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This has been quite the week in news. A bunch of tech companies got snatched up, including Path. The once Silicon Valley app darling just sold itself to some Korean company called Daum Kakao. Google IO kicked off with a bunch of reveals big and small. And rumor has it Apple is getting into the car business. Will we soon be driving giant iPhones?

Find out all that and more with our host this week Sarah Buhr. The formidable Kyle Russell and Matthew Lynley join in to add some colorful analysis about all the tech things. Sit down, take your shoes off, put up your feet and let us sail this CrunchWeek boat into the weekend together.

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Save Our Swirled

Ben & Jerry’s are about more than paying tribute to toke-tastic classic rock icons. They’re big on helping tackle global issues with their frozen dairy deliciousness. Their latest creation: Save Our Swirled, a concoction they whipped up to help battle climate change.

Pop the lid off a pint of Save Our Swirled (Ben & Jerry’s can’t resist a good play on words), jab in a spoon, and you’ll be treated to ribbons of raspberry syrup, creamy marshmallow, and tiny little ice cream cones made out of pressed white and dark fudge. It sounds like the kind of ice cream you might find at the Kwik-E-Mart next to Jasper’s frozen body.

Apart from being delicious, the cones are apparently meant to deliver a subtle reminder about climate change: they won’t survive at room temperature. Let them sit in your bowl or on your spoon for too long and they’ll melt away before your eyes, just like ice cream does — also the Arctic ice shelf.

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In October 2013, the FBI arrested a young entrepreneur named Ross Ulbricht at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library. It was the culmination of a two-year investigation into a vast online drug market called Silk Road. The authorities charged that Ulbricht, an idealistic 29-year-old Eagle Scout from Austin, Texas, was the kingpin of the operation. They said he’d reaped millions from the site, all transacted anonymously with Bitcoin. They said he’d devolved into a cold-blooded criminal, hiring hit men to take out those who crossed him.

Writer Joshuah Bearman spent more than a year reporting and writing a definitive account of how Ulbricht founded Silk Road, how it grew into a $1.2 billion operation, and how federal law enforcement shut it down. As he discusses in this video interview, the story turned out to be much more than a crime narrative. It’s also a gripping tale of ambition, temptation, and lost innocence.

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rossulbricht.jpgSilk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, who went by the online handle "Dread Pirate Roberts," was sentenced to life in prison for operating the online illegal-drug marketplace site. Ross Ulbricht/LinkedIn

Ross Ulbricht, the convicted founder of online illegal-drug marketplace Silk Road, has been sentenced to life in prison.

The sentencing of the 31-year-old from San Francisco was handed down by US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest in a Manhattan courtroom, according to the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

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  • READY
    READY says #
    Thank you - now let's clean up the rest of the world.
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Feature

The Spaceship Ring of Apple's futuristic Campus 2 project in Cupertino, Calif. is incrementally on the rise as manufactured concrete slabs are stacked together and locked into place, as shown in a new aerial video depicting progress over the past several months.

Apple Campus 2 in Mayimage

Apple Campus 2 Ring, viewed from the north

Concrete void slabs are being trucked in to build an interlocking foundation and wall structure, which "serve as both the ceiling of one floor and support for the raised surface of the floor above," Apple has stated in its planning documents.

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Ross Ulbricht, who created and ran a marketplace to sell illegal drugs, is sentenced to two life sentences, along with "max sentences on all other charges", and is held personally responsible for every single sale made.

Large banks, who launder money for drug cartels, aren't prosecuted at all, because the government sees them as 'too big to prosecute', and the potential economic harm too large should they do so.

Other than one of the people involved in leaking the details of it, not a single person in the US involved in the kidnapping, torture, and at times murder of enemy combatants and even civilians has faced any charges at all, without even an investigation into a single one of them.

So, to sum up:

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iPhone: There’s no shortage of email apps for the iPhone, but none of them are perfect. Spark is a new email app that does a lot right.

Spark combines a lot of the features of other popular email apps, including Google’s Inbox (which it borrows some design features from as well), Mailbox, and Microsoft Outlook. Spark does just about everything you’d expect from a modern email app. It directly integrates with the likes of Dropbox, Box, Evernote, Pocket, and more. It can snooze emails or pin them to the top of your list so you can remember to follow up on them. It has a smart notification system that only alerts you when important emails arrive. It even intelligently sorts out newsletters from your primary inbox. Beyond that, you can personalize it in a ton of different ways. You can customize the gestures, add special widgets, and alter what’s shown in the sidebar.

