Facebook ‘Professional Mode’; Twitter Tests Revised Reporting System; Over 200 Newspapers Seeing Google & Facebook; Razer’s MagSafe iPhone Cooling Fan

Facebook has rolled out a new ‘professional mode’ for profiles that allows what they term ‘eligible creators’ to earn money without the need to create a separate Page. Engadget.com reports that the feature is part of the company’s parent Meta’s billion dollars investment in creators. That fund also includes bonuses for Instagram influencers…and and expansion of the Stars program. The biggest feature of professional mode profiles is the addition of the Reels Play bonus program that allows creators to earn up to $35,000 a month based on views of qualifying reels (videos). Previously, that program was only open to users with Pages. It’ll be invitation-only for professional profiles to start with. Facebook is planning to add the ability to create longer, 60 second reels, save drafts mid-creation and create compositions from multiple clips. No time frame has been given for those features yet. NOTE: Once you turn on professional mode, anyone can follow you and see your public content in their feed. However, you’ll still be able to limit specific posts or updates to friends only.

Twitter is testing out a new system affecting how users report Tweets that they think might break Twitter’s rules. According to techcrunch.com, one of the biggest changes is that users won’t be asked to specify what policy they think is being violated. The user gives Twitter info, and Twitter uses automated systems to determine what, if any, rule is being broken by the Tweet. One objective is to try to eliminate harassment by some trolls who have used Twitter’s reporting feature to hassle legitimate journalists and commentators that they just disagree with.

For years, platforms like Google and Facebook have republished material reported by newspapers and organizations worldwide with no compensation or even credit to the sources. Now, axios.com says over 200 newspapers…some of which are part of large media groups…have sued, alleging that Facebook and Google have monopolized the digital ad market for ad revenue that would otherwise go to local news. Some heavy hitter antitrust litigators are involved, and taking the cases on contingent fees, so this could get interesting. They intend to ‘recover past damages to newspapers,’ and ‘establish a new system going forward in which newspapers aren’t just competitive again, but can thrive.’ The lawyers point to a law in Australia that makes tech firms pay publishers for their content. 

The ‘have to have’ item for mobile gamers os out from Razer. Ok, I kid, but check this out….it’s the Phone Cooler Chroma. The gadget is a $60 Mag Safe cooling fan that attaches to an iPhone, and keeps it cool while you are gaming. Engadget.com notes that in true Razer form, it also features RGB lighting you can control via Bluetooth. The cooling comes via a high powered 7 blade fan, which runs at a somewhat quiet 30dB. Note that you will need to plug the thing into a USB-C charger while using. 

Twitter Buys & Closes Quill; Samsung Merges Mobile & Consumer electronics; Apple Had Secret Deal With China; WhatsApp Beefs Up Disappearing Messages; Instagram Unveils Tools for Teens & Parents

Twitter has bought Slack competitor Quill and effectively shut it down. 9to5mac.com reports that Quill users will have a few days to export team messages before December 11th..when the server gets wiped. They are providing support to help export those messages, but Direct Messages won’t be exportable. In a cryptic close to the announcement, Quill said ‘We can’t with to show you what we’ll be working on next.’

Samsung is reorganizing internally, and is now combining and narrowing down. Previously, 3 divisions had CEOs, and they will now be cut down to two: Device solutions, which is the semiconductor business, and the new SET division, which includes mobile, TVs, and consumer electronics. According to theverge.com, Samsung has also appointed heads of their North American offices for those two divisions, in an effort to streamline what has been a sprawling organizational structure. 

Apple apparently cut a secret deal with China 5 years ago, pledging to put money into helping developing the Chinese economy. Appleinsider.com says Tom Cook personally lobbied to get the deal done. Cook signed an agreement with the Chinese government in 2016, pumping $275 million into the economy there. The deal has been kept under wraps all this time by both Apple and the Chinese government…with Apple not wanting to be seen as groveling to the government there. As part of the agreement, Apple pledged to work with Chinese manufacturers to create “the most advanced manufacturing technologies” and “support the training of high-quality Chinese talents.” This was accompanied by promises to increase its use of Chinese suppliers for device components, to work with Chinese software firms and invest in tech companies, and to work with Chinese universities on new technologies. 

