The 7 great features that will hopefully return to the MacBook Pro

I miss the old MacBook Pro. Remember when the MacBook Pro had a good keyboard? Or an SD Card slot? Or an escape key? I miss the time when the MacBook Pro was 2mm thicker than the current version but had a full-size USB port.

Remember the wonder of MagSafe? Or the glory that was using a MacBook Pro outside because of the matte screen? Remember when the power adapter for Apple’s laptops had little fold-out tabs to hold the cord? There was also a time that a random brush of the keyboard wouldn’t trigger Siri. There was a time when Apple made great laptops and there is now. Yesterday Apple announced an upcoming event where the company will likely release new laptops and iPads. These are some of the features TechCrunch writers hope return to Apple’s notebook computers.

Escape Key

The Touch Bar is clever. I like it most
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The companies behind Affinity and Procreate aren’t worried about Photoshop on the iPad

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Adobe announced its plans to bring a full Photoshop app to the iPad this week, and the news was received with mixed reactions. While some people are looking forward to having a more robust version of Photoshop on their Apple tablets, others were unmoved by the news, having already adopted other editing tools for the iPad. Apps including the Affinity suite and Procreate have already established themselves as reliable (if not better) Photoshop alternatives, and, most importantly, they can be bought through a one-time purchase rather than a subscription. While developers say they welcome the competition, history indicates that their reliance on one-off purchases could mean they’ll struggle to survive in the long term.

Affinity Photo and D...

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Elon Musk’s Teslaquila is actually a good idea

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“Teslaquila” started as part of an April Fools’ Day joke — a troll holiday celebrated only by amateurs and engineers. (Amateurs usually aren’t funny and engineers have a very specific sense of humor. But as engineer humor goes, “There are many chapters of bankruptcy and, as critics so rightly pointed out, Tesla has them *all*,” is pretty damn funny.)

Anyway, Musk posted a photo of himself propped up by a Model 3, saying he’d been...

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Apple Watch embraces USB-C with new charging cable

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Continuing its move towards embracing USB Type-C, Apple has released a charging cable for the Apple Watch that uses the new connectivity standard, via Apple Insider. Using the new charger means you’ll be able to charge Apple’s wearable by plugging it into a modern MacBook, or any other laptop that’s made the switch to the more slimline port.

The new charger costs $29 / €35 / £29 with a cable that’s 0.3-m long. There’s no mention of a longer 1-m or 2-m variant being available like you can get with the USB Type-A charger. Charging time and power delivery are unlikely to be affected given that the induction charger appears unchanged.

The release comes just over a week before Apple is expected to release a new iPad Pro on October 30th...

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Oppo O-Free review: the $100 AirPods for Android

     <p id="z5wNxk">There are <a href="https://www.theverge.com/this-is-my-next/2018/8/3/17645534/best-wireless-earbuds-airpods-jabra-samsung-sony-anker">a lot of wireless earbuds</a> on the market at this point, but none have quite matched the experience of Apple’s AirPods yet. The combination of well-designed case, excellent battery life, and seamless software (with iOS, at least) makes them the wireless earbuds to beat.</p>

Almost every competitor has aimed to take on the AirPods indirectly by focusing on their weak points — the one-size-fits-most-ish design and the lack of sound isolation. Oppo’s new O-Free earbuds, however, go further than any other in attempting to play Apple’s game. These are the closest thing you can get to the AirPods-on-iOS experience without owning an iPhone, with similar hardware design and sleek software integration.

They’re not quite as good,...

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Botnets adapt in wake of Twitter crackdown

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Twitter botnets are having to adapt their behavior in the wake of the platform’s crackdown. NBC News reports that on Thursday the platform suspended hundreds of accounts acting in a network to tweet messages of support for Saudi Arabia in the wake of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Experts quoted in the report said that the bots operated in a way that allowed them to “fly under the radar” to avoid Twitter’s bans.

Turkish investigators have claimed that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents associated with the Saudi prince Mohammad Bin Salman during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Saudi government vehemently denies these allegations, and it’s this version of events that the botnet was amplifying. Twitter...

