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14
Apr

Recommended Reading: Facebook’s influence on Instagram


Instagram looks like Facebook’s best hope
Sarah Frier,
Bloomberg Businessweek

With all the attention on Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to DC this week, it can be easy to lose sight of an important detail: Facebook also owns Instagram. Of course, this means it also has access to the photo-sharing app’s massive user base. Bloomberg Businessweek has a detailed look at the relationship between the two companies as Instagram approaches 1 billion total users.

Mark Zuckerberg says he’s not resigning
Robinson Meyer,
The Atlantic

In an interview with The Atlantic, the Facebook CEO admits he’s looking for some outside help, but maintains he isn’t going anywhere.

We already know how to protect ourselves from Facebook
Zeynep Tufekci,
The New York Times

There are endless reactions to Zuckerberg’s testimony this week, but this opinion piece from The New York Times is a solid read even though it was more of a preview to this week’s events.

When identity thieves hack your accountant
Brian Krebs,
Krebs On Security

Spoiler alert: The deadline to file taxes in the US is next week. However, your accountant may have a bigger challenge than submitting your e-file docs on time.

A quiet pace
Sean Fennessey,
The Ringer

Thanks to A Quiet Place, horror films could be having a big moment in Hollywood. The Ringer explains why here.

14
Apr

Amazon Studios stops taking amateur scripts on June 30th


For years, Amazon Studios has held an open call for concept and script submissions. You could send an idea to the company and not only make it publicly available, but (if you were lucky) see it developed as an honest-to-goodness Prime Video production. However, you’ll now have to scramble for an alternative. Amazon is closing the open call on June 30th, 2018. You’ll still have access to the companion Storybuilder and Storywriter tools, but you won’t be showing Amazon the fruits of that labor.

If you still have dreams of creative glory, the company suggests submitting work to Withoutabox, IMDb Pro (where you can connect to other creatives) or publishing to Prime Video Direct.

The company hasn’t explained the reasoning behind the shutdown besides “looking for ways to become even more efficient.” We’ve asked Amazon for more details. However, it comes after a fundamental shift in Amazon’s Prime Video strategy. The internet giant is now focused on creating blockbuster shows with major properties and extravagant budgets — and that typically means playing it safe by relying on established production teams instead of amateur submissions. Combine that with Amazon’s increased clout in securing deals and there just isn’t as much demand for submissions, even if it reduces the chances of a surprise hit from a relative newcomer.

Source: Amazon Studios

14
Apr

Apple Now Offering Free Repairs of 42mm Apple Watch Series 2 Models With Swollen Batteries


Apple will repair select Apple Watch Series 2 models that do not power on or have a swollen battery free of charge as part of a new service policy.

An original Apple Watch with an expanded battery via Apple Support Communities
“Apple has determined that under certain conditions, some Apple Watch Series 2 devices may not power on or they may experience an expanded battery,” wrote Apple, in an internal document distributed to Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers on Friday and subsequently obtained by MacRumors.

“Apple will service eligible devices free of charge,” according to the document, numbered SN4534 in Apple’s internal GSX portal. “Apple will authorized coverage for eligible devices for three years after the original date of purchase.”

A swollen battery can prevent an Apple Watch from powering on or cause the display to burst open. Photos of the issue have been shared by customers in the Apple Support Communities and MacRumors forums in recent months.

Eligibility is limited to any 42mm-sized Apple Watch Series 2 models, including Sport, Edition, Hermès, and Nike+ variants, pending a visual-mechanical inspection, according to a companion document numbered OP1977. The warranty status of the Apple Watch does not affect coverage, the document states.

This new policy does not apply to the original Apple Watch, Series 1 and Series 3 models, or any 38mm model. A few years ago, however, Apple enacted a similar policy for original Apple Watch models with swollen or expanded batteries that offers free repairs within three years of the original date of purchase.

Affected customers can visit the Contact Apple Support page, select Apple Watch → Battery, Power, and Charging → Bring in for Repair to schedule an appointment with the Genius Bar at an Apple Store or at an Apple Authorized Service Provider. There are also options to contact Apple advisors by phone or online chat. Battery replacements are completed at an off-site Apple Repair Center.

Apple advises customers inquiring about a refund for a previous Apple Watch battery replacement to contact its support advisors.

