Tech News Feed

Tinder Steps Back From Metaverse Dating Plans As Business Falters

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-03 18:40
Amidst a disappointing set of earnings for the last quarter, Match Group has announced it's scaling back Tinder's metaverse dating ambitions and scrapping plans to offer an in-app Tinder Coins currency. The Verge reports: Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg, who became the dating app's first female CEO just last September, is also leaving the position, parent company Match Group's CEO Bernard Kim announced. Kim himself was named as CEO just two months ago. Nyborg previously set out ambitious plans for Tinder's take on the metaverse (or "Tinderverse" as she called it). Tinder acquired a company called Hyperconnect last year, which focuses on video, AI, and augmented reality technology, and Nyborg later cited its avatar-based "Single Town" experience as a way Tinder's users might one day be able to meet and interact with one another in virtual spaces, TechCrunch reported at the time. Now, however, Kim says he's instructed Hyperconnect to scale back. "Given uncertainty about the ultimate contours of the metaverse and what will or won't work, as well as the more challenging operating environment, I've instructed the Hyperconnect team to iterate but not invest heavily in metaverse at this time," Kim said. "We'll continue to evaluate this space carefully, and we will consider moving forward at the appropriate time when we have more clarity on the overall opportunity and feel we have a service that is well-positioned to succeed." Match Group cited the acquisition of Hyperconnect as contributing to a $10 million operating loss in the second quarter of 2022, down from operating income of $210 million in the same quarter last year.

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How the US Gave Away a Breakthrough Battery Technology To China

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-03 18:00
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via NPR: When a group of engineers and researchers gathered in a warehouse in Mukilteo, Wash., 10 years ago, they knew they were onto something big. They scrounged up tables and chairs, cleared out space in the parking lot for experiments and got to work. They were building a battery -- a vanadium redox flow battery -- based on a design created by two dozen U.S. scientists at a government lab. The batteries were about the size of a refrigerator, held enough energy to power a house, and could be used for decades. The engineers pictured people plunking them down next to their air conditioners, attaching solar panels to them, and everyone living happily ever after off the grid. "It was beyond promise," said Chris Howard, one of the engineers who worked there for a U.S. company called UniEnergy. "We were seeing it functioning as designed, as expected." But that's not what happened. Instead of the batteries becoming the next great American success story, the warehouse is now shuttered and empty. All the employees who worked there were laid off. And more than 5,200 miles away, a Chinese company is hard at work making the batteries in Dalian, China. The Chinese company didn't steal this technology. It was given to them -- by the U.S. Department of Energy. First in 2017, as part of a sublicense, and later, in 2021, as part of a license transfer. An investigation by NPR and the Northwest News Network found the federal agency allowed the technology and jobs to move overseas, violating its own licensing rules while failing to intervene on behalf of U.S. workers in multiple instances. Now, China has forged ahead, investing millions into the cutting-edge green technology that was supposed to help keep the U.S. and its economy out front. Department of Energy officials declined NPR's request for an interview to explain how the technology that cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars ended up in China. After NPR sent department officials written questions outlining the timeline of events, the federal agency terminated the license with the Chinese company, Dalian Rongke Power Co. Ltd. "DOE takes America's manufacturing obligations within its contracts extremely seriously," the department said in a written statement. "If DOE determines that a contractor who owns a DOE-funded patent or downstream licensee is in violation of its U.S. manufacturing obligations, DOE will explore all legal remedies." The department is now conducting an internal review of the licensing of vanadium battery technology and whether this license -- and others -- have violated U.S. manufacturing requirements, the statement said.

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A 'Reversible' Form of Death? Scientists Revive Cells in Dead Pigs' Organs.

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-03 17:21
The pigs had been lying dead in the lab for an hour -- no blood was circulating in their bodies, their hearts were still, their brain waves flat. Then a group of Yale scientists pumped a custom-made solution into the dead pigs' bodies with a device similar to a heart-lung machine. From a report: What happened next adds questions to what science considers the wall between life and death. Although the pigs were not considered conscious in any way, their seemingly dead cells revived. Their hearts began to beat as the solution, which the scientists called OrganEx, circulated in veins and arteries. Cells in their organs, including the heart, liver, kidneys and brain, were functioning again, and the animals never got stiff like a typical dead pig. Other pigs, dead for an hour, were treated with ECMO, a machine that pumped blood through their bodies. They became stiff, their organs swelled and became damaged, their blood vessels collapsed, and they had purple spots on their backs where blood pooled. The group reported its results Wednesday in Nature. The researchers say their goals are to one day increase the supply of human organs for transplant by allowing doctors to obtain viable organs long after death. And, they say, they hope their technology might also be used to prevent severe damage to hearts after a devastating heart attack or brains after a major stroke.

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Google decided having two apps called Meet was a good idea

Engadget - Wed, 2022-08-03 17:01

Google is moving forward with its merger of Duo and Meet, if not quite as elegantly as some might like. TechCrunchreports Google is rebranding Duo for Android and iOS as the Meet app, complete with the video calling-centric logo. The company had already migrated many of Meet's features. However, the old Meet app isn't going away for now — instead, it will be rebranded as "Google Meet (original)."