In a move to expand flexibility in making messages disappear, WhatsApp will now let users turn on disappearing messages by default for all new conversations. Bgr.com reports that you can set the length of time before the messages disappear, too. You will also have the option to set this as default for group messages. WhatsApp has added 24 hours and 90 days to the options to make messages go ‘poof!’

In a likely related move by another Meta (Facebook) owned messaging platform, Instagram has bowed tools for teens and parents…convieniently announced right before a Senate hearing. Cnet.com notes that parents or guardians will be able to set limits on how much time teens are spending on the app, with an option to notify parents if a teen reports someone on Instagram. The new controls will be active by March 2022. In addition, Instagram is launching its ‘Take a Break’ feature, which nudges teens to get off the app after they have been scrolling for a period of time. The Senate hearing is tomorrow. 

Clearview AI Getting Facial Recognition Patent; Twitter Suspends Accounts ‘By Mistake’; Feds Let Debt Collectors Harass via DMs; Apple AR & VR Headset Focus on Gaming, Media

The US Patent and Trademark Office has issued a ‘notice of allowance’ to Clearview AI, which indicates that Clearview will get a patent for their controversial facial recognition tech. Engadget.com reports that numerous critics of Clearview’s tech are very concerned that the company is building a giant image database without the targets’ knowledge or permission. Multiple other governments, including the UK and Australia believe Clearview’s facial recognition violates data laws, and could be used to stifle political dissent…or even to stalk people. For their part, Clearview has stated that it has no plans to sell to anyone besides government clients…so that ought to help you to sleep much easier (cover your home cams, or they could well have facial captures of you while you sleep!

Twitter suspended a number of account ‘by mistake’ after far right extremists started exploiting the social platform’s new private media policy. According to theverge.com, Twitter has started an internal review and has made corrections. The ludicrous thing is, the rule change was instituted “curb the misuse of media to harass, intimate, and reveal the identities of private individuals,” which Twitter says disproportionately affects “women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities.” What still isn’t clear is what Twitter will do to correct the policy to prevent future abuses.

In an ugly decision, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will allow debt collectors to bug you via text, email, and DMs via social media. PCMag reports that the bureau still says its illegal for collection agencies to actively harass someone over a debt you owe. Good luck with that! Up to now, you could only be pestered by phone or mail, and you couldn’t be called more than 7 times in 7 days…or have relatives or an employer get contacted (again…yeah, right.) The hours for new contact methods remain 8am to 9pm, so there’s that. The collectors supposedly have to state, ‘in each message, a simple way to opt out of receiving further communications from them on that social medial platform.’

Rumors continue to fly about Apple’s AR and VR headset. It’s been widely rumored to bow in the last quarter of 2022, and now Bloomberg’s Mark German says it will focus on gaming, media consumption, and communication. The gadget will allegedly have a lightweight design, two 4K micro LED displays, 15 optical modules, eye-tracking, and WiFi 6E connectivity. Better talk to your banker…several usually accurate Apple watchers think it will drain about $3,000 from your wallet!

Qualcomm Latest-Snapdragon 8 Gen 1; Apple Looks to Pass Samsung This Quarter; Browser Extension- Brands That Are Actually Just Amazon; Verizon Launches Android TV Soundbars with B&O Audio

Qualcomm has bowed its latest flagship chipset, and has changed naming for their chips. According to engadget.com, it’s the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. The company will be moving away from 3 digit numbers like 865 and 888. The latest system on a chip includes Qualcomm’s X65 5 G modem. Qualcomm says it can theoretically download at speeds up to 10 GBPS. The new chip also features an 18-bit image signal processor. The chip can process data from 3 36Mp cams simultaneously without shutter lag. You will probably see it hitting the market in phones in the next few months.

