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The overlooked opportunity in tackling public finance

August 18, 2018 Alex 0

If you’re a certain age, it’s likely that you’ve never given a second thought to buying a municipal bond or the process of bond buying, even if you’ve intuited, rightly, that’s it’s an intentionally opaque business.

Yet there could be a big opportunity for startups, and for people looking for places to invest, and for cities with crumbling infrastructures, in disrupting the status quo — if only everyone starts playing closer attention.

First, there’s a strong case for buying bonds. Earlier this year, the Trump administration capped at $10,000 the amount that taxpayers can deduct in property tax and local and state income tax. Most people with hefty tax bills are benefiting in other ways from that same new tax bill, but this aspect of it isn’t so great for them, and municipal bonds can help. The reason: interest income paid on muni bonds is exempt from federal tax. (Bonds issued within one’s state can also be free of state tax.)

What about people without hefty tax bills? For one thin..

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It’s Friday so relax and watch a hard drive defrag forever on Twitch

August 18, 2018 Alex 0

It’s been a while since I defragged — years, probably, because these days for a number of reasons computers don’t really need to. But perhaps it is we who need to defrag. And what better way to defrag your brain after a long week than by watching the strangely satisfying defragmentation process taking place on a simulated DOS machine, complete with fan and HDD noise?

That’s what you can do with this Twitch stream, which has defrag.exe running 24/7 for your enjoyment.

I didn’t realize how much I missed the sights and sounds of this particular process. I’ve always found ASCII visuals soothing, and there was something satisfying about watching all those little blocks get moved around to form a uniform whole. What were they doing down there on the lower right hand side of the hard drive anyway? That’s what I’d like to know.

Afterwards I’d launch a state of the art game like Quake 2 just to convince myself it was loading faster.

There’s also that nice purring noise that a hard drive wou..

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Valve unveils its Twitch competitor Steam TV

August 18, 2018 Alex 0

Valve has created its own Twitch competitor, and it’s launching it today just in time for The International tournament. Steam.tv is Valve’s new streaming site, and it’s currently dedicated to the company’s Dota 2 game. Valve’s launch of Steam TV comes just as The International, an annual Dota 2 e-sports tournament, is about to begin on August 20th. The International is the biggest e-sports tournament in the world, thanks to its massive prize fund of over $24 million. It makes it an ideal time for Valve to launch its own streaming service.

Steam TV is rather basic right now though. It’s limited to Dota 2, and signing in with a Steam account only gives you access to a friends list and group chats. CNET notes that you can watch a stream…

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Tencent-backed Qutoutiao files for U.S. IPO

August 17, 2018 Alex 0

Chinese content aggregator Qutoutiao Inc, which is backed by technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, filed for an initial public offering of up to $300 million with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

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US reportedly pressuring Facebook to break Messenger’s encryption over MS-13 investigation

August 17, 2018 Alex 0

The US Department of Justice is reportedly trying to have Facebook break the end-to-end encryption of its popular Messenger chat app so that the government can spy on a suspect’s “ongoing voice conversations” in a criminal investigation related to the notorious MS-13 gang. Facebook has so far pushed back against the DoJ’s request, according to a new Reuters scoop on the situation.

End-to-end encryption makes it so that only the participants of a conversation can see the messages and content that it contains. Facebook does not have access to the data.

Reuters says that the surveillance case is under seal in California, so no documents or information about it are publicly accessible. And it seems like tensions are rising fast: earlier…

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Lexar’s making a glorious return to the world of flash storage

August 17, 2018 Alex 0

It looks like Lexar is back on its feet.

Back in 2017, the staple company in the world of digital storage threw in the towel and announced that it’d be ceasing retail operations that year. But according to an announcement spotted by CameraJabberearlier this week, the company is back in business, and will be ready to return to producing and globally shipping flash storage as of this fall.

“I’m extremely excited to re-introduce the Lexar brand to our worldwide customers,” Lexar CEO Huabo Cai said in a statement. “Lexar is dynamic, has superior research and development capabilities, and has a deep understanding of our customer’s needs. At the same time, we are confident that we can expand the Lexar business successfully in different…

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Tesla lost nearly $8 billion in shareholder value this week and its board should be ashamed

August 17, 2018 Alex 0

Over the last five days, Tesla shareholders watched the value of their stock decline by roughly 16 percent and saw nearly $8 billion in value erased, as the company’s celebrity chief executive, Elon Musk, had what amounts to a very public breakdown.

However, Musk is not the only person responsible for the collapse of Tesla’s stock price. As The New York Times article which precipitated the latest slide in Tesla’s value on the public markets makes clear, the company’s board is also to blame.

For months, Musk has been showing signs of strain (generously speaking), and has been accused of making questionable decisions to drive growth and stifle criticism or dissent at the revolutionary electric vehicle company he founded.

During that time, as Shira Ovide notes in her piece from Bloomberg, Tesla’s board (primarily composed of Musk’s friends, relatives and initial investors) took no public steps to control or manage the situation.

Some Tesla board members are reportedly concerned about ..

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Y Combinator invests in non-invasive breast cancer screening bra EVA

August 17, 2018 Alex 0

According to a report by the American Cancer Society, an estimated 266,120 women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year and (according to a 2016 estimate) can expect to pay between $60,000 and $134,000 on average for treatment and care. But, after hundreds of thousands of dollars and non-quantifiable emotional stress for them and their families, the American Cancer Society still estimates 40,920 women will lose their battle to the disease this year.

Worldwide, roughly 1.7 million women will be diagnosed with the disease yearly, according to a 2012 estimate by The World Cancer Research Fund International.

While these numbers are stark, they do little to fully capture just how devastating a breast cancer diagnosis is for women and their loved ones. This is a feeling that Higia Technologies‘ co-founder and CEO Julián Ríos Cantú is unfortunately very familiar with.

“My mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor,” Cantú told TechCrunch. “The first time sh..

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Streaming TV services are now used by 5 percent of US households with Wi-Fi

August 17, 2018 Alex 0

We’re seeing a lot more households that choose to stream their favorite shows instead of watching them on cable.

According to newly released analytics from the media pros at Comscore, that number has spiked by 58 percent in the past year. The total number — 4.9 million — is a whole 5 percent of US households that choose to stream over Wi-Fi-based services, without the bells and whistles of traditional paid TV.

Comscore specifically looked at “pure play” systems: streamers that don’t offer their own original shows the same way that other services, like Netflix , Hulu, and Amazon Prime do. Right now, these pure players include Sling, along with DirectTV Now, Playstation Vue, YouTube TV, and others. A full 10 percent of streaming time…

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Netflix is testing video promos that play in between episodes

August 17, 2018 Alex 0

Netflix’s latest test feature is a video promo that plays in between episodes of a series you’re watching. The test is only appearing for select users globally and it’s a full-screen video of content Netflix’s algorithms are recommending to a viewer, as spotted by TechCrunch.

Users who have spotted the test feature have taken to (since deleted) Reddit and Twitter to voice their annoyance at having their show-binging interrupted by an ad for other shows. A bug appeared for some users where they were unable to skip the promo and had to watch a certain amount — like with ads on YouTube — before they were able to get to the next episode of their show. Netflix told The Verge that the video promos are supposed to be skippable and that the…

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