All Duo users should see the rebrand by September. You'll have to use your Google account for any meeting features, but familiar elements (like effects and contacts) will remain intact. The original Meet app will continue to work, but won't get ad hoc calling and will eventually disappear.

As a spokesperson explained in June, the merger is meant to adapt to the "evolving needs" of video calling, including meetings, by providing a unified experience. To some extent, it's also further acknowledgment that Google's communication app mix had grown too complex. The tech firm plans to shut down Hangouts this fall to focus on Chat, for instance, and it dropped Allo in early 2019. While the old Meet's existence could still prove confusing, it should soon be clearer as to just which Google apps you should use for work meetings or keeping up with friends.

Best Wired TV Streamer to Save Your Home's Wi-Fi Bandwidth - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-03 17:00
Streaming Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Disney Plus or Hulu can occupy your Wi-Fi. Try running an Ethernet connection instead.

You Can Buy Concert Tickets on TikTok. Here's How. - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-03 16:54
TikTok is partnering with Ticketmaster on a new feature that will let you buy event tickets with a just few clicks.

Data Brokers Resist Pressure To Stop Collecting Info on Pregnant People

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-03 16:45
Democratic lawmakers are piling pressure on data brokers to stop collecting information on pregnant people in order to protect those seeking abortions. They're not having much luck. From a report: For years, brokers have sold datasets on millions of expectant parents from their trimester status to their preferred birth methods. Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, that same data is becoming a political issue, with abortion-rights groups warning that states with abortion bans are likely to weaponize it. In the three months since POLITICO reported the draft opinion against Roe, numerous congressional Democrats have sent letters to data brokers urging them to stop the practice, promised to interrogate the companies about their collections and introduced bills to restrict reproductive health data from being collected and sold. But in the absence of federal data privacy legislation or any likely chance of it getting the support needed to pass, many brokers aren't taking heed. POLITICO found more than 30 listings from data brokers offering information on expecting parents or selling access to those people through mass email blasts. Twenty-five of them were updated after the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe v. Wade on June 24. Exact Data, a data broker that offers names, emails and mailing addresses of more than 23,000 expecting parents, updated its inventory as recently as August 1. PK List Marketing also updated its "She's Having a Baby - PRENATAL Mailing List" on August 1, according to its listing on NextMark, a directory of marketing email lists.

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Meta Is Pulling the Plug on Facebook Live Shopping - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-03 16:32
Live Shopping will shut down in October, after which the company will focus on Reels on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook Live Shopping is coming to an end in favor of Reels

Engadget - Wed, 2022-08-03 16:25

Facebook Live Shopping events appear to be another casualty of Meta’s shift to short-form video. According to an announcement on the company’s website, live shopping events on Facebook will retire on October 1st. The little-known feature let Facebook Business owners showcase their products in live videos to their followers — sort of like a personal Home Shopping Network. Merchants could notify their Page followers of upcoming live shopping sessions and take payments through Messenger.

In lieu of such sessions, Meta is asking merchants to consider showcasing products via Reels, Reels ads and product tagging on Instagram Reels. “As consumers’ viewing behaviors are shifting to short-form video, we are shifting our focus to Reels on Facebook and Instagram, Meta’s short-form video product,” wrote Meta in its post.

It’s no surprise that Meta is pushing more merchants towards Reels and Reels ads, especially given the fact that the latter reached a $1 billion annual revenue run rate in the second quarter of this year. Much to the chagrin of users that miss seeing their friends, Instagram and increasingly Facebook has continued to emphasize in-feed ads and suggested posts on user feeds. But thanks to a recent user-led backlash, Instagram has agreed to scale back the testing of its recommendation and video-centric features — but only temporarily.

Over the past two years, TikTok’s status as the reigning app of Gen Z has led other social media platforms to make some strategic changes to cater to a younger audience. In light of Meta’s first quarterly revenue loss since going public, CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed to Reels on Facebook and Instagram as a crucial part of the company’s recovery plan. Instagram users now spend nearly 20 percent of their time on the app watching Reels, though it’s likely a significant amount of this time was spent watching reposted TikToks — leading to the platform making some algorithmic tweaks to downrank videos from its competitor.

Meanwhile, Meta is continuing to make a push for users to create more original content on Reels. In a recent video, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said more of the platform would emphasize video “over time” — despite criticism from followers who miss Instagram’s earlier focus on photos. Last month Instagram began testing automatically turning videos shared on public Instagram accounts into Reels and adding a number of templates and tools to make it easier to create Reels.

College textbook maker Pearson eyes NFTs to claim a cut of second-hand sales

Engadget - Wed, 2022-08-03 16:10

NFT advocates often tout the technology's ability to grant the creator a cut of second-hand sales as one of its major attributes. Artists can earn from one of their digital creations years after first selling it. Others are looking at NFTs to earn a buck from the secondary market too, including the publishers of college textbooks.

