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NLRB says Tesla violated the law by telling employees not to talk about pay

The National Labor Relations Board has accused Tesla of violating labor law by prohibiting employees in Orlando, Florida from talking about workplace matters. According to Bloomberg, NLRB's Tampa regional director filed a complaint against the automaker in September for breaking the law when it told employees not to discuss their pay with other people and not to talk about the termination of another employee. In addition, based on the filing the news organization obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Tesla management reportedly told employees "not to complain to higher level managers" about their working conditions. 

Tesla has had to face several complaints by the NLRB over the past years. In 2021, the agency found that the automaker had violated US labor laws by firing a union activist and threatening workers' benefits. The NLRB ordered the company to rehire union activist Richard Ortiz and to remove all mentions of disciplinary action from his files. It also ordered Tesla chief Elon Musk to delete a tweet that the court had deemed a threat that employees would be giving up company-paid stock options if they join a union. The tweet in question is still live, and Tesla is appealing the NLRB's ruling in court. 

An agency spokesperson told Bloomberg that a judge will hear the complaint filed by the Tampa regional director in February. As the publication notes, companies can still appeal the agency judges' decision to NLRB members in Washington and then to federal court, so any corrective action may take years to happen.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/nlrb-tesla-violated-the-law-telling-employees-not-to-talk-about-pay-085124724.html?src=rss

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Grubhub ordered to pay $3.5 million to settle Washington DC deceptive practices lawsuit

Grubhub has been ordered to pay $3.5 million to settle the lawsuit filed against the company by the District of Columbia over "deceptive trade practices." Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine has announced that his office has reached an agreement with the food delivery service "for charging customers hidden fees and using deceptive marketing techniques." If you'll recall, his office sued the company earlier this year, accusing it of charging hidden fees and misrepresenting Grubhub+ subscription's offer of "unlimited free delivery," since customers still have to pay a service fee.

The DC Attorney General's office also accused the company of listing 1,000 restaurants in the area without their permission by using numbers that route to Grubhub workers or creating websites without the eateries' consent. A previous TechCrunch report said the company had already ended those practices. Racine also said at the time that Grubhub ran a promotion called "Supper for Support" at the beginning of the pandemic and then "stuck restaurants with the bill" that cut into their profit margins.

Grubhub called the lawsuit frivolous at the time of its filing and said that the company was "disappointed [the AG's office has] moved forward with [it] because [the service's] practices have always complied with DC law, and in any event, many of the practices at issue have been discontinued."

Under the terms of the settlement, Grubhub will pay affected customers in the DC area a total of $2.7 million. Their cut will be credited to their accounts, and it will be sent to them as a check if it remains unused within 90 days. In addition, the company has to pay $800,000 in civil penalties to the District of Columbia and has to clearly mark additional fees people have to pay with their order going forward.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/grubhu-pay-35-million-settle-deceptive-practices-lawsuit-150304597.html?src=rss

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Meta buys smart lensmaker Luxexcel to further AR ambitions

Facebook parent company Meta has acquired Luxexcel, a Dutch startup specializing in smart eyewear. News of the purchase was first reported by De Tijd and later confirmed by TechCrunch. “We’re excited that the Luxexcel team has joined Meta, deepening the existing partnership between the two companies,” a Meta spokesperson told the outlet. The company did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Founded in 2009, Luxexcel began life as a prescription lens manufacturer. More recently, the company has made a name for itself in the augmented reality space. At the start of 2021, for instance, it partnered with WaveOptics, the display manufacturer Snap paid $500 million later that same year to buy. As TechCrunch points out, there are also rumors Luxexcel previously worked with Meta on the company’s Project Aria AR glasses.

The acquisition comes as Meta faces regulatory scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission over its purchase of Supernatural developer Within. The agency sued Meta in July to block the deal. The social media giant also faces criticism over just how much it's spending to further its metaverse ambitions. In October, a month before the company laid off 11,000 employees, Meta told investors Reality Labs, its virtual and augmented reality unit, lost more than $9 billion in 2022. It went on to predict the division’s operating losses were likely to “grow significantly year-over-year” in 2023.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/meta-buys-smart-lensmaker-luxexcel-170629568.html?src=rss

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Big Tech critic Tim Wu is leaving the White House

After advising President Biden on technology and competition policy for nearly two years, net neutrality advocate Tim Wu is leaving the White House. The Biden administration announced the departure this week, noting Wu’s final day at the National Economic Council would fall on January 4th. Wu became a special advisor to the president in March 2021. He held a similar position during the Obama administration.

