San Francisco is set to ban Juul and other e-cigarette sales in 2020


This post is by Mary Beth Griggs from The Verge - All Posts


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San Francisco officials just banned the sale or distribution of e-cigarettes in the city unless they have FDA approval. The ban, which also affects some flavored tobacco products, adds to restrictions that the city put in place on flavored e-cigarettes last year — already considered to be the strictest in the country according to The New York Times. Cigarettes remain legal.

Once it goes into effect in early 2020, the new San Francisco ordinance will forbid tobacco shops in the city from selling e-cigarettes that haven’t been approved by the FDA. It also bans “the sale and distribution to any person in San Francisco of flavored tobacco products and electronic cigarettes that require, but have not received, an FDA order approving their…

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Drive.ai is reportedly shutting down after deal with Apple falls through


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Drive.ai, a self-driving startup that was once valued at $200 million, is shutting down, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company filed notice with a state agency this week indicating its intention of closing permanently and laying off 90 employees.

The decision to close shop was made after a reported acquisition appeared to fall through. Three weeks ago, Apple was said to be in talks to buy Drive.ai, which was founded in 2015 by machine learning researchers from Stanford University and had been running a ride-hailing service with its autonomous shuttles in Texas. The deal could have resulted in dozens of Drive.ai engineers joining the tech giant’s secretive Project Titan, which has gone through…

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Faraday Future fires dozens of employees on unpaid leave


This post is by Sean O'Kane from The Verge - All Posts


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Sputtering electric vehicle startup Faraday Future has fired dozens of employees who have been on unpaid leave for months, including manufacturing workers hired to staff the company’s factory in Hanford, California, The Verge has learned. The workers received benefits during this furlough, which started in late 2018, and it had already been extended once already. But the newly-fired employees will see those benefits expire on June 30th, according to termination paperwork provided by a former employee who was granted anonymity due to a nondisclosure agreement with the company.

In addition, Jeff Risher, Faraday Future’s vice president of product, technology, and IP strategy, left the company earlier this year, The Verge has learned….

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Facebook may let you turn off obnoxious in-app notification badges


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Facebook is making an effort to make its countless eyeball-grabbing elements less distracting with a new test of notification customization. According to app researcher and reverse-engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong, Facebook is currently testing the ability to turn on and off the red notification dots, known as badges, that you get for individual tabs of the company’s mobile app. That way, if you don’t really care much for Watch or groups, you don’t have to stare down yet another bright red badge number demanding your attention.

According to TechCrunch, this is a global test on iOS and Android. “We are testing new ways to give people more control over the notifications they receive in the Facebook app,” a Facebook spokesperson told…

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Israeli team will no longer send a second spacecraft to the Moon


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Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL has announced that it will abandon plans for a second moonshot after a crash landing in its original mission earlier this spring. At the time, the company said it would make a second attempt to land on the Moon, but a tweet from its official Twitter account today say that the team will instead continue to build the spacecraft Beresheet 2 for a different objective.

The original Beresheet made its…

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Target is offering 30 percent discounts on in-store pickups for select games


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If you’re thinking about buying a game for your Nintendo Switch, PS4, or Xbox One, you’ll save 30 percent on several titles at Target when you opt to pick it up in store. For context, this deal brings Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a $59.99 game, down to $38.10. Games like The Division 2, Team Sonic Racing, Kingdom Hearts III, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and more are also included in the sale.

It’s worth noting that this discount only works on products that your local Target store has in stock. And, if video games aren’t your thing, this order pickup sale extends to board games, too.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The Moto Z4 is half of its usual price at Best Buy for Verizon users who are opening a new line, or…

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Big Tech’s problem is its lack of competition


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According to Recode editor-at-large Kara Swisher, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest problems right now is its lack of competition. That big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have become too dominant and have thus stifled competition and creativity.

Here is a lightly edited excerpt of Kara Swisher and Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel discussing the importance of competition and the possibilities of breaking up the tech giants that rule the land.

You can hear this and more in the latest episode of The Vergecast.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Nilay Patel: One of the major themes at the Code Conference this year was antitrust break-ups. My connection between those two things is pretty simple….

