AT&T Launches 5G Friday; VW EV-300 Mile Range; Tech Still City-Centric; Massive List of Netflix Secret Categories

AT&T will roll out 5G service in a dozen US cities Friday, becoming the first carrier to get the new higher speed cell service up and running. According to axios.com, there’s a catch (of course.) The service will only be available by mobile hotspot…with 5G capable phones not due out until next year. The blindingly fast service will initially be available in Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Raleigh, N.C.; San Antonio; and Waco, Texas. In the first half of 2020, AT&T said it plans to add service in parts of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif. The hot spot isn’t cheap…$499 with data service running $70 a month for 15 Gigs of data.

With the present US Administration looking at relaxing regulations to help out the oil and coal industries moving to make gas vehicles cheaper, the car makers can see the writing on the wall, and all are going full throttle toward electric vehicles. Engadget.com reports that VW’s I.D. EV will give you 300 miles of range on a charge, and will sell for the price of a modern Golf diesel, which ranges between $24,000 and $32,000. The ID will be unveiled next year, and be out by 2020. VW says they will have a Tesla-like ordering system, where you can ‘build’ your car online, and get it spec’ed out like you want it, within the parameters of offered options.

With both Amazon and Google announcing big expansions into the New York City area and near Washington, D.C., and Apple announcing a new facility that will make them the largest employer in Austin, TX, a new study is out showing…surprise…tech continues to be even more concentrated in major cities. Geekwire.com says a study by the Brookings Institution shows that the top 10 cities producing the biggest share of digital services account for 44.3% of ALL tech jobs. Nearly half the new tech jobs between 2015 and 2017 were in the top 10 cities…and just FIVE cities captured 34% of all new digital services job growth: San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. At least when it comes to jobs, the digital divide between urban and rural areas is continuing to widen, and shows no amount of slowing.

So, you REALLY want to Netflix and chill. How about an absurdly long list of secret categories spanning Action and Adventure to Zombies…and some really random stuff in-between…like Dramas Starring James Earl Jones or Campy Independent Action and Adventure. Here’s the link…and be patient for loading, it really is hundreds of categories! https://bgr.com/2018/12/18/best-netflix-series-top-10-secret-categories/

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Facebook Messenger Autoroll Ads; Disney Sweetens Fox Offer; Uber EV Incentive; EU Internet Copyright Vote

 Well, people are going to love this. Facebook is starting to put autoplay video ads in Messenger.. Recode.net says they appear in the inbox right next to messages from friends and family.  The company has complained of late that they were running out of room in the main Facebook app for ads, so are moving on to Messenger and also Marketplace, their quasi-Craigslist. Facebook does say they will be monitoring how the ads are received, and peoples’ behavior, to see if they turn people off. Note to Facebook…you’re not Stan Freeberg or a major creative ad shop, so they probably will! 

 The battle over content and eyeballs has heated up. Disney is making a $70.3 billion counterbid for Fox’s entertainment businesses following Comcast’s $65 billion offer for the company. The fight for Twenty-First Century Fox reflects a new imperative among entertainment and telecommunications firms. They are building up ever more programming to better compete with technology companies such as Amazon and Netflix for viewers’ attention – and dollars. The deal would include Fox film and TV studios, some cable networks and international assets, but not Fox News Channel or the Fox television network.  AT&T just bought Time Warner for $81 billion, after a federal judge rejected the government’s antitrust concerns.  Disney had made a $52.5 billion all-stock offer in December. It’s now offering $38 per Twenty-First Century Fox share, up from $28 per share. Who knows if Disney or Comcast will win, but we can definitively say that Rupert Murdoch will be the real winner!

 Uber has launched a pilot program to encourage drivers to start using electric vehicles. the program runs in 8 cities in the US and Canada, including San Francisco. According to mashable.com, the EV Champions Initiative includes a number of features…including one in the driver app that helps combat range anxiety, a key issue with electric cars. Uber has already alerted drivers of rides that will run over 45 minutes before they accept…for EVs, that will be dropped to 30 minutes. Other incentives include a buck or $1.50 back per electric ride, and free access to fast charging networks. Earlier this year, arch competitor Lyft set its EV and environmental goals, including a billion carbon neutral rides by 2025. 