Apple has not announced this policy publicly as it does with some of its other repair programs, but MacRumors has verified the internal document’s authenticity with multiple sources. However, outside of our control, some Apple employees advise customers that no such policy exists. In these cases, our only advice is to keep trying or escalate the case to a senior advisor if possible.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Tag: repair programBuyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
Discuss this article in our forums

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14
Apr

How to use Apple’s Business Chat on your iPhone or iPad in iOS 11.3


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

While the most discussed features of iOS 11.3 were the performance management and battery health tools, Apple released a bevy of new features in the update such as Apple Business Chat. This new addition allows you hit up partnered companies through the Messages app, instead of waiting on hold to talk to a customer service representative.

Business Chat is currently in beta, and it shows. Only a handful of companies are supporting this feature at the moment, and starting a chat is a little wonky. It’s still a feature that holds a lot of promise, especially since there is a lot of competition in this space from the likes of Facebook’s bots and Google’s RCS (Rich Communication Services) for Business program, and it’s likely Apple’s version will become much more robust by the time iOS 12 lands later this year.

What can you do on Business Chat

Like Google’s RCS for Business initiative, Apple verifies businesses and you can trust you’re actually talking to a representative from the business you’re contacting. Here are a few things you can do in Business Chat.

  • Contact customer service.
  • Discuss account information with your bank after authenticating in Business Chat.
  • Make purchases and pay via Apple Pay.
  • Make appointments.
  • Update your mobile plan.

In short, functionality depends on the business itself. When you initially contact a business, it doesn’t receive any personal information, but you can opt to provide it to complete certain tasks and transactions. Apple’s Messages app uses end-to-end encryption, which means Business Chat is a very safe option.

How to set up Business Chat

To use Business Chat, you need to do a few things. First, you need to download the latest version of iOS. You can do that by tapping Settings > General > Software Update and follow the prompts. Be warned, this process can take a while so you want to make sure that your phone is charged and that you won’t need it for the next few minutes. It’s also a good idea to backup your iPhone or iPad to save your data.

Once you’re running the latest version of iOS, make sure you have iMessage turned on by going to Settings > Messages and toggling on the iMessage option. You may be prompted to create an Apple ID if you haven’t done so already.

How to start a Business Chat

Starting a Business Chat is not as simple as opening your Messages app and searching for a business, though we’re certainly hoping that functionality will come with iOS 12. Here are a few ways to start a Business Chat:

Spotlight search

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Perhaps the easiest way to start a Business Chat is by using Spotlight search. To open Spotlight search you can either swipe right to the Today View or swipe down on your home screen. When in Spotlight search, type the name of the business you wish to contact. Here, you will see a list of different options. Tap the message icon under the Business or Maps field.

Map search

While Spotlight search may be the easiest way to start a Business Chat, it doesn’t always work. We had better luck finding the chat option in the Maps app. To start a Business Chat in the Maps app, simply tap on the Maps icon and search for the business by name. Once you find a nearby location, tap on it; you will see how long it typically takes the business to respond to messages. Swipe up and click on the Message icon to start a Business Chat.

Siri

While Apple states that you can initiate a Business Chat through Siri, we were unable to get the virtual assistant to help. When we asked Siri to initiate a Business Chat with verified businesses, she would either set up reminders or show nearby locations of a business without providing an option to send a message. Since Business Chat is still in beta, we’re giving it a pass on this option for now. Once this method works properly, we will update this story.

Online / App

The final way to start a Business Chat is either by searching for a business in Safari or tapping the Messages icon in supported apps.

How to end a Business Chat

Business Chats do not end when you stop chatting with the company — the conversation remains open in case you need help again. If you want to end a conversation and remove the thread from your app, go to the main screen of the Messages app, swipe left on the conversation, and tap Delete. Once you successfully delete a thread, you will see a message pop up asking if you want to stop receiving messages from the business.

Supported businesses

Currently, only a handful of major companies support Business Chat, however, we expect to see that list expand in the coming months. Since Apple requires companies to use certain customer service platforms with the service, it’s unlikely you will see mom and pop businesses with the feature in the near future.

