. It’s hard to overstate how good looking this bag is. Like quality leather, the Hypalon breaks in with wear, picking up surface marks that fade into a kind of weathered patina over time. Between that material, the all-black mini Chrome buckle chest strap and central black leather panel, it’s a very sleek, sexy looking bag. Still, for anyone who digs the Bravo 2.0’s vibe but is wary of its heavy construction, the regular edition Bravo 2.0 might be a better choice. But if you like your packs fancy, serious and black on black on black, well, you know what to do. Taylor Hatmaker/TechCrunch The normal version of the Bravo 2.0 retails for $160 and comes in black, red, navy and green. The all-black BLCKCHRM Bravo 2.0 is usually a steep $200 but it’s on sale right now for $160. What it is: A stylish, heavy-duty weatherproof rolltop pack with an easy-access laptop sleeve. What it isn’t: Lightweight or casual. Read more reviews from TechCrunch Bag Week 2018 here. Bag Week 2018: Chrome’s Vega Transit Brief makes your work vibe less uncool https://ift.tt/2K58xRm
20.06.18 Why Ford Is Buying Detroit’s Derelict Central Depot It’s a savvy PR move, but it also sends a big message. The carmaker wants to show it can compete with Uber and Waymo and all the Silicon Valley tech giants. https://ift.tt/2tmLGGG
19.06.18 Startup Grind founders raise $6.4M for community event platform Bevy The founders of entrepreneurial community Startup Grind have a startup of their own — Bevy, which announced today that it has raised $6.4 million in Series A funding. The funding comes from Upfront Ventures, author Steve Blank, Qualtrics founders Ryan Smith and Jared Smith, and Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard. CEO Derek Andersen (who founded and runs both Bevy and Startup Grind with CTO Joel Fernandes) said that the product was created to deal with Startup Grind’s challenges as the team tried to organize events using a mix of Eventbrite, Meetup and Mailchimp, “It worked fine at first, but a few years later, we looked up and we had hundreds of cities, and we had maybe 500 people that were working on it, and it was too much,” Andersen said. “For the first time in many years, we started to get smaller instead of bigger. We were spending all of this time just running triage and maintenance on the platform.” So in early 2016, the team built its own event management software, with what Andersen said was “no intention of anyone else using it.” But eventually, he realized that other companies were facing similar problems, so he launched Bevy as a separate startup to further develop and commercialize the product. “We really focus on the smaller, community events,” Andersen added. “If you just do a conference, Eventbrite is great — I’ve hosted thousands of events on Eventbirte. But if you want to host five or 10 events a month or jack that number up anywhere above that, and you don’t want to hire 10 people, then that’s really what we’re perfect to do.” Usually, these are events where community members play a big role, or are even doing most of the organizing themselves. So beyond supporting tasks like creating event listings, sending out promotional emails and managing sponsorships, Andersen said one of Bevy’s big differentiators is the ability to precisely control which users are authorized to perform different roles at different events. In addition, Andersen said that with Bevy, companies can create fully branded experiences and get full access to the customer data around their events. Customers include Atlassian, Duolingo, Docker, Evernote and Asana. Andersen also suggested that the company is taking advantage of a broader shift in marketing, where company’s relying more on their own customers and communities. “All the best companies do it today,” he said. He predicted that in the future, “Every company will hve a customer-to-customer marketing strategy. Now we’ve made it affordable and turnkey.” https://ift.tt/2I37YlO
19.06.18 PayPal is shelling our $400 million in cash for this 18-year-old company that helps gig workers get paid PayPal announced today that it’s paying $400 million in cash for Hyperwallet, an 18-year-old, Bay Area-based company that helps people and small businesses receive payments for products and services that they sell, including through the vacation rental platform HomeAway and Rodan & Fields, the multi-level marketing company that specializes in skincare products and employs an army of consultants to sell toners and the like. Hyperwallet interlinks cash networks, card schemes, and mobile money services with domestic ACH networks around the world to enable what it characterizes as “disruptively priced” and, as crucially, compliant mass payments. It isn’t clear as of this writing how much money Hyperwallet had raised over the years, though the WSJ notes that Primus Capital, the private equity firm, is a major shareholder. According to Crunchbase, the company has also received funding from the financial services company Raymond James. Hyperwallet was founded by Lisa Shields, an MIT-trained engineer who originally launched the company in Vancouver, where she last year founded a second