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When you mention Kevlar, most people think of body armor, but the synthetic fiber has a much wider range of uses. First used in racing tires, you’ll now find this very strong material in ropes, sails, helmets, canoes, and bicycle tires. The uses keep expanding, with the most recent being wallpaper for soldiers. Yep, the thing Willy Wonka flavors and sticks to walls.

It’s actually being referred to as “ballistic wallpaper,” and has been developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development center. The wallpaper is a mix of Kevlar fibers and plastic, which forms a sheet that can offer added protection to structures, be they permanent or temporary.

Kevlar_fiber

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Two weeks until E3, and here I am still playing The Witcher 3. Will it ever end? At this point, I'm starting to believe the answer is no.

I've taken some time away from Skellige to write up this week's gaming news though: Hot Pockets embraces virtual reality, Twitch goes family-friendly, Grand Theft Auto V gets a bit of Just Cause 2, and more.

Advent calendar

2K teased a new game this week! It's called Advent and it looks like this:

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baegucb sends a followup to the news from March that professional internet trolls were operating by the hundreds at factories in Russia. A woman hired to be one of these trolls, Lyudmila Savchuk, spoke to the media about her job, which led to her being fired. She's now suing her former employer and providing further details about how they operate. "The 'troll factory' operates based on very weird schemes, but all those firms are connected to each other, even though they are separate legal entities," she said. "I knew it was something bad, but of course I never suspected that it was this horrible and this large-scale." She describes how they flooded comment sections with pro-Putin responses, pushed out over 100 blog posts each shift, and doctored images to suit their employers' needs. Savchuk is now gathering activists to oppose this form of internet propaganda.
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Robots are supposed to be huge and hulking like Big Dog, but what happens when they are as light as a feather? MIT researchers recently demonstrated a tiny robot that can fold itself from a sheet of thin material, walk around and carry loads, and then dunk itself in acetone to completely dissolve.

The robot, which is controlled by electromagnets, can build itself in a few seconds and then follow signals on a surface or inside another object. It can carry small loads and even move small objects around like a sheepdog. While it’s not fast and it requires a lot of outside gear to move untethered, it’s a unique system and could clearly be used inside a complex object like an engine or a human body.

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The Bold Knot is a neatly designed top-up battery pack aiming to prevent smartphone users from running out of battery towards the end of the day. Plug it in and your beloved handset will get a fuel injection (equivalent to three hours’ extra talk time). The idea is to offer a more portable — and more stylish — alternative to carrying a full-size power pack.

The top-up charger can also double as a USB cable, allowing for sequential charging of the Knot’s 700mAh cell immediately after it’s charged your phone — all from the same USB port. The team also claims their device charges your phone 2x faster than other USB cables.

While it’s a neat looking prototype at this point, what’s most interesting about the Bold Knot — aside from its cute, keyring-esque design — is the team behind it hails from the West Bank.

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This question originally appeared on Quora.

Why do employers rarely offer explanations to rejected candidates?

Answer below by Quora user Gayle Laakmann McDowell.

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Turns out, Google’s promise to unveil a wearable to “blow your socks off” was just that: Wearable clothes.

On Friday, the second day of Google I/O, Google’s futuristic research lab announced a micro-sensor that reads hand movements and can be woven into textiles, turning any garment or piece of furniture into a connected device. In short, it makes a smart socks, smart pants, smart everything.

Ivan Poupyrev, the technical project lead of Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects group (ATAP), introduced the new technologies. “Today, we have our first gesture radar that is small enough to fit into any fabric,” he said. “A radar in your hand.”

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Mysterious vans owned by Apple have been popping up in cities across the US, and now we may finally know why. 9to5Mac reports that Apple is using the vans to collect mapping data for a much-needed overhaul to Apple Maps. The project is apparently meant to give Apple three things: high-quality mapping data, photos of storefronts, and 3D imagery for its own take on Street View. There appears to be no connection between this project and Apple's supposed self-driving car initiative.

Apple wants to start using its own mapping data

Recording its own mapping data may be the biggest element of this project for Apple. Right now, Apple Maps is based on mapping data from a collection of outside sources, the combination of which, according to 9to5Mac, leads to the service's infamous mistakes. If Apple can use these vans to record thorough and up-to-date mapping data, it could go a long way toward getting its service closer to the quality of rivals like Google Maps. Of course, Apple's rivals have years of experience on it, so it's not clear how robust this data might be when it finally gets put to use. The report states that Apple wants to shift over to it beginning in 2017, but it already looks like that date could be pushed back.

