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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Where China’s Tiangong-1 Won’t Land (And Where It Still Might)

Large swaths of Earth are already safe from falling space debris.
Source: Wired

Singapore says Uber-Grab deal may violate competition laws

Uber’s exit from Southeast Asia is under scrutiny from regulators in Singapore who believe that Grab’s purchase of the U.S. firm’s business in the region may violates competition laws.

Singapore-based Grab, Uber’s chief rival in the region, announced the acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asian business on Monday. In return, Uber is taking 27.5 percent of the Grab business, which is valued at over $6 billion, in a move that appears to be a win for both parties.

Grab plans to shutter the Uber app in less than two weeks and migrate passengers and drivers to its services. It will also integrate Uber Eats into its nascent food delivery service.

The coming together has already concerned consumers, who believe that prices may rise without two companies competeting head-to-head, and now the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has announced that it is looking into the deal.

The organization said it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the deal may fall foul of section 54 of Singapore’s Competition Act.

It added:

CCS is generally of the view that competition concerns are unlikely to arise in a merger situation unless:

The merged entity has/will have a market share of 40 percent or more; or
The merged entity has/will have a market share of between 20 percent to 40 percent and the post-merger combined market share of the three largest firms is 70 percent or more.

That might make the deal a little tricky to explain for Grab, which claims over 90 million downloads and more than five million drivers and agents for its transportation and fintech services.

In a first for Singapore, the CCS said it has proposed an Interim Measures Directions (IMD) that requires Grab to “maintain [its] pre-transaction independent pricing, pricing policies and product options.” The commission also directed Grab to not take confidential information from Uber nor lock Uber drivers into driving for Grab.

The commision defines the space not as ride-hailing — where Grab would appear to hold a significantly dominant position by acquiring Uber’s business — but instead as “chauffeured personal point-to-point transport passenger and booking services.”

In that respect, taxi companies in Singapore — which allow booking by SMS and phone call, and also offer ride-hailing apps in some cases — may be considered competition which might water down Grab’s marketshare. Likewise, Grab’s case may be helped by Singapore carpooling service Ryde’s plan to add private car services in an effort to fill some of the gap post-Uber.

Lim Kell Jay, head of Grab Singapore, argued in a statement that the deal with Uber allows consumers a choice against “the dominant taxi industry” and that Grab has already committed to freezing its prices. He added that Grab would work with the CCS and other authorities over the deal as required.

Five years ago, consumers were not able to flag or book taxis easily as supply was a problem. Grab innovated to improve the point-to-point transport within the overall transportation industry, particularly the availability and quality of both taxi and car services. Improving services for commuters and drivers will always be our priority, and we urge the government to allow us to freely compete and complement the dominant taxi business. To address consumer concerns, we have voluntarily committed to maintaining our fare structure and will not increase base fares. This is a commitment we are prepared to give the CCS, and to the public. We have and will continue to work with the CCS, LTA and other relevant authorities, and will propose measures to reassure the CCS, our driver-partners and consumers.

Grab has conducted its comprehensive due diligence and legal analysis with its advisers before entering into and concluding the transaction. We had engaged with the CCS prior to signing and continue to do so. Even though not required by the law, we have informed the CCS that we are making a voluntary notification no later than 16 April 2018 to continue to cooperate and engage with the CCS.

The CCS said it has the power to unwound or modify a deal if it sees that its completion will substantially weaken competition, but it is unclear what that might mean for a regional business like Grab.

Grab and Uber operate in eight markets in Southeast Asia, but Singapore — which is where Grab is headquartered and registered as a business — is the first country where a competitive agency is pouring over the deal.


Source: TechCrunch

150 million MyFitnessPal accounts were hacked. Here’s what to do – CNET

Although there’s no way to know for sure if your account was compromised, you should take this step anyway.
Source: CNET

2018 Toyota Camry recalled because pistons are too big – Roadshow

An unusual but serious recall of a perennially popular midsize sedan is being blamed on out-of-spec parts.
Source: CNET

The fake news campaign that tried to divide South Africa – CNET

South Africa has a long history of racial tension. Three businessmen tried tapping into that with a fake news network for their own gain.
Source: CNET

SpaceX successfully launches Iridium-5 Falcon 9 mission

SpaceX has successfully launched its Iridium -5 mission, which carries 10 satellites to add to Iridium’s NEXT global communications constellation. This is the fifth set of 10, out of a total of 75 that SpaceX is launching for client Iridium, and today’s launch used a first stage Falcon 9 booster originally employed last October for the third Iridium NEXT satellite launch.

The launch included reuse of a flight proven rocket, but it did not include a recovery attempt for the first stage booster this time around. SpaceX is attempting to recover one half of the fairing used during the launch, which is the protective metal shielding that covers the cargo as the rocket blasts through the atmosphere en route to space. The fairing alone is worth around $6 million, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has indicated that it would be relatively easy to refurbish this part for repeat flight, provided their recovery plan works.