Wu told The New York Times he’s leaving the federal government to spend more time with his family. His post at the White House had required Wu to commute between New York and Washington DC, leaving his young children without their father for stretches of time. “There’s a time where the burden on family is too much,” he said. “I’ve been feeling the balance has shifted.” Wu told The Times he plans to return to Columbia University, where he was a law professor before his latest government stint.

Wu is leaving the White House at a critical moment during the Biden administration's efforts to rein in Big Tech. Last year, he co-authored the executive order that instructed the Federal Communications Commission to restore net neutrality and promised greater scrutiny of mergers. In July of this year, the Federal Trade Commission sued Meta to block the purchase of VR developer Within. Earlier this month, the agency also moved to prevent Microsoft’s merger with Activision Blizzard. Both cases are currently before the courts and are expected to be tough battles for the FTC. 

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/big-tech-critic-tim-wu-is-leaving-the-white-house-191002294.html?src=rss

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Today is the last day to use Dark Sky on iOS before it shuts down

The time has come to say goodbye to Dark Sky. Nearly two years after Apple purchased the much-loved weather app, and more than a year after announcing its impending shutdown, Dark Sky is about to stop functioning. Since September, an in-app notification has warned iOS users the software would no longer work come January 1st, 2023. In September, Apple also removed Dark Sky from the App Store (following an earlier delisting from the Play Store).

If you’re looking for an alternative, it’s worth revisiting Apple’s own Weather app before turning to the App Store. Since iOS 14, the company has gradually integrated Dark Sky’s technology into its native offering. For instance, the Weather app now includes next-hour precipitation alerts, which is a feature that was directly inspired by Dark Sky. That said, if you’re set on trying a third-party alternative, a few that are worth checking out include AccuWeather and Carrot Weather.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/dark-sky-ios-shutdown-psa-203747733.html?src=rss

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There’s never been a better time to stop tweeting

There’s never really been a shortage of reasons to spend less time on Twitter. Even before Elon Musk’s chaotic takeover, the platform was long plagued by misinformation, hate speech, harassment and other ills that made it less than welcoming.

There’s never been a better time to quit Twitter. The Elon Musk-induced chaos at the company has breathed new life into a crop of alternative platforms, and has inspired a new wave of competing efforts to win over disillusioned Twitter users.

Competition emerges

Of all the alternatives out there, none have benefited as much as Mastodon. The open-source service was created in 2016, and first gained notoriety in 2017, when some Twitter users were upset with changes the company had made to the functionality of @-replies. At that time though, it didn’t gain much traction outside a small base of hardcore enthusiasts.

That all changed from the second Musk announced he wanted to buy Twitter. Mastodon saw an immediate spike back in April and the momentum has only increased, according to the nonprofit. “Mastodon has recently exploded in popularity, jumping from approx. 300K monthly active users to 2.5M between the months of October and November, with more and more journalists, political figures, writers, actors and organizations moving over,” founder Eugen Rochko wrote in a recent blog post.

The service isn’t a perfect analog to Twitter. Its platform, which runs on thousands of servers, can make signing up a bit confusing. And a couple of the platform’s most popular servers, like mastodon.social, have at times halted new sign-ups due to surging demand.

But, as Rochko points out, the decentralized platform has become one of the top platforms of choice for some of Twitter’s most influential — and most followed — users. Tellingly, when Musk briefly imposed a ban on accounts promoting alternative social networks, Mastodon’s official Twitter account was the only social app to be suspended.

Mastodon is far from the only previously-niche app to get a boost from turmoil at Twitter. Other apps like CounterSocial, which has a Tweetdeck-like interface, and Tribel, which describes itself as a “pro-democracy Twitter alternative” have also seen an uptick in sign-ups.

There’s also a wave of competition from fresh upstarts. Post News, a new service from former Waze CEO Noam Bardin has also tried to capitalize on Twitter’s dysfunction. The service, which is currently invitation-only, rushed to launch an early version of its beta in November in hopes of drawing away disillusioned Twitter users. Post, which bills itself as a place “to discover, read, watch, discuss and share premium news content without subscriptions or ads,” has more than 610,000 people on its waitlist, according to Bardin.

Another app that’s emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, is Hive Social, an image-centric platform with a feed that looks more like Instagram than Twitter. The service was founded in 2019, and hit 1.5 million users in November, according to the company. The site has had some notable security issues, which it claims to have fixed, but has still managed to make an impression with Gen Z Twitter users.

Legacy platforms are also trying to seize the opportunity created by growing apathy for Twitter. Tumblr claimed to see a surge in new and returning users, according to Matt Mullenweg, CEO of parent company Automattic. The site has also made a habit of trolling Musk and his new policies for Twitter, including with the addition of a $7.99 “Important Blue Internet Checkmark” for users’ blogs. Mullenweg has also said Tumblr will adopt ActivityPub, the protocol powering Mastodon, to make the two services interoperable.