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If you want to understand a key piece of Google’s vision for the future of the fashion, furniture, and automotive industries, look no further than Lady Gaga. Specifically, at a dress she wore to a 2013 iTunes Festival in London. Her ensemble, made by design firm Studio XO, included a 3D-printed mechanism that blew bubbles as she walked. There was so much machinery inside the dress that she needed two assistants to help her stay upright.

When Ivan Poupyrev sees Gaga’s insane dress, he has an odd reaction. He thinks man, it would be great if tech like this could be built into more stuff. Poupyrev is a technical program lead inside Google’s ATAP division, the top-secret lab run by former DARPA director Regina Dugan that is responsible for some of Google’s most insane and ambitious ideas. One of the most ambitious ideas to date: smart pants.

Ivan Poupyrev, ATAP Technical Project Lead.Ivan Poupyrev, ATAP Technical Project Lead. Peter McCollough for WIREDOK, technically Poupyrev’s idea is called Project Jacquard. (The name comes from a classic style of intricate machine weaving.) It aims to bring conductive yarns to every garment and fabric on earth, and then to integrate touch sensors, haptic feedback, and more right into your jeans, car seats, curtains, everything. “If you can weave the sensor into the textile, as a material,” Poupyrev says, “you’re moving away from the electronics. You’re making the basic materials of the world around us interactive.” Conductive fabric is nothing new, but conductive fabric at scale is. And the Jacquard team created a way to produce this conductive yarn with the same looms and machinery the textiles industry already uses. They also figured out how to integrate tiny electronics into textiles, which Poupyrev hopes will soon live inside every item of clothing you buy. Google is working on an ecosystem of apps and services that will let you interact with your phone and other gadgets just by grabbing, tapping, swiping, and touching your clothes. Frankly, Poupyrev says, it’s ridiculous that our clothes don’t already talk to our tech. “Any time you put your phone into your pocket,” he says, “you have a smart jacket… the only problem is they don’t talk to each other. There’s no connection between them. So this work, we can actually kind of close the circuit.” He starts imagining what that means out loud: What if your phone knew you were getting dressed up, and called an Uber as soon as you finished knotting your bowtie? What if it could automatically track your exercise as soon as you put on your running shoes? What if you could talk to your phone with a single, discreet swipe on your arm? What if it could talk back? Learning to Weave When he joined ATAP in January of 2014, Poupyrev knew little about the fashion industry. His real fascination is with the ways we interact with the world around us. Before joining Google, he was the principal research scientist in the Imagineering division at Disney. One of his projects turned materials like water and flowers into touch surfaces; another, called Revel, added haptic feedback to things like chairs and umbrellas. He even built a system called Aireal, which literally made objects out of thin air. Google Fabrics Peter McCollough for WIREDNearly everything he’d worked on was a prototype: half academic exercise, half futuristic concept. Even at Sony, where he worked in a research lab, he struggled to turn turn ideas into products. ATAP doesn’t work that way, though. When you start a project, you finish it. You’re expected to turn it into a money-maker or move on to something else.
Any time you put your phone into your pocket, you have a smart jacket… the only problem is they don't talk to each other. Ivan Poupyrev
Fortunately, Poupyrev had long been thinking about textiles—sort of. The structure of touchscreens, with their big grids of electrodes, detecting currents formed and broken as our fingers move, have always reminded him of textiles. It occurred to him that, unlike placing a lot of electrodes on glass surfaces, making textiles—fabric, cloth, yarns, whatever—is kind of easy. If he could replace just a few of those yarns with something conductive, he could make a touch sensor that could go absolutely anywhere. “It’s a complete shift from making electronics and attaching them to things,” he says, “to actually creating materials which are interactive by their definition. And I thought that was really powerful.” As he explains the origins of Jacquard, inside the Levis’ Eureka Innovation Lab in San Francisco, it’s clear the fashion industry has rubbed off. He’s wearing a white dress shirt underneath a dark suit jacket that has a huge pair of white scissors embroidered on the front, along with the word CUT. (His boss, Dugan, finds this jacket hilarious.) He’s wearing an Omega Speedmaster, the model of watch that Neil Armstrong wore to the moon. His hair is in a messy sweep off to the right of his face, bouncing around his forehead as he moves. Which is constantly. He can hardly stay seated for more than a few minutes; his hands fly around while he talks about tailoring and weaving. Google Fabrics Peter McCollough for WIRED“As technologists, we don’t really notice—we buy ready-made clothes, and we figure it was always like this,” he says. “You can see the incredible amount of craft being used to create all these pieces,” he says, over a video of a tailor and his apprentice carefully measuring and cutting the sleeves of a jacket he made with Saville Row. He can hardly contain his amazement at the human craft that goes into making it. He’s got that same jacket on a table in front of him, and he can’t stop touching it as he talks, swiping up and down on its left forearm. There’s an invisible touch sensor inside, connected to tiny electronics hidden just underneath the right lapel. It’s programmed to initiate a phone call. Old Dogs, New Tricks The remarkable thing about Project Jacquard isn’t its conductive fabrics. That’s been done. It’s not even difficult, really. What Poupyrev and his team have really been working on is how to bring this to a global manufacturing process that hasn’t changed much in the last two centuries. Jacquard will only work if it can integrate into the looms, the materials, and the processes used by the thousands of retailers, designers, and factories around the world. “We wanted to do something that could scale to all of them,” Poupyrev says. Google Fabrics Peter McCollough for WIREDThat meant hitting production floors. “Basically I was told, you have two places to go: Italy or Japan,” he says. “Nothing else.” He picked Japan, where he’d lived for 15 years previously. He spent time learning how yarns are made, trying to figure out how to work conductive materials into the brutal manufacturing and testing processes. “They burn them on the open fire to get rid of excessive yarn filaments sticking out,” he says, shaking his head at the brutality of it. “I wasn’t aware that these things were happening, and that was just one of them. The stretching, the pulling, the putting in the water, on the hot press, the pressing. On some textiles they have the metal claws pulling them apart! It’s kind of destructive for electronics.” Working with one of Japan’s many boutique textile manufacturers, Poupyrev and the Jacquard team designed yarns based on a metallic alloy whose precise makeup he won’t share. Just about anything can be woven around that conductive core, using a super-strong braiding process. The same process can make everything from denim to silk to polyester to wool, all equally conductive. The yarn comes in thousands of colors, and looks and feels exactly the same as any other.
