Target cash registers across the US crashed on Saturday afternoon, creating long lines and crowds of frustrated customers unable to check out from stores.
The incident was dubbed “The Great Target Outage of ’19” on social media, with many comparing Target’s struggles to the disastrous Fyre Festival.
“We’re aware that guests are currently unable to make purchases at Target stores,” Target tweeted at 3:08 p.m. ET. “Our teams are troubleshooting now and we apologize for the inconvenience. We will provide an update as soon as possible.”
According to one Target employee who reached out to Business Insider, workers were told that the retailer was facing a global cash register outage. Other employees shared similar reports on social media.
“We’re aware that guests are currently unable to make purchases at Target stores,” a Target representative said in an e-mailed statement to Business Insider. “Our teams are troubleshooting now and we apologize for the inconvenience. We will provide an update as soon as possible.”
HBO’s gritty high-school drama, “Euphoria,” could open the network up to an audience of teens and young adults that it’s only flirted with before.
“Euphoria,” one of the most anticipated new shows of the summer, is a depiction of modern life as a middle-class American teen that is as harrowing as any episode of the HBO crime drama, “The Wire.” The series, which premieres on Sunday in the US, takes an unflinchingly look at the struggles of young adults, including sex, drugs, identity, relationships, and social media, through the lens of 17-year-old high-school student, Rue Bennett, who is returning to school and life after a drug overdose and summer away at rehab.
It’s a different — and darker — take on a typical teen drama.
Despite its provocative depiction of high school, early reviews of “Euphoria” have praised the stunning visuals, performances by its young stars, including Zendaya, and direction. The series was created and written by Sam Levinson, who also directed five episodes of the season.
Such acclaim is rare for teen-focused shows. But it’s not unusual for HBO, which had the most Emmy wins for 16 years running until Netflix tied it last year. HBO is mainly known for its boundary-pushing adult dramas and comedies, like “The Sopranos” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Growing up, HBO style
Past HBO series like “Game of Thrones” and “Girls” have no doubt attracted young fans to the network, as have the kids and family programs that HBO has dabbled with, including recent seasons of “Sesame Street.”
But the networks audience skews older.
HBO’s five most watched shows live from the last 18 months were “Game of Thrones,” “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Westworld,” “Big Little Lies,” and “Sharp Objects,” according to Nielsen. The median ages of the 10 most watched HBO series live during that time were between 46 and 61, with “Game of Thrones” having the youngest and “Real Time with Bill Maher” having the oldest median age.
“Euphoria” speaks more directly to teens and young adults than other HBO series, such as “Chernobyl,” about a 1986 nuclear disaster, or the family drama, “Big Little Lies.” HBO is also trying its hand later this year at a young-adult fantasy series, “His Dark Materials,” based on the Phillip Pullman novels.
The young-adult shows are hitting HBO at a time when the network is trying to grow its TV and streaming audience, after its parent company, WarnerMedia, was acquired by AT&T last year.
“The challenge is, not 100% of the customers expose themselves to the HBO brand,” John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia, told HBO employees in July, after the deal with AT&T closed, Vox reported. “We’ve got … to have this become a much more common product.”
So far, growth at HBO’s streaming service has been slower than at some of its competitors.
A May survey by RBC Capital Markets found that 21% of respondents in the US had watched HBO’s online-subscription service, HBO Now, in the last 12 months, up from 18% a year ago. Rival services like Amazon Prime and Hulu had grown by double-digit percentage points during that time.
While “Euphoria” is about teens, the network says it’s made for adults. It’s meant to expose adults to the challenges of growing up in 2019, Casey Bloys, programming president at HBO, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Nonetheless, the show’s cast and crew of 20-somethings is likely to attract a young crowd. Zendaya, a former Disney Channel star, who has since been in films like “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” plays Rue. Hip-hop superstar Drake, who got his start on another controversial teen show, “Degrassi,” executive produced the series. Drake and Zendaya have two of the 50 most followed accounts on Instagram, where they’ve been helping to promote “Euphoria.”
The series is based on an Israeli drama set in the aftermath of a murder of a teen near a nightclub.
The HBO version grapples with controversial issues, in the vein of teen series like “Degrassi,” “Skins,” and Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” before it. But “Euphoria” has none of the comedic relief of “Skins” or the cautionary melodramatics of “Degrassi.”
From the first four episodes, you might think that life as a modern teenager consists mainly of dick pics, webcam rendezvous, overdoses, and staying out all night, with a few forced family dinners in between.
“I was trying to capture the heightened sense of emotion when you’re young and how relationships feel,” Levinson, who created and wrote the series, told Entertainment Weekly. “The world feels like it’s just constantly bearing down on you. That anxiety, and those sort of mood swings, I think, are inherent to being young — but even more so when you struggle with anxiety and depression and addiction.”
