• +598 29008192
  • info@servinfo.com.uy

Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Twitter replaces its gun emoji with a water gun

Twitter has now followed Apple’s lead in changing its pistol emoji to a harmless, bright green water gun. And in doing so, the company that has struggled to handle the abuse, hate speech and harassment taking place across its platform, has removed one of the means for online abusers to troll their victims.

The change is one of several rolling out now in Twitter’s emoji update, Twemoji 2.6, which impacts Twitter users on the web, mobile web and on Tweetdeck.

Below: Apple’s water gun

Below: Twitter’s water gun

The decision to replace an emoji of a weapon to a child’s toy was seen as a political statement when Apple in 2016 rolled out its own water gun emoji in iOS 10. The company had also argued against the addition of a rifle emoji, ultimately leading to the Unicode’s decision to remove the gun from its list of new emoji candidates that same year.

With these moves, Apple was effectively telling people that a gun didn’t have a place in the pictorial language people commonly use when messaging on mobile devices.

These sorts of changes matter because of emoji’s ability to influence culture and its function as a globally understood form of communication. That’s why so much attention is given to those emoji updates that go beyond the cosmetic — like updates that offer better representations of human skin tones, show different types of family groupings or relationships or give various professions — like a police officer or a scientist — both male and female versions, for example.

In the case of the water pistol, Apple set a certain standard that others in the industry have since followed.

Samsung also later replaced its gun with a water gun, as did WhatsApp. Google, meanwhile, didn’t follow Apple’s lead, saying that it believed in cross-platform communication. Many others left their realistic gun emojis alone, too, including Microsoft.

“The main problem with the different appearances of the pistol emoji has been the potential for confusion when one platform displays this as an innocuous toy, and another shows the same emoji as a weapon. This was particularly an issue in 2016 when Apple changed the pistol emoji out of step with every single other vendor at the time,” notes Jeremy Burge, Emojipedia’s founder and vice chair on the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee. “Now we’re seeing multiple vendors all changing to a water pistol image all in a similar timeframe with Samsung and Twitter both changing their design this year,” he says.

On Twitter, however, the updated gun emoji very much comes across as a message about where the company stands (or aims to stand) on abuse and violence. A gun — as opposed to a water gun — can be far more frightening when accompanied with a threat of violence in a tweet.

The change also arrives at a time when Twitter is trying — some would say unsuccessfully — to better manage the bad behavior that takes place on its platform. Most recently, it decided to publicize its rules around abuse to see if people would then choose to follow them. It has also updated its guidelines and policies for how it would handle online abusers, to mixed results.

In addition, the change feels even more like a political message than the Apple emoji update did, given its timing — in the wake of Parkland, the youth-led #NeverAgain movement, the YouTube shooting and the increased focus on the NRA’s contributions to politicians.

Twitter has confirmed the change in an email with TechCrunch, saying the decision was made for “consistency” with the others that have changed.

However, Emojipedia shows that not all companies have updated to the water gun. Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Messenger, LG, HTC, EmojiOne, emojidex and Mozilla still offer a realistic pistol, not the green toy.

But Apple and Samsung perhaps hold more weight when it comes to where things are headed.

“I know some users object to what they see as censorship on their emoji keyboard, but I can certainly see why companies today might want to ensure that they aren’t showing a weapon where iPhone and Samsung Galaxy users now have a toy gun,” Burge says. “It’s pretty much the opposite to the issue with Apple being out of step with other vendors in 2016.”


The gun was the most notable change in Twemoji 2.6, but Emojipedia notes that other emoji have been updated as well, including the kitchen knife (which now looks like more of a vegetable slicer than a weapon for stabbing), the Crystal Ball, the Alembic (a glass vessel with water) and the Magnifying Glass, with more minor tweaks to the Coat, Eyes and emoji faces with horns.

Image credits: Emojipedia; Apple Water Gun: Apple

Source: TechCrunch

Tentrr is turning private land into glampgrounds, with the help of VCs

If you’ve ever gone camping and found yourself thinking it kind of sucks, likely because you’re too close to other campers, you might be interested in learn about Tentrr, a three-year-old, 47-person company that’s promising to make it “dirt simple” to enjoy the great outdoors. How: by striking deals with private landowners who are willing to host semi-permanent campsites on their property.

What do these look like? Picture elevated decks with Adirondack chairs, canvas expedition tents, wood picnic tables and sun showers, not to mention a fire pit, lanterns, dry food storage, cookware, a camping toilet and air mattresses that, courtesy of most hosts, will come with fresh linens.