Pearson, which said in 2019 it would focus on digital textbook sales, wants a piece of the action. “In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” CEO Andy Bird told Bloomberg this week. “The move to digital helps diminish the secondary market, and technology like blockchain and NFTs allows us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life."

There's an obvious reason why students resell textbooks. They're expensive! Students often have to spend hundreds of dollars on required materials each semester — or even hundreds of dollars on a single textbook. Selling on a textbook when it's no longer needed just makes sense.

Turning textbooks into NFTs and banking on the blockchain to track ownership of them (from “owner A to owner B to owner C,” as Bird put it) seems unnecessary, though. Digital rights management already exists and doesn't need to go anywhere near cryptocurrency. Pearson has a $15 per month subscription service for its textbooks as well.

Bird could simply be bloviating about a zeitgeisty technology to try and keep Pearson's investors happy — even though NFT sales have plummeted this year. In any case, there's still not much he or Pearson could do to stop students from screenshotting every page of a textbook before selling it on.

'Joker 2' Movie Gets Oct 2024 Release Date - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-03 16:10
The second Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie is set to come out five years after the first.

'Meme Stock' AMTD Digital Just Surpassed Goldman Sachs With a 22,000% Gain

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-03 16:05
The world, apparently, has a new financial giant. From a report: AMTD Digital, a Hong Kong-based company that listed in New York less than three weeks ago, has surged so much that its market value hit more than $310 billion as of Tuesday's close. That means the firm -- which develops digital businesses, including financial services -- is worth more than Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group, despite reporting just $25 million in revenue for the year ended April 2021. At least on paper, that makes it the third-biggest financial company in the world, trailing just JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway. While those firms have a long list of shareholders, AMTD Digital has a convoluted ownership structure that ultimately leads to one key name: Calvin Choi, an ex-UBS Group AG banker, who's currently fighting an industry ban in Hong Kong for failing to disclose conflicts of interest.

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She-Hulk's Disney Plus Premiere Delayed 1 Day, Episodes to Stream Thursdays - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-03 16:03
The Marvel series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is set to kick off on Aug. 18.

Biden's Second Executive Order on Abortion Supports Interstate Travel - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-03 15:59
The president directs Medicaid to provide funding for out-of-state abortion care.

Twitter hopes to revive Spaces with themed stations and daily digests

Engadget - Wed, 2022-08-03 15:44

Twitter is overhauling its Spaces audio chatrooms. The company has confirmed to TechCrunch that it's developing an experiment for the Spaces tab in its social media app. While it didn't say just what that would entail, early screenshots of test code from Watchful hint at a revised interface with major feature additions. You could browse themed stations (such as music or sports), or play a personalized daily digest with a handful of content.

The company warned TechCrunch that the screens were outdated and didn't reflect what you'd see in the final product. The revamp appears to take advantage of Spaces' support for topic tags that help you quickly find a relevant chatroom.

The rethink could help newcomers discover Spaces, not to mention expand it beyond the business and cryptocurrency users that frequently dominate the discussions. While it's not clear how many people currently use Spaces, the current interface is aimed more at veteran users.

Whether or not the update is timely is another matter. The audio chatroom phenomenon has lost some of its momentum, with pioneer Clubhouse laying off staff as it shifts strategy. While Twitter, Meta and Spotify all leaped into the field soon after Clubhouse's rise to prominence, it's not clear these piggyback efforts took off. Internal data obtained by The Washington Post suggested that Spaces was already in decline last summer with under 1 million users by July 2021. The audio chat bubble might have popped a while back, in other words, and there's no guarantee a Spaces redesign will help.

'Bullet Train' review: Brad Pitt Action Flick Is Off The Rails in the Best Way - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-03 15:43
Grosse Pointe Blank meets Looney Tunes (on a train) in this gleefully silly hitman black comedy.

World of Warcraft Mobile Game Reportedly Cancelled by Blizzard After Finance Dispute

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-03 15:25
A World of Warcraft mobile game has reportedly been quietly canceled due to financing disputes. From a report: According to Bloomberg, the upcoming smartphone game had been in development for three years but has now been canceled due to a dispute between Activision Blizzard and NetEase. "The two companies disagreed over terms and ultimately called a halt to the project, which had been kept under wraps," said a source close to the deal. The project, referred to as "Neptune" by those working on it, was said to be a Warcraft spin-off, set during a different period to World of Warcraft. It's unknown whether it would have directly tied into either Warcraft, Warcraft II, or Warcraft III. The good news is that it's not Warcraft Arclight Rumble -- the upcoming mobile "tower offense" game due to release later this year. As far back as February this year, Activision Blizzard revealed that it was working on multiple mobile Warcraft titles, and this was thought to be one of the big reasons behind Microsoft's acquisition of the company for a reported $69 million earlier this year. Now, it looks as though those mobile games may be up in the air -- after all, the extent of Activision Blizzard's working relationship with NetEase following this high-profile cancellation is uncertain. Another of Activision Blizzard's mobile games, a Pokemon Go-style AR game, was also canceled.

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Why 'The Orville: New Horizons' Deserves More Attention - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-03 15:20
Commentary: It's the sci-fi series that out Star Treks Star Trek.