Samsung Unpacked 2 Oct. 20th; Sony & TSMC May Partner to Ease Chip Shortage; Future AirPods Might Monitor Body Temp; Facebook ‘Dangerous’ List Leaked

Samsung has announced its Unpacked 2 event for next Wednesday, October 20th. According to theverge.com, it will be online only, and will be at 7AM Pacific, 10AM Eastern. It may not be for next gen Galaxy phones, but could be iterations on existing models. The date is interesting, because it appears that Apple and Samsung, the two biggest smartphone players, are bracketing Google, and will likely steal most of the thunder for their Pixel event on Tuesday the 19th. Apple, of course, announced earlier this week that they will hold an event on Monday, the 18th (instead of the usual Tuesday.) Although the Apple event is expected to be MacBook Pro centric, the coverage of it will spill into Tuesday, and then…boom…along comes Samsung to steal more of Google’s Pixel thunder. We will do our best to cover all three here, however!

It’s not a done deal, but the world chip shortage may make for some strange corporate bedfellows. Engadget.com reports that Sony and TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor) are looking at joint creation of a semiconductor factor in Japan…specifically in the western Kumamoto Prefecture. TSMC would have majority ownership, but the plant would operate on Sony land. The Japanese government is allegedly poised to pony up about half of the $7 billion investment. Chips would be made for cameras, cars, and other products. 

Apple continues to have an intense interest in health when it comes to their products…from iPhones, to the Apple Watch, and now AirPods. Appleinsider.com says future AirPods might have amplifications like a hearing aid, be able to monitor core body temperature, and track a user’s posture…a feature I would certainly have to turn off if I ever used AirPods! Apple already has patents for sensors to track heart rate, movement, and other health metrics. No timetable for any of these at this point, though. 

The intercept has published a Facebook list of ‘dangerous individuals and organizations’ that was leaked. The social network bans more than 4,000 people and groups that the company considers dangerous…including white supremacists, militarized social movements and alleged terrorists. More than half of the list consists of alleged foreign terrorists that are predominately Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim. Facebook has a three-tiered system that indicates the type of enforcement the company will take in regard to content. Terrorist groups, hate groups and criminal organizations are part of the most restrictive level, Tier 1. The least restrictive level, Tier 3, includes militarized social movements, which The Intercept said “is mostly right-wing American anti-government militias, which are virtually entirely white.”


Apple Event Next Tuesday; Amazon-Remote Work Choice Up to Team Head; Twitter Unwanted Follower Tool to Desktop; Woz Co Wants to Be Google Maps of Space; Chevy Bolt Battery Recall Underway

Apple today announced that it will be holding a special event on Monday, October 18 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. The event is set to take place at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, and macrumors.com notes it will once again be a digital only event.

In their latest policy move, Amazon has said they will leave remote work decisions to individual team leaders. According to geekwire.com, Amazon had initially planned to bring all corporate employees back to the office in January. Amazon had previously planned for 3 days in the office, and two days remote as part of an ‘office-centric’ policy. There is one caveat…employees must be close enough to be able to easily travel into the office for a meeting on a day’s notice. Some companies have continually pushed back their return to office date…Microsoft, for instance. Numerous articles have been written about the excitement of executives about having offices filled back up, but the major lack of enthusiasm by most employees…who have enjoyed being productive without burning up hours a day (to say nothing of burning up money) commuting to and from an office. 

Now, all Twitter users can remove a follower without having to block them. Engadget.com reports that Twitter started testing a new tool last month to do this, and as of now, everyone has access to it. To quietly stop someone from seeing your tweets in their feed, go to the Followers tab on your profile, click the three-dot menu next to the user in question and select the “Remove this follower” option. The feature is part of Twitter’s effort to remove harassment from the platform. Blocking trolls and jerks often leads to retaliation, while this will be more like hiding someone from your news feed on Facebook without ‘unfriending’ them, which can be seen if they have a third party plug in. 