Levinson struggled with drug abuse during his youth, and wanted to capture the pain of addiction, without also glorifying drug abuse. Many of the scenes in “Euphoria” are drawn from his own experiences.
“The hardest thing about portraying a drug addict is — there are a lot of cautionary tales, there are a lot of after-school specials — but what I really wanted to get to the core of is the pain and the shame about what you’re doing and you’re inability to get clean despite the havoc and destruction you’re wreaking round you,” Levinson said, at the ATX Television Festival, Deadline reported.
“The agency is now aware of bacterial infections caused by multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs) that have occurred due to transmission of a MDRO from use of investigational FMT,” the FDA said.
“Patients considering FMT to treat C. difficile infection should speak to their health care provider to understand the potential risks associated with the product’s use.”
Dr. Sahil Khanna, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic who performs fecal transplants, told NBC News that it’s likely the first death from an FMT procedure.
Still, the procedure can work just as well as traditional antibiotics in treating C. diff, which the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates infects 500,000 patients every year, many of which relapse soon after. In patients over 65, nearly 10% died from the infection.
The game has different tilesets named after cities across the world. The “Kuala Lumpur” tileset pattern in pink and green is inspired by Peranakan tiles found in Malaysia and Singapore. “Lisbon” is a tessellation-like tileset of yellow and blue based on Parisian and Portuguese tiles. “New Haven,” a color-block tileset, is based on the artwork of Josef Albers, a painter and color-theorist who taught at Yale. “Austin” in brown and mauve is inspired by 70s interior design and Op artist Bridget Riley. “Hong Kong,” is inspired by blue and white Mahjong tiles.
“Besides drawing inspiration from different visual styles and cultures, our tilesets also play around with different aspects of visual recognition and pattern matching,” said Robert Vinluan, design technologist at the Times. “All the elements in the Hong Kong tileset are the same color, so you have to distinguish between different shapes and lines. The opposite is true of the New Haven palette, where everything is the same shape but you have to perceive differences in color.”
The game is a free, but being a paid-subscriber to the New York Times crossword yields more settings. Non-subscribers are served a different pattern each day and get just six rounds of the game. Subscribers get access to “Zen Mode,” which allows users to pick their tileset and have unlimited plays.
The Times’ puzzle team was driven to create a game that is both accessible and serene.
“One additional strategy around launching Tiles is to reach users who may not be native English-language speakers,” The Times wrote in its Tiles press release.
A zen game was the request of users, according to The Times Games Expansions team.” The team “noticed that users were writing in late at night asking the company for a game that would help them zone out,” according to AdWeek.
Sam Von Ehren, a game designer leading the Game Expansions team, says in creating Tiles, the team hoped to both “include more people” and give folks “an escape from the news.”
“The crossword can sometimes feel really challenging — and that’s what the appeal of it is — but here we’re trying to welcome more people in” Von Ehren said.
In the few days since it became available, Tiles has won over some devotees.
Federal regulators are knocking at Big Tech’s door.
The US Federal Trade Commission will oversee any antitrust probe into whether Facebook‘s practices hurt competition into the digital market, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. The news sent the social network’s shares plunging and dragged the entire technology sector lower.
Alphabet and Apple saw their stocks fall on similar press reports the same day that the US Department of Justice was preparing antitrust probes into each company. Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren — the Massachusetts Democrat and US presidential candidate — proposed earlier this year a plan to break up big tech companies including Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
While it remains to be seen whether reported probes and proposals into antitrust matters and privacy concerns will mark a death knell for the likes of Facebook and Google parent Alphabet — as the exact scopes of the probes remain unclear — experts are warning against investors shrugging off possible risks.
“From a strategic perspective, we believe that uncertainty is still too high to recommend investors avoid stocks in the regulatory spotlight,” Goldman Sachs strategists led by Ryan Hammond said in a Tuesday note.
They added: “But while the impact of regulation on today’s stocks will be case-dependent, similarities among historical outcomes suggest that investors should reduce exposure to any stock that becomes subject to an antitrust lawsuit.”
The strategists pointed to past regulatory events, with shades of today’s concerns, that ushered in material business losses.
For example, Microsoft‘s 1998 antritrust lawsuit ultimately led to a reversed court-ordered breakup and a settlement with the Department of Justice. The corporation then saw “substantially” lower sales growth following its 2001 consent decree that expired a decade later, according to Goldman. Meanwhile, they found IBM‘s antitrust lawsuit in 1969 kicked off a “steady decline” in revenue growth and margins.
Other investment firms are highlighting similar risks of which investors should be cognizant, even as the extent of various regulatory bodies’ probes is a wildcard.
As issues like data security and the overall health of technology platforms becomes increasingly prevalent, companies face a “higher cost of doing business,” Morgan Stanley strategists wrote in a late-May report.
“Outside of China, the risk of regulation limiting foreign investment in local companies may present a headwind to international growth and profitability for some of our companies,” they wrote.