Here is a list of companies that currently support Business Chat:

  • Apple
  • T-Mobile
  • Lowe’s
  • Home Depot
  • 1-800-Flowers
  • Discover
  • Hilton
  • Marriott International
  • Wells Fargo
  • TD Ameritrade
  • NewEgg

For the most up to date list of businesses that support Business Chat, you can check out this page.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • 28 iOS 11 tips and tricks to help you navigate Apple’s latest update with ease
  • Lost and found: Here’s how to locate your iPhone when it goes missing
  • How to use Samsung’s Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks
  • Apple’s iOS 11.3 is now available for download on the iPhone and iPad
  • How to use Apple Pay Cash to send and receive money


14
Apr

Remember that mobile security companies only want to sell you something


Android-figures.jpg?itok=JOwVsINE

A company who wants your money just might say anything to get it.

Did you hear that like every Android phone ever made is broken because the companies that made them are lying and not really sending you security patches when they say they are sending you one? Chances are you did, because the whole silly mess was engineered solely so you would hear about it. I’ll go a step further and say the entire study only exists as a thing that will grab your attention so you can become concerned about your phone, then be directed to a link where you can download an app with intrusive permissions and send loads of juicy user data.

Fear is big business and there will always be companies who use scare tactics to get attention.

That’s bad. Very bad. Not just because some company drops a gigantic accusation and offers little to no proof, but because it will make us skeptical when we shouldn’t be. One day a security researcher may find something we really need to know about or be concerned about, but we’ll brush it off because of the countless times we’ve been misled. Mobile security products are the 21st-century version of snake oil.

The fact of the matter is that mobile security companies only exist to make money like all other companies. Every word a spokesman says or types is said or typed to make money for the company, and they try to make us think they are helping or saving us while they do it. They really love it when they see news stories that repeat the words they have said or typed and the more times they see headlines with the company name and sensational numbers about “infected Android phones” or similar nonsense the more money there is to count. Android may be broken, but instead of trying to fix it these companies are circling like buzzards so they can get their bit of flesh.

google-security-checkup.jpg?itok=4bNMIfA

I spent way too much time trying to investigate the recent claims about dishonest security patches only to see that the details eventually released don’t tell us anything — other than how bad it all is based on proprietary software that scans phone firmware files. That’s kind of interesting, but not really what we expected to hear after a full day of hype letting us know there was something important to say. This sort of carnival barker behavior is ridiculous and shows that the companies involved don’t really care about your safety and privacy or they wouldn’t make you wait one more day.

It works, though. The news business is full of fierce competition and that means your website can’t be the only one that doesn’t repeat the dubious claims that infer we all should trust a company we have never heard of more than the company that invented the cell phone. And what if one of these claims turns out to be more than sensationalism? No outlet wants to be the place that didn’t warn you when they could have. Remember that the next time you want to blast a website or news channel for repeating something that might be important. They (we) aren’t security researchers and aren’t making these claims, only repeating them so you know about them.

News writers should display a disclaimer in these stories. I’m guilty of not doing it, too.

What we here at AC and every other news outlet could do is remind you that these sorts of things come from companies that sell a product designed to “fix” the problems they claim to have found. I’m guilty here, too. Whenever you read a news article telling you that millions of Android users are affected by something and the company making the claims has a mobile security product to sell you, there should be a disclaimer. “Company XXX is the publisher of this security application and we can’t validate their claims” or something similarly generic that can just be dropped in place every time a post about the latest thing is written would work. I’ll try to remember to do it from now on and remind others when I see it.

What we as users need to do is pay attention and decide which of these sorts of issues are worth further attention. We can’t just ignore them because every once in a while they turn out to have a bit of truth buried under all the BS. And the law of averages says that eventually millions of smartphones will be hacked and a lot of money will be stolen. But remember that it is ridiculously hard to hack a smartphone, and the companies writing the software and making the hardware never stop trying to make it even harder.

Stay safe, y’all.

14
Apr

Which Galaxy S9 color should I buy: Black, purple, blue, or gray?


Now, this is a big decision.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ have very subtle design differences compared to the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but one clear way to recognize them at a glance are their new colors. Midnight Black, Lilac Purple, Coral Blue and Titanium Gray are the color options, and aside from black they’re all fresh hues we haven’t seen before.

Here’s a good look at all four colors, and some information on what you can expect from each one so you can make an informed decision when you go to order.