Recently, it was revealed that Steve Wozniak was involved in a space startup called Privateer. Now, it turns out that the company he co-founded with Alex Fielding won’t really be a direct competitor with SpaceX, Blue Origin, or Virgin. Techcrunch.com says they intend to become ‘the Google Maps of space.’ Privateer plans to map every piece of space junk orbiting the earth, so the mess of space crap we have launched into orbit over the past decades can be removed. Fielding pointed out that orbital clean up companies would like to get started, but don’t have the resolution to locate everything accurately….they only have a resolution of about 3-400 km. From the clean up of junk, Woz and Fielding really do intend for the company to be the Google Maps of space…precisely locating everything within range, which should go a long way in making space exploration safer and more achievable. 

The recall of virtually every single Chevy Bolt has started. The huge black eye to GM’s small EV is expected to cost Almost $2 billion, as they replace every single battery pack after a software fix failed. Arstechnica.com notes it will be a 2 day job at the dealerships, and LG, which supplied the defective battery packs, will shoulder nearly all of the cost. The new battery packs will be covered by an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty. This is probably the biggest recall due to fire danger since the Ford Pinto in the 1970’s. GM is proceeding full speed ahead on electrification, but it remains to be seen if the Bolt will survive. The Bolt small SUV generally got rave reviews before the fire hazard emerged.


Instagram ‘Take a Break’; Congress Doesn’t Get TikTok; Google Pixel 6 Cam; 85% World Population Affected by Climate Change-German AI

Facebook continues in siege mode, announcing a new ‘take a break’ feature, and measures aimed at nudging teens away from harmful content. Yesterday, Facebook rolled out VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ to tout the features. Also coming online…optional controls for parents to supervise teens (and of you think that will work, I have a big, orange bridge between San Francisco and Marin County to sell you). Clegg didn’t give a timeline for when the features will launch, so may be in the vaporware stage at this point. Clegg did say that Facebook’s algorithms “should be held to account, if necessary, by regulation so that people can match what our systems say they’re supposed to do from what actually happens.” Will all this be enough to keep the government from making Facebook spin off Instagram and WhatsApp? Stay tuned. 

While members of Congress from both sides of the aisle seem appropriately fired up about regulating Facebook and its subsidiaries, TikTok…owned by ByteDance out of China, seems to be under the radar. The Atlantic reports that most lawmakers (and older people in general) just think of it as a dance/video app. We reported last week on its explosive growth- now up to some one billion plus users….mostly younger ones. Besides dance and entertainment, it appears a significant number of teens are getting their news and discussing politics on the platform. Remember the use of the app last year to overbook tickets to a Trump rally in Tulsa. Yes, it was a teen prank, but gives one indication of the power of the app. Congress should have its eye on TikTok every bit as much as on Facebook and it’s Instagram. 

More info has leaked out about the upcoming Google Pixel 6 phones. 9to5google.com says the camera captures 150% more light. Apparently, both Pixel 6 models will sport a 50MP primary sensor for the cams! The Pixel 6 Pro will have a 12MP ultra wide camera and a 48MP 4X telephoto, which will be exclusive to that model. A feature previously leaked, ‘Magic Eraser,’ was again confirmed, but no real details to flesh it out. It is apparently powered by Google Photos, and will be able to erase ’stranger and unwanted objects’ from you photos. Also expected: face de-blur and better handling of skin tones. The reveal event is October 19th.

Researchers in Germany used AI to crunch over 60,000 climate change studies, and the result? 85% of humanity is affected by human-induced climate change. Cnet.com notes that the AI also determined that climate change is not only here, but will get a lot worse if we don’t act very soon. The study was led by Max Callaghan of Berlin’s Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change. The changes not only affect 85% of us, but impact 80% of the land people inhabit. 


