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10.31.16 | 7:22 am

We didn’t get hit by an asteroid last night, and we knew we wouldn’t thanks to this new NASA tool

NASA is testing a new computer program, called Scout, that scans data from telescopes to find space objects in Earth's neighborhood. It then calculates the risk of those objects hitting Earth and orders follow-up observations from other telescopes to better understand the risk.

NPR reports that Scout located an asteroid on Oct. 25-26 that looked as though it would pass near Earth. Last night, as predicted, it missed us by 310,000 miles.

[Image: NASA/JPL]

04.28.17 | 2 minutes ago

Apple is now providing the song snippets for popular music video app Musical.ly

The third-party app allows users to create their own music videos using existing song snippets, which made it a natural fit for Apple to replace Musical.ly's existing song snippet provider U.K.-based provider 7digital, reports Recode. The deal gives Apple a whole new, young audience for its Apple Music subscription service and Musical.ly benefits from now being able to expand from 30 countries to 120 thanks to the licensing rights working with Apple provides.

04.28.17 | 10 minutes ago

Facebook’s Messenger Lite is now available in another 150 more countries

The stripped-down, mobile data and processor friendly version of Facebook's chat app makes its debut in dozens and dozens of countries around the world, David Marcus, head of Messenger at Facebook announced today. That's up from the five countries it was available in upon its launch last year. Some of the countries where Messenger Lite is now available in include Germany, Colombia, Italy, Vietnam, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Turkey, Japan, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

04.28.17 | 20 minutes ago

Here’s United’s 10-point plan for not being the worst airline ever

After dragging passengers off planes and letting cute, cuddly, large bunnies die on their flights, United Airlines has posted a new 10-point plan "to improve customer experience":

• Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.

• Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.

• Increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000. 

• Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines, or ground transportations to get customers to their final destination.

• Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.

• Provide employees with additional annual training.

• Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.

• Reduce the amount of overbooking.

• Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.

• Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a "no questions asked" policy on lost luggage.

Still might be a good idea to keep an eye on your rabbits though.

04.27.17 | 6:11 pm

With India’s success, Amazon has more plans for international domination

Amazon's most recent earnings report was a blockbuster. The company saw revenue increasing 23% to $35.7 billion. Of the company's net sales this quarter, 32% was from its international businesses. At the earnings call CFO Brian Olsavsky said the company sees huge potential with these markets. India, specifically, is one area Amazon is investing heavily in. The company launched Amazon Prime, original Indian programming for the country, as well as devices tailored specifically for India customers. Olsavsky described international markets as "important investment areas."

While he wouldn't go into more details, the CFO said the company is going to continue investing heavily in these non-U.S. markets. This includes expanding global Prime benefits, launching new internationally targeted devices, as well as investing in more warehouses. Needless to say: Expect to see more announcements and investments in this vein. 

04.27.17 | 5:52 pm

Anthony Levandowski will no longer oversee self-driving tech at Uber

Anthony Levandowski, the man over whom Google and Uber are squabbling, is stepping aside from his role as head of the company's Advanced Technologies Group. Eric Meyhofer will now lead those efforts, according to an email obtained by both Business Insider and Bloomberg. The reason? Waymo's lawsuit accusing Levandowski, a former employee, of stealing intellectual property and infringing on its lidar-related patents. The email goes on to distance Levandowski from the company's lidar technology, a refrain we've been hearing for a while from Uber: 

As you know, I currently don't provide input on detailed LiDAR design choices. But making this organizational change means I will have absolutely no oversight over or input into our LiDAR work. Going forward, please make sure not to include me in meetings or email threads related to LiDAR, or ask me for advice on the topic. 

04.27.17 | 5:31 pm

Google is getting ready to put its voice assistant everywhere

While Amazon is already getting its Alexa voice assistant into all kinds of products, Google is now in hot pursuit. The search giant has just released a software development kit for the Google Assistant, allowing anyone to create their own voice-controlled hardware prototypes. Google says it will open the SDK to commercial device makers "across a wide range of hardware" later this year, but for now the kit is mainly for hobbyists who want to tinker. If you've been pining for a Google version of the Alexa Big Mouth Bass, now's your chance.