Galaxy S9 in Midnight Black

Samsung’s been doing Midnight Black phones for a few years now, and the Galaxy S9’s version is no different. This is a solid black color with no real extra shine or glimmer to it. The metal frame is now more of a gray color on account of its texturing, which differs from the high-gloss black finish on the Galaxy S8. It’s very similar to the black Galaxy S7, in fact.

Who is it for?

If you want to play it safe, go for the Midnight Black color. It hides scratches better than the other lighter colors, and you won’t be attracting any unwanted attention to your phone. If you plan on just putting a case on your phone anyway, black is probably the easiest color to re-sell later on when you’re done with the phone.

Galaxy S9 in Lilac Purple

Lilac Purple is a brand new color for Samsung, and it kind of picks up where Orchid Gray left off in the Galaxy S8. It’s far more reflective and has a deeper color to it that’s more susceptible to changing its look in various lighting conditions, which means it will range from a deep purple (in dark lighting) to almost a grayish pink color (in bright light). The metal frame is a dull purple or pink, depending on the light. Of all four colors, Lilac Purple stands out the most — partially because there just aren’t many purple phones out there, but also on account of its reflectivity and pink accents.

Who is it for?

If you’re looking for a stand-out phone that’ll get noticed and never be confused for anyone else’s at the dinner table, Lilac Purple is the color for you. It’s a good bet that even among Galaxy S9 and S9+ owners that Lilac Purple will be the lowest-selling variety, so you have the best shot at staying unique for a while when you choose it.

Galaxy S9 in Coral Blue

Having a name like Coral Blue is a bit of a misnomer — this isn’t anything like Samsung’s previous blues, but more of a powder blue instead. I’d consider it a gray-based phone with some blue to it when you get it in bright lighting. When it’s in darker areas, you can’t tell it apart from the Titanium Gray model. The metal frame is a little bit of a giveaway with its soft blue shade, but even then it still doesn’t substantially stand out. It still has some of that reflectivity that Lilac Purple does, and that’s really the only time that it shows off a lot of its blue tendencies.

Who is it for?

Coral Blue is a great balance between the simple Midnight Black and the overtly bright Lilac Purple. Most of the time it’s quite simple and sleek looking, but in the right light it can show off its reflections and look far more blue. Coral Blue is a handsome, sophisticated color that you can’t go wrong with.

Galaxy S9 in Titanium Gray

Titanium Gray is a simple color, without much of the color-shifting tendencies seen in Lilac Purple and Coral Blue. It’s just gray, and when you get it in brighter or darker lighting, it just looks a bit closer to white and a bit closer to black. In the right lighting, it’ll look identical to Coral Blue. The metal frame is just a pure gray that looks like the most natural metal color, giving it more of an industrial look than the other three.

Who is it for?

Titanium Gray won’t be available in the U.S., so strike it off of your list if you’re buying it there. But if you have the choice, give it a look if you don’t want Midnight Black but aren’t interested in the shimmering color-changing feature of Lilac Purple or Coral Blue. Gray will always be gray no matter what, and if that sounds like a safe bet then you should go for it.

Regional differences matter (a little less this time)

samsung-galaxy-s9-plus-all-four-colors-4

As ever, not all regions are getting the same colors of the Galaxy S9 and S9+. In the U.S., we have access to three colors: black, purple and blue. As far as individual U.S. carriers go, most are offering all three colors of both sizes of the phone — but depending on which store you go to or whether you order online, stock may be limited.

Unfortunately, Titanium Gray is only for international markets. Around the world, you can expect two or three colors offered depending on the individual country (and carrier) you’re buying in. And of course this can change over time as exclusivity deals run out and new ones are made — and there’s a good chance Samsung will end up changing its color strategy over the course of the year.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

  • Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
  • Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
  • Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2: Which should you buy?
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
  • Join our Galaxy S9 forums

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14
Apr

LG V30S ThinQ review: A solid but pointless phone


It had its fair share of flaws, but last year’s LG V30 might have been the finest phone the company had made to date. Rather than wait the usual year for an official sequel, though, LG decided to spice things up a bit by unveiling a tweaked version of the phone at Mobile World Congress. Interestingly, the AI-fueled camera features that make the new V30S ThinQ special will also wind up on the original, rendering most arguments for buying this updated model moot. Despite being a perfectly solid smartphone with some notable improvements over the original, I can’t help but think the V30S ThinQ is ultimately pointless.