 While Wall Street and the world worry about trade war, now there’s another issue creeping up that may drastically change the internet as we know it. AN EU Parliament committee has voted to make content providers to filter for copyright infringement. While the Article 13 rule still has to be agreed on by representatives from the EU’s 28 governments before becoming law, this vote reduces the chances of serious changes. Over 70 experts…including Tim Berners-Lee who invented the World Wide Web and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales have said this will turn the internet into’a tool for the automated surveillance and control’ of it’s users. Theverge.com notes that such talk sounds like hype, but the rule would essentially be something of a YouTube Content ID for the entire internet. Internet platforms would have to filter uploads for copyright infringement.


iPhone X Production Picks Up; VW May Do e-Beetle; Daimler Looks to Hydrogen for Data Centers; Xbox One S Black Friday Bargain

It sounds like Apple’s suppliers have the kinks worked out, and production is really ramping up on iPhone X. Appleinsider.com says Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting 26 million of the hero handset with the OLED screen will be out during the holiday quarter. The KGI Securities maven also says Apple will cut back production of the iPhone 8, which is being cannibalized by the X. The 8 Plus, on the other hand, is outselling it’s smaller brother…a first.

There’s been great buzz about VW making a new electric Micro Bus. Now, engadget.com reports that they may build and electric Beetle. They have already been experimenting with a rear wheel drive hatchback e vehicle, the ID…which cranks out the equivalent of 168 horses, and has a 370 mile range. The VW board of management hasn’t voted on it yet, but are expected to release 15 e models…let’s hope one is an e-Beetle!

Daimler, parent of Mercedes, has been experimenting with hydrogen fuel cell cars since 1980. Now, they are teaming up with HPE Power Innovations to keep server farms running. According to engadget.com, they will build ‘micro-grids’ inside data centers. With the fuel cells, the centers can run on solar or wind power, but be able to make it at night or when it’s calm without firing up diesel generators to tide them over. The Fuel cell can run as long as there’s hydrogen, and the byproduct is environmentally friendly water vapor.

If you’re going to be in the market for an Xbox One S or another one, Microsoft has just announced a price drop to $189 for the 500 gig model with a free game for Black Friday. Theverge.com says that’s 10 bucks cheaper than a 1Tb Slony PS4 Slim without game.


Samsung Clones ‘Jet Black;’ HTC May Leave Smartphone Biz; Amazon’s Clarkson Show Has Big Debut; Electric VWs to be Made in USA

In the past, when Samsung has just plain poached Apple ideas and designs, it’s been a big hit for them. (It’s also hit them in the wallet sometimes, as Apple has sued and won.) Now, Samsung is going to clone Apple’s hot “Jet Black” color. According to bgr.com, they aren’t even waiting for the Galaxy S8….they will roll out Jet Black S7 models as soon as next month. Hey, it’s hard to get sued for using the same color!

HTC has made some really cool phones, and I have several friends that have had them and loved them. They haven’t really caught fire…figuratively…not in the Galaxy Note 7 way, however. Digitaltrends.com says rumors are flying now that HTC will bail out of smartphones completely by this coming spring. They have quietly been shopping the division around, but nothing so far. It wouldn’t be out of the question for Google to snap them up, since the success of the new Google Pixel phones.

Yesterday, Netflix snarked that Amazon hadn’t really paid $160 million to produce their ‘Top Gear’ type show titled ‘The Grand Tour,’ saying it was more like $250 million. The show, starring Jeremy Clarkson, and his former Top Gear colleagues, debuted Friday. It was the biggest premiere ever on Amazon Prime Video, according to businessinsider.com, eclipsing ‘The Man in the High Castle.’ Not only that, it was the top rated show on IMDB with a 9.6 and got 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Amazon says it got the second most one day sign ups for Prime ever last Friday. Sounds like a hit!

Volkswagen says they will begin building electric vehicle models in North America,and even the US by 2021. Techcrunch.com picked up a report from Automotive news, citing VW brand lead Herbert Diess. Vee Dub will also build large SUVs and limos here. The Mexico factories will also crank out EVs for the North American market.