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Everything posted by NelsonG

  1. TL;DR: The Lifetime Mobile Privacy and Security Subscription Bundle is on sale for £21.81 as of July 26, saving you 91% on list price. For a limited time, you can get a Hushed Private Phone Line and a lifetime subscription to KeepSolid VPN bundled together for just £21.81. The Hushed Private Phone Line lets you set up a second secure phone number while keeping your real number hidden. You can choose from hundreds of different area codes, and your plan includes a yearly usage of 6,000 SMS or 1,000 call minutes that automatically renews each year. The lifetime subscription to KeepSolid VPN gives you security and anonymity online with no speed or bandwidth limits. Break down geographical barriers for apps like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more, all while enjoying military-grade AES 256-bit encryption. At full price, you'd pay £253 for both apps. But, for a limited time, you can save hundreds with this bundle deal and pay just £21.81 for a lifetime subscription to both. Credit: KeepSolid Save 91% on the Lifetime Mobile Privacy and Security Subscription Bundle Buying Options See Details http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/qmgmqDtpkbQView the full article
  2. TL;DR: The Complete 2021 EDM Music Production Bundle is on sale for £21.81 as of July 26, saving you 98% on list price. Sign up for the Complete 2021 EDM Music Production Bundle to get a primer on the tips and tricks you need to make your own beats. This bundle includes eight in-depth courses and over 600 lessons covering electronic music, music theory, EDM production, and DAW (digital audio workstation) software. They’re taught by Jason Allen, Ph.D, an Ableton Certified Trainer, David O’Leary, an audiovisual specialist, sound engineer, and DJ, Benjamin Lynott, a veteran music producer and audio engineer, and Chester Sky, a music producer and composer. If you’re a complete beginner, there’s a primer course that will help you get started with the basics, including what equipment you’ll need, what software you should buy, and how to get it all set up. There’s also a novice's class that teaches you how EDM is structured and the musical principles it’s based upon, as well as some basics on production, theory, composition, mixing, and mastering. From these two courses onward, you’ll build a solid foundation for your budding electronic music production skill set. Finally, you’ll start your deep dive into Ableton Live, which is arguably the best DAW software for EDM. You’ll focus on how to use your DAW as your instrument, analyse popular tracks from EDM artists like Avicii, Skrillex, and Daft Punk, and make harmonies, melodies, and eventually, whole tracks from scratch. While it's valued at over £1,000, you can sign up for this eight-course bundle for £21.81 when you’re ready to unleash your inner DJ. Save 98% on the Complete 2021 EDM Music Production Bundle Buying Options See Details http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/Kt9gNHPe68gView the full article
  3. The five-song collection arrives this Friday, July 30 View the full article
  4. Few filmmakers are as hotly debated as M. Night Shyamalan. To many, the story of his career goes something like this. The Academy Award-nominated writer-director won over audiences with the horror flick The Sixth Sense (1999). He kept up the successful streak with the chilling superhero story Unbreakable (2000) and heart-wrenching alien invasion tale Signs (2002). Then, things took a turn for the confusing with period thriller The Village (2004) and exhausting mermaid suspense story Lady in the Water (2006). This apparent quality nosedive culminated in total catastrophe with apocalyptic thriller The Happening (2008), one of the silliest films ever made. Shyamalan's reputation stayed lukewarm across found-footage film The Visit (2015) and Unbreakable sequels Split (2017) and Glass (2019). But with his latest release now in theaters, there's never been a better time to revisit his divisive, extraordinarily hit-or-miss body of work. On Rotten Tomatoes, Old (2021) is hovering around 50%. Its quality is being heavily contested on social media — and, yes, "the beach that makes you old" is getting memed. As someone who gave Old a positive review (I stand by it!), this emphasizes to me the role personal preference plays in enjoying Shyamalan's work. It seems to me what you expect from a thriller hugely impacts whether you walk away satisfied at the end of a Shyamalan film. With this in mind, I've rewatched and ranked every Shyamalan thriller, spelling out what makes some titles work better for me than others. YMMV, but that's true of every director. Note: This is not a complete ranking of Shyamalan filmography. Because Shyamalan is primarily known for his thrillers, we've excluded dramas Praying with Anger (1992) and Wide Awake (1998), as well as fantasy films After Earth (2013) and The Last Airbender (2010). That said, I will take this opportunity to say: The Last Airbender is terrible. Truly, it is the worst thing to happen to Aang, Katara, and Sokka since the Fire Nation attacked. Never watch it. Thank you. 10. Glass (2019) "Belief in oneself is contagious." Credit: universal pictures The Bruce Willis-starring superhero thriller Unbreakable came out before the Marvel Cinematic Universe existed. So you'd think that'd be the film to understand the world of comics the least. But, nope. That distinction goes to Glass, the final film in the Unbreakable franchise that somehow manages to make superpowers lame and three great actors boring. Samuel L. Jackson and Will reprise their roles from the original film, and James McAvoy returns as his character from the other Unbreakable sequel Split. Sarah Paulson joins the cast as Dr. Ellie Staple, a psychiatrist. Easily the worst Shyamalan thriller, Glass took the Unbreakable franchise — and, well, broke it. If you're dying to see more of this world after watching the first two, cue it up. Otherwise, it's a pass. How to watch: Glass is available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes, and the Microsoft Store. 9. Lady in the Water (2006) "Where are you from?" "The pool." Credit: Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock Starring Paul Giamatti as an apartment superintendent who skims way more than he was expecting out of his building's pool, Lady in the Water is an overly contrived fairytale thriller best described as goofy. That said, Bryce Dallas Howard delivers an interesting enough performance as a nymph-like being named "Story" — yes, it's as awkward to hear in dialogue as you'd imagine — who has to fight her way back to her underwater home after magically appearing in urban Philly. The titular lady in the water isn't particularly well-written, her world never feels truly believable, and Shyamalan's cameo here is easily his most cringe-worthy. Still, Lady in the Water is a good on-in-the-background pick for its ethereal visuals. Just don't try to follow or care about it. How to watch: Lady in the Water is now streaming on Cinemax (via Hulu). 8. The Happening (2008) "Why can't anybody give me a goddamn second?!" Credit: Zade Rosenthal/20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock In The Happening, something is "happening." At least, that's what every character, including those played by Succession's Alan Ruck and Jeremy Strong, tells us during this apocalyptic snooze fest. Though Shyamalan is often lampooned for his twist endings, The Happening is one of the most banally straightforward apocalypse films ever written. Flimsy stakes and unlikable characters — stars Zooey Deschanel and Mark Walhberg have never been so unappealing — make this difficult to enjoy as a suspenseful survival thriller. But if you turn it into a drinking game or opportunity for heckling, then you're in for a very fun watch. Count for example how many times hero Elliott, played by Wahlberg, asks himself a rhetorical question out loud versus how many facial expressions he has. (Answer: Too many, and 1.) How to watch: The Happening is now streaming on Peacock. 7. The Village (2004) "If it ends, it ends." Credit: universal pictures On the off chance you haven't had The Village spoiled for you yet, I won't say too much about its ridiculous plot. That said, this bizarre period thriller is among the more divisive Shyamalan films out there with a lot more going for it than critics at the time of release gave the movie credit for. In her first collaboration with Shyamalan, Bryce Dallas Howard stars as Ivy Walker — a young woman living in a small Pennsylvania town in the 19th century. Though the settlement has been able to live in peace for years due to an ancient agreement, monsters surround the village and the threat of their attack always looms. Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver, and more round out the cast of what is at the very least a memorable film, with an ending best seen rather than explained. Seriously, the 180 this thing pulls is just unparalleled. How to watch: The Village is now streaming on Peacock. 6. Split (2017) "24 identities live in Kevin's body." Credit: universal pictures The better of the two Unbreakable sequels by a wide margin, Split doesn't have all that much to do with superheroes and, aside from that post-credits scene, doesn't include characters from the original. Still, James McAvoy's jaw-dropping performance as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a dangerous man with 24 distinct psychological identities, is a cinematic experience to behold. Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, and Jessica Sula co-star as three teenagers captured by Kevin and kept in an underground facility. Their tense fight for survival grounds the film — and while it's not consistently compelling, this story will leave an impression. How to watch: Split is available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes, and the Microsoft Store. 5. Old (2021) "Can you believe I found this online?" Credit: universal pictures As spicy a take as this may be... I liked Old! The latest Shyamalan nightmare takes us far away from the writer-director's typical filming location of Philadelphia to a remote tropical island, where Guy (Gael García Bernal), Prisca (Vicky Krieps), and their children Maddox (Alexa Swinton) and Trent (Nolan River) are hoping for a great vacation. But when the family becomes trapped on a sinister beach — yes, one that makes them old! — things take a turn for the dire. Undeniably awkward, a bit silly, and still pretty effective, Old takes a bonkers premise to its most extreme and, in my humble opinion, sticks the landing. How to watch: Old is now playing in theaters. 4. The Visit (2015) "Would you mind getting inside the oven to clean it?" Credit: universal pictures If there's a true hidden gem in Shyamalan's catalog, then it's got to be The Visit. When mom Loretta (Kathyrn Hahn) sends her kids Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) on a trip to meet their estranged grandparents, she expects they'll have a quiet vacation. But soon after the kids arrive, Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) begin acting strangely. A found-footage film made by aspiring documentarian Becca captures everything that comes next. It's a nauseating, gut-wrenching nightmare filled with some surprisingly light moments and a stellar performance from DeJonge. You'll laugh. You'll scream. You might throw up. You've been warned. How to watch: The Visit is available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes, and the Microsoft Store. 3. Unbreakable (2000) "This is an art gallery, my friend. And *this* is a piece of art." Credit: Getty Images The awesome movie that (for better or worse) made Split and Glass possible, Unbreakable tells the story of David Dunn. David, played by Bruce Willis, wakes up in a hospital to discover he is the lone survivor of a train derailment that killed more than 130 people. Discovering why, with the help of Samuel L. Jackson's comic book-loving Elijah Price, grounds the rest of the film. More than 20 years after its release, Unbreakable remains a gripping mystery that changed the game for superhero films. With a voice that's especially original for its time, this hero's journey is full of unexpected twists and turns that stand out even now. How to watch: Unbreakable is now streaming on Peacock and Amazon Prime Video. 2. Signs (2002) "Swing away, Merrill. Swing away." Credit: Frank Masi/Touchstone/Blinding Edge/Kobal/Shutterstock Signs is a great movie — if you can stomach watching a performance by Mel Gibson. Over the years, Gibson has been heavily criticized for making racist, antisemitic, homophobic, and sexist remarks as well as been accused of domestic violence. As a result, Shyamalan's stirring tale of an alien invasion, which stars Gibson, hasn't aged as well as it could have. That said, if you choose to watch Signs anyway, you'll enjoy a wonderful performance from Joaquin Phoenix as the uncle of two children, played by Abigail Breslin and Rory Culkin, as they wait for extraterrestrial life to descend on Earth. It's a moving story that elevates the art of the twist ending — even more than The Sixth Sense in my opinion — and features an all-time great jump-scare. How to watch: Signs is now streaming on Peacock. 1. The Sixth Sense (1999) "I see dead people." Credit: Getty Images The Sixth Sense earned Shyamalan both of his Oscar nods, and with good reason. In this emotional ghost story, 10-year-old Haley Joel Osment plays Cole Sear, the iconic boy who can see dead people, opposite Unbreakable's Willis as Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist. Convincing lead performances, a scene-stealing turn from Toni Collette as Cole's mom (her second-best horror movie after Hereditary, obvs), and a killer ending help sell The Sixth Sense as an all-time great scary story. You probably already know The Sixth Sense's "big twist", but it's Shyamalan's keen understanding of spirituality and meticulous crafting of tension that make this 1998 film a classic. How to watch: The Sixth Sense is now streaming on Peacock. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/-iKQqQMxmVwView the full article
