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08.23.16 | 6:01 am

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic medals could be made from recycled smartphones

Might the world's top athletes be competing for a rose gold medal at the 2020 games? Not exactly, but the organizers of the 2020 Olympics are hoping to tap into Japan's electronic waste of discarded smartphones and other electronics to source the gold, silver, and bronze used to make the Games' medals, reports Nikkei Asian Review. Though there is not a lot of gold or silver used in smartphones and other electronics, the sheer amount of the discarded devices means those small amounts of precious metals add up. Nikkei says for the 2012 Olympics, 9.6kg of gold, 1,210kg of silver, and 700kg of copper (the main component for bronze medals) were used to make the medals. In 2014 Japan recovered 143kg of gold, 1,566kg of silver, and 1,112 tons of copper from discarded electronics.

[Image: TechStage]

10.20.16 | 9:21 pm

Donald Trump gets booed at Al Smith dinner after mean-spirited shots at Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump showed he was incapable of self-deprecating humor tonight as he spoke at the annual Alfred E. Smith dinner. The Catholic charity event is known for being a light-hearted affair in which the most vicious of political opponents set their differences aside and trade playful barbs with each other. But Trump's shots at Hillary Clinton didn't feel that way, particularly when he hit her on the Haiti scandal surrounding her foundation.  

"Everyone knows, of course, Hillary has believed that it takes a village, which only makes sense, after all, in places like Haiti, where she has taken a number of them," Trump said.

The comment attracted boos from the audience, as did the line when Trump said, "Here she is in public pretending not to hate Catholics." 

Clinton strained to keep her smile throughout the speech. As for Trump, he seemed to be reading his "jokes" under protest. At one point, he looked down at his notes and said, "This is corny stuff."

When it was Clinton's turn to speak, some of her jokes didn't go over much better, but at least they didn't feel nasty. One line that fell a little flat was a jab at Trump's coziness with Russia. "Donald really is as healthy as a horse," she said. "You know the one Vladimir Putin rides around on." 

Maybe it was the delivery.  


10.20.16 | 8:27 pm

DJI cops to Mavic Pro delivery delays

Plopped down many hundreds of dollars for one of the hottest drones available this holiday season, but heard nothing about when you'll be able to unfold it (yes, it's a foldable drone) and send it aloft? You're not alone.

DJI has admitted to production issues with the Mavic Pro that have caused delivery delays, Gizmodo reports. So hang on, it'll be there soon.

10.20.16 | 6:37 pm

Evening intel: Guess who’s coming to dinner?  

• In what will probably be the most awkward charity event in history, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both attending the annual Alfred E. Smith dinner in New York tonight. Seriously, they just had a debate. 

• How would you feel if AT&T owned Game of Thrones? It could happen if the telecom giant purchases HBO's parent company, Time Warner Inc. According to Bloomberg, some informal merger talks have been taking place. Winter is coming to Time Warner Center.

Microsoft is partying like it's 1999 after a strong earnings report pushed shares past a record high set at the end of the 20th century. 

• In a speech in Miami today, President Obama conceded that there's room for improvement with his signature health care law.

And finally, if you play video games, be aware that your favorite voice actors may be hitting the picket lines tomorrow. The union that represents them hasn't been able to reach a deal with game-makers.   

10.20.16 | 6:12 pm

Another giant sack of LOL money for BuzzFeed

NBCUniversal is said to be doubling its investment in BuzzFeedRecode reported todaypumping another $200 million into the digital media powerhouse. NBCU, which is owned by Comcast, invested $200 million in BuzzFeed last year in a deal that valued the viral news site at $1.5 billion. At the time, analysts told me the deal made more sense than it might seem given NBCU's huge news interests and hunger to reach a younger demographic. 

Still, digital media has had a tough year, and BuzzFeed gained some bad press in April after a Financial Times report that said it halved its 2016 revenue goals (a report BuzzFeed disputed). More recently, the company has redoubled its focus on video

[Photo: Comcast]

10.20.16 | 6:05 pm

Why Donald Trump shouldn’t be compared to Al Gore

By now, you've surely heard the theory being peddled by some Trump surrogates that his response last night to the question of whether he would accept the election results was tantamount to Al Gore contesting the results of the 2000 election. 

Here's why that isn't a fair comparison: 

• Gore never made proclamations about the election being rigged to save face—or insinuate that he wouldn't accept the results of the election prior to the election even taking place. 

• Gore conceded to George W. Bush and only withdrew his concession upon realizing that Florida had been awarded to Bush prematurely. Gore's request for a manual recount came only after it became clear that it was too close to call (and that poor ballot design had confused voters in Palm Beach county). 

• The race was actually extremely close! In official results, Bush won the presidency with an additional 537 votes in Florida. By contrast, FiveThirtyEight's polls-only election forecast currently gives Hillary Clinton an 86.7% chance of winning. 

