David Attenborough is narrating Netflix nature series ‘Our Planet’

David Attenborough is narrating Netflix nature series ‘Our Planet’


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Sir David Attenborough will be handling narrating duties for an upcoming nature documentary series for Netflix called Our Planet. The streaming service said it plans to release the eight-episode run of the show on April 5th, 2019.

Our Planet has been a massive undertaking, according to Netflix. The series is four years in the making, with footage taken in 50 different countries around the world by more than 600 crew members. Tens of thousands of hours of film taken over the course of 3,500 filming days were captured using 4K cameras. That footage will comprise the series, which will highlight the delicate habitats of earth and the flora and fauna that populate them.

The 92-year-old Attenborough, who is well-known for his work on natural history programs produced by the BBC, will serve as the voice of Our Planet in English-language territories. Netflix said it will tap local narrators for other regions and will announce those presenters next year. Attenborough is joined by director Alastair Fothergill, the creator of the original Planet Earth series and Blue Planet — both of which were also narrated by Attenborough.

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YouTube users are running into fake and dangerous videos, study finds

YouTube users are running into fake and dangerous videos, study finds


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New data from Pew Research Center highlights both the highs and lows of YouTube. The study — which was based on a survey of 4,594 adults in the US conducted earlier this year — found that people of all ages use YouTube for just about everything. It’s especially a popular choice for figuring out how to do something they have never done before and for entertainment purposes. Unfortunately, a majority of YouTube users report being exposed to false or “troubling” videos during their visits to the platform.

At its best, YouTube is a great resource for people. According to Pew, 87 percent of survey respondents said YouTube is important for learning how to do new things. That benefit reached all age groups, with more than half of users ages 18 to 29 and 41 percent of people 65 and older saying they used YouTube to learn new skills.

And then there’s the flip side of YouTube, where problematic content runs wild. Pew found three in five people encounter videos showing people in dangerous or troubling situations. Two-thirds of people said they run into false or untrue videos at least sometimes, with 15 percent finding such videos frequently. That’s a real problem for a platform that is increasingly becoming a source of news for many visitors; 53 percent of YouTube users told Pew the site is at least somewhat important for helping them understand what is happening in the world.

YouTube has been combatting disturbing, problematic content on its platform for some time now. The platform came under fire earlier this year when a top trending video promoted a conspiracy theory about the students who were victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The platform also took heat for a rash of disturbing videos targeted at kids that cropped up earlier this year.

When asked for comment, YouTube provided a summary of its ongoing effort to keep tabs on any content that violates its terms. For example, the company explained that it removed over 17 million videos that violated policies in the first half of 2018, with the majority being flagged by machine learning systems. YouTube also explained that it added features that surface credible news outlets, especially during major events. That second item was announced as part of a $25 million investment back in July.

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Study tracks severe bleaching events on a Pacific coral reef over past century

Study tracks severe bleaching events on a Pacific coral reef over past century

As climate change causes ocean temperatures to rise, coral reefs worldwide are experiencing mass bleaching events and die-offs. For many, this is their first encounter with extreme heat. However for some reefs in the central Pacific, heatwaves caused by El Nino are a way of life. Exactly how these reefs deal with repeated episodes of extreme heat has been unclear. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), has uncovered the history of bleaching on a reef in the epicenter of El Nino, revealing how some corals have been able to return after facing extreme conditions. The study was published Nov. 8, 2018, in the journal Communications Biology.

“These huge marine heatwaves, which are being exacerbated by global warming, are equivalent to an atomic bomb in terms of impact on coral reefs — they kill millions of corals across huge areas of ocean in a very short time” says WHOI scientist Anne Cohen, who was principal investigator on the work. “We’ve seen this play out now globally for the past 30-40 years, and bleaching events have become more frequent and more severe.”

When water temperatures rise even slightly, symbiotic algae that live inside the cells of the live coral start to create toxic substances and are ejected by the corals. The algae normally provide the corals with food and energy, as well as their bright colors. Without them, the corals appear to be “bleached” white, then starve and die.

