Tech News and Analysis from around the web
Ryan Felton / Wall Street Journal:
NHTSA records show it is investigating over 30 incidents of a Tesla suspected of being on Autopilot mode going on to be involved in a serious crash — Wreck under investigation involves a Tesla Model S and left three people dead, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said
Chinese citizens angered by Shanghai's ongoing lockdowns are evading censorship of a viral post and video criticizing the government by minting them into NFTs — Growing popularity of decentralised ledger technology presents fresh challenge for country's censors
Wall Street Journal:
Sources: Klarna is aiming to raise up to $1B at valuation of around $30B, a ~30% drop from its $46B valuation in its last round led by SoftBank's Vision Fund 2 — Buy-now-pay-later startup, valued last year at $46 billion, could see its valuation fall by one-third in a tough environment for tech companies
Ingrid Lunden / TechCrunch:
Stripe launches Data Pipeline, letting its US customers link Stripe transactions data and their data stores in Amazon Redshift or Snowflake's Data Cloud — Stripe — the payments giant valued at $95 billion — is on a product sprint to expand its services and functionality beyond …
Richard Waters / Financial Times:
A look at the competition between China and the US to build exascale supercomputers, useful for defense and climate modeling, as China pulls ahead — World's biggest economies battle to dominate advanced processing power that will affect defence and climate modelling
Mary Ann Azevedo / TechCrunch:
Cairo- and San Francisco-based Instabug, which helps developers monitor performance and fix bugs in their apps, raises a $46M Series B led by Insight Partners — Instabug, a startup that aims to help mobile developers monitor, identify and fix bugs within apps, has raised $46 million …
Dean Takahashi / VentureBeat:
An interview with a16z's Jonathan Lai on Games Fund One, the VC firm's new $600M fund for games that will invest in studios, infrastructure, and technologies — Andreessen Horowitz has raised a $600 million fund to invest in games. The storied venture capital firm is already a big investor in games …
Dan Goodin / Ars Technica:
The CISA orders US federal civilian agencies to patch or remove VMware products affected by a critical RCE vulnerability that hackers are actively exploiting — Security flaws in VMware and F5's BIG-IP are being exploited by malicious hackers. — Malicious hackers, some believed to be state-backed …
Sarah Perez / TechCrunch:
YouTube rolls out player features to all users, including a graph to easily locate the “Most replayed” video parts, support for video chapters, and video loops — YouTube today is launching a new feature designed to help users identify the most popular parts of a video they're watching …
Alex Heath / The Verge:
Meta freezes hiring of engineers for product teams including Facebook Gaming, Dating, and Commerce; Zuckerberg said internally Meta is not planning layoffs — Mark Zuckerberg has internally downplayed the possibility of layoffs — Meta is pulling back its investments in a number of products …
Emma Roth / The Verge:
Report: Netflix had 3.6M cancellations in Q1 2022, up from ~2.5M for each past five quarters; 13% came from subscribers who had the service for over three years — Users subscribed to Netflix for more than three years represented 13 percent of total cancellations
Manish Singh / TechCrunch:
India says cloud providers and VPN operators that don't comply with its cybersecurity rules, effective as of June 27, “will have to pull out” of the country — India is pushing ahead with its new cybersecurity rules that will require cloud service providers and VPN operators …
MK Manoylov / The Block:
N3TWORK Studios, a blockchain gaming startup that incorporates features like NFTs into its mobile games, raises a $46M Series A led by Griffin Gaming Partners — Blockchain gaming startup N3TWORK Studios announced Wednesday that it closed a $46 million Series A funding round.
Aisha Malik / TechCrunch:
TikTok launches Branded Mission, a product that lets advertisers crowdsource content from creators with 1K+ followers and turn top-performing videos into ads — TikTok announced today that it's launching a new ad product called “Branded Mission” that will allow creators to connect with brands and possibly receive rewards for videos.
Mary Ann Azevedo / TechCrunch:
SpotOn, which provides payment and management services to SMBs in retail, food, and hospitality, raises a $300M Series F led by Dragoneer at a $3.6B valuation — Payments and software startup SpotOn has closed on $300 million in a Series F financing that values the company at $3.6 billion.
I've been buying smart battery-powered Bluetooth speakers almost since they first came out, starting with the Beats Pill, which I had mounted on the handlebars of the bike I rode in Manhattan. Lots of people asked what it was, and where could they get one. Since then I've bought speakers from JBL, Tribit, Ultimate Ears, and others. None of them cost more than $100. My favorite so far is the Tribit, it's tiny, has a huge sound, and it's got a great feel in the hand.