On the company level, the firm said the cost of compliance and regulatory overhang will remain a risk for Facebook and Alphabet, while Amazon may face “growing protectionist regulations” eating into potential international growth.
“Each government has its own nuanced approach to these issues and our universe may have to adapt to an environment in which protectionist/nationalist behaviors drive decision making as national regulatory and tax regime differences become more stark,” the strategists wrote, adding that political rhetoric leading up to the 2020 US presidential election may inject volatility into the space.
Some experts are skeptical big-tech companies will face breakups, but say risks still abound.
Court mandated break-ups have been infrequently implemented in US history and are unlikely to be seen here, according to Glenn Manishin, a managing partner at ParadigmShift Law and a former trial attorney for the DoJ’s antitrust divison. He worked on the US vs. AT&T and Microsoft cases.
Facebook runs the highest risk of a split relative to other big-tech companies given its Instagram acquisition, followed by Google, Apple, then Amazon, Manishin said on a conference call this week with Instinet analysts.
Specifically, the fact that Google’s case started in the FTC and is now in the DoJ could have negative implications given the latter unit’s focus on monopolization claims and the former’s focus on unfair methods of competition.
The risks hanging over big tech were underscored this week when Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, addressed the matter at a conference in Tel Aviv, Israel.
“The Antitrust Division does not take a myopic view of competition,” Delrahim said. “Many recent calls for antitrust reform, or more radical change, are premised on the incorrect notion that antitrust policy is only concerned with keeping prices low. It is well-settled, however, that competition has price and non-price dimensions.”
The DoJ has “the tools we need to enforce the antitrust laws in cases involving digital technologies,” he added, and said US antitrust law is flexible enough to apply to “markets old and new.”
This sent alarm bells off for Nicholas Colas, a veteran analyst and co-founder of DataTrek Research. Investors should get ready to hear Delrahim’s name “a lot more,” he told clients in a note this week.
“It’s hard to read this speech and not think the Justice Department is lining up its arguments for a showdown with Big Tech,” Colas wrote. “What comes from that is anyone’s guess.”
Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:
If you’ve ever liked a status on Facebook, tweeted from your phone, checked off an item on your to-do list on Asana, or pinned a photo on Pinterest, then you’ve crossed paths with React.
Today, many core features of some of the most popular apps today are quietly underpinned by React, a framework that was originally built by Facebook engineers and released as open source in 2013.
React is a tool for building user interfaces (UI), which is to say, what an application looks like and how people interact with it.
React started within Facebook, and the team used it for two years before releasing it as open source. That move opened up the doors to allowing anyone to use, modify, or download it for free. In the years since, React has become one of the most popular tools on the web, and is used by companies like Airbnb, Twitter, Uber, Asana, and Pinterest.
“There’s a certain flexibility in it that you can use it for a variety of different things,” KellyAnn Fitzpatrick, industry analyst at RedMonk, told Business Insider. “Any time you have a framework or a tool that’s flexible in that way, the flexibility itself can be a draw.”
It’s still used by Facebook, but it’s picked up a large, passionate community, which hosts scores of meetups, plenty of conference talks, and an innumerable number of blog posts devoted solely to React.
It’s also spawned another version of React, called React Native, for developing apps for iOS and Android devices. That offshoot has also quickly picked up in popularity: According to GitHub, it’s the second most popular open source project out there, with over 10,000 contributors.
Carl Bergenhem, product manager at software consultancy Progress, says that using React is like building a house with Lego — if someone else had already made the tricky parts like the roof for you ahead of time. You can build most of it to your liking, and then just click on the pre-made part at the end when you’re ready. And if you use React to build a component that’s really good, you can sock it away wholesale, and re-use it whenever you have need of it.
“If you’re building some sort of website, you want to make sure it’s something people want to work with,” Bergenhem told Business Insider. “We kind of see a critical need for people not to have to reinvent the wheel.”
How React started
In 2011, Jordan Walke, a software engineer at Facebook, created the first version of React — but only for Facebook’s use. He was working on the codebase for Facebook advertising product, but at the time, ads were difficult to create and manage.
“That UI was very complex so there were a lot of forms that were interconnected,” Dan Abramov, a software engineer in the React team at Facebook, told Business Insider. “It was pretty difficult to make it work correctly. There were always bugs that were hard to fix.”
To fix this, Walke came up with the idea of creating a project that allows developers to write code using declarative syntax. This means that developers can simply type what they want the app to do — like creating a button, dropdown or animation effect — rather than having to bang out an entire set of instructions.
It took off internally, and Facebook soon started using the React framework for some of its most popular features today, including commenting, liking and sharing on its news feed.
But when it was first released into the world as open source in 2013, it didn’t catch on right away.
“A lot of people dismissed it. It did not get popular with users first,” Abramov said. “A lot of people didn’t really see its point. Eventually we tried to explain better why React is a good idea.”