Venture capitalists certainly appreciate the startup’s pitch. Tentrr — founded by one-time investment banker turned former NYSE managing director Michael D’Agostino —  has raised $13 million to date, including a newly closed $8 million Series A round led by West, a San Francisco-based venture studio that both funds startups and helps them market their goods and services.

No doubt the investors are looking at the overall market, whose numbers are compelling. According to one trade association, for example, the outdoor recreation industry represents a $887 billion opportunity, with Americans shelling out $24 billion annually on campsites alone.

Still, it’s easy to wonder how scalable the company will be. Tentrr had 100 campsites up and running in the Northeastern U.S. as of the end of last year. D’Agostino expects it will have 1,000 sites by year end, including on the West Coast, where it will begin installing camps this summer, but this assumes that Tentrr can convince enough families with sufficiently large properties that partnering with the company is worthwhile.

D’Agostino says its landowner partners need to have 15 acres at least and that the average property on the platform currently is much larger than that. He also says they keep 80 percent of whatever they decide to charge campers to stay on their grounds.

Certainly, Tentrr doesn’t seem to have much in the way of direct competition if you exclude state campgrounds. Venture-backed Hipcamp, for example, which raised a small amount of seed funding back in 2014, similarly partners with private landowners to help arrange camping experiences. But it mostly acts as search engine. Meanwhile, Airbnb offers unique experiences that include camping, but Tentrr is largely about offering a standardized experience that leaves fewer questions (and less doubt) in the minds of would-be campers.

We know this would interest us personally, having suffered through some pretty crummy camping experiences. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our conversation with D’Agostino. We chatted yesterday.

TC: You were a banker, then you traveling around the country and world, trying to convince companies that they should list on the NYSE instead of Nasdaq. How did this company come to pass?

MD: When I was a little kid, we’d sometimes stay at a family friend’s farm in Litchfield, Connecticut. I assumed that every kid had a Litchfield farm where they could camp, which isn’t the case obviously. Meanwhile, working 100 hours a week as an investment banker, it just became harder and harder to get out of the city and have great experiences.

After a couple of disastrous camping trips at noisy, dirty campgrounds with my girlfriend and now wife, Eloise, we just realized the idea [of camping as it’s known today] is stupid. It’s taking a bunch of people who are living on top of each other in a city and moving them to a campground where they’re living on trop of each other in flimsy tents.

The legacy campground industry hasn’t changed since the Civil War. It’s run by the government — which I’m happy to compete with all day long. And these are just terrible businesspeople. We want to wipe away this infrastructure by distributing it among rural landowners.

TC: So you’re building these semi-permanent camping sites. How standardized is the pricing?

MD: Pricing is variable and set by the landowner who keeps 80 percent of that fee. We keep 20 percent; we also charge a 15 percent fee on top of that nightly rate. Right now, the average price per night is $140, but we’re introducing more features for [hosts], including minimum-night stays, and [surge] pricing if they have demand for a bunch of bookings at the same time.

They can also offer extra amenities and experiences that will allow you to have a personalized experience. For example, landowners or “campkeepers” as we call them can offer extra bundles of wood or luxury bedding or horseback riding or skeet shooting. It’s really only limited by the imagination. We’ll also soon allow third parties to provide curated activities so that when you log on to our app, you can book a white water rafting trip, for example, or reservations at the best farm-to-table restaurant nearby.

TC: What happens is something goes wrong? Who insures what?

MD: Every campsite is covered by a $2 million commercial insurance policy. It’s a benefit not just in terms of liability but in making people feel more comfortable during these stays — both the hosts and guests.

TC: Where are you building these sites, exactly, and how long do you estimate that they will last?

MD: We build them ourselves, right now in places from southern Maine to eastern Pennsylvania.

We get our tents from a family company in Colorado that’s been around for 90 years and that still receives requests to repair tents they’d built 30 years ago [meaning they’re durable]. We also use pressure-treated lumber and marine-grade plywood, so we expect they’ll last for 10 to 20 years.

TC: You’re having to convince people to let strangers onto their properties, sprawling as they may be. What’s that sales process like?

MD: It used to look like me putting 45,000 miles on my Jeep Cherokee and explaining to families why they should have a Tentrr campsite in their hayfields. Today, direct mail campaigns work beautifully. [Hosts] are also hearing about us from other [hosts] and we make it easier for them to [apply] to join the platform. You click on a link that says “List my property” and you’re walked through a 20-point checklist, including about accessibility and how secluded a property is, and using that feedback, we know with 90 percent accuracy whether or not a property is appropriate. If we think it is, we’ll send out a scout.