Apple pulled back into the #2 slot in smartphone manufacturing in third quarter, and is poised to reclaim the top spot in the 4th quarter from leader Samsung. Appleinsider.com reports that Cupertino had 15.9% of the market in the third quarter. Comparing quarter to quarter from 2020 and 2021, iPhone production is up 22.6%. Trendforce estimates that Apple will overtake Samsung during the holiday season 4th quarter, claiming 23.2% of the market. Samsung had 21.2% in third quarter. Besides the two top makers, Oppo, Xiaomi, and Vivo round out the top 5. 

A handy new browser extension claims to show you which products in Amazon search results are sold by brands that are either owned or exclusive to Amazon. Theverge.com says the Amazon Brand Detector uses a list of Amazon brands created by the Markup, and has additional filters to detect Amazon owned or controlled brands. Private label brands aren’t exactly new…every major grocery chain has had them since the 60’s. Amazon even has a page that lists a lot of them, if you want to hunt for it. The browser tool works on Chrome, Chrome-like browsers, and Firefox.

Verizon has launched a couple of new soundbars running the Android TV OS. Dubbed the Soundbar and Soundbar Pro, they will run Android TV 11, according to 9to5google.com. They should sound fantastic, as Verizon has partnered with Bang and Olufsen. The bars support Dolby Atmos ‘virtually.’ The standard model is $399, and has 5 built in speakers, while the pricier Pro ($999) rocks 9 speakers. Both should ship starting December 14th. 

UK to Facebook (Meta)-Sell Giphy; Facebook Whistleblower to Testify Again Tomorrow; iRoomba Updates for Xmas Trees; Amazon Gears Up for ‘Multi-Robot’ World

The competition watchdog in the UK has ordered Meta (Facebook) to back out its acquisition of animated GIF platform Giphy. According to Stuart McIntosh, who chairs the independent inquiry heading the Competition and Markets Authority,  “The tie-up between Facebook and Giphy has already removed a potential challenger in the display advertising market. Without action, it will also allow Facebook to increase its significant market power in social media even further, through controlling competitors’ access to Giphy GIFs.”

Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, will be back in front of a House Committee on Wednesday, December 1st. Cnet.com reports that this time, the committee will focus on Section 230, that critical internet law that protects social media companies from lawsuits over content posted by their users. In her previous testimony, Haugen pushed Congress to provide more active oversight of the social network, contending that Facebook’s platforms “harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.”

Roomba software has been updated. It will now avoid shoes and socks, and more to the point of the Christmas season, steer around Christmas trees, while vacuuming up the pine needles. This is for the j7 and j7 Plus, according to theverge.com. They also got an update to avoid pet poop. (It should be noted that other robot vacuums have already been able to do this since the first of the year, but it’s still a welcome upgrade.)

Amazon is launching a new cloud service, RoboRunner, that will oversee the operation of robots from multiple vendors. Geekwire.com says the tech was originally developed for tis own warehouses. AWS IoT RoboRunner, unveiled by Amazon Web Services at its re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, lets companies connect robot fleets to the cloud, operate different types of robots as part of the same system, and develop apps that optimize the operations of an automated fleet using real-time data from the warehouse or factory floor. I, for one, welcome our Amazon controlled, robot overlords. 😦

FLASH!-Dorsey Out at Twitter; EU Firms File Complaint Vs Microsoft; Amazon Says it Will Get Holiday Stuff Delivered on time; Chinese Tesla Model Y Gets AMD Chip

FLASH! Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey has resigned, effective immediately. CTO Parag Agrawal will take over the big chair, according to CNBC. (OK, I’ve just always wanted to say ‘FLASH.’ Maybe I’ve got an Edward R. Murrow complex, LOL!) Dorsey will remain on the board until his term is up in his term is up next year. Salesforce President and COO Bret Taylor will become Chairman of the Board, replacing Patrick Pitchette. Dorsey will remain CEO for Square. 