  5. Before there were scores of zombies and digitally inserted Tig Notaro, there was a crime. Zack and Deborah Snyder revealed a first look at their prequel to May's Netflix zombie flick, Army of the Dead, in a [email protected] panel on Sunday. Rather than delving deeper into the walking dead angle, this first trailer for Army of Thieves highlights what looks an awful lot like a grounded, not-at-all fantastical heist movie. (Zombies do still exist, apparently, but we're not focusing on them this time.) It's an expansion of the universe, in other words. By venturing back in time, director Matthias Schweighöfer and writer Shay Hatten are giving fans a deeper and more clearly defined world to serve as a home for more stories. You can learn more about how this whole, unexpected thing came together in the panel recording at the top, complete with the trailer at the end. If you just want the trailer, here's Netflix crowing about it on Twitter. Army of Thieves is "coming soon." http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/dNhsdvgc1GgView the full article
  6. Dexter may not be called "Dexter" these days, but that doesn't mean Showtime's most infamous serial killer has lost his lust for blood. On Sunday at a panel for [email protected], the television network revealed the name and release date — not to mention, a juicy first trailer — for its Dexter special event series. Titled Dexter: New Blood and debuting Nov. 7, the revival is set 10 years after the events of the original show and sees Dexter (Michael C. Hall) on the run and living under the alias Jim Lindsay in rural Oregon. In the trailer, we don't see Dexter/Jim get up to anything too nefarious. But it appears the ruthless murderer now owns a hunting store, and longingly staring at all those weapons can't be good for him — even if he insists his new life is "all about blending in." Julia Jones, Alano Miller, Johnny Sequoyah, Jack Alcott, and Clancy Brown round out the cast. Dexter: New Blood will premiere Sunday, Nov. 7 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/ZgkCldLQvsIView the full article
  7. Just a little preview of our robot overlord-ruled dystopian future to darken your Sunday. The Tokyo Olympics are in full swing, as anyone who has the ability to set the TV channel to NBC is no doubt aware. And while the biennial showdown between world-class athletes and the nations they represent is entirely a celebration of human excellence, in 2021 at least one robot is being allowed to have a little fun, as a treat. Fresh from the Tokyo Olympics Twitter account we have this clip of a tiny-headed robot — WHY IS ITS HEAD SO SMALL, Mashable's EiC asked in Slack — shooting, and sinking, free throws Look at this mad nonsense. Nothing but net! (The robot moved further back right after this and immediately sunk a three-point shot with ease as well.) Why is this robot wearing a jersey with the number 95 on it? I don't know enough about basketball to have a good answer for you there. But I do know robots, and this almost seven-foot tall future Robolympics (not actually a thing) superstar has the goods. Kidding aside, this basketball-slinging robot appears to be CUE, a Toyota-developed creation that was first built — the original model, anyway — in 2018. In 2019, the third version, CUE3, went out to set a Guinness world record. It's not clear if the one attending the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo is the same model or a newer one, but it appears to be from the same line of perfect-shooting automatons. You can read more about the CUE project here. SEE ALSO: Boston Dynamics' robot dogs dancing in sync to BTS is both my dream and nightmare The odd moment you see above played out as part of the halftime festivities during Sunday's showdown between Team USA and France. France ultimately won the match-up, 89 to 79. No medals for this one. Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/xU6H9YBaBCEView the full article
  8. Here's a study supported by the objective reality that many of us experience already on YouTube. The streaming video company's recommendation algorithm can sometimes send you on an hours-long video binge so captivating that you never notice the time passing. But according to a study from software nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, trusting the algorithm means you're actually more likely to see videos featuring sexualized content and false claims than personalized interests. In a study with more than 37,000 volunteers, Mozilla found that 71 percent of YouTube's recommended videos were flagged as objectionable by participants. The volunteers used a browser extension to track their YouTube usage over 10 months, and when they flagged a video as problematic, the extension recorded if they came across the video via YouTube's recommendation or on their own. The study called these problematic videos "YouTube Regrets," signifying any regrettable experience had via YouTube information. Such Regrets included videos "championing pseudo-science, promoting 9/11 conspiracies, showcasing mistreated animals, [and] encouraging white supremacy." One girl's parents told Mozilla that their 10-year-old daughter fell down a rabbit hole of extreme dieting videos while seeking out dance content, leading her to restrict her own eating habits. SEE ALSO: Cops are playing music during filmed encounters to game YouTube's copyright striking What causes these videos to become recommended is their ability to go viral. If videos with potentially harmful content manage to accrue thousands or millions of views, the recommendation algorithm may circulate it to users, rather than focusing on their personal interests. YouTube removed 200 videos flagged through the study, and a spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that "the company has reduced recommendations of content it defines as harmful to below 1% of videos viewed." The spokesperson also said that YouTube has launched 30 changes over the past year to address the issue, and the automated system now detects and removes 94 percent of videos that violate YouTube's policies before they reach 10 views. While it's easy to agree on removing videos featuring violence or racism, YouTube faces the same misinformation policing struggles as many other social media sites. It previously removed QAnon conspiracies that it deemed capable of causing real-world harm, but plenty of similar-minded videos slip through the cracks by arguing free speech or claiming entertainment purposes only. YouTube also declines to make public any information about how exactly the recommendation algorithm works, claiming it as proprietary. Because of this, it's impossible for us as consumers to know if the company is really doing all it can to combat such videos circulating via the algorithm. While 30 changes over the past year is an admirable step, if YouTube really wants to eliminate harmful videos on its platform, letting its users plainly see its efforts would be a good first step toward meaningful action. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/3Vo673R1t94View the full article
  9. If you were in a sorority in college, the following scenario will be familiar: You post a cute pic on Instagram, one where you're holding a drink. Maybe it's an ambiguous red solo cup, or a beer bottle partially out of frame. Either way, your sorority's standards board quickly contacts you: "Hey girly! Super cute pic, but could you take it down? It goes against our sorority values. Don't wanna look bad to the PNMs!" Apparently, the situation isn't unique to srats. If you post a complaint about Tesla to social media, you might get a similar request to delete your post. Tesla's solar power division, Tesla Energy, reportedly has a team of 20 employees that acts as the company's own standards board. It scours the internet looking for complaints against the company and, according to former employees speaking to Business Insider, they are instructed to "politely ask customers to delete their social media complaints." It goes beyond just product complaints, too. An ex-employee also told Insider that a separate team of nine people specifically looked for posts complaining about CEO Elon Musk. I guess making the head honcho look bad in front of the internet isn't a great look for potential new members – I mean, potential customers, either. SEE ALSO: Teslas are basic now but many Musk stans don't want to accept that To be fair, having a dedicated team searching for complaints against its company isn't unheard of. Usually, it's a positive thing. The bureaucracy of customer service departments can be disheartening, so many customers do turn to social media to get companies' attention. But while engaging on the internet with customers is welcome, asking them to delete any negative comments, resolved or not, seems like an overstep. Confusingly, a former employee in Tesla customer service also told Insider that they would actually suggest that customers complain on social media if they wanted quicker service. So apparently the preferred Tesla method is to go ahead and tweet your disdain, but then please immediately take it down, thanks very much. It's a particularly obsessive way to manage a brand's social media image, and quite frankly, it feels a little over the top for a company with a CEO who tweets as carelessly as Elon Musk does. If Tesla's gonna act like a sorority on overdrive, maybe they shouldn't tell their customers to post the very comments they want to take down. At least srat standards boards have clear guidelines! http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/Q16IaQfxUO8View the full article
  10. Jeopardy! fans don't need to hear this, but you, a lapsed fan, might: Starting Monday, July 26, LeVar Burton begins his week-long run as the host of the beloved game show. The Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation star joins a lengthy lineup of other public figures — including everyone from CNN's Sanjay Gupta to professional football's Aaron Rodgers — who are vying for the honor of replacing the late Alex Trebek as host. Burton's path to scoring the opportunity was decidedly different, however. Despite the actor's obvious cred as a beloved celebrity and defender of education for people of all ages, it took a Burton-authored appeal on social media — possibly helped by a fan petition — for the show's producers to give him a shot. Now, it's finally happening, and not a moment too soon. Finding a replacement for someone like Trebek hasn't been easy. But hey, maybe you don't keep up with Jeopardy! anymore. We get it. The show has been a staple of the U.S. TV diet for generations, but not everyone watches it religiously for their whole lives. I haven't been a regular viewer since my teenage years when I would watch an early broadcast of the day's episode and then use that information to make my mother and sister think I had the ability to psychically divine the answers. (A ruse that lasted all of one week, if that, though it's still one of my best capers.) Point being, some of us who might be rooting for Burton to get the job may not immediately know where to turn for catching the coming week's episodes. Well, don't worry. We're here to help. When is Jeopardy! even on?Let's start with the most basic of basics: New episodes of Jeopardy! air on ABC from Monday to Friday at 7:00 p.m. local time in most locations. As mentioned already, Burton is hosting the coming week's episodes — so he'll be on from July 26 through July 30. Note that things may be a little funky on the timing front during Burton's Jeopardy! week due to the ongoing Tokyo Olympics and, at the end of the week, the 2021 NBA Draft. There's a rundown of how the scheduling changes affect various airings on the show's official website. Note, too, that you can punch in your ZIP code at the link above if you want to double-check the airtime in your area. Where can you watch Jeopardy!?As I mentioned already, Jeopardy! airs on ABC. If you have cable or even if you just rock the modern equivalent of rabbit ear antennas, tuning in is as simple as setting the channel to ABC at the right time. The same is true for subscribers to alternative cable-style services like Hulu with Live TV or YouTube TV. ABC should be available to subscribers of services like these in most locations. Most services like these also include some kind of built-in DVR feature, so as a bonus you can set Jeopardy! as a favorite and catch up with the show even after it airs. For people who cut the cord on cable (or who have just never bothered), there's still hope. You can watch Jeopardy! without having to resort to anything shady. All you'll need is an internet connection and a willingness to create an account on a particular website: Locast. Locast.org is essentially a streaming service for "rabbit ear" TV — i.e. the channels you'd get if you had a working antenna. It unfortunately only works if you're in or near a supported market, but that accounts for roughly three-quarters of the country. It's also technically a free service, so there's no harm in at least checking. That "free" comes with a bit of a caveat, though: If you watch on Locast without donating any money — a $5 monthly fee is the minimum suggested amount — the site cuts in occasionally to ask for a donation (theoretically; I haven't seen it myself in limited usage, but I've read that it happens). You can always go pick your show again in the live guide on the site, but the interruptions are the price you pay for going the totally free route. What to expect from Burton's hosting week?Jeopardy! isn't filmed live, so Burton's run as host technically happened already. He's done some press ahead of the week his episodes air, and some of what he's said sets the stage for what we can expect from his time at the podium. "I had, like all of the hosts, one day of rehearsal and the following day I shot five episodes of Jeopardy!" he said in an interview with the Associated Press. "I came backstage after taping the first episode and I said to [my wife] Stephanie, 'Well, how did I do?' She said, 'ehhh.' Now, this is a woman who loves me enough to tell me the truth. She said it wasn’t me." Burton took the constructive criticism in stride and used it to inform his subsequent four episodes. He continued: "I made it my business for the next four chances at bat to just be myself, to forget about the procedure, to forget about the process, stop trying, stop focusing on the wrong thing. You’re not going to be smooth as Alex, let go of that. But what you can bring to the table is you. So that became my point of focus. And when it did, I started having fun." That's all the info you should need. Tune in for Burton's hosting stint on Jeopardy! all this week, starting Monday, July 26. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/xt06L3YZFsoView the full article
