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08.24.16 | 9:53 am

Questlove is Pandora’s newest weapon against Apple and Spotify

As Pandora gears up to challenge Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal, the internet radio pioneer is going to need all the star power it can get.  With artist relationships, exclusive releases, and music curation becoming competitive weapons in the streaming music war,  Pandora doesn't have much choice. 

It's a good thing Questlove stopped by. The Roots drummer, NYU professor, and tireless party DJ just partnered with Pandora as its first artist ambassador and will soon host a radio show called "Questlove Supreme." 

Whether or not it was obvious when Pandora made a string of expansion-minded acquisitions last year, this type of partnership has become crucial as Apple Music's star-studded executive team has tapped into its extensive industry network (and Apple's cash reserves) to bring on household names from Drake and Elton John, even aiming squarely for Pandora's legacy territory with the launch of its Beats 1 radio station. For its part, Spotify recently hired Troy Carter to head up its artist relations efforts. 

This is a natural move for Pandora, which has been sharpening its focus on artists for some time, aided in no small part by cofounder (and one-time  touring musician) Tim Westergren. The partnership is also well timed: Pandora plans to launch a new Spotify-style, on-demand streaming service before the end of the year. 

[Photo: Flickr user Fort Greene Focus]

02.18.17 | 8:21 am

Watch live: SpaceX  launches resupply mission to the International Space Station

Elon Musk's space company, SpaceX, is scheduled to launch a Falcon 9 rocket Saturday at 10:01 a.m. ET. The rocket is carrying a Dragon capsule filled with supplies, science experiments (including live mice), and hardware bound for the International Space Station. The rocket is set to lift off from a pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Cape in Canaveral, Florida. As with other launches, SpaceX will attempt to recover its Falcon 9 rocket by landing it vertically back on Earth after it has separated from the supply capsule. 

You can watch SpaceX's live broadcast of the launch attempt starting at around 9:40 a.m. ET (video below). 

02.17.17 | 4:06 pm

Report: SoftBank is willing to give up control of Sprint to clinch long-sought merger with T-Mobile

The Japanese conglomerate, whose efforts to merge the two telecom companies have been stymied by U.S. anti-trust regulators, is prepared to surrender its control of Sprint to make the deal happen, reports Reuters. 

Read the full story here.

02.17.17 | 1:54 pm

This dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter might have organic molecules

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has found evidence for organic material on a dwarf planet called Ceres, which is the largest body located in an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The space agency said yesterday that Dawn's "infrared mapping spectrometer" detected organic compounds in a crater on the body's northern hemisphere. "The discovery adds to the growing list of bodies in the solar system where organics have been found," NASA said in a blog post

Organic material is a necessary component for Earth-like life, though its presence doesn't mean that life exists or existed there.

[Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA]

02.17.17 | 1:50 pm

Mobileye equips 4,500 NYC rideshare vehicles with anti-collision tech

One of the world's largest providers of autonomous car tech, Mobileye, said today that it has equipped 4,500 rideshare vehicles in New York City with anti-collision technology. However, the tech also allows vehicle and fleet operators to monitor driver behavior.

The installations were conducted in partnership with Atlas Financial Holdings, an insurance provider for the taxi and limousine industries. It includes vehicles whose drivers ride with both Uber and Lyft.

Once installed in the car, sensors automatically notify drivers of potential collisions in real time so they have enough time to react. However, the installation also includes tracking tech third-party firm Pointer Telocation, which lets vehicle and fleet owners review operators' driving behavior.

[Photo: Mobileye]

02.17.17 | 12:10 pm

Airbnb blasts “Big Hotel” for contradictory tax lobbying 

Airbnb is fighting back against the hotel industry with a new marketing effort. On its Airbnb Citizen's blog, the home-sharing unicorn now details the ways in which the hotel industry has contradicted itself by asking for Airbnb and its users to be taxed more heavily—only to then lobby against efforts to tax its own industry. Lobbyists for the hotel industry see proposals to tax Airbnb as legitimizing what they consider to be an illegal hotel business. 

The post is an effort to make Airbnb look like an underdog against Big Hotel. The reality, of course, is that Airbnb itself, estimated to be a $30 billion company, is one of the big guys too. It's also worth remembering that Airbnb has seriously ramped up its lobbying efforts of late, spending nearly half a million dollars on lobbying in 2016, almost double what it spent the year before.

