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Jack Smith IV

Jack is a reporter covering tech business in NYC, Silicon Alley founders and funding, trends in tech innovation and venture capital investment.
Millenial Makers

This Is Maker Faire’s Secret Wall of Animatronic, 3D-Printed Dicks

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At the World Marker Faire this weekend, kids learned to solder and pick locks, a giant animatronic giraffe named Russell roamed the crowd, and tattooed hackers in cowboy hats battled aerial drones in a nerd edition of Thunderdome. But the show’s best kept secret was hidden far away from the family-friendly fun in a far flung corner of the faire.

In a conspicuous tent that emanated giggles, camera shutter clicks and mechanical buzzing, was a giant wall of animatronic, 3D-printed dicks dancing to Tchaikovsky. Read More

Planet Google

We’ll All Have Self-Driving Cars Long Before We Can Actually Use Them

Doesn't matter if the tech is ready, you still need to map every road before the cars are worth anything. (Photo by Jakob Montrasio)

Every other week, some automotive CEO or founder you’ve never heard of will make news and keep their stock prices stable by guessing at the future of self-driving cars. Late Wednesday night, the robot-fearing space explorer and transportation tycoon Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX took his turn when he told the Wall Street Journal that Tesla would have self-driving cars ready in six years.

“The big car companies have been a lot slower than I thought,” he said.

Mr. Musk is fond of making fanciful predictions and projections about the future of transportation, but saying that he’ll have a self-driving car in six years isn’t as far fetched as, say, a bullet-speed interstate monorail in the sky. After all, Nissan says that they’ll have self-driving cars ready by then, too. Read More

Style Startups

Forget the Uber Clones: Soon Enough, There Will Be a Bonobos-of-Everything

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Every time we turn our heads, there’s a new Uber or Airbnb clone. There’s the Uber for helicopters, chefs and planes, as well as Airbnb-style apps for dogs, boats, cars, clothes and private jets. But another startup model is pulling more and more VC dollars away from sharing economy copy-cats and sexting apps. Call it the Bonobos-for-everything, or maybe the Warby-for-everything if you’re not into J Crew-style chinos.

As of this morning, Jack Erwin, a startup that makes mens’ shoes that lean a bit dressy, has closed a $6 million dollar round led by industry giant Brown Shoe. The NYC Soho-based company sells hand-made shoes from Spain, but can offer them cheaper than more established brands by going direct-to-consumer, cutting out middlemen, brands and retailers who jack up the prices. An analogous company would be Brooklyn-based Greats, which sells casual streetwear shoes through a nearly indistinguishable business model. Read More

Kickstart This

This Kickstarter Wants To Put ‘Justin Bieber’s Balls In Your Mouth’

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Have you ever been bobbing your head along to your favorite song and wondered, “What would this music taste like?” Unless you were rolling face on MDMA, probably not.

Nevertheless, Kickstarter campaign called Beatballs wants to develop a home food processor that evaluates the acoustic properties of a song, and turn that song into a meatball. Call it a cross between an iHome and a KitchenAid. Read More

Hits and Misses

Stop Calling Tor ‘The Web Browser For Criminals’

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Yesterday, a rumor surfaced on deep web blog DeepDotWeb that Comcast was going to start blocking users of Tor, an anonymous web browser. Comcast Vice President Jason Livingood immediately and rightfully called bullshit, because for all of its customer service foibles, Comcast knows that preventing people from browsing the Internet anonymously would be a daring infringement on user privacy.

The confusion came to rest shortly after the posting of a Business Insider story called “Comcast Denies It Will Cut Off Customers Who Use Tor, The Web Browser For Criminals.” Besides reaffirming the simple notion that you shouldn’t just believe something you read on a subreddit, the story — which was viewed over 22,000 times — reaffirms the notion that Tor is a tool for evil. Read More

Internet Famous

Gamers Drove Minecraft Creator ‘Notch’ Out of Gaming

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So the rumors were true: Microsoft bought Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5 billion. Original fans of the game are buzzing with concern that their beloved indie game is destined for ruin — as they are wont to do — and major tech publications are no doubt preparing their lengthy analyses of the business implications. But the man who should be at the center of attention has chosen to bow out completely.

Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson published a farewell letter on his personal site yesterday called “I’m leaving Mojang.” In it, he anticipates the post-buyout community firestorm, and says that’s he’s done being a “symbol of some perceived struggle” for the soul of indie gaming. Yes, he may have an enormous pile of money now, but Mr. Persson was never asking for meteoric fame, or to belong to a cause. He just wanted to make a cool game. Read More

Your Colleagues In the News

Pando’s Paul Carr Is Bringing Back His Call-In Radio Show ‘NSFW Live’

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Tech podcasts are nightmarishly boring. Most either lifelessly emulate glossy, Ira Glass-style documentary segments or simply broadcast 45 minute dialogues between founders and investors while they safely rehash the week’s think-pieces. For only a couple of years, Paul Carr’s NSFW Live offered a respite — an unpolished daily call-in show where the editorial brigands of the now-defunct NSFWCORP would rant about the day’s news slog.

Fans rejoice: NSFW Live is coming back under a new banner, with new studios and a little spending money. The show will come back as “PandoLIVE,” and Mr. Carr told Betabeat it will merge “NSFW ethos with Pando professionalism and sustainability.” Mr. Carr will cohost the new show weekly with longtime bestie and more crowd-friendly counterpart Sarah Lacy, the founder and editor-in-chief of PandoDaily. Read More

XXX in Tech

The Apple Watch Already Has an App For Getting Laid

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We’ve known about the Apple Watch for less than a week, and already developers have figured out a way to use it for sex. Typical.

Close Encounter is a blind-dating app from the future that will match you up with nearby singles and lead you straight to them, all from the convenience of your wrist. The app was announced in a Medium post full of gorgeous mock-ups that repeatedly refers to the daters using the apps as “the humans” — an attempt either to humanize the object of your overwhelming lust, or make you feel like The Terminator for using it.

“No chat, no bullshit,” the post brags. “Just share your location and follow the line until you reach your match.” Read More

Planet Reddit

Reddit’s /r/UpliftingNews Bans Huffington Post For Stealing Article Ideas

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Reddit has a complicated relationship with the media. On one hand, Reddit is a place for organizing content — besides the typical viral stock that’s already trending on Imgur, news sites provide much of Reddit’s diet. On the other hand, Reddit is sick of being a source for journalists who don’t acknowledge the source of their posts.

Moderators from/r/UpliftingNews posted a “PSA” Thursday declaring a ban on all Huffington Post articles from here on out. According to the mod, editors from HuffPost’s Good News vertical have been pillaging the subreddit for leads and content without giving the subreddit or its posters proper credit. Accord to the post: Read More