Monthly Archives: June 2016

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Come for the New Star Trek Beyond Trailer, Stay For Rihanna What the latest trailer for Star Trek Beyond lacks in new footage, it makes up for in Rihanna. A fair trade if ever there was one. Not that there’s nothing new at all new here. We’ve got Kirk’s captain’s log, and some fun shots of the Enterprise quite literally going down in flames. (The trailer’s also notable for what it doesn’t show us, namely Chekov, played by Anton Yelchin, who tragically passed away last week in a freak accident). Honestly, though, most of this is retread, especially if you’ve seen, say, any Star Trek movie ever before. What makes the trailer truly worth your watch, though, is its soundtrack: “Sledgehammer,” a Rihanna jam that breaks us out of the movie theme song doldrums. Scepter’s “Writing’s On the Wall” snoozer? Not great. The Ghostbuster reboot’s Fall Out Boy jam? Stay-Puft-Marshmallow-bad. […]

The Amazon Echo Is Winning the Race to a Screenless Future Amazon The Amazon Echo is an unlikely hit. After all, the world’s largest online retailer hasn’t always won its bets on hardware. (RIP, Fire Phone.) And a gadget that relies solely on voice? Let’s just say Siri hasn’t inspired confidence.Yet Amazon has by one estimate sold some 3 million of the squat cylinders since the Echo launched in November, 2014. The company doesn’t share sales data, but it did say Alexa, the voice-activated software that powers Echo, is active in millions of places, including smartphone apps and other Amazon gadgets. And this month the Echo surpassed more than 1,000 “skills,” or apps, after the company opened up the software developer kit last spring. This third-party enthusiasm could create a virtuous cycle where the more Echo does, the more it sells, just like the iPhone after Apple opened the App Store. Related Video Now You Can […]

 6 New Albums We Demand You Listen to Immediately Though 2016 has only barely hit the halfway point, it’s clear this is one of the most consistently thrill-inducing years for new music in a long time—and not just for the big-name, big-hype records that tend to monopolize the pop-culture conversation. Here are six recent releases—from big-country pop to smooth electronic tunes to hard rock—that deserve a spot on your summer must-listen lists.   White Lung, Paradise The most fiercely defiant lyric you’ll hear this summer comes courtesy of “Kiss Me When I Bleed,” a track that pops up about halfway through this Vancouver punk band’s sumptuous, savage fourth album: “I will give birth in a trailer/huffing the gas in the air,” howls a defiant Mish Barber-Way, as a careening riff tailspins underneath. Like every song here, it’s as sleek and jumbo as a territorial orca, and just as pissed-off, especially […]

 IBM’s Watson Lets You Talk to Your Self-Driving Car IBM What makes Olli, the car that’s now rolling through the streets of National Harbor, Maryland, important isn’t that it drives itself, that it’s electric, or even that Local Motors made it from 3-D printed parts. What sets Olli apart is its gift of gab.Upstart automaker Local Motors and IBM teamed up to create the autonomous van-like shuttle, which launches today, carries twelve passengers, and uses the tech stalwart’s Watson supercomputer to chat with passengers. That may seem a step down from fighting cybercrime, predicting the weather, and whooping human butts at Jeopardy!, but it’s a clever use of Watson’s cognitive speech capabilities to solve one of the more devilish problems blocking our path to a world of autonomous vehicles: How to make people trust them. As they ride around Local Motors’ facility a few miles down the Potomac from Washington, […]

Here are three scary reasons why LinkedIn sold to Microsoft for $26 billion LinkedIn’s stock was struggling, among other things.     LinkedIn is now “Microsoft-owned LinkedIn,” a distinction that cost Microsoft just a little north of $26 billion. In the deal, which still has to receive the expected regulatory approvals, Microsoft paid $196 a share, a 50 percent premium on LinkedIn’s $131 closing price on Friday. So why did LinkedIn sell, especially after CEO Jeff Weiner had long touted it as an independent entity? Here are three reasons why. LinkedIn’s stock was struggling. LinkedIn’s stock was down more than 43 percent since July of last year, and there wasn’t much reason to believe it would regain that value anytime soon. Clearly, Weiner and LinkedIn’s board agreed, starting talks just after its troubled February report in which the company had lowered its forecasts. Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $196 a share, […]