Oh, and one more thing before we dive in: This isn’t a typical review. We received this preproduction V30S ThinQ during the tail end of MWC, and it’s running a Korea-specific build of Android 8.0 Oreo. It’s been enough to get a feel for what the V30S experience is all about, but we’ll update this story with firmer conclusions when a retail-ready US model becomes available. Actually, I should say “if” a US model becomes available: The phone is already available for a hefty sum in its native South Korea, but with the G7’s global launch coming quickly, it’s possible we won’t see the V30S in the US at all.

Honestly, though, the V30S ThinQ barely counts as a new phone. Its physical design is unchanged, other than some new colors. (The Moroccan Blue finish is pretty spectacular.) Its internals have been given a minor update — there’s 6GB of RAM and either 128 or 256GB of storage — but the fundamentals remain the same. And the super-flexible dual camera functions the same way it always has, just with a pair of new image-recognition features and some specific new Google Assistant commands. “ThinQ” is not only an unfortunately spelled buzzword but also LG’s way of calling out the threads of artificial intelligence that make the V30S notable.

When you’re not using that AI-augmented camera (which I’ll get into more later), this phone feels identical to last year’s V30. The extra 2GB of RAM haven’t made an immediately noticeable difference in how well the phone runs, and despite being one generation behind the curve, the Snapdragon 835 chipset inside still means that it’s not a problem to jump between apps and playing games like PUBG Mobile. And since the battery hasn’t changed at all either, you can generally expect a little more than a full day of usage from a single charge. That’s not to say there are no differences though.

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Chris Velazco/Engadget

For some reason, Chrome ran absolutely terribly on the V30S. It didn’t matter which website I attempted to visit or when or what wireless network the phone was connected to. Scrolling down the feed of articles on Engadget or anything else was sluggish and jerky to the point where I nearly gave up on browsing entirely and just used the phone as a hi-res music player. To date, LG says it hasn’t run into similar issues on other devices, so I’m willing to chalk this up to preproduction bugs.

And speaking of production issues, it seems like LG’s early V30 screen problems have been worked out. Well, to an extent anyway. One of the biggest strikes against the company’s late-2017 flagship was that some units had screens that looked dingy and uneven in low light. It was especially noticeable when I used the V30 to read Kindle books in bed. Our V30S ThinQ isn’t exactly perfect — the screen still seems kind of gritty if you look closely enough — but it’s much better than the mess I got the first time around.

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Chris Velazco/Engadget

The real appeal here is the camera. With the original V30, LG put together a remarkably capable dual-sensor system that impressed because of its video chops. I’m nothing special as a video producer, but the laundry list of features (granular manual controls, focus peaking, the ability to shoot flat Cinelog footage for easier postproduction color grading, etc.) is more complete than any other phone we tested in 2017. Thankfully, that all remains true of the V30S ThinQ too.

The V30 wasn’t a bad stills camera either: Switching between the 16-megapixel telephoto camera (with a then-industry-leading f/1.6 aperture) and the 13-megapixel wide-angle camera made it surprisingly flexible. When it came to purely off-the-cuff photography, though, the V30 was pretty easily outgunned by devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 series and both of Google’s Pixel 2s. The Pixels in particular set the standard for mobile photography last year, thanks to the backend computational tuning that automatically improves photos as soon as you take them. We’ve reached the point where getting a great photo doesn’t just boil down to sensor specs and fine-grained controls — a dash of artificial intelligence definitely helps.

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Chris Velazco/Engadget

LG’s adoption of that idea is the reason the V30S ThinQ exists. Rather than automatically tune photos after they’re taken, LG’s new AI Cam feature tries to identify whatever’s in front of the camera so it can fire up the appropriate scene mode. The AI Cam can choose among eight modes, and it was almost always dead-on. Pointing the V30S at a person’s face kicked off “portrait” mode consistently while pets and urban landscapes also correctly triggered their corresponding presets.

