What I think is funny in this market is that most people can look at two companies, see the difference in their performance, and not learn the fundamental lesson. The core magic is this: having someone who is running the company who both understands the technology and understands either the customer's current needs -- or how to manipulate customers to need what you make. [More...]
Tech Billionaire Thiel Aims to Justify His Trump Support Peter Thiel, one of the few well-known Silicon Valley figures who has given Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a public endorsement, on Monday reiterated his support at a National Press Club event in Washington. He prefaced his remarks with a disclaimer. "Nobody thinks his comments about women were acceptable," Thiel told the gathering, referring to Trump. [More...]
Conspiracy Theories in the Information Age, Part 1 One of the most volatile conspiracy theories in recent times ended with a whimper last month, when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made the terse statement, "President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. Period." Though birthers may be with us always, it seems many have turned their attention to other potentially scandalous topics -- and they need look no further than the Internet. [More...]
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Tesla wants to provide your roof, your power and your car, and Vine's emotional farewell is like Google Reader redux but slightly less nerdy. All that and more in The Daily Crunch for October 31, 2016. And Volvo's self-driving cars are dressing up as normal ones for their first Halloween.
One of the biggest barriers to entry for solar is still aesthetics, or so thinks Tesla founder Elon Musk. That's why his company spent so much time and engineering effort on creating a new kind of solar panel that actually looks like and fully replaces a traditional roof tile. I was in LA last week looking at these directly, and I'll tell you – everyone present was completely fooled into thinking they were just ordinary (very nice looking) roofs, before Musk told us otherwise.
They'll probably cost an arm and a leg up front (cheaper than a traditional roof plus the cost of buying electricity from the regular grid, though, according to Musk) but being self-sustaining from a power perspective is an attractive purchasing incentive.
Vine's founders have already expressed regret about selling the company that Twitter announced last week it's going to shut down, but they're also already starting something new. Here's the thing: this new app Hype looks okay, mixing live video with stickers and stuff Snapchat-style, but Vine was never going to succeed long-term either inside of Twitter or on its own. It probably would've died a lot quicker without Twitter's support. I'm sure plenty of people will disagree but I'm not wrong. If anything, Vine staying independent just would've slowed down the arrival of Instagram video because Facebook wouldn't have seen any need to copy.
Social media sharing is great, but nothing will replace the symbolic power of a physical image. Adding a real-life touch to mobile images, MILK Design Studio will bring timelessness to your pixel-perfect images. Learn More…
Dark web – you know the term but do you know what it means? In case you don't, there's now a handy explainer from TC's Kate Conger. Basically it's a bad place but it has some good parts too, so learn about those.
Smartphones may explode but you still have to live for tomorrow, and that's what Samsung is focused on. The company is mentally focused on the Galaxy S8 now that the Note 7 is officially done and dusted, and it's already talking up new features including an advanced AI, which sounds like it's probably going to come from Samsung's recent acquisition of Viv Labs, the startup created by Siri's original architects.
Presented with robots driving themselves, humans are likely to take advantage of the situation by driving like jerks – or at least it looks like there's a strong possibility they'll do that. Hence Volvo's decision to not mark its pilot autonomous vehicles destined for road tests in 2018 in London. Smart move, given what happened to Hitchbot.
Creating creative computers: This past week saw the introduction of two new computers with core features designed with creative professionals in mind. Microsoft revealed its surprising Surface Studio all-in-one desktop PC, and Apple made the first significant hardware design change to the MacBook Pro since around 2012.
The Surface Studio was unveiled on Wednesday, and Apple's new MacBook Pros were debuted Thursday. The Surface Studio featured a 28-inch, fully touch-enabled display. The MacBook Pro also used touch in a starring role, as the interaction method for its new Touch Bar, a thin OLED screen that replaces the function row of keys and changes its available uses based on what software you're using.
It was probably the most explicit acknowledgement yet that traditional personal computers are now specialist devices, made for a small group of users who can't do everything they need to do in terms of computing on a mobile device or a tablet. And it was a look at what both Apple and Microsoft believe are the priorities of that group in terms of being able to get that specialist work done.
Microsoft's Surface Studio looks like a graphics professional's dream – that 28-inch display can actually display multiple color gamuts so you can check what the final product will look like on various end-user computers, and the articulating angle lets you use it at a perfect drafting table incline with Surface Pen and Surface Dial. It's not portable, and it's $3K, but the same is also true of Wacom's top-end Cintiq 27QHD drawing tablet – and that's just a display, not an actual PC.
Meanwhile, Apple's MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is the thinnest, lightest and smaller MacBook Pro ver made, yet it also has what looks like Apple's best display, including support for the P3 color gamut. And while it doesn't have touch or pen input on the display itself, that Touch Bar will offer a lot of flexibility for things like advanced photo and video editing workflows, including allowing fullscreen editing with an even more unobstructed view of what you're working on.
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Both of these computers have clear trade-offs and limitations you can see out of the gate: Apple has done away with all ports except for four Thunderbolt 3, which use the USB-C physical port design and which can provide power (both ways), drive up to four 4K displays simultaneously and transfer data with blazing speed. But that means adapters and new cables, and the lack of conveniences like being able to plug SD cards from a camera directly into your computer, for instance.
The Surface Studio's starting price is its main barrier to entry: At $3,000 for just the base model, it's likely only going to appeal to a very specialist crowd – and one that would not prefer a PC with a more powerful graphics card capable of VR or very heavy video editing workflow instead of a screen with direct input.
Ironically, even as the need for computers among average users is increasingly satisfied by mobile devices, the diverse needs of the remaining pros aren't any easier to address with one single design. In fact, they might be more fractured than ever, as evidenced by the very different approaches taken by Apple and Microsoft with both their all-in-ones and their notebooks.
Both the new MacBook Pro and the Surface Studio are compelling, opinionated takes on what the future holds for desktop and notebook computers, and the mixed response to each on social media reflects the boldness of these choices. But they both signal that whatever comes next for the increasingly niche category of PCs, it's an exciting time to be in the class of user that still needs and uses these devices.