Meta is also keen to challenge its longtime rival. The company recently launched a new “Notes” feature within Instagram that allows users to share status updates at the top of their inbox. At 60 characters, it's hardly a full-fledged Twitter alternative, but it might not be the last such feature we see from Meta. The New York Times reports that the company has discussed several ideas to go after Twitter’s “bread and butter.”

The future for Twitter Quitters

It’s hardly the first time that unpopular decisions within Twitter have sparked an interest in alternatives. But in the past, surges to outside platforms have been relatively short lived. And most would-be competitors are still only a fraction of the size of Twitter.

Even with an influx of new users, Mastodon, Post News, Hive Social and Tumblr are still substantially smaller than Twitter. And, as unpopular and autocratic and Musk’s policy decisions seem, the idea of starting over on a new platform can feel daunting. Not everyone can easily rebuild their social graphs on alternative sites, and some may find the growing crop of Twitter clones to also be unwelcoming (this is especially true if you rely on accessibility features, as many of the newer platforms haven’t invested much in these features.)

Still, this particular moment feels different than other times when Twitter has struggled to keep disgruntled users around. For one, there are more choices than ever before for those looking for a reason to leave. But it’s also unique because there are more people actually active on these alternatives than ever before.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/theres-never-been-a-better-time-stop-tweeting-150020412.html?src=rss

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NVIDIA RTX 4070 Ti leaks reveal specs and potential price

NVIDIA is expected to reveal its GeForce RTX 4070 Ti graphics card at CES next week, but it preemptively leaked the specs. Thanks to new rumors, we have a sense of the GPU's likely price too.

The RTX 4070 Ti is slated to have 12GB of GDDR6X memory with 7,680 Cuda cores that can be boosted to 2.61GHz, as Tom's Hardware notes. NVIDIA seemingly expects the card to deliver 4K gameplay at up to 240Hz, or 8K visuals at 60Hz with DSC and HDR enabled. The company claimed the RTX 4070 Ti will deliver around 3.5 times better performance than the 12GB RTX 3080 in Cyberpunk 2077 when the new RT Overdrive mode is enabled.

It has been widely believed that the latest card would essentially be a rebranded version of the 12GB RTX 4080. In October, NVIDIA reversed plans to release that model and suggested it would rebadge the GPU.

Meanwhile, rumors indicate NVIDIA will sell the RTX 4070 Ti for $799. It was previously expected that the price would be $899, but NVIDIA may have lowered it after the US delayed tariffs on GPUs that were set to resume on January 1st. Based on the RTX 4070 Ti's expected performance, Wccftech ran the numbers and found that, on a teraflop-to-dollar ratio, the GPU will offer 97 percent of the value proposition of the $1,599 RTX 4090.

We should find out official details about the RTX 4070 Ti, perhaps including the release date, very soon. NVIDIA has scheduled a CES edition of its GeForce Beyond event for January 3rd at 11AM ET.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/nvidia-rtx-4070-ti-leak-specs-price-ces-2023-210303412.html?src=rss

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TikTok says it’s getting better at detecting ‘borderline’ content

For the past several months, TikTok has been working on new ways to age-restrict certain types of content as part of a broader push to ramp up safety features for younger users. The app unveiled a new ratings system earlier this year, called Content Levels, to help it identify more “mature” content.

Now, the company has another update on those efforts. In a blog post, the company says that it’s launching a new version of its “borderline suggestive model,” which the company uses to automatically identify “sexually explicit, suggestive, or borderline content.” According to a TikTok spokesperson, the new model is better able to detect so-called “borderline content,” videos that don’t explicitly break the app’s rules, but may not be suitable for younger users.

TikTok isn’t the only platform to filter out this type of content from recommendations. Instagram has long attempted to weed borderline content out of its recommendations as well. But content with more “mature” themes, but that doesn’t contain explicit nudity, has long been more difficult for automated systems to consistently detect. TikTok didn’t offer specifics on how much more accurate the new system is, but it shared that in the last 30 days the company has “prevented teen accounts from viewing over 1 million overtly sexually suggestive videos.”