A Disapproval Matrix of Billionaires Ruining the Media 520 Design Never pick a fight, the saying used to go, with anyone who buys ink by the barrel. That was the press, back when journalism used actual, you know, presses. Can you imagine?! Then, nobody needed ink anymore. We use bandwidth now—like, right now, if you are reading this, which you are, for now—and compete furiously for eyeballs, which would have been a disgusting thing to say 15 years ago. But all the way back to the barrels-full-of-ink days, one thing was true: If you were a wealthy person, you could buy your own press and influence your own news. For just about every example of a rich dude—really, it’s almost always dudes—who decides it’d be fun to run a news organization, another one is running one into the ground. The Thiel Disruption is a new wrinkle: how a venture capitalist […]

Facebook Messenger Finally Bridges the Great Emoji Divide facebook Like many couples, my wife and I sometimes use emoji instead of fully formed sentences when we text. Mostly, it’s a time-saver; when you’re already wrangling two toddlers, the last thing you want is to wrangle autocorrect as well.We have a problem, though, that’s about as first-world as it gets. She has an iPhone, and I’m on Android. This means that instead of complete messages, I’ll often get blank squares where my emoji library is incomplete. Worse, I’ll send an emoji of what looks like a smiley face on my phone that shows up as a grimace on hers. Communication is vital to any healthy marriage—so it’s unfortunate that our phones speak different languages.This week, Facebook Messenger took matters into its own chat, releasing 1,500 new emoji that are not only diverse in skin tone and gender, they’re also consistent across […]

A Disk of Dark Matter Might Run Through Our Galaxy Olena Shmahalo/Quanta Magazine In 1932, the Dutch astronomer Jan Oort tallied the stars in the Milky Way and found that they came up short. Judging by the way the stars bob up and down like horses on a carousel as they go around the plane of the galaxy, Oort calculated that there ought to be twice as much matter gravitationally propelling them as he could see. He postulated the presence of hidden “dark matter” to make up the difference and surmised that it must be concentrated in a disk to explain the stars’ motions. Quanta Magazine About Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent division of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences But credit for the discovery of […]

Techies Are Trying to Turn the NBA Into the World’s Biggest Sports League Eddie Guy In 2014, the Los Angeles Clippers were just getting used to being a good basketball team. After more than three decades of irrelevance—and only four winning seasons—they’d finally found that magic mix of talent and cohesion and had become a division-winning powerhouse practically overnight. But then they hit another roadblock: TMZ published a recording of the team’s owner, Donald Sterling, making racist comments.The scandal spread. Rumors began to swirl that the league would force Sterling to sell the team. Basketball in LA has long been associated with celebrity, and the names of A-list prospective buyers flew: Billy Crystal, Oprah Winfrey. Even boxer Floyd Mayweather reportedly expressed interest. And then, in May, Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, put $2 billion on the table. The sports business world greeted the news with something between befuddlement and […]

The Crisis in Flint Isn’t Over. It’s Everywhere. At his home near Kearsley Park, on the east side of Flint, Michigan, Tony Palladeno Jr. grabs his keys and a pair of 1-liter medical-grade plastic bottles—one full and one empty. He filled the first yesterday, with slightly cloudy water from his own tap. To fill the second, he strolls a few doors down to a two-story home he once rented out. The place looks move-in-ready, with new windows, fresh trim, and crisp beige siding. But it’s vacant, just like three other rentals Palladeno owns on this block. Some of his tenants moved out in the winter of 2015, after much of the city’s municipal water turned murky, reeking like swamp muck. Others stuck it out a little longer, even when the city issued boil advisories (E. coli in the water) and a notice about high levels of trihalomethanes, a carcinogenic byproduct […]