Amazon-Black Friday Month?; Tesla Summon Upgrade, Apple & iHeart Media Talks

Black Friday deals on Amazon are live now. This makes Black Friday, for all practical purposes on Amazon, Black November. Bgr.com reports that Amazon has fielded 4 different gift guides, and is touting Prime FREE same day delivery. Oh…and in case you really are celebrating Thanksgiving and cooking a turkey, you can reach the Butterball Turkey Talk Line using Alexa! Christmas trees? Yep, 6 and 7 foot Fraser Firs, Black Hills Spruces, and Balsam Firs. Trees over $25 ship free.

If the Summon self-parking feature isn’t enough for you, Tesla’s about to give it an upgrade. Elon Musk has Tweeted that a tweaked version will be out in 6 weeks, and it will allow vehicles to drive around parking lots, find empty spots, and read signs. According to engadget.com, (the) “Car will drive to your phone location & follow you like a pet if you hold down summon button on Tesla app.” As usual, the update will be pushed out over the air to Tesla Model 3, S, and X cars.

Talk about going for a lifeline…iHeartMedia is talking to Apple in hopes of bringing Beats 1 to US radio…and truckloads of Apple cash to the bankrupt media company. Venturebeat.com notes that the former Clear Channel still operates some 850 broadcast radio stations coast to coast. The media company is touting access to cars, kitchens, and exposure to a new audience for the Apple streaming service…and hints at exclusive music deals that might otherwise fall into Spotify’s lap. At this point, the talks are very preliminary, and are considered a long shot.

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Facebook Chat Cam For TV; Netflix Roars With Q3; Tesla Buys Factory Site in China; Helm Shows Personal Private Email Server

On the heels of introducing their Portal video devices, with the cams that follow you around the room, Facebook is working on one that will live on top of your TV and make it into a giant sized Portal. Engadget.com says it’s code named ‘Ripley,’ and is expected to bow next spring.

In not-so-cool news about Facebook, they had previously announced that the Portal devices wouldn’t be collecting your data as the devices live in your house and serve you ads. Well, that may be true, BUT they will be hoovering up your data on who you call, and what apps you use, etc, and THAT data WILL be used to serve you ads on Facebook and its other platforms. Recode.net notes that this shouldn’t be a shock, since Facebook’s entire business model is based on using tons of data about you to serve you ads. Oh…and all the video views they get and how we’ve heard that video is much more important than printed content…well that was basically a big lie. Hire back writers, media…the written word still grabs lots and lots of eyeballs!

Netflix blew away Wall Street expectations, picking up 6.96 million new subscribers in the third quarter, while the Street expected 5.3 million. According to businessinsider.com, Netflix made 89 cents a share, which was 21 cents more than analysts had expected. Netflix did warn that per share earnings would be down in the final quarter…as they will have to recognize money invested in licensing and developing movies and shows, especially its ‘Originals.’

Not wanting to miss out on the big Chinese market or have sales impeded by the Trump tariffs, Tesla has bought a 210 acre site in Shanghai to build a new factory…one that will make the batteries as well as the cars. Arstechnica.com reports that it is in the so-called ‘free trade zone.’ Tesla expects that in 2 to 3 years, they can be pumping out 500,000 cars a year from the factory, and will avoid having prices increase by 60% if the tariffs continue or increase.

Now, you don’t have to be a public figure or a security wizard to rock your own private email server. Now, there’s Helm, a gadget that looks like a peaked roof on a tiny doll house or a hardcover book sitting on its edges with the spine at the top…that makes it as easy to set up a personal email server as setting up an Amazon Echo. Mashable.com notes that with your own server, your email will be physically in your home, not in the ether on some cloud server somewhere…but it’s still accessible from anywhere. The gadget has 128Gigs of built in storage and has a tray that can add up to 5 TB more. It’s $499, but you’ll need their update service (for security updates) for $99 a year, too. The Helm has a security key…actually a physical, metal key that plugs into a port on the top. Even if someone got physical access to the server, without the key, all is encrypted. There’s a back up electronic key that can live on your phone. It’s comparable with any email client that works with IMAP mail, including Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and a number of others. The service will walk you through migrating cloud service mail like Gmail to the little box.