  11. The anti-piracy ecosystem is quite diverse. It ranges from DMCA takedown farms to more technologically enhanced companies, ones that use machine learning and advanced content protection technologies to keep pirates at bay. While it actively supports the DMCA process, Akamai considers itself among the second group. The company, which specializes in content delivery and cybersecurity, is a partner of several streaming services that offer live or on-demand content. Rightsholders, including major sports leagues and organizers, are growing increasingly worried. They see it impacting their revenue and are looking for possible options to stop piracy Some of these rightsholders come to Akamai looking for solutions. To find out how the company approaches this challenge we spoke with Ian Munford, Director of Industry Strategy at Akamai. Pirates Can Be Quite Clever The conversation confirmed what we already knew. There is no silver bullet that will stop piracy. In fact, Munford highlights that high-level pirates – the people who actually ‘steal’ the content – are quite clever and inventive. “No security policy or technology is infallible but by scrutinizing the entire production and delivery value chain for weaknesses, coupled with good situational awareness, you can reduce piracy significantly,” Munford says. Akamai doesn’t believe that any in a single technology, or indeed technology alone, will solve the piracy problem. Instead, it deploys a 360-approach that focuses on three main facets: protect, detect and enforce. The 360-Approach In Practice This sounds pretty academic and theoretical, but Munford livens things up with a real-life example. Akamai recently worked with a leading global distributor of TV, film and sports rights, which estimated that 40% of its content views were fraudulent. The company asked Akamai to help reduce this number, which resulted in a concrete battle plan focused on the protect, detect and enforce pillars. There were several challenges to overcome. The client in question distributed premium live sports rights in addition to movies and TV so any anti-piracy solution had to handle typical high demand surges. At the same time, the anti-piracy measures shouldn’t hinder regular streams. With live sports, time is of the essence, so pirated streams have to be detected and shut down in real-time with minimal delay. Piracy Protection These demands resulted in a detailed action plan. To stop people from circumventing geographical restrictions, Akamai implemented measures to quickly detect VPN/Proxy and Tor exit node activity and block their activity. In addition, all traffic that appeared to be spoofed was blocked as well. Munford further explained that streaming piracy operations often try to overload APIs and DRM servers with DDoS attacks. This helps criminals to bypass restrictions or even create diversionary tactics. To prevent this, Akamai set up advanced firewall systems that absorbed the attacks and prevent any infiltration. Finally, a special token authentication capability was rolled out to prevent people from sharing access tokens to stream content without paying. Detection and Enforcement During the broadcasts, Akamai kept an eye on third-party sites such as Twitch to spot and take down re-streaming activity. At the same time, the company monitored link sharing and token harvesting on sites such as Thop TV and Oreo TV. The token detection mechanism brings us to the enforcement side. During the live broadcast, Akamai monitored for unauthorized access, which led to more than 50,000 revoked tokens in less than an hour. Any single measure would only have a limited effect, but when combined with DRM and or Watermarking, it can be very effective. “Defeating piracy threats requires a multi-pronged strategy – there is no single correct response and many have proven to be effective when utilized properly and under the appropriate circumstances,” Munford tells us. The Results According to Akamai, the anti-piracy measures put in place resulted in a 75% decrease in unauthorized streaming. At the end of the campaign, the company revoked 315,762 access tokens and more than 8 million playback sessions were blocked. This example is provided by Akamai, so the results were expected to be positive. But the sheer volume of (anti-)piracy activity is intriguing nonetheless. Overall, Akamai seems to have a good understanding of how the piracy ecosystem works, and not just on the streaming side. The company also knows several tactics used by The Scene to access content and it works with various rightsholders to secure their systems and mitigate such attacks. Cooperation is Key Munford repeatedly stressed that when it comes to anti-piracy measures, cooperation and a zero-trust approach are key. There are several security guidelines available through Movielabs and the MPA, but these are worthless if they’re not implemented broadly. “Well-structured guidelines issued by organizations such as MovieLabs, AAPA, or the MPA are often not mandatory but if they were adhered to across the ecosystem, it would make the theft of content much harder,” Munford says The lack of a unified response can be quite frustrating, not just for copyright holders but for Akamai too. Even flawless anti-piracy measures won’t help if a competing broadcaster or streaming service is full of leaks. “While the TV and film ecosystems are used to competing, the potential impact of piracy is too significant for cooperation not to occur. “The more companies and organizations that are involved, the more effective the overall solution. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. If there are weak spots, that weakness is there to be exploited.” Munford says that a lot of progress has been made over the years but more cooperation and stricter policies are needed to make an even bigger impact. A Gaping Hole? It’s clear that Akamai takes its anti-piracy work seriously. It has already booked successes combating live streaming piracy and in other areas as well. However, there’s still a gaping piracy hole. When we look at the most popular OTT streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and HBO, leaks are the rule. Just minutes after something’s put online, it’s available for free on pirate sites. The problem is that the basic DRM protections are easy to bypass or break. This is something Akamai is aware of and preventing these leaks is the anti-piracy holy grail for on-demand streaming services. Right now, OTT pirates have the advantage. They can grab pretty much anything they want, and share it with the world. But, with billions of dollars at stake, Akamai and its competitors will try their best to find better solutions in this area as well. From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more. View the full article
  12. If you’ve ever wondered how the reigning No. 1 DJ in the world, David Guetta, throws down live — the video below powered by Pioneer DJ will show you exactly how it’s done! The “How I DJ” series provides an in-depth look at the art of DJing, including musical, technical and creative approaches to the mix. In this case, Guetta breaks down his hybrid DJ setup including key sync, use of FX and more to add excitement and seamless transitions to his performances. In addition, Guetta weaves in a brief history on his humble beginnings, from first learning to beat match and practicing in his bedroom with just a radio and a single turntable — and honing his craft for years before organizing his own parties, working as his own promoter and ultimately driving his career from there. Other episodes of “How I DJ” feature James Hype, Eats Everything, Jamz Supernova, Kenny Allstar, Conducta, and Monki. They’re all well worth the watch and can be viewed as a playlist here. Watch how David Guetta DJs below! David Guetta: How I DJ, Powered by Pioneer DJ H/T: DJ Mag | Photo via Rukes.com This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: David Guetta Demonstrates How He DJs with Insightful Tutorial Powered by Pioneer DJ [WATCH] View the full article
  13. As college students at Berkeley, Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis created a successful open-source graphics program, GIMP, which got the attention of Google. The duo ultimately joined Google, and even personally got kudos from Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Kimball and Mattis quickly rose to prominence within the company, and then chose to leave it all behind to start what would eventually become CockroachDB. Years later, Cockroach Labs has over 250 employees and has received investments from the likes of Benchmark, GV, Index Ventures and Redpoint totaling more than $350 million, according to Crunchbase. The company is now on route to what some think is an “inevitable IPO.” The story of CockroachDB, from its origin to its future, was told in a four-part series in our latest EC-1: Origin story “CockroachDB, the database that just won’t die” (2,100 words/8 minutes) Technical design “How engineers fought the CAP theorem in the global war on latency” (2,400 words/10 minutes) Developer relations and business “‘Developers, as you know, do not like to pay for things‘” (2,200 words/9 minutes) Competitive landscape and future “Scaling CockroachDB in the red ocean of relational databases” (2,400 words/10 minutes) I’m biased, but it’s a must-read that gets into tensions that any startup founder can relate to: from navigating heavyweight competitors, to growing past free tiers, to maintaining your users’ attention. It’s the eighth EC-1 we’ve published to date, which my colleague and TC Managing Editor Danny Crichton estimates puts us at 90,000 words all about startup beginnings, product development, marketing and more. In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll get into that WeWork book, bite-sized entrepreneurship and some SPACs. Follow me on Twitter @nmasc_. Or don’t, it’s your choice! The Cult of We Adam Neumann (WeWork) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017. Image Credits: TechCrunch This week on Equity, Alex and I interviewed Eliot Brown, who wrote “The Cult of We” along with Maureen Farrell. Our conversation riffed on some of the book’s eyebrow-raising details and anecdotes, but mainly focused on what WeWork’s rise and fall did to the state of startups and tech journalism more broadly. Here’s what to know: Not much has changed. Jokes aside, Brown shared his notes on how the current boom in startup financings has a worrisome air of frenzy and fluff. He also chatted about how sometimes the most illuminating question can be a simple one: What makes you a tech company? More money, more problems? A $170M Series A Hong Kong-based FTX raises largest-ever VC round for a crypto company These simple metrics will tell you if your startup is ready to scale TikTok what again? Image Credits: TechCrunch TikTok kept popping up throughout the week. Index Ventures, for example, noted how the firm’s TikTok account has amassed an impressive following and is a channel to talk to the younger generations. Nothing like some short-form videos to stay hip and relatable while raising $3 billion in one go. Here’s what to know: While TikTok has certainly changed the world, I worry when I see the allure of bite-sized content get edtech’d. Bite-sized content can be a nifty way to spread content, but it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Duolingo, which priced its IPO this week, still struggles to show meaningful learning outcomes and optimizes more for motivation than comprehension. This tension is a key note for companies like Numerade and Sololearn, which both raised this week, to not overly TikTok learning materials. Other edtech content for your eyes: China’s expected edtech clampdown may chill a key startup sector NewCampus wants to train the first-time managers within Southeast Asia’s tech giants India’s most valuable startup buys US-based digital reading platform Epic for $500M So, SPACs Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch It’s been awhile since I’ve used that acronym in Startups Weekly. That said, special purpose acquisition vehicles are still very much a thing and are still very much worth paying attention to. Here’s what to know: Lucid Motors’ SPAC merger was just approved. Reporter Aria Alamalhodaei writes that the move came after executives extended the deadline to vote to merge by one day after not enough investors showed up. “The issue is unusual but could become more common as more companies eschew the traditional IPO path to public markets and instead merge with SPACs,” she writes. Also special: Matterport went public through a SPAC After going public via a SPAC, Taboola acquires e-commerce marketing network Connexity for $800M Around TC Image Credits: Hurca! (opens in a new window) / Flickr (opens in a new window) under a CC BY-ND 2.0 (opens in a new window) license. If you haven’t already, please fill out TC’s ongoing growth marketing survey. We’re using these recommendations of top-tier growth marketers around the world to shape our editorial coverage and to build out TechCrunch Experts. Growth marketing roundup: TechCrunch Experts, creative testing and how to nail your narrative Marketing Cube founder Maya Moufarek’s lessons for customer-focused startups Across the week Seen on TechCrunch All Raise launches virtual bootcamp for women and nonbinary founders Jack Dorsey says bitcoin will be a big part of Twitter’s future Clubhouse is now out of beta and open to everyone How we built an AI unicorn in 6 years Michael Arrington’s next act Seen on Extra Crunch Last-mile delivery in Latin America is ready to take off Susan Su on how to approach growth as your startup raises each round The European VC market is so hot it may skip its summer holiday Cowboy Ventures’ Ted Wang: CEO coaching is ‘about having a second set of eyes’ Silicon Valley comms expert Caryn Marooney shares how to nail the narrative Same time, same place next week? Bring a friend! N http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=l2F8A5Kxw_Y:IP3cWK0HTNs:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=l2F8A5Kxw_Y:IP3cWK0HTNs:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/l2F8A5Kxw_YView the full article
