Category Archives: Gadget News, Reviews, And Features

A 3D-printed bridge is being built using reinforced concrete

It sounds like the university is getting by on a technicality with its “first-ever” claims, but that doesn’t make this project any less interesting. Manufacturing of the concrete parts has begun, and it’s anticipated that bridge construction will start in September. To get to the point where the 3D printed parts were considered reliable, the team at the university first built a 1:2 scale model, which was able to hold a 2,000kg (over 4,400 pounds) load.

As for why this process is an improvement over standard concrete techniques, printing a bridge will use far less concrete than pouring it into molds. There’s an environmental impact here, as well — the production of concrete cement releases CO2, so cutting down on those emissions is worth noting. There’s also more freedom of design, as a 3D-printer can fabricate shapes that are much harder to produce with a mold.

Another benefit is that the steel reinforcement cables can be printed at the same time as the concrete parts, leading to pieces that are “pre-stressed” for additional stability. Of course, this bridge is meant for much lighter weights than those that handle auto traffic are meant for — it’s not clear that this production technique would be able to scale up to handle a more intense load. But even if 3D printing can only be used for less strenuous jobs, there’s still plenty of places where it could be useful.

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‘Flawless’: ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ earning social media raves

It’s only natural that Spider-Man, of all heroes, would find a friendly reception on the web.

Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer

The new “Spider-Man: Homecoming” trailer shows Stark in a mentor role and Michael Keaton going full Birdman.

Fans and critics who’ve watched “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in early screenings are starting to share reviews and reactions on social media, and it’s looking good for the reboot of the teen hero. (No spoilers ahead.)

The words “best” and “favorite” are being tossed around.

Star Tom Holland earned raves.

The movie’s humor and sense of fun were praised.

The high-school setting and film’s innocence stood out for some viewers.

And Holland himself weighed in on his adventures making the film.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming”  opens July 7 in the US and UK, and on July 6 in Australia.

Star Wars at 40Celebrate the many ways the Force-filled sci-fi saga has impacted our lives.

Logging Out: A look at death in the digital age.

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In 2017, tweets are official presidential statements

It’s hard to keep up with all the back-and-forth, but after Trump unexpectedly fired Comey in early May, he then tweeted that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” In his early June testimony, Comey essentially said he’d welcome the existence of those tapes, indicating that they’d exonerate him and show that he’s been telling the truth about his accounts of his interactions with the president.

The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating the extent of Russian hacking and influence on the 2016 election, asked the White House counsel on June 9th about the existence of any such tapes and said the White House had until June 23rd to respond. Trump’s tweets went out on the 22nd, and the White House says they’re sufficient response to the inquiry, calling them a “statement” from the president.

Of course, Trump could delete the tweets at any time — he’s already deleted a handful of tweets during his presidency. Representatives Mike Conaway and Adam Schiff, the leading republican and democrat on the committee, don’t agree. Conaway said that the tweet wasn’t a sufficient response, while Schiff noted that Trump’s tweet stopped short of denying that the White House had recordings and said he wanted a response in writing.

Given the fleeting nature of Twitter, it’s not surprising that the committee wants a more traditional response. The question is whether or not the White House will provide it — and if they don’t, how these tweets will hold up to legal scrutiny in the ongoing investigation. That’s not to mention the fact that Trump has since indicated that his original tapes tweet was meant to essentially influence Comey’s public comments and testimony, something some believe could qualify as witness intimidation or obstruction of justice — something the president is already believed to be under investigation for.

“If the president had no tapes, why did he suggest otherwise? Did he seek to mislead the public? Was he trying to intimidate or silence James Comey?” Schiff said on Friday. “And if so, did he take other steps to discourage potential witnesses from speaking out?” While it’s almost impossible for charges to actually be brought against Trump, these developments could certainly feed into the obstruction case and eventual potential punishment from Congress.

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Cannabis World Congress lights up New York

The most beautiful phone ever has one wildly annoying issue

The Samsung Galaxy S8’s fast speeds and fantastic curved screen make it a top phone for 2017, but the annoying fingerprint reader could sour your experience.

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Sharp will reportedly start building OLED TV panels next year

Now that Sharp is under new ownership by Foxconn, it may have big plans for a return to TV prominence. In a move that could explain a sudden push to recover the use of its name from Hisense, the Japanese company apparently has a plan to add OLED TV production lines at one of its plants next year. The Japan Times reports that at a cost of 57.4 billion yen ($515 million US), it could have production operation at two plants in the spring of 2018. While one would work on small and medium screens for phones (like, maybe a new iPhone?) and laptops, the other would focus on TVs, where LG dominates the segment, producing OLED panels for its own TVs as well as other brands.

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Is Uber 2.0 now possible after CEO’s departure?

International Keynote Speakers Attend The Startup Fest Europe

Travis Kalanick is out as CEO, but will remain on the company’s board.

Michel Porro / Getty Images

The next CEO of Uber faces a lot of obstacles.  

After Travis Kalanick’s exit as Uber’s chief executive on Tuesday, the world’s biggest ride-hailing company needs to find someone who can move forward after a series of controversies, defend the service against regulators around the world and who has experience leading a fast-growing, global organization with 12,000 employees. 

Add to that a need to reset Uber’s brash, toxic culture pretty fast, and you’ve got a nearly impossible job on your hands.

“Uber needs someone who’s patient, persistent, has a softer touch, but is just as driven, ambitious and achievement-focused as Travis was,” said Marc Cenedella, CEO of career site Ladders. “It’s a remarkable job and there’s maybe two dozen people on the planet that can do it.”