But that October, Pete Hunt, a former Facebook engineer who now works at Twitter, gave a talk called ‘Rethinking Best Practices.” Abramov calls it a “turning point” for React.
“He explained why React makes some unconventional choices and we might rethink that they’re good choices,” Abramov said. “There were several people who though maybe React is a good idea after all.”
That was the moment that the engineering community at large realized that React was a notable part of what had led Facebook to its success.
“That’s the reason why Facebook was as great of an application as it was,” Bergenhem, the Progress product manager, said.
With a larger community of people using and making improvements to React, it was able to innovate and spread much faster.
At a certain point, it hit a critical mass — Abramov himself started using React, even before he worked at Facebook. Abramov says that the community started writing extensions and modifications to the open source React project that helped it spread, attracting even more developers to the fold in so doing.
“It hit the sweet spot of getting released at the right time. While it took a little while, it was around that time when we started looking into it more seriously since we saw a ton of people jumping onto it immediately and really enjoying the experience of working with React when it first came out,” Bergenhem says.
One of React’s biggest impacts is that it popularized declarative programming, making designing applications much easier for developers. Today, Apple’s most recent release SwiftUI uses this concept, as does Google’s Flutter.
“Instead of telling the computer I want you to do this and then I want you to do this, you just tell the computer, hey I want the screen to look like this and it figures out all the commands and instructions it needs to generate that script,” Chris Lloyd, a UI engineer at Pinterest, told Business Insider.
The Facebook team is still working on creating new React features today. In 2017, the Facebook team released React 16, the latest version.
That version increased React’s compatibility with other outside tools and programs, and improved performance — while also making sure that it’s easy for developers using older versions of React to upgrade their apps to this current version.
Next up, as React nears version 17, the team is working on a new system called Hooks, which could make it easier for
And right now, Abramov says, the team is working on the Hooks API, which makes it even easier for people to reuse their custom-built components, as well as Suspense, which allows applications to load content more efficiently.
Why people love React so much
Guillermo Rauch, CEO and co-founder of ZEIT, says he first started working with React when he worked at WordPress.
He says the reason why React grew so fast is simply because it works. When he heard that Facebook was using React for its News Feed, he dug into the website’s public-facing code, and came away impressed. Not long after, he started seeing it everywhere.
“I went to the awesome UI they created,” Rauch said. “The News Feed is super interactive. They’re walking the walk in addition to talking the talk…this React signature started popping up everywhere for me. It became a chain reaction.”
“I think React offered a programming pattern that no one else really offered at the time,” Peter told Business Insider.
Likewise, Pinterest has been using React for the last three and a half years for its web site and ad buying sites. Before, it had its own homegrown system, but it was too complex, and it ran into problems when engineers were working on the same features at the same time. React helped solve these problems, says Lloyd, the Pinterest engineer.
“It allows developers to do the right thing in the sense that it’s easy to write a consistent fast user interface,” Lloyd said. “You tell it what to do and it will do it and make it work really well.”
Lloyd says that React makes rendering and scrolling through large images — an important aspect of Pinterest — much faster. In general, Lloyd says, the decision to bet on React was a smart one for Pinterest.
“It’s rare that we see a technology that’s lasted as long as React has, and we are excited to keep supporting and using it for the next five years,” Lloyd said. “It’s really standing the test of time, which is incredibly rare.”
Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, two tech moguls with grand visions for exploring and settling humans in space, have increasingly found themselves feuding over what our future in that final frontier should look like.
Their disagreements mainly arise because both are pursuing reusable rockets, next-generation spacecraft, and ambitious space-settling plans. In May, for instance, Bezos unveiled a moon lander design by his spaceflight company, Blue Origin; in that presentation, he criticized the idea of populating Mars — the overarching goal of SpaceX, Musk’s rocket company.
That dig was made live onstage, but other times quarrels between Musk and Bezos appear on world stages like Twitter.
Most of the sparring seems innocuous. However, some of the billionaires’ battles with the space companies they founded have worked their way into courts and government agencies.
The relationship between Bezos and Musk wasn’t always so tense, though.
“As time has gone on and these companies have been successful, ambitions have grown,” Ashlee Vance, who wrote a biography of Musk, told The Guardian in 2016. “Musk and Bezos used to be cordial, but they’re vicious now.”
Here’s a short timeline of how they got to this point.
Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 as Amazon’s success surged.
Musk, meanwhile, used the money he earned from eBay’s purchase of PayPal to launch SpaceX in 2002.
In 2004, the two met for a friendly dinner and talked about rockets. Even then, though, there was an adversarial spirit. “I actually did my best to give good advice, which he largely ignored,” Musk said of meeting Bezos.
For about a decade, as each company experimented with rocket designs on private land in Texas, the two men largely kept their criticisms of one another out of the public eye.