In their study, Cohen’s team traveled to Jarvis Island, a tiny, unpopulated coral reef island 1,400 miles south of Hawaii, to study the effects of extreme climate on the corals there. Because Jarvis is both remote and part of a marine protected area, it has been home to stunningly rich coral reefs — but with its location in the middle of the Pacific, it also experiences more extreme heat waves caused by periodic El Nino events than coral reefs elsewhere.

“The fact that it’s placed right at the equator in the central Pacific puts it at epicenter of El Niño dynamics.” says NOAA researcher Hannah Barkley, who was a graduate student and later a postdoctoral fellow in Cohen’s lab at the time of the study, and is the paper’s lead author. “It’s subject to incredible variability and extremes in temperature..”

Because there is no observational record of bleaching on the reef at Jarvis before 2015, Cohen and Barkley turned to massive old corals that had lived on the reef for more than 100 years. They took core samples from the corals, creating a sort of skeletal biopsy that records the history of the reef. After running the cores through a CT scanner, they found for the first time evidence of multiple bleaching events preserved in the physical structure of the reef. The longest cores revealed bleaching as far back as 1912.

“We found that when the reef bleaches, these big old corals lay down “stress bands,” or a dense layer of calcium carbonate, the bonelike material that make up the structure of corals. Those bands appear clearly in the CT scan, and correspond with historical heat waves,” says Cohen. The memory of past bleaching events on Jarvis is locked into these corals — they can tell us what has been going even though we weren’t there to see it for ourselves.”

Jarvis has experienced above-average temperatures every four to seven years, going back decades or even centuries. The team discovered that with each heat wave, the reef experienced severe bleaching, yet seems to have bounced back fairly quickly each time.

Based on their samples, the group thinks that one major reason for the reef’s recovery is the currents nearby. The topography of the ocean floor, combined with the force of trade winds on the surface, brings cold, nutrient-rich water up from the deep. That upwelling feeds a dense array of fish and other aquatic life around the reef, which in turn eat away grassy algae that compete with the corals. In the process, they leave room for new, young coral polyps to eventually settle.

“These reefs are resilient, having bleached and recovered many times, ” says Dan Thornhill, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the research. “But the 2015-2016 bleaching event was particularly severe, so the island is providing us with new insights into how some of the world’s most resilient corals are faring in the face of severe bleaching stress.”

Understanding how coral reefs like Jarvis are able to recover after extensive bleaching will be essential for understanding how other reef ecosystems may grow back in the future, says Barkley.

But the 2015 Super El Nino caused Jarvis to heat up more than it ever did before, and the bleaching that ensued was the worst on record. 95 percent of island’s corals died.

“The big question for us is whether the reef can bounce back at all this time,” says Barkley. “Even reefs like Jarvis that have regrown in the past have a threshold beyond which they may not recover. What happens over next few years will really help us understand severe bleaching.”

Still, she’s guardedly optimistic. “It’s easy to look at a place like Jarvis after the 2015 bleaching event and feel depressed. But the historical record we got from our core samples says we’re not beyond hope. Jarvis is just one example: even though we are seeing signs of accelerated bleaching and mortality worldwide, we have a narrow window to address the effects of climate change on corals. Some reefs may be able to persist through huge stress events.”

“The initial signs of recovery are there,” says Cohen. “Now we wait, watch and learn.”

Also collaborating on the study was Kathryn R. Pietro and Pat Lohmann of WHOI, Cohen Lab graduate students Nathaniel R. Mollica, Hanny E. Rivera, Thomas M. DeCarlo, Elizabeth J. Drenkard, and Alice E. Alpert of the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography; Russell E. Brainard and Thomas A. Oliver of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center; Charles W. Young, Bernardo Vargas-Angel, and Kevin C. Lino of NOAA and the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and Victoria H. Luu of Princeton University. Funding for the study was provided by National Science Foundation awards OCE 1537338, OCE 1605365, and OCE 1031971 to A.L. Cohen, and the Robertson Foundation to A.L. Cohen; National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships to T.M DeCarlo and A.E. Alpert; and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship to H.E. Rivera.