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Airbnb now offers exorbitantly expensive home rentals as part of new luxury push


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Airbnb is expanding its rental options today to include some of the priciest and most luxurious accommodations on the planet. The new tier, called Airbnb Luxe, is designed for customers interested in spending more than $1,000 a night on thoughtfully designed, massive private homes with scenic views and top-of-the-line amenities.

“Airbnb Luxe is built on the deep expertise in luxury travel Airbnb gained from its acquisition of Luxury Retreats in 2017. This new tier launches with more than 2,000 handpicked homes around the world, each one passing strict evaluation across 300-plus criteria to meet standards in both design and function,” reads the company’s blog post on the announcement. Airbnb says the homes must have “elevated design…

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Steam’s 2019 summer sale discounts popular games like Devil May Cry 5, Soulcalibur VI, and more


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Steam’s annual summer sale has begun, and it’s a great time to save on several popular (or not-so-new) PC games — if you can get the store to load. As far as the new-ish releases that are looped into the sale, Soulcalibur VI for $19.79 is the best price yet for that game, according to SteamDB’s pricing data.

Devil May Cry 5 is a good deal, too, costing $39.59 instead of $59.99. Other stellar discounts include Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for $29.99, and Astroneer for $22.49.

The sale incorporates a quirky community-driven component called “Steam Grand Prix” that’s full of quests you can complete by playing games on Steam. As you complete them, you’ll nudge your team’s car toward the finish line. The first, second, and third place winners…

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So you watched Neon Genesis Evangelion — now what?


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So you watched all 26 episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion and the End of Evangelion movies on Netflix, but now you aren’t sure what to watch next. The good news is that in the more than 20 years since Evangelion originally aired, it’s become a seminal work of anime, and it inspired a lot of different animators, writers, and directors. They’ve built off what the series did, finding different ways to explore similar ideas in their own works.

One of Evangelion’s strongest themes is about people making connections with each other. So much of the series is about the characters talking to each other but not really communicating. They struggle to convey what they’re feeling in meaningful ways and to be open with each other. (The series’s AT…

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Starz’s new series The Rook lacks the magic of the book it adapts


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The world of Daniel O’Malley’s 2012 novel The Rook is a weird place. The Checquy — a secret wing of British intelligence comprised of elite bureaucrats, people with supernatural powers, and at least one vampire — protects the UK from harpy attacks, excavates buried dragon eggs, and deals with neighbors complaining about loud chanting happening next door. Most of the book is dedicated to the organization’s fight against a group of Belgian mad scientists who previously invaded England with an army of monsters made by manipulating flesh and bone.

Unfortunately, none of that flavor has made it into Starz’s adaptation of The Rook, which debuts on June 30th. While it’s understandable that the network didn’t want to spend the money needed to…

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Popular YouTuber Desmond ‘Etika’ Amofah found dead


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Desmond Amofah, a popular YouTube personality known as Etika who created Nintendo-centric videos, was found dead, the New York Police Department said today. The NYPD had been searching for Amofah since he went missing last week after posting a video discussing suicidal thoughts.

The NYPD first confirmed Amofah’s disappearance as a missing person’s case on June 20th, approximately 36 hours after Amofah uploaded an eight-minute video to his secondary YouTube channel, TR1Iceman, voicing suicidal thoughts. The video was later removed by YouTube for violating the company’s community guidelines. It has since been reuploaded by other people. Police later discovered Amofah’s belongings on the side of the Manhattan Bridge on Saturday night, as r…

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How to spot the best deals during Amazon Prime Day 2019


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Amazon Prime Day 2019, the two-day shopping extravaganza held exclusively for Amazon Prime subscribers, starts Monday, July 15th at 12AM PT / 3AM ET, and ends on July 16th at 11:59PM PT / 2:59AM ET. There will be thousands of deals to check out across every product category on Amazon’s massive online storefront, and some of these discounts will be the best you’ll see until Black Friday.

Part of Prime Day’s fun comes from buying things that you didn’t expect to buy and maybe didn’t budget for. Based on last year’s Prime Day, there will be new Lightning Deals every few minutes of the 48-hour stretch, and they’ll often be pretty good products, too.