That changed in 2013, after NASA asked companies to submit pitches for how they might use Launch Complex 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Apollo and space-shuttle missions once launched from that historic site, but NASA was no longer using it.
SpaceX told NASA it wanted to use the pad exclusively. But then Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance — a rival of SpaceX — filed a joint protest with the government. Musk dubbed the move a “phony blocking tactic.”
SpaceX later said it was open to sharing the site with NASA and other private companies if necessary. By the end of 2013, NASA agreed to lease the launchpad to SpaceX.
Another bitter battle came less than a year later, this time over drone ships. Such boats are autonomous, flat-decked, and able to serve as landing pads for huge rocket boosters. The rocket segment can then be reused, saving millions of dollars.
Blue Origin filed a patent for the concept in 2010, and it was granted in 2014. Musk wasn’t happy, since drone ships are key to SpaceX’s plans to reuse boosters. SpaceX didn’t want to pay Bezos’ company to use a drone ship.
SpaceX petitioned to invalidate Blue Origin’s patent, stating that “the ‘rocket science’ claimed in the … patent was, at best, ‘old hat'” by 2009. The judge ruled mostly in SpaceX’s favor, and Blue Origin withdrew 13 of 15 claims in the patent.
SpaceX had a point — the concept was even featured in the 1959 Soviet sci-fi film “Nebo Zovyot,” or “The Sky Beckons.”
Not long after SpaceX claimed victory, Musk and Bezos began clashing in public. In November 2015, Blue Origin landed its first reusable rocket, called the New Shepard. “The rarest of beasts — a used rocket,” Bezos tweeted with a video.
Musk went even further with his one-up. He added that it takes 100 times more energy to launch something to geostationary orbit (about 22,236 miles up) — which is what SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket does — than to suborbital space (about 62 miles high), where Blue Origin’s New Shepard goes.
The two billionaires also occasionally drop snide remarks about one another during press interviews. A few weeks after SpaceX’s rocket-booster landing, for instance, the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones asked Musk about Bezos. “Jeff who?” Musk responded.
Bezos seized the opportunity to rib Musk — without naming him — over his rival’s vision of permanently settling Mars. (Musk has described a Mars settlement as a back-up plan for humanity in case anything tragic befalls Earth.)
“One thing I find very un-motivating is the kind of ‘Plan B’ argument, where the Earth gets destroyed, where you want to be somewhere else. That I find very little… It doesn’t work for me,” Bezos told Foust.
Bezos added: “We have sent robotic probes now to every planet in this solar system, and this is the best one. My friends who want to move to Mars? I say, ‘Do me a favor, go live on the top of Mount Everest for a year first, and see if you like it — because it’s a garden paradise compared to Mars.'”
More friction has arisen as both entrepreneurs plan to launch vast numbers of internet-providing satellites. Since at least 2015, Musk has spoken about a plan to create a global network of nearly 12,000 such satellites, called Starlink.
Amazon announced in April 2019 that it plans to launch Project Kuiper: a similar network of about 3,200 internet-providing satellites. Musk confronted Bezos on Twitter with the message: “@JeffBezos copy 🐈”
In May, Bezos debuted a concept for a private moon lander called Blue Moon. The spacecraft is being designed by Blue Origin in hopes of helping return NASA astronauts to the moon for the first time in decades.
During his presentation (before Blue Moon’s unveiling), Bezos took a moment to indirectly criticize Musk’s Mars-settling plans yet again.
Bezos described the moon as a more realistic near-term destination. A slide in his presentation showed an image of Mars with the title “FAR, FAR AWAY.” The slide’s notes said: “Round-trip travel on the order of years” and “No real-time communication.”
The tech moguls are now sparring over a lucrative US Air Force contract. SpaceX recently sued the government agency after it awarded Blue Origin part of a $2.3 billion agreement for rocket development.
But as they have done in the past, the men and the companies they founded will likely rise above such disputes and continue their prodigious push to remake spaceflight.
SpaceX is currently toiling in south Texas to develop Starship: an enormous and fully reusable Mars rocket system. For now, the company is testing concepts for the vehicle with a steel prototype called Starhopper.
Once the rumors surrounding Google’s upcoming Pixel 4 smartphone started emerging, Google itself wanted to join in on the fun and tweeted a teaser image of the device.
With Google’s own image, there are at least a couple things about the Pixel 4 that we can confirm: It’ll come with a dual-lens rear camera system, and it won’t have a rear fingerprint sensor like the Pixel 3 does.
But by confirming a few things, Google actually raises more questions. What will the second camera lens do? And how will users unlock their phones? Will there be an in-display fingerprint sensor, or will the Pixel 4 rely on facial recognition?
The truth is that we don’t know, but rumors at least points us down certain paths. We’ll have to see if those paths lead to the actual Pixel 4, or if they lead us astray.
First of all, here’s the 100% real and confirmed Pixel 4, straight from Google itself.