It’s somewhat limited though. The phone was quite good at figuring out when to turn on “food” mode, for instance, but it augmented photos of different food items the same way. The intelligence on display here only extends as far as object identification — the tweaks made to portraits, landscapes and photos of pets were apparently locked into each preset and were the same every time. ASUS, Huawei and still other companies have embraced a similar approach, so there’s nothing novel here, but it works well enough. And if nothing else, watching keywords bubble up on the screen while the camera tries to figure out what it’s looking at is fascinating the first few times it happens.

qlens.jpg

Chris Velazco/Engadget

Then there’s QLens, which ultimately isn’t much more than a pared-down version of Bixby Vision. Once it’s enabled, you’re given the option to snap a photo of an object and search for related results on Amazon and Pinterest. I’ve been dreaming for years now of an app that would help me identify shoes, accessories and articles of clothing I see around New York that I’d want to add to my collection and this … definitely isn’t it. Having Amazon as a search partner for retail results is awfully handy, but the V30S ThinQ was never very accurate. Unless the item is very clearly labeled or exceptionally unique in its design, you’re probably not going to get the right result. It’s also worth noting that if/when the V30S ThinQ arrives in the US, it might not have Amazon as a search partner: Samsung had a similar partnership with Amazon last year, but that seems to have fallen apart.

QLens’ Pinterest integration worked a little better, but there’s little value here unless you’re a die-hard Pinhead. Sure, taking photos of clothing often returned results that looked pretty similar. I just don’t find adding those images to a pinboard particularly helpful. Your mileage may vary, naturally.

Oh, and while it’s not actually connected to LG’s AI endeavors, the new Night mode generally works like a treat too. Long story short, it treats four pixels on the main camera as one, resulting in brighter, lower-resolution shots (you might know this better as pixel binning). The quality-brightness trade-off can be worth it if you don’t require high-res results, say, for printing, but it would’ve been nice if this feature worked on both of the V30S’ cameras.

Beyond that, LG also worked with Google to craft new, device-specific Google Assistant commands that let you access specialized camera functions with your voice. They range from the generally useful (“Hey Google, take a wide-angle selfie” or “Hey Google, open the camera in manual mode”) to the absurd (“Hey Google, take a romantic Cine video”). At time of writing there are 23 V30S-specific commands, and most of them are just for launching the video camera with a specific set of Cine effects. The company says it’s working on some more immediately useful commands so that you’ll be able to ask Google to scan a QR code, search for images or take an AI Cam photo, but sadly, none of these have materialized yet.

At the end of my first go-around with the V30S ThinQ, I pondered whether anyone out there should actually drop some hard-earned cash on this thing. After living with the phone for the better part of a month, my answer for just about everyone is a definitive no. The V30S is what LG has referred to in the past as an interim release, a device meant to drive customer interest and keep people talking about LG in between its major flagship devices. It’s not an inherently flawed idea, but we already know LG is making the same AI-fueled features available on the original V30 as well. The point here is clearly to make a little extra scratch without having to significantly modify an existing phone’s production process. As far as money grabs go, this one’s pretty naked.

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Chris Velazco/Engadget

I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out who exactly this phone is meant for, though I think might have finally cracked it: It’s perfect for the irredeemably impatient. We’re this close to getting our first real look at LG’s G7 flagship, and there’s no question the AI features that debuted on the V30S ThinQ will appear on that device too. For now the only seemingly serious value in owning this updated V30 is getting to test some of those features first, and I can’t imagine many people are clamoring for that honor. I still think the V30S ThinQ is a great phone, and that’s not just because of my lingering fondness for the original. But does this thing actually need to exist? Not at all.

14
Apr

Elon Musk agrees robot glut slowed Model 3 production


Tesla’s affordable Model 3 has been trapped in development hell for what seems like ages now, and in an interview with CBS’s Gayle King, CEO Elon Musk offered a little more insight into how the production process has fallen short. While escorting King through the company’s Fremont, California-based factory, Musk conceded that Tesla might’ve been too many robots involved in its car production process and that the company would benefit from having more humans on the line. And when King opined out loud that in some cases, said robots probably slowed down production, Musk responded with a terse “yes, they did.”

Musk didn’t get to elaborate on the complexities of his factory setup, but he did point out one particular failure: the facility at one point used a “crazy, complex network of conveyor belts, and it was not working so [Tesla] got rid of the whole thing.”

