Facebook Considers Alternative Currency for Libra



As you may have heard, Facebook announced its Libra cryptocurrency, and Calibra digital wallet, in July of 2019. Since then, some of the companies that were founding members of the Libra Association have left it. According to Reuters, Facebook is now considering “alternative approaches of the currency token” that Libra would use.

Facebook Inc (FB.O), facing growing skepticism about its digital currency project Libra, said on Sunday the initiative could use cryptocurrencies based on national currencies such as the dollar, instead of the synthetic one it initially proposed.

There were originally 28 founding members of the Libra Association. PayPal made the decision to forgo further participation in the Libra Association on October 4, 2019. CNBC reported on October 11, 2019, that Ebay, Stripe, Mastercard, Visa, and Mercado Pago “are all dropping out of Facebook’s libra cryptocurrency project”. Reuters reported that Booking Holdings Inc has also left the group.

David Marcus heads the Libra project for Facebook. Reuters reported that Marcus told a banking seminar that the Libra Association’s main goal was to create a more efficient payments system, but that it was open to looking at alternative approaches of the currency token it would use.

David Marcus shared some potential alternatives: “… we could have a series of stablecoins, a dollar stablecoin, a euro stablecoin, a sterling pound stablecoin, etc,” That said, David Marcus also stated he was not suggesting currency-pegged stablecoins were the Libra Association’s new preferred option.

Facebook is still aiming for a June 2020 launch of Libra. It acknowledges that the target could be missed due to regulatory hurdles. Personally, I think this is a mess. Those considering using (or investing in) Libra likely are interested in it because it is cryptocurrency. The suggestion that Libra could be based on stablecoin (as David Marcus calls it) could turn off those who prefer cryptocurrency.


GNC #1399 I’m Back



GNC #1399 I’m Back. I must apologize but it has been an eventful two weeks that I talk about during the show. Nothing like an upper respiratory infection and a 104F fever to keep me away from the mic. But I am back and while I missed my 15-year celebration of being a podcaster we will celebrate episode 1400 in Columbus next week. Lot’s to share on the show tonight and me being healthy enough to talk 10 minutes without hacking in your er.

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OnePlus Turbos 7T Pro With McLaren Edition



Hot the heels of the OnePlus 7T launch last month in US and India, the 7T Pro and 7T Pro McLaren Edition were revealed in London, fulfilling the promise of “more to come”. In line with the OnePlus modus operandi, the T editions are the performance upgrades to the standard models released earlier in the year. So what’s changed for the 7T Pro?

Under the hood, there’s an upgrade to the processor with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus, boosting graphics rendering and processing speeds by 15%. On the power side, OnePlus’s latest fast charge technology “Warp Charge 30T” is brought to the new OnePlus 7T Pro. Results include 23% faster charge speed than Warp Charge 30 and charging to around 68% capacity in just 30 minutes.

The display stays the same with the 90 Hz Fluid Display and an edge-to-edge QHD+ display – that’s a 3120×1440 resolution giving 516 ppi!

What hasn’t stayed the same is the camera which now has three lenses on the back for a new macro mode for really close-up photography. On top of that there’s an advanced hybrid image stabilization system combining OIS and EIS technologies for smooth and clear videos. As with the 7, the front-facing selfie cam pops up from the top.

On the software side, OxygenOS has been updated to version 10, making it the first phone to come with Android 10 out of the box.

The new flagship smartphones we unveiled today showcase OnePlus’s constant pursuit of an excellent user experience,” said Pete Lau, CEO and Founder of OnePlus. “The OnePlus 7T Pro combines the latest innovations with our signature features such as 90 Hz Fluid Display and a triple camera setup for the next level in fast and smooth experience. We’ve also teamed up again with McLaren to challenge the standards for a premium smartphone.

And if the 7T Pro wasn’t enough, then take a look at the McLaren Edition. With orange highlights, it references the legendary motorsport firm – only Ferrari have more F1 wins – with papaya orange trim. Frankly, I think they should have made the back completely orange.

In the box, there’s a custom case for the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren edition, which is covered with Alcantara, a composite fabric material that provides a soft and subtle feel while being good and grippy.

The software on the phone has been tweaked too with McLaren animations, themes and wallpapers. The lock screen features a minimalist timepiece, inspired by McLaren’s dashboard instrumentation. For notifications, the display’s curved edges softly illuminate with a papaya orange glow. Additionally, custom-made icons complete the overall McLaren experience.

The McLaren edition is turbocharged with 256 GB of storage and 12 GB  RAM. Expect to pay an additional £100 for the privilege.

Following last year’s successful ‘Salute to Speed’ launch we’re excited to once again be launching a limited-edition McLaren device with our partner OnePlus. We are two challenger brands whose restless pursuit of innovation reaches its pinnacle with the new OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition. The OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition celebrates our brands’ shared passion for design, craftsmanship and innovation and we look forward to seeing how this is received by technology enthusiasts and McLaren fans worldwide.” Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive.

For pricing and availability in the UK, these are the options, prices and availability dates for the 7T series.

  

RAM 

ROM 

Price 

Date

OnePlus 7T 

8GB 

128GB 

 £549 

10:00 BST, 17 Oct

OnePlus 7T Pro 

8GB 

256GB 

£699

10:00 BST, 17 Oct

OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren edition 

12GB 

256GB 

£799

10:00 GMT, 5 Nov

 


New Design for Anglepoise with the Type 80



Anglepoise LogoLong-time readers of GNC will know that I’m a bit of an Anglepoise fan (I did a photo review of the Type 75 Mini back in 2014). The designs are clever mixes of detailed engineering and superb convenience. Anglepoise Type 80 Table LampAnd while the balance mechanisms might take the glory, the convenience of a power switch on the back of the lamp head is understated – check out the Type 1228. Anyone who appreciates Apple’s product design should enjoy Anglepoise too.