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Volkswagen reportedly has $23,000 Tesla competitor in the works

Volkswagen reportedly has $23,000 Tesla competitor in the works


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Volkswagen, the German automaker that cheated diesel emissions tests, is aiming to release an all-electric car for $23,000 — undercutting the Tesla Model 3 by nearly $12,000 — sources have told Reuters. VW will convert three of its factories in Germany to produce the “MEB entry,” with a production target of 200,000 vehicles. The MEB (modular electric drive matrix) platform is being used to develop VW’s I.D. family of electric vehicles. And the company has high hopes for the new platform, with a goal of selling 10 million vehicles by the end of its “first wave.” The I.D. Aero, a mid-size sedan, will also see a production target of 100,000 vehicles. A release date for the MEB entry was not disclosed, but the first I.D. vehicle should land in 2020. The German automaker will discuss all of this in a supervisory board meeting on November 16th.

According to Reuters’ sources, Volkswagen has also made new partnerships with SK Innovation, a South Korean battery cell manufacturer, and Ford. Reuters reported last month that VW and Ford had been in exploratory talks to develop self-driving electric vehicles.

Following the embarrassing Dieselgate scandal in which Volkswagen cheated emissions tests, the European Union and the German government have put a lot of pressure on the automaker to right its wrong. Already cities are banning diesel engines, putting manufacturing jobs at risk. Volkswagen has out significant effort in the EV space, outpacing many of its rivals. But even with this ambitious electric push, shifting production from combustion engines to electric motors will cost VW 14,000 jobs by 2020 for EVs take less time to produce and battery manufacturing will shift overseas.

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iHeartRadio’s app now supports direct control of Sonos speakers

iHeartRadio’s app now supports direct control of Sonos speakers


Nathan Ingraham/Engadget

Streaming radio stations just became a bit more intuitive on Sonos speakers. In the wake of similar moves by Pandora, Spotify and Tidal, iHeartRadio’s app now offers direct control over your Sonos audio system. You no longer have to fire up the Sonos app to listen to live radio, on-demand tunes and everything in between. And since this is a radio app, you don’t need to sign in for freebies like radio, podcasts and playlist-based radio — you only need it if you’re a paying customer who wants access to everything.

As with earlier additions, the allure is simply having more intuitive control over your music. Much like AirPlay 2 support, you can go to the app you want to use rather than having to rely on Sonos’ generic (if flexible) interface. And iHeartRadio’s implementation is particularly handy — there haven’t been many options like this for conventional radio broadcasts.

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Delta’s Glass Rinser power-washes glassware fast

Delta’s Glass Rinser power-washes glassware fast

Wash glasses at home quickly using the Delta First Wave Glass Rinser.


Delta

Tall water glasses, tumblers, beer pints, they’re all a pain to clean. Narrow shapes mean it’s often tough to get at their insides. And their smooth, slippery surfaces are an accident waiting to happen. A new kitchen appliance, though, the $125 Delta First Wave Glass Rinser, could make this chore a lot easier.

Round, flat, and puck-shaped, the Glass Rinser might look familiar if you’ve been to a bar or a restaurant with modern fixtures. The device sits on the edge of your sink, and at its center is a water nozzle. The idea is you turn a glass upside down and then push it downward onto the Rinser’s spring-loaded pad. The nozzle then releases a high-pressure spray of water upward into glasses above. 

This water stream hits the interior surfaces of your glass, washing away any soil and debris quickly. By giving your glasses a rinse before any residual liquid has a chance to dry, in theory they’ll be less work to clean and save you from potentially fumbling it. 

According to Delta, adding a drop of dish soap to the rinse will do wonders. The combination of high-pressure water and detergent is enough power through the toughest of dried-on gunk.

Delta also claims that the Glass Rinser won’t require a pro to install. The device is designed for homeowners to hook up themselves. If your sink has an old soap dispenser (or a hole for one), remove it and drop the Rinser in right there. The only other connection the Glass Rinser requires is a link to a water line (hot or cold). There’s no need for a drain hose either, since spent water flows from the Rinser’s base and into your sink.

The Glass Rinser sits at the edge of home sinks.