A coalition of European Union software and cloud companies, who have gotten together as the ‘Coalition for a Level Playing Field’ has formally complained to the European Commission about Microsoft’s anti-competitive behavior as Redmond has aggressively bundled OneDrive, Teams, and other services with Windows 10 and 11. Zdnet.com reports that the companies point to the late 90’s and earlier ’00’s, when Microsoft pushed Internet Explorer. This seems a bit off-point to me, since Microsoft’s OS (some version or another of Windows) runs on about 73% of all PC’s! You’d think they would go after that! In Europe, Microsoft’s market share is a bit less, but still at 66%! Slack has also filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft in the EU over their integration of Teams with Office. Will this action and Slack’s actually get anywhere? Good question. Stay tuned.

Amazon has been ramping up for the holidays, reportedly spending some $4 billion to combat shipping delays, to ensure that your packages arrive in time for the holidays. They have gone so far as chartering their own ships and running half-empty trucks. Businessinsider.com says they have also hired 150,000 additional seasonal workers. Letting trucks leave the warehouses half full has allowed drivers to make deliveries in a more timely manner. Fully loading has become more of a challenge with supply chain issues that have plagued the world of late. Chartering their own ships and docking at smaller ports has shaved a couple months off shipping time. Perhaps I am overly skeptical, but I just sent gift cards…they’re already delivered! 

Tesla is now rocking AMD Rizen processors in the entertainment systems of Model Y vehicles built in China. Partly due to the fact that Elon Musk disbanded the PR department, we don’t know if they are the same Rizen APU as used in the Model X and Model S. Up to now, the Model Y has run Intel silicon. Engadget.com reports that normally, Tesla uses the same chip in all vehicles of the same model, but no word on that, either. It may just be a temporary move to combat the chip shortage and deliver cars. OTOH, it could be a transition to Rizen chips across the Tesla model lineup.

DoorDash Pays SF Fine; Life 360 Buys Tile; Zoom Beats Street; Rolls EV Plane Breaks Records

DoorDash, which calls San Francisco home, agreed to pay the city of San Francisco  Dashers $5.3 million, for alleged violations of past benefits required by the city. According to the Chronicle, the delivery service did not admit to wrongdoing. Most of the DoorDash settlement money will go directly to workers. The majority will receive $500 to $1,500, although awards range up to $17,000, depending on how often the Dashers worked from 2016 to 2020.

Tile, which has taken a beating since Apple rolled out Air Tags, has been picked up by another tracking company called Life360. 9to5mac.com reports that its a $205 million deal, and will close first quarter of 2022. Life360 is a ‘focused family’ tracking platform, that sports features like location history, favorite routes, personalized alerts, and SOS messages. Tile, which says its business is still doing fine, has an advantage over Air Tags in that they have different sizes and shapes, like a ‘sticker’ for remotes and a card-shaped tracker for wallets. (One hacker almost immediately created a similar wallet one with an Air Tag, so expect Apple to pick up on that!)

The late pandemic Zoom doom hasn’t exactly materialized. CNBC says the video conferencing company did better than expected in earnings announced yesterday. They are warning of a slowdown as the pandemic continues to unwind, though. Zoom had a 35% increase in revenue for the last quarter, year over year, and net income was up 71%. Even with things softening, they are still predicting 19% growth.Of course that is down from the peak of the pandemic…for the quarter that ended in January 2021, their year over year revenue was up 300%! Zoom Rooms continues to grow, but the company has canceled plans to acquire cloud contact center software provider Five9.

The big problem for electric aircraft is battery weight, which seems at this point to keep them out of the large, commercial airliner market. There are a number of companies working on electric planes for general aviation and smaller regional commuter planes, though. Now, Rolls-Royce…famous for building jet engines for decades….has set records with their all-electric plane. According to engadget.com, the Roller plane has broken the speed record for EPs, hitting 387.4 MPH. They also set a climb record to 9843 ft (yes, a strange number…but it’s 3,000 meters!). The Rolls did that in 202 seconds. The records are not yet certified, but the old speed record was 213 MPH, so they comfortably beat the hell out of that number. Rolls says the plane uses the most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace. 

