Saturday, August 19, 2017

TechTalk August 15, 2017

And we are back for another season of TechTalk with Andrew Thomas from NEXA.

This week we are catching up on what is hot and what is not.

Click for the podcast.

Show Notes.

Back from a good break!
-did you land on any cool tech this summer?
-WIFI connections are what I lived with very comfortably on my trip (France, US, Canada)
-Amazon Prime is AMAZING!
-Interesting Pokiman GO still has people playing pretty much in the US.

What is new for you?

-esports in the olympics?

-The problem with tech is it can make us lazy, what about driving! The ford I rented this summer had the driver assist disabled!

-Mind controlled VR is close!

It may be a while yet before you can harness telekinetic powers in real life, but a brain-controlled virtual-reality game is aiming to let you use your mind to pick up and throw items with ease as soon as next year.
Neurable, a Boston-area startup, has started showing off (and letting people try) a demo of a dystopic sci-fi game called Awakeningthat the company is working on. It works with an electrode-laden headband that connects to an HTC Vive virtual-reality headset. Awakening casts the VR-headset wearer as a child with telekinetic powers who must escape a government lab by using mind power to pick up various toys—a balloon dog, alphabet blocks, rainbow stacking rings—and throw them. The technology behind the game, which Neurable showed me and also demonstrated at the Siggraph conference on computer animation and interactive techniques in Los Angeles last week, uses dry electrodes placed on the scalp and electroencephalography to track brain activity. Software analyzes this signal and figures out what should happen in the game.

-Snap is it still on the top of the pack? Nope!
Snap, the Snapchat parent, has had a very difficult ride in the stock market since debuting in March. After pricing its IPO at $17 and then reaching highs of $27, the company has fallen to less than half that. After losing 14 percent of its value in a single day’s trading, Snap closed Friday at $11.83.
The growing social media company revealed on Thursday that it has 173 million daily active users, up more than 20 percent since last year. But that wasn’t enough to impress Wall Street, which was expecting more than 175 million users.
Analyst expectations are always built into the stock price and missing them will cause shares to plummet. And Snap not only missed on user growth, but revenue and losses, as well.
The company brought in $181.7 million in revenue, a 153 percent increase from last year, but investors were expecting more than $186 million. But losses also increased substantially, $115.9 million for last year’s quarter versus $443.1 million for this year.
The success of Instagram Stories is one of the main reasons that investors are skeptical of Snap. Instagram copied its short-form video feature last year and has seen tremendous success. The Stories feature already has 250 million daily users, over 75 million more than Snap.

-Facebook TV?

Facebook has a new home for original video content produced exclusively for it by partners, who will earn 55 percent of ad break revenue while Facebook keeps 45 percent. The “Watch” tab and several dozen original shows will start rolling out to a small group of U.S. users tomorrow on mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps.
By hosting original programming, Facebook could boost ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else.
Watch features personalized recommendations of live and recorded shows to watch, plus categories like “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh” and “Shows Your Friends Are Watching.” Publishers can also share their shows to the News Feed to help people discover them. A Watchlist feature lets you subscribe to updates on new episodes of your favorite shows. Fans can connect with each other and creators through a new feature that links shows to Groups.
Facebook says it plans to roll out access to Watch to more users and more content creators soon, starting with the rest of the U.S. before expanding internationally. Users with access will see a TV-shaped Watch button in the bottom navigation bar of Facebook’s main app that opens the new video hub.
Facebook admits that “we’ve also funded some shows” as examples, but notes that these are only a small percentage of all the available shows. “We want any publisher/creator who is interested to be able to create a show in the future,” a Facebook spokesperson tells me. “So there will be hundreds of shows at launch, and we’ll hopefully scale to thousands.”

-robot tax to make up for lost income tax in South Korea, hmmm
The country will limit tax incentives for investments in automated machines as part of a newly proposed revision of its tax laws.
It is hoped the policy will make up for lost income taxes as workers are gradually replaced by machines, as well as filling welfare coffers ahead of an expected rise in unemployment, according to the Korea Times.