Delta

Delta says the Glass Rinser won’t ship until October 2019. If you’re willing to back the product’s associated Indiegogo project, you can preorder it now. As always, CNET’s reporting on crowdfunding campaigns is not an endorsement of the project or its creators. Before contributing to any campaign, read the crowdfunding site’s policies — in this case, Indiegogo — to find out your rights (and refund policies, or the lack thereof) before and after a campaign ends.

Delta First Wave Glass Rinser at a glance

  • $125
  • Expected to ship in October 2019
  • Designed for DIY installation     

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Millions in danger of food insecurity due to severe Caribbean droughts

Millions in danger of food insecurity due to severe Caribbean droughts

Climate change is impacting the Caribbean, with millions facing increasing food insecurity and decreasing freshwater availability as droughts become more likely across the region, according to new Cornell University research in Geophysical Research Letters.

Since 1950, the Caribbean region has seen a drying trend and scattered multiyear droughts. But the recent Pan-Caribbean drought in 2013-16 was unusually severe, placing 2 million people in danger of food insecurity.

In Haiti, for example, over half of the crops were lost in 2015 due to drought, which pushed about 1 million people into food insecurity, while an additional 1 million people suffered food shortages throughout the region, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs.

Examining climatological data from the 2013-16 Pan-Caribbean drought, anthropogenic warming accounted for a 15 to 17 percent boost of the drought’s severity, said lead author Dimitris Herrera, postdoctoral associate in earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell.

Beyond growing crops, the Caribbean also faces dwindling freshwater resources, due to saltwater intrusion from rising seas and pressure from agricultural and municipal sectors.

“This paper documents that human activity is already affecting the drought statistics of the region,” said Toby Ault, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, and a fellow at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. “Hot temperatures in the future will probably continue to play an increasingly important role in exacerbating droughts.”

Although the Caribbean has recently been affected by catastrophic hurricanes — such as Maria and Irma — that caused significant and rapid damage, persistent droughts can slowly bring havoc to vulnerable Caribbean countries, said Herrera: “This is especially true for the agriculture and tourism sectors of this region, which are the most important contributors to gross domestic product in most Caribbean nations.”

The research was supported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the National Science Foundation and NASA.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Cornell University. Original written by Blaine Friedlander. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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An early test of the GDPR: taking on data brokers

An early test of the GDPR: taking on data brokers


SOPA Images via Getty Images

Major data brokers Acxiom and Oracle are among seven companies accused of violating GDPR laws on personal information privacy. Advocates hope the complaints will shed light on the opaque ways that personal data is traded through third parties online both in the EU and the US.

The General Data Protection Regulation is a sweeping personal data privacy law that came into force in late May in the EU. For the rest of the world, it’s viewed as a bellwether for whether Big Tech can be held in check when immense data leaks seem to happen with painful regularity.

Formal complaints to European regulators under the GDPR by UK non-profit Privacy International were also filed against ad-tech companies Criteo, Quantcast and Tapad as well as credit agencies Equifax (the subject of a massive breach just last year) and Experian.

“Our complaints target companies that, despite exploiting the data of millions of people, are not household names and therefore rarely have their practices challenged,” said Ailidh Callander, legal officer at Privacy International, in an email to Engadget. “These companies’ business models are premised on data exploitation.”

Data brokers aggregate personal information from other sources — for instance, websites you’ve visited or credit card records — to create a complex profile on who they think you are. That profile may include political leanings and income, and subsequently get sold to brands or social networks. Acxiom claims to have data on about 700 million people globally. Consumers often don’t hand data directly to these companies via their own websites — the way one would with, say, Facebook — which allows the data trading to operate in relative obscurity.

This alleged lack of consent is precisely what Privacy International is targeting. The non-profit also claims that these companies lack “legitimate interest” (in legal terms) for processing the personal data, which may infer political, ethnic and religious affiliations. The companies fail to comply, according to Privacy International, with the principles of “transparency, fairness, purpose limitation, data minimisation, accuracy and confidentiality and integrity” — in other words, nearly all of the new privacy law’s core foundations.

“The law has changed and these companies need to as well,” said Callander. “There is a gap between how [the] GDPR conceptualises data privacy and [how] these companies do and the onus is on them (if necessary, pushed by regulators) to close it.”