company called FI.SPAN, which is an API management platform that aims to allow banks to quickly deploy new business banking products. Shields seemingly keeps a low profile compared with many founders. When she was presented with an Entrepreneur of the Year award by EY in 2015, she said, “I am honored and humbled, not to mention surprised.” (Hyperwallet has been led since 2015 by CEO Brent Warrington, who previously served as CEO of a company called SecureNet Payment Systems that wasacquired.) As for why PayPal acquired it, it says it enhances it ability to provide payment solutions to e-commerce platforms and marketplaces around the world, noting in a release about the deal that marketplace sales accounted for more than 50 percent of global online retail sales last year. The acquisition is just the latest in a long list of companies that PayPal has acquired over the years. Just last month, it shelled out a whopping $2.2 billion to acquire the European payments company iZettle in an all-cash deal that’s believed to be PayPal’s biggest. https://ift.tt/2JYn5yP
19.06.18 VW Group and Ford Motor in early talks to develop commercial vehicles together German automaker Volkswagen AG and Big Three U.S. automaker Ford Motor are considering teaming up on a range of projects, including jointly developing commercial vehicles, that would help them better compete in a global market that’s demanding better tech and more efficient, lower emission vehicles. The two companies announced Tuesday they had signed an agreement to explore a strategic alliance. Any alliance between VW and Ford will not involve the companies taking ownership stakes, Ford said in an announcement Tuesday. News of this possible alliance followed Ford’s announcement to build an electric and autonomous vehicle campus in one of Detroit’s oldest neighborhoods. The two automakers contend this potential strategic alliance will making them more competitive and better serve customers globally. Executives from VW and Ford are focused on an alliance to develop commercial vehicles, not necessarily cars and trucks built for consumers. Thomas Sedran, who heads up VW Group’s strategy division, noted that the companies have “strong and complementary positions in different commercial vehicle segments already.” “To adapt to the challenging environment, it is of utmost importance to gain flexibility through alliances,” Sedran said in a statement. “This is a core element of our Volkswagen Group Strategy 2025. The potential industrial cooperation with Ford is seen as an opportunity to improve competitiveness of both companies globally.” By commercial, this means vehicles in fleets, delivery vehicles, and those used for commercial applications. The details end there. It’s unclear, for example, if this commercial vehicle alliance—if they come to agreement—would involve autonomous shuttles. This deal will mostly likely center on finding ways to efficiently build and sell commercial vans that must meet increasingly strict environmental rules. A number of cities such as London and Paris are tightening regulations for delivery vans and other commercial vehicles. Some European cities are banning diesel, a commercial vehicle staple. These restrictions have forced automakers to pivot towards electric and hybrid vehicles. This is the first step in what promises to be a long process. For example, Ford announced in September it was “exploring” a strategic partnership with Mahindra around car tech in India. Six months later, the companies agreed to jointly develop new SUVs, and a small electric vehicle together. https://ift.tt/2tbo9ZK
19.06.18 Football matches land on your table thanks to augmented reality It’s World Cup season, so that means that even articles about machine learning have to have a football angle. Today’s concession to the beautiful game is a system that takes 2D videos of matches and recreates them in 3D so you can watch them on your coffee table (assuming you have some kind of augmented reality setup, which you almost certainly don’t). It’s not as good as being there, but it might be better than watching it on TV. The “Soccer On Your Tabletop” system takes as its input a video of a match and watches it carefully, tracking each player and their movements individually. The images of the players are then mapped onto 3D models “extracted from soccer video games,” and placed on a 3D representation of the field. Basically they cross FIFA 18 with real life and produce a sort of miniature hybrid. Considering the source data — two-dimensional, low-resolution, and in motion — it’s a pretty serious accomplishment to reliably reconstruct a realistic and reasonably accurate 3D pose for each player. Now, it’s far from perfect. One might even say it’s a bit useless. The characters’ positions are estimated, so they jump around a bit, and the ball doesn’t really appear much, so everyone appears to just be dancing around on a field. (That’s on the to-do list.) But the idea is great, and this is a working if highly limited first shot at it. Assuming the system could ingest a whole game based on multiple angles (it could source the footage directly from the