January 28, 2021

Future Technology

As rioters stormed Capitol Hill on January 6, Theo—like many Americans—watched, dumbfounded and in horror.

Then he had an idea. “What if we went on social and started pulling these screenshots together and tried to go around and crowdsource [the rioters’] identities?” he remembers thinking.

So Theo bought a burner phone, set up a fake email address, and created an Instagram account over a VPN: @homegrownterrorists. Within hours, and before the FBI had issued its plea for help to identify rioters, Theo (a pseudonym for the account holder, who asked to remain anonymous because of death threats he has received) had gained hundreds of thousands of followers as he furiously posted images and video. Thousands of people were commenting on and sharing the images, with the goal of identifying the perpetrators. 

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Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The full pardon of Anthony Levandowski came out of nowhere.

In one of his final acts as President, Donald Trump early on Wednesday morning suddenly pardoned the engineer at the center of an iconic, litigious, and years-long conflict between Uber, Google, and federal prosecutors over the technology for self-driving cars.

Encouraged by some of his highest-profile backers in Silicon Valley, such as venture capitalist Peter Thiel, Trump issued the surprise full pardon to Anthony Levandowski, a former Google executive who had decamped to work for Uber. Levandowski was last year sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing trade secrets from Google that he then used to help Uber in the self-driving race.

The announcement came as a shock for several reasons: One was that the news that Levandowski was seeking a pardon had not previously been reported. Another was that it … Read the rest


One user reported losing 95% of their battery overnight using the case…

What you need to know

  • A new report says AirPods Max users are seeing wild battery drain overnight.
  • Reports suggest the problem is rampant despite the use of Apple’s included Smart Case.

New reports suggest that AirPods Max users are experiencing significant battery drain even when using the device’s Smart Case.

From AppleTips:

Unfortunately, the AirPods Max does not have a power button. More and more AirPods Max owners are complaining about battery problems. Users discuss the problem on Reddit , social media, Apple Support forum , and various forums . For example, the battery drains during the day without using the AirPods Max.

A Smart Case is supplied with the headphones , when you place the Max in the case, the energy saving mode is switched on and active connections are disconnected. In practice this does

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  • Google is working on a new storage feature that might be included in the Android 12 update set to launch later this year.
  • Called app hibernation, the feature will allow users to free up storage by having the system automatically hibernate unused apps.
  • The feature sounds a lot like the Offload Unused Apps iPhone storage feature that Apple announced a few years ago.

The newly launched Galaxy S21 comes without expandable storage support, a controversial move that Samsung pulled in the past. Back then, Samsung was quick to reinstate microSD to appease customers. But now, it might be different. Google’s Pixel also lacks microSD storage, as do the OnePlus phones. The Galaxy S21 wouldn’t be the first Android to lack a card slot. The difference between iPhone and Android handsets is that Android handset makers pack more storage for the cheapest model, regardless of whether the phone comes with microSD … Read the rest


As the world watched rioters take over the US Capitol on January 6, the lack of security was chilling. Some active police officers stood their ground but were outnumbered and defenseless. Other video showed an officer appearing to wave members of a pro-Trump mob beyond a police barrier; some were even filmed taking selfies with the invaders. 

Ahead of the inauguration, however, the government is responding with a show of force that includes ramping up surveillance measures that likely were not in place ahead of the riot.

Multiple surveillance aircraft have been tracked over DC in the last few days, according to data from flight-tracking websites ADS-B Exchange and Flight Aware and monitored by MIT Technology Review. A surveillance plane registered to Lasai Aviation, a contractor of the US Army, likely equipped with highly sensitive radar was logged circling Capitol airspace in a racetrack motion for several hours … Read the rest


Neil Godwin/Future Publishing via Getty Images

“Hey Google, don’t save any of my interactions with you.”

Open Sourced logo

If you have a smart speaker or smart device but aren’t thrilled with the possibility that your data — including your voice — is being collected and stored on it, Google Assistant might have an answer for you: Guest Mode.

Google is introducing the new feature to its smart speakers and displays today. It’s kind of like the Google Assistant version of Chrome’s Incognito Mode (though there are differences). Once Guest Mode is on, your interactions with Assistant won’t be saved to your account. But, as Google points out, you also won’t get the “full, personalized Google Assistant experience.” In Guest Mode, Assistant won’t say or show personalized results — for instance, anything from your contacts, calendar, or emails. But you’ll still have access to some of Assistant’s most popular features: the … Read the rest


CES 2021 has come and gone. Let’s talk about some of the highlights from the show.

Another week is behind us, as well as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021. It was an interesting one too, since it was the first time that CES was entirely digital. Regardless, there were some cool stuff that we saw from the show, and I want to highlight a few standouts that I’m particularly interested in.

First off, one of my favorite announcements was from OtterBox with its new Mobile Gaming Collection of accessories. OtterBox is a brand that is known for making highly durable cases for the best iPhone and other devices, and I have several OtterBox cases consistently in my iPhone 12 Pro case rotation. The new Mobile Gaming Collection includes the Easy Grip Controller Shell for your Xbox One or Xbox Series X controller. This shell covers everything except

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  • The “instant on” Xbox Series X and S feature saves about 10 to 15 seconds of waiting when starting up the console.
  • A report looking at the environmental impact of the instant on feature says US Xbox owners would consume up to an extra 4 billion kWh of energy through 2025 to take advantage of the feature.
  • Microsoft says the feature is not enabled by default, as Xbox owners can choose between instant on and energy saving modes when configuring the Xbox Series X and S.

The new Xbox and PlayStation consoles are all about speed. The Xbox Series X/S and PS5 generally feature similar hardware that will make possible new gaming experiences. It’s not just the processing power that has increased dramatically, but also the storage speed. Both consoles ship with high-speed SSD drives that will make loading screens a thing of the past. You’ll get into the action … Read the rest


At the height of California’s worst wildfire season on record, Geoff Marshall looked down at his computer and realized that an enormous blaze was about to take firefighters by surprise.

Marshall runs the fire prediction team at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (known as Cal Fire), headquartered in Sacramento, which gives him an increasingly difficult job: anticipating the behavior of wildfires that become less predictable every year.

The problem was obvious from where Marshall sat: California’s forests were caught between a management regime devoted to growing thick stands of trees—and eradicating the low-intensity fire that had once cleared them—and a rapidly warming, increasingly unstable climate.

As a result, more and more fires were crossing a poorly understood threshold from typical wildfires—part of a normal burn cycle for a landscape like California’s—to monstrous, highly destructive blazes. Sometimes called “megafires” (a scientifically meaningless term that loosely refers to … Read the rest


Marc Lore onstage at the 2019 Recode Code Commerce conference. | Keith MacDonald for Vox Media

Marc Lore, the founder of Jet.com, helped Walmart become the No. 2 online shopping site after Amazon.

Marc Lore, a serial entrepreneur who sold his startup Jet.com to Walmart for $3 billion and then oversaw the transformation of the retail giant’s e-commerce business over the last four years, is leaving his full-time role with the company at the end of the month, he told Recode.

His next big entrepreneurial swing will be something far afield from his current expertise: a multi-decade project to build “a city of the future” supported by “a reformed version of capitalism.”

“It’s a new model for society we’ll be testing,” he teased.

Lore declined to offer more details, but said he would be prepared to reveal additional information in the coming months. Some who have heard of the project … Read the rest