Google Bot-in-a-Box; Adele -Spotify Removes Shuffle; Facebook Messenger & IG-No Default End-to-End Encryption Until 2023; Just 21% of Remote Workers Aware of Cyber Threats; Crate ‘V-8’ -EV Conversion of Gas Cars; Ford Chip Shortage Workaround

Google has launched what they are dubbing conversational AI to chatbot interaction. Zdnet.com reports that the ‘bot-in-a-box system is designed to help businesses to get started more easily in setting up chatbots as part of their Business Messages service. The service allows organizations to connect waitpeople via Google Search, Maps, or their own business channels. For most small to medium businesses, it will have a great feature in that it uses Google’s Dialogflow tech to create the chatbots without the business having to write any code (or apparently employ coders, to say nothing of actual customer service PEOPLE!)

In almost every case, the poor artist is at the mercy of big music companies and streaming services…but not all. If you’re big enough, you can get changes made. According to engadget.com, Adele is one of those big shots. She has gotten Spotify to remove the shuffle button from album pages! Adele said in a Tweet that albums ought to be listened to ‘as [artists] intended’ as they tell ‘a story’. The shuffle controls for individual songs remain. Apple Music still has a shuffle button on its album pages. It remains to be seen if Adele can push mighty Apple into making the change, too. 

Facebook now says Messenger and Instagram may not get default end-to-end encryption until 2023! Theverge.com reports that it is part of the unified messaging system FB is trying to build across all its platforms. Facebook (or Meta) already has end-to-end encryption by default on its WhatsApp platform. One reason given for the delay is that they apparently don’t want the encryption to interfere with their ability to help stop criminal activity. 

A scary report indicates that only 21% of remote workers say they are aware of cyber threats. The report from Unisys, picked up by venturebeat.com, says that 61% of hybrid and remote workers fell primarily responsible for maintaining their own digital security…but the headline 21% are actually aware of sophisticated online threats. This will need to be addressed moving forward, since some 83% of employers now say that the shift to hybrid or remote work has been successful and will be made permanent. Most workers prefer to be remote between 1-3 days a week. 

A Chatsworth, CA company is building what they are calling a ‘Crate V-8’ EV motor to drop into older cars to convert to electric. Electric GT will sell single and double electric motor versions, made in the shape of a gas V-8. Motorbiscuit.com notes that you would still need a battery pack, but the cool thing about the crate V-8 EV is that it is designed to bolt right on to existing transmissions. Under what would be the valve covers on a regular V-8 are the DC-DC converter, and onboard charger, coolant lines, and pump. They hope to make models that will fit most common Chevy, Ford, & Chrysler products, and also some Toyota models. 

While the world scrambles with a shortage of computer chips…which has massively affected the automobile industry, Ford…to quote an old ad, ‘had a better idea.’ The Detroit auto maker quietly partnered with US-based chipmaker Global Foundries. According to reviewgeek.com, this should help Ford deliver more vehicles in 2022. In addition, Ford is working to bring chip design in-house…like Apple has done. This will be a boon to their regular chip use, as well as infotainment system use, EV platform, and their self-driving system that’s in the works.

Twitter Rolls out ‘Disappearing Tweets’ Patch; Lucid Bags 17,000 More Orders in Quarter; Substack Hits a Million Paid Subscribers; Adaptive Headlights Finally Legal in US

Twitter is apparently in the middle of fixing the notorious ‘disappearing’ Tweets that have plagued the service for some time now. Tweets would disappear just as you were reading one. Engadget.com reports that a fix is being rolled out. Along with it, there is a Tweet counter bar at the top of the timeline. The fix is just being rolled out on the web client right now, so don’t look for it yet on mobile devices…although Twitter says that is coming. the full suite of patches will be out in a variety of updates over the next couple months. 