More careful buyers, who don’t want to break their budget purchasing everything that looks…

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Alienware co-founder leaving Dell, rumored to become AMD’s first chief gaming officer


This post is by Vlad Savov from The Verge - All Posts


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<em>Frank Azor (right) at CES 2019.</em>

Frank Azor, the co-founder and public face of Alienware as well as the longtime overseer of Dell’s gaming and XPS divisions, has revealed that he’s departing his current position on July 3rd. Having been with Alienware from its inception 21 years ago, Azor announced he is taking on a new challenge with a message of thanks on the Alienware community board.

Wccftech has caught wind of Azor’s likely destination, with its source indicating that he is about to become AMD’s first chief gaming officer, reporting to Sandeep Chennakeshu, who’s the recently appointed vice president in charge of the computing and graphics business group at AMD. When reached for comment by The Verge, Azor declined to elaborate on his departure message and didn’t…

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Twelve South’s new HiRise Wireless charger tries to compromise between flat and stand designs


This post is by Chaim Gartenberg from The Verge - All Posts


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Twelve South is cutting the cord with the HiRise Wireless, a new version of the company’s HiRise iPhone stands that (as the name implies) adds wireless Qi charging to the mix.

But what makes the HiRise Wireless stand out is a clever trick Twelve South is adding, allowing the main wireless charging pad to pop out of the stand, letting you also use it as a flat wireless charger (for things like AirPods, or simply for those who just prefer that form factor) or even throw it in a bag to take on the go.

I’ve had the chance to try out the HiRise Wireless for a few days, and it mostly holds up to that promise. The puck is easy to detach from the stand, although attaching it took a few tries to get it to stay…

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YouTube looks to demonetization as punishment for major creators, but it doesn’t work


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When YouTube wanted to punish political pundit Steven Crowder amid widespread outcry over his homophobic comments, its first move was to disable Crowder’s ability to run ads on his videos. The punishment was meant to revoke a key source of income, presenting a strong incentive for Crowder to change his behavior. But Crowder didn’t care, “This really isn’t that big of a ding for us,” he said.

Crowder sells T-shirts, hats, stickers, and subscriptions for more videos through his website, which is where he’s indicated most of his channel’s money comes from. Selling merchandise and subscriptions through other platforms isn’t just a way for creators to make more money, it’s also a way for creators to insulate themselves from YouTube’s…

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Microsoft’s new OneDrive Personal Vault protects a folder with 2FA


This post is by Tom Warren from The Verge - All Posts


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Microsoft is adding a new secured storage area to OneDrive where users can store more sensitive files. The new OneDrive Personal Vault feature will be protected by an additional step of identity verification, such as a PIN, fingerprint / facial authentication, or a two-factor authentication (2FA) code. If you store files in the new Personal Vault area, you’ll be prompted for an additional code each time you access them via the web, PC, or mobile devices. This secured area is designed for files like copies of passports, identification cards, or more sensitive personal financial information.

On Windows 10 PCs, Microsoft is using a BitLocker-encrypted area of a local hard drive to sync the Personal Vault files, and all OneDrive files are…

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Apple explored building a camera into the Apple Watch’s band


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Apple considered putting a camera in the Apple Watch’s band, according to a new patent spotted by AppleInsider. The design places an “optical sensor” at the end of the flexible Watch strap, allowing you to twist and turn it to get the photograph you need without having to contort your wrist.

For example, you can pull the strap upward to photograph what’s in front of you or fold it back on itself to take a selfie. One of the diagrams in the patent shows how the camera could swivel to take photos on either side of the band, while the patent also references having a band with two cameras in “opposing optical directions.” Photos could be taken by “pinching the watch band” or using voice controls. When not in use, the camera could be tucked…

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Watch the full 26-minute Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order E3 demo


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Developer Respawn is giving Star Wars fans a deeper look at its upcoming story-driven video game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, after viewers came away from this year’s E3 conference somewhat confused about the type of game the studio is making. That means you can now watch the full 26-minute E3 gameplay demo that was previously only shown behind closed doors in Los Angeles earlier this month.

The goal, according to game director Stig Asmussen, is to help alleviate concerns that Respawn is making essentially an Uncharted-inspired linear action game. Instead, Asmussen says Fallen Order will include elements from a number of different RPG and action-adventure titles, most prominently, Metroid and Dark Souls.

Earlier this month, Respawn…

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