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02.23.17 | 27 minutes ago

These are the most egregious allegations against Uber’s workplace culture

The New York Times interviewed more than 30 current and former employees, who reported the following:

• an Uber manager threatened to beat an underperforming employee's head in with a baseball bat

• another manager allegedly groped a female coworkers' breasts at a company retreat

• an Uber director shouted a homophobic slur at a subordinate during a heated meeting

02.23.17 | 36 minutes ago

If you try to delete your Uber account, you’ll get a message about Susan Fowler

Uber users who specifically reference the allegations made by the company's ex-engineer will get the message, a company spokesperson told Mashable.

02.23.17 | 43 minutes ago

An AI has learned to write its own apps by plagiarizing code

Called DeepCoder, the AI was created by researchers at Microsoft and the University of Cambridge, New Scientist reports. Using a technique called program synthesis, DeepCoder scans the code of existing programs and takes bits of it to write its own new program. Ultimately, DeepCoder "could allow non-coders to simply describe an idea for a program and let the system build it," says Marc Brockschmidt, one of DeepCoder's creators.

02.23.17 | an hour ago

Apple denounces Trump’s repeal of transgender bathroom guidelines

The iPhone giant was the first tech company to publicly speak out against Trump's order, reports Recode:

"Apple believes everyone deserves a chance to thrive in an environment free from stigma and discrimination. We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections."

02.22.17 | 8:00 pm

Samsung likely developing controller for Gear VR

Known right now only as part number ET-Y0324,  it may well be something that a lot of mobile VR users will be holding in their hands in the (possibly near) future. First spotted by Sammobile, ET-Y0324 appears to be a wireless handheld controller for Samsung's Gear VR headset, according to a filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Samsung told Fast Company that it doesn't comment on unreleased products, although it's pretty clear from the FCC filing that the controller is from the Korean company and for the Gear VR, but it doesn't include detailed imagery or description. So it's hard to know exactly what it is or how it'll work. But assuming the filing is about a soon-to-be-released product, it's likely to allow users to point and select items in VR, as well as other one-handed gestures and selections, much as users can do with the controller for Google's Daydream View headset. Variety posits that the new Samsung controller could enable tracking of users' hands, something that's not really possible with mobile VR to date.  

02.22.17 | 6:04 pm

The world’s largest personalized baby gift brand just landed stateside

Remember that time Prince George met President Obama wearing a little dressing gown with his name on it? That $33 robe came from a U.K. retailer called My1stYears.com that launched in 2010 specializing in personalized baby gifts. Founders Daniel Price and Jonny Sitton noticed the popularity of NikeID, Nike's customization program, and believed the model would work well for baby products. 

This meant setting up a supply chain where a wide range of products–clothes, shoes, toys, books–could be customized on demand, then shipped within days. By selling direct-to-consumer through the website, the brand has been able to keep costs low, with most products priced under $50, including personalization. My1stYears.com has grown quickly and is on track to generate $15 million in sales this year. 

The brand has just set up operations in the U.S., allowing American customers to order products on a regionally specific website and a flat $10 delivery fee. 

02.22.17 | 4:14 pm

Tesla misses on Q4 earnings but still has our attention

Tesla may not be profitable, but its outlook is appealing to investors. In its Q4 earnings report today, the company took a loss of $0.69 per share on revenue of $2.28 billion. Analysts had been more optimistic, predicting a loss of $0.43 per share on revenue of $2.18 billion. The company produced over 50,000 cars in the second half of the year, but did not meet its full-year goal to produce 80,000 cars in 2016—info it shared back in January. However, Tesla stock was up about 2% in after-hours trading.   

That may be because the outlook for Tesla is always bright. The company notes that it is set up to launch both the Model 3 and solar roof in the second half of 2017. In the first half of 2017, Tesla expects to deliver 40,000-50,000 S and X models. While the company will spend between $2 billion and $2.5 billion on Model 3 ramp up, there is some good news for investors: Tesla will focus on profitability for its storage and solar business. That said, 2017 is a big year for Tesla. The company will have to prove it can hang as a car producer, not a niche product producer. 

02.22.17 | 4:05 pm

Read Amazon’s lengthy argument for why it shouldn’t have to share Echo data with law enforcement

The Seattle e-commerce giant filed a lengthy court memorandum last week arguing that an Arkansas court should quash a search warrant requesting that it produce audio recordings and transcripts from one of its Echo devices. The Echo was owned by James Bates, a suspect in a local murder case. Citing extensive court precedent in cases regarding privacy and the First Amendment, Amazon argues that authorities should first make "a heightened showing of relevance"—in other words, essentially prove that the Echo data will aid the investigation in some way.

Given the relative newness and growing prevalence of smart speakers like Echo, there's a lot hinging on the case. Amazon notes in the memo how important privacy and trust are to its customers, and indeed it acknowledges that data from smart devices can be far more revelatory than traditional records. Or in case you forgot, Amazon knows a lot about us.  

"Once the Echo device detects the wake word, the Alexa Voice Service endeavors to respond to any ensuing voice communications detected in the user's home. Accordingly, searching Alexa's recordings is not the same as searching a drawer, a pocket, or a glove compartment."   

Read the full court filing here.

02.22.17 | 2:56 pm

Read the emails that new EPA chief Scott Pruitt tried to withhold from the public prior to his nomination

Under court order, the Oklahoma Attorney General's office today released 7,564 pages of emails and other records that it had withheld from the public, prompting a lawsuit by the Center for Media and Democracy. The emails reveal Pruitt, the former Oklahoma AG, coordinating his responses to EPA policies with oil industry lobbyists and executives. That included Devon Energy drafting a letter that Pruitt later sent to the agency opposing the EPA's limits on the release of methane in oil and gas fracking. 

Read (and search for) the emails here.

02.22.17 | 1:50 pm

Trump is expected to roll back protections for transgender students

The Trump administration is expected to reverse an Obama initiative that gives transgender students the right to use bathrooms that match their gender identity, according to multiple reports. A draft document of a forthcoming order—which could still change—was leaked to media outlets, including Reuters. Read the full document here.

[Photo: Flickr user Daniel R. Blume

02.22.17 | 1:13 pm

NASA is closer to locating a second Earth

Thanks to new insights from the Spitzer, an infrared space telescope, NASA has discovered seven Earth-sized exoplanets, that is, planets orbiting a star outside our own solar system. This particular collection of planets orbits a dwarf star called the Trappist-1, which is 40 light years away.

Here's a video on what we know about Trappist-1 by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

But while our telescope technology has advanced, allowing us to see far reaches of the universe, we don't yet have vehicles that would get us there in a reasonable time frame. To get to any of these planets with our current vehicles would take about 44 million years. NASA has already released a poster about this planetary system, imagining a future in which we might visit the planets for a vacation. 

That said, the scientists at a NASA briefing today believe that it is very likely that there is life elsewhere in the solar system. 

You can watch a more in-depth video about Trappist-1 here, and explore the surface of Trappist-1d in this NASA VR video.

[Images via NASA]

02.22.17 | 11:49 am

Verizon 5G trials are coming to 11 cities but don’t get too excited yet

This summer, Verizon will kick off the largest U.S. trial yet for 5G wireless, offering it as a replacement for wired Internet in 11 cities. Data speeds could be 10 to 100 times faster than current cellular connections.

The telco industry has been hyping 5G's transformative potential for years, with promises of ubiquitous, blazing-fast connectivity. Verizon's trial is much more modest–it basically lets the company install internet in homes and businesses without running fiber to each building–and CNet notes that it will only cover several thousand customers. True 5G wireless isn't even an industry standard yet, and widespread adoption faces major obstacles.