Elsewhere, the app is also rolling out the ability for creators to restrict their videos to adult viewers. This feature was previously only available for live videos, but will now be enabled for short-form clips as well.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/tiktok-borderline-content-teens-215820912.html?src=rss

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Google Voice now flags suspected spam calls

Google Voice has made it easier to filter out spammers trying to call your number. The tech giant has announced that the service will now flag suspected spam calls and will clearly label them as such, complete with a big red exclamation mark. Spam calls and texts have been a huge issue for a years, and they aren't going away anytime soon — according to the FCC, consumers in the US receive approximately 4 billion robocalls per month and that Americans had lost nearly $30 billion to scam calls in 2021. Google says the feature was designed to help protect you "from unwanted calls and potentially harmful scams."

The new label that says "suspected spam caller" will show up not just on the incoming call screen, but also in call history for future reference. If you confirm that the call is spam, any future call from that number will head straight to voicemail, and all its call history entries will be sent to the spam folder. But if you confirm that the number is legitimate and isn't a spam caller, the warning will never be displayed for it again. Here's what the label would look like on the call screen:

Google uses the same artificial intelligence that's in charge of identifying spam calls across its ecosystem to pinpoint spam callers for this feature. Apparently, that AI has been filtering out billions of spam calls a month for the tech giant. To note, the new label will only appear if your spam filter setting under Security is turned off. If it's on, all calls Google suspects to be spam are sent to voicemail from the start.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/google-voice-flags-suspected-spam-calls-101026506.html?src=rss

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The Morning After: New York’s governor signs a weakened right-to-repair bill

New York governor Kathy Hochul has finally signed a right-to-repair bill into law, over half a year since the state legislature was passed. Representatives for Microsoft and Apple pressed Hochul's office for changes, as well as industry association TechNet, which represents many notable tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Dell and HP. Critics say the amendments will weaken the law's effectiveness. The bill's revised language excludes enterprise electronics, like devices used in schools and hospitals. Home appliances, motor vehicles, medical devices and off-road equipment were also previously exempted.

Whatever aims the right-to-repair bill had when first proposed have been weakened. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), a collective of consumer rights organizations, said in a statement to Engadget: "Such changes could limit the benefits for school computers and most products currently in use." It continued: "The bill now excludes certain smartphone circuit boards from parts the manufacturers are required to sell and requires repair shops to post unwieldy warranty language."

– Mat Smith

The Morning After isn’t just a newsletter – it’s also a daily podcast. Get our daily audio briefings, Monday through Friday, by subscribing right here.

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TikTok will be banned on most US federal government devices

Included in a mammoth $1.7 trillion bill that President Biden just signed.

TikTok will be outlawed on almost all devices issued by the federal government after lawmakers passed a $1.7 trillion spending bill. Officials recently added the No TikTok on Government Devices Act (what a name) to the bill, which the Senate unanimously approved last week. The mammoth 4,155-page legislation was fast-tracked to avoid a partial government shutdown. It will fund the government through September. The legislation requires the Biden administration to establish rules to remove TikTok from government devices by mid-February. The bill carved out exceptions for elected officials, congressional staff, law enforcement agents and other officials. However, the House of Representatives separately banned TikTok on devices it owns and manages.

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Samsung's new smart fridge has a massive 32-inch display

Think of it like a smart TV with a fridge attached to it.

CES is nearly here, which means we're once again writing about refrigerators. With its Family Hub Plus, Samsung has boosted the touch display size to 32 inches from 21 inches, although it’s still a vertical screen. Samsung has added support for Google Photos, along with the OneDrive integration seen on past models. There’s also a new SmartThings hub so you can control multiple smart home devices from your… kitchen, including robot vacuums, air conditioning, lighting and more. It also supports Amazon's Your Essentials service, letting you order groceries and other products directly from the touchscreen. Those groceries go inside.

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The EV revolution became an eventuality in 2022

It's been a busy year for the industry.

It’s been a decade since the first Tesla EV made its commercial debut and the electrification of American automotive society began in earnest. Over the past ten years as battery capacities have grown and range anxieties have shrunk, electric vehicles have become a daily sight in most parts of the country. Now, virtually every notable automaker on the planet has jumped on the electric bandwagon with sizable investments in battery and production technologies and pledges to electrify their lineups within a decade or so.

Not even recent years’ production slowdowns and supply chain disruptions brought on by the COVID pandemic managed to stall the industry’s momentum. The International Energy Agency in January reported that EVs had managed to triple their market share between 2019 and 2021 with 6.6 million units being sold globally last year. And as eventful as 2022 turned out to be, 2023 and beyond could be even bigger for the EV industry. We’re expecting EV debuts including the VW ID.3; the Lucid Gravity, Polestar 3, Jeep (one of four!) and Honda’s Prologue SUVs.

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Article source: https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-new-yorks-governor-signs-a-weakened-right-to-repair-bill-121544430.html?src=rss

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