Things Are Not Gong Well for Facebook's Cryptocurrency

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Facebook cryptocurrency has lost a number of big-name backers in recent times. Reuters reported on the problems facing Libra, and looked at where the project might go next.

PayPal (PYPL.O) started the Libra Association exodus this month, leaving Facebook without the backing of any major payments firms for the project, due for launch by June 2020. Libra said this month it would give details after the meeting of the 1,500 “entities” that have indicated “enthusiastic interest” to take part in the project. Members will review a charter and appoint a board at the Libra meeting, which will be held in Geneva, the Wall Street Journal reported this month. A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to enquiries on the meeting of the Libra Association, whose remaining members include Vodafone (VOD.L) and ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft.

Custom 5G Apple Modem has Goal of 2022 Release

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Reports say that Apple has moved its timeline for a custom 5G Apple modem to 2022.

It won’t be easy. In fact, bringing a new modem to the finish line in two years is really pushing it, my source said. After all the design work is done, and the fabrication of the chips themselves is underway, an arduous testing and certification process still awaits.

Right now I think 5G is overhyped and even the previous rumor of a 5G iPhone in 2020 didn’t make sense.

iOS 13.2 Will Let You Delete Your Siri Audio History

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The latest Apple betas like iOS 13.2 have a feature that lets you delete your Siri audio history in settings.

In addition to offering an explicit opt-in, Apple has promised that only employees, and not contractors, will be involved in reviewing the audio clips. However, this doesn’t stop the automated text transcriptions of your Siri requests from being transmitted to Apple, irrespective of whether you opt-in or -out, although they will pseudonymized and dissociated from your Apple ID. What’s more, these transcripts could be reviewed by employees and contractors.

I’m glad that Apple is adding this feature, and given its privacy stance I’m surprised it’s a feature we don’t already have.

Looking Ahead to the 2020 iPhone

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I know. You’re only just getting used to your new iPhone 11. But Lisa Eadicicco at Business Insider is already looking at what comes next for Apple.

Among the biggest changes that’s expected to come with Apple’s 2020 iPhones is the introduction of a more sophisticated three-dimensional camera, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Debby Wu. Such a camera system would include a laser scanner to create 3D replicas of the real world, boosting the iPhone’s augmented reality capabilities. With the new 3D camera, the iPhone would be better at placing virtual objects in augmented reality and would offer enhanced depth perception, according to Bloomberg. Apple’s iPhones have supported augmented reality applications for years, and the company made its first big push into AR when it launched ARKit in 2016 — a set of tools to help mobile developers build high-quality AR apps.

Harry Potter Takes Over Times Square With Immersive Experience

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Harry Potter

The producers behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child put together an immersive experience that took over Times Square. Fifty-one screens celebrated the play’s expansion into international markets, AdWeek reported.

The producers of Broadway’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, in partnership with entertainment advertising agency AKA NYC, recently put that to the test with a Times Square takeover that used 51 towering screens to promote the play’s expansion to new international markets and reveal its new tagline: “Sometimes, Darkness Comes From Unexpected Places.” The project required the cooperation of eight digital display companies, creating a nearly 360-degree panorama of moving visuals. As attendees watched, a timer counted down to reveal Harry Potter, but the bright and golden imagery was soon clouded into darkness as dementors arrive and herald the ominous return of the Death Eaters via the play’s time-traveling plotlines.

Your Kids' Photos Power Surveillance Technology

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Kids lining up against the wall with smartphones

The New York Times has a nice feature out today about how a mother found photos of her kids in a machine learning database.

None of them could have foreseen that 14 years later, those images would reside in an unprecedentedly huge facial-recognition database called MegaFace. Containing the likenesses of nearly 700,000 individuals, it has been downloaded by dozens of companies to train a new generation of face-identification algorithms, used to track protesters, surveil terrorists, spot problem gamblers and spy on the public at large. The average age of the people in the database, its creators have said, is 16.

I can’t imagine the gross feeling you get when you see your kids in a database like this.

Apple Selling Lumos Matrix Urban Smart Bike Helmet

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This is a bike helmet with a difference. Connect it to the Lumos apps on your iPhone and Apple Watch and you can activate turn signal indicators on the helmet. It also has integrated lights and automatic warning lights that are similar to brake lights. Oh, and it makes you a lot more visible. Apple is selling it for $249.95.

Apple Selling Lumos Matrix Urban Smart Bike Helmet

NASA Aiming For Manned SpaceX Mission in Q1 2020

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SpaceX Dragon

NASA is aiming for a manned SpaceX mission in the first quarter of 2020. NASA chief Jim Bridenstine made the announcement Thursday, Reuters reported.

The pronouncement of a revised time frame signaled NASA believes SpaceX is getting the Crew Dragon project back on track following an explosion during a ground test in April and technical challenges with its re-entry parachute system. Bridenstine said successful development of the capsule was key to achieving NASA’s top priority – the resumed “launching of American astronauts on American rockets from American soil” for the first time since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. The NASA administrator spoke to reporters at the end of a visit to the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, just outside Los Angeles, where chief executive Elon Musk led him on a tour of the sprawling manufacturing plant.