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Waxed canvas bags from Waterfield, Manhattan Portage, Saddleback and more

Waxed canvas bags from Waterfield, Manhattan Portage, Saddleback and more

August 20, 2019

It’s finally Bag Week again! The most wonderful week of the year at TechCrunch. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to fanny packs.

This year, like last year, I decided to focus on a specific niche in the bag community: waxed canvas. Last year I reviewed a handful of bags from Ona, Filson and other purveyors of fine waxed goods. But there are many more to choose from, so I’ve collected a second handful and used them all for long enough to get a sense of their strengths and weaknesses.

Waxed canvas is a wonderful material. The natural fibers infused with wax provide water resistance, structure, protection and a great look that only gets better with time as you use it. It’s my favorite material and it should be yours too. Only trouble is, it can be expensive. But keep in mind that these bags are the kind that you take with you for a decade or two.

For this post I focused on laptop bags, but later in the festivities I’ll have a couple more waxed bags more in the “messenger” style, so keep your eyes peeled.

Waterfield Bolt – $269

Pros:

  • Solid medium-weight material and construction
  • Good padding and leather protective layer
  • Surprising amount of space and pockets

Cons:

  • Somehow lacks panache
  • Leather thongs instead of metal zipper pulls not for everyone

Store link

Of all the bags I’ve looked at for this roundup, this one is perhaps the most straightforward, in that it isn’t convertible, super-heavy, super-light, blue or anything like that. It’s just a solid all-purpose laptop bag made of waxed canvas and leather, and as such makes for a sort of baseline with which to compare everything else.

The …

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Independent report on Facebook bias catalogs mild complaints from conservatives

Independent report on Facebook bias catalogs mild complaints from conservatives

August 20, 2019

An independent investigator has issued a preliminary report on its work determining the existence and/or extent of bias against conservatives on Facebook . It’s refreshingly light reading — the complaints are less “Facebook is a den of liberals” and more “we need more transparency on ad policies.”

The report was undertaken in May of last year, when Facebook retained Covington & Burling, led by former Republican Senator Jon Kyl, to look into the allegations loudly being made at the time that there was some kind of anti-conservative bias on the social network.

“We know we need to take these concerns seriously,” wrote VP of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg. Of course, Facebook says it takes everything seriously, so it’s hard to be sure sometimes.

Covington & Burling’s approach was to interview more than a hundred individuals and organizations that fall under the broad umbrella of “conservative” about their concerns. These would be sorted, summarized and presented to Facebook leadership.

By far the biggest concern wasn’t anything like “they’re censoring us” or “they’re pushing an agenda.” These views, which are often over-amplified, don’t seem to reflect what everyday folks and businesses are having trouble with on the platform.

Instead, the largest concern is transparency. The people interviewed were mainly concerned that the policies behind content moderation, ad approval, fact-checking and so on were inadequately explained. In the absence of good explanations, these people understandably supplied their own, usually along the lines that they were being targeted inordinately in comparison with those left of them politically.

It’s worth noting here that no evidence that this was or wasn’t the case was sought or presented. The surveys were about concerns people had, and did …

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NASA confirms mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to explore its icy oceans

NASA confirms mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to explore its icy oceans

August 20, 2019

NASA has confirmed a mission to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, will indeed happen. The mission was initially explored starting in 2017, with the space agency looking for reports on how it might proceed, and now NASA has said it will go ahead and move to the key step of finalizing mission design, which will then lead to actually building the spacecraft that will make the trip, and the science payload it’ll carry on board.

The goal of the mission, which is codenamed “Europa Clipper,” is to find out whether the icy natural satellite orbiting Jupiter could sustain life, and also explore whether it might be colonizable or habitable. Plus, we’ll definitely learn a lot more about Europa with an up-close-and-personal exploration.

Europa is one of 79 known moons orbiting the gas giant, and is the sixth largest in the entire solar system. It’s a bit smaller than our own, and has a crust that is composed primarily of water ice. Some scientists believe that it could have a water ocean just underneath that ice crust, and that if said ocean exists, it might be among the likelier places in our solar system to find life.

NASA’s goal for this mission is to launch as early as 2023, though it’ll need its SLS launch system to be ready to make that happen. The extended timeline allows for a launch-ready state by 2025, which seems a bit more realistic given the current state of affairs.

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Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman are coming to Disrupt SF

Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman are coming to Disrupt SF

August 20, 2019

Ten years ago, a hardware startup launched a fitness device onstage at TechCrunch 50. The $99 gadget combined a pedometer with a diet-monitoring system, designed to help wearers meet their fitness goals.

