Author: James Croft

I really enjoyed this Bloomberg piece by Max Chafkin and Mark Bergen on Alphabet/Google’s sprawling internal fiefdoms:

Critics, including more than a dozen former top Google executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements, describe a company having trouble balancing innovation and its core business, search advertising. Over the 12 months ended in September, Google’s ad business accounted for 89 percent of Alphabet’s revenue, or $76.1 billion. As one ex-executive puts it, “No one wants to face the reality that this is an advertising company with a bunch of hobbies.”

Alphabet/Google shepherds so many R&D projects that have started but never seemed to go anywhere (yet): Google Glass, Project Loon, Google Fiber, Google X, ATAP, Replicant (Boston Dynamics), Verily, and others.

It does now seem that Alphabet’s CFO Ruth Porat is trying to bring some order the budgetary chaos that comes with a bunch of weird moonshot projects with no clear path to profitability.

Source: Google Makes So Much Money, It Never Had to Worry About Financial Discipline – Bloomberg

CNN has acquired video-sharing start-up Beme, a social media app launched last year by popular YouTube star Casey Neistat. The deal is valued at about $25 million.

I always enjoyed Casey’s videos, and was a bit bummed out that he was quitting daily vlogging. So this must be his next thing.

Looks like CNN is acquiring the Beme app, but they’re shutting it down and funneling the video tech and talent elsewhere. Casey (and his co-founder Matt Hackett) will be heading up a ‘standalone media company’ within CNN in the near future.

Source: CNN Buys Casey Neistat’s Video App Beme

Marco Arment:

A few Tesla vehicles have had accidents with Autopilot enabled recently, and I’ve gotten countless questions about these incidents and the nature of Autopilot from people who aren’t Tesla owners. Tesla and the media haven’t clearly communicated what these features do (and don’t do) to the public, so I’ll try to help in whatever small way I can as a Model S owner for a few months so far.

I found this quite helpful in understanding more about the component parts of what Telsa’s ‘Autopilot’ will do (or not do) for you.

Source: Understanding Tesla Autopilot – Marco.org

Oppo has made a name for itself across Asia with a lineup of affordable smartphones, but the R9 was the first time I’d had a chance to try one for myself. When I heard that JB Hifi was making a bit of noise about stocking this phone for just under six hundred bucks outright I decided to jump in and check it out for myself.

Could this be a viable option for folks turned off by the $1000+ prices of a flagship smartphone in 2016?

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If you’re a regular listener to the podcast, you may know I’ve been riding around on an Evolve electric skateboard for the last few weeks. Well, the Gold Coast-based company has just announced a new dual-motor model called the Carbon GT Series:

The Evolve Carbon GT Series is an aesthetically unique electric skateboard focusing on power, performance and versatility.

– 3000 Dual Brushless Sensored Outrunner motors
– Up to 50km/31miles on the Street GT. Up to 30km/18.5miles on the All terrain GT.
– 35-42km/hr Speed (depending on wheel and gear size).
– Hill climbing of up to 25% gradient (insanely steep!).
– Built in electrics.
– 2in1 setups (swap between street and AT wheels in minutes).
– Digital LCD screen remote.

I’m really eager to see what this new board is like. I commute into the city on my current board (a single-motor Carbon with the all-terrain wheels) about 20km a day, and though it’s great, there are a handful of hills that are too steep for me to ride up. More power would solve that for me.

If you’re new to electric skateboards, buyers often choose between Evolve – less speed, but longer range (30km per charge) and all-terrain wheels, or the American-based Boosted Board – lots of power, but more limited range (10-15km per charge), and no AT wheels.

This new model from Evolve seems to be the best of both worlds – tons of power, but rocking a huge range (30-50km), and optionally keeping the AT wheels (which I adore).

No price has been announced yet, but order details will be available on the 25th May.

Source: Facebok – Evolve Skateboards

Are you in the market for some lightning-cabled planar magnetic headphones? Oh hello, Audeze Sine.

The Audeze Sine is also the first on-ear headphone to be iPhone 7 ready. If, as is speculated, the iPhone 7 does away with the headphone jack completely, Audeze Sine already has the cable to deal with it.

They also have an optional DAC-equipped lightning cable (for a hundred bucks more), so that’s pretty nice. You’ll pay around seven hundred bucks for the cans alone, and eight hundred for the whole shebang. Not cheap by any stretch, but you know what audiophiles are like with fancy gear. Money? Psssh.

Apple Stores in the US are already selling them, but if you need your fix in Australia, here’s where to go.

Source: Audeze – Sine – Closed Back Headphones | Available Now at Aussie Hi FI

The experimental arm of the special effects division of Lucasfilm – Industrial Light and Magic – now owned by Disney, have made some over the last 12 months with its concerted focus on bringing the beloved Star Wars franchise to the immersive realm.

I felt a great disturbance in my wallet, as if thousands of dollars suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

Source: Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine for HTC Vive, Full Trailer is Here – Road to VR