Start Up No.1,033: what pilots can tell drivers, what’s Medium for?, Sony hits 4.2m VR headsets, Apple’s kyboad poblm psists, buses v oil, and more

Online dating: it’s the way people hook up now. CC-licensed photo by %u2593%u2592%u2591 TORLEY %u2591%u2592%u2593 on Flickr.

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A selection of 10 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

The rise of online dating, and the company that dominates the market • Visual Capitalist

Frank Cardona:


Tinder globally popularized app-based matchmaking when it launched on iPhones in 2012, and later on Android in 2013. Unlike traditional dating websites, which required lengthy profiles and complicated profile searches, Tinder gamified online dating with quick account setups and its “swipe-right-to-like” approach. By 2017, Tinder had grown to 57 million active users across the globe and billions of swipes per day.

Since the launch of Tinder, hundreds of dating services have appeared on app stores worldwide. Investors are taking notice of this booming market, while analysts estimate the global online dating market could be worth $12bn by next year…

Today, nearly all major dating apps are owned by the Match Group, a publicly-traded pure play that was spun out of IAC, a conglomerate controlled by media mogul Barry Diller.

IAC saw the online dating trend early, purchasing early online dating pioneer way back in 1999. However, with online dating shifting into the mainstream over recent years, the strategy quickly shifted to aggressively buying up major players in the market.

In addition to its prized app Tinder – which doubled its revenue in 2018 to $805m – Match Group owns popular online dating services like OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Hinge, and has even bought out international competitors like Meetic in Europe, and Eureka in Japan. The dating giant reported revenues of $1.73bn in 2018. According to reports, Match Group now owns more than 45 dating-related businesses, including 25 acquisitions.


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The long, complicated, and extremely frustrating history of Medium, 2012–present • Nieman Journalism Lab

Laura Hazard Owen:


I don’t blame people who go do something for Medium. Seriously, grab that money while it’s there. In 2015, after I was laid off, I talked to people at Medium about starting a parenting publication there. It was something that I might have received a few thousand dollars to do. I joined Nieman Lab instead, but that freedom (?) and potential money still float in and out of my mind. Some of the news stories I’ve written about Medium have been too credulous; I’ve taken too much of Williams’ startup speak at face value. I (and many others) devoted what now seems like way too much mental energy to the “Is Medium a platform or a publisher?” question. Sure, Williams’ frequently shifting stated vision didn’t help, but that angst still feels ridiculously quaint in 2019.

Why spend so much time worrying about what Medium is? Maybe because we wanted to know whether it was a friend or an enemy. The answer is that it’s neither. It’s a reflection of what the media industry has worried about, and hoped for, and not received. But Medium was never something that we would get to define. Instead, it’s turned out to be an endless thought experiment into what publishing on the internet could look like. That’s not much fun for people who got burned along the way, but Medium was never exactly ours to begin with.


Medium really is a puzzle. What’s its model now? What will its model be in a year? Without enough certainty, it’s impossible to know whether to write for it or not. But its sugar daddy means that it never has to think too hard about that.
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Sony has sold 4.2 million PlayStation VR headsets • Venturebeat

Jeff Grubb:


That sold-through designation [on the 4.2m number] is important because it’s not just “shipped.” Instead, 4.2 million people have actually purchased the device.

This means that PSVR likely still has a lead in the premium VR headset market. But Facebook and HTC don’t share exact sales numbers for their devices. Even without that data, however, industry intelligence firm IDC estimates that PSVR shipped 463,000 headsets in the fourth quarter of 2018. That put it ahead of 300,000 Oculus Rifts and 230,000 HTC Vives.

Sony has continued to use its advantages in the gaming space to pitch the PSVR to customers. Unlike Vive or Rift, you only need a PlayStation 4 instead of an expensive gaming PC. PlayStation is also a globally recognized gaming brand with numerous developer partnerships. The publisher has leveraged those relationships to bring big-name VR experiences to the PSVR first. That includes hits like Tetris Effect and Resident Evil 7. And that’s on top of its first-party efforts like Farpoint and Astro Bot: Rescue Mission.


Personally I’ve gone from being highly optimistic about VR to pessimistic – again. 4.2m is a good figure, but it’s entirely self-contained to games.
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Appl still hasn’t fixd its MacBook kyboad problm • WSJ

Joanna Stern (with Elliot Bentley):


Nop, I havn’t fogottn how to wit. No did my dito go on vacation.