In public statements, Experian has said: “We have worked hard to ensure that we are compliant with GDPR and we continue to believe that our services meet its requirements.” Criteo has stated: “We have complete confidence in our privacy practices.”

Companies are still feeling out just how the law is going to be enforced, which is why test cases like this bear watching. Facebook and Google are among the other companies who have faced complaints so far. A spokesman from the Data Protection Commission in Ireland, where many American tech firms keep European headquarters, said the regulators have already received 2,500 breach notifications and 1,200 complaints related to the GDPR since May.

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Satanists are suing Netflix over ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’

Satanists are suing Netflix over ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’


Netflix

Netflix has found itself in the crosshairs of a Satanist group over one of its latest original series. The Satanic Temple (TST) is suing the streaming service and Warner Bros. for $150 million for alleged copyright infringement, trademark violation and injury to business reputation ($50 million for each count) over The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The religious organization claims the show features a statue depicting two children looking up at a goat-headed deity called Baphomet, and that it bears close similarities to its own tribute to Baphomet.

In the court documents, filed on Thursday in New York District Court, the temple claims that the statue it designed and commissioned in 2013-2014 is a copyrighted artwork, and the version in the show was a modification of that design. The group’s founder, Lucien Greaves compared the two works on Twitter.

The temple alleges that the “defendants misappropriated the TST Baphomet [with] Children in ways implying that the monument stands for evil. Among other morally repugnant actions, the Sabrina Series’ evil antagonists engage in cannibalism and forced-worship of a patriarchal deity.” The group is also seeking an injunction to block Netflix and Warner Bros., which produced the series, from distributing the show.

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Shadow VR is the latest rival to the Oculus Quest

Shadow VR is the latest rival to the Oculus Quest


Shadow Creator

While we’re all anticipating the launch of the Oculus Quest standalone VR headset in spring 2019, HTC’s been busy pushing its very own Vive Focus into more markets — including the US and Europe as of today — while letting developers toy with its 6DoF controller add-on. Luckily for HTC, it’s not alone in this upcoming battle. Also announced today is Shadow Creator’s Shadow VR, a new Vive Wave-based 6DoF headset which comes with the company’s self-developed 6DoF controllers.

Much like the Vive Focus, the Shadow VR is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 and features a 110-degree field of view via Fresnel optics, but it comes with a slightly lower 2,560 x 1,440 display resolution (the Vive Pro, Focus and Quest all have 2,880 x 1,600). Since this is based on the same reference design, it’s the same inside-out world-scale tracking tech using the stereoscopic front cameras. Here’s hoping that Shadow VR will also get the Focus’ see-through mode, just for that extra bit of convenience.

Little else is known about the Shadow VR (we don’t even have images of the controllers), but it’ll be available to consumers globally on November 11th for $399 — matching the Quest’s aggressive price. We expect to get more info right before launch. The Shadow VR is joined by Pico’s Neo and G2 from earlier, both of which are also Vive Wave-powered headsets but aimed at business users. Now that there are 15 hardware partners in total supporting HTC’s Android-based VR platform, we may well see more headset announcements from them in the very near future.

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This Is What Happens At A Cryptocurrency Music Festival

This Is What Happens At A Cryptocurrency Music Festival

Decentralize Selfie groupZara Stone

“Bitcoin, Sh*t coin,” muttered a Gen Z girl standing close to me, easily distinguished by the neon proof of age bracelet wrapped around their left hand. Well ,that and their midriff baring crop top that’s basically a raised finger to to Bay Area meteorologists,

She wasn’t wrong when it comes to Bitcoin — since it peaked at $20,000 in December 2018, it now stays pretty consistently in the low $6,400 range. Fortunes were lost, bubbles were burst, but people party on — just because Bitcoin wasn’t the pot of gold doesn’t mean you can’t get there with currencies such as Monero, Stellar or Tron. Or that the blockchain isn’t valuable.

Zedd at OMF.Alive Coverage

That’s the theory behind Our Music Festival (OMF) and their similarly named OMF Token. On October 20th, 2018,,The Greek Theater in Berkeley held what might be the world first cryptocurrency music festival. OMF was created by Prime Social group, DJ and producer 3LAU and blockchain entertainment network SingularDTV. Around 8,000 people turned up to party, blockchain style. Naturally, you could buy your ticket with cryptocurrency, but real money was also accepted.