Of course, a lot has changed for Fitbit in the intervening decade. The company has since become synonymous with fitness trackers in the U.S. In 2015, it filed for a $358 million IPO.

After several years of defining the wearables category, things have gotten a bit rockier, however, as the company contends with increased competition from the premium Apple Watch and low-cost trackers from companies like Xiaomi.

Through acquisitions like Pebble and Vector, the company has improved its fortunes by building its own smartwatch line. Fitbit has also begun to transition into the healthcare industry through partnerships with companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Fitbit’s co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman will join us onstage to discuss their process for growing a hardware startup and navigating often fickle industry trends.

Disrupt SF runs October 2 to October 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Tickets are available here.

Did you know Extra Crunch annual members get 20% off all TechCrunch event tickets? Head over here to get your annual pass, and then email [email protected] to get your 20% off discount. Please note that it can take up to 24 hours to issue the discount code.

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Daily Crunch: Apple Card launches in the US

Daily Crunch: Apple Card launches in the US

August 20, 2019

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Apple Card launches today for all US customers, adds 3% cash back for Uber and Uber Eats

Customers can apply for Apple Card through the Wallet app on their iPhones, then start using it via Apple Pay before the physical card arrives in the mail.

Why use the card? One benefit is the ability to track your purchases in an app. Plus, there’s cash back — 2% for Apple Pay purchases, 1% for non-Apple Pay purchases and 3% for purchases on Uber and Uber Eats.

2. Twitter blocks state-controlled media outlets from advertising on its social network

The new policy was announced just hours after the company identified hundreds of accounts linked to China as part of an effort to “sow political discord” around protests in Hong Kong.

3. All 84 startups from Y Combinator’s S19 Demo Day 1

There are 197 companies (!) in the summer YC batch, and TechCrunch wrote up all 84 of the ones that presented yesterday.

Starship Technologies delivery robots go to work for Postmates in Washington D.C.

4. Starship Technologies raises $40M, crosses 100K deliveries and plans to expand to 100 new universities

Starship Technologies invented the category of rolling autonomous sidewalk delivery robots.

5. Facebook unveils new tools to control how websites share your data for ad-targeting

Just to be clear: Facebook isn’t deleting the data that a third party might have collected about your behavior. Instead, it’s removing the connection between that data and your personal information on the social network.

6. Without evidence, Trump accuses Google of manipulating millions of votes

The president’s accusation appears to …

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The 11 best startups from Y Combinator’s S19 Demo Day 1

The 11 best startups from Y Combinator’s S19 Demo Day 1

August 20, 2019

tY Combinator, the genesis for many of the companies that have shaped Silicon Valley including Airbnb, PagerDuty and Stripe, has minted another 200 some graduates. Half of those companies made their pitch to investors today during Day 1 of Y Combinator’s Summer 2019 Demo Day event and we’re here to tell you which startups are on the fast-track to the unicorn club.

Eighty-four startups presented (read the full run-through of every company plus some early analysis here) and after chatting with investors, batch founders and of course, debating amongst ourselves, we’ve nailed down the 11 most promising startups to present during Day 1. We’ll be back Tuesday with our second round of top picks.


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‘This is Your Life in Silicon Valley’: The League founder and CEO Amanda Bradford on modern dating, and whether Bumble is a ‘real’ startup

‘This is Your Life in Silicon Valley’: The League founder and CEO Amanda Bradford on modern dating, and whether Bumble is a ‘real’ startup

August 20, 2019

Welcome to this week’s transcribed edition of This is Your Life in Silicon Valley. We’re running an experiment for Extra Crunch members that puts This is Your Life in Silicon Valley in words – so you can read from wherever you are.

This is your Life in Silicon Valley was originally started by Sunil Rajaraman and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff in 2018. Rajaraman is a serial entrepreneur and writer (Co-Founded Scripted.com, and is currently an EIR at Foundation Capital), Kaykas-Wolff is the current CMO at Mozilla and ran marketing at BitTorrent.

Rajaraman and Kaykas-Wolff started the podcast after a series of blog posts that Sunil wrote for The Bold Italic went viral. The goal of the podcast is to cover issues at the intersection of technology and culture – sharing a different perspective of life in the Bay Area. Their guests include entrepreneurs like Sam Lessin, journalists like Kara Swisher and Mike Isaac, politicians like Mayor Libby Schaaf and local business owners like David White of Flour + Water.

This week’s edition of This is Your Life in Silicon Valley features Amanda Bradford – Founder/CEO of The League. Amanda talks about modern dating, its limitations, its flaws, why ‘The League’ will win. Amanda provides her candid perspective on other dating startups in a can’t-miss portion of the podcast.

