Tech

YouTube Red cancels release of Morgan Spurlock’s ‘Super Size Me 2’ following filmmaker’s sexual abuse confessions

YouTube’s subscription service, YouTube Red, is losing another of its bigger names. Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” sequel will be pulled from YouTube Red’s 2018 lineup, following Spurlock’s recent confessions of sexual misconduct shared on Twitter last week. Spurlock on Wednesday admitted to a sexual encounter in college that sounds like it would be considered date rape, as well as to a sexual harassment charge by a former employee. He posted the details of these events in a long Twitter post where he also said, “I am part of the problem.” His confessions have now impacted one of YouTube Red’s biggest deals to date. Google’s video service had picked up the Morgan Spurlock-directed “Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!” from the Toronto Film Festival this fall for $3.5 mi...

The Echo Spot is my new favorite Alexa device

I got excited when the Echo Spot debuted. At the time, I tentatively declared it the best Echo at the time, and after living with the device for the better part of a week, my sentiments haven’t really changed. The latest member of the Echo family slots into the line nicely, delivering the Show’s touchscreen functionality at a much more palatable price point and size. It’s kind of the Dot to the Show’s standard Echo — in other words, “Spot” is what you get when you cross “Show” with “Dot.” While rumors about a touchscreen Google Home have been floating around for a bit, the Echo line is still the only major player in the space with the functionality — making Amazon its own biggest competitor. And honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spot starts eating into Show sales in a big way. A few...

Reddit launches new mobile apps with support for real-time comments, chat, mod tools and more

Reddit today is giving its mobile apps a major upgrade – the first since their launch last year, when the company decided to take back control over the official Reddit experience on mobile – an experience that had long been available mainly through third-party clients. Today’s updated apps introduce a number of new features focused on media consumption – including how it handles photos, videos and GIFs – plus the addition of things like live comment feeds, in-app chat, tools for moderators and more. Some of the features seem inspired by work from other third-party clients. For example, the new Theater Mode option on iOS lets users browse media in what Reddit calls a “video-first” format. This allows users to open media, like original video, in a full-screen experience. They can also choose...

Study: Russia-linked fake Twitter accounts sought to spread terrorist-related social division in the UK

A study by UK academics looking at how fake social media accounts were used to spread socially divisive messages in the wake of a spate of domestic terrorists attacks this year has warned that the problem of hostile interference in public debate is greater than previously thought. The researchers, who are from Cardiff University’s Crime and Security Research Institute, go on to assert that the weaponizing of social media to exacerbate societal division requires “a more sophisticated ‘post-event prevent’ stream to counter-terrorism policy”. “Terrorist attacks are designed as forms of communicative violence that send a message to ‘terrorise, polarise and mobilise’ different segments of the public audience. These kinds of public impacts are increasingly shaped by social media communications, ...

An hard look at token sale mania by an true insider

Moshe Hogeg is a fixture in the Valley mythos. This Israeli founder of Yo (yes, that Yo) and Mobli, he recently became one of the most prolific ICO investors in the world with a thesis that, in short, that states he will put small amounts of money into every sane token sale. Hogeg (whose company advertises on a weekly ICO newsletter that I started but do not write) recently posted some interesting commentary from inside his latest ICO, Sirin Labs. As an aside, when searching for the website I found a copycat site that also claimed to be the Sirin ICO – a problem that plagues countless token sales. In short, had anyone clicked the top link they would have sent their money into a black hole. Moshe Hogeg. Photo courtesy of Holatelcel Back to the commentary: Hogeg posted on Facebook about his ...

Amazon’s latest Echos show the smart home space hitting its stride

Amazon’s Echo lineup got a refresh earlier this year that included a brand new version of its basic Echo, well as an Echo Plus with integrated smart home hub, and the stalwart Echo Dot – unchanged, but still a compelling device at its price point. The new lineup of devices also made its way to more markets this year, including an expansion to Canada just this month, which is why I now have a host of Echo hardware kitting out my apartment. The major accomplishment of this refresh, I think, is that it feels less like a new generation of gadget, and more like a coming of age for a modern-day appliance – a whole new category of must-have home furnishings. Amazon clearly wants to encourage this impression – the new Amazon Echo comes in a host of fabric-covered finishes, and it’s hard to imagine...