That Musk would’ve chosen to rely on a highly automated facility is little surprise. During a shareholder meeting in 2016, he excitedly noted that he thinks of the factory itself as a product with the potential for tremendous breakthroughs. “We realized that the true problem, the true difficulty, and where the greatest potential is – is building the machine that makes the machine,” Musk said. “In other words, it’s building the factory.”

Musk’s plan to craft the machine that builds machines only picked up steam when Tesla acquired Perbix, an automated manufacturing company that Tesla had long-running business ties with. While the move allowed Tesla to being more component production in-house, it might have caused still more problems — Tesla temporarily suspended Model 3 production for a week in February in part to “improve automation.” It seems clear that Musk hasn’t yet struck the right balance between machines and the roughly 10,000 human workers at the Fremont factory.

Just to be clear though, a surfeit of robots isn’t the only reason Tesla has consistently fallen short of its production goals. On the company’s most recent earnings call, Musk candidly pointed out that issues with battery module production at the company’s Gigafactory in Nevada was the “limiting factor” in Model 3 output.

“We were probably a little overconfident, a little complacent, in thinking this is something we understand,” he said at the time. “We put a lot of attention on other things and just got too comfortable with our ability to do battery modules, because we’ve been doing that since the start of the company.”

14
Apr

George R.R. Martin, the last great LiveJournal user, leaves the platform


In the mid-aughts, LiveJournal was one of the top blogging services, and many a teen poured out their emotions on the site’s digital pages. But little did the world know that in 2005, a popular-in-his-genre fantasy writer would join the platform and continuously blog long after the world moved on. Game of Thrones’ George R.R. Martin spent the next 13 years updating fans on his life and times, keeping a casual record even as his fame skyrocketed alongside the increasingly-popular HBO show based on his book series. But valar morghulis, and so too must blogs: Martin has killed his LiveJournal.

Today marks the last entry on his lovably-named Not A Blog, which served as a reliably intimate nexus for fans to get a peek into Martin’s life and even interact with the famous author. There talked frankly about goings-on in the writing world, convention appearances, politics and of course, melodramatic accounts of his team the New York Giants. He also wrote about A Song of Ice and Fire’s eagerly-awaited next book The Winds of Winter in 2014, 2015 and 2016 as it became increasingly clear that the HBO show would surpass the events of the novels. But he also used the space to open up about losing friends both personal and professional.

Of course, he’s not done blogging — he’ll just do it on his own site from now on, which has faithfully recreated the lo-fi look of his old LiveJournal. Unfortunately, as his entry on March 5th noted, Martin admitted that his busy schedule will keep him from blogging much for awhile, and some posts will be done by his ‘minions.’

But the new site will always be a facsimile of the old platform. Now that LifeJournal has lost its last great user, who stubbornly resisted jumping to the MySpace or Facebook or Twitter, we’ve lost a link to a less-connected world. One in which the best way to express yourself online was to post earnest thoughts in a corner of the world wide web.

Source: Not A Blog (LiveJournal)

14
Apr

Sega Japan teases a mini Genesis coming later in 2018


Along with the rereleases of Shenmue I & II, Sega also showed off its own attempt at retro console loaded with classic games. While knockoff Genesis systems have been easy to find, the success of Nintendo’s miniaturized NES and SNES may have pushed Sega to get serious about nostalgia. MegaDrive Mini is apparently just a tentative name, but it’s also timed to arrive for the system’s 30th anniversary. So far Sega’s social media and PR for Europe and Japan are quiet on the subject, but if we find out any more details we’ll let you know.

「メガドライブ」誕生30周年記念!
『メガドライブ ミニ』(仮称)2018年発売決定!

思い出の名作ゲームの数々が、これ1台で楽しめます!#セガフェス #メガドライブ #メガドライブ30周年https://t.co/HWj6NFL96y pic.twitter.com/0C9QH1l5Mr

— セガ公式アカウント (@SEGA_OFFICIAL) April 14, 2018

『メガドライブ ミニ』(仮称)

※画像はイメージです。#セガフェス #メガドライブ #メガドライブ30周年https://t.co/HWj6NFL96y pic.twitter.com/KG8a6DhG7L

— セガ公式アカウント (@SEGA_OFFICIAL) April 14, 2018

Source: Sega Japan (Twitter)

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