Poupyrev is a self-effacing technologist, poking fun at T-shirt-wearing Silicon Valley engineers, but he still thinks like a Googler
Next came the hard part: learning how to integrate these textiles into existing garments and processes. They discovered that by tightly weaving the conductive thread into other fabrics, they were having a hard time connecting the electronics necessary to power and capture data from the yarn. So after a few revisions, they created a two-layer system that allows you to embed electronics in the middle, like the meat in a sandwich. That makes it easy to connect electronics to the connective threads themselves, without getting in the way of what the designers want to do. “We’re going to take over the fashion industry, but from the back,” Poupyrev says. Literally and figuratively. Levi's protoype factory Peter McCollough for WIREDGoogle’s not interested in getting into the garment business, Poupyrev says over and over. “You need to provide your solution to hundreds of brands at some point,” he says. “I don’t want to become a textile mogul. I don’t want to own factories everywhere. There are enough factories already. We just want to use those capacities right there.” Poupyrev doesn’t want Google to make clothes, or the tiny electronics inside, but he does want to make the software that controls them. He’s planning to offer apps and APIs so that developers and customers can pick their clothes’ functionality the same way they pick cut and color. It’s an entire rethinking of “wearables.” Touchy Feely Everything For the record, it’s impossible to make a textile-based touch sensor as precise as your phone. “When they’re making a capacitive touch panel in the factory,” Poupyrev says, “they’re usually using magnetrons. Something like that, crazy stuff.” The goal, then, was to make Jacquard’s yarn good enough to recognize certain gestures. That way, he says, “we can infer intention from the signal” and still reliably do what you want.
People don't want to glow like a Christmas tree
“In the future—or maybe not in the future—wearables should not be thought of as another consumer device,” Poupyrev says. “We already have clothes, we already have garments.” Why do you need a wristband to measure your steps or heartbeat, when your shoes or shirt could do it more accurately? Why do you need a watch to deliver haptic feedback, when a slight buzz on your shirt cuff would be even more discreet? “Everything other wearables do,” Poupyrev says, “we’ll do it. It’s not difficult. But it’s going to be much more than that.” Paul Dillinger, VP of Innovation at Levi's.Paul Dillinger, VP of Innovation at Levi’s. Peter McCollough for WIREDAt least on a prototype level, it works. Poupyrev showed me more than a dozen different kinds of fabric—silk, polyester, denim. In each, he pointed out the touch-sensitive areas. Some were large and visible, some were small and perfectly integrated into the garment. Poupyrev is a self-effacing technologist, poking fun at T-shirt-wearing Silicon Valley engineers, but he still thinks like a Googler. He’s a conqueror, a man who looks at an extremely mature 200-year-old industry and sees huge neon signs that say “RIPE FOR DISRUPTION.” But the fashion industry is huge, massively powerful economically, and extremely diffuse—there is no equivalent to Apple or Google, no single company that can drag the industry into new eras by sheer force of economic and social will. The fate of Project Jacquard will rest on Google’s ability to convince not one partner, but many. ATAP’s first partner in the project is Levi’s, maker of all-American jeans and trucker jackets. Poupyrev worked closely with Levi’s VP of Innovation Paul Dillinger, a designer by trade who says even now he’s nervous about getting this right. But he sees in Google a willing partner, not a would-be overlord; he mentioned a couple of times how impressed he was that Google was willing to shape its processes to the particular needs of Levi’s denim. Poupyrev, in turn, has learned to deflect all questions of fashion and design over to Dillinger. Poupyrev laughs at his own desires to put full-size LCDs on his sleeves, before wistfully talking about working with someone who’s interested in helping him do exactly that. But he catches himself. “If you’re serious about it, you know people don’t want to glow like a Christmas tree,” he says. “This is not a technology problem. Adding a full wearable LCD thing on your wrist, that’s easy. It’s really a design problem. Design, and cultural understanding.” Ivan Poupyrev, ATAP Technical Project Lead.Ivan Poupyrev, ATAP Technical Project Lead. Peter McCollough for WIREDEven the first partnership was a tenuous one. After the Levi’s team first met with the Jacquard crew in Mountain View, they spent two hours sitting in traffic on the way back to San Francisco coming up with all the reasons it wouldn’t work. The supply chain is too complicated, too diffuse; there are too many tests and processes for the materials; it might just suck for consumers. “On spec,” Dillinger says, “I’m hugely skeptical of wearables.” Even now, he says, Levi’s is still trying to figure out the right application for the tech. Dillinger loves the potential, though. “We realized that even though we live in the physical world, we’re becoming ever more reliant on the digital world. And that reliance is creating this situation of like, phone to face.” As he says this, he lifts his hand up, covering his bearded face and gray beanie. He likens it to the steering wheel in the car, how great it was when manufacturers moved things like music playback and volume control off the dashboard and right under your fingers. Safer, easier, just better. Jeans are just the beginning of Project Jacquard. The plan—to turn everything from your clothes to your chairs into interactive devices—is as much a moonshot as self-driving cars and diabetes-managing contact lenses. But if Google can integrate itself as a partner in the fashion industry, not a competitor or tech company that wants to slap touchscreens on a coat, Jacquard could be the core of a new kind of connected clothing. One that doesn’t have weird pockets for sensors, that looks exactly like a great pair of jeans always has. You’d wear those, right? Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.
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APPLE HAS BEATEN Windows PC makers to be crowned best for technical support for the ninth year running.