networks), you could have a 3D replay available just minutes after the actual match concluded. Not only that, but wouldn’t it be cool to be able to gather round a central location and watch the game from multiple angles on it? I’ve always thought one of the worst things about watching sports on TVs is everyone is sitting there staring in one direction, seeing the exact same thing. Letting people spread out, pick sides, see things from different angles to analyze strategies — that would be fantastic. All we need is for someone to invent a perfect, affordable holographic display that works from all angles and we’re set. The research is being presented at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Salt Lake City, and it’s a collaboration between Facebook, Google, and the University of Washington. https://ift.tt/2tmz42i
19.06.18 Tech leaders condemn policy leading to family separations at the border By now you’ve seen the photos and videos and probably heard the audio tape. The media coming out of the U.S./Mexico border over the past week has been truly heart-wrenching and horrifying, including, most shockingly, images of young children being housed in what amounts to human cages. Many prominent politicians across the world (and in the G.O.P.) have called out the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border. A number of prominent executives from top tech companies have also begun to use their soapbox to address — and largely admonish — the policies that have led to this humanitarian crisis. Here’s what those individuals are saying. Microsoft Microsoft was among the first tech giants to issue a statement about the situation. The official company line was both an admonishment of current administration policy and somewhat defensive after speculation arose that the company’s cloud computing platform Azure may have somehow been involved. Here’s the full statement issued on Monday: In response to questions we want to be clear: Microsoft is not working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border, and contrary to some speculation, we are not aware of Azure or Azure services being used for this purpose. As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border. Family unification has been a fundamental tenet of American policy and law since the end of World War II. As a company Microsoft has worked for over 20 years to combine technology with the rule of law to ensure that children who are refugees and immigrants can remain with their parents. We need to continue to build on this noble tradition rather than change course now. We urge the administration to change its policy and Congress to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families. Apple Rather than issuing a public statement, Tim Cook called the situation “inhumane” during a talk in Dublin this week. Apple’s CEO expounded upon that thought during an interview with The Irish Times, telling the paper, “It’s heartbreaking to see the images and hear the sounds of the kids. Kids are the most vulnerable people in any society. I think that what’s happening is inhumane, it needs to stop.” As far as his own strained relationship with Trump, Cook added diplomatically, “I have spoken with him several times on several issues, and I have found him to listen. I haven’t found that he will agree on all things.” Google The stories and images of families being separated at the border are gut-wrenching. Urging our government to work together to find a better, more humane way that is reflective of our values as a nation. #keepfamiliestogether — Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) June 19, 2018 CEO Sundar Pichai took to Twitter to urge a more “humane” approach, writing, “The stories and images of families being separated at the border are gut-wrenching. Urging our government to work together to find a better, more humane way that is reflective of our values as a nation.” Facebook Organizations like Texas Civil Rights Project and RAICES are doing great work helping families at the US border get… Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 Mark Zuckerberg, naturally, issued a call to action via Facebook. The post is largely a call to action asking followers to donate to nonprofit orgs Texas Civil Rights Project and RAICES, adding, “we need to stop this policy right now.” Listening to the cries of children separated from their parents is unbearable. The practice of family separation on our… Posted by Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 COO Sheryl Sandberg also encouraged users to donate to the two aforementioned charities, though her language was decidedly more pointed than Zuckerberg’s. “Listening to the cries of children separated from their parents is unbearable,” she wrote. “The practice of family separation on our border needs to end now. We can’t look away. How we treat those most vulnerable says a lot about who we are.” YouTube Regardless of your politics, it’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening to families at the border. Here are some ways you can help: https://t.co/IFVG6g8AKO — Susan Wojcicki (@SusanWojcicki) June 19, 2018 In a simple