Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Technology

We Sleep on Beds for a Living: Here’s How We Test Mattresses – CNET

Yes, we sleep on beds for a living. Our dedicated team of mattress testers knows much more about beds than the average person. Over the last seven-plus years, we have tested a considerable number of mattresses -- around 300 and counting -- and have spent hundreds of hours examining and reviewing the beds delivered to us in our mattress warehouse.

Don’t Toss Bacon Grease. Here are 9 Ways to Use It Instead – CNET

If you just finished cooking a tasty batch of bacon, the fun's not over. Bacon grease may look like something destined for the garbage but it has culinary uses that should not go ignored. With a pan full of bacon drippings, you're sitting on a shimmering sea of opportunities to add flavor to food and drink. You can make bacon-washed bourbon, add bacon to salad dressing or mix it into burger meat for an all-in-one bacon cheeseburger. 

Music publishers accuse Spotify of ‘bait-and-switch subscription scheme’

Spotify has once again drawn the ire of the music industry. The National Music Publishers' Association has called on the Federal Trade Commission to examine the streaming service's addition of audiobook content into all of its paid subscription plans. According to the group's FTC complaint, Spotify's recent actions are part of "a scheme to increase profits by deceiving consumers and cheating the music royalty system."This requires some backstory. In November 2023, Spotify announced that it would include 15 hours of audiobook content as part of all its Premium subscription plans. A few months later, the company unveiled a new audiobook-only subscription, offering the same number of listening hours for $10 a month. The publishers' organization claims that Spotify's recent price increases are based on offering that extra audiobook content, and that paying customers are automatically being charged for a service they didn't choose and can't opt out of without switching to the free, ad-supported listening experience.And the additional revenue from the higher Premium subscription costs may not go to the music composers. According to the FTC complaint, Spotify will pay about $150 million less in music royalties over the first year of these new bundled Premium plans.The NMPA letter goes so far as to call the new audiobook-only plan "a sham" that "exists solely to allow Spotify to claim that audiobook content is a significantly and independently valuable aspect of its 'bundled' Premium Plan, as the Audiobook Access Plan costs only $1 less than the Premium Plan with the exact same audiobook content and music."At this early stage, it's hard to say whether this issue will impact Spotify's planned overhaul of its royalty model. Both artists and publishers have routinely criticized the streaming ecosystem at large and Spotify in particular for underpaying the creatives behind the music.

Why being the last company to launch in a category can pay off

When Jordan Nathan launched his DTC nontoxic cookware company, Caraway, in 2019, he knew he was not the only founder trying to sell a new brand of pots and pans to millennials scrolling through Instagram. But he found that launching after his peers ended up being a blessing in disguise in all areas but one. When Caraway launched, it joined companies like Our Place, Great Jones and Made In Cookware in an increasingly crowded category of online cookware startups. But being a little late to the party allowed Caraway to see what other brands’ products and target audiences were, Nathan said on a recent episode of TechCrunch’s Found podcast. This allowed Caraway to change its approach and try to fill the gaps these brands were leaving open. Nathan said that Caraway initially planned to source its pans off the factory shelf, and target millennials who were looking for something nicer than what you’d find at IKEA but not quite at the wedding registry stage yet. It seemed that every other DTC cookware brand had the same idea, so Caraway shifted gears and instead focused on wedding registries and beyond, spending a little more time and effort on their product design. “It helped us change our color palette, it helped us change our price point, what pieces that we put in the set,” Nathan said. “And while a lot of those other brands did a lot of things right, we were able to craft our space within the kitchen DTC world that others weren’t playing in.” Watching other brands launch also changed how the company sold its first set of products. Nathan said Caraway was initially going to sell its cookware both in sets and as individual pieces, but when they realized that none of the competition was selling sets, the company went all in and launched as sets — without the option to buy one piece at a time. Caraway’s competitors also helped Caraway decide to start talking to retailers early in the process. Nathan said they always had planned to launch in stores, but seeing that none of the other DTC brands were looking to enter retail, Caraway started talking with retailers even before it launched online. You can now find Caraway sets at Target and Costco, among others. Getting into retailers early helped cement Caraway’s stake in the wedding registries as it launched in retailers that had existing registry businesses like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond, before it went bankrupt. This made Caraway a more natural choice for couples building their registries than its startup cookware competitors. While being a later entrant helped Caraway in many ways, it did hurt them in one area, Nathan said. “We were actually both last to market but also last to fundraise,” Nathan said. “And so when we went to go fundraise, every investor we spoke with had already picked their kitchen brand to tackle and invest in.” Because of this, the first fundraising round was a slog, and Nathan said that after a 10-month period of talking to five to eight investors a day, they were able to close a seed round including more than 100 investors and no big checks from VCs. But now, five years later, it seems that being late to the game may have paid off. The company has raised more than $40 million in venture capital and expanded its product lines to include bakeware and food storage, among other things, with more on the way.

