Google employees worldwide are walking out today to protest handling of sexual misconduct


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Employees are walking out of Google offices worldwide in protest today as a storm around the company’s handling of sexual harassment cases continues to gather strength. Organizers of the Google Walkout for Real Change tell The New York Times that more than 1,500 employees, mostly women, are planning to walk out from more than 60 percent of Google’s offices at 11:10AM as timezones roll around the world.

“We don’t want to feel that we’re unequal or we’re not respected anymore,” said Claire Stapleton, a YouTube product marketing manager, to the Times. “Google’s famous for its culture. But in reality we’re not even meeting the basics of respect, justice and fairness for every single person here.”

The walkout is already taking place in Asian…

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The new horror film canon (and where to stream it)


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For people with a lively interest in cinema’s rapid technolgical and cultural evolution over the past few decades, few areas are as fascinating as the horror genre. Just a few decades ago, horror films were mostly considered disreputable and schlocky. The field was dominated by cookie-cutter sequels full of masked slashers and low-rent monsters, and while many actors of note started out in horror, few willingly stayed there if they could get more prestigious work. Directors were another thing entirely, with a handful of dedicated genre enthusiasts, from George Romero to David Cronenberg, reliably cranking out memorable work — but they were usually the exception to the rule.

But rapid changes in digital effects, filmmaking, and…

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U.S. declines in internet freedom rankings, thanks to net neutrality repeal and fake news


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If you need a safe haven on the internet, where the pipes are open and the freedoms are plentiful — you might want to move to Estonia or Iceland.

The latest “internet freedoms” rankings are out, courtesy of Freedom House’s annual report into the state of internet freedoms and personal liberties, based on rankings of 65 countries that represent the vast majority of the world’s internet users. Although the U.S. remains firmly in the top ten, it dropped a point on the year earlier after a recent rash of changes to internet regulation and a lack of in the realm of surveillance.

Last year, the U.S. was 21 in the global internet freedom ranking — the lower number, the better a country ranks. That was behind Estonia, Iceland, Canada, Germany and Australia. This year the U.S. is at 22 — thanks to the repeal of net neutrality

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Internet freedom continues to decline around the world, a new report says


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Digital authoritarianism is on the rise, according to a new report from a group that monitors internet freedoms. Freedom House, a pro-democracy think tank, said today that governments are seeking more control over users’ data while also using laws nominally intended to address “fake news” to suppress dissent. It marked the eighth consecutive year that Freedom House found a decline in online freedoms around the world.

“The clear emergent theme in this report is the growing recognition that the internet, once seen as a liberating technology, is increasingly being used to disrupt democracies as opposed to destabilizing dictatorships,” said Mike Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, in a call with reporters. “Propaganda and disinformation…

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China’s Youon expands into Europe as other bike startups backpedal worldwide


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A little known Chinese bike company is riding into Europe as its peer Ofo has applied the brakes to its global expansion strategy in recent months.

Youon, which gets by manufacturing public bikes for city governments across China, has formed a joint venture with UK-based bike-sharing startup Cycle.land, it says in a statement. The deal allows the Chinese firm to sit back in its headquarters in eastern China while its British partner deploys its bikes and takes care of on-the-ground operation.

Youon’s fleet of 1,000 public bikes will start appearing in London next March, making the UK the fourth country in its international expansion after Russia, India, and Malaysia.

Youon’s name may not ring a bell, but its subsidiary Hellobike is increasingly turning heads as its dockless bikes win over users in China’s smaller cities where its larger rivals Ofo and Mobike lack a presence. This is in

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Tarform debuted new e-motorcycles but is there a U.S. market?


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With more failures in the electric motorcycle industry than going concerns and a contracting American motorcycle market, now would seem to be an odd time to launch a new bike into the EV arena. But Tarform, a new startup that unveiled its first vehicle last month in Brooklyn, is undeterred.

That’s despite the fact that the company will likely face an uphill ride selling its high-end, higher priced e-motos.

The EV upstart recently pulled the cover off its first e-motorcycles—prototype Café and Scrambler models at Brooklyn’s NewLab.

The 295 and 320 pound machines bring 7 kilowatt-hour (KwH) Lithium-ION batteries, 43 horsepower, a top speed of 93 miles per hour, and 92 mile city riding ranges.

With the debut, the New York and Stockholm based startup now moves into testing phase and taking orders for its first production electric two-wheelers, expected to manufacture by late 2019.

Before getting back to the

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Social Capital’s Chamath Palihapitiya says ‘we need to return to the roots of venture investing’


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In the first of many annual letters Chamath Palihapitiya will be penning as part of his firm’s new era as a technology holding company, the founder of Social Capital criticized the venture capital industry.