In essence, what this meant on the night is that you had the usual EDC crowd bobbing up and down while the headliners — Zedd, Mati and Kim, 3LAU and more — got up to their usual tricks, with occasional shout out to the crowd for ‘my crypto cool’ friends.

Crypto bracelet rewardsAlive Coverage

The venue was stunning, with an array of smoke, lasers and lights making the stage glow like a LSD rainbow. The performers were energetic and entertaining, and when they started remixing the theme tune to Pokemon, it was clear they’d read the crowd right. 80% of people instantly jumped to their feet, mouthing the words.

During 3LAU’s set, the DJ made a plea for more ‘people to get on the blockchain,’ — he said some other stuff, but people around me used that time to blow their whistles and so I missed the rest.

Cryptocurrency confetti.Alive Coverage

The best part of my night — and most relevant, considering the theme — was during the confetti cannon bursts that fluttered down at the end of 3LAU’s set. Instead of paper, tiny pieces of white paper printed with QR codes floated down from the sky like so many discarded candy wrapper on Halloween. Later I discovered that was thirty pounds of paper confetti. These could be scanned on the OMF app, and traded to gain rewards at the merchandise tents — basically, knotted friendship bracelets in different colors.

Crypto confettiZara Stone

The high level idea here is that OMF is more than a music festival. In fact that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their ambitions. Their idea is that festivals cane be improved, and they’re targeting ticketing, engagement, and data. OMF tokens were available to purchase at the event (it’s not clear if you can purchase them at the moment.)

Now I’ll give OMF props for trying to push their crypto-message — the high level concept was that by simply by attending, fans can earn OMF tokens, which can be used for upgrades, food and more. Big picture, this type of tech could prevent ticket fraud and inflation and make events far more equitable. At this event.. not so much. Yes, QR codes could be tokenized and exchanged for bracelets and some people were randomly upgraded, but overall, the kinks still need to be worked out. As a fledgling brand, that’s to be expected, and they talk a good talk about wanting to effect some real change.

Matt and Kim at OMF.Alive Coverage

“Those goals may sit on a distant horizon, but we need to start somewhere,” said Justin Blau, a.k.a DJ 3LAU. “In year one, we’re enabling crypto payments for tickets and are giving all attendees their first ethereum paper wallet in the form of token cards.” As a PR push, they were successful, totaling 2009 OMF payments and getting 61,290 OMF tokens into concertgoers wallets by the end of the night.

Hidden among the neon dancers was a scattering of crypto-royalty, including Fred Ehrsam, founder of Coinbase, Daniel Gross from YCombinator and Adam Ludwin, founder of Chain. I’m betting they had a good time, and amongst a crowds like that, they faded into anonymity (insert crypto related pun here).

Crypto detailsZara Stone

But that’s a good thing — this was a music event at its best, with the cryptocurrency aspect secondary to the sound. Which is as it should be. There’s nothing worse than going to an event then realizing you’re spending the whole time being sold to.

Here, they just let people get on with it — and their ‘Decentralize’ selfie board was pretty genius. For some attendees, the set list was a little scattered — all the acts, while well established, aren’t exactly the cutting edge of current, and I heard complaints that they were ‘too random’ and that it was like ‘listening to an iPhone DJ.’ Even so, the grounds were packed, so clearly people were not that concerned.

The cryptocurrency world is young, figuratively and literally. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum is 24-years-old, and there’s a host of crypto-royalty who has more experience in classrooms than boardrooms. That’s the real power of the blockchain, not just a leveling of transparency, but of equity and access for all.

Blockchain security expert Reuben Jackson, sums this up very well in in Bitcoin  Magazine. “Millennials are waking up to the inequity present in the world and are hyper-aware of the status quo’s faults as well,” he wrote. “Many in this age group see open-source blockchain technology as an accountability tool, one that will create a better system for voting, sharing data and advertising for instance. Blockchains provide not just productive ways for them to air their grievances but also social and financial tools allowing millennials to demonstrate what the problem areas are and, at the same time, exactly how to fix them. “

As an events group, I’d say that OMF has a lot of potential, and they’ve certainly figured out who their market is. In a world where the best referral is from someone you know, incentivizing people to share events is a smart way to reach a wider audience.

