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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Elon Musk thinks Uber’s flying car idea is dumb

If you’re hoping Tesla would help lead the future for flying cars, don’t hold your breath.

During his interview at the TED 2017 Conference in Vancouver, Tesla CEO Elon Musk knocked the idea completely, telling interviewer Chris Anderson that he’s “in favour of flying things” but not so much of the car variety, Inverse reported.

“There is a challenge with flying cars in that they’ll be quite noisy, the wind-force generated will be very high … Let’s just say that if something’s flying over your head, if there are a whole bunch of flying cars all over the place, that is not an anxiety-reducing situation,” Musk said.

“You don’t think to yourself, ‘Well, I feel better about today,’” Musk continued. “You’re thinking, ‘Did they service their hubcap? Or is it going to come off and guillotine me as they’re flying past?’”

Musk’s anxiety-inducing hubcap guillotine hypothetical appears to be an anti-flying car talking point of his, as Inverse cited another go at the joke in Bloomberg from February:

“Obviously, I like flying things,”he says. But it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution. As long as the laws of physics hold, he explains, any flying car will need to generate a lot of downward force to stop it from falling out of the sky, which means wind and noise for those on the ground, not to mention debris from midair fender-benders. “If somebody doesn’t maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you, he says. Your anxiety level will not decrease as a result of things that weigh a lot buzzing around your head.”

Musk’s criticism at the conference came days after the “Uber Elevate Summit,” the first-ever flying car conference hosted by Uber. The ride-hailing and driverless car-testing giant predicted it would be testing out its “commuter aircraft” by 2020.

The flying car diss also reflects the war between Tesla and Uber Inverse reported in October that Musk equated Uber’s falling reputation with consumers to a case of “the people vs. Uber.”

But even if we don’t see Musk on some sort of standards board for flying cars in the future, at least we can looking forward to his idea for an underground tunnel network in Los Angeles. According to Musk, drivers could avoid “soul-destroying” traffic by driving atop trolley-like devices before being carried underground and resurfacing at access points, at which the next car could take the same device back underground.

Yes, yes it certainly sounds like a subway for cars. But given that L.A.’s existing subway line is nearly invisible to Angelenos, maybe Musk’s idea isn’t too far-fetched.

H/T Inverse

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/debug/elon-musk-against-flying-cars-uber/

Tumblr just added a switch in the iOS Settings that lets you turn the porn back on

Here’s an interesting change: Tumblr’s iOS application just received an update which now lets you turn on or off adult-oriented, NSFW search results just by toggling a switch in iOS’s Settings. That’s right: you can now switch on or off the Tumblr porn with ease. Weirder still, Tumblr’s note about the change in the App Store update text says this was implemented per Apple’s content guidelines.

Why is that weird?

Because Apple’s developer guidelines at least today explicitly tell app developers not to do this sort of thing.

Above: Tumblr’s iOS app update text

While Apple has never permitted explicit apps whose sole purpose is to serve pornography, it long ago carved out an exception for social networks hosting user-generated content, provided they agreed to filter and hide the NSFW content by default.

This is an issue that greatly impacts Tumblr, given that its blogging network is actually composed of a lot of porn. In fact, according to website analytics service SimilarWeb, adult content is the top category that drives direct clicks to Tumblr’s desktop site, accounting for 20.53% of clicks, compared with the next-largest referring category, books and literature, which drove just 7.61% of clicks.

Above: Tumblr’s new porn toggle

Tumblr has always had NSFW content, saying that its policy about this sort of material is a live-and-let-live kind of thing, but it draws the line at actually hosting sexually explicit videos. (Embed them, it says.)

To be allowed into the iTunes App Store, Tumblr has had to filter out and hide this content in its iOS app by default. There’s a loophole, though as I’m sure many of you know.

According to Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, apps like Tumblr are allowed to show the NSFW content if the user turns the setting on via the services website.

Here’s the full text, per Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, about how this system is supposed to work, emphasis ours:

Apps with user-generated content or services that end up being used primarily for pornographic content, objectification of real people (e.g. hot-or-not voting), making physical threats, or bullying do not belong on the App Store and may be removed without notice. If your app includes user-generated content from a web-based service, it may display incidental mature NSFW content, provided that the content is hidden by default and only displayed when the user turns it on via your website.

Tumblr clearly fits in that latter category of apps that display incidental mature NSFW content, but it’s now being told to put a toggle in iOS’s Settings?

Hmmm.

The most logical explanation for this sort of change is that Apple will allow this setting to be locked down via its parental controls at some point. That’s not the case right now, though.

Under Settings > General > Restrictions, you can block the kids from using Apple’s built-in apps, block app downloads, and can block apps based on their current rating. (Tumblr is rated 17+, for example). However, there is not a way to force something like a Safe Search toggle switch to remain on.

Above: iOS 10’s Restrictions screen

It’s possible that Apple will roll out improved parental controls in the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 11, which is expected to be announced at WWDC this summer. Perhaps it directed Tumblr to implement this setting in preparation of that change. (And maybe Apple didn’t expect Tumblr to code the fix so quickly or call it out in the apps update text!)

Other apps where adult content could be a concern like Google, Twitter, Reddit, Flickr, 500px, and Pinterest don’t currently offer this sort of toggle switch in the iOS Settings, even though they may offer content filtering mechanisms of their own in their apps or on their websites.