TC: Are there sometimes more than one campsite on a property?

MD: No, and we ensure the sites are secluded from neighbors, as well as the landowners, as well as other possible distractions.we run installation trucks.

TC: What does the clean-up process look like?

MD: It’s relatively maintenance free. There’s no maid service. No keys. No worries about someone stealing silverware. Homeowners have to make sure there are no beer cans left behind, but we place a high priority on land stewardship and emphasize a leave-no-trace approach when it comes to our guests.

Source: TechCrunch

Apply to TechCrunch’s startup programs for Disrupt and Startup Battlefield with a single application

At TechCrunch’s flagship Disrupt events, there are three ways for startups to get in the limelight. One is to win a spot in the prestigious Startup Battlefield competition. Another is to be selected as one of the editor-selected TC Top Picks to exhibit in one of the featured tracks in Startup Alley. Both of those opportunities are 100%  free. And the last is to apply for a highly affordable single day exhibitor pass for Startup Alley itself. Easy, right? You might think so but truth is TechCrunch made it hard in the past because the application process was fragmented and founders had to make parallel applications for different programs. No more!

Today, we launched our single, reusable application for all of TechCrunch’s startup programs. Founders can now fill out a single application here and apply to all of our startup  programs at any given Disrupt as well as re-purpose an application for new events as they are announced.  

We know founders are busy juggling product development, recruiting, fundraising, and so much more. The new application saves and makes it far easier to track opportunities for participating at Disrupt or at any of our other Startup Battlefield events, which is always a great stage for investor and media exposure. Now, as we announce new Disrupts and standalone Startup Battlefields, founders can simply log back into your application and re-submit an existing application on file.  If the startup had a pivot or a raise, it’s easy to update the application and re-submit for future events.

The heart of TechCrunch’s mission is to help startups, which is why we offer founders three ways to benefits from the immense in-person and media exposure at TechCrunch events. The application can be used for Startup Battlefield, our renowned startup pitch competition, TC Top Picks, editorially highlighted free exhibition space at our Disrupt conferences, and Startup Alley, exhibition space for a fee at our Disrupt conferences. You can learn more about each program’s requirements and benefits here.

Visit our Startup programs application page to fill out TechCrunch’s new, reusable application, and to apply for any or all of those three opportunities.  As of today, you can use this application to apply to Startup Battlefield, TC Top Picks, and Startup Alley at our flagship Disrupt conference in San Francisco on September 5-7th 2018. Stay tuned — we will be announcing more opportunities soon.

Source: TechCrunch

This algorithm can hide secret messages in regular-looking text

Researchers at Columbia University have developed a deep learning algorithm that is able to embed and reveal secret message in otherwise ordinary-looking text. Here’s how it works.

The post This algorithm can hide secret messages in regular-looking text appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital trends

New wearable hardware interface, Tap Systems, opens SDK to developers

Tap Systems, the developer of the Tap wearable keyboard and mouse, is releasing a developer SDK for interested programmers.

The software kit will let developers design applications that can integrate with the Tap wearable which answers the once unanswerable question: what’s the result of one hand tapping?

Resting on the finges of one hand, the Tap wearable provides a new way for users to interact with hardware. Finger taps are the input that the device uses to determine movement and keystrokes. Using Tap, the company says anyone can send messages, play games, point, click and scroll on almost any surface.

“Since Tap’s inception we’ve been contacted by everyone from mobile game and language input developers, to folks developing for accessibility use and even enterprise,” said Dovid Schick, the chief executive and founder of Tap Systems, in a statement.

The company sees applications for its technology in anything from mobile gaming, to virtual and augmented reality and language input developers who have struggled to translate character-based languages to existing user interfaces.

The toolkit includes SDKs for iOS and Android, and a plug-in for Unity — along with sample applications and documentation. There’s also an API for BLE enabled platforms.

Tap System’s released toolset includes SDKs for both iOS and Android, a plug-in for Unity, as well as example applications and documentation. The company has also released an API to enable any BLE enabled platform to interface directly with the Tap wearable.

The wearable costs $179, but the software development kit is royalty-free, open-source and available under the company’s terms of use.