Lucid…that ‘other’ electric car maker just starting to get wheels on the road, has picked up an additional 17,000 orders since the end of the third quarter. According to techcrunch.com, they have now delivered about two dozen of the pricey Air Dream Edition ($169,000 a pop) since the end of October. The Lucid Grand Touring is rated at a range of a whopping 516 miles! The company’s reservation bank now adds up to about $1.3 billion worth of EVs. They expect to produce around 20,000 cars next year, and are shooting for 500,00 per year by the end of the decade. BTW, the base model is $77,000…still a bit eye-watering, but a far cry from the top end model at $169,000!

Substack has amassed over a million paid subscriptions as of this week. Nieman Lab says that’s double what they had just 10 months ago, and for times the number of a year ago. Nieman notes that the number of subscribers is more like 500,000, as many people pay for more than one Substack. Also…paid subscribers are a small fraction at this point of the total readership….between 5 and 10%. That would give the platform over 10 million readers at best. Even so, the top 10 writers on Substack generate about $20 million in annual revenue. Substack declined to name the top 10 writers, claiming it changes constantly. 

Full adaptive headlights are finally legal in the US, after President Biden signed the infrastructure bill yesterday. These aren’t just the ones that can ‘see’ around corners. Best known are Audi’s Digital Matrix LEDs, that automatically shut off clusters of LEDs when you are driving. Cnet.com notes that this will prevent blinding oncoming cars. Present LED headlights really only go from blazingly bright to just merely bright…they are never really dim. The cool thing is, the next get adaptive headlights can switch off clusters that would blind the oncoming cars, while keeping plenty of light on the roadway and signs. In the Bay Area, think about the focused LED street lights on the new section of the Bay Bridge. They don’t get in your face, but brilliantly light up the lanes and signage. You will probably see lots of new cars with the adaptive headlights in the next couple years. 

Feds Nixed Intel China Facility; Apple Paying $30 Million to Store Employees for Bag Check Time; Tesla Deploying Starling Satellite Dishes at Superchargers; Google Plays Nice With Free Trial

The White House gave thumbs down to Intel’s plan to build a chip plant in China, citing security concerns. According to Bloomberg, it could have been online by the end of 2022. Intel is already building 2 new plants in Arizona, where TSMC out of Taiwan is also building a semiconductor plant. Intel has been seeking federal assistance to ramp up production and research in the US. 

There has been an ongoing battle between Apple and its retail employees over off the clock bag searches of employee bags before they leave work. Now, apple insider.com reports that Apple has agreed to pay $29.9 million in a settlement. This litigation has been going on for a stunning 8 years! After a stop at the Ninth Circuit, and then the California Supreme Court, the writing was on the wall…as the California Supremes ruled last year that Apple was on the hook for payment for the mandatory searches. The Court pointed out a legal requirement in the state’s wage law that indicates employees should be entitled to compensation during the time they are subject to a company’s control.

Tesla has begun deploying Starlink satellite dishes at some of its Supercharger locations. Engadget.com says that so far, Tesla hasn’t commented on the dishes, and its unknown if they will be available to customers. It’s possible that they are there to replace or supplement the existing connections to handle payments and charger status. Such a setup would allow Tesla to put in stations in remote areas that don’t have broadband. It’s also possible that the might make them available to customers while charging to stream content to their cars…for those who don’t have Premium Connectivity. The chargers themselves don’t need gobs of bandwidth, so it makes sense that some of the connectivity would be available for customers.

Google has committed what has been called ‘a shocking act of decency.’ In a departure from virtually every other firm…tech or otherwise, Google doesn’t automatically turn the 30 day free trial for the Nest Aware into a subscription unless you automatically stop it. Zdnet.com notes that you have to actually have to give them permission, and click a ‘subscribe’ button to continue on after your free trial. While this may not negate all the data mining of everything about you that Google does, it is at least a small baby step towards their old ‘Don’t Be Evil’ slogan.