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The Cinder is the Terminator’s panini maker

The Cinder is the Terminator’s panini maker

Come with me if you want to sear. The

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Uber adds privacy info and easy account deletion

Uber adds privacy info and easy account deletion

Uber announced today that it will make it easier for users to delete their accounts and access their privacy settings. Now, the company will let users delete their accounts from within the app, without contacting support. The process is known internally as “Dear John,” and Uber employees said it has taken over a year to design. Once a user opts to delete their account, Uber will retain the data for 30 days. If the user doesn’t change their mind and return to the service, the data is gone for good.

Previously, users had to email Uber’s support team with an account deletion request and wait for someone to respond.The account deletion process was slow and aggravating for users who, particularly recently, have been leaving the company in order to make a political statement. Privacy settings were (and still are) stored in a phone’s settings, but Uber found that users didn’t know how to find them — so the company is bringing the settings into the app itself.

When Uber first launched its ride-hailing service, account deletion requests had to be dealt with manually. As the company grew, this strategy didn’t scale. But it took a while for Uber to replace the backend functionality in order to make Dear John’s swift deletion possible.

Uber adds privacy info and easy account deletion

The new screen users will see when they delete their accounts.

The problem found a spotlight in late January, when a campaign to #DeleteUber spread across social media, encouraging users to dump Uber. #DeleteUber was a response to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s position on an advisory committee to President Donald Trump and Uber’s perceived strike-breaking activity at JFK airport after a protest against Trump’s travel ban.

Uber maintains that it wasn’t trying to disrupt the airport protest — it dropped its surge pricing a half-hour after the protest ended — but the damage had already been done. Around 500,000 people deleted their accounts, according to the New York Times . The social media backlash put Dear John to the test. A version of the feature was spun up overnight to keep up with the flood of requests. (Kalanick also stepped down from the Trump advisory council.)

“The good thing about #DeleteUber is now people know what I do,” joked Roche Janken, one of the engineers who worked on the project. The campaign gave people a way to express their frustrations during a politically fraught moment, she added.

Dear John isn’t just designed to delete accounts; it’s a portable feature that can be used throughout Uber to delete data, even as new kinds of data are added to Uber’s systems. The idea is to make it easy for any Uber employee to build deletion into new projects, so that unnecessary data retention isn’t an issue for Uber going forward.

Uber’s also using its new deletion process for contacts, so users who have previously uploaded their contacts in order to share their location can remove them.

The app is also rolling out new privacy features related to notifications and location. Users can now opt in to the specific notifications they

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Apple’s self-driving test Lexus SUV photographed on Silicon Valley roads

Apple’s self-driving test Lexus SUV photographed on Silicon Valley roads

Apple’s using a Lexus RX450h SUV for its autonomous vehicle testing program, as revealed by documents filed with the California DMV in accordance with licensing requirements for self-driving tests in the state. Now,

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Bitcoin and Ether prices hit all-time high

Bitcoin and Ether prices hit all-time high

Something is going on in the cryptocurrency world, but it’s hard to figure out why prices are jumping. Both bitcoin and Ether prices are currently trading at an all-time high.

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Alphabet’s efforts beyond search are ballooning into their own huge businesses

Alphabet’s efforts beyond search are ballooning into their own huge businesses

Alphabet’s advertising business seems to be following the same pattern these days — but its operations beyond that look like they are beginning to grow into strong businesses in their own right.

The company reported its first-quarter earnings today that outperformed what Wall Street expected, with its advertising business once again continuing to generate an enormous amount of money at great margins. Alphabet said it had earnings of $7.73 per share on revenue of $24.8 billion, compared to Wall Street’s expectations of earnings of $7.40 per share on revenue of $24.2 billion. But let’s get to the more interesting part of the report: the rest of what Alphabet is working on.

In the first quarter, Google’s “other revenues” hit $3.1 billion in revenue, up from around $2.1 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. That division includes cloud, Play and hardware — so it can be hard to disassemble the components — but it still shows a growing new segment for Google beyond its normal search business. Google has increased its focus on a portfolio of cloud and enterprise products, which compete more or less directly with Amazon’s ballooning AWS business and Microsoft’s Azure division. Google’s bucket of “other revenues” last quarter grew more than 60 percent year-over-year and hit $3.4 billion in quarterly revenue .

To put things in some perspective, Amazon also reported its first-quarter results today, and said its web services generated $3.7 billion and operating income of $890 million. AWS generated $2.6 billion on operating income of $604 million in the first quarter last year. So these businesses can be extremely efficient on their own, and are only going to become more and more important as startups and larger companies look to offload all their biggest computational problems onto more on-demand hardware. The rise of GPU usage for machine learning — which will need to make its way into these web services — will also likely provide a major windfall for both Amazon and Alphabet’s cloud businesses.

All of this more or less represents a race to build a major cloud computing business that can operate at the kinds of margins that Google is accustomed to seeing in its advertising business. While Google is printing money with its ads business, it shows that it’s looking beyond standard search — whether that’s with a voice interface, phones, or a cloud business — in a kind of hedge against the future of the company. Traditionally known for “moonshots” like self-driving cars and internet-providing balloons, Google’s new and still somewhat boring businesses may shore up any kinds of major swings in user behavior around search that it can monetize with ads.

Losses for Alphabet’s “other bets,” which makes up basically the rest of the interesting businesses aside from its cloud and hardware, widened yet again. The company recorded an $855 million loss in the first quarter, up from $774 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue, however, continued to climb, up to $244 million this quarter compared to $165 million in the same quarter

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