Public Opinion of Big Tech Dips; Amazon Working on Smart Fridge; EU Parliament Calls for Ban of Facial Recognition in Public Spaces; AirPod Pro and Max Get ‘Find My’ Access

The Verge has released their latest survey of 1,200 US adults, and here’s what they think of Big Tech at this point: 66% view Facebook favorably, down from 71% in 2020, compared to 79% for Apple (down 2%), 87% for Amazon (down 4%), and 90% for Google. Theverge.com has been doing the survey since 2017. This year, they added TikTok. 31% recognized the brand, but a whopping 64% of those surveyed replied that they don’t trust it. There is also an increased interest in breaking up Big Tech. This year, 61 percent of our respondents said that the government should split up tech companies if they get too big; last year, only 56 percent of people said that. 

As if the little rolling robot dog ‘Astro’ wasn’t enough, Amazon is reported to be working on a smart fridge that ‘helps’ you shop. Cnet.com says it detects your groceries through computer vision and can order more food when you start to run low. If this is introduced, ‘Whole Paycheck’ (Amazon-owned Whole Foods) could become ‘Whole Paycheck and a Loan!’ The smart fridge has apparently been in development for several years. Amazon will likely not be making a fridge, but will provide the tech to appliance makers…and they have had talks with some already. Samsung already has a fridge with computer vision which can now access Alexa. Like the food from Whole Foods, the fridge won’t be cheap, and it won’t be aimed at the low end or mass market when it eventually rolls out.

It’s showing up everywhere, and it’s controversial everywhere. Facial recognition…which some developers have claimed has accuracy in the high 90% range…but some evidence points to it not even being 80% reliable, is in the sights of the European Parliament. According to engadget.com, that body voted on a non-binding resolution 377-248 to ban the use of automated facial recognition in public spaces. The MEPs said citizens should only be monitored when they are suspected of a crime. They are also calling for EU officials to ban private facial recognition database (some law enforcement agencies in Europe are using Clearview AI‘s one), as well as “predictive policing based on behavioral data.” As the resolution is only non-binding, it won’t really have an effect right away, but is a big shot over the bow when it comes to facial recognition tech.

Apple has not integrate4d AirPods Pro and AirPods Max with their ‘Find My’ service. Appleinsider.com reports that the new firmware is being pushed out, and you may be able to set your ear buds by your phone and get the update…but it is a rolling one, so be patient. Apple notes that the ear buds only use Bluetooth, and don’t have the Ultra Wideband chip, so the location info won’t be as exact as with AirTags. You can put the AirPods into the operation alert function, so you will get a notice if you take off and leave them laying somewhere, too. One thing that isn’t clear…will it work with the ear buds themselves individually, or only the case. For example, if you happen to lose one…which happens, can you locate that one, or will Find My just home in on the case and good luck finding the lost AirPod.


Pixel 6 Event October 19th; Facebook Outage Cost & Causes; Yubico Bows Hardware Key With Fingerprint ID; Redfin Teams with ADT for Realtor-less Home Buying

Google will be showing off its latest phones, the Pixel 6 series, in just 2 weeks, on October 19th. Theverge.com reports that the event will be a virtual one, and starts at 10AM Pacific. Google says in the press blurb that they are ‘completely reimagined Google phones.’ They will be powered by Tensor, Google’s first custom mobile chip. Google claims that ‘they adapt to you,’ so log on, and let’s see what they can do!

As you know, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were down everywhere for over 6 hours yesterday. According to arstechnica.com, it’s estimated that the Book of Face lost something like $60 million in that time. (Nope, that’s not going to dent them much….they had revenue of about $86 billion last year. Share prices dropped 4.9%, so poor Zuck lost $5-6 billion…but no worries…he’s still worth some $120 billion. What caused the total wipeout? Apparently its was a BGP mis-configuration. Basically, their BGP routes got withdrawn from the internet. That took their DNS server off line. As we noted, people couldn’t even get into buildings at their headquarters, or access the servers to straighten out the problem! A Twitter post from a Cullen (@cullend) said ‘Lmao. Friend at Facebook Confirmed they ended up bringing in a guy with an angle grinder to get access to the server cage.’ I can’t verify that, but have heard that there weren’t any physical keys, so this would make sense why the delay getting back online was so long. Pro tip to Zuck: allow a few senior IT people to have physical keys, and put in physical locks on that server cage!