Travis Kalanick resigns as CEO, stays on as board member

After taking a leave of absence as head of Uber, Kalanick relinquishes some control of the company he co-founded.

by Iyaz Akhtar

The shakeup at the top throws into question the future direction of the world’s highest-valued startup, worth roughly $70 billion. The change could affect how the service is run and how it offers rides to customers in the 80 countries it serves, from Azerbaijan to Vietnam, and give a lift to rival Lyft. Despite its popularity, Uber is now a tarnished brand — if you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen #DeleteUber, the trending hashtag from people boycotting the service over its many missteps.

Even with its woes, Uber’s board will likely have its pick of Silicon Valley’s and the world’s top executive talent, so long as they can assure the incoming CEO that Kalanick — who remains a board member and is Uber’s single-largest shareholder — won’t get in the way.

And recruitment experts say all of Uber’s problems are unlikely to dissuade a new leader from taking on the job. Uber is still the world’s most popular ride-hailing service, and it’s unclear whether most riders even care about the inside drama at the San Francisco-based startup.  

“Top CEOs will relish a chance to fix the issues this extraordinary company has and lay the groundwork for the next phase of growth,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray Christmas, which helps workers find new jobs.

How we got here

It’s not a surprise Kalanick, who helped co-found Uber in 2009, has called it quits. Uber’s image problem was bad enough that some of its key investors saw him as a liability. Bill Gurley, a major investor and one of Kalanick’s early backers, led the effort to force the CEO to resign, according to The New York Times. On Wednesday afternoon, the newspaper reported Gurley would be replaced on Uber’s board by another member of Benchmark, his firm venture capital firm.

His ouster as CEO comes a week after Kalanick announced he was taking a leave of absence, in part to allow him to grieve for his mother, who died just weeks earlier. But it also came on the day that Uber released the results of an internal investigation, led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, that found an overall pattern of unprofessional business conduct. “If we are going to work on Uber 2.0,” Kalanick wrote to employees in a June 13 memo, “I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs.” 

Some people figured he would return from leave, necessitating a formal request he step down from the company, according to The Washington Post. The New York Times said Kalanick asked for advice from Uber board member Arianna Huffington after receiving a letter titled “Moving Uber Forward” from Gurley and four other top shareholders asking he resign immediately. He made the decision to step down hours later on Tuesday, saying “I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”

The stage for his departure was set by a raft of scandals that erupted over the past year. Here are some of the (low)lights:

  • In February, Waymo, a self-driving car company owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, sued Uber, alleging that Uber stole secretive autonomous car technology.
  • Also in February, a blog post by former engineer Susan Fowler described a workplace culture involving instances of sexual harassment, gender bias and unprofessional business practices.
  • In March, Uber was in hot water after using a tool called “Greyball” to evade local officials.
  • In April, Uber reportedly had a run-in with Tim Cook after the Apple CEO was upset that the app allowed Uber to secretly identify iPhones, even after its app had been deleted from people’s phones.
  • In June, a woman raped by an Uber driver in India sued the company and several executives, alleging that they obtained and mishandled her medical records.
  • In response to Fowler’s blog post, the company hired Holder to lead an independent probe into allegations of sexual harassment. The board voted to adopt all of the recommendations in his 13-page report, which included “changes to senior leadership.”  
  • During an employee meeting to discuss Holder’s findings, board member David Bonderman made a comment disparaging women during a discussion about sexism. Bonderman stepped down from Uber’s board a few hours later, saying his comments were “careless, inappropriate and inexcusable.”

Not everyone is willing to pile on. Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, and an attention-grabbing leader in his own right, defended Kalanick during an event hosted by Sprint and its prepaid arm, Virgin Mobile

“He’s an extraordinary individual who’s human like the rest of us,” Branson said. He added that he’s recommended an unnamed “he” as a potential CEO candidate.  

And on Wednesday, Uber employees circulated a petition calling for Kalanick’s return to the company in an operational role. “Yes, Travis is flawed, as we all are,” the petition says. “But his passion, vision, and dedication to Uber are simply unmatched. We would not be here today without him, and believe he can evolve into the leader we need. He is critical to our future success.”

On Thursday, news site Axios reported that over 1,000 employees had signed the petition.

Where to next?

Uber, a privately-held company, is now run by a committee of 10 executives and has lost a large number of its leadership due to resignations or firings. As part of Holder’s review, more than 20 executives exited the company, including Emil Michael, senior vice president of business and Kalanick’s second-in-command. This situation is unsustainable and needs to change soon, said Erik Gordon, a professor at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Richard Branson excuses mistakes of Uber’s Travis Kalanick

When asked what advice he would give the next CEO, Virgin’s founder describes Kalanick as “an extraordinary individual who’s human like the rest of us.” Branson also reveals he submitted a name for the CEO position, but not his own.

“You can’t run anything by a committee of 10,” he said. “A company needs real leadership.”

The brand currently stands for “an egomaniacal, semi-evil company,” Gordon added, so the new leadership will have to take what’s good about Uber — the idea that it’s a better alternative to taxi services, for example — and have the startup stand for that.

The culture can also be changed, recruitment experts said, but that’s going to take time and may happen methodically, one issue at a time.

Beyond that, Challenger argued that a major hurdle the board and a new leader will face could be Kalanick, who holds a sizable number of voting shares. Kalanick’s decision to stay on the board might undermine the incoming boss.

“They’re going to have to prove if they want to get one of these top talents that this person would have autonomy and room to move,” Challenger said of the board, “and not be subject to second-guessing from the former CEO.”

Even with all those issues, Uber should still end up nabbing a leading executive, with those we’ve interviewed and other news reports mentioning executives including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

With Uber in desperate need for someone to take charge — especially if it aims to go public one day — we may find out pretty quickly who that new leader will be.

–CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt contributed to this story.

First published June 21, 1:58 p.m. PT.
Update, June 23 at 4:03 p.m. PT: Adds details about employee petition for Kalanick’s return, additional background.  

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