Many of Anglepoise’s designs date back decades to George Carwardine‘s original models. Style never goes out of fashion, but new types and designs don’t exactly flow out of Anglepoise on a regular basis. According to their history, the previous completely new design was the Type C in 2011, and that’s not currently available either.

Fortunately, there’s good news with the arrival of the Anglepoise Type 80. Designed by Sir Kenneth Grange, the new Type 80 lamp shade features a halo of light (look at the picture) which illuminates the outside of the shade, and the design eschews the triple spring balance mechanism in favour of a new sprung joint.

In the history of domestic lighting there is one truly iconic element and it must surely be the conical shade, so it is right that Anglepoise should have such a classic iconic design in their portfolio. Moreover, with every new model that we launch there is an innovation, no matter how modest. With the Type 80 the visual attraction of light spilling onto the shade outer surface aims to make the iconic even more distinguished.

To celebrate the new design, Anglepoise have produced a limited edition set of twenty postcards that celebrate the work of Sir Kenneth Grange. Early orders of Type 80 designs will get a set thrown in for free.

As a fan, what do I think? I miss the classic spring balance but it does give a more minimalist look.

The Type 80 collection is available in rose pink, pistachio, grey mist and matte black. Available direct from Anglepoise and John Lewis in the UK. The lamp shown above right costs GB£199.


Instagram is Removing the Following Activity Tab



Instagram is removing the Following tab in the Activity Feed. It was launched in 2011. Since then, the Explore tab was created, and it became the best way to discover new content. That said, some people are going to be sad when the Following Tab disappears. Apparently, people were using it as a way to snoop on the accounts they follow. The tab shows everything a person clicked “like” on.

BuzzFeed News reported that Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, said that Following wasn’t a feature that people used frequently and that the company suspected many users didn’t know it existed. And for those that did, it was often a source of unwelcome surprises.

“People didn’t always know their activity is surfacing,” Shah said. “So you have a case where it’s not serving the use case you built it for, but it’s also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up.”

It never occurred to me to find out what other people “like” on Instagram. If you are following me, and check the Following tab, you will find so many “liked” photos of cats and kittens, books, and art. Maybe I’m boring.

Based on several articles that I’ve skimmed through today, it seems that many people use “like” to click on photos that might be considered “NSFW” (or that were close to it). Personally, I don’t care what people “like” on Instagram. That said, plenty of other people do care! The Following tab was being used by people who enjoyed finding out what the people they follow clicked “like” on. It seems the feature became a form of entertainment for some.

I think the revelations about just how much the Following tab showed may have influenced some people to go through their Instagram “likes” and remove some of the more questionable ones. Following revealed more about a person than they may have intended, and some people are going to be embarrassed by what they have let their followers know about them.


Apple Released macOS Catalina



Apple has released macOS Catalina today. There are some changes that people should be aware of before installing it. MacRumors put together an extremely informative blog post with tons of details. I will highlight just a few of them here.

Apple is removing iTunes. Personally, I think iTunes has always been a bit strange, so I won’t miss it when it is gone. I’ve had the misfortune of Apple losing most of my music and podcasts whenever there was an update. As such, I stopped using iTunes.

Apple is replacing iTunes with Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. Device management capabilities that used to be housed in iTunes will be available through Finder.

Apple Music is using the former iTunes logo, a music note on a field of white. I wonder if this will confuse some people. MacRumors says Apple Music will house music you’ve purchased, imported, or acquired through Apple Music. Apple says Apple Music has been designed for Apple Music subscribers, but older features remain for for non-subscribers.

Apple Podcasts replaces the podcast functionality that was available in earlier versions of macOS. The new Apple TV app includes a “Watch Now” feature like on iOS and Apple TV, which offers personalized recommendations. You can start watching a show on any of your Apple devices, and pick it up on another device now that the TV app is available on the Mac.

Another important thing to know is that 32-bit apps are no longer able to run in macOS Catalina. MacRumors said that macOS Catalina warns when you install it that some apps are not going to work, letting you know which apps will need to be replaced. Before you install macOS Catalina, you may want to find out if it will prevent you from using 32-bit apps that you need for work.


Ninja Moved to Mixer Due to Contract Issues



Tyler Blevins – known as “Ninja” – left Twitch in favor of streaming exclusively on Mixer in August of 2019. At the time, there was much speculation that the reason was because Mixer was paying him a lot more money than Twitch did. It turns out that is simply not so. The reason Ninja switched has to do with contracts.

Business Insider posted a detailed interview with Jessica Blevins, Ninja’s wife and manager. In it, she states: “Money was the last thing on our mind”. Business Insider notes that the value of Ninja’s deal with Mixer is kept heavily under wraps.

One of the main sticking points with Twitch’s newly proposed contract was that it would limit the licensing deals that Jessica and Tyler had worked so hard to attain in the first place.

In other words, the Twitch contract conflicted with some of Ninja’s current sponsors. Jessica Blevins said: “With the wording of how that contract was going, he wouldn’t have been able to grow his brand much outside of gaming.” Microsoft, however, was willing to work with Ninja, without restricting whatever sponsorships Ninja has (or may have in the future).

In addition, Jessica said that the Ninja chatroom on Twitch had become “pretty toxic”. It apparently was bad enough where it was making Ninja unhappy and less interested in streaming.

Twitch should take a lesson from this. I can see where they might lose more big streamers to Mixer, since Mixer’s contract seems to be less restricting than Twitch’s is. It also sounds like Twitch needs to do more to prevent chatrooms from become so toxic that big streamers no longer want stream there.