You s, to sha th pain of using an Appl laptop kyboad that’s faild aft fou months, I could only think of on ida: tak all th bokn ltts out of my column. Thn I alizd that would mak th whol thing unadabl. So to…

Why is th baking of my MacBook Ai kyboad so insanly maddning? Lt’s tak a tip down Mmoy Lan…

Apil 2015: Appl Inc. lass th all-nw MacBook with a “buttfly” kyboad. In od to achiv xtm thinnss, th kys a much flatt than old gnations but th buttfly mchanism undnath, fo which th kyboad is namd, aims to plicat th bounc of a mo taditional kyboad.

Octob 2016: Th MacBook Po aivs with a scond-gnation buttfly kyboad. A fw months lat, som bgin to pot that ltts o chaacts don’t appa, that kys gt stuck o that ltts unxpctdly pat.

That’s why I’d lik to off you th oppotunity to…


Eugh. I wonder if Apple will finally, finally, finally listen to this. When you get stories like this in international papers from well-respected writers, it destroys your reputation. This has gone on for years now and it still isn’t fixed. I’ve never known Apple to be so indifferent to a serious problem that has gone on for so long across an entire product line.
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The Boeing 737 Max crash is a warning to drivers, too • Slate

Henry Grabar:


automation has not made pilots’ jobs easier, says Steve Casner, a pilot and research psychologist at NASA’s Ames Research Center: “You’d think it would dumb down the role of the pilot. Contrary to expectation, you have to know more than ever.”

Casner is one of a number of pilots and analysts who see a parallel between the introduction of automation in airplanes more than 30 years ago and its arrival in cars today, as drivers prepare to relinquish the burdens of navigating the blacktop.

“It’s like 1983 all over again,” Casner told me Monday. Where airlines by and large got it right, he thinks car-makers may be overeager in sticking humans in the car with unfamiliar technologies. “I’m very concerned that even though aviation has shown us how to do it, we’re about to make a big mistake with cars. Sitting there waiting like a potted plant for the lights to blink is not one of our fortes.”

Together with the cognitive psychologist Edwin Hutchins, Casner is the author of a new paper, “What Do We Tell the Drivers? Towards Minimum Driver Training Standards for Partially Automated Cars.” One of their main points is that automation would not have made commercial flight as safe as it is today without pilots who understood how the systems worked.


We’re already seeing crashes where the human driver doesn’t realise that the system isn’t functioning correctly. Disengaging it might get harder.
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Boeing 737 MAX software fix: easy to upload, harder to approve • Reuters

Eric Johnson, David Shepardson and Allison Lampert:


Boeing engineers armed with laptops and thumb drives will be able to upload a crucial software fix for the 737 MAX anti-stall system in about an hour. That’s the easy part.

Before Boeing’s workhorse of the future can resume flying, the upgrade must first be approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and then by wary regulators around the globe who have grounded it in the wake of two deadly crashes.

Regulators in China, Europe and Canada have signaled they will not rubber stamp an FAA decision to allow the planes back into the air but conduct their own reviews.

With the FAA under pressure for its role in certifying the newest 737, and other regulators challenging its leadership of the airline safety system, Boeing’s money-spinning jet could remain parked for months.

“We are guessing this thing’s not going to be put to bed until the July or August time frame,” said Charlie Smith, chief investment officer at Fort Smith Capital Group, which holds shares in Boeing.

The world’s largest planemaker has been working on the upgrade for its MCAS stall-prevention system since October’s Lion Air crash, when pilots are believed to have lost a tug of war with software that repeatedly pushed the nose down.


The FAA now has the same problem as Boeing: persuading people that its decisions are safe. Just a part of Trump’s legacy (the FAA director position hasn’t been formally filled).
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Standing against hate • Facebook Newsroom


over the past three months our conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations around the world have confirmed that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups. Our own review of hate figures and organizations – as defined by our Dangerous Individuals & Organizations policy – further revealed the overlap between white nationalism and separatism and white supremacy. Going forward, while people will still be able to demonstrate pride in their ethnic heritage, we will not tolerate praise or support for white nationalism and separatism.

We also need to get better and faster at finding and removing hate from our platforms. Over the past few years we have improved our ability to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to find material from terrorist groups. Last fall, we started using similar tools to extend our efforts to a range of hate groups globally, including white supremacists. We’re making progress, but we know we have a lot more work to do.

Our efforts to combat hate don’t stop here. As part of today’s announcement, we’ll also start connecting people who search for terms associated with white supremacy to resources focused on helping people leave behind hate groups.