Yubico makes a number of hardware security keys, which can be quite handy for the sites you use that work with those things. Now, TechCrunch.com says they have rolled out the YubiKey Bio, which has a fingerprint biometric identifier to further secure your info. It might even be considered 2.5FA instead of 2FA, or 2 factor identification. It will work across macOS, Windows and Linux machines. YubiKeys also support open security and authentication standards — FIDO U2F, FIDO2, and WebAuthn protocols — so they work on Macs, iPhones, Windows PCs, and Android devices, as well as apps and services that support FIDO protocols out-of-the-box. It’s not priced that much higher than most of the YubiKeys…coming in at $80 for USB-A and $85 for the USB-C model. 

Redfin is teaming up with venerable security firm ADT (the name of which was originally American District Telegraph- they’ve been around 140 years!) Geekwire.com reports that a new program called the Direct Access program will enable a buyer to tour a home without a realtor. They will be able to unlock the door via an app and connected smart lock. The Direct Access program already has been in operation, allowing realtor-less home buying. ADT will keep the owners posted about entries and exits to the property, and will shoot a photo of every person who enters, monitor when doors are open or closed, and report unauthorized entry. Redfin pays for the service, and the buyer will keep the ADT lock, sensors, and security panel. They can buy a 36 month monitoring contract from ADT for $28.99 a month. 

Well this is all well and good, a couple of notes. First, realtors always work for the seller…that’s who pays their commission. That said, they like repeat business, so will also look after the buyer’s interests at least to a degree. Realtors and their firms know the ins and outs of the 4-6 inch stack of documents you sign at closing, too, and can help guide that (along with the escrow company.) Having done a few deals, and having had a mentor in law who had worked for a major bank’s real estate department, I would suggest you hire your own realtor or a real estate attorney anyway. Homes are crazy expensive, and are the biggest thing you will ever buy. Spend a buck or two to make sure you don’t get screwed!


Facebook Freaking About WSJ & 60 Minutes Reveals; New MacBook Pros Soon; TikTok-Big Growth But Still Big Losses; Chip Shortage Will Continue; Iron-Flow Batteries-Might Replace Lithium-Ion

Facebook had gone into something of a crisis mode after the past week’s Wall Street Journal expose, and now that’s magnified by the appearance last night on 60 Minutes of the whistleblower, who passed a giant cache of internal documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The whistleblower, Francis Haugen, said in the interview that the company was more concerned about profits than the safety of its users…despite saying otherwise. She claimed that they adjusted the algorithms used right before the election to tone down hate speech and other toxic content, but then reversed those changes right after the election. Haugen noted that engagement means more profit to Facebook, and that it is easier to keep engagement levels up with more hateful, polarizing content. More engagement means more clicks on ads and more money. Interestingly, as I write this Monday morning, Facebook won’t load on my laptop, and the current news won’t load on my phone, either! (The outage involves Instagram and WhatsApp, too. It is still going on after over an hour.)

***Note: Facebook, IG, and WhatsApp came back online after over 6 hours. The platforms were still a bit wonky, though.***

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says Apple is still on track to release the updated MacBook Pros with some version of their in-house designed M1 chip in the next month. According to macrumors.com, Gurman thinks it will still be an October event…although it could slip into early November. No one knows what the chip will be yet…M1X, or M2, but it will be a big boost in power, and more ports will be available…including a return to the mag safe charging port. Apple is widely expected to drop a 14 incher to replace the 13 inch Pro, and retain a 16 inch size. 