After highlighting the latest trends within VC — i.e. SoftBank’s Vision Fund, private equity activity in VC deals and inflated valuations — Palihapitiya divulged the asset class’s biggest problems. A copious amount of capital is flowing through the industry and VCs have an insatiable appetite for “unicorn status.” As a result, investors are paying more and more for equity in startups at all stages, hurting both startup employees and limited partners, who ultimately have to foot the bill.

“The dynamics we’ve entered is, in many ways, creating a dangerous, high stakes Ponzi scheme,” Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive, wrote. “Highly marked up valuations, which should be a cost for VCs, have in fact

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Twitter tests homescreen button to easily switch to reverse chronological


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Twitter is digging one of its most important new features out of its settings and putting it within easy reach. Twitter is now testing with a small number of iOS users a homescreen button that lets you instantly switch from its algorithmic timeline that shows the best tweets first but out of order to the old reverse chronological feed that only shows people you follow — no tweets liked by friends or other randomness.

Twitter had previously buried this option in its settings. In mid-September, it fixed the setting so it would only show a raw reverse chronological

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The EU plans to test an AI lie detector at border points


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Trials for AI lie detection at border patrol checkpoints are set to begin soon in the EU. The program, called iBorderCtrl, will run for six months at four border crossing points in Hungary, Latvia and Greece with countries outside the European Union, as reported by Gizmodo.

iBorderCtrl is an EU-funded project that uses AI in order to facilitate faster border crossings for travelers. The system has users fill out an online application and upload some documents, like their passport, before a virtual border guard takes over to ask questions. According to New Scientist, some of these questions include “What’s in your suitcase?” and “If you open the suitcase and show me what is inside, will it confirm that your answers were true?” Travelers…

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On bitcoin’s 10th birthday, JP Morgan CEO says he doesn’t ‘really give a shit’ about it


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JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon says he doesn’t “really give a shit” about bitcoin, his latest harsh comment on the popular cryptocurrency. Dimon spoke out about bitcoin yesterday at an Axios conference, after keeping silent for a period of time following an apology for calling bitcoin a “fraud.”

Last September, Dimon called out bitcoin in searing comments, added that, “It won’t end well. Someone will get killed.” But by January, he had backpedalled, saying that he regretted his comments and acknowledging that “the blockchain is real” technology. He kept quiet about the subject until August, when he again declared bitcoin was “a scam.”

Despite the CEO’s negative outlook on bitcoin, JP…

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GM looks to cut costs by offering buyouts to 18,000 employees


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General Motors has offered voluntary buyouts to 18,000 salaried employees in North America who have at least 12 years of experience, as the automaker looks to cut costs all while investing in its electric and autonomous future.

The company has described this as a proactive measure aimed at preparing for coming headwinds such as  slow sales in North America and China, commodity prices and tariffs.

But it’s just as much about preparing for the future. The company has been undergoing a transformation over the past four to five years, ditching expensive, money-losing programs like the Opel brand in Europe, and investing more into electrification and autonomous vehicle technology.

And it’s not wasting any time.

GM is giving these employees until November 19 to decide whether they’ll take the buyout offer. Those who accept will receive severance beginning February 1, 2019.

About 36 percent of the company’s 50,000 employees in North

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Watch this little robot transform to get the job done


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Robots just want to get things done, but it’s frustrating when their rigid bodies simply don’t allow them to do so. Solution: bodies that can be reconfigured on the fly! Sure, it’s probably bad news for humanity in the long run, but in the meantime it makes for fascinating research.

A team of graduate students from Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania made this idea their focus and produced both the modular, self-reconfiguring robot itself and the logic that drives it.

Think about how you navigate the world: If you need to walk somewhere, you sort of initiate your “walk” function. But if you need to crawl through a smaller space, you need to switch functions and shapes. Similarly, if you need to pick something up off a table, you can just use your “grab” function, but if you need to reach around or over an obstacle you need

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Some law enforcement drones are dropping out of the sky


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The U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority is cautioning police departments and other emergency services to suspend operations of a specific drone model after some of the devices lost power unexpectedly and fell while in flight.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) safety warning applies to DJI Matrice 200 series drones, used by some emergency services in the U.K. The failures were first reported by West Midlands police department, though law enforcement in Norfolk, Devon, Cornwall and the West Midlands also uses DJI drones. Devon and Cornwall have grounded two affected drones out of their fleet of 20, according to the BBC.

According to the CAA, “A small number of incidents have been recently reported where the aircraft has suffered a complete loss of power during flight, despite indications that there was sufficient battery time still remaining.” No injuries have been reported, despite “immediate loss of lift with the

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CBS is launching a standalone streaming network for entertainment news


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CBS continues to embrace online video streaming, introducing a second standalone network today that will be dedicated entirely to entertainment news.