tweet, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote, “Regardless of your politics, it’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening to families at the border,” while linking to a list of charities. Tesla/SpaceX I hope the kids are ok — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 19, 2018 Elon Musk’s own tweet was a bit less…verbose than the rest, simply writing, “I hope the kids are ok” and linking to a YouTube video of “Shelter” by xx. Airbnb Ripping children from their parents’ arms is cruel. This policy must end. pic.twitter.com/R2b3FXtxqU — Brian Chesky (@bchesky) June 18, 2018 Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk issued a joint statement on Twitter in both English and Spanish: Ripping children from the arms of their parents is heartless, cruel, immoral and counter to American values of belonging. The U.S. government needs to stop this injustice and reunite these families. We are a better country than this. Uber As a father, a citizen and an immigrant myself, the stories coming from our border break my heart. Families are the backbone of society. A policy that pulls them apart rather than building them up is immoral and just plain wrong. #KeepFamiliesTogether https://t.co/g2Cu40zvcX — dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) June 19, 2018 CEO Dara Khosrowshahi cited his own experience as an immigrant to admonish the policy, writing, “As a father, a citizen and an immigrant myself, the stories coming from our border break my heart. Families are the backbone of society. A policy that pulls them apart rather than building them up is immoral and just plain wrong.” Lyft We are taking action to help the families and children that are being unjustly separated at the border by offering @Lyft Relief Rides to 12 organizations (including @RAICESTEXAS, @TXCivilRights, @supportKIND) #KeepFamiliesTogether — johnzimmer (@johnzimmer) June 19, 2018 The cofounders of the country’s other major ride sharing service also issued a joint statement condemning the actions. They went a step further, as well, offering free rides to a dozen organizations providing help at the border. https://ift.tt/2tnbK4i
19.06.18 Keepsafe launches a privacy-focused mobile browser Keepsafe, the company behind the private photo app of the same name, is expanding its product lineup today with the release of a mobile web browser. Co-founder and CEO Zouhair Belkoura argued that all of Keepsafe’s products (which also include a VPN app and a private phone number generator) are united not just by a focus on privacy, but by a determination to make those features simple and easy-to-understand — in contrast to what Belkoura described as “how security is designed in techland,” with lots of jargon and complicated settings. Plus, when it comes to your online activity, Belkoura said there are different levels of privacy. There’s the question of the government and large tech companies accessing our personal data, which he argued people care about intellectually, but “they don’t really care about it emotionally.” Then there’s “the nosy neighbor problem,” which Belkoura suggested is something people feel more strongly about: “A billion people are using Gmail and it’s scanning all their email [for advertising], but if I were to walk up to you and say, ‘Hey, can I read your email?’ you’d be like, ‘No, that’s kind of weird, go away.’” It looks like Keepsafe is trying to tackle both kinds of privacy with its browser. For one thing, you can lock the browser with a PIN (it also supports Touch ID, Face ID and Android Fingerprint). Then once you’re actually browsing, you can either do it in normal tabs, where social, advertising and analytics trackers are blocked (you can toggle which what kinds of trackers are affected), but cookies and caching are still allowed — so you stay logged in to websites, and other session data is retained. But if you want an additional layer of privacy, you can open a private tab, where everything gets forgotten as soon as you close it. While you can get some of these protections just by turning on private/incognito mode in a regular browser, Belkoura said there’s a clarity for consumers when an app is designed specifically for privacy, and the app is part of a broader suite of privacy-focused products. In addition, he said he’s hoping to build meaningful integrations between the different Keepsafe products. Keepsafe Browser is available for free on iOS and Android. When asked about monetization, Belkoura said, “I don’t think that the private browser per se is a good place to directly monetize … I’m more interested in saying this is part of the Keepsafe suite and there are other parts of the Keepsafe Suite that we’ll charge you money for.” https://ift.tt/2I3Tz97
19.06.18 WHO Calls Gaming Disorder an Illness. Experts Say Not So Fast Some mental health experts have reservations about the change in the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases. https://ift.tt/2MEuZPJ
19.06.18 Why Are the Velociraptors in ‘Jurassic World’ So Big? In reality, they were about the size of a large turkey. On the big screen? Not so much. https://ift.tt/2tm1B7T