That's according to the latest figures from Consumer Reports, which ranks Apple top among PC manufacturers for post-purchase technical support.

The report is put together from survey results gathered from 3,200 American PC buyers, and shows that Apple's online and phone technical support solved customers' problems 80 percent of the time.

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MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED plans to clean up the Windows Store by clamping down on apps that are too expensive or inappropriately designed. 

Microsoft is clearly looking to clean up its app store ahead of Windows 10's release, and is looking to get rid of applications that don't look nice, are largely useless and that don't offer good value for money, in a move that could force developers to lower the cost of Windows apps.

Bernardo Zamora, product manager for Microsoft's Windows Apps and Store team, said: "The price of an app must reflect its value. Customers need to know that, when they purchase apps from Windows Store, they are paying a fair price.

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Is this what you think of when you hear "scientist"? If so, you may be an exception.

A new international study published by researchers at Northwestern University and University of California-Berkeley found that even in nations with high gender equity, gender-based stereotypes continue to dominate science and technology fields, where scientists are still expected to be male.

For the last half-century, the percentage of women with careers in science has increased unevenly across countries. This allowed the researchers to perform a country-by-country examination of the relationship between gender stereotypes and the presence of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The question the researchers asked was simple: if subjects were to think of a scientist, are they more likely to put a man or a woman inside the lab coat?

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This Tiny Self-Folding Robot Will Destroy Itself When Its Job Is Done

Not content with creating a robot cheetah that can run and jump over obstacles at astonishing speeds, researchers at MIT have also developed this incredibly tiny origami robot that can not only fold itself, it can also walk, swim, and then destroy itself when it’s no longer needed.

The tiny robot, made from a magnet and pieces of PVC sandwiched between layers of polystyrene or paper, can go through its entire circle of life without the need for cable tethers or wires of any kind.

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