According to TechCrunch, the new streaming network is called ET Live, and is a project from CBS Interactive and Entertainment Tonight, which is owned by CBS TV. The streaming service is free of charge, but supported by ads — meaning you’ll have to sit through ads just like traditional TV. Unlike the Entertainment Tonight television show, which runs for 30 minutes every weekday on CBS, ET Live will carry entertainment news 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This will include “breaking news, celebrity interviews, features, behind-the-scenes and red carpet coverage, plus trends stories across…

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Influencer marketing startup Mavrck raises another $5.8M


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Mavrck has raised another $5.8 million in funding, bringing its total raised to $13.8 million.

When the company raised its Series A back in 2015, it was focused on helping brands work with “micro-influencers” who were already using their products. Now it describes itself as an “all-in-one” influencer marketing platform, offering a number of tools to automate and measure the process.

Last month, Mavrck announced new features for Pinterest, where it’s now an official marketing partner. It also says it’s been doing more to improve measurement and detect fraud — on the fraud side, it promises to analyze a “statistically significant sample” of an Instagram account’s followers, and of the accounts that engage with their content, to determine if they’re bots.

Customers include P&G, Godiva and PepsiCo, and the company says recurring revenue has grown 400 percent year-over-year.

“Everything that we have done at Mavrck this year has

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Fitbit earnings beat expectations on strength of smartwatch sales


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Fitbit is slowly righting its financial ship, courtesy of a successful push into smartwatch category. The wearable company reported a profit (when adjusted for items such as stock-based compensation) thanks to growing sales in the new category.   

Total revenues rose slightly to $393.6 million in the third quarter compared with the same period last year. The company did report a loss this quarter under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). But it was rosier than in previous quarters and showed that Fitbit is moving in the right direction. Net losses narrowed considerably to $2.1 million from $113.4 million this time last year. A good deal of the company’s revenue is being driven by the shift to smartwatches, which now comprise around half of Fitbit’s total revenue.

It’s a gamble that’s finally starting to pay off for the company. Fitbit launched its first smartwatch in August of last

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10 scary podcasts to listen to in the dark


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As podcasting has matured as a medium, it’s grown to cover almost every genre and style imaginable, from old-school tech talk and true crime, to sci-fi and sobering historical deep dives. It’s also proven extraordinarily adept at horror, with both fictional podcasts and real-life tales offering a variety of scares, chills, and unsettling encounters. Much like traditional radio dramas, there’s a distinct intimacy to the format, one that allows talented storytellers to unnerve audiences with nothing more than sound.

For Halloween, we’ve collected some of the best and scariest podcasts to grace our smartphones. They might be brand-new shows, or long-running classics, but like a great horror movie or novel, each and every one is practically…

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Xiaomi doesn’t want Lyft using its electric scooters


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Xiaomi, the electric scooter manufacturer that a handful of the shared electric scooter services in the U.S. (like ones from Uber, Lyft, Spin and Bird) rely on, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Lyft. In the letter, obtained by TechCrunch, Xiaomi says it did not consent to associate its brand with Lyft.

Xiaomi alleges Lyft has referenced Xiaomi’s brand in its advertisements and other documentation referring to its shared electric scooter business.

“We also do not condone Lyft’s unauthorized modification or retrofitting of our electric scooters for general public use,” Xiaomi wrote in its letter.

If Lyft does not cease to use, purchase and modify its scooters, Xiaomi says it will pursue legal action against Lyft. Xiaomi also demands that Lyft must stop deploying its scooters “that have been modified without our consent in public scooter rentals.”

But Lyft says it has no knowledge of using Xiaomi’s trademarks in its advertising.

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Smart scares for smart people


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By now, filmmakers and game designers have jump-scares down to a science. All it takes to really startle an audience is a combination of unsettling music, a protagonist or avatar creeping up on something they probably shouldn’t approach, and a big blare of sound and something moving rapidly at the screen. The formula works just about every time, to the point where a painfully clunky horror movie like Rings can get away with startling audiences just by having an umbrella open up on-screen really, really loudly.

But good horror — the kind that gets in under the skin and really sticks with you over time — usually has a psychological element, some kind of hook that plays to real, personal fears. The best horror is intelligently constructed,…

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Snapchat’s PR firm sues influencer for not promoting Spectacles on Instagram


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Influcencer marketing could get a lot more accountable if Snapchat’s PR firm wins this lawsuit. Snapchat hoped that social media stars promoting v2 of its Spectacles camera sunglasses on its biggest competitor could boost interest after it only sold 220,000 of v1 and had to take a $40 million write-off. Instead Snap comes off looking a little desperate to make Spectacles seem cool.

Snap Inc comissioned its public relations firm PR Consulting (real imaginative) to buy its an influencer marketing campaign on Instagram . The firm struck a deal with Grown-ish actor Luka Sabbat after he was seen cavorting with Kourtney Kardashian. Sabbat got paid $45,000 up front with the promise of another $15,000 to post himself donning Spectacles on Instagram.

He was contracted to make one Instagram feed post and three Stories posts with him wearing Specs, plus be photographed wearing them in public at Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks.

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