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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Makes the Prequels More Relevant Than Ever

Flying in the face of fans’ expectations, Lucasfilm is using its new movies to make the prequels essential to the saga.
Source: Wired

How to Set Away Messages for Texts and Other Apps

Going on vacation? Set your “out of office” autoreply for your email, then try these hacks to do the same for texts.
Source: Wired

Alibaba doubles down on logistics with $1.4B investment in Chinese courier ZTO

Alibaba is doubling down on logistics after it led a $1.38 billion investment in Chinese courier firm ZTO Express alongside Alibaba logistics affiliate Cainiao.

ZTO went public on the NYSE in 2016 raising $1.4 billion from what was the year’s largest IPO in the U.S. The Shanghai-based company claims to be one of China’s largest logistics firms via a partner-based network. Its clients include Alibaba and rival e-commerce firm JD.com . There’s plenty more overlap between the two, ZTO CFO Huiping Yan previously spent two years working for Cainiao.

Alibaba, Cainiao and other undisclosed investors will buy around 10 percent of the company through the deal, which is expected to be completed in June. ZTO’s stock price closed at $17.30 on Friday (before the long weekend) which represented an all-time high since its IPO in October 2016, when it opened at $18.40 before dropping 15 percent on day-one.

The deal is focused on Alibaba’s ‘new retail’ version which merges e-commerce and offline retail. The idea is to marry the speed and ease of e-commerce with the advantages of brick and mortar, such as being able to touch and feel products and customer care. Alibaba has already introduced hybrid stores in parts of China, and fast logistics represents an important part of the plan.

Alibaba said in a statement that the investment will “deepen their collaboration” between ZTO, Cainiao and Alibaba.

“This investment will enable Cainiao and ZTO to supercharge joint innovation and development to accelerate digitalization of the industry,” Cainiao President Lin Wan said in a statement.

Cainiao was started in 2013 by Alibaba and eight other backers to bring organization in Chinese logistics, particularly around e-commerce deliveries. Last year, Alibaba agreed to pay over $800 million to take majority ownership in the business, which works closely with the Chinese firm’s business units and services to enable fast delivery. Cainiao is valued at around $20 billion based on its most recent fundraising activity.

Despite a large IPO, ZTO has attracted controversy. U.S. pension fund Birmingham Retirement and Relief System sued the business alleging that it exaggerated profit margins to lure investors to its listing in 2016. The company has denied the claims.


Source: TechCrunch

Kobo’s new entry-level Clara HD e-reader has a crisp, color-adjustable display

Kobo has announced a new e-reader, the Clara HD, which won’t set the world on fire but will be a perfectly good option for e-book readers who don’t want to spend a fortune. It basically revives the well-liked but discontinued Glo HD with a better frontlight and more memory.

The screen is 6 inches and 300 PPI, which is comparable to Amazon’s latest Kindles and high enough that you shouldn’t notice pixelation in the type. More importantly for some, it has the company’s improved frontlight, which can be dialed from the now-familiar cool LED tone to a much, much warmer one. There’s 8 GB of storage inside, more than enough for hundreds of books and comics — but no MicroSD card slot, which some do love to have.

I’ve been using the Clara HD as my daily reader for a week or so and I can vouch for the type quality and usual features — in terms of loading books onto the device, reading and navigating them, this reader is much the same as Kobo’s other ones.

The improvements are small basically because the Clara HD will likely replace the Aura Edition 2, which it outperforms by a huge amount, as the company’s entry-level device. At $130 it’s just $10 more than Amazon’s Paperwhite (the version with built-in ads, that is), but I’d go with the Kobo every time.

The simplicity of managing your books and articles on the Kobo is one selling point — I love being able to just drag and drop files like epubs and CBRs onto it like it’s a USB drive, and my Pocket articles jump onto it automatically.

And the color-changing light might help attract people who aren’t sure about the illumination they’ve seen in other readers. That cold blue tone can really put people off, and the ability to warm it up is great. If you’re like me you’ll find both tone extremes too much, then pick something in the middle and keep it there.

