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Industry & Technology

Essential circles the drain, lays off 30 percent of staff

Ars Technica - 58 min 11 sec ago

Enlarge / The Essential Phone and 360 camera. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Things aren't looking good for Essential, Andy Rubin's smartphone startup. After announcing it was cancelling its next smartphone earlier this year, the company will now lay off 30 percent of its staff, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Essential produced a pretty good product for its first-ever smartphone. The Essential Phone had a unique ceramic body, pioneered the notch design trend, and shipped with stock Android. Essential's update support has also been great—besides consistent monthly security updates, it delivered an update to Android 9 Pie on day one, an unheard-of speed for most Android OEMs. Essential did all this while, in the news, it seemed like a dead company and was considering a sale.

The Essential Phone ultimately wasn't competitive, though. It had flagship pricing but couldn't keep up with the competition, lacking a good camera, screen, and water resistance. Essential was also a brand-new company, and it's hard to trust a company with no track record. The phone didn't sell well, and eventually, fire sales took the price from $700 all the way down to $250.

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Da Vinci’s possible vision disorder may have influenced his art

Ars Technica - 1 hour 18 min ago

Enlarge / The recently restored oil painting Salvator Mundi, attributed to Leonardo, shows evidence of exotropic eye alignment, a new paper claims. (credit: Christopher Tyler)

The great Italian Renaissance artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci may have suffered from an unusual visual tic: an intermittent outward turn of the eye, clinically known as strabismus. According to a new paper in JAMA Ophthalmology, that disorder may have helped this quintessential Renaissance man capture 3D space on a flat 2D canvas so brilliantly.

If so, Leonardo would be in very good company. Several other famous artists—including Rembrandt, Durer, Degas, and Picasso—likely also had some form of strabismus, based on analysis of eye alignment in their respective self-portraits. Because such a misalignment tends to suppress the deviating eye, this condition would have enabled Leonardo to shift between monocular vision and normal vision, giving him a distinct artistic advantage.

"Try shutting one eye," explains author Christopher Tyler, a visual neuroscientist at City University of London. "The world now looks flatter, so the spatial relations are easier to translate onto the flat canvas."

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Gorillas that are great with kids are also luckier in love

Ars Technica - 1 hour 23 min ago

Enlarge / "Resting in contact," primatologist jargon for "getting a cuddle." (credit: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund)

Cantsbee the gorilla was great with kids, which is why it struck gorilla researcher Stacy Rosenbaum as odd when he suddenly started grunting aggressively at his usual gaggle of baby gorilla sidekicks. Cantsbee seemed oddly annoyed by them tagging along behind.

“Cantsbee was always incredibly gentle,” says Rosenbaum. “He was never aggressive towards infants or humans. So the infants looked startled, not sure what to do.” Eventually they got the hint and moved off into the bushes to go around the grumpy Cantsbee, who then began displaying aggressively at Rosenbaum, too.

“I thought he was just having a really bad day,” she recalls. “But then I realized he was sitting next to a snare. It sent chills down my spine—I can’t say for sure, but it seems like he was protecting not just the infants, but me, too.”

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Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL are now available - CNET - News - 1 hour 39 min ago
You can buy or lease the phone from Google or Verizon Wireless today starting at $800.

Facebook in fresh video metrics row

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 41 min ago
Legal action brought by advertisers claims the social network knew about problems in metrics in 2015.

Porsche will price Taycan EV between Cayenne and Panamera - Roadshow - News - 1 hour 49 min ago
In the US, that could mean a starting price in the $75,000 range.

Spotify Premium now offers you artist-inspired playlists that go on forever - CNET - News - 1 hour 52 min ago
Endless Artist Radio lets you search for a stream based on your favorite musician.

Red Dead Redemption 2 launch trailer builds hype for return to Wild West - CNET - News - 1 hour 53 min ago
Rockstar is gearing up gamers for the PS4 and Xbox One game's release next week.

Learn 5 new languages with a lifetime Mondly subscription for $59.99 - CNET - News - 1 hour 55 min ago
Normally $48 for just one year, top-rated Mondly could be the last language app you'll ever need. Plus: a selfie-stick deal? It's true!

Sonos in talks to add Roku's voice assistant to its devices - CNET - News - 2 hours 58 sec ago
It’s a partnership of multimedia underdogs.

WD shoots out 96-layer embedded flash chips

The Register - 2 hours 10 min ago
What do you get for 50 per cent more layers? Not a lot

Western Digital has a 96-layer NAND chip for smartphones and has spoken of higher embedded storage capacity while seemingly delivering exactly the same capacity as before.…

How 5G pits the FCC, carriers against local governments - CNET - News - 2 hours 10 min ago
A federal mandate to streamline the process for building out 5G could leave a lot of local municipalities feeling burned.

Facebook 'war room' scrambles to combat fake election news - CNET - News - 2 hours 19 min ago
The social network still has a lot to prove.

Brace yourself, Britain: Health minister shares 'vision' for NHS 'tech revolution'

The Register - 3 hours 4 min ago
National Programme for IT Mark 2?

Given the track record of project failures in NHS IT, some might say that Matt Hancock - former Minister for Fun who now runs the Department of Health - is marching with ill-founded confidence towards what he describes as a “tech revolution”.…

Twitter battles untruths by adding context to Moments - CNET - News - 3 hours 6 min ago
The "annotations" give us more information on curated tweets.

Best Buy's portable Google Assistant speaker is just $25 - CNET - News - 3 hours 54 min ago
The nightstand-friendly but also portable Insignia Voice once sold for as high as $150. It's an alarm clock and smart Bluetooth speaker.

Orange Is the New Black will end after season 7 - CNET - News - 3 hours 55 min ago
It's been one hell of a ride.

Android creator Andy Rubin's firm might think its phone is Essential, but 30% of staff are not

The Register - 4 hours 8 min ago
Promises 'truly game changing consumer product'... Please, not the Clippy mobe

The phone startup founded by Andy Rubin – creator of WebTV, the Sidekick and Android – has reportedly laid off 30 per cent of its staff. Essential is still in the game, but only just.…

This iPhone XR Qi charging pad is only $5 - CNET - News - 4 hours 16 min ago
Or get a Qi charging stand for $10. Either way, just please don't spend $40-50 at an Apple Store. And, psst, both stands work with other phones, too.

5G is almost a reality. Here's what it'll really feel like - CNET - News - 4 hours 18 min ago
Hype alert: Don't expect 5G to change your life right away.

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