  14. Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s inspired by what the weekday Exchange column digs into, but free, and made for your weekend reading. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here. Hello everyone, I hope you had a lovely week. I turned 32 after experiencing sleep-destroying heartburn. So, a little good and a little bad. But that didn’t stop the markets. Nope. Not a bit. Which means we have a lot to talk about, including falling insurtech stocks and what the situation might mean for startups, and a raft of IPOs. This will be fun! Before we get into the nitty-gritty of our chats with newly public companies Kaltura, Couchbase and Enovix, let’s talk insurtech. In the last year or so we’ve seen a number of insurtech startups go public, including Root (auto insurance), Metromile (car insurance), and Lemonade (rental insurance). Here’s a quick digest of how their performance looks today: Root: $7.72 per share, 71.4% down from its $27 per share IPO price. Metromile: $7.26 per share, down 64.4% from its post-combination highs. Lemonade: $86.97 per share, up 199.9% from its IPO price of $29 per share. Recall that Root and Metromile began to trade after Lemonade, so their declines are not over a longer time horizon, but a shorter interval. Which makes the situation all the more interesting. What’s going on? Well, two of the three insurtech public offerings (SPACs, IPOs, etc.) are sharply underwater. That doesn’t bode incredibly well for Hippo, which is pursuing its own SPAC-led combination that should be wrapping up in short order. The huge declines don’t seem bullish for insurtech startups, who will have to answer private-market investor doubts concerning their value. Does Lemonade’s strong post-IPO performance allay concerns? It’s tricky. The company has been busy expanding into new markets, including auto insurance. The company did take a somewhat material hit from the Texas freeze earlier this year — per its most recent earnings report — but past those two data points it’s not entirely clear what the company is doing that the other two are not. But investors are stoked about Lemonade, and not Root and Metromile. Figuring out why that’s the case, and why their startup is more Lemonade than the other two, is going to be key for the many insurtech startups still scaling toward their own IPOs. It’s IPO season The Exchange has been busy on the phones these last two weeks, talking to CEOs of companies going public to try and learn from their recent experiences. So, what follows are notes from calls with folks at Kaltura, Couchbase and Enovix. Enjoy! Kaltura Reminder: Online-video-focused Kaltura filed to go public earlier this year before delaying its IPO and taking another run at the funding event. The Exchange spoke with Kaltura CEO Ron Yekutiel, who said that the company’s IPO’s timing was impacted by the early-2021 public market turmoil. That was not a surprise, but it was good to get confirmation regardless. That freeze was partially caused by the Archegos implosion, per Yekutiel. That makes sense, but was news to us. Yekutiel said that his company wasn’t thrilled about the delay — going public is the only fundraise that you pre-announce, he noted — but added that investors his company had already spoken to the first-time around were still enthused about Kaltura on its second run at an IPO. Per the CEO, Kaltura’s preliminary Q2 results showed investors that what it was talking about earlier in the year was coming true. He also stressed uptake in new products as key to the company’s continued growth. The CEO was happy with how his company priced and traded during its first day, snagging a flat 20% uptick in value upon trading. He noted that more would have been excessive, and less would have been un-good. Regarding the lower valuation that Kaltura priced at compared to its March-era IPO price range, Yekutiel said that you don’t get a third chance to make a first impression and that his company wanted to get the offering done. So they did. Points for not getting lost in their own head. Kaltura is up 17.5% from its $10 per-share IPO price as of the time of writing. One anecdote, if I may. Kaltura won an early TechCrunch40 — the precursor to the TechCrunch50 event, itself a predecessor to today’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference series — thanks to a single vote cast via physical token. Yekutiel still has that token, and showed it to us during our chat. Neat! Couchbase The Exchange spoke with noSQL database company Couchbase’s CEO Matt Cain. Couchbase priced at $24 per share, above its $20 to $23 per-share IPO price range. Today it’s worth $33.20, rising 9.2% in today’s trading as of the time of writing. Cain was talking from a pretty strict script — a pretty standard situation amongst newly public CEOs worried about fucking up and going to jail — so we didn’t get the precise answers we were looking for. But we still managed to learn a few things, including that Couchbase was yet another company that found the meeting density made possible by remote roadshows to be accretive. The CEO was focused on discussing the scale of the opportunity ahead of Couchbase, namely the world of operational databases. It’s hard to find a bigger market, he argued, which made investors excited about what his company might be able to accomplish. Our read here is that there’s probably plenty of surface area for startups in the database world, if the market is as big as Cain reckons it is. We wanted to learn a bit more about how public-market investors view open-source powered companies, but didn’t get too much from him on the matter. Still, the company’s IPO is a pretty damn strong one, implying that being OSS-built isn’t exactly a detriment to a company hoping to exit. Enovix The Exchange wanted to chat with newly public company Enovix because it debuted via a SPAC. Why does that matter? Because there are other battery-focused companies looking to go public via SPACs. So, the chat was good background for later work. And we love talking to public companies. Who doesn’t? Asked if combination-and-trade-under-new-ticker-symbol day was like an IPO to his firm, Rust said that it was. Fair enough. The company’s combination date for its SPAC slipped from Q2 to Q3, we noticed. Why was that? Some SEC changes regarding accounting, in short. Not a big deal was our impression from the chat, but one that did cause a slight delay to Enovix’s trading date. Why go public via a SPAC? Cash, but also the particular sponsor of their combination, which Rust said was a key resource in terms of operational knowledge. The company has also hired from its SPAC sponsor’s network, which felt notable. (Hey look, actual investor value-add!) Asked why his company is worth less than the impending SES SPAC, another battery company that has yet to generate revenue, Rust said that the value of his company in its SPAC deal was a negotiation, and that if the company is successful, whether it was valued at $1.1 billion or $1.4 billion wouldn’t really matter. What’s fun about Enovix is that it is not starting with its impending battery tech aimed at EVs. Instead, it’s targeting high-end electronics. Why? Quick cycles to get batteries into hardware and possible pricing power. It does intend to get into EVs in time, however. The company is worth $17.33 per share, giving it what Yahoo Finance describes as a $2.5 billion valuation. That’s a good markup from what it expected and could bode well for SES’s own, future debut. Yo, that was a lot. Thanks for sticking with me. And thanks for reading The Exchange’s little newsletter. You can catch up on all our work here if you want some long-form reads on the global venture capital market, edtech and other topics. Stay cool! Your friend, — Alex http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=j7Rp8a_Hz3A:Scdt6KfSHsk:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=j7Rp8a_Hz3A:Scdt6KfSHsk:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/j7Rp8a_Hz3AView the full article
  15. Kayzo just released his latest single last month, “Poison” with Paris Shadows, but he’s already back with another heater. This time, he’s teamed up with Whales and Shiah Maisel for yet another bass/rock hybrid that transcends genre barriers for a blissful and energetic listening experience. Maisel sounds like he’s in any number of post-rock or hardcore bands, which is why it was surprising to find out he’s a solo artist when looking him up. His voice adds so much to the track, beyond the wildly synergistic bass and synths. It’s a rare twist of emotional and aggressive without ever sounding like one overpowers the other. Kayzo said of the single, “I’ve always been a supporter of developing artists, as that is how I got my break. So when Whales sent me over a few ideas, ‘REPLAY’ was the one I gravitated to immediately. It has this melody that formed into this rocktronic pop punk song perfect for summer. Shiah absolutely killed this vocal too. So excited to release this right as things are opening up and get back to playing live for fans!” Check out “REPLAY” below! Photo via Rukes.com This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: Kayzo & Whales Team Up With Shiah Maisel For New Single, “REPLAY” [LISTEN] View the full article
  16. Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch’s China Roundup, a digest of recent events shaping the Chinese tech landscape and what they mean to people in the rest of the world. Despite the geopolitical headwinds for foreign tech firms to enter China, many companies, especially those that find a dependable partner, are still forging ahead. For this week’s roundup, I’m including a conversation I had with Prophesee, a French vision technology startup, which recently got funding from Kai-Fu Lee and Xiaomi, along with the usual news digest. Spotting opportunities in China Like many companies working on futuristic, cutting-edge tech in Europe, Prophesee was a spinout from university research labs. Previously, I covered two such companies from Sweden: Imint, which improves smartphone video production through deep learning, and Dirac, an expert in sound optimization. The three companies have two things in common: They are all in niche fields, and they have all found eager customers in China. For Prophesee, they are production lines, automakers and smartphone companies in China looking for breakthroughs in perception technology, which will in turn improve how their robots respond to the environment. So it’s unsurprising that Xiaomi and Chinese chip-focused investment firm Inno-Chip backed Prophesee in its latest funding round, which was led by Sinovation Venture. The funding size was undisclosed but TechCrunch learned it was in the range of “tens of million USD.” It was also the first investment that Kai-Fu Lee has made through Sinovation in Europe. As Prophesee CEO Luca Verre recalled: I met Dr. Kai-Fu Lee three years ago during the World Economic Forum … and when I pitched to him about Prophesee, he got very intrigued. And then over the past three years, actually, we kept in touch and last year, given the growing traction we were having in China, particularly in the mobile and IoT industry, he decided to jump in. He said okay, it is now the right timing Prophesee becomes big. The Paris-based company wasn’t actively seeking funding, but it believed having Chinese strategic investors could help it gain greater access to the complex market. Rather than sending information collected by sensors and cameras to computing platforms, Prophesee fits that process inside a chip (fabricated by Sony) that mimics the human eyes, a technology that is built upon neuromorphic engineering. The old method snaps a collection of fixed images so when information grows in volume, a tremendous amount of computing power is needed. In contrast, Prophesee’s sensors, which it describes as “event-based,” only pick up changes in the environment just as the photoreceptors in our eyes and can process information continuously and quickly. Europe has been pioneering neuromorphic computing, but in recent years, Verre saw a surge in research coming from Chinese universities and tech firms, which reaffirmed his confidence in the market’s appetite. We see Chinese OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), particularly Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo pushing the standard of quality of image quality to very, very high … They are very eager to adopt new technology to further differentiate in a way which is faster and more aggressive than Apple. Apple is a company with an attitude which to me looks more similar to Huawei. So maybe for some technology, it takes more time to see the technology mature and adopt, which is right very often but later. So I’m sure that Apple will come at certain point with some products integrating event-based technology. In fact, we see them moving. We see them filing patents in the space. I’m sure that will come, but maybe not the first. Though China