Tumblr used to have in-app Safe Search controls as well, somehow bypassing Apple’s rules. This is an area Apple has cracked down on before, as with third-party Reddit apps. But in that case, the Reddit app makers were advised that after removing their toggle switches, users would have to turn on NSFW content from the Reddit website, as per Apple’s guidelines. Tumblr is doing it differently.

Of course, another explanation is that Apple is just chilling out about NSFW content in general, but that seems far less likely given the company’s historical position on a being a family-friendly App Store.

“Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone,” Steve Jobs famously said.

Apple has not responded to requests for comment about the matter. Tumblr declined to comment.

Disclosure: Yahoo owns Tumblr, and is in the process of being acquired by Verizon; Verizon owns TechCrunch parent company AOL.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/28/tumblr-just-added-a-switch-in-the-ios-settings-that-lets-you-turn-back-on-the-porn/

How one woman harnessed people power to save old New York

New film tells story of Jane Jacobss battle’s against the wealthiest developers in the city.

She was a beaky, bespectacled architecture writer, hardly a figure likely to ignite protests that changed the shape of one of the worlds great cities. Yet such is the legend of Jane Jacobs and her bitter struggles to preserve the heart of New York from modernisation that a film charting her astonishing victories over some of the most powerful developers in the US is set to inspire a new generation of urban activists around the world.

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City tells the story of Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, who made herself the bane of New Yorks powerful city planners from the 1950’s to 1970’s. Her nemesis was Robert Moses, the city’s powerful master builder and advocate of urban renewal, or wholesale neighbourhood clearance what author James Baldwin termed negro removal.

Moses dismissed the protesters as a bunch of mothers, and attempted to ignore their efforts to attract wider attention, which included taping white crosses across their glasses in the style of Jacobs.

But through a combination of grassroots activism, fundraising and persistence, Jacobs blocked Moses and successive city overlords from running Fifth Avenue through the historic Washington Square, tearing down much of SoHo and Little Italy to make way for a billion-dollar expressway, and building a six-lane highway up Manhattans west side.

“Some issues you fight with lawsuits and buy time that way,” she later wrote. “With others, you buy time by throwing other kinds of monkey wrenches in. You have to buy time in all these fights. The lawsuit is the more expensive way.”

Little
Little Italy, in New York, saved from demolition for a $1bn expressway. Photograph: Maremagnum/Getty Images

Jacobs warned of the dangers of mixing big business and government, and called them monstrous hybrids. She warned, too, that huge housing projects favoured by developers from the school of Le Corbusier would only bring social dislocation to the poor while making developers wealthy.

Jacobs’s method of prevarication, says Citizen Jane director Matt Tyrnauer, wrote the manual for activism. Speaking truth to power was her great strength, and she was fearless, but she was also a great strategist and analysed how to get to politicians and threaten them in ways that were going to be effective.

Robert Hammond, who produced Citizen Jane and co-founded the High Line, a significant renewal project along Manhattan’s west side that turned an elevated rail track into a garden and walkway, says key to her protest was targeting lower-tier elected officials because they depend on you for their jobs and they know it. She understood that fighting government is a slog, and no matter how powerful you think people are, things can be changed the value of individuals coming together and working as an organism, which today we call crowdsourcing.

Those lessons, in particular Jacobs’s later studies of economics, helped shape The Indivisible Project, an umbrella organisation for thousands of protest groups that have sprung up in the US in the aftermath of the presidential election.

Tyrnauer, who previously directed Valentino: The Last Emperor, considers that Indivisible’s activism, which includes berating local officials and challenging congressional leaders at town hall meetings, is cut from the Jacobs playbook. Late last year the group’s founders, four congressional aides moved to act by the election of Donald Trump, published suggestions that have become central to democratic resistance. Six thousand groups have registered so far, seeking to follow Indivisible’s basic, Jacobs-esque credo: localised defensive advocacy; recognition that elected representatives think primarily about re-election and how to use that; efforts to build constituent power through organically formed, locally led groups; and a focus on congressional representatives via town hall meetings, district office visits and mass phone calls.

Jane
Jane Jacobs won many victories over her nemesis Robert Moses, the powerful master builder. Photograph: Library of Congress/Sundance Selects

In her academic and personal life, Jacobs looked at the power individuals have in their own communities, says co-founder and executive director Ezra Levin. Indivisible is fundamentally about constituent power, and we recommend that people assert that power on their own turf, in their own communities. But the connection runs deeper. Jacobs maintained cities are best left to be self-organising. Too much control and they become lifeless. She believed they should be messy something old, something new and warned of the concentration of money and too little diversity. Crucial to Indivisible’s success is an individual group’s basic autonomy. “It’s crucial that this is not a franchise operation. We’ve created a platform but the decisions these groups are taking, or their exact form is fundamentally driven at a local level.”

Jacobs, who died in 2006 and whose centennial falls this year, used to tell an anti-authoritarian story about a preacher who warns children: In hell, there will be wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“What if you don’t have teeth?” one of the children asks.

Then teeth will be provided.

“That’s it the spirit of the designed city: teeth will be provided for you,” she told the New Yorker in 2004.

In Citizen Jane, the documentarians seek to apply the lessons of Manhattan in the 50’s to the urbanisation of China and India. The results are inconclusive.

Many of the challenges cities now face, at least in the west, are reversals of the clearances that affected cities in the last century. “The suburbs are where the poor people are moved to, and they’re becoming more impractical than cities to live in,” says Hammond.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/apr/22/jane-jacobs-people-power-saved-old-new-york-architecture-grassroots

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