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Four short links: 19 October 2018

PDF to Data Frame, Clever Story, Conceptual Art, and Automatic Patch Synthesis
  1. Camelot -- Python library that extracts tables of data from PDF documents, returning them as Pandas frames.
  2. STET -- short story told via footnotes, editorial markup, and more. Magnificent! (via Cory Doctorow)
  3. Solving Sol -- interpreting a conceptual artist's art as instructions, reframed as an AI problem. Clever!
  4. Human-Competitive Patches with Repairnator -- Repairnator is a bot. It constantly monitors software bugs discovered during continuous integration of open source software and tries to fix them automatically. If it succeeds to synthesize a valid patch, Repairnator proposes the patch to the human developers, disguised under a fake human identity. To date, Repairnator has been able to produce five patches that were accepted by the human developers and permanently merged in the code base.
Continue reading Four short links: 19 October 2018.

How WhatsApp is undermining Facebook’s war on election interference

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About a month ago, the New York Times revealed the existence of a conference room inside of Facebook devoted to fighting election interference. But this was no ordinary conference room ... this was a war room. Then under construction, the war room promised to provide a hub for all of Facebook’s efforts to fight election interference around the world. At the time, I mentioned that I would be amenable to visiting the war room, should an opportunity ever present itself.

Reader, it did.

On Wednesday morning, I joined a couple dozen or so other reporters at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, and after an introductory briefing about the purpose of the war room, got to poke my head inside:

On one hand, the war room is just one of many...

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Funderbeam CEO to talk about disrupting startup funding at Disrupt Berlin

Startup funding hasn’t changed much in the past decade. Funderbeam is an interesting company trying to turn everything upside down using a marketplace approach, a modern syndication system and a blockchain-based platform. I’m excited to announce that Funderbeam founder and CEO Kaidi Ruusalepp will come to TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

The first boom of venture capital of the 1980s changed everything in the tech industry. Countless of tech startups managed to get funding, grow and make money down the road. Without venture capital firms, some of the biggest tech firms out there just wouldn’t be around. Arguably, convertible notes and accelerators turned startups into a mainstream phenomenon. It became much easier to get seed funding and some sort of mentorship. But it hasn’t changed much since then. Funderbeam has some ambitious goals as the company wants to change everything by adding more transparency and liquidity into private funding. Funderbeam combines multiple
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You can now preorder the iPhone XR

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The iPhone XR, Apple’s new lower-priced iPhone option that starts at $749 for a 64GB model, is now available to preorder online (apple.com or the Apple Store app) or by walking into an Apple store. It comes in six different colors, including black, white, red, yellow, blue, and coral. Just for the iPhone XR, Apple’s selling a clear case for the first time, so you can show off the new colors while still protecting the glass back.

The iPhone XR offers a lot of the same specs as the iPhone XS, namely the same A12 Bionic processor and primary camera, but has a 6.1-inch LCD screen instead of an OLED screen. It also doesn’t have 3D Touch, nor the secondary telephoto camera and the stainless steel frame of the iPhone XS and XS Max, but it does...

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Jane.VC, a new fund for female entrepreneurs, wants founders to cold email them

Want to pitch a venture capitalist? You’ll need a “warm introduction” first. At least that’s what most in the business will advise.

Find a person, typically a man, who made the VC you’re interested in pitching a whole bunch of money at some point and have them introduce you. Why? Because VCs love people who’ve made them money; naturally, they’ll be willing to hear you out if you’ve got at least one money maker on your side. There’s a big problem with that cycle. Not all entrepreneurs are friendly with millionaires and not all entrepreneurs, especially those based outside Silicon Valley or from underrepresented backgrounds, have anyone in their network to provide them that coveted intro. Jane.VC, a new venture fund based out of Cleveland and London wants entrepreneurs to cold email them. Send them your pitch, no wealthy or successful intermediary necessary. The fund, which has so
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E-moto startup Alta Motors reportedly powers down

Brisbane, California based e-motorcycle startup Alta Motors has ceased operations, TechCrunch has confirmed. 

Earlier today Asphalt and Rubber — and several subsequent outlets — reported the company stopped operating this morning, fired its staff, and may be looking for a buyer. Alta has yet to comment on the situation. “As of this morning I no longer represent Alta Motors so I’m not in a position to speak on it,” a former Alta Motors spokesperson told TechCrunch on background when asked about the shutdown. “I forwarded your request for more info to the board, and they’ll have to comment,” said the former comms rep. Alta’s head office has not respond to requests for comment. The EV company specializes in producing dual-sport and high performance electric powered off-road motorcycles. The startup had raised $45 million and counts Tesla co-founders Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard among its investors. Alta made news in
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The space pen became the space pen 50 years ago

Everyone knows about the space pen. NASA spent millions on R&D to create the ultimate pen that would work in zero gravity and the result was this incredible machine. Well, no. In fact it was made by a pen manufacturer in 1966 — but it wasn’t until October of 1968 that it went into orbit and fulfilled its space pen destiny.