[Photo: Google]

04.27.17 | 5:05 pm

Jeff Bezos just made $2.7B in one hour

Amazon's quarterly earnings numbers were just reported, and the company beat analyst expectations. The stock is now seeing a huge surge in after-hours trading. It's been hovering close to a 4% increase for quite a while now. 

Doing quick back-of-napkin arithmetic, I looked at how much Jeff Bezos's 80.9 million Amazon shares were worth when markets closed ($918.38/share) compared to what the price is now at 5 p.m. ET ($952/share). In these 60 minutes alone the Amazon founder made a jaw-dropping $2.7 billion. 

04.27.17 | 4:29 pm

Amazon handily beat expectations in Q1 earnings 

Amazon is having a pretty good year so far. The company just released Q1 2017 earnings, and it beat analyst expectations on nearly every count. Revenue went up 23% to $35.7 billion, compared to $29.1 billion the same period last year. Earnings-per-share hit $1.48, exceeding analyst expectations of $1.13. Retail subscriptions saw a huge boost, too, so we can expect to hear great things about Prime. Unsurprisingly, the stock is seeing a surge—it's currently up about 4% up in after-hours trading. Here's a quick rundown of the stats:

We'll be listening to the earnings presentation later this afternoon, so stay tuned!

04.27.17 | 4:18 pm

What YouTube boycott? Alphabet shrugs off Google ad exodus with higher-than-expected revenue in Q1

Last month, it looked like YouTube had a real problem on its hands, what with numerous big-name marketers pulling out due to concerns that their ads were appearing alongside extremist videos. Companies like PepsiCo, Walmart, Starbucks, GM, and Dish Network all pulled out. But it doesn't appear that the advertiser exodus hurt YouTube parent company Alphabet's bottom line.

Today, Alphabet released its first-quarter earnings report, just beating analysts' expectations. For the quarter, the company brought in revenues of $24.75 billion, while analysts had predicted $24.19 billion, and earnings per share of $7.73, higher than predictions of $7.40. And Google's ad revenues came in at $21.41 billion, up 18.8% year-over-year

04.27.17 | 3:39 pm

DJI makes it harder for ISIS to use its drones as weapons in Syria

It's one thing to fight against well-armed troops or military aircraft. It's another thing altogether to have to worry about consumer drones coming out of nowhere bearing grenades or other explosives. And that's something military authorities have been increasingly concerned about tackling as they take on ISIS

But now, according to The Register, drone giant DJI has attempted to help with this problem by updating geofencing software on its drones to make much of Syria a no-fly zone. This is not a fail-safe system, and there are other drone companies. But DJI is far and away the world's largest, so this step could go a long way to keeping drones out of the fight, at least in Syria.

04.27.17 | 12:16 pm

This video game lets you clean virtual plastic from the ocean

Millions of tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year, causing increasing environmental and economic damage. A new video game wants to help clean up some of that garbage, at first virtually and then hopefully in real life. 

The nonprofit group We Are The Oceans (not to be confused with the U.K. band We Are The Ocean) has created a strangely difficult video game where players are challenged to clean a million pounds of plastic out of the ocean in the hopes of saving the endangered Vaquita porpoise and other creatures. Think of it as an underwater Flappy Bird, dodging floating straws and other obstacles in the ocean. It's a fun game with a serious message, as plastics pose a dire threat to the oceans' health. By 2050, there could be more plastic in the water than fish, according to one estimate. To thwart that, play the game and take We Are The Oceans' pledge to curb plastic use.

04.27.17 | 11:38 am

E-books are no longer flying off the e-shelves

Turns out that just because you can read the great works of literature (and all the great business books you can stomach) on an e-reader, doesn't mean everyone wants to.

The Guardian reports that e-book sales in the U.K. have dropped by 17%. They placed the blame on so-called screen fatigue. Basically, people are so tired of staring into screens all day for work, and all night for entertainment, and at all other times in between to check on their Tinder—er, LinkedIn—profiles, that when it comes to reading a book, readers are yearning for good old-fashioned paper. Perhaps Amazon and other e-book distributors should start sending book-scented candles out with each purchase.

"I wouldn't say that the e-book dream is over but people are clearly making decisions on when they want to spend time with their screens," Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, told The Guardian. Don't hold a wake for your Kindle quite yet, though. While the market is slumping, it still raked in £204m ($263 million) from people who don't want anyone on the subway to know what book they're reading.

[Photo: Unsplash user @jamestarbotton]