We’ll update this post regarding that part of the mission’s progress as info becomes available.

Meanwhile, the 10 satellites were deployed as planned to their target low-Earth orbit, and will join the NEXT constellation, providing commercial communications capabilities to Iridium clients on the ground.

This is Spacex’s fifth Falcon 9 launch of 2018, and its sixth launch of the year overall when you include the Falcon Heavy launch which took place in February. That was a significant milestone for the company, and additional Falcon Heavy launches are planned for later this year, as well as another Falcon 9 launch on April 2: The twelfth commercial resupply mission SpaceX will fly for the International Space Station.


Source: TechCrunch

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo is pretty darn fast and equally fancy – Roadshow

If you want one of the fastest Maseratis ever made, you don’t have to wait for a Gooding & Co auction. You can just stroll down to the dealership.
Source: CNET

MailChimp clarifies its anti-ICO policy

Nobody wants to deal with ICOs. MailChimp, the popular mass mailing platform, has officially banned users who want to send emails about ICOs/token sales in its terms of use. They write in their legal policies page:

Also, we cannot allow businesses involved in any aspect of the sale, transaction, exchange, storage, marketing or production of cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies, and any digital assets related to an Initial Coin Offering, to use MailChimp to facilitate or support any of those activities.

However, in a Tweet, the company wrote that all cryptocurrency discussion was verboten. I’ve asked them to clarify their position and I will update it when I hear back.

Ultimately the big communications companies – Facebook, Twitter, and the like – are making these decisions in the dark. There is little SEC guidance on token sale marketing in specific but, given the scammy nature of most ICO marketing, they figure they’ll play it safe and ban it outright. This should a boon for services like Substack and apps like Sendy that strip away some of the MailChimp frills but are fairly agnostic when it comes to what you can post.

Ultimately this means two things will happen: first, legitimate, Wall Street-based token entities will begin using more expensive and vetted services and the ICO scammers will keep spamming us with ladies in bikinis.


Source: TechCrunch

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro lineup is a new high-water mark in comfort and quality

SteelSeries has two new Arctis Pro gaming headsets out, and they pack a lot of tech and versatility into a comfortable, visually attractive package. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless and Arctis Pro + GameDAC are both incredibly capable headsets that deliver terrific sound, and depending on your system needs, should probably be your first choice when looking for new gaming audio gear.

The Arctis Pro Wireless is, true to its name, wire-free, but also promises lossless 2.4GHz transmission to ensure lag-free audio, too – a must for competitive gaming. The combination of the wireless functionality, the long-wearing comfort of the suspension system headband and the included transmitter base that can hold and charge a swappable battery as well as display all key information on an OLED readout makes this a standout choice.

There are some limitations, however – compatibility is limited to either PS4 or PC for this one, for instance. The wired Arctis Pro (without GameDAC) is compatible with the Xbox One, but both the wireless version and the version that connected to the wired DAC will only work with either Sony’s latest consoles or with a Windows or Mac-based gaming PC.

I’m a bit saddened by that since I’m a big fan of PUBG on Xbox, and also lately of Sea of Thieves, but I also do regularly play PS4 and PC games, and the Arctis Pro Wireless is my weapon of choice now when using either, either for multiplayer or single player games. The wearability and sound quality (which includes DTS X 7.1 surround on PC) is so good that I’ll often opt to use them in place of my actual 5.1 physical surround system, even when I don’t need to chat with anyone.

Other options, like the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Headset, offer different advantages including more easily accessible fine-tune control over soundscape, balance of chat and game audio and other features, but the SteelSeries offers a less complicated out-of-box experience, and better all-day wearability thanks to taking cues from athletic wear for its materials and design.

The GameDAC option additionally has Hi-Res Audio certificate, which is good if you’re looking to stream FLAC files or high-res audio from services like Tidal. The DAC itself also makes all audio sound better overall, and gives you more equalization options from the physical controller .

The main thing to consider with the Arctis Pro + DAC ($249.99) and the Arctis Pro Wireless ($329.99) is the cost. They’re both quite expensive relative to the overall SteelSeries lineup and those of competitors, too. But in this case, cost really is reflective of quality – channel separation and surround virtualization is excellent on these headsets, and the mic sounds great to other players I talked to as well. Plus, the Pro Wireless can connect to both Bluetooth and the 2.4GHz transmitter simultaneously, so you can use it with your phone as well as your console, and the retractable mic keeps things looking fairly stylish, too.


Source: TechCrunch

How I Fell For an Academic Vanity Honeypot Hacking Scheme

WIRED Columnist Virginia Heffernan on how a hacker flattered his way into taking over her Twitter account.
Source: Wired

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