Waze Carpool Goes Nationwide; Tesla Outsold Mercedes Last Quarter; Apple Buys Photo Cutout Spektral; Microsoft Releases Fixed October Win 10 Update

Google’s Waze has been testing out a carpool app, and now Waze Carpool is going nationwide, as a way to connect drivers and commuters. According to techcrunch.com, they are particularly focusing on 50 Amazon Fulfillment Centers. Was plans to partner with cities, businesses, and transit agencies too. The app has been trialed in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Monterey. Waze points out that 75% of commuters travel solo in a car.

Waze Carpool differs from ride-hailing services. The app lets riders and drivers find their own carpool buddies based on profiles, star ratings, number of mutual friends, and customizable filters such as gender, co-worker or classmate, and proximity to preferred route.. The app is designed to show the best matches, such as those closest to a preferred route or a coworker on the same shift, at the top of the list. Payment is handled within the app. All new riders pay $2 for the 1st 21 days, and the app is on Android and iOS now.

Tesla may actually finally turn a profit before 2019. Apparently…according to Atherton Research…they outsold Mercedes in the uS for the first time ever, and were just 2,000 vehicles short of outselling BMW! Bgr.com reports that according to data crunched by Macquarie Research, Tesla may finally be finished burning through cash and may be profitable by year’s end.

Apple generally buys companies in a low key manner, and they recently picked up Spektral, a Danish startup that makes software that can digitally separate people and objects from the background. 9to5mac.com says the deal went down in December, but word has just leaked out now. The software lets photographers digitally ‘pluck’ a person…right down to stray hairs on the head…from one green screen type background and drop them into another. In fact, even better, it can pull a person right out of a moving picture without even needing a green screen…in real time! This tech can be amazing in Apple’s hands as they push the limits on Portrait mode photos and advance in AI applications.

Better news from Redmond…Microsoft says they have fixed the October Windows 10 update, and will re-release it today. Earlier in the month, some users reported that it deleted mass numbers of their files that couldn’t be recovered. Theverge.com reports that Microsoft claims it only happened to one hundredth of one percent of users, and only those who had activated Known Folder Redirection.


Amazon Announces $15 Minimum Wage; Tesla Model 3 Hits Numbers; Universities Go Contactless ID on iPhones; California’s Bot Law

Starting in November, all Amazon US employees will make at least $15 per hour. CNBC.com notes that the amazon announcement will cover some 250,000 staffers, including part time and temp employees, and even 100,000 seasonal employees. The online giant will also bump up some employees who are already making $15 per hour. Amazon is also going to start advocating for a federal minimum wage.

Tesla hit their Model 3 production goals for Q3, and the stock popped up over $300 per share. According to engadget.com, the electric car maker cranked out 80,142 vehicles in the third quarter, and 55,840 were Model 3’s. Most of the Model 3’s produced are dual motor, all-wheel drive…which are harder to produce, but vastly more popular.

In a move previewed at Apple’s WWDC this summer, the company has announced that students at 3 universities in the US can now add their student ID cards to Apple Wallet, and cruise around campus with only their iPhone or Apple Watch. Macrumors.com reports that the schools are Duke, University of Alabama, and University of Oklahoma. The gadgets have to be running iOS 12 in the case of phones, and Watch OS 5 for the Watches. They can use their phone or watch to pay for food or beverages in the student unions and cafeterias, and for access to dorms, the gyms, and libraries. Johns Hopkins, Santa Clara, and Temple will all add their school IDs to the Apple system by the end of this school year, too.

California has a new law that requires ‘bots’ to let you know they aren’t, in fact, people. Whether the automated accounts are trying to sell you stuff, influence you politically, or help you with customer service, NBC says the automated accounts have to disclose with ‘I am a bot’ or ‘Google Assistant, making calls on your behalf,’ or such. The real trick, of course, will be enforcing this against foreign ones like the army of Russian Twitter troll bot accounts. That may be the trick of the year!

Microsoft’s Surface event is at 4 ET, 1 Pacific today. We’ll have a recap later.


Go Pro Hero 7 Bows; Tesla Model 3-Five Star Safety Rating; 3,000 Amazon Go Stores by 2021; Amazon Hardware Event

After a leak, GoPro went ahead and officially announced the Hero 7 line of cams. They are in White, Silver, and Black versions. According to theverge.com, the new cams will be on sale September 27th, and range from $199 to $399. The pricey Black has 4K video at up to 60 fps, super slow motion, and features including live-streaming, a lapse mode, and ‘dramatically improved digital image stabilization.’ They are all the same form factor as previous models, so all your accessories should work with them.