Then the other day I figured out what I wanted for summer outdoor lounging -- a battery-powered speaker that had Alexa built in. So I did a little shopping, found there aren't many, and they're all really expensive. I asked for advice on Twitter, and decided to blow some money, ordering a $400 Bose speaker. The reviews were stunning. I had a hard time imagining how the sound could be that great, compared to how great the much cheaper models were, but I had to find out. They offered free returns. So all I was risking was a little time.
Here's the top line. It was a huge disappointment in every way.
- I had to download their app just to turn it on, and then I had to create an account on their service. I also had to check off their agreement, which of course I didn't read. So right off the bat, before it even says anything to me, I hate it.
- Then it takes ten minutes to download the updated system software.
- To use Alexa, I had to go through another signon process which required me to remember the password I used for their system, which very luckily I did (I didn't try, I never plan on using that service again).
- Okay now finally, I say "Alexa WNYC," our local NPR station. Nothing happens. Then the speaker upstairs starts playing WNYC. I yell ALEXA STOP upstairs. No good. So I go upstairs and tell it again to stop, and again it doesn't. So I pull the plug. Then I hear the Alexa in the bedroom is doing the same thing. I go in there and pull the plug. Go back downstairs. The Bose speaker is doing nothing. Okay I take a deep breath and try it again. "Alexa WNYC." Exactly the same thing happens. So I go upstairs again, pull the plugs on the speakers, this time, leave them unplugged, go back downstairs and try again. "Alexa WNYC." Nothing. I figure I'll try it again later.
- I'm not done with the flaws of the product, but I want to pause here for a moment. I'm accustomed to setting up Alexas by plugging them in, waiting a few seconds while it boots up, then it looks around and somehow finds one of the other Alexas and asks if it's okay if it uses the data on it to configure this one. I always smile at this point, man that's good design, and I say YES of course, and in a few seconds I'm listening to NPR. The process involves no work beyond plugging it in and giving my consent. I imagine it needs to download updated system software, but wisely waits until late at night to do it. Why make the human wait while the robot does its housekeeping?
- Okay the next day I figure enough with Alexa, let's see how this is as a speaker. So I press the Bluetooth button on top of the speaker, and I connect my iPhone in the normal way for Bluetooth. Then I play an old McCartney song. It sounds like any of the other speakers I have. I hit pause and start playing another song, and it never plays. I hit pause and play again, and it plays for a few seconds then freezes. I repeat the pause-play thing again and again, that's it -- it never plays another bit of music.
Conclusion: This is a piece of shit product. Maybe the Alexa problems are really Amazon problems, but if so, I can't believe they shipped the thing in this condition. But Bluetooth is mature technology. I've never had a problem with Bluetooth on any of the other speakers.
And there's no way this product is worth $400. Even if it worked it wouldn't be worth any more than $100, and probably a lot less because the idea is this is supposed to be a portable product and it's much less portable than the $43 Tribit, and honestly -- if it sounds better, I couldn't tell the difference.
A thread from Twitter converted to a post. Someday I'm going to have to write a script to do this automatically.
If Twitter had a Steve Jobs type leader he'd come up with a brilliant idea, akin to noise-cancelling headphones (and call it that), and explain how satisfying it can be to tell the trolls to shut the fuck up. Ahhhh nice and quiet.
I used to live on noisy streets in Palo Alto and Berkeley. I moved to NYC, even worse (I lived in the West Village, then the East Village) until I moved uptown and then ahhh nice and quiet. Moved to the mountains, even better! There's something to be said for a little peace.
Here's how I made my twtr quiet. At the first sign of trollish behavior, I mute or block. Works great.
The trollish behavior is basically anyone who wants to argue with you. People who say unfair things and you want to point out how unfair they are. If you find yourself protesting, the chances you're communicating with a troll approach 100 percent.
To determine if the person conversing with you is a troll, look at your own feelings. If you feel they misunderstand you and want to correct them -- it's a troll.
We've learned so much about trolls. Trolls aren't nearly as frustrating as newbies who refuse to turn them off and insist on setting them straight for all to see. Ohhh, that's exactly what they want. It's like having a cat who brings home dead birds. I'm sure the cat meant well, but..
And btw, in 2022, the entire Republican Party platform is trolling.
Whoever runs Twitter needs the sass of Steve Jobs with his incredible ability to make simple ideas simple. Noise-cancelling headphones for Twitter. Instead of focusing on trying to diminish the brightness of the sun, give everyone sunglasses.
A Repub is someone who likes to troll Libs.
A Lib is someone who thinks Repubs want to know why they're wrong.
One of the coolest things about the web is that people do tutorials with videos showing how they do things like install a new antenna on your roof, or put together an Adirondack chair. When people bad mouth the web, they forget about miracles like that. That said, there must be videos that demo how to shut down the trolls yourself.