After months of incremental price increases, Tesla appears to be reversing course with some massive price cuts. With Tesla having dissolved its PR department, no official reason for the cuts was given, but the company’s recent disappointing financial performance could provide some clues.
Elsewhere, British postal service Royal Mail is continuing to deal with an ongoing cyber incident, which now appears to be a ransomware attack. The carrier says it’s currently unable to send deliveries abroad, and is warning customers to hold onto their packages for now.
And finally, Nvidia has released an interesting new feature for use with its graphics cards that can make it look as though you’re looking into your camera when your eyes are actually pointed elsewhere. It’s beta software and a little buggy in our experience, but for the low, low price of “free” (well, I guess technically “included with the price of an Nvidia GPU”) it’s worth having a play around with.
For now, here’s a silly tweet:
Example: Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Friday, January 13th, 2023.
It’s Friday night in the US, and for a while there, the music was not playing on Spotify for many people. Users reported streams suddenly stopped, and for people who’ve logged out, some say they can’t log in again.Read Article >
The outage has garnered over 30,000 reports on DownDetector.com, starting just before 8PM ET and rising sharply since then. A status page for the company’s web API indicates a “minor” partial outage affecting only the player itself, which is consistent with what we’re seeing — but that’s also the most important part of Spotify.
On Friday afternoon, Microsoft wrote it’s fully deployed a fix for an issue in Windows that caused application shortcuts in the Start menu or taskbar to disappear. Multiple IT admins detailed the problem on Twitter and Reddit this morning, and Microsoft confirmed it was related to a recent update to the Microsoft Defender threat detections.Read Article >
The problem is affecting businesses and organizations using Microsoft 365 and Defender for protection against malware, viruses, and other threats. In a note to customers, Microsoft said it received reports that a certain attack surface reduction (ASR) rule is causing the problems. Earlier in the day, IT admins tried to work around the issue by setting the “Block Win32 API calls from Office macro” rule to audit only.
YouTube is testing free ad-supported TV channels that show content from certain media companies, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The concept is similar to services like Pluto TV, Roku’s Live TV channels, or the experiences built into TVs from companies like Samsung, LG, and Vizio — there will be a “hub” that lets you pick what you want to watch.Read Article >
The concept has been part of a profitable business model for some of the other companies in the space, as earnings reports from Vizio and Roku show that they make more profit from advertising and commissions on subscriptions than they do from selling hardware. The most recent reports showed Vizio (PDF) pulls in an average of $27 annually per user, while Roku (PDF) manages to net more than $44 per year.
No one likes price hikes, but Strava’s messy rollout has left many customers wondering what’s happening to their subscription. Here’s what’s actually happening: the company is raising prices for the first time in more than a decade, and the new price everyone pays depends on the region they live in, whether they are a monthly or annual subscriber, and whether they purchased their subscription prior to November 23rd, 2022. (Customers who subscribed after that date aren’t affected.) But Strava didn’t make this easy to understand.Read Article >
As spotted by sports blogger DC Rainmaker and r/Strava Redditors, things got confusing when customers started comparing notes on Strava’s price bump. Customers on r/Strava say emails were sent to some, while others got updates from the App Store. Those who received emails were quoted different prices depending on the region, adding to the confusion. Some saw prices roughly double, while others saw prices increase by 67 percent or around 33 percent. Complicating matters, the relative price hike will differ depending on whether you’re a monthly or annual subscriber. And some folks who received emails say they didn’t see the price change reflected in their Strava account pages.
- Twitter’s “open source” algorithm could be revealed next month.
Adi Robertson has explained the potential issues already:
Twitter’s algorithm also won’t explain how any given tweet was prioritized unless Twitter releases a huge amount of supplementary data, nor would it necessarily illuminate the rationale behind any human moderation that intersects with it. And it would be incredibly vulnerable to people who want to make bad-faith claims by taking pieces of it out of context, willfully misinterpreting them or sowing conspiracy theories about them.