02.17.17 | 12:00 pm

Apple has decided that the iPad Pro isn’t a computer after all

Last August, Apple released an iPad Pro ad that positioned the tablet as an amazing computer. Now it has a new commercial that declares that the iPad Pro isn't a computer, but rather something better—faster than most laptops, with optional built-in LTE and the Pencil stylus. The semantic shift illustrates the challenge of explaining a device that has a distinctly different set of pros and cons than a garden-variety PC. And that issue is one of the factors that has made the iPad a tougher long-term sell for Apple than many of us would have predicted a few years ago.

I love my iPad Pro and use it for 95% of the things I used to accomplish with a laptop, so I'm down with Apple's pitch. But I wouldn't be startled if skittish Mac fans fret about the ad's message. Macs, after all, are most assuredly computers.

   

02.17.17 | 10:05 am

I used Trump’s anti-media survey to defend credible journalists

President Trump spent almost an entire press conference lambasting the media yesterday, and soon afterward, his campaign committee blasted out a "Mainstream Media Accountability Survey," which appears to have the dual purpose of stirring up more anti-media sentiment and collecting donations. The survey is available online: I was easily able to take it multiple times, using both fake email addresses and real ones. Much of it focuses on the major cable news outlets—CNN, MSNBC, Fox News—and whether they have been fair in their coverage of Trump and Republican causes. Where possible, I answered the questions favorably for credible news outlets, but in some cases, that wasn't even possible. One multiple-choice question simply asks: "On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing Republicans?" 

Professional pollsters rely on representative population samples and scientific methodology when they conduct polls, which is why most will say online surveys tend to be unreliable and easy to manipulate. The scarier question here is whether Trump will use the results of this survey as further "evidence" that the media needs to be reined in.

02.17.17 | 7:23 am

To help people learn sign language, Giphy put together this library of  2,000 GIFs

On Thursday, the GIF provider launched a channel with simple GIFs featuring just hand movements and captions taken from the "Sign with Robert" series, reports Mashable

Read the full story here.

02.17.17 | 7:00 am

Muzak streamer Soundtrack Your Brand cuts ties with Spotify 

The startup that streams background music into stores and restaurants said this morning that it's received $22 million in new funding and that its investors will fund an "aggressive expansion plan," reports Bloomberg. Its aim is to compile its own library of music and then deliver that to hotels and retailers.

Read the full story here.

02.17.17 | 6:41 am

YouTube says it has now added captions to over 1 billion videos

In recent years, Google's speech recognition technology has improved 50% in accuracy, allowing it to make far more of its videos available to the deaf and hearing impaired. Currently, YouTube users watch more than 15 million videos with automated captions each day, and the captions service supports 10 languages, writes YouTube program manager Liat Kaver in a blog post.

02.16.17 | 6:00 pm

More bad news for Samsung—vice chairman Jay Y. Lee arrested on bribery charges

The 48-year-old executive was arrested and taken into custody today after a South Korean district court issued a warrant earlier. Lee is accused of bribery and other charges in the corruption scandal that caused the South Korean parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye.

The Seoul Central District Court deliberated on the matter all day Thursday, and Lee was apprehended by police outside the court just after the warrant was issued. That same court also declined to issue and arrest warrant for Samsung president Park Sang-jin.

Today's event is yet another body-blow against Samsung's reputation. It's been a bruising year already after the company was forced to recall and remove from market its Galaxy Note 7 phone. The batteries in the phone blew up after Samsung failed to discover dangerous design flaws during production.

02.16.17 | 5:39 pm

Zuck’s manifesto reveals how Facebook aims to solve one of its biggest problems

More than 16.4% of all the humans alive use Facebook every single day. That means, of course, that community standards for content—what's allowed, what's not—paint strokes that are too broad for some people, and not broad enough for others. Some are not offended by nudity but hate violence; for others, it's the reverse.

In the 6,000-word manifesto Mark Zuckerberg posted today, he said the company is planning to re-cast the way this core Facebook issue is handled, putting more control over what individual users see in their own hands, and trying to apply standards more locally. 

"The guiding principles are that the community standards should reflect the cultural norms of our community, that each person should see as little objectionable content as possible, and each person should be able to share what they want while being told they cannot share something as little as possible."

The idea is that users will periodically be asked what they want or don't want to see when it comes to nudity, violence, graphic content, profanity, and the like. Those that don't respond would be subject to standards set by the majority of users in their geographic region. Personal updates will always be possible. Implementing changes that accurately reflect users' desires is a function of artificial intelligence, and Zuckerberg said it will take years to complete the project—which he seems to ultimately want to serve as an avatar for similar large-scale problems on Facebook, such as fake news, civic involvement, and safety. "Our hope is that this model provides examples of how collective decision-making may work in other aspects of the global community."

[Flickr user Alessio Jacona]