  1. Had no idea SoundCloud was an electronic music streaming entity that could be shuttered if funding isn’t sorted!
SoundCloud plans on raising around $170 million, in a deal that would value the company at $150 million prior to the new investment. Most of the new money would come from Raine Group and Temasek.
In the past, SoundCloud had valued itself at $700 million, and in 2014, the company thought it could sell itself for more than $1 billion to Twitter. Last year, it also talked to rival streaming service Spotify about a sale.
I’ve asked Ljung, Trainor and SoundCloud PR for comment. (UPDATE: A day later, SoundCloud PR sent out this release confirming my story. One bit of additional info: Mike Weissman, who worked with Trainor at Vimeo, will join as COO.) Trainor left Vimeo, IAC’s video service last year. Last month, former Vimeo general manager Anjali Sud took Trainor’s old job.
The last time I wrote about SoundCloud, back in March, I reported that the company was struggling, looking for money, and that investors thought the company might go for $250 million — about the amount of money SoundCloud had raised over its lifetime.
Since then, things have gotten worse: Last month the company laid off 173 people — 40 percent of staff.
The new funding would be used in part to pay off SoundCloud’s existing debt, including a $70 million credit line it took on in March, and would dramatically reset SoundCloud’s cap table.
As Axios’s Dan Primack noted earlier, Ljung has told existing investors that if they don’t accept the new funding proposal, he “suggests the company would not be able ‘to continue as a going concern.’”

2. Cool battery idea! Flexible battery can run of sweat!

Instead of packing electrolytes that are corrosive or toxic, the team used sodium-based chemicals like sodium sulfate, which was once used as a laxative, as well as saline and a solution used for cell culture. While it's still preferable that those solutions don't leak out of the batteries and onto or inside of a human, if they do, it wouldn't pose the same risks that other batteries' chemicals do. Because excessive leakage-prevention measures -- and therefore, added materials -- aren't required, the battery can easily maintain flexibility.
The research team created two versions -- a belt-shaped model and a nanotube. The sodium sulfate electrolyte worked best of the three solutions tested and its function held up against similarly-sized lithium-ion batteries currently used in wearables. And the performance of the belt-shaped version wasn't impacted even after it was bent 100 times at different angles.
That these batteries can function off of sodium-based liquids means that in the future these devices might be able to run off of body fluids like sweat. And the researchers discovered that the nanotube batteries might have an additional unforeseen use. After observing that the nanotubes were accelerating the conversion of dissolved oxygen into hydroxide ions, which isn't great for battery power, they realized that this could be a feature if the devices were used in a slightly different way. "We can implant these fiber-shaped electrodes into the human body to consume essential oxygen, especially for areas that are difficult for injectable drugs to reach," researcher Yonggang Wang said in a statement. "Deoxygenation might even wipe out cancerous cells or pathogenic bacteria since they are very sensitive to changes in living environment pH. Of course, this is hypothetical right now, but we hope to investigate further with biologists and medical scientists."
3. Who thinks about keeping their networking gear running if there is no power in their home?
If the power at your house can be a little spotty, this $41 APC backup UPS is designed specifically to keep your modem and router running on battery power, so you’ll never lose touch with the world. Today’s deal is an all-time low by over $10, so if you have any inkling that you might want this, I wouldn’t hesitate.

4. This is interesting and is a sign of how Google is changing things that may not be as good as we think.
Our own Napier Lopez spotted an odd change in Google’s search service on Androidtoday: search results don’t include URLs like they used to. Instead, they only display the page’s title, a thumbnail of a featured image from the site, and a blurb.
It isn’t clear if Google is merely running a test or gradually rolling out a change. But it’s hard to see how this helps anyone, besides making the interface a bit cleaner. The company also seems to be testing another way of displaying URLs and AMP badges:
5. Is google the ultimate walled garden? Do people use other search engines?

More questions load every time you click, and it's easy to stray from related topic to topic without ever leaving Google.
Google will load endless related questions.
Google will load endless related questions.
The growth in the use of these sorts of built-in tools in the past few years has been dramatic. A recent report from marketing agency Stone Temple found that half of all Google search results now come with some form of information hosted within the site—and three in ten with so-called "snippets" in particular. As of January, these excerpts appeared more than 50 percent more often than they did just a year and a half earlier.
The use of embedded excerpts has grown at a crazy rate.
The use of embedded excerpts has grown at a crazy rate.
Google's mobile experience has become even more insulated from the rest of the web. Some secondary results pages are now entirely self-contained; they list relevant information directly on the page and link only to AMP articles, YouTube videos, and other results pages in the same format. It's not hard to imagine how this set-up might be fleshed out into an entirely closed information network one day.
5. How and where people get info about this program!

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