TikTok continues to grow, but is still losing buckets of money, as the Chinese company tries to scale up their workforce to deal with the increases in users. CNBC reports that the platform claimed 55 million users in 2018, and as of summer, is up to some 700 million. While they took in over $170 million last year, a bump of 545%, expenses also jumped…from $118 million in 2018 to $644 million last year. A lot of that is due to staffing…the platform grew from 208 in 2019 to almost 1300 last year. The ByteDance owned platform believes growth isn slowing already, in part due to competition from Facebook and Snap. 

Most prognosticators have been saying the chip shortage should ease next year. Now, it appears that it is going to stubbornly hang around a bit longer. Zdnet.com says we could not only be seeing continuing shortages, but that prices won’t really ease much. At best, the rate of increase in prices will taper off. For chip makers, it looks rosy…Gartner predicts they will have a 27% increase in revenue next year. The auto business will continue to hurt, due to their using older chips that manufacturers really aren’t wanting to produce in increased quantities…preferring to sell more profitable newer chips that are going into PCs and mobile devices. 

A company out of Oregon, ESS, is working on a new battery project for Spain. It involves 17 of ESS’s long-duration warehouse iron flow battery systems for a hybrid project. Interestingengineering.com reports that it will be storage for a solar farm. The tech is superior to litihum-ion in that iron is plentiful, and the company claims unlimited numbers of deep-cycle charging and discharging. In addition, there is much less risk for fire and explosion. The iron flow battery packs have a 20+ year life span…compared with 7-10 years for lithium-ion. The iron flow battery systems don’t degrade over that time either. Stay tuned, this could be a big deal in time. 


Amazon Robot ‘Dog’ & Flying Drone Bow; YouTube Bans ALL Content With Vaccine Misinfo; Netflix Reveals Top Shows & Movies; Twitch Adds Phone Verified Chat

Amazon unveiled several gadgets yesterday, including a robot ‘dog’ and their flying indoor drone that was announced last year. Theverge.com reports that the robot dog, dubbed ‘Astro,’ rolls around on wheels, has a screen on the front with a couple of eyes (and sometimes eyebrows), and includes a 42 inch periscope cam so you can check if the stove got left on or maybe even peer out a window. There is a little cupholder on the back that can hold 2 drinks, which can be switched out for a small shelf. The Alexa powered robot can recognize faces and is capable of mapping your house so it can be told to go to a particular room (no stairs.) The display can show info when you ask Alexa, too! You can get on the list (by requesting an invite) to get one for the princely sum of $999! One tech observer wondered if you would have sex in front of Astro….which does, of course, have cameras built in! Better flip the little robs-critter off!

Also shown was the Ring Always Home Cam. This is the little flying drone cam that can scout around your house on a preset path, or a trip can be triggered manually. It then returns to its dock to recharge. It won’t be able to record video when docked, or fly up and down stairs or be directed remotely…which Amazon claims is for security and privacy reasons. Something I thought of…not unlike the nooky in front of Astro issue…what if you have cats? After initially being freaked out by the noise, that little drone cam will seem more and more like a little birdie to cats. You may come home to find your $250 flying Amazon toy in pieces all over the floor! You can also request an invite to buy the Always Home Cam. 

YouTube haș finally banned ALL videos containing misinformation about vaccines which are currently approved and administered by local health authorities or the WHO. According to engadget.com, this will even include prominent anti-vaxxers like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. YouTube claims it didn’t move to ban all anti-vaccine content sooner is because it was focusing on COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. Facebook formally banned vaccine info in February, and has been putting a warning up for months on any post that mentions vaccines or COVID-19. 

Streaming companies have played viewership info about shows and movies pretty close to the vest. It’s been hard to know how many eyeballs they were getting compared to TV and cable…which have ratings…and movies at theaters…which, of course have ticket sales. Now, for the first time, Netflix has put out a list of its more popular TV shows and movies. Bgr.com says the info was revealed by co-CEO and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos during his talk at the Code conference this week. He even shared slides, one of which is reproduced here. Now, this only indicates people who watched the 1st two minutes of a show, and during the 1st 28 days of release…so the numbers aren’t exact, but they are the first of any kind we have had. 

