Author: Devin Coldewey

Snopes seeks crowdfunding in ownership battle

TECHCRUNCH How many times have you heard some urban legend, chain letter, or misleading bit of news repeated and immediately found a thorough, fact-based debunking on Snopes? Like every damn day for the last 20 years or so, right? Snopes was there for you when you were looking up fake news and cryptids — but it’s in trouble, and asking you to return the favor. The venerable fact-checking site is in the middle of an ownership dispute, and it’s looking for donations to keep the lights on in the meantime. The site’s blog makes describes the situation thus: We...

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Literacy Xprize starts field tests of semifinalist apps in LA, Philadelphia and Dallas

TECHCRUNCH Literacy, or rather a lack thereof, is a serious problem all over the world — believe it or not, even in our little utopia. While a touch-up of our education and support systems would probably be the best fix in the long term, we all know that’s not likely. So in the meantime we have creative private attempts to alleviate the issue: Today, a $7 million Xprize for literacy-improving apps enters the field testing phase. There are 8 semifinalists that will be tested by 12,000 adult reading learners in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Dallas. After a full year...

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Comcast’s FCC filing pits pet economists against net neutrality rules

TECHCRUNCH Comcast has filed its official commentary on the FCC’s proposal to roll back 2015’s Open Internet Order, and it’s about what you’d expect: a selectively thorough takedown that relies heavily on analysis by friendly economists to support the ISP’s view. Many of the arguments in the comment, which you can read in its entirety here, are already addressed in this collection of such things — so we won’t retread them here. The main new work is done by a report commissioned by Comcast from the National Economic Research Associates. NERA you may remember from its arguments in defense...

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Microsoft’s Path Guide is an unconventional approach to indoor navigation

TECHCRUNCH Indoor mapping is one of those stubborn problems that seems to only have solutions that involve a great deal of money and infrastructure: beacons, lasers, emitters, scanners… who wants to install those in malls and office complexes across the world? Microsoft Research has produced an indoor navigation app that keeps things simple, utilizing existing sensors and the fact that people already go most of the places you want to go. Path Guide is an app currently available only on Android that focuses on the navigation part of indoor mapping. It makes no attempt to visualize the entire volume...

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Researchers 3D print a soft artificial heart that works a lot like a real one

TECHCRUNCH The science of prosthetics has been advancing by leaps and bounds over the last few years, and research into soft robotics has been especially complementary. The same techniques that go into making a robot arm that flexes and turns like a real one can go into making more complex, subtle organs — like the heart, as Swiss researchers have demonstrated. One problem with artificial hearts is that metal and plastic mechanisms can be difficult to integrate with tissue, or damage the blood because of their unnatural movement style. A small team at ETH, led by doctoral student Nicholas...

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Net Neutrality Day of Action spurs millions to speak out for online freedoms

TECHCRUNCH Yesterday was the much-ballyhooed “Net Neutrality Day of Action,” an online protest day on which thousands of websites, people and services called attention to the impending revocation of net neutrality rules by the FCC. And the turnout, it turns out, was quite impressive. It would be quite difficult to use the web at all yesterday without running into at least a handful of pop-ups, site takeovers, and funny messages all aimed at getting people to make their voices heard on the net neutrality debate. Tumblr, Twitter, Netflix, Yelp, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Vimeo, Spotify, Airbnb, Amazon, Reddit, Etsy, YouTube, Twitch,...

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Here’s what a bunch of companies are doing for the ‘Net Neutrality Day of Action’

TECHCRUNCH The FCC is planning on reversing the net neutrality rules passed by the previous Commission — but we’re not going to take it lying down. Companies and organizations across the world and web have banded together for a big, showy “Day of Action” much like the SOPA/PIPA one back in 2012. Dozens of major sites and services are in on it, and while some may just show an alert to visitors asking them to contact the FCC or their representative about the issue, others have more stuff planned. (Lots of companies will be emailing users, posting on social...

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These stretchy, durable sensors could be woven right into clothing

TECHCRUNCH If we must have an internet of things, it makes no sense to leave clothes out of the party. But clothes must be worn, washed, bunched up, and folded — it’s hard to make electronics that can survive all that. Plenty are trying, though; the latest attempt is from Harvard’s Wyss Institute, which uses a simple but effective layering method to make a durable, customizable flex sensor. It’s quite basic, in a way: a material sandwich with layers of conductive fabric above and below a filling of silicone. When the fabric stretches, the silicone gets thinner and the...

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