Zedd at OMF.Alive Coverage

The Good: If this is what cryptocurrency festivals are about, I’m all for it. Basically, a night of fun without any of the hassle, and people with a relaxed mindset out for a good time. New Kids on the Blockchain!

The Bad: Much of the crypto stuff happened thought the app, which was poorly designed. You couldn’t get lineup times if you didn’t get into the app, and it crashed pretty regularly too.

Zedd at OMF.Alive Coverage

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Disney+ streaming service will launch in late 2019

Disney+ streaming service will launch in late 2019


Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Disney released its Q4 earnings on Thursday and, unsurprisingly, the entertainment juggernaut reported revenues in the billions thanks to strong performances from its media networks (ie its upcoming streaming service) and studio entertainment (ie its Marvel, Pixar, Nat Geo and Star Wars IPs).

The big news of the day is that we now have a name and release window for the upcoming streaming platform. It will be called Disney+ and is slated to launch late 2019. It will result in Netflix losing a bunch of content — namely everything Star Wars, Pixar or Marvel — and serve as a direct competitor. The new service will offer a number of exclusive original shows and movies as well including a Loki-centric Thor spinoff starring Tom Hiddleston, a reboot of the High School Musical franchise, new adventures from the Monsters Inc universe, and a prequel series to Rogue One starring Diego Luna.

As Disney CEO Bob Iger explained on a press call Thursday, Disney’s media network revenues for Q4 increased 9 percent to $6.0 billion. These networks include Disney’s cable channels like Freeform, ESPN and of course the flagship Disney Channel. Similarly, Disney’s broadcasting revenues for its Black-ish IP and two Marvel-based series jumped 21 percent to $1.8 billion.

The company’s studio entertainment division continued to print money as well with revenues for the quarter increasing 50 percent to $2.2 billion. Iger credited the success of Incredibles 2 and Ant-Man and the Wasp with helping achieve those numbers (the fact that the only movie to come out in Q3 was Cars 3 probably helped a bit as well). Really the only place where Disney is losing money is in its consumer products and interactive media division, where revenues dropped 8 percent to a paltry $1.1 billion.

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eToro rolls out its cryptocurrency wallet for Android and iOS

eToro rolls out its cryptocurrency wallet for Android and iOS

Social trading platform eToro has finally begun rolling out its cryptocurrency wallet to Android and iOS users.

The wallet, which promises an intuitive customer interface and enhanced security, is now available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store. At launch, the app will support only Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin; however, eToro plans to add support for more cryptocurrencies in the near future.

There is a little catch though: to ensure a smooth customer experience, eToro is releasing the wallet only to select users and countries. So if you can’t find the app on Google Play or the App Store, you might have to wait a little longer.

“We believe that crypto and the blockchain technology that underpins it will have a huge impact on global finance,” said Yoni Assia, CEO of eToro. “Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise finance and we believe that we will see the greatest transfer of wealth ever onto the blockchain.”

“We believe that in the future all assets will be tokenised and that crypto is just the first step on this journey,” he continued. “Just as eToro has opened up traditional markets for investors, we want to do the same in a tokenised world. The eToro wallet is a key part of this.”

The company initially revealed plans to release its own standalone wallet app back in May. It also teased a new cryptocurrency-only exchange desk, slated to launch in Europe and later in the US.

For the time being, eToro says the ability to transfer cryptocurrency from eToro to the wallet will be open only to Platinum Club members for Bitcoin. The goal is to gradually extend the functionality to more users and assets.

“The eToro wallet today is just the beginning and we will adding a whole host of additional functionality which will include supporting additional crypto and fiat tokens, crypto to crypto conversion, the ability to deposit fiat, payment in store and more,” Assia added.


This content is sponsored by eToro X. The wallet is provided by eToro X Limited (“eToro X”). eToro X is incorporated in Gibraltar with company number 116348, registered office 57/63 Line Wall Road, Gibraltar.

eToro X has received an ‘in-principle’ approval from the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission in respect of its application for a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Provider Licence application.