The pen was created by pen maker (naturally) Paul Fisher, who used $1 million of his own money to create the AG-7 anti-gravity pen. As you may or may not know, the innovation was a pressurized ink cartridge and gel ink that would deploy reliably regardless of orientation, temperature or indeed the presence of gravity. He sent it to NASA, which was of course the only organization reliably worried about making things work in microgravity, and they loved it. In fact, the Russians started using it shortly afterwards, as
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Tesla is now selling a cheaper Model 3 with a 260-mile battery starting at $45,000

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Tesla has announced a new mid-range version of the Model 3, one that’s cheaper than the long-range version that Tesla’s exclusively sold up until this point. It’s still not the $35,000 base model that’s been delayed until 2019. But the new mid-level option offers 260 miles of range and starts at $45,000.

The new option, which CEO Elon Musk tweeted about this afternoon, is built with the same battery back as the 310-mile long-range Model 3, but uses fewer cells, which accounts for the lower price and shorter range. Now, instead of a top range of 310 miles on a single charge with a top speed of 145 mph and a 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, the new model gets you 260 miles on a charge with a top speed of 125 mph and a 0-60 mph of 5.6 seconds.

A...

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Verizon’s Pixel 3 won’t work on other carriers unless activated on Verizon first

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The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones being sold by Verizon will not support SIM cards from other carriers unless they are first activated on Verizon’s network. A Verizon spokesperson confirmed this to The Verge, pointing to a new policy that the carrier implemented earlier this year to dissuade thieves from targeting its own retail stores and those of authorized resellers.

Once a Pixel 3 (or any of Verizon’s other current phones) is activated, the carrier will automatically unlock the device “overnight” that same day, according to the company. So there’s not much of a wait to get around this, but there is a wait all the same. Remember that Verizon is the exclusive carrier partner in the United States. So your only alternative — and the one...

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Vape flavors can make nasty new chemicals in your e-liquid

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We hear a lot about how the ingredients in vape juice might be bad for us: the nicotine is addictive, for example, and the flavorings could be bad for lungs. But new research says that there are chemicals in e-liquids that we didn’t even know to worry about, because they form in the e-liquid bottle or pod after all the ingredients are mixed together.

Scientists have discovered that cinnamon, vanilla, and cherry flavors react with propylene glycol, a main ingredient in many vape juices, to create entirely new chemicals, according to a study published today in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research. Those same chemicals carry over into the vapor that people inhale, the new study says. Early investigations led by Sven-Eric Jordt, a...

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Knotch launches Blueprint to help marketers find the best publishers of sponsored content

When I last wrote about Knotch, the company had just patented its color-based feedback system that helps advertisers measure the effectiveness of their sponsored content.

Since then, it’s added a competitive intelligence product and now Blueprint, a tool for marketers who want to find the best topics, formats and partners to reach their desired audience. Lara Vandenberg, Knotch’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, told me that agencies had been asking the company to recommend of which publishers to work with, so Blueprint is meant to meet that need. She described it as both “this ultimate content planning product” and as “a predictive matchmaker for brands as content becomes so much more of a focus.” To accomplish this, she said Knotch is scouring the web for sponsored content, then automatically identifying elements like content, themes and trends. Knotch Blueprint Marketers can then access this data by browsing through
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Tech reckons with Saudi cash after journalist’s brutal murder

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Last week, news surfaced that Saudi Arabian officials were suspected to have killed US journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly torturing and dismembering him inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Across Washington, officials are now discussing ways to penalize the country for the killing, whether through sanctions or other methods. But that reaction could create unexpected problems for US tech companies, which have received billions in investment from Saudi Arabia in recent years.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has poured money into American tech companies both directly and indirectly, as part of an initiative to diversify the country’s oil-dependent economy. It’s called Vision 2030, and the Saudis hope to invest at least $2 trillion...

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