Amanda talks about her days at Salesforce and how it influenced her decision to build a dating tech product that focused on data, and funnels. Amanda walks through her …

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GitHub adds 21 new partners to its free Student Developer Pack

GitHub adds 21 new partners to its free Student Developer Pack

August 20, 2019

For a few years now, GitHub has been running a program that gives students around the world free access to GitHub Pro and various free and discounted services from other partners as part of its GitHub Education program. In total, more than 1.5 million students have now signed up for the program, with about 750,000 being currently active. With the new school year about to start, the company today announced that it is doubling the number of partners in the Student Developer Pack program by adding an additional 21 companies to the list.

The new partners cover a wide range of developer tools and services. They range from web design tools like Bootstrap Studio, which actually quietly joined the program over the summer, to the domain registrar .TECH, SSH client Terminus, ConfigCat for feature flag and configuration management and Icons8 for making applications look better.

“Our philosophy when it comes to the pack is that it is about preparing students for all the premier tools they are going to encounter in the workplace,” said Scott Sanicki, the senior program manager for the GitHub Student Developer Pack. That means there can be partners with competing products, too, but as Sanicki noted, GitHub hasn’t seen any pushback from existing partners so far, including Microsoft.

Indeed, over the summer, GitHub’s new owner, Microsoft also added its Azure cloud computing services to the Student Pack. That’s no surprise, but it’s worth noting that AWS, DigitalOcean and Heroku were already part of the pack and offered students free and discounted cloud computing resources. They remain in the program and, as Sanicki told me, it’s part of the company’s promise to remain open, even after having been acquired by Microsoft.

“[GitHub CEO Nat Friedman] was asked directly at the time of the acquisition …

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H2O.ai announces $72.5M Series D led by Goldman Sachs

H2O.ai announces $72.5M Series D led by Goldman Sachs

August 20, 2019

H2O.ai‘s mission is to democratize AI by providing a set of tools that frees companies from relying on teams of data scientists. Today it got a bushel of money to help. The company announced a $72.5 million Series D round led by Goldman Sachs and Ping An Global Voyager Fund.

Previous investors Wells Fargo, Nvidia and Nexus Venture Partners also participated. Under the terms of the deal, Jade Mandel from Goldman Sachs will be joining the H2O.ai board. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $147 million.

It’s worth noting that Goldman Sachs isn’t just an investor. It’s also a customer. Company CEO and co-founder Sri Ambati says the fact that customers Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs have led the last two rounds is a validation for him and his company. “Customers have risen up from the ranks for two consecutive rounds for us. Last time the Series C was led by Wells Fargo where we were their platform of choice. Today’s round was led by Goldman Sachs, which has been a strong customer for us and strong supporters of our technology,” Ambati told TechCrunch.

The company’s main product, H2O Driverless AI, introduced in 2017, gets its name from the fact it provides a way for people who aren’t AI experts to still take advantage of AI without a team of data scientists. “Driverless AI is automatic machine learning, which brings the power of a world-class data scientists in the hands of everyone. lt builds models automatically using machine learning algorithms of every kind,” Ambati explained.

They introduced a new recipe concept today, which provides all of the AI ingredients and instructions for building models for different business requirements. H2O.ai’s team of data scientists has created and open-sourced 100 recipes for things like credit risk scoring, anomaly detection …

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SpaceX’s spacefaring Tesla Roadster has made a full trip around the Sun

SpaceX’s spacefaring Tesla Roadster has made a full trip around the Sun

August 20, 2019


Somewhere in space, a mannequin wearing a SpaceX spacesuit and driving a cherry red original Tesla Roadster that once belonged to Elon Musk is celebrating its first trip around the Sun. The absurd “Starman” and Roadster combo was launched last year aboard the first Falcon Heavy test flight from Kennedy Space Center, and has now completed a full orbit of the Sun, based on tracking info monitored by the site whereisroadster.com (via Space.com).

The Roadster and its fake driver were selected by SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk as the payload for the Falcon Heavy’s first flight in part because there was more than a decent chance that whatever was sent up on that first trip was going to end up little more than ash or fiery debris, but the launch actually went very smoothly — despite warnings to the contrary by Musk himself.

When it left Earth’s orbit, the Roadster’s radio was playing David Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” set on repeat, and on-boards cameras were broadcasting via internal power (you can check out the recorded version of the live stream below to see how that went).

In case you were wondering about the Roadster’s maintenance information, it’s now out of warranty more than 21,000 times over based on miles traveled, and it’s gone far enough to have traveled the entire world 33.9 times. Take that, range anxiety.

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