No name attached to it. But anyway, about time. A lot of people have been telling Facebook about this literally for years.
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Magic Leap heads to AT+T stores, along with AR Game of Thrones experience • CNet

Scott Stein:


AT+T was originally supposed to be a retail partner for Magic Leap at launch last fall, but that never ended up happening. This retail launch of the $2,295 AR headset will be pretty limited: It will arrive April 1 in Boston at one store (Boylston), April 3 in Chicago (on Michigan Avenue) and April 6 in San Francisco (at 1 Powell).

The hardware will be exactly the same as what’s already been available previously. The self-contained AR hardware runs off an Nvidia Tegra X2 processor and creates 3D effects meshed into reality through its tethered goggles. But it doesn’t have cellular onboard yet. Instead, it requires Wi-Fi.

AT+T is planning to make a move to 5G and bring Magic Leap along, but for now those developments will be limited to deploying 5G at Magic Leap’s Florida headquarters later this year for 5G AR testing.

As for these retail Magic Leap Game of Thrones experiences, it could be worth a drop-in. The “Dead Must Die” encounter, according to AT+T’s press release: “…challenges the bravest of fans to confront a White Walker and lead the fight for the living. Curious visitors will be fitted with a Magic Leap One and step into a physical representation of King’s Landing, which instantly transforms into an ominous, icy scene that begs investigation…


Nope. I just don’t see this making it. I think Magic Leap’s investors can kiss their money goodbye.
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More stunning falls in solar and battery storage costs put fossil fuels on notice • RenewEconomy

Giles Parkinson:


More speculator falls in the costs of solar PV and battery storage technologies is ensuring that renewables are not only vastly cheaper than coal and gas power plants on generation costs, but also competitive with fossil fuel generation when it comes to dispatchable generation.

The latest technology cost analysis released by research company BloombergNEF shows that battery storage costs have fallen by more than one third since the first half of 2018, and even wind and solar have also fallen by another 10-18% respectively over that time. Offshore wind is down 24% over the last year.

The big mover, and the most significant for the unfolding low carbon energy transition has been the cost of lithium-ion battery storage, which BNEF says has fallen by 35% to $US187/MWh. That means it is competing with, and in some cases, easily beating gas generation for tenders for peaking plants, including in the US where gas is supposed to be cheaper than elsewhere.


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Forget Tesla, it’s China’s E-buses that are denting oil demand • Bloomberg NEF

Alaric Nightingale:


The oil industry needn’t be too concerned, for now, about how Tesla’s electric cars are denting demand. China and its bus fleet could be more of a worry.

By the end of this year, a cumulative 270,000 barrels a day of diesel demand will have been displaced by electric buses, most of it in China, according to a report published last week by BloombergNEF. That’s more than three times the displacement by all the world’s passenger electric vehicles (a market where Tesla has a share of about 12%.).

Despite rapid growth, the impact on the oil market from electric vehicles remains relatively small. Collectively, buses and electric vehicles account for about 3% of oil demand growth since 2011, and 0.3% of current global consumption, according to BloombergNEF figures and data from the International Energy Agency.

Buses matter more because of their size and constant use. For every 1,000 electric buses on the road, 500 barrels of diesel are displaced each day, BloombergNEF estimates. By comparison, 1,000 battery electric vehicles remove just 15 barrels of oil demand.


So there’s an obvious policy open goal for politicians to aim at: replace every diesel bus. (In passing, I think “NEF” in this Bloomberg tag stands for “New Energy Futures”, but can’t be certain. Might be “Fundamentals”.)
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified

1 thought on “Start Up No.1,033: what pilots can tell drivers, what’s Medium for?, Sony hits 4.2m VR headsets, Apple’s kyboad poblm psists, buses v oil, and more

  1. ” I’ve never known Apple to be so indifferent to a serious problem that has gone on for so long across an entire product line.”

    From the outside looking in, what’s remarkable is not so much that Apple makes flawed products: depending on what you care about, there are other major flaws with several Apple products, and shit happens. What’s remarkable is that customers keep buying even that product, even with that level of shrieking from within the iBubble itself.

    And it’s not even a single issue: the keyboard is fragile, that’s bad. On all other brands, that’s a $50 DIY problem. But because this is Apple, it’s a $700 whole-casing swap, repair shop problem. And because this is Apple, it’s not an any-repairshop problem, but an approved-repairshop-only problem.

    It’s awe-inspiring that both the product and the company can forge ahead in spite of all that. You’re typing on it wrong, I guess ?

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