Open Garden wants to give you tokens for sharing your Internet connection

Open Garden launched its mesh networking platform at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2012. Since then, the company has gone through a few iterations and found unexpected success in its Firechat offline messaging service. Now, it’s ready for the next step in its evolution. The company now wants to make it easier for anybody with an Android phone to share their WiFi connections with anyone who is nearby. And to incentivize people to do so, the company plans to launch its own Ethereum token (called OG…) in early 2018. The company bills this as the launch of a “decentralized Internet Service Provider (ISP).” You still need a regular ISP to become an Open Garden ISP, so I admit that the whole concept doesn’t quite seem right to me. Unsurprisingly, Open Garden CEO Paul Hainsworth (who took over from the c...

Springboard raises $9.5M to offer an online alternative to the master’s degree

Springboard is a platform that helps people advance their tech skills, and ultimately career. Today it took a step further to realizing its own potential after it landed a $9.5 million Series A round to develop specialisms. I wrote about the U.S.-based service nearly two years ago when it was just starting out and it had gobbled up a $1.7 million seed round. Then, Springboard had brought around 1,000 students to what was then a MOOC driven by a network of hundreds of mentors to customize the three-month learning experience. Now, it is starting to look more like an online skills school. It has ‘graduated’ over 7,000 students, who have gone on to companies like Amazon, Boeing, Saatchi & Saatchi, Visa and more, CEO and co-founder Gautam Tambay told TechCrunch in an interview. “The world a...

More dead commenters appear to come out against Net Neutrality

Two more dead commenters have been spotted commenting on the FCCs foregone Net Neutrality vote, a small but not insignificant discovery considering that, while public outcry for net neutrality was high, FCC representatives dismissed most of supportive net neutrality commentary as spam. While searching a database created by the New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a designer named Morgan Knutson was outraged to find comments by his his liberal mother, Dana Barancik,, and grandfather, Frank Barancik. Dana died in 2014 and Frank died in 2015. Both were seemingly vehemently opposed to net neutrality last August. “Before leaving office, the Obama Administration rammed through a massive scheme that gave the federal government broad regulatory control over the internet,” wrote the i...

Battery Ventures backs workforce management software company Quinyx in new $12M round

Quinyx, a Stockholm-headquartered company that offers cloud-based software to help businesses manage things like employee scheduling, communication, task-management and payroll integration, has raised a further $12 million in funding. Backing the round is VC firm Battery Ventures, which sees Boston-based Battery General Partner Michael Brown join the Quinyx board. Founded in 2005 by Erik Fjellborg, Quinyx’s CEO, after he spent the summer working at McDonald’s, the company’s workforce management software targets employers of shift-based or ‘flexible’ workers, such as those operating in the fast-food industry. It enables them to replace more arcane organisational methods, including Excel spreadsheets or even pen and paper, and legacy ‘on-premise’ software. The Quinyx feature-set includes sch...

Twitter today starts enforcing new rules around violence and hate

Twitter today says it will begin to enforce new rules related to how it handles hateful conduct and abusive behavior taking place on its platform. The changes are a part of the company’s broader agenda to craft new policies focused on reducing the amount of abuse, hate speech, violence and harassment. Specifically, Twitter explains that in addition to threatening violence or physical harm, it will also look for accounts affiliated with groups that promote violence against citizens to further their causes. This includes any group that promotes violence either on or off Twitter’s platform, but doesn’t apply to military or government entities. Twitter also says it will consider exceptions for groups that are engaged in peaceful resolution. Meanwhile, any content that glorifies violence or the...

Carnegie Mellon’s ‘Superhuman AI’ bests leading Texas Hold’em poker pros

A new paper published by Science today details how Libratus, an AI developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s computer science department, managed to take on and defeat top industry professionals at one of the most challenging forms of poker: No-limit Texas Hold’em. Yes, the same variant of poker that swept the nation during the heady days of the early to mid-aughts. This is significant because no-limit Texas Hold’em is what’s called an “imperfect-information game,” which means that not all information about all elements in play is available to all players at all times. That’s in contrast to games like Go and Chess, both of which feature a board which contains all the pieces in play, plainly visible to both competitors. CMU’s team detailed Libratus and some of its early successes back i...