Read more over at New York Magazine

10.20.16 | 5:04 pm

Microsoft stock price soars past 1999 record high after strong fiscal Q1 earnings

•The company reported adjusted first-quarter earnings of 76 cents a share on revenues of $22.33 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of 68 cents a share on revenues of $21.71 billion. 

•Microsoft reported strong margin (49%) on its growing commercial cloud business, growing rapidly from the 42% it reported last quarter. Those facts were probably big reasons the stock rose 6% in after hours trading to its highest level ($59.97) since 1999. 

•Microsoft said the strong earnings are related to strong sales of its cloud-based services. "We are helping to lead a profound digital transformation for customers, infusing intelligence across all of our platforms and experiences," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. 

•Revenues from Microsoft's cloud storage and services offering, Azure, grew 116 percent during the quarter. Microsoft's "intelligent cloud" business accounted for $6.38 billion of total revenues, the company said.

•The LinkedIn acquisition will close in the second fiscal quarter of 2017, the company said. 

•The earnings announcement comes just ahead of an October 26 event where Microsoft is expected to announce some new products and possibly some upcoming enhancements to the Windows 10 OS.

10.20.16 | 4:14 pm

Video game actors are probably going to strike tomorrow

Negotiations between the video game industry and the union that represents actors are apparently not going very well. The deadline for a deal is tonight at midnight. SAG-AFTRA posted this strike bulletin a few days ago with a list of companies its members would be prohibited from working for. Major game studios including Activision, Electronic Arts, and Disney Character Voices are all on the list. 

SAG-AFTRA has been fighting for residual pay for actors and more transparency from the industry, among other concessions. The U.S. video game industry generated $23.5 billion last year. Engadget has more on this

10.20.16 | 3:14 pm

Direct-to-consumer brand Crane & Canopy expands beyond bed linen

Crane & Canopy was founded by a husband-and-wife team who attended Harvard Business School and wanted to make high-quality home products more affordable by cutting out the middleman markup. This week, the brand expanded its product selection to include high-quality Turkish cotton towels. Towels cost $26 and larger bath sheets cost $48. That makes them far cheaper other luxury towels from brands like Sferra or Abyss, which can cost upwards of $100. 

Crane and Canopy is among the growing range of direct-to-consumer home brands, including Brooklinen, Boll and Branch, and Parachute, that sell luxury bedding at more affordable price points and are shaking up the luxury home goods industry. 

10.20.16 | 3:00 pm

Posh Spice goes to Target

Target just announced a new collaboration with Victoria Beckham that will be launching in the spring. The 200-piece collection for women, girls, and baby will be priced between $6 and $70, with most items under $40. Products will hit shelves on April 9, 2017. 

10.20.16 | 2:50 pm

Donald Trump’s debate night scorecard: three up, three down

The third debate was Donald Trump's last chance to win over voters by proving he has presidential composure and temperament. But he just couldn't help being himself, and failed to present winning truths, or a winning personality. Fast Company's Marcus Baram explains. Have a differing opinion? Let us know on Twitter using #29thfloor.

10.20.16 | 2:41 pm

Oxford Nanopore’s pocket-sized instrument sequences its first human genome

Oxford Nanopore, British maker of portable DNA sequencing instruments, made a major announcement today. It has sequenced its first human genome on a MinION, a pint-size, portable machine that scientists are using in the field to sequence viruses like Ebola and Zika, as well as other pathogens. 

What's exciting about Oxford Nanopore is that it's instruments are cheap—about $1,000 for the sequencer and a starter pack of consumables—as well as portable. The dominant player in this space, Illumina, sells its cheapest sequencing instrument to medical researchers for $49,000, which is about the size of a desktop computer. Of course, Illumina's machines provide a much greater depth of coverage and are unrivaled for their accuracy, but Oxford Nanopore is proving that its devices are a viable alternative for some use-cases.

Oxford Nanopore has not received regulatory approval for its sequencer to be used for the purposes of diagnosing disease; thus far, it's primary use is for research. 

10.20.16 | 2:13 pm

President Obama: Think of Obamacare as a “starter home”

President Obama is currently giving a speech in Miami, Florida (watch here) to defend the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. 

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have taken opposite stances on the bill, which prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to citizens based on pre-existing conditions. Clinton has expressed that she'll make tweaks to the law to fix its most niggling problems; Trump describes it as a "disaster" that he'll rip out and replace with something "tremendous." 

Obama is hoping that Americans will see the bill as a "starter home," meaning it laid the foundation by providing coverage to millions more Americans but there's still room for improvement. For instance, one problem that he noted with the state and federal marketplaces is that there simply isn't enough competition yet to drive down premiums.