It’s a big step for the Pasadena, Calif.-based company that first brought its product to market late last year. Founded by longtime technology developers Dovid Schick and Sabrina Kemeny, the company’s hardware is a response to a problem that Schick says bedeviled him for years. 

“What would be the problem of the future of inputs?,” Schick asked me. “As things get virtualized and more wearable….  I went through a lot of different scenarios and came up with the idea of tapping your fingers. Tapping your fingers is an incredibly natural and fast and intuitive movement.”

There’s a bit of training required as users get acclimated to a new way of typing, but the tapping mechanism is more efficient, Schick argues, and is certainly a boon for accessibility.

“A,e,i,o,u maps to a single finger tapping,” says Schick. “The hardest taps are done … mapped to the least frequent letters in the alphabet.”

While Schick admits that his company might not be the company that completes the ongoing quest for a new user interface, he is firmly convinced that tapping is the next big thing in hardware interfaces. “Taps will be a modality… whether my company will be the one that will survive and make it great.. Once you’ve tried it and seen it in action it just makes too much sense that this will not be something that is huge.”

The company began taking pre-orders earlier in the year and started shipping product about two months ago — and is now planning to go out to raise its first round of outside capital.

Source: TechCrunch

Zuckerberg calls on his team as go-to answer in hearings – CNET

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says numerous times that he’d have to defer to his staff.
Source: CNET

Gmail is about to get a redesign – CNET

Google quietly lets G Suite customers know that a makeover and several new features are coming to its email service.
Source: CNET

Spotify and Hulu offer $13-a-month subscription bundle – CNET

Widening a combo previously only for students, soon anyone can lump the video- and music-streaming services together to save five bucks a month. And free mobile listeners could see some improvements.
Source: CNET

No, Zuckerberg can’t lie to Congress just because he’s not under oath

While the press and public may have been denied a dramatic raise-your-right-hand moment in Congress this week, Facebook’s chief executive is still under legal obligation to tell the truth.

If it feels like Zuckerberg is bending the truth, know that making a false statement to Congress might be difficult to prove given the slippery nature of Congressional testimony, but it’s still illegal.

Since some corners of the internet appear to be floating a conspiracy theory that Zuckerberg can get away with lying because he did not take the oath, we clarified that point with the offices of some of the committee members questioning him.

“Lying to Congress is always a crime,” a representative for Senator Dianne Feinstein clarified to TechCrunch. “You don’t need to be sworn in.”

A witness who is not under oath cannot face perjury charges but they could face charges pertaining to making “false statements,” a broader statute that is not specific to lying under oath.

As Lawfare clarifies:

“By far the broadest federal statute criminalizing lying is 18 U.S.C. § 1001, which makes it a crime to “knowingly and willfully . . . make[] any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” in the course of “any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch” of the federal government. There’s no requirement that the statement be under oath.”

Committees handle the matter of swearing in a witness a number of different ways, and there are three committees involved in Zuckerberg’s testimony this week: the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Senate committees banded together to form a joint hearing on Tuesday.

As a Republican Commerce committee aide told CNN, “By tradition, the Commerce Committee does not swear-in witnesses.”

As Slate reported in a piece exploring the tradition of the oath, “the judiciary committee requires an oath only sometimes, according to the procedural guidelines of the Senate select committee on ethics.” Where it is not required, the decision to require the oath can be made at the discretion of the committee chairman and that decision takes place during the hearing’s planning stage.

“Witnesses aren’t always sworn in before voluntarily providing testimony,” Chuck Grassley’s Senate Judiciary Committee press secretary told TechCrunch.

Still, it isn’t exactly random. It’s possible that Facebook stipulated that Zuckerberg not be made to take the oath as a condition of his appearance before Congress. The optics of Facebook’s founder with his right hand raised would likely be anathema to the feverishly PR-conscious company.

An aide to a prominent Senator not questioning Zuckerberg this week confirmed to TechCrunch that such a negotiation would be unusual but not impossible. Facebook did not respond to our questions on the topic.

While no one can legally outright lie in responding to Congress — under oath or not — witnesses go to great lengths to temper their speech so they don’t get into hot water. During his first Congressional testimony, Zuckerberg spoke in an extremely disciplined, well-practiced way that adhered closely to safe talking points established in advance.

A number of Zuckerberg’s statements could certainly be interpreted as lying by omission in an informal sense, but legally his testimony remains strategically vague enough to stay well within legal bounds.