Google is putting more Android in ChromeOS

/ The changes will let Google roll out AI features at a faster pace.By Jay Peters, a news editor who writes about technology, video games, and virtual worlds. He’s submitted several accepted emoji proposals to the Unicode Consortium. Illustration: The VergeChromeOS will “soon be developed on large portions of the Android stack” so that it can roll out AI features at a faster pace, Google announced on Wednesday. The company says it will be embracing things like the Android Linux kernel and Android frameworks “as part of the foundation of ChromeOS.”The changes won’t just mean more AI features, according to Google. The company also noted that they will help “simplify engineering efforts” and “help different devices like phones and accessories work better together with Chromebooks,” as detailed in a blog post. Google surely wants to have Chromebook users trying as many AI-powered features as possible, so these changes will probably accelerate that. But the company cautions that while the changes to the tech stack are “starting now,” they “won’t be ready for consumers for quite some time.”In the meantime, if you have a Chromebook Plus laptop, you can already use Gemini from your home screen.

OpenAI’s revenue is reportedly booming

We don’t know if OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, is actually making any money so far. But thanks to a Wednesday report in The Information, what we do know is that the company doubled its annualized revenue — a measure of the previous month’s revenue multiplied by 12, as the publication helpfully explained — in the last six months.OpenAI’s annualized revenue was $3.4 billion, CEO Sam Altman reportedly told staff. That’s up from $1.6 billion around the end of last year, and $1 billion a year ago. Most of this revenue came from a subscription version of ChatGPT, which offers higher messaging limits to people who pay at least $20 a month, as well as from developers who pay the company to use the company’s large language models in their own apps and services. About $200 million on an annualized basis comes from Microsoft, which gives OpenAI a cut of sales of OpenAI’s large language models to customers using Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform aimed at businesses.Notably, an OpenAI spokesperson told The Information that the financials were "inaccurate" but did not explain which details it disputed. OpenAI did not immediately respond to Engadget's request for comment.Earlier this week, Apple announced a partnership with OpenAI. The company plans to hook ChatGPT right into its operating systems for iPhones, iPads, and Macs, letting Siri reach out to ChatGPT to answer questions. The financial terms of that deal, however, are still unknown.

This humanoid robot can drive cars — sort of

Is the key to autonomous cars that don’t run over pedestrians and crash into telephone poles a humanoid robot behind the wheel? A group of researchers at the University of Tokyo think so, and they lay out their argument in a newly published technical paper this week. The researchers, one of whom consults for Toyota, developed and trained a “musculoskeletal humanoid” called Musashi to drive a small electric car through a test track. Equipped with two cameras standing in for human eyes, Musashi can “see” the road in front of it as well as the views reflected in the car’s side mirrors. With its mechanical hands, it can rotate the car’s key, pull the handbrake and switch on the turn signal. And, thanks to its anti-slip “feet,” Musashi can press on the accelerator or brake pedal. After “teaching” Musashi how to use the car’s steering wheel by feeding it raw sensor data, the researchers managed to get the robot to turn a corner at an intersection while respecting traffic light signals, they claim. But there are caveats. For one, Musashi only gingerly lifted its “foot” off the brake pedal to turn the corner rather than tap the accelerator. This was the result of technical limitations and out of an abundance of caution, the researchers say — but, as a result, the turn took about two minutes. Musashi did use the accelerator in a separate experiment, the researchers say. But it had trouble maintaining a consistent speed, depending on the steepness of the road’s incline. So clearly there’s some work to be done. Fortunately, the researchers say they’re up for the challenge, with plans to develop a next-gen robot and software. Maybe a few decades down the line, Musashi will be behind the wheel of your next Tokyo taxi.

King Ice teases bejeweled Pokémon bling

If you’re looking for a birthday gift for the Pokémon fan who has everything (and we mean, every toy, card, item of apparel, game, Happy Meal collectable, etc.), the jewelry brand King Ice may have the solution.King Ice posted a photo on X and its website Wednesday teasing a new line of Pokémon jewelry pieces. The photo features the familiar face of Pikachu with a Poké Ball on his head decked out entirely in jewels. The X caption reads: “Collection dropping 6/14/24.”This is not the first time the jewelry and clothing brand have collaborated with a big video game franchise. King Ice also sells a line of bejeweled Xbox themed necklaces, rings and earrings. It's also made necklaces and other keepsakes featuring characters from games like PAC-MAN, Sonic the Hedgehog and Halo with a completely blinged out Master Chief full figure and helmet. King Ice has also made necklaces and rings for other pop culture icons such as Batman, Chucky and Tiffany from the Child’s Play horror movie and TV show franchise, Looney Tunes characters based on the Space Jam movies and Ren and Stimpy.This also won’t be the first time that Pokémon has been honored with its own jewelry line. Tiffany & Co. released a line of Pokémon jewelry pieces in November designed by Daniel Arsham featuring characters like Pikachu, Charmander, Squirtle, Jigglypuff, Cubone and Mew. The Tiffany necklaces came in 18K yellow gold with diamonds or sterling silver and even have their own Tiffany Blue Poké Balls, according to Women’s Wear Daily.This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.

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