It looks like the Pixel 4 will come with a dual-lens camera system.
With a few simple adjustments to Google’s photo, we can see a dual-lens camera system.
One of the lenses is surely a regular camera that all smartphones have, and the other is likely an ultra-wide-angle lens. It’s possible the second lens could be used for zoomed photos, but Google can already achieve artificial zoom with its AI and software. Ultra-wide photos, however, cannot be replicated by AI and software.
And the Pixel 4 has supposedly been seen in the wild.
You’ll be able to control certain things on the Pixel 4 with gestures.
Google is apparently adding a special “radar” chip with the codename “Project Soli” in the Pixel 4 that’s meant to let you control certain elements of the phone without touching or talking to it.
I’m immediately skeptical of this feature. We’ve seen gesture-based features on other smartphones, including Samsung’s Galaxy phones and LG’s recent G8 smartphone, and they’ve never proven particularly useful.
I’m absolutely willing to be pleasantly surprised and proven wrong about gesture-based features, and if there’s any company that can make them useful, it’s Google.
Google might ditch the fingerprint sensor and go all-in with facial recognition.
You may have spotted in Google’s own tweeted image of the Pixel 4 that there’s no fingerprint sensor on the back.
One possibility is that Google will adopt an in-display fingerprint sensor, like we’ve seen on the Galaxy S10 and OnePlus 7 Pro.
Lewis Hilstenteger of the Unbox Therapy YouTube channel, however, suggests that Google might be using facial recognition for the unlocking duties in the Pixel 4.
In fact, Hilsenteger believes the Pixel 4 will have a relatively large top bezel, or “forehead,” so Google can fit a bunch of sensors for facial recognition. If Google needs that many sensors for facial recognition, it could mean the company is going for a super-secure, iPhone-style Face ID system that uses several kinds of sensors to securely map a face to unlock the iPhone.
We can take a pretty good guess as to the chip Google will be using in the Pixel 4, but we’re still missing rumors on an important spec.
I’ll be very surprised if Google doesn’t use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip in the Pixel 4. It’s the chip of choice for high-end flagship devices in 2019.
With that said, there’s no word on how much RAM the Pixel 4 will come with. The Pixel 3 came with 4 GB of RAM, which I’m declaring is simply not enough for a top, high-end flagship device. The Pixel 3’s performance is fine with 4 GB of RAM, but it’s noticeably slower than other phones from 2018 that come with more RAM, and the Pixel 3 costs just as much.
RAM is the special memory in phones that keeps all the apps you’ve recently used open in the background. It lets you return to an app without having to open it from scratch, which takes longer than simply returning to it.
Here’s hoping the Pixel 4 comes with at least 6 GB of RAM.
The Pixel 4 is expected launch in October.
Google usually announces its new Pixel phones in October, so that’s when we’re expecting the Pixel 4.
Gadgets leaker Evan Blass obtained a supposed release calendar from Verizon that also suggests an October announcement for the Pixel 4.
As for the price, that’s still up in the air at the moment, but check back once in a while to see if any pricing rumors have emerged.
Oracle’s internal reorganization is showing no signs of wrapping up four months after it started, causing lingering unease and uncertainty throughout the tech giant’s global operations. According to people Business Insider has talked to, some job offers in the UK were revoked at the last minute amid a hiring freeze that may or may not be in effect.
The internal reorg began in the spring and has involved thousands of layoffs between March and this month. The company acknowledged the layoffs but hasn’t given a total tally. Executives have not discussed the situation publicly.
From the half a dozen people Business Insider has talked to over the past few months about the reorg, one word comes to mind: endless.
For instance, we’ve heard from two people in the UK who had excitedly accepted job offers from Oracle, filled out the final paperwork, and waited a month to get their start date, only to be told instead that the offers were revoked. Both people told us that the reason given for the revoked offer was a hiring freeze in the UK.
One of the job offers was revoked in March, right before the company launched its first big layoff, that person told us. The other job offer was revoked earlier this month and that person was told the freeze would last for another three months.
All of the people we’ve talked to about the reorg since we first began reporting on it in March have worked for some of Oracle’s fastest growing or most critical areas.
When we asked Oracle about a hiring freeze in the UK, the company told us it is hiring people globally, including in its cloud unit, known as Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Generation 2 (OCI Gen2).
“Every year Oracle hires tens of thousands of employees and we are currently hiring globally and in every line of business, including OCI Gen2,” an Oracle spokesperson said. “Enabling our customers’ success has always been a top priority for Oracle. We are laser-focused on delivering the best cloud products that drive efficiencies, fuel innovation and impact the bottom line for our customers around the world.”
Another person we talked to, this one in the US, told us that there was also a US hiring freeze for some units that began in February, affecting organizations like sales. While those units may be hiring again, this person said that the freeze also sidelined promotions.