is striving for technological independence, Verre believed Prophesee’s addressable market is large enough — $20 billion by his estimate. Nonetheless, he admitted he’d be “naive to believe Prophesee will be the only one to capture” this opportunity. WeRide bought a truck company One of China’s most valuable robotaxi startups has just acquired an autonomous trucking company called MoonX. The size of the deal is undisclosed, but we know that MoonX raised “tens of millions RMB” 15 months ago in a Series A round. While WeRide is focused on Level 4 self-driving technology, it is also finding new monetization avenues before its robotaxis can chauffeur people at scale. It’s done so by developing minibusses, and the MoonX acqui-hire, which brings the company’s founder and over 50 engineers to WeRide, will likely help diversify its revenue pool. WeRide and MoonX have deep-rooted relationships. Their respective founders, Tony Han and Yang Qingxiong, worked side by side at Jingchi, which was later rebranded to WeRide. Han co-founded Jingchi and took the helm as CEO in March 2018 while Yang was assigned vice president of engineering. But Yang soon quit and started MoonX. Han, a Baidu veteran, gave Yang a warm homecoming and put him in charge of the firm’s research institute and its new office in Shenzhen, home to MoonX. WeRide’s sprawling headquarters is just about an hour’s drive away in the adjacent city of Guangzhou. AI surveillance giant Cloudwalk nears IPO Cloudwalk belongs to a cohort of Chinese unicorns that flourished through the second half of the 2010s by selling computer vision technology to government agencies across China. Together, Cloudwalk and its rivals SenseTime, Megvii and Yitu were dubbed the “four AI dragons” for their fast ascending valuations and handsome funding rounds. Of course, the term “AI dragon” is now a misnomer as AI application becomes so pervasive across industries. Investors soon realized these upstarts need to diversify revenue streams beyond smart city contracts, and they’ve been waiting anxiously for exits. Finally, here comes Cloudwalk, which will likely be the first in its cohort to go public. Cloudwalk’s application to raise 3.75 billion yuan ($580 million) from an IPO on the Shanghai STAR board was approved this week, though it can still be months before it starts trading. The firm’s financials don’t look particularly rosy for investors, with net loss amounting to 720 million yuan in 2020. Also in the news Speaking of the torrent of news in autonomous driving, vehicle vision provider CalmCar said this week that it has raised $150 million in a Series C round. Founded by several overseas Chinese returnees in 2016, CalmCar uses deep learning to develop ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) used in automotive, industrial and surveillance scenarios. German auto parts maker ZF led the round. Baby clothes direct-to-consumer brand PatPat said it has raised $510 million from Series C and D rounds. The D2C ecosystem leveraging China’s robust supply chains is increasingly gaining interest from venture capitalists. Brands like Shein, PatPat, Cider and Outer have all secured fundings from established VCs. Founded by three Carnegie Mellon grads, PatPat counts IDG Capital, General Atlantic, DST Global, GGV Capital, SIG China and Sequoia China among its investors. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=ZfZVVAFH1jE:C_yerHotfZw:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=ZfZVVAFH1jE:C_yerHotfZw:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/ZfZVVAFH1jEView the full article
  17. Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy. The app industry continues to grow, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020. Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year This Week in Apps offers a way to keep up with this fast-moving industry in one place with the latest from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and suggestions about new apps and games to try, too. This Week in Apps will finally be a newsletter! It will launch on August 7. Sign up here: techcrunch.com/newsletters This Week in Apps took a little vacation this month, so we’re back this week with a big round-up of all the news we missed — and then some. And a super-sized section of apps getting funded, too! Let’s play some catch-up… Weekly News Platforms: Apple ATT isn’t killing mobile game performance. An Apptopia report found that Apple’s launch of App Tracking Transparency has so far had no clear impact on mobile game download performance or monetization performance. The firm says this could be the result of any number of factors, including publishers using fingerprinting techniques (despite not being permitted), increased ad budgets on large networks like Facebook, increased spend on user acquisition, use of IDFV (vendor identifier) by larger publishers or higher than expected opt-in rates than was predicted. Image Credits: Apptopia Image Credits: Apptopia iOS 14.7 launched, adding support for Apple Card Family with combined credit limits, a Home app with support for multiple timers on HomePod, support for the MagSafe Battery Pack, Podcast app enhancements and more. iPadOS 14.7 also became available, offering bug fixes, security updates, as well as the same Apple Card Family and HomePod support. Meanwhile, the iOS 15 beta 3 added the ability to update your device using Software Update even if less than 500 MB of storage is available. This could be a big deal for getting users onto the most recent version of iOS, which has in the past been more difficult when users’ phone storage is nearly full. Apple added the ability to assign tax categories to apps and in-app purchases on App Store Connect. The categories are based on the app’s content — like videos, books, news, etc. — and allow Apple to administer taxes at the specific rates that apply to that type of application or purchase. Apple expanded Ultra Wideband functionality in the Apple Watch Series 6, iPhone 11 and 12 to more countries, including Argentina, Pakistan, Paraguay and the Solomon Islands. Some countries don’t allow the technology still, and it must be disabled, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Apple asked Judge Gonzalez Rogers to consider three other antitrust cases that have since been decided since the start of Epic Games’ antitrust lawsuit, which is now being deliberated. The cases include a recent decision by the courts to throw out the FTC lawsuit against Facebook. Platforms: Google Android beta 3 came out. The new release dropped a month after beta 2, and includes features like scrolling screenshots, face detect auto-rotate, more Material You theme options and new icons, the ability to disable Assistant corner swipe activation, tweaks to features like one-handed mode and internet toggles and changes to the camera, Chrome, toggles, launcher and more. Android phones’ backup system was upgraded to “Backup by Google One,” an improvement that now backs up photos, videos and MMS messages with more granular control, in addition to the app data, SMS messages, call logs and device preferences the old system covered. Google won’t enforce the original September 30, 2021 deadline that would have required all Play Store apps to switch over to the Play Billing IAP system. The company will now allow developers to request an extension for adopting the new policy, in the wake of the big antitrust lawsuit filed by AGs across 36 U.S. states and D.C. Epic Games filed an update in its antitrust lawsuit against Google over its Play Store policies, but most of the information it contains has been redacted. From the visible tidbits, Epic discusses Google’s relationship with Apple and its agreement to pay between $8 and $12 billion to be the default search provider; as well as Epic’s plans to launch Fortnite on the Samsung Galaxy Store. Verizon joined AT&T and T-Mobile in preloading the Android Message app as the default texting app on all Android phones it sells, meaning that now all three major U.S. carriers support RCS — the next-gen standard to replace SMS — as the default Android experience. E-commerce Amazon got the recently launched app Fakespot pulled from the App Store. An extension of the fake review-spotting website, Fakespot app was taken down because it was wrapping the Amazon website without permission, which Amazon successfully argued could be exploited to steal customer data. Amazon also said Fakespot injected code into its website, which opened up an attack vector. Apple said it gave Fakespot time to correct its issues before the takedown. Augmented Reality Snap called out its AR advances during its Q2 earnings where the company posted record revenue and the largest user growth in four years. The company’s Cartoon 3D Style Lens went viral in the quarter on other social networks, including TikTok, generating 2.8 billion impressions on Snapchat alone. Snap also partnered with Disney on location-based Lenses for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. The company is now working on shopping features that could potentially allow users to try on clothes using AR. Fintech Popular investment app Robinhood is targeting its IPO valuation up to $35 billion in a filing released on the 19th. The company first filed to go public in early July after raising billions earlier in the year. The fintech giant expects to debut between $38 and $42 per share. Fintech giant Revolut launched a travel booking feature called Stays, which allows users to book hotels and other accommodations in its app, in a move to become more of a “super app” that offers multiple services through one interface. Venmo removed the app’s global, public feed as part of its major redesign. The public feed put user privacy at risk, and follows a number of complaints about Venmo’s oversharing throughout the years. Recently, Venmo’s privacy leaks led BuzzFeed News to uncover President Biden’s Venmo account. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said bitcoin will be a “big part” of Twitter’s future. On the company’s earnings call, the exec spoke for the first time about how he envisions bitcoin can integrate with Twitter’s products, including commerce, subscriptions and other new additions like the Twitter Tip Jar and Super Follows. The company posted the fastest revenue growth since 2014 in a pandemic rebound, but user growth slightly declined. Social Instagram confirmed it’s testing a new feature called Limits that would allow users to lock down their accounts in a moment of crisis. Found in privacy settings, users could quickly toggle on options to limit the ability for new followers or accounts who don’t follow you to comment or message you. The Limits could be applied for a set period of time you specify, in terms of days or even weeks. Facebook launched a new tool available to U.S. Facebook Groups that allows users to ask for prayers. The prayer request tool could help drive engagement on the platform by turning into a product something users were already doing. Facebook’s head of faith partnerships told Reuters COVID gave new urgency to the building of the feature. TikTok ads get more tools and upgrades. TikTok partnered with Vimeo to integrate the latter’s video tools with the TikTok platform. The deal gives SMBs the tools they need to create effective video ads via Vimeo’s AI-driven production tool, Vimeo Create, and the ability to publish ads directly into TikTok’s Ad Manager. The companies also collaborated on custom video templates optimized for TikTok. The video app also launched Spark Ads, which allow brands to use existing posts from influencers in their ad campaigns. Instagram added new controls that allow users to limit “sensitive” content in the app’s Explore tab. The feature appears in the settings menu and lets users choose to allow or limit content that could be “upsetting or offensive,” or “limit even more.” Instagram also began testing a new “collab” feature in India and the U.K. that lets users invite another account as a collaborator on posts or Reels. If the other person accepts, both accounts will appear in the header of the post or Reel. Twitter is killing Fleets, its misguided effort to offer its own version of “Stories” in an app where content flows so quickly it effectively already feels “ephemeral,” even if the posts don’t auto-delete. Twitter hoped Stories would give hesitant users a place they felt comfortable posting, but that didn’t happen. The feature will be removed on August 3. Tumblr’s community lashed out at the company’s new subscription feature, now in beta, that would allow bloggers to get paid for their content. The system, called Post+, offers the ability to paywall content, which subscribers can pay for at price points of $3.99, $5.99 or $9.99 per month. But some angry Tumblr users didn’t like the idea of paying, or at least, not being able to pay the blogger directly without the company taking a cut. They harassed and even sent death threats to one early tester. (Perhaps it’s time to move to Substack?) Messaging WhatsApp is testing multi device support that works without the phone. The company recently rolled out a limited public beta that will allow users to use the service on up to four non-phone devices without having the registered phone switched on or otherwise connected to the internet. Facebook Messenger introduced “soundmojis,” which are, as you’d expect, emojis that include sound. The sounds include laughter and applause as well as those sourced from pop culture — like snippets from Netflix’s “Bridgerton,” movies like “F9,” and various musicians. It also later added a search bar for emoji reactions, and a recently used emojis section. Streaming & Entertainment Clubhouse opens to all. The pandemic’s favorite audio chat app Clubhouse this week exited beta and become publicly available to everyone. That means users no longer need to know someone with an invite in order to sign up. The app continues to grow thanks to its Android release. In June, the app was installed 7.7 million times across iOS and Android. It also just launched an in-app