Microsoft, Stripe, and Shopify are officially the first companies in the world to pay to filter their carbon dioxide emissions out of the air, store those emissions underground, and have that service verified by a third party. Climate tech company Climeworks announced yesterday that it had completed the service, and its third-party verification of the carbon removal marks a first for the emerging industry.Read Article >
In 2021, Climeworks opened up the world’s largest direct air capture (DAC) plant, called Orca, which essentially filters carbon dioxide out of the ambient air. That captured carbon is then supposed to be trapped in basalt rock formations permanently, keeping the greenhouse gas from lingering in our atmosphere and heating up the planet.
Twitter’s new For You tab, which rolled out to iPhones and iPads on Tuesday, is now appearing on desktop web browsers.Read Article >
The For You tab is the TikTok-inspired name for Twitter’s algorithmically curated “Home” tab, and on iOS, it’s now the default tab you see when you close and reopen the app. You can still access the reverse-chronological list of the latest posts from the people you follow on the “Following” tab (previously “Latest”), though Twitter has removed the star icon to switch between the timelines.
A judge rejected Elon Musk’s request to move his upcoming securities fraud trial out of San Francisco, Bloomberg reports. Musk had argued that the jury pool from the city would be biased against him.Read Article >
Musk is facing a civil trial next week stemming from a lawsuit filed by Tesla shareholders who accuse the billionaire of making false statements in his tweets from 2018 about taking the electric vehicle company private. The shareholders argue that Musk’s tweets, in which he claimed he had “funding secured” to take the company private, caused wild swings in Tesla’s share price, costing them billions of dollars.
- From “Popeyes kid” meme to Popeyes NIL athlete.
At nine years old, Dieunerst Collin entered meme immortality via this 2013 Vine clip comparing the side-eyeing youth to Lil Terrio, and since he was at a Popeyes, he became the “Popeyes Kid.”
Now Collin is a redshirt freshman at center on the football team for Lake Erie College, and — with a little pressure from social media — has signed a “Name, Image and Likeness” (NIL) sponsorship deal with Popeyes.
- Some good Snap juice.
Other than commenting on item prices and the upcoming PvP mode, he also discussed its rank system and how it delevels players every four weeks:
You know... I’ve never worked on a game that did not completely redo the rank system multiple times during live development. I imagine we will continue to tweak our rank system.
At exactly 18 seconds into his video “YouTube is Run by Fools,” ProZD makes his feelings on the platform’s recent restrictions on foul language crystal clear: “That’s the dumbest fucking shit I’ve ever heard.”Read Article >
The tirade’s timing was deliberate, meant to test the company’s updated “approach to profanity” that it announced in November: YouTube will now limit ads or completely demonetize a creator’s video if they swear within the first 15 seconds. That may not seem like a huge deal on its own, but it also seems to apply to every video YouTubers have ever created — and they’ve done a whole lot of swearing.
You probably haven’t been on the phone with someone who’s using a serger sewing machine. I have, and I’m here to tell you it sounds like talking to someone who’s in the middle of a raging tornado as it tears through a bus depot. That is, until Google’s Clear Calling feature kicks in. When that happens, the tornado dissipates into a mild windstorm, making it possible to carry on with your conversation. It’s the sort of helpful background feature that Google’s Pixel phones can be so good at delivering. It’s just a shame that most of them won’t get it.Read Article >
When Google announced the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, it talked up a feature that would be coming after launch. Dubbed Clear Calling, it’s designed to reduce background noise on the line when you’re talking to someone who’s in a noisy environment, like a cafe or a busy street. It arrived with December’s feature drop, and not too long after that, I put it to the test on a call with my sister.
To quote a worn — but occasionally true — saying from Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” The popularity of Airbnb and other informal rentals has coincided with the increased production of cheaper hidden cameras, making it increasingly likely that your stay could be viewed by the person who rented the place out to you.Read Article >
Want to make sure your privacy is being respected? There are a couple of ways you can kinda, sorta find out if there are any hidden cameras in your space.