Source: TechCrunch

How artificial intelligence will take over the supermarket produce aisles

Artificial intelligence is about more than asking Alexa or Siri to turn on the lights at home and add a reminder to the calendar about getting some milk at the store later in the afternoon.

The true power of AI and machine learning is how it can democratize expertise, lowering the barriers to entry for tasks that once could only be performed by a small group of specialists. The result, one day, will be that your self-driving car drops you off at the supermarket, where you will find higher-quality foods available at prices lower than they’ve ever been.

It will happen through the use of machine learning algorithms that absorb a large volume of data, recognize patterns and apply statistical probabilities to choose the course of action most likely to result in a successful outcome.

For example, Google’s famous self-driving car used machine learning to catalog a number of interesting behaviors on the road. Whenever the car’s sensors recognized a garbage truck ahead, vehicles following behind tended to pull suddenly into the next lane to get around it — usually without signaling. So the Google car stored this pattern of behavior and adapted its position and speed to minimize the possibility that these “unexpected” lane changes would cause a collision.

For humans, this is a common defensive driving skill, but replicating this level of awareness in a machine would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Now, powerful algorithms can conquer the chaos of streets filled with drivers of all skill levels, including those paying more attention to their phones than the road ahead.

Artificial intelligence and agriculture

As amazing as that may be, the application of machine learning to the living fields of agriculture is an order of magnitude more complex. A road network is fixed, with a map that rarely changes and provides a solid foundation for the algorithm to make its decisions.

No matter how calm and peaceful a wind-swept field of wheat might appear to the casual observer, agricultural fields are truly chaotic places. There’s unpredictable weather, changes in soil quality and the ever-present possibility that pests and disease may pay a visit. Conditions in one part of a field may be totally different from another part. As a result, growers never really know until the last day whether they are going to have a successful harvest or not.

The potential for growth in agricultural AI systems is significant.

Take a seed and plant it in a field in Iowa. Then take the exact same seed and plant it in Brazil. The results will almost certainly not be the same, or, if they are, repeat the experiment again and the odds are that the yield of each will be different. That’s because thousands of interrelated variables are at play, from the amount of nutrients in the soil, to whether it’s sunny or cloudy, to rain levels, temperature, the presence of insects and so on.

That’s where machine learning can reap clarity from the chaos. Remote sensors placed in fields perceive the environment as statistical data. Algorithms process this data, adapting and learning to predict a range of outcomes.

Farmers can use these AI algorithms to make better field decisions that increase the chances of a successful harvest. Breeders also can use AI algorithms to make the plants themselves better. The combination of these uses will ultimately drive lower prices at the supermarket.

The democratization of farming expertise

This is a massive a shift in the way things have always been done in agriculture. Farmers have a proud tradition going back centuries of relying on instinct in growing crops. They have an intuition of what’s best based on long experience. It’s not that farmers didn’t want to use computers, it’s that they haven’t been particularly effective. Early machines, with their binary logic, were not well-suited to highly complex and variable field environments.

So a farm’s productivity often depended on having the most experienced growers on hand. But what if we could change that, and make the best decisions and growing techniques available even to novice farmers? This is particularly important for developing nations that might not have access to highly experienced growers.

The rise of precision agriculture has opened the possibility of spreading the benefit of machine expertise far and wide. Remote sensors, satellites and UAVs can gather information 24 hours a day over an entire field. These can monitor plant health, soil condition, temperature, humidity and so on. The amount of data these sensors can generate is overwhelming, but the algorithms of precision agriculture can process and interpret the data in a useful way.

The next big leap will come from deploying true artificial intelligence algorithms that learn from the data and interpret never-before-seen situations, allowing each harvest to become more and more certain. This will reduce wasted effort and lower the cost of growing, with much of the savings passed on to consumers.

AI builds better plants

Machine learning algorithms can also be applied to the centuries-old process of breeding plant varieties better able to resist drought or insect pressures. Breeders have long used conventional methods of selecting the “best” parent plants to create varieties with a more pleasing appearance, longer shelf life and a superior taste. Because of AI’s application in breeding, stronger plants are more likely to make their way to harvest, and yields will continue to increase.

As with farming techniques, machine learning helps with all aspects of the decision-making process of selecting plants and testing new varieties. Algorithms speed the process so that improvements in plant varieties make their way to the fields and the supermarkets faster than ever. This, again, helps lower costs while improving quality.

The potential for growth in agricultural AI systems is significant, and as the algorithms grow smarter, the benefits will continue to be seen every time you check out at the supermarket.

Source: TechCrunch