messaging feature called Backchannel to allow users to chat both one-on-one and in groups as they host or listen. Apple Music updated its Android app to add support for Spatial Audio and Lossless Audio. The Dolby Atmos-powered Spatial Audio feature requires a compatible phone, however, and even some Pixel devices don’t qualify. TikTok found to drive music discovery. A recent study of around 1,500 TikTok users found that 75% discovered artists on the video app, and 63% said TikTok was a source for music they hadn’t heard before. Spotify partnered with Facebook-owned Giphy to connect users to artists’ music through GIFs. The new GIFs will allow users to click a button to hear the artist’s songs on Spotify directly. The GIFs can be found in the Giphy mobile app or on the web. Triller, the one-time TikTok rival that has since expanded into PPV events, has now moved into long-form video, including both prerecorded and live shows. As part of this effort, Triller livestreamed the Essence Festival of Culture on its app. YouTube added the ability for users to directly pay creators for their videos through a new feature called Super Thanks. This is YouTube’s fourth Paid Digital Good alongside Super Chat, Super Stickers and channel subscriptions, and is the first that lets fans tip creators for uploads instead of just livestreams. HBO Max partnered with Snap to allow Snapchat users to stream a selection of free episodes inside the Snapchat app with their friends. That means users can both stream and chat with others as they watch, and even react with Bitmoji. Gaming Top gaming title and award winner Genshin Impact released its 2.0 update on Android devices. This update brings cross-save functionality for all platforms, a brand-new region called Inazuma and the new Thunder Sojourn event, as well as new characters, stories and weapons. Facebook bypassed building a native iOS app for its cloud gaming service and instead launched to the web at fb.gg. The company did not want to go the App Store route due to Apple’s restrictions on apps that offer app stores of sorts and its commissions on in-app purchases. Health & Fitness A poll suggests around 20% of U.K. adults have now deleted the NHS COVID app, most because they want to avoid orders that would have them self-isolate. Among younger users ages 18 to 34, more than one-third had removed the app. Edtech Duolingo said it aims to be valued as much as $3.41 billion in its U.S. IPO, with 5.1 million shares that will be offered between $85 and $95 each, raising more than $485 million at the top end of the range. Reading Amazon’s Kindle app launched a serialized fiction store called Kindle Vella, which will allow readers to unlock episodic, self-published stories via in-app purchases that range from $2 for 200 tokens to up to $15 for 1,700 tokens. The Wattpad-like feature is only available on the Kindle iOS app for the time being. Utilities Chrome for iOS lets you lock your private tabs. The new version rolled out support for using either Face ID or Touch ID to lock incognito tabs, along with other features, like full-page screenshots, and more. Google’s iOS search app now lets you choose an option to delete your last 15 minutes of search history — perfect for those times when you forgot to launch an incognito tab. Government & Policy China has given 145 apps until July 26 to take corrective measures over what authorities said was their illegal collection of user information by misleading customers or by requesting excessive permissions. Apps from Amazon, ByteDance, NetEase, Tencent and others are among those being called out by Beijing in the crackdown. China’s most popular fitness app, Keep, backed by SoftBank and Tencent, pulled its U.S. IPO after Chinese regulators announced an investigation into data security concerns at ride-hailing app Didi. The move indicates that China’s probe is having larger impact on the stock market, as China’s biggest podcasting platform, Ximalaya, also recently canceled its U.S. IPO. Facebook escaped an EU ban on its use of WhatsApp customer data but will face an investigation of its new terms of service that sparked customer outrage. The European Data Protection Board said the new practices must be examined in a “swift” fashion by the EU privacy watchdog. Security & Privacy A Catholic priest was outed by way of his phone’s location data found in a data set from a data vendor. This data is commonly aggregated and sold by data vendors, and can then be analyzed for timestamped location data. The signals collected on the priest’s phone were gathered from Grindr, and tracked to his home and other bars and clubs. Reports found that military-grade spyware developed by Israeli firm NSO Group and licensed to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals was used to hack the phones of journalists, activists, politicians and other business executives, whose phones appeared on a list of 50,000 numbers. Amnesty International has now provided a toolkit that can help people identify if their phones had been among those targeted. Funding and M&A Voice-based social app Zebra raised $1.1 million in a pre-seed round for its messaging app that pairs photos with voice chat. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s early-stage venture firm Seven Seven Six led the round. Sololearn raised $24 million led by Drive Capital for its Duolingo-like coding education app. The app delivers short bursts of bite-sized content and offers a community of helpers and influencers, not formal teachers. Belarus-based video editing app VOCHI raised $2.4 million in a late-seed round after growing its app to over 500,000 MAUs and achieving a $4 million+ annual run rate in a year’s time. The company now has 20,000 paid subscribers for its advanced filters and video effects, but makes 60% of its effects catalog available for free. Instant grocery delivery app Gopuff is raising $750 million at a $13.5 billion valuation, according to an SEC filing, but sources say the fundraise is higher — $1 billion at a $15 billion valuation. Investment app Titan raised $58 million in Series B funding led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), valuing the business at $50 million. The Robinhood rival has 30,000 users and is also backed by General Catalyst, BoxGroup, Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures and a group of professional athletes and celebrities including Odell Beckham Jr., Kevin Durant, Jared Leto and Will Smith. Fitness app HealthifyMe raised $75 million in Series C funding from LeapFrog and Khosla Ventures to grow its user base in India, Southeast Asia and North America. The app has around 1,500 trainers and coaches on the platform, with plans to add 1,000 more to support its expansion. Free-to-play games publisher Tilting Point raised $235 million to fund its business of acquiring users for partnered games, or what the company refers to as its “progressive publishing model.” The company borrows from its line of credit to fuel advertising for games that show promise, allowing them to grow users and revenues, and then shares in the growth that it achieves. Virtual and in-person care app Carbon Health raised $350 million at a valuation of $3.3 billion in a round led by Blackstone’s Horizon platform. The company has 80 clinics across the U.S. Yoobic raised $50 million in Series C funding for its chat and communications app aimed at frontline service workers. Highland Europe led the round. The startup works with 300 brands across 80 countries. Travel rewards app Miles raised $12.5 million in Series A funding in a round led by Scrum Ventures that included Japan Airlines, Translink Capital and others. The app aims to offer travel rewards, with a focus on clean transportation. Salesforce’s deal to acquire workplace communication app Slack officially closed. The $27.7 billion deal was first announced in December 2020. Fortnite and Unreal Engine maker Epic Games bought New York-based Sketchfab, a 3D model sharing platform. Fintech app M1 Finance raised $150 million in a SoftBank-led Series E, valuing the business at $1.45 billion. The app offers automated investing, borrowing and banking/spending accounts, and has grown to $4.5 million assets under management. Mobile.dev raised $3 million in seed funding from Cowboy Ventures and others for its service that aims to catch bugs and errors in apps before they launch. The two-person team includes a former Uber engineer and has already bagged Reddit as a client. On-demand coworking space app Deskimo gets Y Combinator backing for its app currently available in Singapore and Hong Kong that helps remote workers find alternative spaces to work at times, like the occasional meeting. London-based financial “super app” Revolut raised $800 million in Series E funding co-led by Softbank Vision Fund 2 and Tiger Global, valuing the business at $33 billion. This makes Revolut the most valuable fintech in the U.K. Indian startup Inshorts, maker of a news aggregator app and a social media app called Public, raised $60 million in a new round led by Vy Capital, valuing the business at $550 million. Miami’s Play2Pay raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Telesoft Partners to convert mobile user engagement into bill payments. The company offers a way for consumers to lower their bills by playing mobile games, watching videos and competing in challenges and surveys. South Korea’s largest travel app Yanolja Co. raised $1.7 billion in funding from SoftBank. The app began as a hotel booking service and has since expanded to include transportation and leisure activities. Venezuela-based delivery app Yummy raised $4 million to expand its delivery operations across Latin America. Backers included Y Combinator, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen, Canary, Hustle Fund, Necessary Ventures and the co-founders of TaskUs. The company has connected with over 1,200 merchants and completed over 600,000 deliveries. It now plans to move into ridesharing. Tumblr and WordPress.com owner Automattic acquired the popular podcast app Pocket Casts, which had sold to a combined group comprised of WNYC, NPR, WBEZ and This American Life back in 2018. The app went up for sale in January, after NPR reportedly lost $800,000 on it the year prior. Israeli AI-driven health app Sweetch raised $20 million in Series A round led by Entreé Capital. The app encourages users to change their behaviors using AI smarts, after learning about your lifestyle through mobile sensors. The app is distributed through health organization partners, not the App Store. Downloads Skate City: Tokyo Apple Arcade has added a handful of reimagined classic games in recent days, including an updated version of Alto’s Odyssey, called Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City, which adds a new locale and other features. This week, Apple Arcade added a new version of Snowman’s popular game, Skate City. The expansion coincides with the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and includes 21 new challenges, 30 new goals, new soundtracks and more. Another classic, Tetris Beat, is on the way soon. HalloApp Image Credits: HalloApp Two early WhatsApp employees have launched a private social networking app called HalloApp on both iOS and Android. The ad-free app is somewhat similar to WhatsApp as it also allows for encrypted, private chats with friends and family, including group chats. The app also features a Home feed with posts from friends. The company plans to eventually monetize via subscriptions if it gains traction. Anyone Image Credits: Anyone Audio app Anyone launched its “marketplace for advice” app on iOS and Android after previously operating in a closed beta. The app allows users to pay for access to busy people whose advice they’d like to seek out, but limits calls to just five minutes. (Advice givers can opt to donate the money to charity, if they don’t want to profit from the help they’re giving.) The company claims to vet advisors before they’re allowed to offer calls, in order to keep the advice on the platform high-quality. Streamlabs’ Crossclip Image Credits: Streamlabs Streamlabs, a maker of livestreaming software, launched a new iOS app that allows creators to easily turn their Twitch clips into a format that works on TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and Facebook. The app works by allowing streamers to enter the URL of a clip, selecting the output format (landscape, vertical or square) and choosing a pre-loaded layout. You can also crop the clip, blur the background and select from different layouts depending on which frames you want to feature. The app is free with a subscription of $4.99/mo or $49.99/yr to remove the watermark and add more features, including higher-quality exports. 