Published November 8, 2018 — 16:54 UTC

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Facebook’s pop-up store has everything from clothes to burger sauce

Facebook’s pop-up store has everything from clothes to burger sauce

The last thing you might expect to find inside a Macy’s store is a space decorated by Facebook. But that’s exactly what people in Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Pittsburgh and New York City will see when they visit The Market, a curated collection of established and up-and-coming brands that Macy’s features as a shop-within-a-shop at select locations. Through a partnership with the retailer, Facebook this week launched its first-ever pop-up store, which is going to put a spin on The Market and feature 100 “digital-native” brands inside Macy’s. Digital native, essentially, means they’ve either advertised on Facebook or Instagram.

Facebook says the goal is to give small business owners the chance to bring their product to a physical retail experience, something they may not have been able to accomplish without help. The pop-up shop, which will be open until February, lets these brands ship their product directly to Macy’s and the company handles the rest of the sales process, while Facebook covers the fees they otherwise would’ve had to pay to be part of The Market. Facebook, naturally, also takes care of the decor: Some items are placed in a physical version of a post, complete with like, comment and share buttons.

I visited the Facebook pop-up at Macy’s flagship store in Manhattan and was surprised by its prime real estate: It’s on the first floor (of nine), right as you walk in through one of the main entrances, on 34th Street and 7th Avenue. There are 15 brands being showcased here, including a burger sauce from the mom-and-pop Charleston Gourmet Burger Company, the Lumee selfie cases Kim Kardashian made famous and a subscription box from Bespoke Post. The best thing I came across was apparel from Two Blind Brothers, which features elements like cloth Braille to help the blind and visually impaired know what color their item is.



Aside from small businesses, Facebook’s pop-up also features products from well-known brands such as The Honest Company, which was founded by actress Jessica Alba. While it may not need the exposure, Facebook says that its shop at Macy’s The Market lets Honest Company pilot new household goods. The brands will be rotating every month, too, so the space won’t always look the same. And those that I saw in New York may not be the same in San Antonio or Atlanta, since Facebook and Macy’s are also trying to curate the space based on location.

Of course, it’s easy to wonder if Facebook is just testing the waters to eventually launch its own stores, especially now that it’s making a big push into hardware with products like the Portal video chat displays and Oculus Go. But that doesn’t seem to be part of the company’s plan, at least for the time being. “No, not at all,” Michelle Klein, Facebook’s director of North America marketing, told Engadget when asked if this is a sign Facebook is venturing into retail. “[It’s] really just another way for us and these brands to engage and connect with people, in a time where people are connecting more around the holiday season.”

Klein said there are no plans to team up with retailers beside Macy’s at the moment either, noting that Facebook is mainly interested for now in learning from this experiment. “This is part of our mission,” she said, “to ensure that [small businesses] have all of the opportunities that usually were only open to large businesses.”

Gallery: Facebook’s pop-up shop at Macy’s The Market | 12 Photos

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Microsoft helps bring broadband internet to rural tribal lands

Microsoft helps bring broadband internet to rural tribal lands


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Microsoft announced today that it is partnering with Native Network to deliver broadband internet access to unserved rural communities in Washington and Montana. The effort will reach about 73,500 people living in and around the Flathead Reservation in Montana and the lands of Lummi Nation and Swinomish Tribe in Washington.

While rural areas around the United States suffer from a lack of broadband access, tribal lands, in particular, have remained unconnected. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), about 63 percent of Tribal land residents lack access to fixed broadband. That figure jumps to 85 percent in rural areas. By comparison, about 17 percent of the entire US population lacks broadband access — through 40 percent of people in rural areas of Montana are without high-speed internet. Microsoft aims to address that by delivering broadband speeds via affordable, hybrid, fixed-wireless internet.

Microsoft’s partnership with Native Network to expand broadband access is part of the company’s Airband Initiative, which aims to deliver high-speed internet to two million people in rural America by July 4, 2022. Earlier this year, Microsoft launched a similar partnership with telecom company Agile Networks to bring broadband access to 110,000 people in rural Ohio.

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