Before its gaggles of fungus-infected, flesh-eating berserkers burst their way onto the screen, HBO’s The Last of Us could be easily mistaken for a number of other apocalyptic zombie shows about survivors fighting for their lives. Because it holds up so well as a series, it might not be obvious to viewers unfamiliar with The Last of Us’ origins how Joel, Ellie, and the story of the cordyceps pandemic all began as parts of a blockbuster video game.Read Article >
Between being so faithful to the game’s story and adding new depth to its characters, it’s no wonder that longtime fans have been quick to call HBO’s show one of the best video game adaptations of all time. But as The Last of Us co-creator Neil Druckmann and series showrunner Craig Mazin see it, one of the biggest reasons their new project works so well is because deep — though perhaps not too deep — down inside, a television show was always hiding within the game and waiting to be brought to life.
The $399 Apollo Neuro is the kind of wellness gadget that inspires skepticism. In a nutshell, it’s a wearable that claims to relieve stress through touch therapy. Apollo Neuro co-founder Dr. Dave Rabin describes it in a video as a “wearable hug for your nervous system” that uses silent vibrations to “rebalance” your fight-or-flight response. That, in turn, is supposed to make your body more resilient to stress by improving focus, increasing sleep quality, and raising your heart rate variability — a metric often used as a proxy for gauging recovery.Read Article >
I wouldn’t blame you for snorting in disbelief. My eyebrows nearly flew into the stratosphere while watching that video. Not only is the Neuro expensive for what it is, but touch therapy itself is an alternative treatment without much high-quality scientific evidence to back up its claims.
- The touchscreen Mac, and other Rumours.
With Nilay roaming the wilderness of upstate New York, I talked to Alex and Dan as we imagined the possibility of Macs with OLED screens that you can touch and tried to figure out what MicroLED would do for us.
We also previewed Samsung’s next Unpacked event and attempted to use unlicensed music with some help from Siri.
Horror master Junji Ito is bringing his particular blend of scares to Netflix very soon — and you can get a brief taste in a new trailer. The show, which has the somewhat unwieldy title of Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre, adapts 20 different stories from the manga artist, from iconic pieces like Tomie to cult material such as Layers of Terror. Netflix says that all of the included stories have “the shared theme of madness,” which, of course, is pretty standard for Ito.Read Article >
The trailer is a brisk run through the included material, giving you a hint of what to expect (namely, lots of body horror and disturbing creatures) without giving too much away. If nothing else, the show appears to do a very good job of sticking to Ito’s art style while bringing it to life through animation. Also, there is a very cute cat.
British postal service Royal Mail’s ongoing cybersecurity incident is the result of an attack carried out using ransomware tools from Russia-linked hacking group LockBit, The Telegraph reports. Royal Mail disclosed the incident on Wednesday, saying that it’s unable to send packages internationally.Read Article >
A ransomware note circulating on Twitter that was apparently sent to Royal Mail says that its data is “stolen and encrypted,” and threatens to publish it online if a ransom isn’t paid. The note namechecks “LockBit Black Ransomware,” which is thought to be LockBit’s latest encryptor.
Tesla is cutting prices throughout Europe and in the US. Reuters reports that prices for a Model Y rear wheel drive have dropped by 17 percent in Germany, with cuts of 20 percent for the Model Y long range in the US. Tesla has also cut prices for its Model X and Model S in the US. The price cuts arrive less than a year after Tesla made multiple price hikes in 2022.Read Article >
“At the end of a turbulent year with interruptions to the supply chain, we have achieved a partial normalization of cost inflation, which gives us the confidence to pass this relief onto our customers,” says a Tesla Germany spokesperson in a statement to Reuters.
Nvidia’s streaming software now has an option to make it appear like you’re making eye contact with the camera, even if you’re looking somewhere else in real life. Using AI, the “Eye Contact” feature added to Nvidia Broadcast 1.4 will replace your eyes with “simulated” ones that are aligned with your camera — an effect that worked really well when we tested it ourselves, except for all the times it didn’t.Read Article >
In an announcement post, the company writes the feature is meant for “content creators seeking to record themselves while reading their notes or a script” without having to look directly at a camera. Pitching it as something you’d use during a public performance, instead of something you’d use socially, does kind of sidestep the dilemmas that come with this sort of tech. Is it rude to use AI to trick my mom into thinking I’m engaged in our video call when I’m actually looking at my phone? Or, to make my boss think I’m not writing an article on my other monitor during a meeting? (I’m going to say yes, given that getting caught in either scenario would land me in hot water.)