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  18. Last month we revealed that a coalition of known anti-piracy groups, rightsholders and related movie companies are quietly building a new coalition in the UK. Data retrieved from the UK’s Companies House database showed that a partnership, previously known as H&B Administration, had rebranded to FACT Administration LLP with key member FACT Worldwide, a division of the Federation Against Copyright Theft. As of June, FACT Administration LLP consisted of companies that previously sent cash settlement demands to users of ISP Sky on behalf of TCYK LLC, the owner of the Robert Redford film ‘The Company You Keep’. The partners also include H&B Administration (which previously administered that process) plus Voltage Holdings, an entity that has pursued individual BitTorrent downloaders in the United States, plus newcomer Azil Productions LLC – the owner of the movie ‘The Marksman’. Trying to predict what these companies might be preparing for is problematic since previous requests for information from FACT were not responded to. However, since the companies own movies and are partnering with known anti-piracy groups, a new cash settlement scheme could be a reasonable assumption. However, there is also a possibility that something bigger is on the horizon. Several Additional Movie Companies Join Partnership New data listed by Companies House reveal that the FACT Administration LLP partnership has significantly expanded with the addition of no less than six more movie companies, at least some of which are involved in aggressive anti-piracy lawsuits in the United States. Wonder One LLC, for example, is a known Voltage Holdings affiliate. The company is currently involved in a lawsuit targeting VPN company LiquidVPN. In that matter, the service’s former and current owners are accused of promoting and facilitating piracy. Wonder One LLC is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against VPN.ht, hosting provider Voxility, and a widely-used Popcorn Time app. The same is true for After 2 Movie LLC, which in the US is also known as After II Movie LLC. This company appears to hold the rights to the ‘After’ and ‘After We Collided’ movies and is both a Voltage affiliate and involved in the same lawsuits as Wonder One LLC. Another company, After 34 Nevada LLC, appears linked to After 2 Movie LLC and may hold the rights to the forthcoming movies ‘After We Fell’ and ‘After Ever Happy’. Cinestate Run Hide Fight LLC is also connected to Voltage Holdings and is the company behind the school-shooter movie ‘Run Hide Fight‘. We aren’t aware of the company being involved in copyright litigation in the United States but as a Voltage partner, it’s no surprise to see the Dallas-based entity involved here. Another company to join the coalition is Right Angle Productions LLC. There isn’t much public information on the business entity but it appears to hold the rights to the Aaron Paul movie ‘Adam’. The role of Hollywood-based H Films Inc is less clear. So What is The Plan? As we wrote in our piece last month, it’s certainly possible that there is a copyright-troll style cash settlement scheme in the making but as the list of companies expands, other options open up to the FACT Administration LLP partnership too. While their plans are open to interpretation in advance of any solid legal filings, the fact that some of these companies are suing VPN companies, web hosting companies, pirate sites and apps, plus other related entities in the United States and elsewhere, raises the prospect of broader action than simply demanding £500 from a downloader to make a possible lawsuit go away. We’ll keep a close eye on developments but if anyone receives any contact from these companies anywhere in the world complaining about copyright issues, we’d certainly like to hear more. From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more. View the full article
  19. When Britney Spears divulged the details of her conservatorship in a hearing last month they shocked the public. By her account, Spears had been forced to participate in a grueling mental health treatment program, see therapists she hadn't selected, take a mood stabilizer with unpleasant side effects, endure psychiatric evaluations, and use an intrauterine device to prevent pregnancy. "I've been in shock. I am traumatized, you know, fake it till you make it, but now I'm telling you the truth, okay, I'm not happy," Spears said. "I can't sleep. I'm so angry. It's insane. And I'm depressed." The pop star's candor, after more than a decade of silence about her conservatorship, shone a light on how a legal arrangement that's supposed to protect people who are impaired or incapacitated by an illness or disability can actually cause grave harm to them instead. This was no secret to people who've lived under abusive conservatorships or guardianships, or to disability rights advocates who've fought for greater transparency and accountability. Yet, Spears' experience pointed to a broader issue of coercive mental health treatment, which can happen to people whose lives haven't been taken over by a conservatorship. Spears' experience pointed to a broader issue of coercive mental health treatment. It is legal to mandate mental health treatment for someone who appears to urgently need it but won't consent. Known as civil commitment and assisted outpatient treatment, these legal arrangements place patients either in a hospital or outpatient program. They can often be requested by anyone, including family members, but must be assessed by a qualified medical professional. They are typically authorized by a judge. Research shows that such treatment can be painful, traumatic, and humiliating, and it may lead to worse outcomes. Yet, longstanding laws in combination with a broken mental healthcare system and negative stereotypes about mental illness have created a culture that frequently treats people with a psychiatric disability as incompetent and dangerous. Some advocates and former patients say such arrangements are beneficial, even when involuntary, but critics argue that being coerced into mental health treatment can be tragic by many measures. Patients can lose their autonomy and civil rights, experience new trauma while hospitalized or participating in an outpatient treatment program, and come to resent and distrust mental health professionals, and are thus less likely to seek help in the future. If this seems improbable, consider one common scenario: Someone is behaving strangely, their family or a stranger calls a crisis line out of concern, police bring that person to the emergency room, and they express the desire to leave loudly and clearly, perhaps becoming combative. The hospital can then move to keep them there and ultimately request involuntary civil commitment or involuntary outpatient treatment. Similar to Spears, these patients can find themselves trapped in a setting where they have little to no say over their medication and treatment plan, and where obeying the rules is the key to leaving and reclaiming their life. "These are serious issues," says Dr. S.P. Sashidharan, a psychiatrist and honorary professor at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. "Celebrity cases like Britney Spears brings it out into the open to some extent, but it's a much much bigger problem underneath all that — ordinary people being subject to increasing levels of control and coercion." While involuntary civil commitment and outpatient treatment are the most obvious forms of coercion, it can also appear in emergency rooms and doctor's offices. Those forms of coercion might look like pressure from a mental health provider, implicit or explicit threats, involuntary sedation, restraint, seclusion in confined spaces, and forced medication. Sashidharan's research indicates that mandated mental health treatment is on the rise in Western Europe and the United States. At the same time, the rates of incarceration have increased, and incarcerated people may receive treatment against their will in prison or jail. In American drug courts, which became a popular alternative to incarceration in recent decades, the defendant's freedom is often contingent on their successful participation in treatment. In the U.S., there's no routine accounting of how many people are subject to mandated treatment. Data collected in 2015 found that, on average across states, an estimated 9 out of every 1,000 people with serious mental illness were involuntarily committed. But it varies depending on location. That research noted that Wisconsin's rate was 43.8 per 1,000 people while Hawaii's was .23 per 1,000. Differences appear with race and ethnicity, too. In New York, Black patients have been overrepresented in involuntary outpatient treatment. Sashidharan says people of color are disproportionately mandated into care often because of factors outside of their control like poverty, limited access to preventive healthcare, and structural racism within psychiatry and mental healthcare. SEE ALSO: Suicide prevention has a systemic racism problem. Here's how to fix it. Sashidharan believes that the trend toward coercive mental healthcare is partly the result of an increased emphasis on mental illness as a brain disease treatable with medication. While research has brought tremendous gains in psychiatry's ability to reduce symptoms and improve recovery for certain illnesses through medication, Sashidharan says it's frequently at the cost of exploring the psychological and social roots of their condition. "As soon as you are seen as having a mental illness, it is seen as something that can only be modified through the use of medication," he says. "Many people refuse to take the medication because it has significant side effects. One thing leads to the other and people are forced to then accept medication, and this leads to people being more disengaged from services, which then turns to psychiatry saying you should be treated against your will." This might sound familiar to those following Spears' case. Speaking in court, she described suddenly being put on the mood stabilizer lithium after her therapist said she hadn't been taking her regular medication and had been portrayed as noncompliant in rehearsals. "[H]e put me on that and I felt drunk, I really couldn't even stand up for myself," she said. "I couldn't even have a conversation with my mom or dad really about anything." Sashidharan says that mandated mental health treatment is also tied to laws that have broadened the criteria for involuntary commitment as well as the drastic reduction in services at community mental health centers, which could provide preventive and ongoing care to patients. Instead, people can't easily access talk therapy and other forms of treatment, or delay treatment, then end up at the emergency room or in the presence of police officers. A psychiatric evaluation in crisis situations can set someone on the path to involuntary commitment. There's a widespread but inaccurate perception that compulsory treatment is only for people who are a danger to themselves or others, says Kathy Flaherty, executive director of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, a nonprofit that provides legal services to low-income clients who have, or are perceived to have, psychiatric disabilities. "There's a widespread but inaccurate perception that compulsory treatment is only for people who are a danger to themselves or others." Judges typically take several factors into account when deciding whether to mandate treatment, including whether the person's disability is "grave" or if there's been "serious deterioration" in their condition. Some states define these concepts as being unable to provide for basic needs like clothing, food, and shelter. In this sense, Flaherty says poverty as much as an underlying mental illness can lead to institutionalization or mandatory outpatient treatment. "People who are poor do not seem to have permission to make bad decisions," she says. Flaherty, who was involuntarily committed while in law school after becoming manic and refusing medication, says the use of commitment laws for people who pose a threat to themselves or others doesn't happen as frequently as the public believes. And public perception matters a great deal. After people with severe mental illness killed individual bystanders in New York, California, and Michigan in the 1990s and early 2000s, those states passed outpatient commitment laws in the victims' names, in an effort to prevent similar tragedies. Some research suggests that certain types of involuntary outpatient treatment, when paired with intensive community services, reduce future hospitalization and the need for involuntary treatment, enhance recovery, and improve quality of life for some patients. Poorly designed programs, however, risk traumatizing patients. Meanwhile, people with mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime rather than the perpetrators. "For our clients, especially I think if you overlay race on top of disability, there's a perception of danger," says Flaherty. "Even if there was at some point a benevolent kind of interest in helping to take care of people, I think for a certain group of folks, if you combine psychiatric disability plus race it's more like, 'I need to keep myself safe from you.' It's not so much about keeping you safe." After her first hospitalization, Flaherty returned to the hospital voluntarily at different moments in her life but her final experience was so "profoundly traumatizing" that she refuses to ever return. Dr. Debra Pinals, a psychiatrist and chair of the American Psychiatric Association's council on psychiatry and the law, has participated in commitment hearings for patients that she's treated. She says that meaningfully engaging with them about issues like their treatment and their long-term plan for care, as well as what will happen in court, can make a significant difference in whether they perceive their experience as coercive. Research shows that dynamic is critical for patients. Those who rate interactions with their psychiatrist as negative are more likely to feel they were coerced into treatment, even when it's voluntary. Pinals, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School, says that tools like psychiatric advanced directives, in which patients detail their preferences should they become impaired or disabled, create a layer of protection for those who may fear losing their autonomy during a crisis. She also believes that initiatives like the American Psychiatric Association Foundation's effort to educate judges about mental illness, new research, and best practices for cultural competence in the courtroom can reduce stigma and lead to more positive experiences for patients. "There's a very delicate balancing act that we want to uphold people's individual rights as much as possible for their right to liberty...and that's really where we need to start — that people have a right to voluntary treatment and that they can access that treatment," says Pinals. Sashidharan and Flaherty agree that in extreme cases mandatory treatment may be necessary, but it should be a last resort and hospitalization should be as short as possible. In addition to advanced psychiatric directives, Flaherty thinks the peer respite model has promise. Such programs are staffed by people who've experienced mental illness and offer short-term, voluntary housing and peer support to people at risk of a psychiatric crisis. Sashidharan believes fundamental change will come when the culture of psychiatry prioritizes consent over coercion and care over control, and when resources are used to give people high-quality treatment in their communities instead of placing them in a hospital or outpatient program. "Freedom is therapeutic," says Sashidharan, quoting a popular phrase in psychiatric reform. "Actually protecting the person's freedom, by itself, increases the chances of that person of getting better. If you start doing the opposite, depriving the person of his or her liberty, then that is going to be damaging to the mental health of that individual." If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, Crisis Text Line provides free, confidential support 24/7. Text CRISIS to 741741 to be connected to a crisis counselor. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET, or email [email protected] You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/zLv_WIMwJXoView the full article