The design is nothing to shout about, but it’s quite light and thin and gets the job done — except for one nuisance that just baffles me. The power button is dead center on the bottom edge of the device.

Why?

Whose idea was that? If you’re holding the device by the side and bottom edges, there’s always a risk you’ll grab the button by mistake and put the device to sleep. It’s dumb, but it’s not enough for me to change my mind and switch to Kindle. I’m also not a big fan of the texture on the back (it feels like it will collect dirt), but that too is far from a deal-breaker.

The Clara HD is available for pre-order now, and if you’re in the market for an all-purpose e-reader, this is a great option and I would say a solid value. It ships in June in the U.S. and some other regions, with more coming later. From the press release:

The device will also be available France on June 1, and as of June 5 in Canada, the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Turkey; Hong Kong in July; with Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico to follow later this year.


Source: TechCrunch

ZenScreen could help you achieve a ‘balanced digital diet’

Skyfire co-founder Nitin Bhandari is working on a new approach to cutting our addiction to social media and reducing screen time with a startup called ZenScreen.

The startup has raised $700,000 in funding from Opera (now Otello) and assorted angel investors. It launched iOS and Android apps last month, as well as a Chrome browser extension.

Bhandari, who also served as senior vice president of consumer apps at Opera after the acquisition of Skyfire, said that during his work on mobile browsers and apps, he started to worry about whether creating more engaging — even addictive — apps was a worthwhile goal: “The cognitive dissonance was really eating at me and my team.”

Existing apps lock you out of your browser or smartphone for limited periods of time — for example, I use Forest to cut down on distractions when I need to focus on writing. But Bhandari said the “don’t even touch your phone” approach is “just not practical” for many people.

So ZenScreen includes a number of different features that are designed to create what Bhandari said is “almost like a balanced digital diet.” (In fact, ZenScreen created an “AppKins Digital Health Pyramid” showing which apps you can use as much as you want, and others that should  be limited.) Adults can use it to control their own app usage, as well as that of their kids.

Digital Health Pyramid

For example, instead of trying to keep you off your phone for, say, an hour each morning, ZenScreen offers something called Smart Mornings, where you have 10 minutes to access social apps, followed by 20 minutes where you can only open work apps and utilities. Similarly, you can set limits on how much time you spend on social/entertainment apps during the day and restrict social media again when it’s close to bedtime.

To do this, Bhandari said ZenScreen had to solve “a really hard problem to figure out which app is being used and how long it’s in the foreground.” The company uses VPN technology to monitor your app usage, though Bhandari said, “We have a very unique VPN where all of the technology runs right on your device and sensitive data never comes to our servers.”

ZenScreen offers access to personal app usage analytics and its Quiet Time feature for free, then charges $4.99 per month for everything else.

“I actually compare our pricing to a gym membership — that’s kind of what we’re doing for your brain,” Bahndari said. “When you compare it to $80 a month, or $100 a month for the gym, $4.99 seems like such a no brainer if this topic is important to you.”


Source: TechCrunch

The Wild Logistical Ride of the Ebola Vaccine's High-Tech Thermos

The hardest part of deploying a new Ebola vaccine is teaching people what it’s for. The second hardest part is getting it to them.
Source: Wired

How the Tech Giants Created What Darpa Couldn’t

Facebook and Google’s business models and flaws evoke a Darpa project shuttered in 2003. Americans didn’t want the government vacuuming up their data then—so why are we OK with private companies doing it now?
Source: Wired

2019 Acura RDX will get Android Auto but not until after it's launched – Roadshow

Yes you’ll have to wait, but the wait won’t be long.
Source: CNET

Pentagon Will Expand AI Project Prompting Protests at Google

Project Maven, which uses artificial intelligence to identify objects in drone footage, has sparked protests among Google employees.
Source: Wired

Self-Driving Cars and the Agony of Knowing What Matters

New details from Uber’s self-driving crash highlight the difficulty—and importance—of ignoring what doesn’t matter, while recognizing what does.
Source: Wired

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