Twitch has announced it is adding new channel-level security features to help curb harassment on the platform. Techcrnch.com reports that creators and moderators can now enable verified chat, which will require participants to verify their phone and/or email before they can send messages. The settings are opt in, and can be toggled to enable verified chat for all accounts, first-time chatters, those under a certain account age or ones that haven’t been following the streamer for a chosen amount of time. Creators can access these new settings by navigating to Dashboard → Settings → Moderation. Moderators can do so via “Manage Moderation Settings” in Chat.


Facebook Will Release Some Research on Tweens & Instagram; Amazon Web Services Starts $40 Million Initiative on Health Inequities; Ford to Build EV Truck Plant & 3 Battery Factories; FCC Dropping $1.9 to Eliminate Huawei & ZTE Gear in US

Ten days after the Wall Street Journal put out an investigative piece on how Instagram affects teens who use it, Facebook has not only paused development on its ’tweens’ version of the platform. Now, in addition, the online giant will release a couple of internal slide decks detailing its research into how Instagram affects teens’ mental health. Engadget.com reports the decks should be made public in the next few days. Despite this, and the ‘pause’ in the children’s version of Instagram, an number of Members of Congress are still calling for Facebook to kill the program entirely. Last month, the company released a report on “widely viewed content” on its platform. The report was meant to rebuff criticism that News Feed favors polarizing content. But researchers outside the company quickly poked holes in the report, and said it was emblematic of Facebook’s larger transparency issues, particularly when it comes to working with outside researchers.

Amazon Web Services is launching an initiative to the tune of $40 million (in credits and tech support) over the next 3 years to help organizations working to enhance health and reduce inequities in care. According to geekwire.com, Amazon’s  VP of worldwide public sector at AWS Max Peterson released a statement regarding the funding. “Applying modern technology to health systems is not a silver bullet to ending health inequity,” said Max Peterson, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide public sector at AWS, in a statement. “But it can speed health research and innovation, level the playing field for accessing care, help deliver trusted information to people when and where they need it, streamline supply chains, and more.” This program will not replace, but will run in parallel to the one Amazon started last year to support COVID-19 diagnostics research and development. 

Ford has announced 4 plants in the march towards electric vehicles, indicating that they plan to ‘go big or go home.’ The New York Times says Ford will build two battery plants in Kentucky and another in Tennessee, plus a Ford electric truck plant in Tennessee. The total cost is $11.4 billion…of which $4.4 billion will be kicked in from battery partner SK Innovation, with Ford putting up the other $7 billion. The plants will employ an additional 11,000 workers. The vehicle facility will have at least some union jobs. Top pay for a UAW worker at a Ford plant right now is $32 an hour. “I think the industry is on a fast road to electrification,” Ford’s executive chairman, William C. Ford Jr., said in an interview. “And those who aren’t are going to be left behind.”

The FCC has released rules for small carriers to tap into a $1.9 billion fund to replace network equipment from Huawei and ZTE. Zdnet.com reports that the carriers will need to have less than 10 million customers. New equipment installed will have to have speeds of over 200 kbps for both upload and downloads. The ‘Federal Cookie Co.’ will allow replacement with LTE or 5G in place of older gear that is becoming obsolete. 


Google Cutting its Take From Cloud Software Sales; Apple-Fix Coming for Watch Not Opening iPhone 13s; 53% of Software Will be Subscription in 18 Months; Elder-Friendly Tech Market Expanding

Google is making a big cut to the cash it keeps from the sales of software from other vendors that take place over its cloud services. CNBC notes that the cut is from 20% all the way down to 3%! This follows Google cutting the percentage it keeps from purchases on the Play Store back in July. that cut was from 30% down to 15% for the first $1 million in revenue a developer earns yearly. Apple has also made a similar cut in the App Store, as has Microsoft….they chopped the percentage they take on game sales through its Windows app store from 30% to 12% in August. 