  20. Have you ever noticed the little spinning record at the bottom of a TikTok video? That function informs users which sound is played in the video. Because of the way TikTok works, users can use audio from other TikTok videos on their own videos. So that little section actually provides a lot of useful information. TikTok sounds can trend and go viral just like challenges, effects, and filters. Take Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road," for example, or the dozens of viral sounds turned into memes circulating on the app right now. TikTok audio is displayed at the bottom of the screen. Credit: andy moser / @my_aussie_gal via tiktok While there are plenty of sounds out there for you to choose from on TikTok, you can also make your own. Let's check out how. 1. Start off by tapping the create button on the bottom of the screen to make a new video. Tap the "Create" button to start. Credit: andy moser / tiktok 2. Record a video with your sound on (the audio from the video will end up being your custom sound.)Maybe record your own cover of a song you like. Play a tune on an instrument. Record yourself talking. Make a weird voice. Whatever your heart desires. 3. When you're done, tap the red check to continue.4. Use the bottom and right-side panels on the next screen to edit your audio. Use voice effects, add voiceover, or adjust the speed of your clip. Use the panels to edit your sound. Credit: andy moser / tiktok 5. Tap "Next" and post your completed video.6. Find your video on your profile and select it to watch it.7. At the bottom, you'll notice the video is playing your original sound. Your original TikTok audio will show at the bottom of the video. Credit: andy moser / tiktok 8. Want to use it in another video? Tap the spinning record on the bottom right.Your sound will now have its own page! You can add it to your favorites, see other videos that have used it, and edit the title of it. 9. Tap "Use this sound" at the bottom. Your original audio has its own page. Tap "Use this sound" to use it in a new video! Credit: andy moser / tiktok 10. Create a video using your original TikTok audio! The audio title will be displayed at the top of the screen. Your original TikTok audio will display at the top to tell you you're using that sound. Credit: andy moser / Tiktok You're all set! Enjoy using and creating original audio. Who knows? Maybe yours could be the next viral TikTok sound. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/eonEwj6hpXgView the full article
  21. If you're ever in California's Mojave desert, look up. The planes overhead could be flying themselves. Autonomous flight startup Merlin Labs announced earlier this year that it was partnering with aircraft provider Dynamic Aviation to fly 46 King Air twin-turbo prop planes, which are often used to transport cargo and passengers. Merlin has been operating in "stealth mode" since 2018, but after a $25 million funding round from firms including Google Ventures, the Boston-based company is now revealing its autonomous tech. The company says its software and hardware is meant to work in any plane. So far, it says it has conducted test flights ranging from 10 minutes to several hours with three types of aircraft. For now, the company is only doing test flights in the California desert. Those flights still have a safety pilot onboard. CEO Matthew George said in a recent phone call that he got into the industry to "make air space safer and more efficient." Eventually Merlin wants to start loading packages onto the autonomous planes. The plan is help businesses keep up with online purchases that ramped up during COVID-19. George projects he could save shipping companies money by making deliveries that normally take multiple days in under a day. Without an air crew, costs for training, employing, and lodging workers would go down. Merlin estimates crew costs can add up to $180,000 to $6 million over the life of a plane, depending on the size and type of craft. With autonomous planes, companies wouldn't need to worry about pilots and crew getting stuck in other cities. And they could schedule as many flights as they wanted at odd hours — without restrictions based on worker hours or coordinated schedules. Flight crews would work on the ground, and focus mainly on monitoring self-piloted flights. No hands, no pilot. Credit: merlin Labs At first, the Federal Aviation Administration will let companies transport cargo, with a plan to eventually allow them to carry passengers, in what it calls a "crawl-walk-run approach." That's pretty much George's plan, too. "Moving passengers is probably step 50, and we’re on step three," he said. Xwing, an autonomous flight company for regional air cargo, has fully leaned into delivery even if passenger flight is the ultimate goal. It completed its first autonomous cargo flight from gate to gate in a Cessna Grand Caravan 208B back in February. The flight was remotely monitored from a mission control center in Concord, California. For now, everyone in the industry, including Merlin, is testing planes with pilots at the helm. The next step is for the FAA to allow planes to fly without pilots over unpopulated areas. Marc Piette, founder and CEO of Xwing, said in a call that focusing on the cargo market helps improve autonomous flight technology. It also prepares regulators for a potential passenger market. "We’re at the tip of the spear here," Piette said. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/NAnuulsZFlMView the full article
  22. TL;DR: Showcase bioluminescent algae in the glowing Bio-Turtle, on sale for 15% off. As of July 24, get one for just $57.99. Not to go all Bill Nye on you, but if you haven’t nerded out about bioluminescence, you’re missing out. In a nutshell, it’s the light produced naturally by a chemical reaction within a living organism, like fireflies, glowworms, and anglerfish. It’s what makes the ocean glow in photos. We're big fans of this adorable glowing Bio-Turtle, which is on sale for 15% off for a limited time. The Bio-Turtle is made from hand-blown glass and acts as a micro-aquarium for PyroDinos living algae. Fill up the turtle with the bioluminescent PyroDinos and place it in a location that receives low to moderate light during daytime hours. That and some "DinoNutrients" (included) are all it needs to survive. When you gently swirl or tap the Bio-Turtle, you’ll witness a pretty bioluminescence glow. Although it only lights up at night, the glass turtle still makes for nice decor during the day. Here's a sneak peek of the magic happening: See the glowing light show for yourself by grabbing the Bio-Turtle, which comes with a spout pouch of PyroDinos and DinoNutrients, on sale for only $57.99 (regularly $69) for a limited time. Credit: Pyrofarms Bioluminescent Bio-Turtle — $57.99 Buying Options See Details http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/f8llDY0yqpEView the full article
  23. TL;DR: Bring the upscale bar to your kitchen with the SmokeTop Cocktail Smoking Kit, on sale for $79.99 — an 11% discount — as of July 24. Barbecue season is the best season of the year. Full stop. It’s hard to improve upon something that’s already so great — friends and family, deliciously smoked meats, and all the sides you can imagine. But it is possible — especially if you have the SmokeTop Cocktail Smoking Kit at your disposal. Created by bartenders, the American-made Cocktail Smoking Kit from Middleton Mixology features a SmokeTop cap, a torch lighter, and premium food-grade smoking chips in four different flavors, so you can smoke up a cocktail like a pro. It’s designed so that anyone, bartender or not, can whip up a delicious cocktail with ease. Just load the SmokeTop chimney with a small number of chips of your choosing — it comes with apple, cherry, cinnamon, and oak — place it on the lid of your glass, hold the torch lighter five inches away, and slowly lower it to about two inches. Once you see the smoke fill up your glass to your desired amount, it's good to go. It's fairly simple, really, but finding that perfect amount of smoke will require a bit of taste testing. Here's a quick glimpse at how it works: Each tin has enough premium smoking chips for 100 cocktails, so the kit should last you quite a while, even if you’re planning on throwing a full-blown rager or two. Just be prepared for the inevitable reputation you'll build in the neighborhood as the best bartender around. Once your guests get a taste of that heady, full sensory experience, they'll surely keep coming back for more. For a limited time, you can snag the full kit — equipped with the SmokeTop, torch, four tins of wood chips, and even an extra mesh screen (the built-in one will deteriorate over time) — on sale for just $79.99 (regularly $89). Credit: Middleton Mixology SmokeTop Cocktail Smoking Kit — $79.99 Buying Options See Details http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/1V93NV88x9IView the full article
  24. TL;DR: Back up your computer, phone, or tablet anywhere with the AnyBackup device. As of July 24, get one for only $59.95 — a 14% discount. With the AnyBackup device, which was successfully funded on Kickstarter and Indiegogo at over eight times the initial goal, you can back up your phone, computer, or tablet onto an external drive with ease. The stick automatically reads, backs up, transfers, and stores documents, contacts, photos, videos, and other critical data from your phone, in addition to third-party platforms like popular social media channels. Plus, it’s compatible with any USB flash drive, portable hard drive, or microSD card of up to 2TB. Essentially, it works as a middleman, facilitating data transfer quickly and easily to your device. Check it out: As an added bonus, the AnyBackup sports up to 100W of power, which means it can fast charge connected devices in under 30 minutes. It even works double duty when plugged into a power source, allowing you to charge up and back up your device at the same time. For a limited time, you can get the ultimate backup solution on sale for only $59.95 (regularly $70). Credit: HiQ AnyBackup: Offline AutoBackup and 100W FastCharge — $59.95 Buying Options See Details http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/U2PhtgUnPWAView the full article
  25. Apple Watches are more than just markers of time; they can literally transform the way you manage your workday, overall health, sleep patterns, and even your breathing rate. For a limited time, these four Apple Watches are all on sale. Some are new, while some are refurbished and like-new. But either way, there's an option that will fit perfectly into your finances and life. Snag one while they're discounted and transform all of your everyday tasks. Apple Watch Series 6 GPS 44mm — Space Blue/Deep NavyThis Series 6 Apple Watch does it all: monitors fitness metrics, receives (and sends) texts and calls, measures your blood oxygen levels, and so much more. It may look small, but you can actually load over 75 million songs to it, so you're never without your personal entertainment system on the go. Normally, the Apple Watch Series 6 GPS 44mm retails for $429, but for a limited time you can get it for $414.99. Credit: Apple Apple Watch Series 6 GPS 44mm — Space Blue/Deep Navy — $414.99 Buying Options See Details Apple Watch Series 6 GPS 44mm — Space Gray/BlackBlack goes with everything, and this space gray/black model will quickly become part of your arm. It makes sense why the Series 6 gets such high ratings — 4 out of 5 stars on TechRadar, to be exact. With the always-on retina display and noise alerts, you'll never miss a beat. Get the Apple Watch Series 6 GPS 44mm in space gray and black on sale for $414.99 (normally $429). Credit: Apple Apple Watch Series 6 GPS 44mm — Space Gray/Black — $414.99 Buying Options See Details Apple Watch Series 6 GPS + Cellular 44mm — Space Gray/BlackIf 2021 is all about fitness goals for you, you need this Series 6 GPS + Cellular 44mm Apple Watch. It will help you train smarter to get faster results, with visible health metrics and stats that are always on display as you workout. Get it on sale for $499.99 (normally $529) for a limited time. Credit: Apple Apple Watch Series 6 GPS + Cellular 44mm — Space Gray/Black — $499.99 Buying Options See Details Apple Watch SE 6 (GPS, 44mm) — Space Gray/Black (Like New, Open Box)If you want to save even more on an Apple Watch, consider snagging one with an open-box price tag. This 2020 model may have been opened just once, but it works and looks just like it's brand new. The only difference is you save some serious cash. Get the SE 6 Apple Watch in space gray/black for just $304.99 (regularly $309) for a limited time. Credit: Apple Apple Watch SE 6 (GPS, 44mm) Space Gray/Black (Like New, Open Box) — $304.99 Buying Options See Details http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/CFiAVuCNCxkView the full article
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