A harsh situation
Oracle needs to get its workforce in shape so that it can survive in this new age of cloud computing, in which it’s late to the game and playing catch up to cloud giant Amazon Web Serivces. Cloud has radically changed how Oracle’s customers buy their tech. And cloud giant Amazon Web Services is on a warpath, trying to steal Oracle’s customers.
Still, we can’t help but feel empathy for the people who thought they had landed a role with the database giant only to be left jobless.
“I feel used and shamefully treated,” one of the would-be employees told us. “I am not an aggrieved former employee but an individual contributor hired in an apparent growth area of business. And I never managed to start my position.”
$432 million for restructuring costs
Oracle execs may say something more about the restructuring on Wednesday, June 19, when the company reports its fiscal fourth quarter earnings.
Q4 is always the most important earnings report for Oracle. The fourth quarter is when sales reps push to close deals to make their annual quotas. Analysts are expecting Oracle to report a modest year-over-year decline in sales for the quarter (-2%) and the year (-1%), according to Yahoo Finance.
Even if execs don’t give more details on who, what, and why they are restructuring, Oracle will likely include an updated disclosure on how much it has spent on its formal Fiscal 2019 Oracle Restructuring Plan.
When it reported third-quarter results in March, the company said it expected to spend $432 million total on this restructuring, primarily on employee severance, and at that point, it still had about 1/3 of that money left to spend. It said it planned to spend the rest through the end of fiscal 2020, which ends in May, 2020.
It’s impossible to extrapolate how many jobs will be slashed based on $432 million in expenses, but the company did show that its cloud and software license is getting the brunt of it, accounting for $230 million.
Just for the heck of it, if each laid-off employee were to receive a generous $50,000 in severance (26 weeks of a $100,000 annual salary), $432 million would cover 8,640 jobs (assuming no other factors like benefits, bonuses and vacation pay). Oracle says it employs 138,620, so, at our $50,000 payout, that’s enough to cover 6% of the workforce.
Some employees are happy, others are wary
Given how many months this restructuring has been going on, employees remain wary, according to chatter on anonymous chat app Blind, which an Oracle employee shared with Business Insider.
The gossip internally is that the new cloud group based in Seattle won’t generally pay as well as it had in previous years, when it was a skunkworks team trying to lure talent from Amazon and Microsoft.
The Seattle team has now become the main Oracle cloud engineering unit and their product is replacing the company’s original cloud.
But as important as the Seattle team is to the success of the company, they weren’t spared from layoffs. According to employees we talked to at that office, as many of as 300 of them were laid off in March.
Some people believe more cuts will come to the unit, too, according to posts on Blind by Oracle employees.
There are also employees on Blind who say they are happy with their jobs, their pay and the cloud products that their teams are building.
And there are others who say they joined recently, two months ago, indicating that whatever hiring freeze that may have hit the US earlier this year is now over.
In the highly competitive world of full-size pickups, there are three main players: the Ford F-150, the Chevy Silverado, and the RAM 1500. That’s 1-2-3 in the usual sales ranking.
Behind that formidable trio, one finds the Toyota Tundra. When the Tundra first arrived in the US, it was a daring move. Toyota intended to build on its legacy for reliability and quality by attacking the most American of vehicle segments. The Tundra was the first full-size pickup from a Japanese brand, and it was built in the USA.
That was 20 years ago. The Tundra has been moderately successful, but it hasn’t cracked the top-three party. The situation has only worsened for Toyota over the years, as Ford, Chevy, and RAM has effectively captured all the share to be had in the upper reaches of the market.
The Silverado is usually number two, behind the F-150, and to maintain that position, Chevy has an all-new truck on dealer lots.
The Tundra, meanwhile, is completely not all-new. The 2007 second-generation design was upgraded in 2014, but the pickup is long in the tooth. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for Toyota, as the company can continue to sell a lot of trucks without having to spend big money to steal customers from the Detroit Big Three.
So how does the Toyota Tundra match up against the Chevy Silverado? Glad you asked. I’ve driven both trucks. Here’s how they compare:
The Tundra has been around since 2000 and has amassed a loyal following, even as it fails to seriously compete with the big three.
The current generation arrived in 2007 and was updated in 2014, making it a pretty old platform. That certainly doesn’t mean Toyota doesn’t take the Tundra seriously. In a week of driving it around — with a nice long run to the Catskills in upstate New York thrown in — I found out why.
You’re not going to confuse the Tundra for anything other than a full-size pickup. Ours had a 5-foot-5 double-walled bed and a power-sliding rear window, as well as a “Super White” exterior and LOTS of chrome.
The 1794 backstory is intricate: The oldest cattle ranch in Texas, near San Antonio, dates to 1794. The property is where Toyota built its US pickup-truck factory.
Tundra badging on the liftgate was subdued.
A 5.7-liter V8, making 381 horsepower, lives beneath the hood. This motor supplies 401 pound-feet of bone-crunching torque. The Tundra can tow 10,000 pounds.