Earlier this year, Apple rolled out a neat fix for people wanting to open their iPhone with FaceID, but who were wearing masks. If you have an Apple Watch and are logged in (which if you are wearing it and using it, you are), you can look at the phone screen, and the Watch will open it for you. I use this all the time when shopping as I put my lists on the phone instead of an old-fashioned piece of paper. iPhone 13 buyers started getting the new phones on Friday, and surprise! It doesn’t work. (It does work on older iPhones, even with iOS 15 installed.) Now, engadget.com reports that, over the weekend, Apple promised to have a bug fix to correct the issue out ASAP…although they didn’t give a time frame. Face it…the lat few years, Apple has been no better than any other company about releasing software that is effectively still in beta. 

If you still stubbornly cling to the Steve Jobs model of ‘buy it and it’s yours,’ you won’t be happy with this. (Raises hand.) Venturebeat.com says there is a report from Revenera Monetization Monitor that predicts that 53% of software companies plan to move to a subscription model in the next year and a half. The subscription model (think MS 360) works well for organizations, but for the individual that say, wants to write or open a few Word documents a month, it will be a terrible deal. Software companies say that the goal is ‘aligning pricing and value.’ Right now, they claim that is the case only 30% of the time. 

Who saw geezer tech as a growth market? According to vox.com, there are a lot more products out and on the way to join the simple dumb phone with giant display and numbers called the ‘Jitterbug’ we’ve all seen in ads. One that is something one an enlargement on the Jitterbug concept is the ‘GrandPad.’ The makers have tested it on people from 80 to 104 years old! The tablet comes with preloaded games…bingo, solitaire, and sudoko. It has a ‘jukebox’ music app that plays plenty of pre-oldies…that is, big band, classical, music of the ’40’s, and also has photo albums, address books, and video calling ability. All the apps have giant-sized icons and large text. You can pick up a GrandPad for GrandDad (or Grandma, or whomever) at Target for $200, or buy it at Best Buy or online at grandpad.net. The price is right, but the subscription fee is steep….$40 a month. Another senior friendly gadget is one out of Israel called ElliQ. Think of an Alexa device with b.s. empathy programmed in and AI. Instead of ‘Would you like to listen to music?’, it will ask ‘Would you like to listen to music together?’ Ok, a little creepy. 


Clubhouse Does the Wave; Facebook Shareholder Suit; Laser 3D Chicken; Switch Expansion Pack

After the feature was leaked last week, Clubhouse is officially launching a new way to invite people to audio chats called “Wave.” The company announced the news at a surprise town hall yesterday and has enabled the feature today for all users on iOS and Android. According to theverge.com, with Wave, you can invite friends to a live audio room just by tapping a waving hand emoji. Once they receive their invitation, they can choose to join your call and immediately get added to an audio room. 

In a newly unsealed lawsuit, Facebook shareholders allege that the company intentionally overpaid a $5 billion Federal Trade Commission fine to protect CEO Mark Zuckerberg from further government scrutiny.” The Washington Post reports that Zuckerberg, Sandberg, and other Facebook directors agreed to authorize a multi-billion settlement with the FTC as an express quid pro quo to protect Zuckerberg from being named in the FTC’s complaint.

Creative Machines Lab at Columbia Engineering has developed a system of software-controlled lasers to cook food with precision. Arstechnica.com says engineers at Columbia University have also figured out how to simultaneously 3D print AND cook layers of pureed chicken. We’re one step closer to the Star Trek replicator. To quote Captain Picard: ’TEA-Earl Gray-Hot.’ 

Nintendo is rolling out a new membership plan for Switch Online, and it’ll unlock a library of classic Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis titles. The Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription tier will go live in October. According to engadget.com, Nintendo has not shared pricing details yet, but the company says more information is coming soon.