Tesla’s Model 3 has been awarded a 5 star safety rating by the NHTSA in standard car tests. Reuters.com reports that the crash testing includes rollover safety as well as head on and side crashes. Previously, both the Model S and Model X had gotten 5 star ratings. The news bumped Tesla stock back up to $304 a share in early Thursday trading.

Amazon is ratcheting up its Amazon Go cashier-free stores from concept to more markets. Engadget.com says they are planning to have 3,000 of the grab and go stores open by 2021. There should be 10 by the end of this year, including New York and San Francisco, then 50 locations by 2019. Amazon looks to be focusing on dense metro areas for at least the first round of the stores that spare you standing in check out lines.

*Amazon will hold a surprise event at 11a Eastern today in Seattle to announce new hardware. Last year, they rolled out the smaller Echo Spot and Echo Plus. One strong rumor is an Echo subwoofer and a plug that allows you to add Alexa to any appliance you own.


Amazon Employees Deleting Bad Reviews; Microsoft May Field Black Surface 2; Fire at Tesla Gigafactory; US Leading in 5G

Amazon is investigating claims that some employees are deleting bad reviews for cash…from $80 up to $2000. According to arstechnica.com, it’s happening in the US but is ‘rampant’ in China.
Employees are allegedly also selling out info involving keywords used in searches for products and buyer habits. Most of the activity is facilitated by middlemen via WeChat. No comment from Amazon beyond that they are investigating.

Microsoft may have decided that black is the new black. Theverge.com reports that there may be a Black Surface Laptop 2 unveiled at the Surface event October 2nd. The original Surface RT came in a black magnesium alloy, but Redmond rapidly switched to a silver color for the Surface 2. Besides the Surface Laptop 2, Microsoft is expected to show ra refresh of the Surface Pro at their upcoming event in New York City.

There was apparently a fire at the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada late Saturday. Engadget.com sys it was in the cooling tube coating oven area. The factory was evacuated and shut down, but the fire was quickly dispatched. Production resumed early Sunday. It appears that the factory was only down a brief time, and that it shouldn’t seriously impact vehicle production at the plant in Fremont.

For years, the US has lagged in internet speeds while paying more. Now, the US may be leading Europe and Asia in one area of tech infrastructure…we may be getting 5G coverage faster. According to Ericsson’s VP of 5G Commercialization Thomas Noren, via ZDnet.com, the US has been able to iron out tech challenges and is ahead of the pack. South Korea is also further along than most other countries. You still shouldn’t expect 5G coverage to be very widespread much before 2020 in the US.


Tesla Getting Saudi Cash; Samsung Suspends in China; Apple ‘Inexpensive’ Notebook; Android 9 Pie Charging Issue for Pixel XL

A little more has slipped out about Tesla going private, and one particular item may appear to be a head scratcher….Tesla could be getting funding from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. According to engadget.com, they already have a 5% stake in Tesla, and would like more. Some are saying the Saudis look at it as a hedge against the oil business, but it could also be that they might someday look to Tesla’s battery and solar panel expertise to power the kingdom and even export electricity. Besides oil and sand, they do have an abundance of sunlight and open space!

On the heels of a pretty positive rollout for the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung is thinking of suspending operations at one of its plants in China due to sagging sales and increasing labor costs. Reuters.com reports that Samsung may shutter its plant in Tianjin. The smartphone market overall has been experiencing slow growth as it matures and becomes relatively saturated. Local Chinese competition has also whacked Samsung’s China penetration. 5 years ago, they had 20% of that market, now it’s less than 1%…with Huawei and Xiaomi undercutting them on prices.

Macrumors.com says Quanta will be building Apple’s upcoming ‘inexpensive notebooks’ in the 4th quarter of 2018. Of course, ‘inexpensive’ is relative when it’s Apple! The cheaper notebooks should drop in September or October, but it’s not clear if they will be branded MacBook, MacBook Air, or some entirely new name. While inexpensive notebook might mean a few hundred bucks for the likes of a Chromebook, Don’t look for Apple to put out one for much less than $999!

An issue has come up with the latest release of Android, version 9…dubbed ‘Pie.’ 9to5google.com reports that fast charging over USB-C seems to have been killed in the original Pixel XL phones. Reports vary…some have said the original charger that came in the box still works, but 3rd party ones don’t. Others have said replacements from the Google Store also don’t work. In a few reports, even the charger that came in the box won’t fast charge. So far, no comment from Google on the issue, including whether a fix is comi