The six-speed automatic gets the job done, but I found it to be antiquated relative to the competition. Fuel economy is a thoroughly unimpressive 13 mpg city/17 highway/14 combined.
The 1794 Tundra is a close second to the plush Ram 1500 for sheer interior bliss. And although the rear seats aren’t as comfy, they’re plenty roomy.
The great thing about pickups is — Duh! — hauling capacity. And with the 1794 edition, you get the best of both worlds: cargo room to burn in the back, abundant premium-ness up front.
Infotainment works fine, with GPS navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, device integration, and satellite radio. The touchscreen interface, however, is small and rather outdated — it’s more or less the same as what I have in my 2011 Prius.
There’s also a JBL audio system, an 11-speaker rig that sounds pretty good, though it doesn’t quite cross into premium territory.
The Tundra is a solid truck. But it’s also an old truck.
In my review of the Tundra, I wrote:
“You may have anticipated the punchline, set up by that clunky six-speed automatic transmission, that gas-chugging big V8 motor, and the circa-2010 infotainment system. That’s right: Toyota doesn’t need to expend resources on the Tundra.”
BUT, I added: “In my testing of the truck, I was almost ready to call it my new favorite, second only to the exquisite Ram 1500. There’s something to be said for a platform that simply performs, is notably comfortable, and carries Toyota’s ironclad reputation for reliability.”
Let’s move on to a pickup that is in no way an underdog: a “Summit White” 2019 Chevy Silverado. It’s the fourth-generation of the nameplate, but it’s a full-size pickup that can trace its lineage back to the early 1960s.
This is going to be a battle of the white full-size pickups!
The new Silverado tips the scales at 5,000 pounds — several hundred less than the outgoing generation, thanks to lightweight steel and aluminum.
My $57,000 Silverado LTZ Crew Cab …
… came with a short bed, but a larger box is available. (The base work truck is just under $30,000.)
The Silverado could be outfitted with a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a 4.3-liter V6, a 5.3-liter V8, a 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder diesel — or, in the case of my tester, a 6.2-liter V8. This configuration can tow 12,000 pounds.
The V8 motors have a cylinder-deactivation feature that can drop the engine down to a fuel-sipping two, if all you’re doing is humming along at highway speeds. (Chevy calls it “Dynamic Fuel Management.”)
At full bore, the 6.2-liter V8 makes 420 horsepower with a whopping 460 pound-feet of torque. That’s 65 more ponies than the 5.3-liter V8 mill. It can propel the truck to 60 mph in about six seconds, sending the power through a 10-speed automatic transmission. The MPGs are 16 city, 20 highway, and 17 combined.
The 10-speed automatic is operated by a very old-school column shifter.
The “Gideon/Very Dark Atmosphere” interior is oddly named, but still quite pleasant, if a bit on the utilitarian side. The rear seats, as in the Tundra, were a roomy bench design. My Silverado tester, while nice, wasn’t as fancy as the Tundra.
My tester came with a tonneau cover for the box. It can be folded back to reveal the bed in all its glory. The spray-on bedliner is a $500 extra.
The 8-inch center touchscreen isn’t huge, but it is responsive, with a few buttons and knobs to fall back on.
There’s SiriusXM radio, plus a full array of USB and AUX ports, and even a 120-volt outlet. The system offers a full suite of apps and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The venerable OnStar system provides 4G LTE wireless connectivity, along with navigation and emergency communications.
And the winner is the Chevy Silverado!
It shouldn’t be a shock to anybody that the Chevy Silverado, all-new and ready to rock, wins the battle of the white full-size pickups.
But let’s take a moment to acknowledge how competitive the Toyota Tundra is. The design has been around since 2014, and Toyota would be justified in sort of phoning it in, given the pickup’s position behind the heavy hitters in the segment.
But the Tundra has a thing, and that thing is comfort and — let’s be honest — Toyota’s well-earned reputation for building the world’s most reliable pickups. You might not like the Tundra as much as a Detroit product, and it might be awkward in some regions to roll into a job site behind the wheel of the Japanese trucks, despite it’s being built in Texas. But if you want a truck that will probably last and last and last some more, giving little trouble along the way, consider the Tundra.
OK, on to the winner. The Silverado is what I’d call a purposeful or iterative update of Chevy’s full-size hauler. The old truck wasn’t broken, so Chevy didn’t entirely fix it. The improvements were all worthwhile, however.
“Chevy took a conservative path with the new Silverado, and on balance, that was a wise call,” I wrote in my full review of this truck last year.
“I couldn’t find anything substantial to dislike about the Silverado. And I found plenty to enjoy. The truth is, American pickup-truck buyers now have … excellent choices, proof that Detroit knows better than ever what it’s doing in this segment.”
The Tundra, in this context, isn’t a bad truck. Far from it. But it just isn’t quite in the Silverado’s league.
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